Lucia's Blog: 2021-11-21
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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

OVERFLOWING WITH THANKSGIVING

 
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’” 
John 7:37-39


The last year and a half has been a time of loss and grief for us. We are coming up on the season of Thanksgiving, and it is a struggle for us to imagine what we might be thankful for. By the Grace of God, our hearts are enlarged to see the greater picture and bow before our great and loving God to say thank you again every day for the beautiful things that He has done for us. Let us consider a lesson from the Gospels that shows the power of gratitude in an unlikely soul.

Jesus says that those who believe in Him will have rivers of living water flowing from their hearts. When we come to Jesus and drink the living water that He offers, the living water can flow from us to others. So my question is, what flows from your heart and life?  Can others see what’s flowing from our hearts?  This week many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving. It is the time of the year when we pause, meditate, and give thanks for what we have.  I know this year and last year have been challenging for many of us. It might be a little more challenging to be thankful due to our losses and trials.  Indeed, this year has been rough!   Yet despite what’s negative in our lives, God wants us to overflow with thankfulness or thanksgiving, even in a rough year like this. Listen to Paul’s words.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

How can one be thankful, even amid trials and sorrows?  How can one overflow with thanksgiving? Let’s read God’s Word in the Gospel of Luke 17:11-19.  Let’s consider Jesus’ teaching for a little help with thanksgiving that overflows.
“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, who stood at a distance 13 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.’”


 I.   GRATEFUL HEARTS THAT OVERFLOW WITH THANKSGIVING:
“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, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’”  (Luke 17:11-13)

  • The Condition and Cry of Ten Lepers:
When Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He entered a village where ten lepers met Him, though they stood far away because the Law of Moses commanded it. Hear what the Law said regarding those who had leprosy.  
“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip  and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.’”  (Leviticus 13:45-46)

This reminds me of those who test positive for COVID.  I’ve been there.  We must stay far away. Limit any interaction with others and remain in quarantine for 14 days.  
    • Imagine living that way, not for 14 days but in life?  
    • Imagine not allowing anyone to come near you for years or the rest of your life?  
    • Imagine living alone, separated from society and technology while you’re leprous?  
    • How terrible it is to be cut off from the world!  

We must understand that those who had leprosy did not have a normal life like yours and mine.  

Going back to our story.  The ten lepers were standing at a distance because the Law commanded it. And though they were obeying the Law, they still cried out to Jesus, yelling.  “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” These ten acknowledged that Jesus had the power to change their lives.  They did not regard Jesus as just another teacher.  They did not see Jesus as just a rabbi, teaching good things about God. They acknowledged that Jesus had the power to heal them. Thus they cried out to Him with loud voices as they stood at a far distance from Jesus. They knew the Master would have mercy on them!  Master, have mercy on us!

  • Healing:
“When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed.’”  (Luke 17:14)

It is strange what Jesus said and did.  Why?  Because He told these ten lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. Why must they show themselves to the priests?  Because they had been healed from their leprosy, and the priests had to verify their cleanness to be allowed back into society.  When  Jesus commanded these lepers to go and see the priests, they still had the skin condition, and it did not make any sense. But these ten lepers did what Jesus commanded.  They are on their way to see the priests in whatever city they might be found and, as they were going, they were cleansed.  We find some powerful words in verse 14.  
“And as they went they were cleansed.” 

  • Jesus Asked An Important Question:
“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?”  (Luke 17:15-18)

Notice that in verses 15-16, one of the ten lepers turned back to praise God with a loud voice and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving thanks to Him when he saw he was healed from his leprosy.  This grateful leper was on the ground thanking Jesus!  I can only imagine the gratitude of this leper’s heart and the praises he was offering to God!  This man had just gotten his life back!  
    • He was destined to die, but Jesus gave him life. 
    • He was destined to remain an outcast, but Jesus restored him to society. 
    • He was destined to be alone, but Jesus brought him back into society.   

What a beautiful picture of gratitude in this man’s heart!  It moves us deeply! 

But Jesus asked a critical question in verse 17
“Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” 

Where is everyone else? Verse 18 gives us the answer.
“Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
    • Didn’t any of the other nine lepers return to give God the glory except this foreigner?  
    • Would no one else come back and give thanks to God? 
    • Was no one else going to come back to praise God? 
    • Why didn’t all ten of them return?

Let’s pause for a moment and think about what happened.  
    • Do you think that if we were to ask the other nine lepers if they were grateful for being healed, they would say that they truly were grateful?  
    • Could you believe that they were overflowing with gratitude now that they no longer had this terrible skin disease? 
    • Do you think they would admit they were thankful for what Jesus did? 

Yes! Of course, they would!  Sadly, they did not express it!  
    • They did not come back to thank Jesus and let Him know how grateful they were.  
    • They did not praise God for being healed of such a terrible disease.  

