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Moved to be Grateful

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Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, it’s that time of year already.
The seasons seem to have made a dramatic shift. The hats and gloves and heavier coats will probably be out this week. You all seem so excited about that.
Thanksgiving meals (cooking, prep, packaging, delivering) this week!
Hanging of the Greens next Sunday. Pizza etc.
This evening - Our Community Thanksgiving Service - @ Epworth UMC 6PM
Youth Group will be going up …we’ll be meeting here at 5:30PM if you’d like to carpool, or just meet us up there and we’ll all sit together.
Shopping cooking traveling eating napping visiting family…This will be a week full of those things…but even moreso…maybe it will be a week full of gratitude. Today we’re going to focus in on this thing called thankfulness…and what it truly is for a Christian…for one called a child of God.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, Americans like to begin grazing long before the big meal begins. The average person consumes about 10% of their Thanksgiving calories before the turkey is ever served…we are thankful for the need for taste testers right?
We are not born grateful creatures. Take a baby for just a little while and you’ll probably hold in your arms what could be best described as a schizophrenic! One minute cooing, the next crying; one minute silent, the next screaming; one minute friendly looking into your eyes, the next flailing every limb with bowed back and blood-red face; one minute smelling sweet, the next…well, you know!
Babies are not born saying, “Thanks”. It is not even the first word they learn. In order for children to learn to return thanks, they must be taught. And we learn thankfulness as good manners…but as we mature, gratitude can become more of w way of life…especially for the believer.
There’s the story of Pam, who worked in downtown Chicago. Every morning, she encountered a slumped over, middle‑aged woman in a shabby coat soliciting spare change in front of an old brick church. She greeted everyone with a smile and a pleasant "Good morning." Pam almost always gave her something. After almost a year of this routine, however, the woman in the shabby coat disappeared. Pam wondered what had happened to her.
Then, one beautiful day, she was in front of the church again, still wearing the same, shabby coat. As Pam  reached into her purse for the usual donation, the woman stopped her. "Thank you for helping me all those days," she said. "You won't see me again because I've got a job." With that, she reached into a bag and handed Pam a wrapped package. She had been standing at her old spot waiting, not for a handout, but for the people she recognized so that she could give each of them a doughnut.
She was thankful. And notice where her attitude of thankfulness was focused. Not on the gifts she received over the time she stood in front of that old church…her gratitude was focused on those who gave to her grace. She just wasn’t thankful for things …she was acting in gratitude towards someone.
Today we’re going to be in the book of Luke chapter 17. I love the account we’re going to look at. It is probably one that is very familiar to you…and one that all of us have probably read over way too quickly. Its really full of unspoken assumptions simply because some of us probably don’t know the context. Some of you might and because of that you know how rich this little account is.
Luke 17:11-19 I’ll be reading from the Christian Standard Bible. The NIV and New King James reads very similar. The big principles are the same so we’ll read together now either from your own Bibles or from the screen.
Luke 17:11–19 CSB
11 While traveling to Jerusalem, he passed between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were cleansed. 15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. 16 He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Notes:

Between Samaria and Galilee …this area was an area where some Jewish people …when traveling…would have stayed away from. There were for sure Jewish people living here, but also Samaritans. These were what would have been called “half-breeds” back then. They were Jewish and Pagan. Their ancestry had both Jewish and foreign roots. Way back when, in the Old Testament, when the Assyrians took over the Northern Kingdom of the Promised Land, the Assyrian king had people from other conquered nations brought to live in Samaria…along with the Jewish people he just recently conquered. Well…now families from both groups of people started families and some even began mixing worship…worship of God and worship of idols. So in the Jewish mind, these people were not pure. But in this account, something very significant is noted by the Author Luke.
Leprosy: Itself is a horrible disease. Could be anything associated with the skin…psoriasis, ringworm or what many of us would be familiar with, true leprosy. Leprosy was and still is a horrible disease. Leprosy can cause a person to lose fingers/limbs…become disfigured…it is just a horrible disease. Many times, even today in other nations, there are what is called Lepers Colonies where those who have it live amongst each other.
In first century Jewish life…Lepers, had requirements. You read about these in the book of Leviticus. They were considered “unclean” by the priests and therefore could not live in town or around others. They couldn’t be with family friends or work. They couldn’t go to the temple to worship. And so many times you’d find them living together in outlying areas…caves…in the wilderness. When they would be out and about …and might come near someone else…someone who didn’t have leprosy, they would loudly call out ahead of time…so that other person would be able to keep their distance. It was so others wouldn’t become ill, but sill it was a very hard life. pain, isolation, lack of freedom. A very hard life.
