Summary: This sermon deals with our being grateful even when life's circumstances stink. The text that is used is from the story of the Pharisee and the Prostitute.
Being Grateful When Life Happens
Seeing that Thanksgiving is right around the corner; it might be nice to speak upon our need to be grateful to God. And so the point I want to get across is …
The depth of our gratitude reveals just how much we understand our need for a Savior.
Just by what I said, along with the title of today’s message, you can probably surmise that this isn’t going to be the typical Thanksgiving Day message.
The famous Northridge earthquake happened while I was going to seminary in California. I was in a waterbed at the time and as the shaking started, the waterbed had a tidal wave pitching me out onto the floor. I went into the doorway of the bathroom to ride it out and heard dishes crash and bookshelves topple over.
No one prepared me for an earthquake. They were uncommon in Las Vegas where I grew up. Further, there were no warning signs that an earthquake was on its way. It just happened, which is what happens in life.
A person walks out to their mailbox and finds a letter from an attorney or IRS. Everyday people walk into doctor’s offices to hear they have some sickness or disease, or they’re driving down the road and get into an accident.
Life happens, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. These events are outside our control, but when you think about it, there isn’t much that is under our control.
We can all testify to things that have happened in our lives without warning.
Now, we can come to the conclusion that since life just happens we can have a “que sera sera, whatever will be will be” attitude, or we can live our lives responsibly and wisely.
If the later is the case, where can we go to find out what to do? How about the Bible? It’s the best place to start, because it’s God’s word for our lives. Some of the simplest and most powerful teachings are found in the stories Jesus told.
The story that we’ll be looking at today will help us understand one of the most powerful things we can do when life happens. It’s the story of the Pharisee and the Prostitute.
Read Luke 7:36-39
Jesus had received a dinner invitation from Simon the Pharisee. Now, there’s something a bit unusual about such an invitation, because when it came to Jesus and the Pharisees, it was more of a butting of heads than a meeting of the minds.
To understand, maybe we need to understand a little bit more about the Pharisees. The Pharisees came into existence around 150 years prior to Jesus after the Maccabean war when the Jews kicked Antiochus Epiphanes and the Syrians out of their country.
The name “Pharisee” means separated ones. They were concerned with the religious drift that was happening and they stood against it. Following the Law of Moses was important; therefore, they were careful to obey it and desired everyone else to do the same.
In fact, they amped it up a couple of notches!
The heart of the Jewish faith, or the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, Deuteronomy 6:5, in which Jesus confirmed, and then He added a second saying it was like the first, that is, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
But the first part is the basic Jewish statement of faith, and so the Pharisees were intent on ensuring that it was never transgressed, thus developing additional regulations so that they would not unintentionally break it.
Take for instance the law of keeping the Sabbath day holy. It’s one of God’s top ten. This is one of the laws that God gave that would show the people’s love for Him. So the Pharisees basically asked the following question. “How do we keep the Sabbath day holy?”
The law states that no work was to be done on this day, so they asked, “What constitutes work? How much expenditure of energy constitutes work? How can we measure it?”
Here is one of the ways they came up with. In the Old Testament it says that the Holy of Holies was to be situated 2,000 cubits (1000 yards) away from the nearest habitation. So they made a law stating that on the Sabbath people could only walk 2,000 cubits, anything more than that would be considered work.
Now remember, the purpose was to answer the question not what constitutes work, but how they could show their love for God. The problem is they thought you showed your love for God, not by keeping the Sabbath day holy, but by walking no more than 2,000 cubits.
They had gotten this to such a fine art that they developed over 300 such regulations surrounding the one law to keep the Sabbath day holy.