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Don´t Forget to Say Thanks!

 

Don’t Forget to Say “Thanks”!
Luke 17:11-19
 
Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois, had for many years a volunteer lifesaving crew among its students. On September 8, 1860, the Lady Elgin, a crowded passenger steamer, floundered off the shore of Lake Michigan just above Evanston. The Lady Elgin disaster remains the greatest loss of life on open water in the history of the Great Lakes.
 
One of the students gathered on the shore, was named Edward W. Spencer. He was a student at Northwestern’s Garrett Biblical Institute, and a part of this lifesaving crew. He saw a woman clinging to some wreckage far out in the breakers. He threw off his coat and swam out through the heavy waves, succeeding in getting her back to the land in safety. He would spend the next six hours returning to those waters saving lives.
 
After rescuing 15 people, he was crouching by a fire, resting his exhausted body, when he spotted two more people in trouble. He took off his coat, plunged in again, rescuing a total of 17 people that night. All in all, he swam a total of 30 miles. 
 
He fell unconscious on shore and was taken to his room. Ed Spencer never fully recovered from the exposure and exertion of that day. He carried bruised for months from the wreckage debris that struck him in the water. He remained in school a while longer, but because of his failing health, he eventually had to drop out. He ultimately became wheelchair bound and never regained the use of his legs.
Because of his health he was never able to enter the ministry, but instead lived a quiet life of Christ-likeness. He died in California at age eighty-one.
 
Earlier in his life, someone asked him for a newspaper interview: "What do you remember the most about that day?"
 
His Answer: "Out of all the people I rescued that day, not a single one came back to thank me."
 
We are involved in a series of messages aimed at helping us to develop a thankful heart. Last week we looked at “Coming to Church with a Thankful Heart”. But what about at other times in our lives? What about those big events of life when it is obvious that God has been involved, and He intervenes for our good? Are we thankful then?  Do you ever foget to say "thanks"?
 
Someone has said that an ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they came from. Another has said that if you want to find gratitude, you have to look in the dictionary.
 
Well there is a story told to us in Luke 17 that helps us develop a thankful heart. 
 
Luke 17:11-19
 
Let me point out some things that are very obvious from this account. First think about:
 
1. THANKFULNESS DESERVED
 
verses 11-12
 
This would be a glorious day for these ten lepers. Jesus was passing by, and whenever Jesus passes by great and glorious things always happen. There have been many great days in my life, but none greater than that revival service when Jesus passed by in my life. It was a great day when He passed by your way.
 
And if you’ve never met Him personally, today can be that very day that will change your life for eternity.
 
Now on this day Jesus was passing through a village that was on the border of Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a certain village He was met by ten men who were lepers. Leprosy was, and is, a terrible and tragic disease. The Law was specific and gave certain regulations concerning a leper.
 
Luke says these ten lepers "stood afar off." This was according to the Law which required that a leper remain at a distance from others. They were required to stand downwind, and at least 50 yards away. They were required to cover the mouth with a cloth and cry "unclean" to warn other they were a leper.
 
Leprosy in the Bible is a picture of sin. It represents sin in several ways. For one, it corrupts. Leprosy would begin as a small white spot but would spread throughout and over the body with its corrupting and defiling effect. Sin often begins with a small matter but progresses until it defiles the entire life.
 
Leprosy is a picture of sin in that it deforms. Leprosy, as it spread, would eat away at the flesh. It would eat away the nose, lips, and parts of the body leaving one hideously disfigured.
Sin can take one and turn them into a totally different person. I have had parents say, "She/He was such a good kid. They never gave me any problem. I never thought they would do what they are doing." That is how sin affects a life. It can turn a decent person into a shameless alcoholic or drug addict. I have seen many who were taking down a dark and deforming path.
 
Leprosy is a picture of sin in that it isolates. As I mentioned, these ten lepers stood afar off as required by the law. Their leprosy cut them off from society. Sin separates man from God. The terrible truth of sin is not what it can do to our life, but that it separates and isolates us from God.
 
Leprosy is a picture of sin in that it is incurable humanly speaking. Leprosy is largely controlled and contained in our day and time, but there still remains no human cure. Reformation and the changing of a man's environment will not produce a cure for sin. Any efforts to change a person from the outside are doomed to failure. There must be a change on the inside; a change that only Jesus can bring.
 
Finally, leprosy is a picture of sin in that it is terminal. To catch leprosy, which was very contagious, was a sentence of death. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. The ultimate end of sin is eternal death, forever lost without God, with hell as the eternal destiny.
 
Leprosy, as you can see, is a terrible and tragic disease. Understanding leprosy helps you to appreciate the helpless and hopeless condition these ten men were in. However, Jesus passed by! That always changes things.
verse 13
 
They apparently had heard of Jesus and received reports of what He had done for others. They begin to cry out for mercy. That was their only hope.
 
verse 14
 
In accordance to the Law, Jesus sent them to priest to be declared clean. In Leviticus 14 we read of the specific steps they were to take. They were to go to the priest where he would take two birds. One would be killed in an earthen vessel under running water. The other would be dipped in the water and blood of the bird that had been sacrificed. The priest would then sprinkle the leper with bird dipped in the water and blood which was followed by releasing the bird. The leper would then be declared clean.
 
As these ten lepers were on the way to see the priest they were cleansed. Can you imagine what it must have been like when suddenly they noticed that their skin was no longer corrupt and their features were no longer deformed by leprosy. I am sure camp meeting broke out! I can hear them shouting, "I'm clean!"
 
