Keep clapping. Yeah. So if you don’t know Harry, I wouldn’t be surprised because he’s just kind of always running around and doing stuff. Yeah, for those of you who don’t know Harry, Harry has been around for a couple of months now, and I usually wouldn’t make a big deal about it. I’ll just be like, hey, this person got baptized. Hip hip hooray.
But I wanted to point out the fact that Harry has been serving with the AV crew for, like, the past four, basically, since we started studying the Bible with him. The guy didn’t really need any convincing. I remember, I think Bubba was talking about needing help with AV stuff, or he was complaining about the latest services audio scandal. And Harry goes, Oh, I can help with that. And we’re like, you could? So I wanted to lift them up.
It’s also in my notes. Harry isn’t here today. I put it in all caps. Don’t do something dumb like tell them to stand. So remember his face.
Hopefully you get to meet him sometime if you get to give him a good stop before he keeps running around and doing audio stuff. So Congrats, harry. Love him very much wherever you are. So today’s sermon is about gratitude. Isn’t that so funny, given how timely is that?
Just a couple of days after Thanksgiving. But before I get into anything, have your Bibles turned to Luke 17 for me, please. So we’re here to talk about gratitude, and I need to define it real quick. Let me get the Oxford Dictionary definition up here. The quality of being thankful and readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
And the only word out of the many words that are up on the screen that I’m going to ask you to remember is quality, the quality of being thankful. And that word is kind of central to the whole thing that we’re talking about today, because although gratitude is displayed in action, it’s a character trait. The kind of person that you are, and actions and thoughts and motives are all vital to the whole process. But I encourage you as you’re thinking today, I’m going to ask a lot of questions, write them down.
It’s not any questions you need to answer now or any self evaluation you need to do at the moment. But I’m going to ask a lot of questions today, so just keep in mind.
And I’m just going to run through a series right now. So is it your instinct to show gratitude? Are you in the habit of practicing gratitude in your relationships with others and namely, your relationship with God? Is gratitude a central part of your character? Do you believe that it is?
Keep these questions in mind. And as always, this sermon is for everyone. It’s for all you guys. So even if you think you’ve got gratitude down pat keep an ear out, I might pick up something useful for you or for a friend. So you may remember that I told you to turn your Bible to Luke 17, and I am delivering on that promise by starting in verse eleven.
So starting in verse eleven, Luke 17 says now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, Jesus master, have pity on us. When he saw them, he said, Go, show yourselves to the priests and as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back praising God in a loud voice.
He threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, Weren’t all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?
Then he said to him, Rise and go, Your faith has made you well, Amen. Big, big, thanks Jesus for doing that. So starting verses twelve through 13, let’s cover the context here very quickly. Leprosy was a debilitating disease to have in Jesus day, not just the fact that big welts and all of these horrible things would happen to your skin.
But I would be remiss to say that leprosy kind of was a blanket term over a number of different skin diseases. You’ll find that in a footnote in your Bible. That, though, doesn’t demean the fact that leprosy was chronic and contagious. So you had it for the rest of your life. And basically you had to be quarantined for the rest of your life. And isn’t that word so timely, quarantine Yikes.
So I think relate that to yourself as you think about it, because these guys, anyone who had leprosy had to basically separate themselves from their families for the rest of their lives, and especially in the religious context that Jesus was in. Lepers were unclean. So this meant that your family members also basically ignored you. People that you loved and who you thought were your friends now just write you off. That’s tough.
That is really, really hard. And usually lepers had to make colonies. They were popularly called leper colonies or just communities where lepers would just hang out together because there’s no point in not hanging out with other lepers. It’s not like you’re going to get it any worse than they do, so not to make light of their plight, but lepers were basically stripped of what you would think are basic human rights, food, shelter, security, being able to be embraced by your loved ones, being able to talk with your loved ones. Just every single thing that you would think is a basic human right.
Like these guys had to beg for food because they couldn’t get a job, they couldn’t work anywhere. So they had to basically stand at the entrances to popular cities and yell at people. They’d yell at people and say, hey, can you give me food? Could you give me money? Give me clothes?
These were the outcasts of society, no doubt, no doubt. And I don’t know, I would say, Have you ever felt this desperate? Because these guys were desperate? This kind of covers the context as to why ten dudes saw Jesus at a distance and just started shouting is because they were desperate for a cure. And honestly, I wouldn’t think that the pain behind the disease was what really needed healing.
They wanted to be made whole. They wanted to see the people that they loved again. They didn’t want to be ignored by their loved ones and by the people that they held dear in their lives. Imagine one of these guys with a husband or wife, and they basically have their spouse abandon them. I can’t paint the picture much worse.
