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Communion Thanks

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We take a lot of time with communion to make it special so I want to share with you briefly as we prepare to come to the Lord’s Table. We have been in Romans this entire Fall and after today we will take a break from romans until the first of the year as we will have a Christmas series called the Songs of Christmas—where we will explore the theology and background behind some of the most well loved Christmas songs and relate it to the biblical stories…and starting in January we will pick up Romans again with —we will have an extended series just on called The Great 8. But today I just want to focus on one verse from
is a brutal chapter. Paul lists the sins of the culture, and it is ugly. Idol worship, unbelief, sexual sin, strife, gossip…the list goes on and on. But the list begins with a foundational sin.
Romans 1:21 ESV
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Sin starts with a lack of gratitude. Paul said, they didn’t give thanks.
And as we enter this Thanksgiving season, I have been really moved and encouraged by the idea of focusing on being thankful.
Meister Eckhart, a 14th Century German theologian said,

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. ~Meister Eckhart

Is that an overstatement? Don’t we do other things when we pray besides giving thanks?
We praise God in our prayers. But we can do that from a posture of thanksgiving.
We confess sin in our prayers. But we can do that from a place of thanksgiving. When we consider what we have been forgiven of. When we consider that God can’t remember the sins we can’t forget. When we consider that we aren’t given a second chance, or third chance, or fourth chance, or a hundredth chance…but too many chances to remember. So we can confess our sins in a spirit of deep gratitude.
Even when we ask for our own needs and wants, and for others needs and wants we can do it in a spirit of gratitude.
I saw an article the other day from a children’s director and she was giving advice on how to pray with your children. Her advice was great—pray in the morning, pray in the car, pray for others. But it left me wanting more because our prayers—many times especially in the context of the family, are so shallow. And I thought about gratitude and praying from that perspective, and I have found that great advice for our children, for ourselves, is that when we tell someone we will pray for them, or when we pray for someone in general, pray for them by thanking God specifically for everything about them that blesses you in some way. So that is good advice.
So I began to think, let’s take the next two weeks and really focus our attention on being grateful.
And so I went to the scriptures to see what is said about gratitude and within twenty seconds of searching I found this one:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
There it is. The Law of God. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. In other words, in everything give thanks. In other words, during good times and bad times…give thanks. The Law of God is perfect reviving the soul…imagine what it would be like to give thanks in all circumstances. Imagine how freeing that would be. But give thanks in all circumstances? We can’t even give thanks for two weeks. We can’t even give thanks during our thanksgiving tradition of going around the table and everyone saying what they are thankful for. The reality is that we are most thankful that we are almost done going through this ritual of being thankful.
And Paul takes it further! One of the biggest questions we all have at times during life is what is God’s will for me. That is the million dollar question. Some people spend months or years figuring out what God’s will is for their life. Paul tells us what God’s will is for our lives….
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
To give thanks in all circumstances. This is the will of God. And he doesn’t stop with will of God. He adds, in Christ Jesus…so what does it look like to be a nothing but Jesus person? To be someone who is compelled to give thanks in all circumstances.
So give thanks in all circumstances, not just in your words, but your thoughts and deeds. Just do it. The reality is that when we hear to give thanks in all circumstances, our response shouldn’t be just do it…but we should be like Paul and say, “what a wretched man I am who will save me?”
There is a story of the healing of the ten lepers in . It is a famous story. The way the story goes is that ten lepers beg Jesus for mercy. He tells them each to go to their priest because the procedure for a leper cleansed of leprosy was he needed to be confirmed by his priest as being clean, as being healed. So the story goes that they left to do what Jesus said, and as they went they were healed.
Luke 17:11–19 ESV
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
So one leper comes back. One out of ten comes back to thank Jesus for what he did. Jesus said I healed ten, why is only one coming back? And the moral of the story, we hear again and again, is that the nine lepers were ungrateful for the healing and the one leper was grateful and thankful, so be like the leper who returned and said thank you and not like the ungrateful lepers who didn’t say thank you. So be grateful—be thankful.
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,[f] who stood at a distance13 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 a 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.”[g]
So one leper comes back. One out of ten comes back to thank Jesus for what he did. Jesus said I healed ten, why is only one coming back? And the moral of the story, we hear again and again, is that the nine lepers were ungrateful for the healing and the one leper was grateful and thankful, so be like the leper who returned and said thank you and not like the ungrateful lepers who didn’t say thank you. So be grateful—be thankful.
The problem is that interpretation is not great.
First, Jesus never required someone healed to come back and say thank you. Jesus didn’t need that. Jesus was tempted by Satan to gain the respect and thanks of the whole world and he said, no thanks. I don’t need that. Jesus isn’t the sensitive type who needs a thank you note. There is no other record of anyone healed being required to say thank you to Jesus. This isn’t us parents at Christmas telling our kids to say thank you. It just doesn’t fit any of the other miracles.
You have to notice the little details in Scriptures.
The one who returned was a Samaritan. Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews. They were seen as being unclean, unrighteous, and they were known as dogs. Luke tells us that the one leper who returned was a Samaritan. Why would he return and the others wouldn’t?
Jesus told each to go to their priests. So they did. They would have scattered. They would have gone to 9 different locales. But the one who came back was a Samaritan. Where would the Samaritan go….to what priest would he go to to be declared that he was clean? Not to a Samartian—they were already unclean.
He would go back to the only one who could help him.
He would go back and return to the only priest who could plead his case to the father in heaven. He would go back to the only one who had a strong and perfect plea to the father in heaven. He would go back not to some lousy human priest, but to the high priest himself. He turned back to go to Jesus. Because he had nowhere else to go.
That is what that story is about—going back to Jesus because all he had was nothing but Jesus.
And what was the result of turning back to Jesus? Gratitude. Thanks.
Do you want to be thankful not just for the next two weeks or two days, or two minutes at the thanksgiving table, but for the rest of your life, in all things, in all circumstances…turn to Jesus. Only in Jesus’ righteousness will you begin to be that kind of person of gratitude. And that goes for all manners of holiness. Do you want to be a more forgiving person—you don’t need a three step plan because those don’t work---you need to turn back to Jesus. Less fear in your life? Turn back and lean into Jesus. Nothing but Jesus.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. ~Meister Eckhart

only with Jesus.
So as you come to the table today, we are going to do it a little bit differently. Normally we dismiss one pew at a time. We aren’t going to do that today. We want you to come when you feel ready. You can sing first, you can go for prayer first, you can receive communion first. You can wait until a bit later if you want.
See this as an altar call.
See this as a time to turn back to Jesus. To turn over to Jesus hurts in your life. Maybe a gratitude you have. Maybe a fear you have.
Great thanksgiving.
Four Gospels. Similarities are striking. When same story in all four—take note. When same details are included in all four, take closer note.
Jesus and giving thanks. Knew it was him when he gave thanks on Emmaus.
2nd century—gave bread and wine and then the minister gave thanks according to his ability.
Not sure I can give thanks because my heart is overwhelmed.
Great thanksgiving.
Matthew 26:26–29 ESV
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Mark 14:22–25 ESV
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 22:15–20 ESV
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
1 Corinthians 11:23–26 ESV
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
: 23-
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