Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the outcasts of our world. Some real, some perceived. I’m sure each of us can think of some examples. How about those locked away in prisons? How about those in old people homes? How about those with special needs…like the children’s home that some of us saw in Jamaica? What about some people groups…like those that are different than us? Even those that are a different color? Maybe some folks that have particular diseases? Could any, or all of us be considered outcasts? Could I be seen as an outcast?
Mark 1: 40-42 talks about a man who was definitely seen as an outcast, and how Jesus dealt with him: “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”
A leper was someone who had a gruesome disease in which there was no cure. It destroyed the nerve cells and gradually led to the rotting of the flesh, and the unbearable odor that came along with it. It literally repulsed people. In Bible times this person would have been an outcast for sure. This person would have been considered unclean. To touch this person would have meant you were unclean too.
This man knew that if Jesus was willing, that He would make him clean. And so it happened. Jesus looked at him with compassion, reached out and touched him, and was willing to make him clean. Immediately.
The same can be true today for us…and the examples listed above. We see outcasts everywhere. They’re all around us. Folks who feel like they don’t matter. The feel like they could never be accepted. Those who have gone so far in their sins that they wonder if God would even be willing to save them. These people are rotting away…heading towards a slow death. Almost like they have leprosy. There are some of us who feel that way. Maybe all of us do at some time or another. Maybe you feel that way right now.
Remember this: Just like with the leper, if we come to Him in faith, Jesus looks at us with compassion. He reaches out, declaring willingly, that we are clean. Immediately. Oh, that we could have that kind of grace.
Here’s a recent comment we got from a guest in Ottumwa, IA:
“I had had a bad day. I came through the drive-thru crying to pick up some pizza for my family. The gentleman at the window saw me crying and apologized and gave me a flower. Which, obviously, made me cry more but I needed something like that today. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. That small gesture is probably the only thing that started to make me feel a little better. I just want you to know that I’m a regular customer and also a kitchen manager at another place in town. This level of customer service should be awarded. You guys have always been outstanding. I can’t thank you enough for that small token. Just please know it was very much appreciated. If you have some sort of award for this, give it to that man.”
In Matthew 25:14-26 Jesus tells a short story or parable. The story is about a master and three servants. Each servant is entrusted with a certain amount of gold. The first servant was given five bags of gold and he invested it with a return of five additional bags of gold. The second servant received two bags and invested them with a return of two additional bags of gold. The last servant received one bag and hid it. When the master returned he questioned each servant in regards to the gold that they had been given. The two who had invested their gold were praised and the one who hid it was considered wicked and lazy.
Each of us have been given talents, abilities and resources from the Lord. The Lord wants us to use these abilities for his service. Colossians 3:23 reminds us that whatever our abilities are, we should work at them with all of our heart – as if we were working for the Lord. How are you using your talents and abilities? Most importantly what is your attitude like? Are you working as if you are serving the Lord?
There is something mystical that happens when we give praise to God through worship and song, it is intangible, but noticeable and very real. And here it is:
God inhabits the praises of His people! (Paraphrased version of Ps. 22:3.)
The ESV says: Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. The Footnotes of the ESV: Or dwelling in the praises
Yet, other versions state that God “sit’s on” the praises of His people.
Admittedly, these terms sound strange to us.
So what does it mean that He “inhabits” the praises of His people? To inhabit is a verb which means to occupy, live in, populate, lodge, or reside in.
To be clear: God is technically not “more” there than He was before; yet in a time of worship and praise we are more aware that He is there, we are sensitized to His presence. When we praise Him our focus is completely and utterly on Him. When we are singing praises to Him we are yielding to Him and itt seems like everything else drops away.
In His Presence, our feelings rise to the surface and are real and tender—you could say that we are “tenderized” by Him (through His Holy Spirit working on our heart). Maybe during worship—or listening to any Christian song—you’ve experienced a kind of sweet melancholy: when tears flow you’re your face because your heart is filled with a strange combination of joy and sorrow, of gladness and sadness, of lost-ness and found-ness, and this overwhelming sense that I am a sinner saved by His wonderful and amazing Grace.
As the song says:
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
It is well….meaning there is a sense of peace that passes all understanding. A realization that He hears us, knows us, cares for us, and considers our state of brokenness.
The Power of Music is that it is transformational. Music delves into the heart of a person and resides within the crevices of our very identities. Through music people are changed. Through music, words enter our minds and our hearts virtually unfiltered.
A preacher can speak, but be blocked by an unwilling listener.
We can evangelistically approach someone and be pushed away quite easily.
But the Holy Spirit, during worship, praise, and song will do His work and transform you.
My challenge or encouragement is this: The next time you enter into worship, or the next time you hear a Christian song that touches your heart: “Let go your soul and trust in Him.”
Let Him transform you. And it will be well with your soul!
LifeLight just completed two rounds of “mini tours” in March and April. During these tours, mostly in rural Pizza Ranch communities, they bring Christian singers and bands to perform, after which, Josh Brewer gives the gospel message. This year, groups like Aaron Gillespie, Shawn McDonald, Bread of Stone, and Kutless performed.
We don’t know the “numbers” yet, but we know that as a result of these tours, lives have been changed and people have seen Jesus in a fresh new way.
Pizza Ranch is proud to be one of their sponsors as this is our mission To glorify God by positively impacting the world.