Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Yesterday we took a look at an experience in Jesus’ life recorded for us in Luke 17:11-19.  The Lord healed ten lepers from the horrible and debilitating disease of leprosy.  Yet, only one of the ten returned to offer thanks to Jesus and to praise Him for the wonderful gift of healing that he had received.  Like any story from Jesus’ life, there are multiple layers we can explore and multiple directions we can take.  We trust the Holy Spirit to take Scripture and apply it to our lives and the circumstances that we are facing.  Of course, we have to receive this instruction with humility and a willingness to be taught and discipled by the Holy Spirit.
            As we look at this story of the ten lepers, we are puzzled by the lack of gratitude we find in the other nine.  The one grateful leper is practically leaping for joy and praising God with his new found health and vigor.  But the other nine have gone MIA.  The Scriptures do not give us detailed reasons why they never returned to Jesus simply to say thank you for this exceedingly wonderful gift He had bestowed upon them.  So, we are left to wonder. 
            Were the other nine distracted?  Did busyness encroach upon their lives and take over their time and intentions?  Were they just ungrateful?  Were they too eager to return to normal and catch up on all the things they had missed during their illness?  Were they absent-minded or procrastinators who really did plan to do the right thing but just never got around to it?  We could keep going.  There are many reasons for why these lepers never returned to Jesus.  The Lord seemed truly surprised that only one came back to thank Him.  “Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).
            Rather than trying to figure out why these nine did not return to thank Jesus, perhaps we should explore our own thankfulness and gratitude.  How often do we pause what we are doing to thank God for the moment at hand or for His grace in the moment at hand?  I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  God clearly expects us to be thankful people and to express our gratitude.  We may not be genuinely thankful for everything but we can always be thankful in the midst of anything.  Paul knew he could always count on the sufficient and sustaining grace of God no matter what he may have encountered or faced in his amazing life.
            The countdown to Thanksgiving stands at twenty-two days—just over three weeks.  Now is the time to warm up your gratitude and offer sincere thanks to the Lord for the blessings of the year and a lifetime.  We want to be careful not to get lost in a hundred other things or procrastinate our way to Black Friday with Thanksgiving being little more than an afterthought.  Start naming your blessings today.  Return to the Lord to say thanks.  Or, if you have strayed from the Lord in the past year, then return to Him.  God says through Malachi, “Return to me and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7). 
            The enemy would love to lead you astray and deny you the blessings and joy that come from being thankful.  Do not be complicit in his conspiracies.  Declare that you will
be the one who is grateful and expressively so.  Even if you are the only one, be the one and not the nine.  The best laid plans, promises and intentions to express gratitude pale when compared to a simple, yet heartfelt actual expression of thanksgiving.  Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”  Enter.  Give.  The message is grateful!
            We hope to see you tonight as we gather for a full evening of activities.  Stay faithful with your giving, tithes and offerings.  Remember our winter coat collection wraps up on Sunday.  Bring your new and gently used coats for others to use in the winter months to come.  Have a great Wednesday!

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