It’s good to see all of you again. Okay, well, we’re going to do things a little out of order today. Normally I would ask people if they had a testimony of Thanksgiving or praise or anything that you feel inspired to share with the rest of us. But I am going to share just for a few minutes. And then I’m going to give you about ten minutes with the Lord.
And there are these notebooks off to your left in that little box. And this is a Thanksgiving journal. So hopefully the message today will help guide our Thanksgiving.
If you could turn with me to Luke 17. I’ll read a few verses. Luke 17, verse 11. On the way to Jerusalem, he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
When he saw them, he said to them, Go and show yourselves to the priest. And as they went, they were cleansed.
11 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. (Luke 17:11-14, ESV)
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. And he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Now Jesus answered, Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner? And he said to him, Rise and go your way. Your faith has made you well.
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.” (Luke 17:15-19, ESV)
Okay, let’s pray.
Lord, may it be said of all of us that our faith has made us well. Our faith has saved us. Our faith has delivered us. Our faith has restored us. Father, we pray that you would meet us. We want a meaningful contact with you. Lord, we’re just wasting our time if we’re not going to meet you. Lord, this is why we’re here. Please meet us, O Lord Jesus. Please meet each of us in whatever state we’re in, leprous, healthy, whatever state we’re in.
We pray that you would meet us, O Lord Jesus. We open up our hearts wide because you’re knocking on the door of our hearts. We open up our hearts wide that you may come in and dwell, rule, and reign over us. Thank you, Lord. We pray that you’d be with us in this service where we give you thanks. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
As I just prayed, the last verse that I read, verse 19, your faith has made you well. And the word there is sozo. Your faith has saved you. And there are many different definitions of salvation, healing, deliverance, restoration, recovery, protection. There’s many things.
And so today I want to help guide our thanksgiving to the Lord. And as we approach the end of the year, it’s time to start looking back. How was this year for you? And a more pointed question is how many meaningful interactions, contacts have you had with the Lord Jesus? I think that’s how we can judge how good of a year it was. How many meaningful contacts have you had and have I had with the Lord Jesus?
There’s a section of scripture with a bleeding woman where a crowd is pressing in upon Jesus. And so he’s physically connecting and contacting many people in a crowd.
But there’s only one that day who had a meaningful contact with Jesus, and it was this bleeding woman. And there were ten lepers who were crying out.
And we should just quickly locate ourselves in this story because the ten lepers were religious. The ten lepers had some amount of faith to cry out to the Lord and say, Master, have mercy on us. These are not nonbelievers. These people have some amount of faith. They are from a religious background.
But interestingly, nine of them, so 90%, did not return to Jesus and give thanks. And that means that during this period of leprosy, we don’t know how long it was. Was it weeks? Was it months? Was it years? During that whole time, they are bringing their leprosy, I’m sure, at least on a daily basis, to the Lord Jesus. And they’re bringing it out of a desperation because this is not like athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot, you have it and you can hide it. But leprosy is all over. Everybody sees you, even from a distance. And you’re taught you should be crying out to the people who are coming your way. I am unclean.
Don’t come any closer. And so this is a situation that cannot be hidden. And so it is a desperate situation. It is not a small little thing that you can just hide. It is something that is like cancer.
If you have cancer, your whole life is on hold. You don’t do your normal routine of life. Everything takes a back seat because this condition is so urgent. I need to address it.
And so at the very least, I know that these people who have some amount of faith, they must be bringing this leprosy to the Lord, at least on a daily basis. And we can read between the lines that the fact that they did not return tells me something about their faith.
They had enough faith to listen to Jesus’ word. And Jesus says, go, go to the priest, show yourself. And on the way, they were healed. So this is not just a casual believer. This is someone who is in a desperate situation.
Jesus meets them, gives them a word, and they are the type of people, when Jesus speaks, I will listen.
And they go on their way, and as they were going, they were healed. But only one returned. And so that tells me something about the other nine. That means that the whole time that these nine were bringing their leprosy to the Lord, they were not meaningfully connecting with the Lord Jesus. Because if they meaningfully were connecting with the Lord Jesus, right away, as the moment they knew they were healed, they would turn around and thank Jesus.
And so Jesus is making a point here that among all believers in God’s church, 90% of us are not having a meaningful contact with the Lord Jesus. Or you might have it at one point in the day, in the beginning of the day, or maybe at the end of the day, or if you’re disciplined, maybe both. But 90% of the day, all the stuff in between, you’ve forgotten about the Lord Jesus. You’ve lost connection with the Lord Jesus.
And that tells me that 90%, the nine of them, when they’re bringing this leprosy before the Lord, it’s almost like they’re looking past the Lord and they’re looking to the healing of this situation.
So they’re looking past the healer for the healing. And as soon as they’re healed, they got what they wanted. And so the whole time, maybe for years, bringing this leprosy before the Lord, they are not meaningfully connected with the Lord Jesus.
