“Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind, so you cannot understand the activity of God.” Ecclesiastes 11:5
After being home for a few weeks, Jacob’s schedule consisted of Physical Therapy with
Skebo, Mary Ann, and Don at Genesis Rehab, speech therapy with Dana Eddins, and a
homebound teacher, Ali Hathcock. It was great to get into a routine and to see all of
these people that cared so much for Jacob help to get him better. My number one
priority at this time was to get rid of the cane! I bugged the Physical Therapist so much
about this and learning to walk again.
We had just learned that Jacob had double vision and this was definitely not helping his
balance. He tripped over things all day long. He fell numerous times trying to do things
on his own and scared me to death.
I can remember smiling so many times during this time because I could see God
working. I could see that Jacob’s walking was getting better and it would bring tears to
my eyes. I would cringe every time a person looked at me and said the words I
despised the most, “Bless your heart.” People had no idea what a blessing it was to
see improvements. My family didn’t look at our situation as a “bless your heart”
situation. It is really the coolest blessing to see improvements at the hands of God
before your very eyes.
One Friday night, Jacob wanted to go to the Demopolis High School game. We got
permission to drive our jeep to the corner of the field to watch. The next Friday night,
Jacob was asked to be a captain for his team. Still in his wheelchair most of the time,
we knew he was going to need assistance walking on the field. He wore his Jersey and
was escorted by two players to the middle of the field. This was bitter sweet, but I knew
as I folder his #7 jersey up that night, that would be the last time that he would wear it.
We all had a lot of time to “BE STILL.” Every day when I felt like kicking and screaming
and so mad at myself that I allowed this situation, I remembered this verse.
As I watch Jacob during this time walk, he shook and trembled so badly. It is really so
difficult for him. He has so many things right now that are working against him. But I
am at peace because I constantly remind myself to live each day by faith.
Luke 17:11-19 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
Ingratitude. Original sin. Forgetful heart. Jesus faced the lack of gratitude from others. Is there anything more annoying than doing for someone and not even getting a “kiss my foot?” We all want to be appreciated or at least acknowledge that what I did was not required and you are the lucky recipient of my generosity. (My sarcasm rising again, sorry.) We appreciate appreciation, do we not?
This point of remembrance must have left a big impression on Dr. Luke who records this for us. Lepers: The outcasts of society, shunned from life within the city. These are the ignored, despised, rejected, and the picture of sin and it’s effects: starts small and spreads causing pain and disfigurement. There are ten of these sufferers. A group who because of their disease have lost the concern of “where did you come from?”, among themselves. Galileans and Samaritans living together, sharing their pain, fear and loneliness.
Jesus comes into town. Standing away from the crowd, but with voices desperate to be heard they shout. Why? Why are these the “unworthy” (like me) shouting out to Jesus? Have they heard the tales of the one who heals, raises the dead, walks on water, and calms storms? They have NOTHING to lose. What is the worst that can happen? To be ignored? Well, that would be just another day. Why not at least try. Here is a mustard seed of faith. Let’s at least ask! “Jesus, MASTER, have mercy on us.” Master? Really? Are they pledging allegiance beforehand? Heal me and I will do whatever you ask. Have you ever said that before? The cry of a mother at a hospital bedside, the plea of a father to his child not make the wrong choice, the “let’s make a deal” of the one caught in sin or in a situation capable of causing life as they know it to change. I have heard these desperate cries. The Greek for the word cries is krazo means to scream out and kraugazo means to clamor. These ten individuals are clamoring for the attention of One who IS their last hope for healing. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is time to go for broke.
Jesus saw them! It does not say he heard them. He SAW them. He saw these enslaved by their diseased bodies and He saw individuals. The only thing Luke records is Jesus told them what to do. No questions asked. Just “go show yourselves to the priests.” Lepers were not suppose to go until they were healed. They were not healed until they WENT! Can you imagine what it took to start toward the priests with their skin still covered in sores, nubs for fingers and toes, noses missing, bodies racked with pain, and rags covering their frail bodies?
As they traveled, Luke says they were cleansed. The requirement to be accepted by the priests: Cleansed. Let this word really reach in and touch your heart. CLEANSED! No longer dirty. Able to go to the temple. Able to go home. Able to live inside the city. Able to be included. Able. Able. Able. No longer unable, unworthy, unwanted. Joy unspeakable!
