Amazing Deeds – Practical Faith

October 2013

Psalm 111:2-4, 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15, Luke 17:11-19

 

I. PONDER THIS

First we consider Psalm 111. According to the great English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, the Jews sang this Psalm, among others, at the time of the eating of the Passover Lamb. Jesus and His disciples followed this custom at the Last Supper.

We read:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. —Matt 26:26-30 NKJV

In those words Jesus announced the New Covenant, what would be the heart of the Gospel, that is that He would offer up His body and blood as a complete and completely satisfying payment for the sins of the world. A full payment for the sins of the world allows God to both judge sin and also to forgive sin. The awesome wisdom and love revealed in the Gospel shows our God to be both a Righteous Judge and a Merciful Father and that He is both the Just Judge and at the same time the Justifier of all who would repent and follow His Son into the Kingdom of God!

So the words of the Psalmist are highly instructive as he says beginning in verse 2…
2 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.
3 Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
His righteousness never fails.
4 He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
How gracious and merciful is our Lord!
— Ps 111:2-4 New Living Translation ©Tyndale House


Here he tells us the spring from which the New Covenant flows. “God’s righteousness never fails. In other words He is never unrighteous in anything He does, neither does he condone unrighteousness by others or allow sin to go unpunished.

Yet at the same time he is gracious and merciful. Only God, in his goodness and wisdom, could have come up with the answer to perfectly reconciling the moral absolutes of righteousness and mercy.

We should ponder that. We should stand in awe of that. We should marvel at the wisdom and love involved in that; especially in light of what it cost the Father and the Son to accomplish it; nothing less than the cruel and horrible death that Jesus, the Son of God suffered on the Cross!

This Spirit Inspired writer of Psalms offers us further instruction…
He says, “How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them.

“Ponder…” not a word we use everyday. This word means to, consider carefully, to contemplate, reflect upon, or to examine. Surely we could contemplate or meditate on the fact that God so loved us that He gave His Son for us for a long, long time…

That is what we ought to be doing during the Communion Service; thinking on that, pondering that, giving thanks for that in our heart and with our lips!

The Psalm tells that those who love God ponder or examine ‘all the amazing deeds of the Lord’. That brings us to the story from 2 Kings about Elisha and the healing of Namaan the leprous Syrian general and the story from Luke 17 about Jesus healing ten lepers.

II. THE HOPE AND FAITH OF LEPERS

In both of these lessons we read of God’s amazing deeds… In both texts God, through His servants Elisha and Jesus of Nazareth, heal men of a terrible, disfiguring, tormenting, incurable, and ultimately fatal disease — namely, leprosy.

Leprosy in its later stages results in the loss of sensation resulting in many injuries and infections. Fingers, toes, and other extremities are lost to the consequences of the disease. Eventually internal organs are also diseased and cease to function resulting in death.

Perhaps worst of all the Israelite who contracted leprosy was considered under the stroke of God and was a complete outcast from society.

He must stay outside of cities, towns, and villages. He must cover his face with his shawl or tunic and cry, “unclean, unclean” so that no human being, except other lepers would come near him. The person with leprosy was cursed, he was a living testimony of the infectious, progressive, corrupting, and destructive, deadly, isolating, nature of sin, sin which separates man from God.

Leprosy is really a picture or ‘type’ of sin. It began with a small sore somewhere on the body and eventually consumed the whole individual resulting in death.

This how James, the brother of the Lord describes sin he says; “…each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:14-15 NKJV

Or as Eugene Peterson interprets it in The Message: “The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.”

As soon as the first signs of leprosy appeared the person was considered to be a dead man even while he lived. We need to take that to heart; sin and temptation no matter how small in the beginning can grow exponentially. We should never underestimate the destructive power of sin.

Naaman, the Syrian general did not have an advanced case of leprosy, rather his disease was in the early stages, affecting only the skin. We don’t know how far the disease had spread in the lepers who came to Jesus…

All we know is that all of these cases were absolutely hopeless from a human standpoint.

That is why when the Syrian general came to the King of Israel to be healed the king tore his clothes in dismay and said, "Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me." Only GOD could possibly heal leprosy!

Even today, modern anti-biotics can stop the progress of the disease but nothing can reverse or heal the damage that has been done. Only God can heal Leprosy!

God not only healed Naaman of the disease but the ravages of the disease were completely undone so that his skin was made pure and unblemished like the skin of a baby! This is the amazing work of God!

No wonder then that Naaman, seeing the miracle, said, “"Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel!" The Church in Communist China, in spite of persecution, privation, and ostracism is powerful, vibrant, and growing exponentially. Credible reports attest that at least fifty percent of Chinese converts trace their attraction and conversion to the Gospel to some miraculous occurrence, usually physical healing. This is a lesson that domestic pastors, church planters, and church growth experts should take note of.

In the lesson from Luke chapter seventeen ten men, all infected with leprosy, all hopeless, suddenly have found reason to hope. Hope is the expectation that good may come. Hope is the evidence of faith. Where did these leprous men get hope and faith?

The original language of the New Testament makes it very clear that when these ten leprous men met Jesus in a certain village it was not a chance

meeting. The original words mean to come from opposite directions and meet together. These men had heard about Jesus and had chased him down. Though they had to keep a distance from Jesus and the crowd, they had arranged this meeting! How and why had they conceived such a plan?

Luke says they ‘stood afar off’ and called out “Jesus, master, have mercy on us!” They called out in hope, they cried out in faith that Jesus would help them.

