Gratefulness

Luke 17:11-19

Most of us are familiar with the traditional story of Thanksgiving where William Bradford, of Plymouth Rock, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims in their second year in the New World, as well as an abundant harvest that they had reaped with the aid of the Indians.

 Most people don’t realize the first recorded thanksgiving actually took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn’t a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. Talking about the valley of the shadow of death. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. 

You would think that after seeing so many of their loved ones die due to the hardships of the New World, they would not feel that thankful. However, the opposite was true. They realized they had much to be thankful for.
We ourselves often don’t realize how blessed we are, or how thankful we ought to be, until what we have is threatened to be taken away. It is good and fitting that as Christians, we ought to celebrate Thanksgiving for God has certainly been good to every single one of us. 

Someone once said that gratitude is the source for all other Christian virtues. If that be the case, then perhaps we need to reason that ingratitude may well be the source of all, or at least many of our faults as well. When we begin to take for granted what God has done for us, then we become calloused and filled with pride and then God will no longer use us. For a Christian, every day ought to be a day of thanksgiving.

I have always been intrigued with this account of these men.

  • We see there were ten lepers who met Jesus and had a life changing encounter with the Lord.
    • They all had a life changing experience. 
      • Not salvation, but life changing.
      • Jesus met, like those He fed, a physical need in their life. It changed their life.
      • You cannot help but to notice a difference in one.
    • When you break this story down to its simplest elements, it describes mankind.
      • We are outcasts from the Kingdom of God, on our way to certain death, but God through His Holy Spirit testifies to us through different ways of His love and mercy.
      • Sometimes through healing. Other times through deliverance from bad circumstances. Sometimes simply a loved one or a servant of His introduces us to Him.
      • Then we have a life changing encounter with Jesus. But like this account. You seem to notice a difference in some. 
  • In this account what is so significant about these lepers who were healed, is that out of the ten, only one returned to say thanks. 
    • If you were to infer the truth of this story on general humanity, we could say that nine out of ten people never really pause to give thanks for where they came from and what they have. 
  • While we should never look back on the pleasures of sin, we should never forget where the Lord has brought us from.
    • The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, Isaiah 51:1, “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”
      •  In other words, look at where God has brought you from, remember what God has done for you.

What I would like to focus on this morning is what made the difference in the one?

  • The whole picture. (V.12) Ten Lepers.
    • It is possible to presume that these men were in different stages of this deadly disease, but the end result would be the same.
      • A lonely, painful, death.
      • Hey, aint that just like living in sin? Might be in different stages but the end results are the same.
    • They stood afar off because that is all they could do. According to tradition lepers couldn’t get no closer than a hundred paces.
    • (V14) This is very important. According to what is written here all ten lepers exhibited a life altering faith.
      • Lu 17:14, “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”
    •  They heard the Word of Christ and they believed and they were healed. This was by faith. They were not healed first and then told to go to the priests, they had to act on faith.
      • So why did only one turn back?
  • The perception of gratitude: I believe the answer lies in (V15) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. 
    • He shouted, WHEN HE SAW that he was healed.
    • Now the others no doubt knew that they were healed, but there was something different here.
      •  The Greek word used is the word eido, and it means to know, see, consider, or perceive.
      •  He took the time to note that he had been blessed. He realized that something wonderful had happened to him.
      •  He was sensitive to the power of Christ working in his life.
    •  Do we really perceive the ways that God has blessed us? The devil will do his best to keep your mind off the blessings of God.
      •  He will constantly tell you how bad you have it, of how everything is wrong in your life. 
    • In the 10 chapter of 2nd Corinthians where we are instructed where to wage our battle.
      • We are given a secret that will bring success to our walk with Christ. He says “…and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. 2 Cor.10:5
      • We need to ask and allow the Holy-Spirit of God to reveal to us the abundant blessings God has poured out on us. Then our outlook on the present and the future will be intensely different.
      • This is not just a positive thinking exercise to convince yourself the ship is not sinking even though you’re neck deep in water.
      • It’s when you begin to realize how much you have in the Lord that you will truly begin to be thankful.
    • Do you understand that for God to forgive you it cost the very life of His only begotten Son?
      •  His life was as precious to Him as any of our children, family or friends are.
    • Do you know the pain and the lost feeling we endure at the passing of a loved one? 
      • SO DOES GOD.
      • If you were the only one He would have still done it.
    • An unthankful Christian is a defeated Christian for he/she has lost their joy.
  • We also see the priority of gratitude (V15) “…when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,”
    • Now the Lord had given the command to go to the priest but he delayed, he turned around and went back to the Lord. Why didn’t the Lord rebuke him for this? 
      • The reason is because this man realized the priority of gratitude and worship.
    • It wasn’t that this man wasn’t going to follow through with the Lord’s directive, but he realized that he had a higher calling that must first come first. 
      • If you don’t give God thanks, it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do, you lose the meaning of what God is wanting you to do. You become unthankful. 
      • If you don’t give God thanks, it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do, you lose the meaning of what God is wanting you to do. You become unthankful. 
      • Did I repeat that?
    • Couldn’t help but notice: The leper came back praising God despite his unsolved problems. Job, family, friends, home, etc… So can we in all circumstances. Focus on the belief that God is bigger than the problem and is present right now in the middle of it.
  • The placement of gratitude.
    • Where did the others go? Speculation.
      • One could have been thinking get to the priest and then rush off to family because that is what he missed.
      • Another to his job that’s where his happiness was.
      • Another going to the ball game, the hunting woods, wherever all his friends were..
    • This one (15-16) with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks:
      •  He fell before Him in perfect submission and gave Him thanks. 
    • Then note what He told this man, “Arise, go thy way, thy faith has made thee whole.”
      • This was something that the others did not receive.
      •  I don’t know exactly what all this means. Maybe as one commentator put it. –not as the others, merely in body, but in that higher spiritual sense.
    • Many accept the physical blessing of our Gracious Lord but few will take the time to grasp the spiritual!

Our story at the beginning, how far did the suffering go?

 The sixty survivors were already loaded on a ship and headed back to England when they met the supply ships coming into the harbor.

They gave thanks!!

Are you grateful? Does it show? Today give your time to express it.

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