Remember the Master? One healed leper alone returned to proclaim loudly “thank you!” One alone gave glory to God for the healing! One alone returned and he was a Samaritan! A foreigner. One, and Jesus had not even come for the Samaritans but for the Jews. (Matthew 15:24)
“Thanksgiving precedes the miracle.” Words written and published in a book that revolutionized my life. It’s author said, “gratitude is the memory of the heart.” This Samaritan remembered the before and saw the after of his encounter with Jesus. Nine did not. Nine forgot their before and gained healing but not life. The next line in Luke’s gospel is vital to our comprehension of this encounter. “Your faith has made you well.” All ten were cleansed but only one was made WELL! Gratitude equals faith. Gratitude redeems.
Ingratitude left nine still outside the gate of heaven. Jesus gave the same gift to all ten! He gives ALL the gift of invitation but only a few will accept. He paid for all. But not all give Him thanks for His gift. I wonder, did Jesus become as annoyed as I at ingratitude. Was He tempted to withhold healing of another because of the ingratitude of these nine?
My oft quoted author, Ann Voskamp, writes, “humility (bowed knees and open hands) is the only posture that can receive the wondrous grace gifts of God.” The grateful former leper showed great humility as he fell on his face before Christ the redeemer of his life as he alone gave thanks for the grace given.
My friend and colleague, DeDe, and I found ourselves on a cold, rainy night searching the field behind the nursing home where we worked searching frantically for a missing resident. As the headlights scanned the field and we peered into the darkest dark hoping to spot a white turban, we prayed and we bartered with the Lord promising Him all kinds of things we knew we could not do if He would just help us find this lost soul. After what seemed like hours we got the call to come back…………………………….she had been found safe and warm inside the nursing home!!! Praise the Lord!! And before we got back we both did the very thing we promised never to do again. You can laugh! We did too in nervous relief and sheer thanksgiving!
Do you need a miracle? Have you been grateful for the thousands already given to you each and every day? “Thanksgiving precedes the miracle and the miracle is communion, koinonia” with the living Lord. The Master. We too can be clean. Washed in mercy. Well.
Psalm 141:3-4 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Proverbs 18:21
“The mouth of the righteous is a well of life..” Proverbs 10:11
“Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth but what is good for edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” Ephesians 4:29
The tongue, we all know the dangers of an uncontrolled tongue. The book of James tells us that we deceive ourselves if we think we are religious and yet do not control our speech.
There have been many sermons on the tongue and how corrupt it can be. Here though, I want us to look at the good that can be done when we use our speech in a constructive and healthy manner.
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one who speaks like the piercing of a sword but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”
Proverbs 10:19 “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”
Luke 6:45 “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”
The Key: to clean up our speech we must clean up our hearts!
Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Sacrifice and praise?? “Our praise of God is not to be based on our opinion of His job performance. Praise cannot be treated as a “reward” we give God for His obvious blessings.” (gotquestions.org)
Even in the storms, the door of our lips should be opened to praise God who uses the storm to build our faith and trust in Him.
We can strengthen one another with words that are life-giving instead of tearing down our brothers and sisters. Using our lips to do good, pleases our heavenly Father.
Our words used appropriately can:
3.Lift up a downcast soul
For this week, I pray we will bless someone with our words. Encourage a sister that’s having a tough day.
I Peter 3:10 “ For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
Proverbs 15:4 “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”
One of my best lessons on the tongue came from God’s Word years ago. This fire storm came from misspoken words, then hurt feelings, probably some jealousy but all that matters is that it quickly got out of control. Words were spoken and from there the game was on! The ranting, the “venting”, the building of teams, the “nursing and rehearsing” and all of the chaos that comes from not walking away and being quiet.
My lesson? Proverbs 31:26 “Without wood a fire goes out, without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” For six months, I walked with that scripture carved into my brain. Every time I was tempted to respond to an accusation or lie, I had to close the door of my lipsand suck-it-up buttercup. No defense! No rebuttal! No comment at all! The Lord had promised to be my defender, my shield and my fortress. I had to walk, trusting His word and believing He would make all things work for the good of all concerned.
We have been looking at the doors in God’s Word in the last month. Psalm 141:3, “Set a watch, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Jesus said in Matthew 12: 36-37 “I say to you that for every idle word men speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”
Sobering, isn’t it. May we use our words to impart grace.
I write this with some discomfort. Discomfort for this woman. Discomfort for myself. Discomfort for all who read. This is no easy subject to discuss in the same sentence as the name of Jesus.
