“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him_and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well’” (New International Version 1984, Luke 17:11-19).
“What do you get if you cross a centipede with a turkey? Fewer fights over who gets a drumstick at Thanksgiving” (Bonham, Clean Church Jokes).
Thanksgiving is approaching! What an opportunity to check our own attitudes and see if we are giving thanks for the blessings God has given us.
My pastor, Bill Hulse at Putnam City Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, is preaching on praise and thanksgiving through this month. He mentioned the passage above in his message last Sunday. The word ‘return’ caught my attention and as I have been meditating on this passage the Lord has reminded me of four ways that I can return thanks to Him.
First, by giving my attention to Him. It is important to note that only one of the ten returned to Jesus and expressed thanks. It is easy to give attention to our hurts and wants and to think that we have nothing to be thankful for, especially to God.
This one man was a Samaritan and a leper. He could not have been more of an outcast in his community. Yet, he is the one that recognized God’s hand moving in his life and returned to Jesus and said, “Thank you!”
Second, by demonstrating commitment to Him. When Jesus blessed this outcast and the outcast recognized he had been blessed by God he returned and ‘threw himself at Jesus’ feet.’ This is a universal picture of submission that each of us can recognize and follow.
Third, by showing affection to Him. This man’s reaction is similar to the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and perfume. Just as most in our story did not give attention, commitment or affection to Jesus; most in the prostitute’s story scorned her and Jesus’ reaction to her.
In that story Jesus’ response was, “‘Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven_for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:47-50).
Fourth, by offering sacrifice to Him. Affection leads to sacrifice. We see this many times in people who have repented of much and yielded to Christ. Zacchaeus returned his thanks by saying to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).
Return thanks this Thanksgiving by giving your attention, commitment, affection and sacrifice to the Lord each and every day!
Unleashing the captives,
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (New International Version 1984, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
I had the privilege of preaching my mother-in-law’s funeral service two weeks ago and since it was such a significant event in my family, I want to share it with you.
Dorothy Louise Manning wrestled with significant health issues for years and recently had been placed on hospice care. Knowing the end was near I began to read Paul’s words of encouragement from 1 Thessalonians 4 each day. His challenge was used by the Holy Spirit to minister to me and I believe to the family as well.
The transformation of people on both sides of the bars is all about a life and death issue; our own mortality, the meaning of life and the claims of God upon our life. A devotion on dying is appropriate here. I trust you will be encouraged by these words as well.
The first word to note in this passage is “brothers.” This passage is for believers. There are hundreds of promises in the Bible. Every one of them operates under the sovereignty of God. The grace of God moves upon us as we yield to the working of His Holy Spirit. Surrendering your will to God is essential.
The second word to note in this passage is “not to be ignorant.” In all my years of ministry there is so much that people do not know about God. Do you want to know about God? God wants it more!
The Mannings vacationed in Oregon and California visiting relatives while my wife, Mary, and her sister, Debbie, were in high school. When they returned, Dorothy matter of factly told the pastor there needed to be more Southern Baptist churches in California. She had a way of speaking that way.
Little did she know that a few years later the Lord would call her daughter and first grandchild to that far state to start a church. We think we know. God knows more!
The third word to note in this passage is “grieve . . . who have no hope.” There are so many feelings when one who has lived a long and full life then endures a lengthy time of suffering and declining health. We grieve, but we grieve with hope.
The fourth word to note in this passage is “We believe that Jesus died and rose again.” This is the basis of our hope. Through faith in Jesus Christ we will live again and we will see our believing loved ones again.
I have been mesmerized watching Ken Burns most recent series on PBS called Country Music. The music and the stories are amazing.
One thing has stood out and brought me to tears. In the midst of fame, heartache and self-destructive behavior so many of the country music stars cried out for salvation and deliverance to Jesus Christ. Their songs were of hope!
From Hank Williams with his I Saw The Light (wrote it himself inspired by his mother) to Johnny Cash who closed each of his network shows with a gospel song over the objections of his network and with his Man In Black (which he wrote for the burdened and oppressed “who never read or listened to the words that Jesus said”) to Kris Kristofferson with his Why Me Lord?
Be encouraged with these words of hope from our Lord. Use these words to give encouragement to someone else.
Unleashing the captives,
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (New International Version 1984, 1 Corinthians 15:58).
