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Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?" - Luke 17:17 (NLT)
This week we’re talking about gratitude. Are you grateful? How often? For what? Thankfulness is a big deal in the Bible. In fact, it’s one of the few specific things that we’re told is God’s will for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I’ve learned in my own life that I tend to be much more grateful when my favorite charity isn’t me. How about you? An ego-centric life doesn’t usually lead to gratitude or contentment.
This morning, I wrote out some things I’m grateful for, something I think is a good exercise for everyone. Permit me to share. Read them slowly, then add your own ideas to the list.
A good night’s sleep. Blue skies. Cars. Appliances. Clean water. Electricity. Sunrises. Sunsets. Fresh air. Antibiotics. Woods. Full moons. Beaches. Hugs. Work. Hearing. Good roads. Hot showers. Walking. Running. School teachers. Laughter. Solitude. Adversity. Memory. Music. Flowers. Good food. Kites. Children. Seasons. Butterflies. Good books. Creativity. Dark chocolate. Sharing. Listening. Courage. Commitment. Touch. Teamwork. Hot coffee. Friends. Mountains. The Church. Family. God. Salvation. Understanding. Patience. The Cross. Heaven. Today. Tomorrow. The Bible. Hope. Others. Art. Kindness. Vacations. Health. Memory. Sunshine. Leisure. Homes. Freedom. Grace.
You know what I’m thinking? It’s kind of hard to not be grateful when we count our blessings. I hope you’re thinking that too! We don’t do that enough, do we? This past weekend we learned about ten lepers who were healed, yet only one returned to express gratitude. Jesus asked a direct question: “Where are the other nine?” I’m guessing He asked it with a tear in His eye. You know why? Because He has so much to give. I hope you know that. I Iove Him so much… don’t you?
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” - Luke 17:13 (NLT)
Life is full of challenges, some of them extraordinarily difficult and painful. But it’s in the painful places that we learn the most about ourselves and God. When maturity flows out of brokenness rather than willpower, it has much greater power, potential, and longevity.
Florence White Willert wrote, “I thank you for the bitter things, They’ve been a friend of grace, They’ve driven me from the paths of ease, To storm the secret place.”
Have you been to the “secret place?” I’m not talking about daily devotions, or a regular “quiet time,” or Sundays in church, but a much deeper, more secluded and precious place; a place where our personal pain mingles with God’s amazing grace and produces acceptance, an acceptance the world can never understand. It's in this hallowed place of acceptance that God's presence invades our soul and changes us forever, despite uncertainties all around.
Most of us steadfastly resist the secret place, preferring ease and blessings. We heartily denounce suffering, and as a result, we often miss much of what God has for us. I don't think God ever tries to hurt us, but He does try to make us more like Jesus, and that can be extremely painful. An easy life leaves no scars and rarely builds character; thus, God takes us into troubled waters—not to drown us, but to cleanse us. You see, my friend, He loves us too much to let us remain the same.
What are the hard things in your life right now? What are the challenging things that, if you'd embrace them, might change you forever? What are the things that might take you to the secret place and make you grateful for grace? Ponder that. Cry if you must. Then, choose to accept the pain. Take Jesus’ hand and move on, and follow Him all the way Home… and in the meantime, don’t just endure the journey—pray for the grace to enjoy it. If you come up with a better idea, let me know.Share Tweet
He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. - Luke 17:16 (NLT)
I remember reading about a guy who held the door for a woman so she could walk through before him. She refused to say thank you; she just sort of stuck her nose in the air. Then she said, with condescending ingratitude, “You didn’t need to hold the door for me just because I’m a lady.” He replied, “No, I held the door for you because I’m a gentleman.” I thought, I’m gonna use that sometime. Hey, I guess I just did!
It’s hard for some people to be grateful (pride does that to us), yet the Bible puts a high priority on gratitude. In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom told about an incident that taught her about giving thanks in everything. She and her sister, Betsy, were imprisoned in an extremely crowded, flea-infested barracks at the Ravensbruck Nazi Concentration Camp. One morning, they were reading in their smuggled, tattered Bible about being thankful in all things. Betsy announced, “Well, we must also thank God for fleas.”
