The name of today’s message is “Always Give Thanks.”
(Illustration) Rudyard Kipling was the famous British writer that became a wealthy poet. A newspaper reporter once asked him: “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over $100 per word.” The reporter reached into his pocket and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill, gave it to Kipling, and said, “Here’s a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling . . . give me one of your $100 words.” Upon receipt Kipling looked at the money, put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks!”
When You calculate God’s promises of salvation, healing, provision, mercy, and peace of mind, the word thanks would easily be a $100 word. In fact, it’s more like a million-dollar word! Thanks, is one word that is too seldom heard, too rarely spoken, and too often forgotten. It’s that million-dollar word that I call thanks that I want to speak about tonight.
The text I have chosen is found in Luke 17, and involves the story of Christ healing the ten lepers with only one returning to offer thanks for the miracle he received. Since this is a lengthy passage, I want to tell the story rather than read it. Even though this is the Thanksgiving season for Americans, thanks is something that should remain with Christians throughout the year.
(Transition) I’ll begin by describing this hideous malady.
Jesus Heals Ten Lepers
Leprosy is a dreadful disease. It’s not like cancer that conceals itself within the body; leprosy goes public. It’s a flesh-eating disease that kills the nerves in the body and then proceeds to dissolve fingers, ears, toes, legs and arms. That’s the shame of this disease: It’s erodes the body in public view for everyone to see.
In Bible Days, people dreaded the thought of contracting leprosy. Lepers were ostracized from the community and placed in colonies. Leprosy not only dissolved the flesh, it dissolved self-worth. Lepers were the loneliest and lowliest of people. These ten men knew they were doomed from the moment they discovered they had contracted the disease. Life meant nothing to them and they lived without hope.
But one day they heard about Jesus and His power to heal. And when they heard Jesus was coming their way, nothing could stop them from gaining His attention. And their cry was heard! Within ear shot of each other, Jesus gave them a simple prescription for their healing. He instructed them to go show themselves to the priests. That was it! There was no ceremony or scrubbing or sanitizing that Jesus prescribed; he told them to simply appear before the priesthood. But as they walked toward the priests, something miraculous happened! To their amazement, their corroded skin and gnarled bodies were renewed! Their feet, hands, noses, and ears instantly re-grew. The magnitude of this miracle is difficult to overstate because every limb was restored to perfect health!
After years of hopelessness, they now had a new lease on life. Their past was gone, their present was renewed, and their future was radiant. And each of those ten lepers was filled with. . . well, what would you say they were filled with? I’m sure they were filled with awe and joy and excitement. But each of them should have been filled with eternal gratitude. They should have been overwhelmed with thanksgiving toward the One that healed them. But only one—not a Jew but a Samaritan—returned, fell at Jesus’ feet, and gave thanks!
And listen to Christ’s words in verse 17. “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? (18) Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Only an “outsider,” a Samaritan, took time to return to Christ and thank Him for this miracle.
It’s interesting that Luke recognizes this man’s Samaritan ancestry because Jews hated Samaritans. That’s because the Samaritans descended from mixed marriages between Jews and Gentiles. Since the Jews were purists, they abhorred the Samaritans and wouldn’t associate with them.
That’s what makes this story—as well as the Parable of the Good Samaritan—so powerful. This leper had no reason to expect a Jewish Rabbi to recognize him; much less, miraculously wipe away his skin-infested leprosy. But when Jesus—the Jewish Rabbi—healed this Samaritan he responded by returning to Jesus and offered his deepest thanks.
Do you realize how few times the Gospel writers show people thanking Christ for the miracles He worked for them?
There is no recorded thanks for turning the water into wine.
feeding the five thousand.
There was no thanks from the apostles when Jesus calmed the storm and kept them from harm.
And other than this Samaritan, there is no record of anyone thanking Him for a miracle of healing.
It’s evident tht thanksgiving toward God has been lacking for centuries. The very people that God goes out of his way to benefit have often failed to thank him. Thus, for the next few minutes I want to focus on the Christians need to “Always Give Thanks,” and point out the benefits that it offers. That is the purpose of today’s message. And here is point one:
1. Christians should “Always Give Thanks” toward God because it is God’s perfect will for you”!
This is what the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:18. And as I like to do, I want to read this passage from several translations:
The NASB, NIV, and NKJV are very similar when they put it this way: “Always give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Then there is the Amplified Version: “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus.”