You see, this is what Jesus was pointing out as their main problem. We may think in our hearts that we are grateful to God, but if we do not express our thankfulness, we are not thankful at all.  Instead, we show ourselves ungrateful. That is exactly what’s happening here in this story.  And though the other nine lepers might have been grateful for Jesus healing them, they did not thank Him, nor did they draw close to Him with thankful hearts.  They did not praise God or surrender completely to Him.  

  • The Result:
“And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)

One of the ten lepers returned to Jesus, and it would be life-changing.  In verse 19, Jesus told this one leper who returned to thank Him, 
“Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you” (CSB).  

Another Bible translation says, 
“Your faith has made you well.” 

But notice that the Greek literally is,
“Your faith has saved you.” 

I believe this is the correct translation.  Why?  Because one out of ten lepers who were healed came back to Jesus and was saved.  This one-man experienced something much greater than what the other nine did.  And though all ten were healed, only one experienced much more because he came back to thank Jesus with a grateful heart.   


CONCLUSION:

So What Is Jesus Teaching Us?

Jesus is teaching us that it is not enough to feel grateful. It was not enough for the ten lepers to feel how great it was to be healed.  It was not enough to just believe they were thankful. Jesus is teaching us that gratitude or thankfulness must be expressed, not merely felt.

We must tell others that we are thankful for them. We must tell others that we are grateful for having them in our lives and what they mean to us.  Have you noticed how the apostle Paul started almost every letter he wrote in the scriptures?
 “I give thanks to my God always for you…”  (1 Corinthians 1:4). 

Paul was not hesitant to tell others how thankful he was to the Lord for them, the brethren.  Thinking it was not enough. Feeling it was not enough.  Paul always expressed his thankfulness or gratitude to others.  How will others know we are thankful for them if we fail to express our gratitude and appreciation?  Sadly, they will never know.   Our lack of words will express our lack of gratitude or appreciation.   You see, God’s children must overflow with thankfulness, and that means we must express it in words to others.

We must express our gratitude and thankfulness to our Lord for all He does, has done, and will do in our lives.  We must be grateful to God, and we must express such gratitude to Him!  It is disturbing to me that only one out of ten lepers returned to Jesus to thank Him.  It is hard to fathom how only one came back to Jesus with a grateful heart considering what He did for them!  Don’t you think that after being sick, cast away from society, and then being healed by Jesus would have made these ten lepers overflow with thanksgiving and grateful hearts?  

Only when we realize our desperate condition will we appreciate and express our gratitude to God.  We must see ourselves as the lepers in this storyWe Christians were once cut off from God, living alone, and destined for death. But because of God’s goodness and mercy (Grace), He sent Jesus to free us from our sins.  So, what will we do next?  What we do next is everything, according to Jesus. Ten are healed, but only one is saved. We can be healed, but we are missing out when we refuse to return to Jesus, expressing our sincere gratitude and praises to Him.  

It is so easy to fall into this trap and take what Jesus has done for us for granted! God has given us many reasons and memorials so that we might not forget, but continue to be grateful every day for what Jesus did for us. Our lack of gratitude keeps us from having a relationship with God.  

In Luke 17:19, Jesus said,
“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 

Jesus declared that this one leper returned with a thankful heart to express his faith.  How was his faith expressed? This leper expressed his faith when he returned to Jesus with a grateful heart that overflowed with thanksgiving.  The faith of the other nine was shallow and superficial.  And though they got what they wanted from Jesus, they missed out on so much more.  They missed out on worshiping God and praising Him.  However, the returning leper came back glorifying and praising God because he truly loved and believed in Jesus.  What a contrast!  

Grateful hearts overflow with thanksgiving because they acknowledge they’re not worthy of such blessings.  Ungrateful hearts show a lack of salvation.   Hearts that overflow with thanksgiving express their gratitude by the way they live.  They express their gratitude by the way they worship God, and they do it daily.  Saving faith is an expression of giving thanks to God.  
Even amid so much grief and trials, there is so much for which we must be thankful to God in our lives! 

We must be grateful and overflow with thanksgiving until our last breath for what Jesus did for us.  We were destined to death, but because of what Jesus did, we now have the hope of eternal life.  Thus we must be grateful every day of our lives to Him and praise Him. Jesus gave us our life back!!  

May we thank Him for what He did for us, giving us our lives back, with every breath we take.  May we always be thankful for His steadfast love and for not abandoning us.  May we always have a heart of gratitude and never take the innumerable blessings we have through Christ Jesus for granted. 

I commend to you the words of the song “Thank you, Lord!”  It is a touching way for us to express our gratitude to God.  I hope you find it useful for your own expression of gratitude or thanksgiving.


For all that You’ve done, I will thank You, 
For all that You’re going to do. 
For all that You’ve promised and all that You are 
Is all that has carried me thru, Jesus, I thank You!

Chorus: 

And I thank You, thank You, Lord, 
And I thank You, thank You, Lord! 
Thank you for loving and setting me free. 
Thank You for giving Your life just for me.
How I thank You, 
Jesus, I thank You, 
Gratefully thank You. 
Thank You.



Luci