Corrie replied, “There is no way I will thank God for fleas.” But Betsy was persuasive, and they actually prayed a prayer thanking God for the fleas, though it seemed totally counterintuitive. During the months that followed, they discovered that their particular barracks was left relatively free from the guards, which enabled them to do Bible study, talk openly, and even pray with others in their barracks without fear of punishment. They learned sometime later that it was a place of refuge for them only because the guards wanted to avoid the fleas.
Got some “fleas” in your life today? Someone talking down to you? Dismissing you? How about some trials that, like pesky insects, seemingly won’t go away? Are you tired, exhausted, worn out, desperate? My friend, God has a plan to protect you and deliver you. Stay the course. Someday, you’ll understand… so much so, that you’ll be able to say, “Thank you for the fleas.” I promise.Share Tweet
One of them… came back… shouting, “Praise God!” - Luke 17:15 (NLT)
Pastor and apologist Douglas Wilson has a good comment about gratitude. He writes, "The issue of thanksgiving is really central to the whole debate about the existence of God. On the one hand, if there isn’t a God, we have no need to thank anyone. We are here as the result of a long chain of impersonal processes, grinding their way down to our brief moment in time. (But) if there is a God, then every breath, every moment, every sight and sound, is sheer, unadulterated gift. And, as our mothers taught us, when someone gives you presents like this, the only appropriate response is to thank them."
I agree. It’s all a gift… especially His amazing grace. I was studying the Greek word “gratitude” (eucharisteo) the other day and realized that it’s also the root word for “grace.” No coincidence! Gratitude is only enhanced by understanding grace! When we’re weak, confused, or afraid, grace guides us, heals us, inspires us, humbles us, grows us, and teaches us. It is marvelous, life-saving, hope-releasing, and confidence-building. It enables us to face today, forget yesterday, and hope tomorrow. Grace holds us, nurtures us, comforts us, and sustains us. Without it, we’re directionless, confused, bewildered, exhausted, and lost. Grace is what helps us resemble Jesus. Grace awakens us to beauty, truth, knowledge, wisdom, and love. It is oxygen to our spirit, fresh air to the inner man. You created us to know and love you, dear Father, and we’re so very grateful today… for grace.
When it comes to grace, words aren't enough… ever! From deep within, we want to shout with joy about grace, yet God in His grace says, "Shouting isn’t necessary, dear one. Just rest… be with me… and that will be enough." Yes, Lord, and even that… is grace. Douglas Wilson is right: “...as our mothers taught us, when someone gives you presents like this, the only appropriate response is to thank them." And so we do, Lord… Amen!Share Tweet
And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. - Luke 17:14 (NLT)
This week, we’ve looked at the story of ten lepers who asked Jesus to heal them (Luke 17:11-17). “Have mercy on us!” they shouted, and He did! Interestingly, He didn’t touch them at all; instead, He said, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (vs.14). At first glance, that seems a bit odd. “Go talk to your preacher” doesn’t seem to be a surefire cure for a devastating disease; I’m guessing they expected more. On the other hand, the only reason a leper would visit a priest was to be pronounced “clean.” Maybe there’s more to Jesus’ command than we might first imagine; maybe it was pregnant with hope.
So they went… by faith… and as they were going, they were healed! Not before. Not after. When they began the journey, they still had leprosy… sores everywhere, deformed arms, and rotting fingers… a disease you could smell a quarter-mile away. They were still ten disheveled, deformed, wretched lepers. Don’t you think someone said, “Why bother? After all, once a leper, always a leper.” But on they go, hoping against hope. They walk 50 steps… no change; 75 steps… nothing happens. Onward… the leprosy unrelenting, clinging to their limbs. But somewhere along the way, something wonderful, unbelievable, something they never dreamed possible happened: They were healed… all ten… at once!
In the act of going, they were healed! Why? Because going proved their faith! God literally honored their uncertain but determined steps of faith. Here’s the takeaway: Our faith moves mountains when our faith moves us—and usually, not until it moves us.
Struggling with faith these days? I have a question: What are you doing about it? If the answer is “nothing,” you’ll never grow your faith. It’s not a feeling; it’s a knowing. Big difference! Choose to believe what you know is true, and then walk on. Healing will come, friend, because faith and action go together. The next step? Well, that’s up to you. The next move… is yours.Share Tweet