There is discouragement, there is irrelevance and there is plain ole forgetfulness. All of these can battle against us as we walk with the Lord and fight the good fight to maintain our faithfulness.
These emotions and thoughts (or lack of thoughts) seem to compound as I get older. My life and ministry have had several compartments. I have lived in Oklahoma, Texas, California and Oklahoma again. I have pastored, served in denominational positions and now minister in a parachurch organization.
There is much of my ministry that I do not remember unless prompted. Facebook posts from old friends will remind me of past ministry. Phone calls to and from ministry peers bring up former events that saw God at work.
Honestly, when someone brings up ministry from the past that I have forgotten, I think, “Well, maybe the Lord has used me to impact lives and His Kingdom for eternity.”
Throughout the Old Testament you see things repeated to remind God’s people of His faithfulness. God also has a way of reminding His people of their faithfulness. It is called brothers and sisters in Christ. It is called encouragement. It is called the fellowship of believers. It is called the annual OJPM Volunteers Appreciation Banquet!
This annual time of celebration, remembering and honoring is coming up on Friday, September 27th at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 301 N. E. 27th, Moore, Oklahoma. See RSVP information in insert box below.
Each attendee will receive our newest challenge coin that highlights OJPM’s vision to have ministry in every county jail in Oklahoma. We will also be showing the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s new missions video of how OJPM is Transforming People on Both Sides of the Bars.
Our keynote speaker for the banquet is Wayne Shaw, Oklahoma State Senator, District Three. Wayne served as the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Grove, Oklahoma, for 15 years before being elected to the Senate in 2012.
Senator Shaw has worked with Bill Farley, OJPM Development Director, to open several county jails in Northeastern Oklahoma to our ministry.
Thank you volunteers for your service! We want to honor you at our banquet. In our small way, we want to give each faithful worker, supporter and friend of OJPM their just due.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
You labor in the Lord is not in vain!
Unleashing the captives,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (New International Version 1984, Matthew 28:19-20).
Matthew 28:19-20, commonly known as The Great Commission, forms the mission for the Christian Church and most Christian ministries today. OJPM identifies its mission of Transforming People On Both Sides of the Bars as a contextualization of this challenge from our Lord.
The focus of The Great Commission is on making disciples, but it involves going. The English go is not the command that it seems but is a present participle best translated going. The command is to make disciples. It is both understood and specifically stated that you would need to be going to accomplish this task.
OJPM volunteers are involved in The Great Commission by going from a place of comfort to those who need to hear. Our mission field is the local jail situated in every county in this state. It is most likely that the nearest jail is less than ten miles from where you are reading this newsletter.
OJPM is committed to playing our part in the disciple making process. OJPM is committed to calling out volunteers from their place of comfort. OJPM has doubled down on spreading our ministry to every county jail in Oklahoma. Last year we opened three new counties. This year we have already opened three with two more in process.
It takes God’s hand of favor, prayer, willing sheriffs and jail administrators, volunteers and money to go. Are you committed to fulfilling The Great Commission? Are you going?
As OJPM executive chaplain, two events that I think and pray about are our fall volunteer appreciation banquet and our fall chaplain training. Our annual volunteer appreciation banquet will be held Friday, September 27th at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 301 N. E. 27th, Moore, Oklahoma. See RSVP information in insert box below. Each attendee will receive our newest challenge coin that highlights our vision to have ministry in every county jail. There will also be inspirational stories of how OJPM is transforming people on both sides of the bars.
Our keynote speaker for the banquet is Wayne Shaw, State Senator, District Three. Wayne served as the senior pastor at First Christian Church in Grove for fifteen years before being elected to the Senate in 2012.
Senator Shaw has been working with Dr. Joe Wilson in the Oklahoma Prison Chapel Program, which has successfully built six chapels in Oklahoma prisons. The senator has visited and spoken in several of our prisons. Wayne has a heart for jail ministry and is a great friend of OJPM.
Our fall chaplain training will be held Saturday, November 2nd from 8:00 a.m. to Noon at Genesis Church, 623 N Broadway Ave., Suite A, Moore, Oklahoma. One of the key reasons sheriffs invite OJPM into their county jails is because of the training we provide. Note that this is a change from the original date.
Unleashing the captives,