I mean, who do I think I am to even attempt to write on this subject. I could have skipped this temptation but what area do we as humans struggle with more? If Jesus was tempted in ALL points like we are, then this must be researched just as the other temptations have been observed. He was tempted in all ways like we are but without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) I think this encounter with a broken woman may reveal far more than we have ever seen before. I certainly never saw this experience in the life of Jesus from this point of view. I am trusting the Holy Spirit alone to guide me!
John 8:2-11 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. Literature argues whether this portion of Scripture should even be included in the canon. I am not knowledgeable enough to debate this subject so, I will stand on the infallible Word of God as inspired by the His Holy Spirit. I have learned much from Biblical scholars but when they doubt God’s Word, I am given reason to take the rest of their writings with a grain of salt. Such is the case with this portion known as the pericope adulterae. I also have leaned heavily on the Spirit to guide me as I have searched through Scripture to determine if Jesus life lived wide open confirms the Scripture that He was tempted just like you and I only, without sin and thus giving us proof we too can live holy lives as we let the Spirit of God live through us. (I Peter 1:16)
Jesus has been “set up” by the scribes and Pharisees and they are using a woman to do so. Her crime could not have been perpetrated alone and yet, she is hauled into Jesus presence alone, scantily clad and thrown roughly in front of Him in the temple court no less! “Jesus knows He is in danger and He knows He is surrounded by enemies,” just as this woman is.
The Greek for caught in the act is the word katalambano which means “to arrest, seize tight hold of, capture.” This woman has been apprehended from the bed of her lover, early in the morning and with little more than a sheet thrown around her naked body is made a spectacle of by the religious leaders. My question, if they knew this was going on, why not the night before? Did they not care until it was for their convenience to set a trap for the Lord? The law required TWO witnesses but they are unnamed! (Deuteronomy 17:6) Also, the law required both parties caught in this immoral act be brought together. (Deuteronomy 22:22) So, what I saw this time as I was reading: This was the trap set for Jesus not only to test His knowledge of the law but as a ploy of the enemy as a test of his humanity in the area of the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh. Man is known to be enticed visually. The enemy is ruthless. Our willingness to be his weapon (vehicle of deceit) is frightening.
But look at how Jesus handled this situation. He demonstrated respect for ALL! He demonstrated knowledge of the Law. He did not sin. (Matthew 5:27-28) Jesus averted His eyes by stooping down and looking at the ground. He kept His eyes down providing this woman a degree of dignity as He imitated His Father who wrote the Law into stone. When He stood, He glared directly into the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees and gave the direction: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Brilliant! Jesus then bent back down and again keeping His eyes down as He wrote on the ground. He did not say this woman’s behavior was not sinful. He said, obey the Law. He just said, the first stone should be cast by whoever among them was free of sin. And one by one from the oldest (the most sinful because they have lived the longest) to the youngest they dropped their stones and left until no one was with Jesus except this woman. Only then did Jesus look at this woman. She has had time to get herself covered and collect herself. Jesus words to her must have been the sweetest she had ever heard. Forgiveness from the Son of God. Do you remember that moment you knew He forgave you? No condemnation, just love and acceptance. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” (II Peter 2:9)
“Who is she? She is you. And she is us.” (charismanews.com What We Can Learn from the Woman Caught in Adultery.) Here she was “standing naked before God,” (crosswalk.com) as a harlot, interrupting His teaching in the temple.
She was brought to the temple captured like a bird in a trap, destined to die. She left the temple set free by the grace of God, and given the opportunity to go and sin no more! Jesus saw in her, despite her sin, the image of God. He spoke to this! Respectfully, lovingly, humbly, He restored her dignity the enemy had stolen.
Oh, how I pray we can see the love and respect Jesus displayed toward this poor soul. Paul the apostle’s epistle to the Ephesians tells us, “speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” Scripture is replete with admonitions to treat others as we desire to be treated. (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:3, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3)
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Deuteronomy 31:6 has been Jacob’s favorite bible verse for many years now. It has been put on t-shirts and bracelets to support him through his injury. As I look back in my journal on day 44, I see that our prayers were for his right side to get stronger, vision to improve, brain to heal (short term memory, processing, retaining new information), speech to improve, his right side of his face to correct, and to pass the swallow test that he has failed 2 times already. I also have my praises written down in my journal.
The praises are that his right arm is moving, smiling, walking better with a cane and assistance, speech improving, and going to the game room with his brother, Nick.
