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Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Samaritan Leper

Luke 17 (Holman Standard Christian Bible)

11 While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between[h] Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, 10 men with serious skin diseases met Him. They stood at a distance 13 and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 When He saw them, He told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were healed.[i]

15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. 16 He fell facedown at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan.

17 Then Jesus said, “Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Didn’t any return[j] to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well.”[k]

 One of our church's ministries is to give financial assistance to people in emergency situations.  We have requirements.  You must live in our town.  And the only assistance we give is utility, rent, or mortgage.  Why are we so strict?

We get more calls for financial help than any other type of calls.  We get more calls from strangers asking if we can give them money than we get calls from our members regarding some aspect of church life.  We get around five calls a year from strangers asking for prayer.  We get almost that many calls a week from strangers asking for money.

I sometimes wonder if people walk into banks and say, "I was just searching for God and I wondered if you could give me any guidance?"  What makes people come to church to get money?  I suppose it is desperation.  In a few cases it might be laziness, but I think most who come work hard, but don't know how to climb out of the holes they find themselves in.

We probably give help to 20% of the people who need it.  Why don't we help more than that?  We run out of money.  Every month, we run out of funds in the account we use for benevolent help.  But we do help some who come.  The money is distributed by a team of volunteers who interview those who come to assess need.  The volunteers always pray with those who come.  And they always invite them to worship and to be part of the life of our church.  A small percentage actually take us up on that invitation and come. 

This morning, a call came in that surprised me.  Someone called (and talked to our ministry assistant Dina).  We had helped her recently.  She was just calling to say thanks.  I have been a pastor in churches that do this type of benevolent ministry for almost 16 years.  I cannot remember someone calling to say thanks.  I don't know this person, but today, I pray God would do something in her life, something incredible.  I don't mean a financial boon.  I mean I pray God would meet her and she would meet God in a fresh way and her life would be forever changed. 

She called to say "thank you." 

Why is that so rare?


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