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Sermon 6/27/04
Exfoliation –
Matthew 8:2-3

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And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:2-3)

Before we married three years ago (on June 23rd), we had each decided that we would go through the rest of our lives – alone.  I had a high regard for marriage, but it seemed to be for – others!  Whatever the chemistry and/or attitude it took to be successfully married, I didn’t seem to have what it took to make it happen!  And I was definitely turning into a “stick-in-the-mud;” a person who pretty much stayed at home.  That was before Genevieve came into my life.  She changed everything.  We’re happily married – Yes, it’s possible!  Life can be wonderful!  And I’m not a stick-in-the-mud anymore.

We’ve spent time in places like Israel, New York City, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Yucatan in Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and we go a lot in our home state of California.  We’ve done unexpected and wonderful things that I DEFINITELY would not have done or thought about, except for her.  Included is “exfoliation,” a subject that men don’t ordinarily discuss.  This is a process where old cells are removed through the use of an abrasive substance.  The attempt is to turn someone old into something new.

I avoided this procedure as long as possible, even though Genevieve kept reassuring me: “You’ll love it!  I replied that “exfoliation” sounded very much like a pedicure – Something men just don’t do!  Finally, I gave in and agreed to visit Petie the exfoliation-person in her salon, at the date and time suggested by Genevieve.

The procedure turned out to be a “facial” – A term I hesitate even to use because men just don’t talk like that!  But Genevieve and Petie assured me the great benefit was that I would nick myself fewer times while shaving.  That didn’t sound logical – With less thickness of skin, it just made sense that you’d have less protection against the razor blade.  But I was exfoliated, and shhh! – I’ll share this with you: It was wonderful!

I told a few people that it had been done, delightedly sharing: “I lost consciousness during the procedure.”  It did feel good and I did doze off during it.  I suggested to Petie that she should sell T-shirts or sweat shirts, with the legend, “I’ve Been Exfoliated,” along with the number of her shop.  She may do it and I may buy one!  The bonus is that, indeed, I do cut myself less while shaving.  I’ve been exfoliated – And it’s great!

The bottom line to the procedure is that you are made to feel really, really clean!  It’s a good feeling.  I draw the line at pedicures, however – That’s going too far!

Now, it’s very important in life that we feel really clean.  The best kind of “clean,” however, is to be unsoiled inside - Morally clean, which is very difficult because once we’ve lived in this world for a few years, our attitudes and resultant actions become less clean than we would like them to be.  This degenerative process is really quite predictable, because we are assured on good authority that, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  That’s you and me.  Similar to the leper in today’s Scripture, you and I need to be cleansed” – but our problem is inside.

If you want to be clean, you can be; and I’m not talking, right now, about Petie’s salon.  I’m speaking of the Lord, who can and does make us CLEAN in our hearts, minds and lives.  Somewhere deep inside, a part of everyone is calling out, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  And He is calling back to you, with the words we all need to hear:I am willing; be cleansed.”

Jesus Christ allows the abrasions of our lives to make us just uncomfortable enough to FINALLY become open to His call.  We don’t like the discomforts of sickness, loss, pain, and death, and the reality of it all is: Neither does He.  And yet, the losses we experience cause questions to come into our minds, like: “Why?” We wonder many times, “Why is this happening to ME?”  This leads to a whole series of questions over many years, finally leading to a surrender to the Son of God.  He will give you new life.  He has done the work, He loves you without limit, and He is waiting for – you.

I read an Associated Press article (Long Beach Press Telegram 5/14/04) about a girl in Utah who had a traffic accident.  In order to treat the bleeding on her brain, the surgeons removed half of her skull.  She had to wear a plastic street hockey helmet and she suffered “extreme pain just bending down and would wake up in the morning to find that her brain had shifted to one side during the night.”  The half skull had been frozen and was supposed to be replaced in a month, but it was four months before the second operation was performed.  The issue was money – Insurance money.  The hospital was waiting to see if any insurance program such as Medicaid would cover the operation.  Her mother’s insurance finally decided to pay and the hospital replaced her skull!

In the sight of God, we have lost everything.  We need something like “surgery” inside, to make us whole once more.  We need the Lord even more than that girl needed the rest of her skull, and only the Son of God can make us whole.  The issue is not money, for we could never have enough.  The issue is love, and God has more than enough to cover our need – All we need to do in return is have faith in Him that He indeed really does care that much for you and me.

The leper who came to Jesus had no real expectation from a human perspective that Jesus would even touch him or speak to him, for the religious Jews of that day (they were ALL religious) were forbidden to go anywhere near lepers.  Yet the Son of God had no such inhibitions.  He was not and is not limited by laws designed for human beings.  He is not afraid of who and what you are.  He knows that you and I need to be made whole and He has already performed the work on the cross of Calvary.  He is waiting and wants to make you whole.  Because of Him, you can be “born again” (John 3:3, 7); made new in ways you never expected or even thought about.  Will you come to Him now?

Lord, I want to be made clean – inside, where it counts.  Just like that leper could not become clean by himself, I cannot restore myself in the sight of God.  I need You, Lord Jesus.  Please forgive my sins and make me whole.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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