Worship Is... Part 2
Worship Is... Thanksgiving
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 12, 2003

 

Main Passage: Luke 17:11-19 (NLT)

 

Anybody have anything special planned for the weekend? Anybody having a big Thanksgiving dinner? What’s on the menu?

PARTICIPATION

We’re going to be heading to Halifax this afternoon, coming back Tuesday morning. So we’ll have our Thanksgiving dinner there with Shera’s family. Thanksgiving with them is a little different than what I grew up with. I grew up having turkey for Thanksgiving dinner… then have roast beef. Apparently that’s because Shera’s father is British, although I’m not sure why that matters since Thanksgiving isn’t really that big a deal in Great Britain. So it’s not what I’m used to, but that’s okay. Because after having turkey year after year, a change is good.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you’re bored with the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. So just in case you are, let me give you some other uses for that turkey.

Other Ways To Use the Thanksgiving Turkey:

10. As a blunt object to fend off pesky family members
  9. As a mask for Halloween
  8. Toss the Carcass into a turkey farm to intimidate next year’s stock
  7. As a hood ornament
  6. Turkey football
  5. Throw out the window yelling, “You’re free! Fly! Fly!”
  4. Bury in the yard for future midnight snacks
  3. Secretly replace with Folger’s Turkey Crystals
  2. Wear as a helmet, declaring, “I’m Turkeyman!”
  1. Two words: Turkey Puppet

Just pretend with me that you’re already sitting at the table for Thanksgiving Dinner. Granted, it’s a really strange table and you have to sit in rows, and for some reason the food is going to be delayed for a while. But one of the things that people sometimes do around the table at Thanksgiving is tell each other some of the things they’re thankful for. So real quick, tell us some things you’re thankful for this year.

PARTICIPATION

It’s good to take the time to give thanks. I remember as a kid being forced to write “thank you” notes after Christmas or Birthdays. It’s an important thing to give thanks. And when it comes to giving thanks to God for the blessing He gives us, it’s actually a form of worship.

In the passage from the Bible that Lynn read for us earlier we learned about a group of ten men who all had leprosy. And Jesus healed them all. But only one of them took the time to return to Jesus and worship Him with thanksgiving for what Jesus had done for Him.

In PowerPoint, I have some rather graphic images of what leprosy does to a person. If you don’t want to see them, you may want to close your eyes or look away for a minute. These are some of the pictures I found on the Internet. And these are actually some of the milder ones. I found some that I couldn’t stand looking at myself… pictures of people who are so disfigured that they’ll unrecognizable. Leprosy had literally eaten away their faces.

Okay, the images are gone. You can open your eyes now.

In the movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” there’s a funny little scene where Friar Tuck is working undercover with Azeem, who’s played by Morgan Freeman. They don’t want Azeem to be recognized, so they wrap him up in cloth and pretend that he’s a leper. Watch.

VIDEO CLIP ("Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves")

Notice how quickly the guard retreated when he thought he was near a leper. If that’s what it was like in the Middle Ages, it was even worse in the time of Christ. So let’s try to get an understanding of the setting.

Today when we talk about leprosy, we’re referring to Hansen’s disease (a term I’m not particularly fond of), a very specific skin disease. But in the time of Christ, it referred to a variety of skin disorders. And there were some rather severe social connotations for people who had leprosy. They became social outcasts. It would be as if you had AIDS about fifteen or twenty years ago. I don’t know about you, but the first time I even heard of AIDS was when I heard that Rock Hudson had it. Not many other people had heard of it at that time either, but once the news about Rock Hudson got out it became a household word.

And the thing I remember about that time is that everyone was paranoid about catching AIDS. We were all worried, “Can I catch it from shaking hands? What about if I breathe the same air? Can I get it through kissing? If I share a drink with someone, am I at risk?” We didn’t have much education about AIDS at that time, and so we really didn’t have a good understanding about it.

So people who had AIDS were made social outcasts, much in the same way that lepers were made social outcasts in Jesus’ day. Except there were some rather strict rules that lepers had to follow in how they lived. They had to live outside city walls. They had to wear torn clothes. They couldn’t comb their hair. They had to keep the lower part of their face covered. And they had to stay at least 100 paces from anyone who didn’t have leprosy. In fact, to make sure nobody got too close, they were required to yell “Unclean” whenever they saw someone approaching them.

If you had leprosy, everyone knew you had it. It was a very isolating, lonely disease.

So we have these ten lepers. They had heard that Jesus was traveling nearby, and they had heard of his miraculous powers, so they all went to see Him, hoping to be healed. When they found Him, they called out to Him… and remember they had to do this from a distance… “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Jesus saw them and heard their cries, and He told them to go show themselves to the priests who had the authority to declare if they were “clean” or “unclean”. And while they were going to see the priest, before they even got there, they were all healed. But only one came back to Jesus to thank Him.

This one man came back to Jesus and literally threw himself at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him for what He had done. But where were the other nine? Weren’t they grateful, too? Or did they just not understand the importance of saying “Thank you?”

This morning we’re going to take a closer look at this story and identify three things that the other nine lepers confused thankfulness with. We’re going to look at what we have to be thankful for, and we’re going to look at how we can show our gratitude to Jesus for what He has done for us and how in fact this is a form of worship.

Let’s start with the things we need to be careful not to confuse thankfulness with.

 

Thankfulness Is Not The Same As...

 

1. Respect. (v.12)

You’ll notice that the Bible tells us that these ten lepers all “...stood at a distance...” when they located Jesus. That was the appropriate thing for them to do. They had enough respect for Jesus to keep the law in His presence and to not risk passing the disease on to Him. They also had enough respect for Jesus to believe that He could actually do something about their condition. They did have a respect for Jesus.