So I would ask that, have you ever, ever felt this desperate, this desperate for a cure? So now that you have the context, obviously, it makes a little more sense as to why these guys were yelling at Jesus asking for mercy. But I also need to point out something spectacular on Jesus’s point is that if you’ll remember at the very beginning of the scripture, it says that Jesus was going to Jerusalem and crossed through the border between Samaria and Galilee. Now would it surprise you that Jesus didn’t need to go this way?
Jesus didn’t need to walk through these two towns to get to Jerusalem. Most Jews took the indirect route northeast across the River Jordan through Pariah because Jews hated Samaritans.
So I don’t know, especially kind of coming off the heels of the last sermon that I did. It doesn’t come as any surprise to me that this is the kind of person that Jesus is. And aren’t you grateful for that? That Jesus goes through places he doesn’t need to walk through to find people that need him.
He brought his Holy love to unholy places, and the border between Samaria and Galilee was as unholy as it could get. You had Samaritans and all of the Gentiles in Galilee. There was no worse place that Jesus could be caught in. But he knew people needed the Kingdom of God, and he put himself in positions where he could give it to people. I am very, very grateful for that. So moving on to verses 14 and 15, Jesus tells the men to go present themselves to the priest, and it’s easy to kind of get this lullaby effect right with Scripture? Especially where it’s just like “all Right Jesus let me to go to the priests. Get healed, Good deal. But hang on a second for just a minute, right? Because he tells them to just go somewhere else.
Come on. He tells these ten guys they say, Please heal us. And he goes, go somewhere else. Go talk to this guy.
What did you think for a second it’s like, why would I do that? I’ve been hearing all around town that you’re the guy to come to. Everyone’s been telling me that you’re this big healer who’s been doing miracles all over the place. And now you’re telling me to go to someone else? Question Mark?
That’s good. Right?
So, yeah, honestly, I would implore you to be like, what? Because then again, that’s where the desperation comes in. Honestly, if you haven’t, like, put yourself in these guys’shoes for a second, put yourself in the worst position possible. You haven’t been able to hug or shake someone’s hand or talk to another person that doesn’t have leprosy. For over 15-20 years, you have been deprived of what most would consider very human and regular contact.
So honestly, if Jesus told you to go eat grass, you would probably do it. That’s how desperate these guys were like, I need to go see the priest. Good. All right. I’ll do that.
No problem with that. And I’ll ask again, haven’t you ever felt this desperate for the Christians in the room? Isn’t that why you studied the Bible? Isn’t that why you went through whatever ordeal it was that you went through to get to where you are now is because you looked at your life and you said, I am missing something. I am missing something desperately.
And when you were presented with the good news about Jesus, you said that’s what makes me whole. Think about whatever it was that you went through, how desperate it made you to think I’m missing something. And for those of you who aren’t Christians or who are kind of on the fence, don’t really know what’s going on. I would encourage you to take stock of your life and think, is this what wholeness looks like? Is my life complete?
Obviously, I would be biased and I would say, no, it’s not. But that’s up for you to decide. We’re all desperate for security, for peace, for comfort, for happiness, for genuine love. And the one man who could offer it is right in front of you.
But sometimes you might say, tell you to do something kind of odd. And would you let something odd hold you back from securing eternal security? I don’t think you would, but it’s just a good you do something odd. You live forever. I don’t know.
But if you thought that was it, it gets better. It gets so much better because the ten guys were healed. They go away, they present themselves to the priest, and all ten are healed. Ten for ten. Jesus is killing it.
So their leprosy was cured. And they get to go back to their communities and embrace the people that they love. But out of these ten, only one guy comes back to say thank you.
That’s tough. One guy comes back, and it would be cool. I would move on if it wasn’t for the fact that this one guy was a Samaritan.
So obviously that doesn’t mean much to us, right? Because most of us aren’t Jewish. And if we are Jews don’t really hate Samaritans anymore. But isn’t it funny that some of the deepest lessons you could learn are from the lives of people that you’d least expect it from? Or from people who you might even have deep prejudice against?
And I think this kind of goes over as a blanket statement to everyone. But are there people who you’ve written off, who you think I can’t learn anything from this person?
Have your judgments blinded the ability to just learn from other people? Because that’s what this story points out. Luke wouldn’t have pointed out that this guy was a Samaritan if it wasn’t for the fact that it would have taught some people who were Jews for a very long time a very harsh lesson about the fact that, yeah, some people can do very good things and they don’t have to be Jewish to do it. Very interesting. So let’s wrap this up with verses 17 through 19 because Jesus asked some very, very important questions here. Weren’t all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? This Samaritan? Where are the Jews? Where are the people who’ve been religious their whole lives? Where’s their gratitude?
I’m scratching my head right now. Help me out. And isn’t this a very chilling diagnosis of Christianity today where we often take our gift and don’t even cast a second thought to the giver? How many of us have relationships with God that are substantiated by asking for signs and displays of his love with no gratitude for his love, which is just proven by the fact that the universe and all of its contents are always maintained in balance.
