First, I would like to say that I love the new Bible Reading Plan we are doing for the year 2017. I believe it has the potential to make a huge impact on all who take advantage of it. This week reading in Mark, chapter 1, I read something that really caught my attention. In verse 40 we read that a man with leprosy begs Jesus to heal him. Jesus was “filled with compassion”(vs. 41), he reached out and touched the man, immediately he was healed. As a leper, no one had touched him in a long time. In fact, everyone steered clear of him to avoid catching the horrible disease. As soon as he was healed, Jesus sent him off to be reinstated in the community through the local priest with “a strong warning” (vs. 43) to not tell anyone that He had healed him. Then we read in verse 45, that the man ignored Jesus’ clear instructions and told everybody about it. Then we read in verse 46 that because the man disobeyed Jesus that “Jesus could no longer enter a town openly, but stayed outside in lonely places”. The man’s decision to disobey had a direct impact on what Jesus could do. Think about that for a moment. Our decisions impact what God can do. The healed man was excited and decided that he could ignore Jesus’ command with it being no big deal but he was seriously wrong. His decision to tell everyone created a huge distraction to Jesus’ ministry and hindered His ability to move around freely. As I have meditated on this, I think this is a common problem with many of us today. God has given us clear instructions but we decide what we will and will not obey based on our own opinion of the importance of the issue. Two categories come immediately to mind: forgiving and giving. We are clearly told in the Bible to forgive those who have wronged us and to be generous givers to God’s church. Neither is optional. When we choose to obey we can be confident that we are pleasing God and fitting in with His plans. We need to realize that when we choose not to obey either of these and by making excuses, we are limiting what God can do as a result. For instance, by not forgiving I may be creating a roadblock to someone discovering God’s love and grace. Or my not giving to my church may mean that a staff position or important initiative cannot be funded and therefore opportunities for impact are lost. Take a minute and join me in asking God to show us where we might be like the former leper and then ask for His help to surrender and obey.