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The Place of Gratitude

Notes & Transcripts

The Place of Gratitude

Luke 17:11-19

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Nov. 18, 2012

*Pastor Billy Strayhorn and his family are animal lovers with a capital "A." They feed the squirrels and birds in their back yard. In their house they have a lizard and three goldfish. But when Billy thought about today's Scripture, he thought about two more of their pets: Pearl, the guinea pig, and Midnight the Wonder Dog. Midnight is a black lab, coon hound mix, and Billy talked about his nightly routine with these pets.

*When Midnight hears the garage door open, she runs to the door wanting a treat. And Billy said: "I keep 'Beggin Strips' handy, so I reach into the bag and give her a goodie. That's when we hear from Pearl the guinea pig. The minute she hears the dog's goodie bag rattle, she goes to the door of her cage. Pearl wants a goodie, too, like some celery or a lettuce leaf. And if she doesn't get it, she starts squealing like a stuck Guinea Pig. But the one thing I can always count on from both Midnight and Pearl is an honest to goodness 'Thank you kind sir.' Midnight rubs all over you, beats you to death with her tail, and licks your hand, and Pearl purrs with this little sound of contentment and wants to be petted."

*Then Billy made this point: "What strikes me about Midnight and Pearl's gratitude is that in today Scripture we meet ten people with leprosy who Jesus heals. And nine of them, NINE of them, had less gratitude than my dog and my Guinea Pig." (1)

*This Thursday is Thanksgiving. But are we really thankful? How can we get to the place of gratitude in our lives? The Grateful Samaritan in this Scripture shows us how.

1. And the first thing we need to do is seek the Lord's mercy.

*In vs. 11-13, all of these men sought the Lord's mercy for physical healing:

11. Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.

13. And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

*"Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" -- And how desperately they needed His mercy. These men were in horrible condition.

*Max Lucado wrote a testimony that could have come from one of these desperate men: "For five years no one touched me, no one, not my wife, not my child, not my friends, no one. What is common to you, I coveted: Handshakes, warm embraces, a tap on the shoulder to get my attention, a kiss on the lips. . . Such moments were taken away from my world.

*I was not permitted in my synagogue, not even welcome in my own house. I was untouchable. I was a leper. Oh, how I repulsed those who saw me. Five years of leprosy had left my hands twisted. Tips of my fingers were missing as were portions of an ear and my nose. At the sight of me, fathers grabbed their children. Mothers covered their faces. Children pointed and stared.

*Some think I sinned. Some think my parents sinned. I don't know. All I know is that I grew tired of it all: sleeping in the colony, smelling the stench. I grew so tired of the bell I was required to wear around my neck to warn people of my presence. One glance from the people and the announcement began: 'Unclean! Unclean!'" (2)

*These ten lepers were miserable and hopeless. But then Jesus came to town! And when they cried out for mercy, Jesus miraculously healed them. As we read in vs. 14: "So when He saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed." They were all cleansed of their leprosy!

*Without Jesus, those men were in a horrible condition, and without Jesus, so are we.

-As bad as their physical suffering was, it was only temporary. But without Jesus, you will suffer forever.

-They were kept out of the temple. But without Jesus, you will be kept out of heaven.

-They were separated from family and friends. But without Jesus, you will be separated forever from the family of God.

*But if you will cry out to Jesus for His mercy, He will do infinitely more for you than he did for those ungrateful nine. Jesus cleansed them physically with a word. But if you will open your heart to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, He will cleanse you forever with his blood.

*That's what the cross was all about. Jesus Christ dying to take the punishment for our sins, and rising again in everlasting victory over death. Jesus gives this victory to everyone who will receive His gift of salvation. So seek the Lord's mercy. Cry out to Jesus for His compassion. And He will give it to you.

*The Grateful Samaritan shows us how to get to the place of gratitude in life: Seek the Lord's mercy.

2. But also strive to follow the Lord's commands.

*That's what these men did in the first part of vs. 14: "When He (i.e. Jesus) saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.'" -- And they did!

