Summary: A message on how to show the LORD how thankful you are for His blessings in your life.
How to Show You Are Thankful
Scripture Reference: Luke 17:11-19
Preached at Ebenezer Church on November 20, 2016
Delivered by Rev. John Daniel Johnson
Illustration— Someone wrote this list of things for which he was Thankful.
"I am thankful for:
The taxes I pay - because it means I’m employed;
The clothes that fit a little too snug - because it means I have enough to eat;
A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need washing, & gutters that need cleaning –
because it means I have a home;
My huge heating bill - because it means I am warm;
The piles of laundry - because it means I have loved ones nearby.”
Most of us are familiar with the traditional story of Thanksgiving where William Bradford, of Plymouth Rock, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims in their second year in the New World, as well as an abundant harvest that they had reaped with the aid of the Indians. However, most people don’t know that the first American Thanksgiving didn’t occur in 1621 with this group of Pilgrims who shared a feast with a group of friendly Indians. The first recorded thanksgiving actually took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn’t a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. You would think that after seeing so many of their loved ones die due to the hardships of the New World, they would not feel that thankful. However, the opposite was true. They realized they had much to be thankful for.
We ourselves often don’t realize how blessed we are, or how thankful we ought to be, until what we have is threatened to be taken away. For a Christian, every day ought to be a day of thanksgiving.
Here in the passage of scripture that I read this morning, there were ten lepers who met Jesus and had a life changing encounter with the Lord. When you break this story down to it’s simplest elements, that describes every Christian. We were outcasts from the Kingdom of God, on our way to certain death, but then we had a life changing encounter with Jesus.
While we should never look back on the pleasures of sin, we should never forget where the Lord has brought us from. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said: Isaiah 51:1…
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.”
In other words, look at where God has brought you from and remember what God has done for you. Visit again in your mind the place where you first met God and His mercy and grace.
There is Three Truths I Want Us to See This Morning
I. NOTICE THE LEPERS’ CONDITION.
1. Most of us have heard stories of the horrors of having leprosy in Biblical times. It was a horrible disease to have. Not only was there the pain of the disease itself, but there was also the stigma that went with having the disease.
2. The Mosaic Law pronounced a leper as being “unclean”. They were not fit to enter into the tabernacle, or later, the Temple to worship. They could no longer live with their families, but the law required them to live outside the city (Num. 5:2-3). The Law required that they rend their clothes as a sign of extreme sorrow, that their faces be covered and that they cry out “unclean” when ever anyone came close to them. Their faces were hidden, representing that no form of intimacy could be known to them. In Hebrew tradition, the face was seen as being the most intimate part. You could not truly know someone until you could see their face. When the Jews were commanded to seek the face of God, they were commanded to seek His presence for the same Hebrew word for face, is the same word for presence.
3. To be a leper meant no intimacy with anyone, no friendship with anyone, you were isolated and a total outcast. Leprosy was regarded as a disease which the Jews supposed to be inflicted for the punishment of some particular sin, and to be, more than other diseases, a mark of God’s displeasure. If you were a leper, you essentially lost everything, your family, your job, and your money.
4. Note that verse 12 of Luke 17 describes these lepers as standing “afar off”. Rabbinic tradition said that they had to stand at least 100 paces from anyone else. They could not even come close to Jesus.