Summary: Thanksgiving or Advent reminder to be grateful as believers.
Intro: A man stood writing at the post office counter one day when an older man shuffled up to him with a postcard in his hand.“Sir,” the older man said, “would you please address this postcard for me?”
The first man gladly consented, and wrote what the older man dictated to him, and even signed the man’s name to the postcard. When he finished, he extended the postcard and asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
The old fellow looked at the card, thought for a moment, and then answered, “Yes. At the end, could you just put ‘P.S. Please excuse the sloppy handwriting!” I suppose we have all had to perform a thankless task. How does it make you feel when it happens? In today’s lesson we realize the importance of remembering to return and give thanks.
Prop: In Lk. 17:11-21 we’ll notice 3 important aspects of thanksgiving.
BG: 1. This event takes place during the winter of third year of ministry in region of Perea.
2. Is a great example of an individual’s commitment to thank Christ for work in life.
3. Thanksgiving as a national holiday is about more than what Brooks Simpson entitled the three “F’s” – Food, family, and football. It’s about a faith that is marked by gratitude.
Prop: Ex. Lk. 17 with me today as we learn 3 lessons re: thanksgiving and gratitude.
I. The Condition of the Lepers Wasn’t Something that Naturally Elicited Thanksgiving. Vv.11-12
A. The Illness of these Lepers Weighed Heavily Upon them.
1. Due to their Condition these Lepers lived a terrible existence.
a. There is no one here today who would have willingly exchanged his/her lot in life with this band of lepers. You may have your health concerns and I certainly would not make light of them. However, thankfully, very few of us will ever have such a disfiguring death sentence that we will carry in our bodies as these ten men did. Old Testament Law (Lev. 13:45ff) forbade their intimate contact with people in society. They often live solitary lives, isolated from others, or else they were forced to live in isolated, communal settings where all normal social barriers were removed (cf. Num. 5:1-3). It seems in this context that the lepers were made up of Jews and Samaritans. The rabbis assert that this was a divine illness sent by God on sinners (cf. II Kgs. 5:25-27; 15:5; II Chr. 26:16-23).hoveled together in unsanitary circumstances where they could see their fate in the faces of their friends.
b. Don’t think that the importance of this miracle was lost on Luke, a physician, who records this event. Both Mt.(8) and Mark (1) recorded Jesus’ healing of lepers earlier in His ministry, but here we see 10 at once, and in an area of larger Gentile populations – don’t forget Luke was writing to a Gentile to assure him of the validity of faith in Christ. Jesus Christ loved Jew and Gentile alike. We are in fact, one in Christ!
2. Determining to Give Thanks is a Choice of the Will in Life we must all make.
a. Paul tells us to give thanks in every circumstance. I Thes. 5:18 “in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Now I used to wonder about that passage, and I am in no ways saying I have this mastered, nor am I consistent in it’s application. However, the fact of the matter is you and I don’t have a right to wallow in self-pity and defeatism. I think if nothing else, the individual that chooses to give thanks, even in the most difficult circumstances, is an individual who is choosing to live by faith and not by sight. He/she is a person who is choosing to live by God’s promises rather than life’s problems. Choosing to give thanks, even when we don’t think the circumstances warrant it, is a volitional act of the will to reject some unmanned determinism and fate in the universe and acknowledge that a wise and loving God has a plan for your life. Illust: A little girl’s Prayer: A little girl was being punished by eating alone in the corner of the dining room. The family paid no attention to her until they heard her pray: “I thank Thee, Lord, for preparing a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”
b. Illust – Remember a few ago when a local Christian businessman who many of us know had a fire that caused over $500,000 in damage to his business. Now that is a stress-builder! Now I am sure that businessman would not have chosen to have life disrupted in such a fashion. However, was conscientiously looking out for employees and taking steps to recover while daily looking to the Lord to meet needs and provide. (Illust – Mike M. is one of the best examples I know of someone willing to give thanks to the Lord in even the most difficult of situations. He always reminds me of my need to do the same.)