*Dino Rizzo pointed out that this command couldn't have been too inspiring to those men. Dino pictured these lepers asking: "Go show ourselves to the priests? That's how we found out we had leprosy in the first place! Why does He want us to do that?"

*And Dino wisely said: "Sometimes we are looking for inspiration when the Lord gives us instruction. Don't wait for inspiration. If the Lord has given you instruction, -- follow it!" (3)

*In vs. 14, Jesus "said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed." They were blessed because they obeyed. And in the long run, we will never regret doing what the Lord tells us to do.

*The Grateful Samaritan shows us how to get to the place of gratitude in life: Strive to follow the Lord's commands.

3. And step out in faith.

*Again, in vs. 14, Jesus said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests. . ." It was the priest's job to examine the men, and determine if they had been healed. But it's interesting to know that these lepers headed off to the priest before they were healed. Verse 14 tells us: "as they went, they were cleansed."

*There's an old cliché that says: "Seeing is believing." But when it comes to God, just the opposite is true. God asks us to take a step of faith. Then we get to see amazing things in our lives.

*Speaking to Christians in Romans 8:24-25, Paul put it this way:

24. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

25. But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

*Then in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul said:

16. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

18. while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

*Hebrews 11:1 explains: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

*God asks us to take a step of faith, and then we get to see amazing things in our lives. Here's how it works: We hear the good news about Jesus Christ. We hear God speak through His Word. We begin to trust in His goodness and love, and we begin to follow. We take a step of faith. Then get to see wonderful changes in our lives.

*All of these sick men took a step of faith to be healed. But only one had the faith to be saved. It was the Samaritan who turned back to give glory to God and thank Jesus for his healing.

*Look again, starting in vs. 15:

15. Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16. and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

17. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?

18. Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?''

19. And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.''

*Jesus told him, "Your faith has made you well." The KJV says, "Your faith has made you whole." Jesus was talking about a much more than physical healing here. The original word Greek word was "sozo," -- the word that means "saved."

*Luke 19 tells the wonderful story of little Zacchaeus, the wicked tax collector who got saved. When Jesus saw that he was saved, the Lord said to him:

9. . . "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;

10. for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.''

*The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. That word "save" also comes from "soza," the same word translated as "whole" here in vs. 19. The Samaritan leper wasn't just physically headed, he was spiritually healed. He was saved by placing his faith in Jesus Christ. And you will be too.

*The Grateful Samaritan shows us how to get to the place of gratitude in life: Step out in faith.

4. And see God's blessings in our life.

*This is one of the most important qualities we find in the grateful Samaritan. And we see it in vs. 15, where the Bible says: "Now one of them, when he SAW that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God."

*The grateful Samaritan didn't just see his healing with his eyes. He saw with his heart. He really saw. The idea is that he was paying attention. He was aware. And he really appreciated what had happened to him.

*It is possible to be greatly blessed by God, and just not see it. It happens all the time. It certainly happens to me. And it happened to the other nine men in this story. Instead of focusing on the positive: "I've been healed!" Maybe they focused on negative: "Why did I have to get sick in the first place? I've lost so much time and money."

*The grateful Samaritan saw the blessings of God in positive way, and so should we! Please listen to a thank-you testimony from a child in Pakistan who received a shoe box from Operation Christmas Child. Shamila said, "Thanks for the toothbrush and paste for my teeth. I never used a toothbrush. This is such a beautiful gift from you. I also liked the notebooks and coloring pencils." (4)

*When someone with so little is so grateful for the little more we have given them, how can we not give thanks? We are blessed! The blessings of God are all around us, but many times we just don't see them.

*The Grateful Samaritan shows us how to get to the place of gratitude in life: See God's blessings.

5. But also stop to give thanks to the Lord.

*This is what the grateful Samaritan did in vs. 15&16:

15. Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16. and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

*The grateful Samaritan stopped to give thanks. And Jesus asked two important questions in vs. 17: "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?"

