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‘And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’
Then He put out His Hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately the leprosy left him’ (Luke 5:12-13).
Unforgiveness is a demon that ruins our lives like leprosy. In the Bible, its victims were isolated and forced to call themselves, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ (Leviticus 13:45). Physically, leprosy is caused by a germ or bacteria called mycobacterium leprae.
‘The bacteria attack nerve endings and destroy the body’s ability to feel pain and injury. Without feeling pain, people injure themselves and the injuries can become infected, resulting in tissue loss. Fingers and toes become shortened and deformed as the cartilage is absorbed into the body… 115 countries reported cases of leprosy in 2012. Three to four million people have disabilities as a result of leprosy’ (American Leprosy Missions).*
‘A world without pain? Can such a place exist? It not only can—it does. But it’s no utopia. It’s a colony for leprosy patients: a world where people literally feel no pain, and reap horrifying consequences’ (The Gift of Pain).**
Consider heart leprosy. In the Bible, God calls its victims, ‘Impudent and hard-hearted’ (Ezekiel 3:7). They become unfeeling: ‘Being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart’ (Ephesians 4:18).
‘Lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them’ (John 12:40). Heal them? Yes! Internally and externally. Mentally healthy minds and physically healthy bodies come from spiritually healthy hearts. Therefore, the condition of your heart is of primary importance to God.
Leprosy of the heart is caused by unforgiveness, which is caused by anger, which is caused by pride: the sin of Satan, who grew to consider himself equal with God.
Being equal with God would mean that he (and we) believe we know what is best: we are qualified to determine both crime and punishment. Because when we refuse to forgive anyone for anything, we make ourselves equal to God—or even superior to Him.
Because He commands us to the opposite behavior. Because He put His Money where His Mouth was: by Jesus, He forgave us.
Therein, harboring unforgiveness causes leprosy of the heart, and we who live with this evil spirit are indeed ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
The Gift of Pain is a critically acclaimed book by Dr. Paul Brand (renowned surgeon working with leprosy patients) and Philip Yancey (award-winning writer)
This devotion is #1 in a series called “Unforgiveness” intended for actors, models and talent for Christ. To subscribe to AMTC Daily Devotions, please see the link on our home page.
‘Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, ‘O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!’ And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.’
‘And his brothers and all his father’s household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years’ (Judges 16:28-31).
Samson, our flawed hero, had a flawless finish. He brought down 3000 Philistines during a great celebration honoring Dagon, their god. ‘Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy! (v.23). ‘So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, ‘Call for Samson, that he may perform for us’ ‘ (v.25).
Since his capture by the lips of Delilah, the blinded leader of Israel became their chief amusement. Like Jesus, Samson was betrayed, scarred and scorned. Like Jesus, Samson surrendered his life willingly—so that his brethren might be free.
‘Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him—This awful catastrophe seems to have so completely paralyzed the Philistines, that they neither attempted to prevent the removal of Samson’s corpse, nor to molest the Israelites for a long time after’ (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).
God confirms Samson’s flawless finish in Hebrews Chapter 11, now called the ‘Faith Hall of Fame.’ * Because God never stopped loving Samson, especially during his torture and confinement. God’s plans for His flawed hero were heroic to the end.
Did it have to happen this way? Only God knows. But we know Samson needed to return to his First Love. We know Samson received multiple opportunities to get it right. So God gave him the opportunity to get it wrong. Therein, Samson was perfected through suffering.
Yes, his finish was flawless.
‘And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again’ (Hebrews 11:32-35).
This devotion is #5 in a series called “Star Struggles: Samson & Delilah” intended for actors, models and talent for Christ. To subscribe to AMTC Daily Devotions, please see the link on our home page.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions (Psalm 51:1).
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17).
Consider two popular billboards: 1) ‘God prefers kind atheists over hateful Christians;’ 2) ‘I’ve got nothing against God. It’s His fan club I can’t stand.’ Consider a quote from Ghandi: ‘I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.’
Hateful or judgmental Christians present a contradiction in terms. Because you can’t be full of hate or judgment—and be full of Christ at the same time. ‘If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar’ (1 John 4:20). Even more, ‘Mercy triumphs over judgment’ (James 2:13).
