July 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Most of us are familiar with a story we find in Luke’s gospel that I think has been mostly misapplied over the years.

 

The story is found in Luke 17.  It’s the account of ten men who had leprosy.  Jesus graciously healed all ten of them. 

 

But you know what happened.  Dr. Luke tells us that while all ten men were healed, “one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”

 

Now if I asked you “what’s that story all about,” there would be some of you – maybe most of you – who would say “it’s simple.  God wants His children to be grateful people.”

 

Maybe you’re singing the children’s song in your head right now.  “Only one came back, only one came back, only one came back to say thank you to the Lord…”

 

What has happened over the years with this story is that a secondary point has been overemphasized as the major point. 

 

Now, all of us could probably stand to be reminded of the godly virtue of gratitude and thanksgiving.

 

It would do us all some good to meditate on I Thess. 5:16-18 which says “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

 

It wouldn’t hurt us to think deeply about Romans 1:21, where Paul says that refusing to be grateful has a hardening affect on our soul. 

 

We could spend some time meditating on 2 Tim. 3:2, where the Bible teaches that a lack of gratefulness is one of the wicked characteristics of men who live in the last days, right up there with being lovers of self, lovers of money, pride, arrogance and a lack of holiness.

 

But I don’t think the main point of Luke 17 is that God’s people need to respond to God’s grace with gratitude and thankfulness.  

 

The main point is not that we need to be more polite and mind our manners and not forget to say thank you when someone does something nice for us.

 

I think the main point of the story of the ten lepers is simple.  This story from the life of Jesus teaches us that the right response to the work of Jesus in our lives is a realignment of our worship and a reprioritized life. 

 

And I would suggest that if our lives are not characterized by worship for Jesus and a life that has been reprioritized by His agenda for us, then there is a strong likelihood that we may still be spiritually dead.   

 

It’s possible to know a lot about Jesus, but to still have never been transformed by His grace in your life.

 

I have no doubt that the first nine men who were healed believed that Jesus was the One who had healed them.  I imagine that for the rest of their lives they told many people about the Good Lord who cured their leprosy.  They probably often thought of Jesus with fondness, maybe even with appreciation and gratitude.

 

But the one who came back to worship Jesus saw something the other nine didn’t see. 

 

The man who came back had his eyes not on his healing, but on the healer. 

 

I believe there are many, many people today who think they are headed to heaven because they acknowledge that there is a God and they see His common grace in their lives and they are thankful for their experience of that common grace.  They thank the Good Lord or the man upstairs for all their blessings. 

 

And they should.

 

But here’s the problem.  These folks think that as long as you believe there is a God and you’re grateful to Him for His goodness, you’ll go to heaven when you die.

 

Folks, that’s just not true. 

 

Jesus doesn’t tell the man who came back that his gratitude has saved him.  He tells him that his faith has saved him.

 

Salvation does not come by being thankful to the “man upstairs” or “the good Lord above.”  We’re not saved because we go to church each week or pray before meals or donate to worthy causes or serve in the nursery. 

 

We are saved by God’s grace.  And we can know that God has done a gracious work in our lives when we respond by no longer worshipping what we currently worship – which is self – and instead, putting Jesus at the center of our lives and worshipping Him.

 

That’s the evidence of God’s grace in a man or a woman’s heart.  Your life starts to look different.

 

So which are you?  Are you like one of the nine?  You know that Jesus is God and you have experienced the blessings of common grace and you’ve even told others that God’s been real good to you.  But that’s about as far as it goes.

 

Or are you like the leper who, when he saw that he was healed, turned his whole life around, came back to Jesus, fell at His feet and worshipped Him?

 

The constant battle of our lives is to live out what ought to be our new priorities in life.  When God does a work of grace in us, it changes everything – including what is most important to us. 

 

It’s good to be thankful, grateful people.  But I’m trusting that Jesus has done something much bigger, much greater in your heart. 

 

 ______

 

There’s a lot going on in our church!

 

Sunday, we had a great afternoon of celebration as we heard the testimonies of Noah and Tucker Gurney and Ben Friesen, and then baptized them at the Arnold’s home.  Thanks to all who brought the food, and for all who braved the heat to help celebrate the joy of new life!

 

This morning, we had 18 kids and eight moms who got together for a great Kids Summer Fest morning. The kids learned about worshipping God by making a joyful noise, serving Him with gladness, and coming into His presence with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:1-2).  They made their own unique wind chimes to help remind them of the unique ways each of them can make a joyful noise to the Lord. They also had a snack, sang some fun songs and had a great time!  The final Summer Kid’s Fest event will happen two weeks from today, on Wednesday, July 26 at 9:30 at the church.

 

And then tonight, about a dozen guys met at David’s Burgers for the monthly Burgers and Bros get together.  Along with the burgers and fries, there was a great conversation about how we can all be more effective in sharing our faith in the workplace.

 

I am thankful for all who help make these things happen, and for all who show up and participate!

 

______

 

Speaking of great things happening, I’m going to a baseball game this Saturday night. 

 

I’m excited. 

 

I hope you are too!

 

This Saturday night, the Arkansas Travelers take on the Springfield Cardinals at 6:10 at Dickey Stephens Park.  I plan to be one of the first 1,000 fans at the game, so I can get my new 16 oz. double walled tumbler! 

 

I’m planning to arrive at the ballpark at 5:30.  At 5:45, all of us who are there can buy or tickets together in a nice, cool, shady spot where we can sit together.  If you show up after 5:45, come on in and look for the rest of us.   Everyone is invited – men, women, kids, everyone.  In fact, your neighbors and co-workers are welcome to come with you.  Tickets are only $8, and that’s cheaper than going to see Spiderman!

 

See you at the old ball game!

 

 ______

 

In two weeks, on Tuesday night, July 25, we’re all meeting at the Pleasant Valley swimming pool at 2300 Arkansas Valley Drive for an all church pool party.  You don’t have to swim to attend.  You don’t even have to wear swim trunks!  Just come out and enjoy the fellowship. 

 

We’ll have the pool all to ourselves from 6:00 – 8:30 (and that includes the kiddie pool too!).  And to sweeten the deal, we’ve decided to have pizza delivered at 6:15!  So bring something to drink and plan to come out for pizza at the pool.

 

 ______

 

We’ll wrap up the month of July on Sunday night, July 30, from 6:30-7:30 with a church wide night of Prayer and Praise.  This will be a time for the whole church body to gather and to pray and seek the Lord together.  We’ll read the scriptures together and sing a few familiar, simple songs.  We will pray silently.  We will read prayers.  We will pray in small groups.  We will pray in larger groups.  We will pray all together. Our focus will be on praying for Christ to be exalted in and through us, and for His kingdom work to be made clear for us as we seek His face.

 

This will be a special evening as we come together to call upon the Lord.  I hope you’ll make this special evening a priority.

 

 ______

 

Okay, we need your help on something.

 

We’re considering changing our church logo.  It’s the logo you see on the screen every Sunday.  The one at the top of this newsletter.

 

We now have four new logo options we’re looking at.  And we’d like your feedback.

((Having trouble with the images, so if you need further info, please email jim@adpub.com and I’ll forward you the original email))

 _______

Have you ever lived in a country where your elected officials made a decision that affected your life in a negative way? 

 

(I know, it’s an obvious question, right?)

 

This Sunday, we’ll see how a decision made by the very first man, Adam, affected all who came after him.  And we’ll see how the decisions made by the second Adam, Jesus, affect all who choose to follow after Him.

See you in church!

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Bob Lepine

 

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