The Message Translation says: “Thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”
And finally, the New Living Translation says: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Have you ever struggled to know God’s will for your life? If you take time to thank the Lord you can be certain that you are fulfilling God’s will. I want you to notice some Scriptures that speak of Believers and thanksgiving:
1 Chronicles 16:34 says: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Psalm 95:2 says: “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
Psalm 100:4 says: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Have you ever driven through the “gates” of this church and said: “Lord, thank you for this opportunity to worship in your sanctuary”?
Psalm 107:8—9 says: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, (9) for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. “
Ephesians 5:20 says Christians should: “always [be] giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 4:6—7 reads: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let me urge you to never, ever, no never fail to offer God thanks as you’re making petition of him for your needs. “Always Give Thanks” to him.
(Illustration) There are probably few things that dispirit a parent more than raising a child that rarely, if ever, returns a word of thanks. An ungrateful child is a terrible burden for a parent to bear. Think about what parents provide for children. They offer food, shelter, clothes, education, mobile phones, transportation, and essentials and non-essentials to their children. And yet so often there is rarely a word that is heard of thanks. This is a heavy burden to bear . . . and especially for Christian parents who are raising Christian children!
(Transition) Let’s move to the next point:
2. Christians should “always give thanks” because of the magnitude of Christ’s redemption.
In Luke 7, a former prostitute came before Jesus to wash His feet with tears.
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. (37) A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. (38) As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (39) When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” (40) Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. (41)“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, c and the other fifty. (42) Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (43) Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. (44) Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. (45) You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. (46) You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. (47) Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (48) Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (49) The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (50) Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The Pharisees were amazed that Jesus allowed this to happen. They said to themselves, “If Jesus were a prophet He would realize what type woman this was.” When Jesus discerned their thoughts He said to them, “I say to you, her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (7:47). The Christians that are most grateful toward God are those most aware of His forgiving mercy toward them.
Do you know why some people crowd the front of the church during a worship service and stand in the altars to worship or pray when others remain in the pews? At times, it’s because they are eager to offer Christ praise and thanks for redeeming them from a horrible life of sin.
Don’t be too quick to judge how others worship! That’s because people that have been forgiven much are more likely to jump, shout, dance, and wear the badge of being a “peculiar people” (as the Apostle wrote) than others that were raised in church and never drifted far from the shores of safety.
(Transition) Now for the third reason Christians should give thank:
3. Christians should “Always Give Thanks” because it distinguishes them from everything else in Creation.
For a moment, I want you to turn your thoughts upon the beginning of Creation—to the time when God made the heavens and Earth; the seas and dry land, and; man and beast. When God scooped that clay from the earth and “created man in His image” he distinguished mankind from every living creature that he fashioned. He unfused mankind with the ability to communicate. Humans are innately endowed with the ability to converse with other humans, with divine beings, and most importantly with God himself. This is one of the primary distinctions between humans and animals.
Animals cannot voluntarily commune with God. They can’t lift their voices in praise toward their Creator. Mankind is the only creature empowered to do this. And of the many ways humans can communicate with God, thanksgiving and praise is that highest means of expression. And since mature, disciples of Christ understand that God’s hand is always active in their lives and ‘working things for their good’. That of itself calls for a continual flow of thanksgiving from our lips toward God.
(Illustration) The 20 century preacher, Dr. Harry Ironside, illustrates this well as the story is told of him dining at a crowded restaurant. As Dr. Ironside prepared to eat a stranger sat near him. He watched as Ironside bowed his head and prayed over his meal. When he finished praying the stranger asked, “Sir, do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No.” He asked again, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.” The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!” Ironside’s answer was coarse but penetrating: “Sir, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”
But I want to take this one step further. What better way do Christians have to demarcate us from the non-Christians than living with thankfulness toward God?
I want you to notice an interesting characterization that the Apostle Paul envisioned prevailing during the Last Days. And this wasn’t a pretty picture. This is what the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1—5.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—(5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people [NIV].
Paul said the Last Days would be marked by many depraved traits. Inscribed in that list of traits is ungratefulness—people without thankful hearts. Wow! Doesn’t that describe America today! Very few are grateful while masses of people live with the entitlement attitude!
Since you and I are aware that these are the Last Days, we should exert extra effort to offset this spirit of ingratitude and rejoice with thanksgiving toward God.
(Transition) Let’s bring this message to a conclusion.
In closing, let’s read Psalm 23, as it speaks of God’s overall provision for our lives.
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(2) He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
(3) He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
(4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
(5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
(6) Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NASU)
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