Personally speaking, I was deterred from Christ by hateful Christians—until a merciful God revealed Himself directly to me. But aren’t we supposed to be His middle men, a.k.a. His Body?
So what is mercy and how does it pertain to us as the Body of Christ? Mercy is ‘compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender.’ It is ‘an act of kindness, compassion or favor’ (Random House Dictionary).
Mercy is an act of love when it’s hard to give it—when it’s unusual or inconvenient. Like helping a stranger, an enemy or an obvious sinner. Mercy is giving love to someone who doesn’t seem to deserve it. Like the adulteress facing her accusers.*
Mercy is a calling card for Christ. Every time you hand it out, you make the best possible connection and truly represent the God of mercy.
What if people don’t appreciate your mercy? Most people will. Mercy is a life-saver. But even if they don’t, God does. After all, His opinion of us is the only One that counts.
How does mercy relate to media? Don’t hate the sinners. Don’t judge them. Because Jesus didn’t. His only harsh words were directed to the rule-driven ‘religious’ people of His day. Instead, give them mercy.
Because God promotes people like His Son, people of mercy. Therein mercy is a success strategy.
This devotion is #23 in a series called “Success Strategies” intended for actors, models and talent for Christ. To subscribe to AMTC Daily Devotions, please see the link on our home page.
If you love Me, keep My commandments’ (John 14:15).
But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, cast out demons in Your Name, and done many wonders in Your Name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall’ (Matthew 7:21-27).
Regarding the obedience of 21st century Christians (especially in America), I am gravely concerned. Yes, gravely—as in life or death. Because I fear that we are selectively obedient—as in cutting, picking, choosing and rearranging the Word of God to suit our lawless culture.
The very worst punishment may follow.
Because the Word of God is Jesus: ‘And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).
Therefore, trying to cut up God’s Word is like trying to cut up Jesus—which is impossible. But the act of trying bears the harshest result.
It’s all about obedience: none, partial or full. I am not perfectly obedient, but I continue to try—and I continue read His Word. With extraordinary tenderness, He perfects me. He perfects us all by the perfect Law of liberty, which is His Word.
‘But he who looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in It, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does’ (James 1:25).
I plead with each reader of this devotion. I implore every actor, model and talent for Christ. I beg every Christian: Do not limit yourself to any devotion or any sermon at any church. They’re not enough. I repeat: they’re not enough. Read the Word of God in Its full form: verse by verse—in order.
Maybe start with the Gospels. Continue in the New Testament. Get foundational with the Old. But read It daily, again and again. Out loud—even better. Because God’s Word and your obedience to It are life.
This devotion is #21 in a series called “Success Strategies” intended for actors, models and talent for Christ. To subscribe to AMTC Daily Devotions, please see the link on our home page.
AMTC’s Winter SHINE 2013 recently concluded. It’s year 31 for AMTC, but only year two as a Christian non-profit. A ministry called Actors, Models & Talent for Christ seems like an incongruity. Most actors, models and talent seem pretty far removed from Christ. Isn’t that an impossible combination?
No! We serve a God Who specializes in missions impossible. Right now, He has His Eye on the mission field of arts and entertainment. It’s AMTC’s job to prepare His performers to rise and SHINE. At the recent SHINE convention, dozens (over 60) kings of film, fashion, music, and theater converged on the Gaylord Hotel in Orlando. They were looking for new talent, and they found it!
Throughout the week, we had lots of stars, star-makers, and amazing performances to keep us enthralled. But if anyone thinks AMTC might forget its true mission of serving God, let’s praise Him for the Saturday morning baptism of nine performers. Hundreds of people surrounded Gaylord’s heated mega-pool—which was good, because the air was unusually cool. But the Spirit was unusually warm.
People committed and recommitted their lives to Christ that week. Nine took the Baptism plunge. Isn’t that what SHINING really is?
Read Justin Trisler’s first-hand account of the experience, and how listening to the Spirit’s urging led to a SHINE milestone.
There are 57 more in the archive >
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