*What about the nine? What about the millions who never got leprosy in the first place? What about us? Maybe those nine healed lepers were a little like us: just too busy. Yes, they were probably very happy about their health. But maybe they were running to make up for lost time. "Oh, I've got to go to work. I've got to go to the store. I've got to go."

*Go, go, go. -- And they just did not stop to thank the Lord for His great blessings. We need to stop and think how much God has blessed us. Then we need to stop and thank the Lord for blessing us.

*The Grateful Samaritan shows us how to get to the place of gratitude in life: Stop to give thanks to the Lord.

6. Then find a way to show your gratitude to God.

*Listen again as the grateful Samaritan showed his gratitude in vs. 15&16:

15. Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16. and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.

*There is no doubt about it. The grateful Samaritan showed his gratitude by His actions. And I believe that his praise was just the beginning of a life lived to the fullest with a grateful heart.

*I also believe most all of us here today have grateful hearts. We're thankful for family and friends. Thankful for our food and all of the material blessings God has given to us, thankful for our freedom and those who gave so much to make us free. But, most of all, we are thankful for Jesus Christ. We are thankful for the abundant, eternal life He gave us through the cross.

*Listen to Paul's expression of gratitude in 1 Corinthians 4:1. In the New Living Translation, Paul says: "I can never stop thanking God for all the generous gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus." Christians, we are thankful for Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross! But we have to find ways to show our gratitude.

*Gerard Vanderleun is a writer who lives in Seattle, but most of one autumn he stayed in a house near Ashville, North Carolina. There he was eating in a trendy Ashville restaurant when he saw something unusual to him, someone who showed their gratitude.

*This is part of his report: "As I got up to leave the family of six at the long table across from me was served with the quick flourish and satisfied air of presentation that is the style of serving these days. The food was steaming in front of them, but none of them made a move towards it. Instead, they talked quietly amongst themselves and seemed to come to a decision. They made their selection from among them.

*It was to be one of the daughters, a girl of about seventeen, I guessed. The din in the restaurant rose and fell, but the family of six sat quietly and then bowed their heads as one. Then they said grace.

*I stood motionless at my table. I had, I thought, never seen this before in a restaurant. I'd seen it in private homes to be sure, but upon reflection I realized that I'd not seen it there in quite some time. And I was quite sure this was, for me, a rare event. . .

*This simple act of saying grace did not so much shock me as still me. I paused to listen in, and the daughter did not disappoint. Hers was no gesture of grace: 'Bless this food. Amen. Let's eat.' -- but an extended meditation on the good fortune to find oneself among family and before a rich selection of food, an acknowledgment of an unusual level of being blessed by God, and a calling down of God's grace on members of the family present and not present, and ending with a wish that God continue to bless the family, the community, the state and the country. Then, and only then, was 'Amen' spoken and the meal begun. . .

*The road back to the house in the hills was dark and winding, and you had to take it slow. Going back it was nice to know that somewhere, somehow, and for reasons that sometimes challenge all understanding, there were people still asking God to bless America. . ." (5)

*We can make a big difference in other people's lives when we show our gratitude to God. Showing our gratitude blesses us, too. Best of all, showing our gratitude makes God happy. It's a triple blessing!

CONCLUSION:

*So how can we get to the place of gratitude?

-Seek the Lord's mercy.

-Strive to follow the Lord's commands.

-Step out in faith.

-See God's blessings in your life.

-Stop long enough to give thanks to the Lord.

-And find a way to show your gratitude to God.

*We can start right now, as we go to God in prayer.

(1) Sermons.com sermon "A Gratitude Adjustment" by Billy D. Strayhorn - Luke 17:11-19

(2) In a chapter in his book, Just Like Jesus, called "The Touch of God," Max Lucado writes; the story behind a man that we meet in the Gospels - Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "His Passion for the Hurting" by Steve Malone - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

(3) Heard in a sermon by Pastor Dino Rizzo at the Healing Place Church - 04022006

(4) Samaritan's Purse Online Report 2006 - Inspirational Stories

(5) Adapted from "American Digest" online by Gerard Vanderleun - Oct. 17, 2007

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