How many of your prayers are filled with Thanksgiving alone and no requests? I was just thinking the other day I was listening to Christmas music. Yes, I listen to Christmas music in November before Thanksgiving. Thank you. Knew I would get some applause for that.
But I was listening to Do You Hear What I Hear and one of the lines says, Pray for peace, people everywhere. And I thought to myself, wow, wait, hold on a second. Jesus didn’t have to come and bring peace. He didn’t need to come be born in a manger born in a donkey trough and bring peace. He could have brought condemnation and justice for the justice for the Jews.
And we could have all been destroyed. And we could have moved on from this. But I don’t know. I see lots of crosses around people who have no idea what the cross even means. I don’t know.
Eddie spoke last week about Second Peter and Jesus’ second coming is certain. It’s not a question. And I think to myself, how is Jesus going to find me? Is it going to be with gratitude and humility or is he going to find me focused on the next thing that I can get?
Gratitude is the survival mechanism of the Christian. We are all sinners by unthankfulness and look at what gratitude secured the Samaritan leper. Jesus told him, rise and go. Your faith has made you well. It is no far stretch to know that Jesus speaks here of more than just physical healing. It’s more than just the sores on his body gone. Something in here changed.
Something inside of him changed it’s not just because he decided to go do what Jesus told him to do. It’s because he came back and said thank you. It’s because he came back and gave praise to God.
The pride that so easily sets up a man’s heart against Jesus has been felled by gratitude. This is the way to start putting the world back together. Just be grateful. Sounds cliche. Sounds like you’ve heard it before, I’m sure, but this is God’s invitation I’ve got tomorrow in the day after that.
Just be grateful for today. Just be grateful for today. If you’re here and you feel stuck. If you feel out of sorts, if you feel distant from God, it will come as no surprise to you that I’m going to tell you try to be grateful. I promise you, however bad things may be right now, and obviously that’s pretty timely coming out of what we would consider our quaratine during COVID and all of this life got pretty bad. But I promise you, it’s no comparison to how good God has been to you.
So some practicals for this week, or maybe all the weeks, if you’re, especially aspirational. I’d say, find things to say thank you for that you usually wouldn’t be grateful for.
I get to flatter you all with a little nature fact, but I love being a student at UCF because I get to do this job while also getting to learn super fun things about nature and the way that God has made creation and its balance. But I was just thinking the other day I was in a class and my professor said the Earth has a slight magnetism in its core. Cool. It’s not super unknown, but apparently this magnetism is what deflects solar flares, which would usually just destroy the ozone and kill us all.
I said, well, God, I guess I should say thank you for that.
You all thought, where is this going? Is this dude giving us a lecture on geomagnetism? No, but yeah, I just think it’s fun to find things that you would really odd things that you wouldn’t usually be grateful about. Try to make the majority of your conversations with God about gratitude and what you’re thankful toward him about. I learned this from my dear friend Will, who likes to pray and just say thank you and not ask for anything.
My God, what a treasure that man is. But yeah, just say thank you and nothing else that might help. And also tell someone why you’re grateful about them. Why you’re grateful about God putting them in your life. Make a habit of practicing gratitude with the people in your life. Look for things that other people to say thank you for, odd things, things that they wouldn’t normally be said thank you to for.
So, yeah, just a couple couple of practicals hope that you put that into practice love you all very much. But moving on to Communion, I kind of didn’t want to leave this statement about however bad it might be now, it’s no comparison to how good God has been to you.
For those of you who don’t know or who haven’t didn’t meet me when I first got into the Church, I used to be homeless. I used to live in a hotel just down the street that way with my parents, I lived in a small hotel bedroom with me, my sister and my two parents.
I thought, what good is Church if I have no steady place to live, or if I have no money to buy clothes or whatever basic human necessities, it kind of felt like my leper moment where I was met by Brian Kelly, who also some of you may not know in high school, and he invited me to Bible talk, and all I could think was, what good is this going to give me? I need money. I need shelter. I need a steady meal every day. The last thing I need to do right now is go to Church or go to a Bible talk or go to a Bible study.
And now, here we are. Less than four years later. This Church changed my life. All of you, this whole community. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. And without Jesus, I wouldn’t be here.
I have been forgiven of so much. So I try to love much. I was a leper who desperately needed healing. And Jesus healed me and put me right where I needed to be. And I am forever indebted in gratitude to him.
So if you thought some of the things I said were pointed today, promise, it comes from my own heart that’s had to wrestle with, I complain about things that I’m in now. And I remember that just three years ago, I was living in a hotel room, and I think, Well, Jesus, I think you got this one. Honestly think you’re good. So, yeah.
Thank you for listening today. Tell someone you’re are grateful for them, and I will pray for our Communion this morning.