Thesis: One must be "thinkful" in order to be thankful.
1. Of all the holidays we celebrate, I believe Thanksgiving is one that is especially pleasing to God.
a. God loves it when his creatures are grateful.
b. For one day a year our nation stops to "be thankful."
1) To whom? God!
2) Tacit admission that God exists and deserves our gratitude.
2. When we hear the word, "thanksgiving," certain images jump into our minds.
a. Pilgrims, Indians, roasted turkeys, pumpkin pies, etc.
b. SUBTLE DANGER: Easy to associate "thanksgiving" with a certain time of year.
c. Thanksgiving for the Christian is not just a day on the calendar in November, but a fundamental attitude toward life.
3. This A.M. we want to look at a story that teaches the importance of gratitude (Luke 17:11-19).
I. THE TRAGEDY OF LEPROSY.
A. What is the ugliest, grossest, crudest, most repulsive/offensive thing you can possibly think of?
1. Some possibilities:
a. Breath first thing in the AM?
b. Teeth if you refused to brush them for a week?
c. School locker room right after PE.
2. If you asked that question in the first century, "leprosy!" would be the answer.
a. Mildly infectious skin disease.
b. Person with leprosy slowly develops ulcers, loses sensation in certain parts of their body, often lose fingers and toes.
B. Some things you ought to know about leprosy:
1. Leprosy is a repulsive disease.
a. Gross to look at (open ulcers are not pretty).
b. The smell is repulsive.
c. In Scripture when people are healed of leprosy it is often called "a cleansing" rather than "a healing."
2. Leprosy is a contagious disease.
a. Mildly contagious, but contagious nevertheless.
b. In Bible times people with leprosy had to live apart from others; OT law declared them ritually unclean; had to announce their coming by shouting "UNCLEAN!"
c. Illust. A leper felt unimaginable feelings of alienation and loneliness. Leprosy was the AIDS of the first century. If you've ever seen the lepers in the movie BEN HUR then you have a sense of how terrible this disease was.
3. Leprosy is an incurable disease.
a. Until 50 years ago there was not even a treatment for it!
b. To become a leper was to lose all hope of living a normal, happy life.
< When we realize how terrible leprosy is, then we're ready to hear the story of the 10 lepers in Luke 17. >
II. THE STORY OF THE TEN LEPERS (Luke 17:11-19).
A. Read the story.
1. Why do you think the one leper came back?
2. What do you think the other nine did not?
a. Bad people, ungrateful people, didn't like Jesus, thought Jesus owed it to them to heal them?
b. No, they just didn't think about being thankful.
III. WE MUST BE MORE THINKFUL IF WE WANT TO BE MORE THANKFUL.
A. The challenge of being thankful.
1. Illust. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. It wasn't until 1942 that it was made a legal holiday--the fourth Thursday of every November. It is interesting that both of these moves came when our nation was in the darkest days of two wars--Civil War and World War II. The time to think of God and be thankful is not just in a time of crisis, but as a part of our everyday life.
2. When Israel was ready to enter the promised land, Moses gave them a warning about being thankful (Deut. 8:10-18).
B. Two closing illustrations:
1. Illust. In some parts of Mexico, there are hot springs and cold springs side by side. Great for washing clothes! Women bring them, boil in hot, rinse in cold. Tourist watching said to guide: "I'll bet they're pretty grateful to Mother Nature for these springs." Guide: "No señor, there is much grumbling because she provides no soap!"
2. Illust. Fulton Ousler, a famous author of many years ago, tells the story of his old Black nurse, Anna Marie Cecily Sophi Virginia Avalon Thessalonians. She was present when his mother was born; she was there when Fulton Ousler was born. "I remember her," he says, "as she sat at the kitchen table in our house, the hard old brown hands folded across her starched apron, the glistening black eyes lifted to the white-washed ceiling, and the husky old whispering voice saying, `Much obliged, Lord, for my vittles.' `Ann,' I asked, `What's a vittle?' `It's what you got to eat and drink, that's vittles.' `But you'd get your vittles whether you thanked the Lord or not.' `Sure, but it makes everything taste better to be thankful.' After the meal she thanked the Lord again and then said, `You know, it's a funny thing about being thankful ... it's a game an old preacher taught me to play. It's looking for things to be thankful for. Many of them you pass right by ... unless you go looking for them ... Take this morning, I woke up and lay there wondering ... what I got to be thankful for now. And you know what, I couldn't think of anything to thank him for. ... But then from the kitchen comes the most delicious smell that ever tickled my nose--coffee. Much obliged, Lord, for the coffee, and much obliged, too, for the smell of it.' Years passed and Ousler grew up, left home, and learned some of the hard lessons of life. One day he was called to Anna's bedside. She was dying. Ousler noticed her old hands were twisted with pain. He wondered what she had to be thankful for now. Just then she opened her eyes, looked at all the people around her bedside, closed her eyes again and said with a smile, "Much obliged, Lord, for such fine friends.'