Monday, February 27, 2012

Grateful For Grace

Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

“Ingrates” can really grate on our nerves! These are the folks who never seem to say thank you. Maybe they weren’t taught to say “please” and “thank you” and to show good manners. Perhaps they were forced to say these things as children and never really meant them, vowing never to say these things when they grow up!
Have you ever helped someone, interrupting your schedule, sacrificing time and resources, only to have them never say, “thank you”? Pretty painful, huh? Yet, if this is someone you care deeply about, you continue to give and serve and help in the face of ingratitude. Now you know how God feels. The painful truth is that I am all too often an ingrate. Sometimes I don’t give thanks to God. The self realization of being an ingrate is painful for me to face.
Understanding that I am not alone in my human condition helps. The scripture we deal with today is in the context of Jesus healing some lepers. How could a healed leper ever forget to say thank you?

I. WE CAN BE TOO FAMILIAR WITH GOD’S GRACE TO BE GRATEFUL. Growing up in a godly home has great advantages. We can know how godly people are supposed to act. We can see that faith is real in the real world. But growing up in a godly home can also have its drawbacks. We can be raised with our parents’ faith and be sheltered under their personal relationship with God. It is possible to grow up in a godly home and never encounter a personal God. We can be too familiar with His grace to never experience it for ourselves. What became of those other nine who were healed?
II. WE CAN BEGIN TO BELIEVE WE’RE ENTITLED TO GRACE AND FEEL NO NEED TO BE GRATEFUL. When we've experienced God's blessings in abundance we can easily take God for granted. We come to the place that we expect it and no longer marvel at it. We can think that God is obligated to act on our behalf. A sense of entitlement is dangerous in our spiritual lives. We exist only by the grace of a merciful God.
III. ONLY THE ONE WHO KNOWS THEIR GREAT NEED FOR GRACE CAN FULLY APPRECIATE IT. …when he saw that he had been healed… describes one who knew what he needed. Only those who are aware of their condition are attentive to God’s grace being given to them. This man was an outcast. But even a Samaritan was not excluded from God’s grace.
IV. OFTEN WE ARE HEALED “ON THE WAY” AFTER WE OBEY GOD'S COMMAND. Obedience to God will heal us. The first step after we hear God’s voice begins the journey to our restoration. We are to obey even when it seems pointless.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Resident Alien

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)

In the part of North Carolina where I live, we see a lot of people from other countries and cultures. You can always tell when someone is “not from around here”. They speak, act, and can even look differently. Culturally speaking, it’s almost as if we are from another planet.
If you’ve ever been a stranger in a strange land you know how frightening it can be. You feel out of place and don’t really know your place. God has always taught His people to be kind to the alien because His people were once strangers in Egypt. While being an actual physical place, Egypt is also used to describe a culture of sin. God called His people out of Egypt and still does. Today He has called us out of sin. And some of our greatest pain can come trying to live godly lives and not coming out of Egypt.
When we are born again, we have a new nature. And God expects that we will be uncomfortable in our old environment. This exodus out of sinful lifestyles glorifies God. Trying to be godly and still living sinful lifestyles tells us something is wrong. We do not belong to this world and its bondage anymore. And that should be evident to us.

I. A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN SHOULD SPEAK HEAVEN’S DIALECT. Our language should be different from the world around us. Our language should not be a barrier to those who desire to understand Heaven’s language. The language of Heaven is the language of love.
II. A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN SHOULD ACT LIKE THEY’RE FROM HEAVEN. Our actions should be like those of an ambassador. We should represent our homeland in the most favorable light. Our actions should match the words that we speak. When we speak love, we should show love.
III. A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN SHOULD LOOK DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD THAT SURROUNDS THEM. In a world full of anxious people, Heaven’s citizen should have a peaceful countenance. In a world full of angry people, Heaven’s citizen should be a picture of grace. In a world full of sorrow, Heaven’s citizen should look joyful.
IV. A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN SHOULD BE ETERNALLY HOMESICK. That restlessness in a believer is homesickness of the soul. We have a longing to be in another country and often lament that we don’t seem to fit in trying to live in this world. That is a good thing. We don’t need to feel too comfortable here. This world is not our home. We are being purified to live with God.