But this one, who connected, must have connected with the Lord Jesus, the whole time he brought his leprosy before the Lord, as soon as he was healed, he knows who to thank, who to go to first.
And just as a kind of a high-level study about this text and how it reflects human nature, I don’t think we do well with major answers to prayer. Because if, let’s say, God answered all of our prayers, let’s say in an instant you were sanctified the moment you met Jesus, and you were joyful and peaceful, and you never had a care in the world, and you never had a problem in your life, would you and I ever consistently, meaningfully connect with Jesus from that point forward? I don’t think so.
I don’t think we do well with prosperity. I don’t think we do well with peace.
I don’t think we do well with huge prayer requests being answered in terms of that translating into a meaningful connection to Jesus. You know what connects us to Jesus? Difficulty, trials, frustrations.
As long as you bring that to Jesus and you’re not looking past Jesus and saying, can you just take this thing out of my life? Can you just heal me? Can you just answer me? And so it’s not looking past him as if he’s a vending machine to answer my prayer.
As long as these trials, these difficulties, these frustrations, which can be relational, which can be in your workplace, which can be in your family, it can be most, I think, most of the frustration I think is within ourselves. Like, shouldn’t we be more at peace? Shouldn’t we be more joyful? Shouldn’t we be more thankful? Why are we the same?
These kind of frustrations, it has a potential to be a glue to Jesus because we bring it to Jesus, our frustrations, our trials, our own lack of change. We bring it to Jesus.
And as long as we’re not looking past him as if he is just somebody to get my life smoother and better. No, the whole point of life is for you and I to connect and have a meaningful connection to Jesus.
So for the next ten minutes or so, I want all of us to kind of look back because I think in terms of how we give thanks, I think most of the time we give thanks when there is something he did for us, which is appropriate. We should give thanks. He healed me, we give thanks. He provided for me, we give thanks.
But how many times do we go up and say, you know, I had a really bad week and I brought it to the Lord Jesus and he met me. He forgave me. And I’m hearing those type of testimonies.
So I hope that we have a, I hope everybody comes up and shares, whether you had a great week, a great month, a great year, or it was just terrible and you’re like the 90% in this story.
I think as soon as Jesus answered me, I forgot about him and I was off to the races. If you had that kind of year that most of the year, if you’re just honest with yourself, you forgot Jesus. You only can count on one hand how many meaningful connection, contacts that I have with him.
If it’s that few, we can repent that we forgot about him. And let’s look back and see all the difficulties that we were experiencing this past year. It was an opportunity. Jesus was inviting us, please come back to me. Please give me your burdens. Please give me your frustrations. This fight that you had, please bring that fight before me. Please bring all of your discouragement, your restlessness, bring it before me.
Because if your life was smooth, would that translate to a more spiritual life? Would that translate into a life that walks with Jesus closer? I don’t think so.
This leper is rare, I think. Because not only did he connect through the leprosy, he knew as soon as he was healed who to thank for healing him of the leprosy.
So for the next 5-10 minutes, I just invite you to have time with the Lord. The notebooks are there for you to journal.
And so not just what positive things did he do, what difficulties did you go through? And did it translate to a meaningful contact with Jesus?
If not, then start this moment and say, I’m going to start in this service. Bring all of my frustrations, all of my inadequacies, all of my doubts, all of my fears. I’m going to bring my relational issues, the tension in my home. I’m going to bring all of this to you, Lord Jesus.
And can you fix it? And every time you do that, you’re connecting with Jesus. And you say, I thank you for this difficulty. Because without it, I probably would forget you far more. But at least I have these reminders.
Like a leper doesn’t forget that he has leprosy. Knows that I’m so desperate, I only have one person to turn to.
And so all the difficulties, all the frustrations, has it translated to a meaningful contact with Jesus? If not, let’s start in this service.
Okay, let’s pray. Father, we’re so thankful to you for this example of these 10 lepers. We locate ourselves in this story, and oftentimes we find ourselves in the wrong side. You answer prayer requests, but it doesn’t translate to more than a momentary, fleeting Thanksgiving. It doesn’t translate to a deeper, more intimate walk with you.
Lord, through all the difficulties, all the frustrations, all the disappointments, you’re inviting us to bring these to you, and to connect with you, and to abide in you, and to remain with you, and to put our faith in you.
Father, if we haven’t done that this year, Lord, we want to start in this service. Father, we pray that Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance every small and big thing that happened, all the missed opportunities that we fail to bring, our difficulties, and give you thanks for an opportunity to reconnect with you.
Father, if we’ve missed opportunities, we don’t want to miss them going forward. We want to start anew. So be with us for the remainder of this service. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
So we’re going to spend about 10 minutes or so. The journals are there, and the Lord’s Supper will be available. And so just have your own time with the Lord.
And then after this time closes, I’ll invite people, if you have something you’d like to share, we’ll share and then we’ll end with a song or two.
Okay, let’s pray.