Priests - They were not medical experts but they were experts at diagnosing whether someone was or wasn’t “clean”…they knew skin diseases, and were instructed what do with those who were ill through the law of Moses…Leviticus 13-14. Jesus, at one point when being questioned about why He came said that He came to fulfill the law…so with that said, he wasn’t going to do anything outside the law. For someone who was sick…and then healed…they needed to go to the priest for inspection and for an official ruling. If they were considered “clean” again, they would then give an offering and sacrifice to God through the priests. 2 birds....one would be sacrificed symbolizing the death of the old self…the 2nd bird would be set free, symbolizing new life in freedom from what was ailing you. What a picture right…especially when you realize what Jesus really says at the end of the account.
Jesus said....were not all clean? Only one comes back? One who isn’t fully Jewish? One who is outside the family recognizes what has happened? This Samaritan, recognizes not just that he’s been made well, healed, but that He’s also come into contact with someone significant. Now it never says that this former leper sees Jesus as the savior…but Jesus’ words give us a clue as to what he is thinking.
They search Jesus out.
They call to him from the “safe and lawful” distance.
They ask for mercy from Jesus…not demanding…asking Him…almost…if it is your will to do this, then please.... “Have pity on us.”
They are respectful, lawful, and ask…they’re asking the one they think might be able to heal them.
As they were on their way, they were healed. They obeyed to be healed. And then they observed the OT tradition of allowing the priests to declare them healed.
But one....
The words are…He approached Jesus…loudly praising God (no longer loudly announcing that a leper was approaching) and then he fell at Jesus’ feet. Thanked Him.
Jesus then asks, “Where are the others? Only this foreigner returned. Rise and go…your faith has made you well.” Well, saved, healed. Some versions move this word around a bit…but to be honest there’s one word that works best for us. In the early part of the account there are references to the word healing..healed…or cleansed. The Greek language uses very specific words for specific meaning. The word Jesus uses here at the end is the word saved. The greek language would use this word for when someone escapes a dangerous situation. Saved. Matthew uses this word writing of the the time Jesus was born…in the account when the Angel to Joseph that the child would be named Jesus…because he would “save” people from their sins.
I have no doubt here that this man, this foreigner, this Samaritan recognizes Jesus as someone special, most significant…someone from God. Jesus recognizes in this man a faith that even the other nine didn’t have.
This man was, I’m sure, truly thankful for what had happened. But he was moreso thankful because He now recognized the one who changed His life.
Living a life in gratitude means recognizing the one who has saved us. Recognizing the one who has given us hope and a reason to live each day with bravery and courage.
What did this man recognize? He was given a chance to live in freedom. Jesus showed him a bit of heaven…a healed life. Not only from leprosy, but freedom from the death sin brings…the separation sin brings.
And it’s here where we see what true gratitude/thankfulness looks like. The other nine…it never says they were unthankful or ungrateful. In fact, I think we could easily assume they were appreciative…happy, please, excited about what happened. I’m sure they noticed that something Good from Heaven happened to them. But true gratitude isn’t about the thing you got…its about who gave it to you you. The one recognized that he had been in the presence of God…and that God the Son had mercy on HIm.
If we truly know this is the truth…then thankfulness will be something that is part of our true nature…not just a part of our good manners. If we know the truth of Jesus…and where we’ve been and where we’re going, we can be thankful to Him no matter what might happen to us or what situation we might be in. Amen!? We’ve been given mercy and grace, personally, individually, by God himself.
Like the lady in our first story, who came back to stand in front of the old church....she wasn’t saying thank you for the gifts, she was saying thank you to those who shared. Her focus was on those who gave to her. The man who came back to Jesus was probably thankful for being healed…but He was even more thankful that He had been in the presence of the son of God.
Gratitude is worship. It is recognizing who Jesus is, what he’s done, and what he is doing for you.
Can we live in a spirit of gratitude…is it possible? Yes, and no matter what is going on around us. It isn’t just good manners. Its not just an emotion or a mood.
It is a state of being.
Hebrews 12:28 (CSB)
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe...
2 Corinthians 9:15 CSB
15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 CSB
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
God’s will is perfect…God’s will is that we will one day walk in that perfect life that we lost in the beginning. Paul says to give gratitude in everything…in all situations…realize who it is that is holding out the promise of a blessed life here, tough though it sometimes is, and an eternal life with Him.
A. J. Jacobs is the acclaimed author best known for completely immersing himself in his research before he began to write. He read an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica for his book The Know-It-All and spent another year living like an Old Testament Hebrew. Among his unique quests, he once embraced the original version of Thanksgiving. He came to realize it was quite a celebration with games, riddles, races, contests, and foods like eel and lobster. Most profound to Jacobs was the realization that this time of gratitude in 1621 followed a year in which forty-eight of the original one hundred two Pilgrims died. Scurvy and exposure claimed half of them, yet they rejoiced with thanksgiving. His conclusion was, “If they could appreciate life amid such chaos, pain, and uncertainty, I could give thanks for all the good things in my relatively cushy life.”
Amen?
Have joy, stay in tune with/connected to God always, and always realize that our list for thanksgiving could go on and on and on even though we live on this side of perfection for the time being. God’s will is that we live the absolute best that we can now…standing the world’s rules for life its head, and following Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
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