In 1934 young Prince Edward, heir to the British throne visited a hospital where thirty-six hopelessly injured and disfigured veterans of the First World War were tended. He stopped at each cot, shook hands with each veteran, and thanked them for their service and sacrifice. He was conducted to the exit, but observed that he had only seen twenty-nine patients.
 
He asked about the other seven. He was told that they were so shockingly disfigured that for the sake of his own feelings he had not been taken to see them.
 
He insisted to see them all and was taken to see them. Just as with the others, he spoke with each man and assured them that their service and sacrifice would never be forgotten. He then looked at the head nurse and said, "There are only six here. Where is the seventh?"
 
The nurse told him that no one was allowed to see him. Blind, maimed, dismembered, the most hideously disfigured of them all, he was isolated in a room where he would never leave alive. The nurse said, "Please don't ask to see him." The prince, however, would not be dissuaded, and was reluctantly led into a darkened room.
 
As he entered he froze. He stood there with white face and drawn lips, looking down at what had once been a fine man, but now was a horror to look at. The prince then broke down in tears, and with loving impulse, bent down and reverently kissed the cheek of that broken hero.
 
I will tell you there was a day when One stooped far, far lower, to kiss a far, far worse ugliness--not the physical disfigurement of a broken hero whose condition called forth reverent gratitude--but the leprous, evil ugliness of our sin.
 
When we think of what Jesus did for these ten lepers, and what He has done for us, we think of one who is deserving of our gratitude. We could never thank Him enough for all He has done for us. He is deserving of our thankfulness.
Secondly, think with me of:
 
2. THANKFULNESS DISPLAYED
 
verses 15-16
 
In this one leper we have an example of thankfulness. This one leper realized how deserving the Lord was of his gratitude. He had personally been healed and he personally showed his thanks to the Lord.
 
Thanksgiving is a personal matter. It is one thing for me to say that we should be thankful, but another thing to say that I or you should be thankful. Each of us should think about God's mercy in our life. Each of us should personally express our thanks to the Lord.
 
The Bible says in Psalm 29:2, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name." Thankfulness is something that is "due" to the Lord. It is something that we owe Him.
 
Now Paul instructed the church at Corinth that “all things were to be done decently and in order.” In other words, there is a proper way for us to conduct ourselves. Think about this leper:
 
He was proper in his praise. The Bible said that he "with a loud voice glorified God." There are some Baptist's who need to think about that. It was with a loud voice. These dead-heads who think it is wrong to get emotional should reflect on the behavior of this one leper. You could hear him all over town as he shouted and praised God.
 
He was also proper in his posture. The Bible says that he "fell down on his face at his feet, giving Him thanks." This was the place of humility. In humble gratefulness he fell at the feet of Jesus thanking Him for what He done.
 
It is always proper to express our thanks to the Lord. The Bible says in Psalm 75:1, "Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks." Four times in Psalm 136 we read, "O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever."
 
How thankful we should be. In fact, to not be thankful, in my opinion, would be nothing short of sinful. After all the Lord has done for us, how could be anything but thankful?
 
And yet, as we look further at this story we are reminded that there are those who are unthankful.
 
Thirdly, we see:
 
3. THANKFULNESS DEPRIVED
 
verses 17-18
 
There were ten lepers that were healed, but only one returned to give thanks. The other nine went on their merry way without a word of thanks for the One who had healed them.
 
In the one we see can example of gratitude. In the nine we see an example in ingratitude. All of us are in one of these two categories. We are among the grateful or we are among the ungrateful? We are either thankful or unthankful.
Notice that Jesus asks about the other nine. That indicates that it bothered Him that they had not returned to give thanks. It is said that Charles De Gaulle said to Winston Churchill in reference to the military aid that the Allies provided to France to defeat Germany, "We shall stun you with our ingratitude."
 
I think it must stun the Lord when we are unthankful.
 
We are by and large a very ungrateful generation. You drive through a place and get something to eat and rarely will you hear them say, "Thank you." Instead they act like you are bothering them. It seems that the words "thank you" have been lost to our generation.
 
I was reprimanded some time back at Wal-Mart by a checker for having 22 items in the 20 or less line with no other customers waiting. I politely reminded her that it was purchases like mine that paid her salary. 
 
We went to a fast-food restaurant one Sunday night after church, well before closing time, and were treated extremely rudely because they had already cleaned the floor. Somewhere along the line we have forgotten how to be thankful for our jobs and thankful for our employees and customers and we’re just a bunch of ungrateful spoiled brats!
 
Paul spoke of the last days in 2 Timothy 3 and gave a list of things that would characterize the last days. In the list is "unthankful." That certainly describes our generation.
 
I have never understood why our country is so hated by other countries. Especially when you think of how many of them owe their very existence to our country and the men and women who gave their lives to deliver them from the hand of evil despots like Hitler and others.
 
And this thankless attitude that we see is reflected in our spiritual life. We receive and receive, but never take the time to express our thanks to the Lord. Like the nine lepers, we receive from the Lord, but never return to give thanks. Should it not be disturbing to our Lord?
 
But then we read
 
verse 19
 
It always brings joy to Jesus when we express our thanks to Him. This world is full of the unthankful. Are you among them? After all the Lord has done for us, and does for us, we should be as one, not the nine.
 
May God help us never to be UNTHANKFUL!
 
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