The next day, day 45, we got a huge praise. Jacob passed the swallow test. He got to EAT! At this time he was able to eat soft foods and on a pureed diet. After all of this excitement, we were told something that pumped us up even more. The doctor walked in and said, “Get ready and start making all necessary arrangements for care because y’all are going home in 3 days!” I was excited and terrified at the same time. In my mind I was excited to get Jacob home, but then I wondered why we were being sent home? Was it because they had done all they could do for Jacob and this is it? I marched myself down to the conference room and busted up in there crying. My words were something like this. “So when you tell me that you are sending us home, what you are really saying is that this is as good as Jacob is going to get, so here you go!” As I kept crying and rambling at what a huge error in judgement they were making and how wrong they were, the nurse looked up at me and said, “I think you misunderstand, so please let us explain.” The doctor then said, ”We are only sending him home because you and your family are capable of caring for him. We see how you all push him and do not cut him any slack. We know that you all will continue to help him get better.” As I look at them very embarrassed and say, “Oh….” What else could I say? So I smiled and quietly backed out of the room.
Day 48 finally came. So many nurses and doctors came by to see us off. Jacob was dressed in his western button down, belt buckle, and cowboy boots. We left in a wheelchair and with a cane. Walking out of Jacob’s hospital room, I turned for one last look at our life for the past 48 days and it all flashed in my mind of what we all had been through. My heart was so full. I felt so grateful to God more at this time for letting me take my son home.
“The Lord is greater than the giants you face.” 1 John 4:4
The ride home was bitter sweet. Jacob just stared out the window and was so peaceful. As we turned down our street, we see a small crowd and a big sign that said, “Welcome Home Jacob.” As we get inside and start unpacking, I see many things that my friends have done.
I walked into a clean house and food for us. Sweet friends had loaned us a shower chair, a food puree, and a bed rail.
As things settled down for the day, Jacob started feeling like he was finally at home. Whatever he asked for, he got. His first day home, he asked for a milkshake probably around 5 times. He got it. For supper, he asked for crab legs. He got pureed crab legs. That night he asked for a Reese’s Cup, so Nicky pureed his first Reese’s.
As we put Jacob in his bed this night, I scan the room seeing the IV pump, the feeding pump machine, the bed rails up, and all of the medicine bottles, and even though I am overwhelmed, all I can think in this moment is that I am his mama and I am not going to stop until every tube, pill, puree machine, shower bench, speech therapist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Doctor, Neurologist, wheelchair and cane is gone and until God restores Jacob the way he made him.
John 7:25-29 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is. Then cried Jesus in the temple as He taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know Him: for I am from Him, and He hath sent me.
The angst of Jesus is verbalized in the Temple as the people debate “who is this man?” You know the feeling I am sure. You are very clearly stating a position or instruction and the receiver twists and turns your words until what you said is unrecognizable. What was heard was heard with biased ears, preconceived ideas and agendas. Jesus is talking to people who KNOW who He is. He has proved His authority through miracles, teaching, and lifestyle. He is speaking to those who are suppose to be versed in the Torah and the Prophets and He is meeting all the criteria of the long expected Messiah and yet, here they are debating His worthiness.
The Greek word for cried is krazo. It means to call out with a loud voice. I raise my voice when I am exasperated, frustrated, mad, and in utter amazement at the lack of brain cell function in others who should understand clearly. Jesus was not some passive, mealy mouthed, itinerant, traveling show charlatan. He was and is the Son of the Living God. He raises His voice! Hallelujah, I am not alone! Jesus says, if we know God, we know Him and vice versa. Jesus is saying, there is no room here for misunderstanding. Your spirit will agree with His Spirit or it will agree with the spirit of the enemy, whoever is your father. (John 8:19,42-47, Matthew 11:27) OUCH! Jesus was and is passionate about this fact! He and His Father are one. (John 10:30)
The temptation here is loosing our cool and getting into a verbal war when a simple statement of the truth is all that is required. No debate. Stating the truth and nothing more. We all want to be right, however, we can only be right when our truth is based on the Word of God: “Thus saith the Lord.”
I am coming to understand, Jesus truly was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Are you finding any encouragement in this fact? Does it give you confidence you do have a GREAT HIGH PRIEST who stands between you and God and intercedes for you with the Father and all the Father sees is Jesus pure and holy and He will grant whatever Christ asks on your behalf? This is suppose to give us a boldness to come into His throne room and seek wisdom, answers to our questions, and direction for how He would have us live our one beautiful life: The one He ordained for us before the foundation of the world. (Psalm 139)
Today, we must answer the question Jesus always asks us as individuals: “Who do you say that I am?” Until this question is answered, there is no fellowship with the Father for no one comes to the Father except through the Son. (John 3:16, John 14:6)