What does it mean to be thankful, truly thankful.
As we have been going through the four aspects of prayer, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication—I have been amazed at how little we have paid attention to these areas in our lives.
For instance, the topic that we look at today is thanksgiving. I praise God that Abraham Lincoln established a regular Thanksgiving Holiday. Because without it we may never talk about thanksgiving to God.
We get so arrogant with our own accomplishments that we forget that it is God, who’s providence and protection, makes what we have accomplished possible.
As we sit here in Iraq, it is easy for us to focus on the struggles that we have.
Lately, however, I have been able to see things in a different light—to be thankful for the blessings God has given us.
To see the successes in the Iron Pursuit Operation.
To see the calming of the area of operations that we now live.
I am thankful for those things.
I am thankful for my wife—more than ever, as I heard her struggles and her determination to take care of my three children—which I am also thankful for.
I could go on and on. My list could be endless, if I would just take the time to think of the blessings I am thankful for.
Maybe you have your own list.
What do you have to be thankful for?
This morning we are going to look at a man who was thankful for healing.
I pray that all of us will be thankful for our healing as well.
Passage: Luke 17:11-19
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was pa Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19, ESV)
As we read in our story Jesus heard the cry of ten lepers. Those lepers were crying out for mercy.
We don’t have a lot of cases of leprosy now, so many fu us forget that leprosy is. Leprosy is a “progressive infectious disease of the skin.” It is “characterized by ulcers, scabs, and diorites.”
Needless to say, it is a disease that no one wants, but also wants to get rid of as fast as possible.
So these 10 men are lepers and they called out to Jesus to have mercy.
As I said, we don’t have leprosy today, but we do have plenty of physical ailments.
There is a little boy in Inman, South Carolina. His name is Kevin. He is five years old and the doctors say that he only has up to six months to live. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and during treatment for the palsy, the doctors found a brain tumor.
We have life-threatening illnesses in our own units and our families.
We know what physical ailments are.
There are Soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, suffering from injuries sustained on the battlefield.
Heart diseases are one of the largest killers.
Different types of cancer are a threat.
Diabetes is growing almost daily.
Most of us get an infection of some type form time to time.
Broken bones, sprains, torn muscles and ligaments are also sadly common.
Physically, we are broken and we need healing.
Many of us also experience broken dreams.
I was reading the USA Today newspaper and they had a list of regrets.
They did a survey about what people regret and the answers were lengthy.
-I wish I went to church more when I was younger
-I wish I had stayed with my spouse.
-I wish I had done more in school
and the list went on..
But we know what that means to have regrets.
All of us have those regrets. Those things we wish we had done but didn’t.
Those are dreams that were broken.
Then there is guilt.
The guilt that we weren’t able to do enough to change a situation.
Guilt that we could’ve done more
During WWII, George Bush, the senior, was shot down during a bombing run on a Japanese target. George Bush is not a man to dwell on himself, but often thinks about that crash into the sea.
In Tom Brocaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, it is said that Bush think’s about his two buddies who were killed that day.
Bush asks whether or not there was more to do to save them.
But we also know about other kinds of guilt.
Guilt from the sin we’ve done. Those things we look back and say we wish we wouldn’t have done them. You may have hurt someone also. Maybe it was something you said to your spouse. Maybe it was an unnecessary angry word to a friend.
Maybe you hit someone in anger. Maybe you lied about something. Maybe you committed adultery.
Whatever the sin, this morning, you feel guilty.
And the Brokenness that guilt brings.
We are a broken people.
Just like the men in this story.
The men had leprosy! They were the outcasts of the society. They were in constant pain and irritation.
They cried out to Jesus—“Master, have mercy on us!”
These men were broken like we are.
When God created the heavens and the earth, he created man and woman not to have hardship, but to have fellowship with God.
But that relationship was broken when the man and the woman chose to disobey God, and sin entered the world.
v. 14 says
14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14, ESV)
These men went to the right place for their healing. They went to Jesus!
And that is exactly where we must go for our brokenness.
When the first man and woman first sinned against the Lord, that sin was passed down through generation after generation.
We are sinners by our very nature—we live in rebellion against the Lord.
But we are also sinners by choice; we can chose not to sin.
That sin has broken our relationship between God and ourselves, and the Bible says that the only way to mend that relationship is through death.
So, God sent his son to die in our place. Jesus died to mend the relationship between God and all of mankind.
But we must accept it. We must accept the free gift.
And you can do that this morning.
Now, I want you to look at the last part of this passage.
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was pa Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16, ESV)
This one man came back to thank Jesus for saving his life—for healing him.
All I remember from World War II is from movies and newsreels.
But I remember seeing some newsreels of the Allied forces liberating cities like Berlin and Amsterdam and Paris.
I remember seeing the celebration on the streets, the cheering, the dancing, the relief—these people were giving thanks to the victors who were liberating them.
In the same way when this man notices that he is healed he runs back praising God and thanking Jesus for healing him.
How do we react toward our healing?
Jesus Christ died so that we may be healed—so that we would be free form the power of sin.
Do we rush to his feet and praise him?
Do we thank him?
But then Jesus asks the obvious question,
17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18, ESV)
The man that came back was a Samaritan. But the others were Jews. The other nine took their healing and then went about their business.
They may have celebrated with family. They may have showed their friends—the story doesn’t say.
What the story does say is that out of 10 men, only one returned to Christ to give thanks.
The others went about their business.
The analogy, to me, is obvious. Too many Christians are simply going about their business.
Yes, they have been healed. Yes, they are saved.
But their salvation makes no difference to the way they live their life.
Many times we simply go about our business.
As you take a look at your life, what do you have to be thankful for?
As I said at the beginning, we can get so caught up in being absorbed in self pity that we can forget all of the good things that we have going on around us.
If we take the time to remember what the Lord has done for us and in us—our outlook will change.
These other nine, just continued about their business—without looking back to thank the Lord for what had happened.
Are you the same way?
Do you approach God when you need healing and forget him after the crisis?
Do you all of a sudden put on the religious face, when times are hard, then forget it after the fact?
I saw that John McCain and Barrack Obama are joining together to honor the dead of 9-11 and to “give thanks for the…emergency responders who set a historic example of selfless service”.
We know too well the importance of thanking the men and women who serve their country. But, do we once again forget the God who help us rebuild—from a nation of emotional turmoil to be, once again, strong and resilient?
Where are the other nine?
The Bible, as well as, history tells us that the early church began to meet on Sunday after Jesus arose from the grave.
They met on Sunday to celebrate the fact that Jesus did rise and Jesus did take away our sin—and that by His stripes we are healed.
So 2000 years later, we are still meeting on Sunday.
We take time to remember what he has done in our lives.
But does is make any difference on Monday, or do we simply go about our business.
God loves each and every one of us and he wants to continue to work in our lives, but we must follow Him.
We must take time to study the Bible. And then taking what it says—follow it.
Apply it to our lives. Allow the teaching of Scripture to work in our lives.
Let me tell you, if you follow the Word of God, it will not be business as usual.
There will be a difference.
So, this morning, there are two questions on the table.
First, have you been healed?
Have you accepted the free gift of healing that Jesus paid for by dying on the cross? The free gift of salvation.
Have you done this?
This free gift is available to you if you accept it.
The second question is, are you going to simply go about your business?
You have been saved but you never got into the habit of living for him.
You never allowed Christ to make a difference.
This morning, we have a special opportunity for you to say, “thank you” to Jesus and to allow his healing to make a difference in your life.
Sermon preached at FOB Hammer Iraq on 7 September 2008. All scripture marked ESV: The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 17:11-19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.