Where did that hope, where did that faith come from?

Paul wrote in Roman 10:17: "So faith comes from hearing the Good News, and people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ." NCV

These lepers had some how heard the reports that are recorded in earlier in Luke’s gospel. They had heard how Jesus had raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. Word had reached them that Jesus had broken up a funeral in the village of Nain. He had stopped the funeral procession, raised a young man out of his coffin, and given him back to his mother!

They had reason to hope! They were as good as dead, but Jesus can raise the dead!

This hope was not just available they had heard for innocent young girls like Jairus daughter, or the nice young man in the village of Nain.

Amazingly, another leper, one of their own pitiful band of brothers, had experienced the unthinkable, the unimaginable, and the incredible.

They had heard how that certain leper had come to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean. And Jesus had said, “I am willing, be clean.” Jesus had actually reached out and touched that leprous man and healed him. No one touches a leper! No one can heal a leper… no one but Jesus!

As we noted in the beginning the Psalmist advises us, admonishes us, to think about, to meditate upon, to carefully consider the “Amazing deeds of God”.

You can be sure, having heard these amazing stories about what God was doing through Jesus Christ these ten lepers had both individually and together spent much time thinking about what these stories meant and especially what it meant for them.

They concluded there was hope! They went in faith! They stood afar off and cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! Do for us what we have heard you have done for others!”

Then our lesson tells us: So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves (that you have been healed) to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed, all of them! Ten men heard about the Amazing Deeds of God, they believed, they called out in faith, and they received a tremendous miracle!

III. FROM PONDERING TO POSSESSING

I saw a movie recently called ‘Gravity’. Yesterday I saw a review of the movie which talked about its religious and metaphysical implications. I have to admit that never really occurred to me. I left the theater with my son and my wife and said, “That was a great movie, great acting, a real nail-biter.” But, I did not go and walk on the beach and for hours thinking and trying to understand the cosmic philosophical significance of the actress, Sandra Bullock, lost in space.

It was just a good story! I have no plans to be an astronaut; it has nothing to do with me.

The Bible itself admonishes us not to have that attitude toward the amazing stories, the amazing deeds of God recorded in it. We shouldn’t hear an exciting, dramatic lesson about these lepers and leave today saying, “That was a great story!”

I once attended a men’s Bible study. We read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter one. A dear friend of mine piped up towards the end and said, “What I want to know is; what does that have to do with my life today? How can I apply that to my own circumstances and Christian walk?”

Great question… If we need to ponder what the genealogy of Jesus might mean for our lives how much more should we consider how His Amazing Deeds might have implications for our own situations.

What if the ten lepers had heard about Jairus daughter, the son of the widow at the village of Nain, and the bold leper who had approached Christ and simply said, “Wow, what great stories, but that has nothing to do with us!”

No, they considered it, they pondered these things, and they began to hope, to believe that these things, these amazing stories, did have application to their own life and circumstances. Then they went and called on Jesus with hope and faith and got the miracle they needed!

Someone said, “The Bible that is falling apart belongs to someone who isn’t!” Practical Faith comes from regular reading of the Scriptures and about the God to whom "all things are possible."

Let me join the Psalmist this morning if encouraging you to read the Gospels regularly, yes, all the word of God, and meditate on the Amazing Deeds of the Almighty and apply them to your life!

Do you have a child who has gone astray? Does it seem hopeless? Perhaps you could meditate on the amazing story of the prodigal son. Then with hope and faith you could pray, “O God, do for me what you did for that father! Keep my child safe where he or she is, but work in their heart, work in their circumstances to bring them to their senses, give them light, and draw them to Yourself!”

We can pray Lord religiously, maybe even very sincerely, “Give us this day our daily bread.” But we can also meditate on the God of Miracles and pray, “O God who fed Elijah by sending a raven with bread and meat, feed us, meet our needs by your miracles. You Lord, who fed five thousand with a small boys lunch, multiply our resources and meet our desperate needs!”

You can pray deliver us from evil, but you can also pray, “Dear God who delivered Mordecai out of the evil, deadly plans of Hamaan, you who brought Peter out of prison and delivered him from the King, deliver me out of this situation and save me from those who would do me harm!”

You can, and should have someone anoint you with oil and pray when you are sick or injured. But you can also meditate on God’s Amazing Deeds in Jesus Christ and cry out, “Lord Jesus… as you healed the blind beggar Bartimaeus, heal me. As you cured the deaf and mute, set me free from this spirit of sickness. As you commanded the fever to leave Peter’s mother-in-law, let this miserable sickness go from me!”

You can say with Peter… “Lord, I see that you are no respecter of persons! You reject no one who comes to you! We are all your children! Meet my need as you always did in the Scriptures.

You can cry out like these ten lepers, “Lord, Jesus, Master… have mercy on me!”

Jesus said His disciples were those who had His words living in them. He told the Apostles, “Go, make disciples, teaching to both know and to do all that I have commanded and instructed you!”

Let us read about the Amazing Deeds of God; let us ponder these things.

Let us give thanks and praise to the God of Heaven, our Father who does such marvelous things.

And let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us to apply these things to our own lives!

Don and Leia Schulze

This modern-day spiritual odyssey takes you on a heartwarming, soul-stirring exploration of faith. Join Don and Leia and their family on their adventures across America, Asia, Europe, and Central Africa. Real stories about real people and real, modern day miracles! You will also discover practical steps to seeing your own daily walk with God add up to a life of miracles. . You will laugh, you will cry, you will cheer... you will believe

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