Go Back

go back

Luke 17:15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God.

This morning, I’m sitting in our sun-room with the double doors open, listening to the rain fall. The summer has ended and signs of fall are approaching. The birds are talking and I can see one of them at my deck shaking the rain off its back.  Beyond that are 19 acres of green rolling down to the James River. It’s a beautiful morning and I’m thankful. But am I thankful enough?

It was more than a year of struggling with banks, the owners, God and myself before we closed on our house and this property. Concerning most things, whether want or need, once you have them, it’s easy to shelve thankfulness and think, “Done. Moving on.” Like a to do list, life can become an advancement of check marks in little boxes.

Go back.

It’s what this leper did. Ten had been healed, but only one got saved that day. In verse19 Jesus says, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well.” The Greek here for “made well” is literally “saved.” Nine got healed. One got healed and saved.  Why? He went back. To be clear, Jesus points out it wasn’t the action of returning that saved him. It was his faith. At some point while they were all on their way to the priest, this one had a deep and powerful revelation of who Jesus was.

The nine went on for a clean “stamp of approval” but the one returned to the Approver.

The nine went on for human justification but the one returned to the Justifier.

The nine went on excited to be healed and in community but the one returned to commune with the Healer.

Go back.

I wouldn’t be sitting in this beautiful little spot in the Ozarks if it hadn’t been for the help of my dad. I haven’t forgotten that and I often “go back” and thank him for it. But there’s an important question to ask that illuminates a tendency in all of us.

Is the weight of gratitude for what I’ve received equal to the desire of what I wanted?

Human tendency is for this scale to be imbalanced. Most often, desire is greater in weight than the gratitude for its fulfillment.

The ten lepers desperately sought out Jesus with a real need. They cried out to him from a distance for mercy. They were sick, in pain and ostracized. It was evident their desire was great. But only one had a gratitude of equal weight and it drove him back to the feet of Christ.

Go ahead and do an inventory of blessing now. You might review all the check marked boxes and decide to do what the one leper did; Go back.

Make Friends

friends

Luke 16:3 “Then the manager said to himself, ‘What should I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig; I’m ashamed to beg.

Accidents. Injuries. Poor decisions. There are many reasons why a person may find himself in a position similar to the manager of Luke 16. He was about to be left weak and in need. Remember May 22, 2011 when a tornado ripped through Joplin.  Thousands of people were left in a similar situation. They, too, were rendered weak and in need, not strong enough to fix their situation and yet starkly foreign to begging. They, too asked the same question the manager asked. “What should I do?”

FEMA?

Unfortunately, that is the answer for many today when they are not “strong enough to dig and yet, ashamed to beg.” Isn’t there another option than turning to the government for help?

Interestingly, the public welfare assistance option wasn’t even included in this story Jesus tells His disciples. Though today this man would have soon qualified for housing, food stamps, TANF, LIHEAP and a number of other welfare programs, he instead does the only thing he could do to safeguard himself from perishing.

He made friends.

He quickly forgave debt of those from whom he was to collect so that when he was homeless, they would welcome him in. He would have a roof over his head, a hot meal and a place to rest his head.

Verse 8 reads “The master praised the unrighteous manager” and Jesus follows in verse 9 with clarification: “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous money so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.”

“Make friends for yourselves.”

That’s His instruction.

Why? That they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.  Don’t connect “eternal” here with “heaven.” Rather, the word also means “lasting” or “unfailing.” I believe He’s talking about the relationship itself. He wants us to make lasting, unfailing relationships with one another.

God wants us to make friends. Although for personal gain, the unrighteous manager exhibited grace and made friends as a result. And he was praised for it! How much more will you be praised if you exhibit grace to those around you and make friends before you’re in need? Strengthen your network of lasting, unfailing relationships. It’s obviously important to God and the day may come when you, too, will need to be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  

 

Great Value

In this photo provided by the RSPCA/Australian Capital Territory, an overgrown sheep found in Australian scrubland is prepared to be shorn in Canberra, Australia, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The wild, castrated merino ram named Chris, yielded 40 kilograms (89 pounds) of wool — the equivalent of 30 sweaters — and sheded almost half his body weight. (RSPCA ACT/ via AP) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES

Luke 15:4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?”

Last week, a lost sheep was found. No, really. A sheep that had been lost for maybe five years was discovered in a remote area of Australia. And yes, that’s a picture of that sheep.

Of course, this well known verse is not about sheep. It’s the beginning of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ judgment that He eats with sinners rather than the righteous.  There are some interesting correlations, though, to draw from the heart of God for the lost one and that sheep that was found last week in Australia.

That sheep had great value. Total weight? 180 pounds. The amount of wool that was shorn from it? 90 pounds. Half of the sheep’s weight was wool! The rightful Australian farmer is petitioning the Guinness Book of World Records. It might end up that this lost sheep is more valuable than any of those in the pen.

A lost sheep increases in value over time.

Jesus points this out in the next example beginning in verse 9.  “Rejoice with me because I have found the silver coin I lost!” I have a silver dollar somewhere that’s packaged and has never been in circulation. Truly, I’m not sure where that is right now. But as every day passes, it becomes more valuable. Someday, I’ll come across it and I’ll rejoice in that value!

Here’s the point. If God places great value on the lost sheep, then we should, too. It might even be valid to argue that value increases the longer one is lost. But that’s not the only reason to pray for the lost and do the work of evangelism.

The lost are perishing. I don’t mean they’re destined to perish. I mean the lost are in the process of perishing real-time. Consider that lost sheep in the picture. The farmer testified of significant skin injury and trapped waste product that threatened its life. In fact, the sheep would have succumbed in the next week or two if it had not been found.

Being lost is not a wait to be found. It’s a process of perishing. Jesus teaches us this in verse 17, in the body of his last response to the Pharisees’ accusation. In this well known story, the prodigal son who Jesus compares to the lost sheep and the lost coin “comes to himself” and says, “I’m dying of hunger.” The word “dying” here is the same Greek work translated as “lost” throughout the chapter. In fact, the word is first and foremost translated as “perishing.”

Those who are away from God are not in a holding pattern until they’re found. They’re perishing.

No wonder there’s such rejoicing on earth and in heaven when one is found. It’s both a rescue from death and hell and a deposit of great value in heaven. That’s you!