The Generosity Challenge has begun - and will continue for the next 3 weeks, concluding on Sunday, January 30th with the presentation of our financial faith commitments during worship to support the ministries of Good Shepherd UMC. We will accept the challenge to grow in generosity. THE GENEROSITY CHALLENGE – 28 days of Gratitude, Prayer and Faith will guide our challenge. There are several ways to engage in this challenge. A DEVOTIONAL GUIDE with 28 days of devotions, reflection and daily challenges is available. Small groups meeting at the church and around our community will also be studying THE GENEROSITY CHALLENGE WORKBOOK which provides discussion guidance and a teaching DVD along with daily reflections and challenges. On the four weekends between January 8 thru January 30th, Pastor Tom will be preaching on the four aspects of the GENEROSITY CHALLENGE.
We begin by realizing that we all bear the generous image of God. We are all created in the image of God and God is a generous and loving God. That original image has been covered by our sin. It can be revealed and restored by God’s forgiveness and grace and our faithful discipleship. Whose image do you bear? This is the beginning question?
GRATITUDE should be our fundamental response to God’s generous love and grace. Jesus met ten lepers as he traveled to Jerusalem. They all cried out for healing. Jesus healed them all of leprosy. One showed the life changing power and effect of GRATITUDE for Jesus’ generosity. Let’s read the story from Luke 17: 11-19.
Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
All ten lepers asked for healing from their disease. Jesus heard them all. Jesus healed them all. They all received the GENEROUS LOVE of God’s grace. They were all happy. They were all excited. Only one returned to Jesus and gave thanks – expressed GRATITUDE for God’s grace and healing. His GRATITUDE led to him also realizing a blessing from Jesus. “19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” He became a faithful disciple of Jesus.
Notice that the Generous Love of Jesus was expressed in the border region between Samaria and Galilee. God’s grace knows no boundaries or limits. Also, notice that Jesus healed all ten lepers, simply because they asked. Jesus didn’t prequalify the lepers to determine who was more or less worthy. Jesus simply responded to their group plea for mercy. Jesus’ healing miracles are always for the glory of God, not because some are more deserving than others. All ten were healed. Nine ran home to share the good news of their healing with their family and friends. I’m sure they celebrated a wonderful homecoming, but only one returned in GRATITUDE to thank Jesus. The GRATEFUL person was a foreigner – not of the same tribe, nation, clan or culture as Jesus. The GRATEFUL person received the blessing of Jesus and realized the full measure of Jesus' GENEROUS love. He became a disciple. He believed. He received. His life was eternally transformed.
There is no doubt of the GENEROUS LOVE OF GOD made known through Jesus. God is showering love upon all people all the time. Few recognize God’s generosity and respond in gratitude. Sadly, most think they earned it or deserved it. That is why Paul can write these words from jail in Rome in a letter to the church of Philippi. Philippians 4:12-13; “12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
God does not make us “super-people” able to leap tall buildings or defeat great foes by God’s love for us. God’s generous love provides us the opportunity to be grateful for all of our lives lived faithfully as a disciple. We see the world as God sees the world and we can be content in any and every situation because we are grateful for God’s generous love always being poured out into our lives.
Spend some time this week reflecting upon God’s generosity realized in your life. When did you experience God’s presence, God’s healing, or God’s guidance? What was your response? Were you grateful? How did you express that gratitude? Did it change your life?
Enjoy the GENEROSITY CHALLENGE.
Blessings, Pastor Tom
Covid 19 UPDATE - JANUARY 11, 2022: As of today, Lee Health has:
- 284 COVID-19 patients isolated in our hospitals (inpatient).
- Of these patients, 9 of them are being treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
- This morning, our hospital census was at 93% of staffed operational bed capacity.
- Yesterday, Lee Health emergency departments saw 1,063 patients. Before the current omicron surge, our emergency departments were averaging about 900 patients per day.
- Yesterday, Lee Convenient Care saw 512 patients, our LCC locations were averaging about 360 patients per day before the omicron surge.
- Lee TeleHealth is currently free and is an easy alternative to avoid longer than normal wait times at urgent care centers. To access Lee Telehealth, download the Lee Health app or visit www.LeeTelehealth.org.
To get a VACCINATION or BOOSTER visit www.LeeHealth.org for information on booster eligibility and to schedule a vaccination.
DO NOT GO TO a Hospital Emergency Department to get a COVID 19 test. Covid 19 testing is available by appointment at area pharmacies, Lee Health Convenient Care locations, Lee Health Department sites, and Century Link Ballpark location.
We are not at the peak of this wave of Covid 19 infections. The peak is projected to occur in three weeks. VACCINATION and getting a BOOSTER is your best protection from serious illness. Break through cases are occurring but the symptoms are far less severe. PLEASE WEAR A MASK if in any public setting. WASH HANDS regularly. Maintain SOCIAL DISTANCING as much as possible. If you are experiencing any “cold symptoms” please isolate from others and carefully monitor your symptom progress.