“Surely He bore our sorrows…”

(Matthew 8: 1-4, The Message) 1-2 Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”

3-4 Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

I love the simplicity found in this exchange between Jesus and the man with leprosy.  This man, so sick and in so much pain, had an undemanding and sincere measure of faith.  Notice that he didn’t even ask Jesus to heal him; he simply stated, “If you want to…I know you can.”  He humbled himself, down on his knees, and declared his faith in Jesus.  His recompense?  Total restoration. 

I can’t help but think of people who are living under the oppression of outward, obvious sin and its consequences.  Like the leper, they are often cast aside, seen as filthy, and exiled from the sacred confines of the church. 

We see your sin.  We see your struggle.  We don’t want any part of it.

Maybe that’s you, or someone you hold dear to your heart.  You get up every day and strap on your backpack full of shame and haul it around because you’re just used to it, and you think you deserve it.  You spend each day feeling like the dead man walking.  Maybe someone else has convinced you that it’s just your cross to bear in life.  Well, it’s time to find the truth and stop dragging around your failures. 


What I mean is…you don’t have to feel like a castaway just because someone else knows about something you did.  Guess what?  We don’t always know specifics, but we do know something that is a universal truth about people…WE ALL SIN!  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US is an unworthy, lowly, sinner who deserves death…as we are all born into the dilemma and curse of sin. 

But just like Jesus wanted to heal the leper (and did), He wants to heal your life (and will).  Romans 8: 1-4 says:  1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.  3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.

You must understand that because God is love, of course He wants to restore your life.  You simply have to humble yourself and believe.  It’s not about begging, or even hoping.  It’s about an unembellished statement of faith:  If You want to…I know You can.  He wants to, He can, and He will. 

Maybe you are worried that others won’t believe you, and that because of your past you will shed a negative light on the name of Christ.  Please do not buy into that lie!  It’s straight from the mouth of the devil, and it has no place in your life.  You don’t have to convince anyone else that your life is changed.  Just live according to God’s word and let your life do the talking. 

“Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank you for the beautiful exchange that takes place when we simply believe.  Beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair.  Amen.

Check Yes or No (George Strait)

(Acts 10:34-35 ESV) So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

I had some extra time on my hands yesterday so I decided to stop at a local car wash to see if I could track down a nasty smell that was emanating from the back seat of my vehicle. It’s where the granddaughters car seats are. Should I go on?

It was such a beautiful day, I decided to go ahead and give the car a complete spring clean. I was in my own little world, listening to the country music station, (George Strait) when a car with two young Hispanic men pulled in beside me. Since their music was much louder than mine I decided to turn George off and listen to their’s. I’m not sure who the artist was, I couldn’t understand the lyrics, but the mariachi band was actually quite good.

Just as I was getting into the swing of it, another car pulled in on the other side of me. The second car carried two young Black men. Their music was even louder than the mariachi band. It was deep. It boomed. A lot! I heard a few words that I understood a little bit, but not completely. I think one of the door handles vibrated off the car. I think my inner Bruno Mars was coming out. It was interesting to say the least.

But, after a few minutes I started thinking about the unrest that is being played out in America right now. I remembered how a man was attacked on the Big 4 Bridge recently and the incidences at St. Matthews Mall with an unruly group of young people. I had recently viewed the news reports of violence breaking out during political appearances around the country. To be very honest, I started seeing these young people in a negative light.

And I was ashamed of myself….

Ashamed because I judged someone I didn’t know. Ashamed because even though my outward demeanor hadn’t changed toward them, my inner thoughts had. Ashamed because I had allowed concern for my own welfare to blow a benign situation into a false alarm. Ashamed because I had marked someone whom Jesus gave His life for as unclean.

And then I remembered Peter…

The Spirit of God had spoken to Peter about a Gentile man named Cornelius. Peter’s instructions were to go to him and preach the gospel. But, Peter had preconceived ideas about him because of the culture in which they lived. Jews and Gentiles were enemies. They were not supposed to interact with one another. When God instructed Peter to stop perceiving them as being “unclean” he was appalled. And then, the Word of the Lord came forcibly to Peter, “Do not call anything unclean that God has made clean.” And with that, Peter declared, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Case closed. End of story.

There I was with my floor mats in my hand when one of the Hispanic men came over and asked if I wanted him to spray them off so I wouldn’t have to get wet. And then, one of the young Black men struck up a conversation about the beautiful weather and what a great day it was to clean up the car. And, “Why don’t you get in line ahead of us.” There we stood, two Hispanic men, two Black men, and a grumpy old White guy washing our cars, being civil to one another; all of us equally created and loved by God.

As I drove off, I turned George back on and heard him sing, “Do you love me? Do you want to be my friend? I think this is how love goes, check yes or no.”

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the life lesson. Amen.