And most people today have a certain respect for Him. If they’re smart enough to believe in Jesus… if they’re smart enough to believe in God (90% of North Americans believe there is a God), whether they have a relationship with Him or not, they have a respect for Him.

Even when people blame God for things (“Why did God let this happen? Why did He do this, and why didn’t He do that in my life?”) there’s behind that a certain amount of respect for God because it acknowledges that He is ultimately in control.

But respect does not automatically guarantee thankfulness. All ten of these men showed a level of respect for Jesus, but only one of them was thankful.

 

2. Recognition. (v.13)

All ten recognized Jesus for who He was and His place in society. They addressed Him as “Jesus, Master...” They knew His name, and they recognized His authority by calling Him “Master.”

I’ve heard different times that Mohammed Ali is the most recognized face in the world. And Michael Jordan isn’t far behind. I don’t know, maybe O.J. Simpson has moved into that position now. And the media is mostly responsible for that.

But in Jesus’ day, there was no media coverage. So if Jesus was healing somebody there weren’t 87 cameras around recording what was happening and it wasn’t on the evening news that night. It got out by word of mouth. And through this word of mouth these ten lepers, even though they were social outcasts, had heard of some of the miracles Jesus had done.

What miracles?

PARTICIPATION

In Luke (prior chapters):
ch.4 - healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever.
ch.5 - healed a man with leprosy.
ch.5 - healed a man who was paralyzed.
ch.6 - healed a man with deformed hand.
ch.7 - brought a man who was dead back to life.
ch.8 - healed a man who was demon possessed.
ch.8 - brought a little girl back to life.
ch.9 - fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish.
ch.10 - Gave disciples the power of healing.
ch.13 - Healed a woman who was handicapped in her back for 18 years.
ch.14 - Healed a man of the disease of dropsy.

These lepers had heard of some of these miracles, and they recognized that no one healed like Jesus. Nobody had the ability that Jesus had.

Here we are now in 2003, and a lot of people recognize that Jesus Christ is pretty spectacular. A lot of people, again they may not have a personal relationship with Him, but they recognize Him as the best person who ever lived. They know He was a great teacher. They may call Him a miracle-worker, or a moral leader/reformer. They may even recognize Him as God.

But just because we recognize who Jesus is doesn’t mean we have thankfulness for Him. All ten lepers recognized who Jesus was, but only one was thankful.

 

3. Response. (v.14)

Jesus told the ten lepers, “I want you to go to the Jewish leaders, the priests, and I want you to show them that you are healed.” He told them to do this because in their culture the priests were the ones that could declare someone clean and unclean.

It would be as if Jesus came to you if you were dying with AIDS or cancer or some other disease and told you to go to the doctor and show him that you’re completely healed. And these guys still had sores on their bodies. It was clear that they weren’t healed at all. But in the process of being obedient to God and following His directions they were healed. Somewhere while they were walking to see the high priest, they were healed.

These ten lepers were obedient to Jesus. They did what they were told to do. But they were not all grateful. Last week we talked about how part of worship is obedience. And that’s true, it is. If you worship God, then you will be Obedient to His will. Worship equals obedience, but obedience does not equal worship. Catch the difference? Just because you’re doing all the things that you’re supposed to do doesn’t mean that you’re worshipping God that you’re grateful to God for what He’s doing in your life. You may simply have a “grin and bear it” type of obedience to Him.

But this one man, this Samaritan leper, did not confuse thankfulness with those three things. And he did not refuse to Jesus the thankfulness that was due Him.

Well, what do we have to be thankful for? We shared some ideas earlier. But now let me just give you four general reasons we have to be thankful to Jesus.

 

Reasons To Be Thankful:

 

1. For His Power.

Romans 1:16 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…
It’s the power of God that makes it possible for us to have hope for today and tomorrow. It’s the power of God that makes eternity in heaven a reality for those of us to know and love Him.


2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

It’s the power of God that makes it possible for us to deal with the trials and temptations of everyday life. His power makes it possible for us to overcome every obstacle that comes our way.

“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.”
~ Jeremy Taylor

 

2. For His Presence.

Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT)
I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.

Bottom line: We can’t escape His presence.

A man by the name of Izaak Walton said,
“God has only two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in meek and thankful hearts.”
Izaak Walton

Be thankful for God’s presence and for the fact that nothing can ever separate you from Him.

 

3. For His Provision.

Thank Him for His provisions… for the way He provides for our needs.

Psalm 23:1 (NLT)
The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.

Luke 12:22-31 (NLT)
Then turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear. For life consists of far more than food and clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not! And if worry can’t do little things like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! And don’t worry about food--what to eat and drink. Don’t worry whether God will provide it for you. These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.


Trust Him to provide, because He will.

 

4. For His Person.

1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (NLT)
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Jesus Christ is the only reason we can enjoy a relationship with God today.

He is the reason we don’t need to fear death, but can have the assurance that when we die we will go to live with Him forever. We can be thankful for that. We can be thankful for His love for us. We can be thankful for His guidance and wisdom. And we can be thankful for the sacrifices He has made for us. Be thankful for who He is. Be thankful for His person.

So we’ve got a lot to thank Jesus for. But how do we go about thanking Him?

 

How Do We Thank God?

 

A. Proclaim the things that God has done. (v.15)

This leper was excited. He came back and literally shouted what Jesus had done. But the key isn’t that you express yourself a certain way. That would be an insult to God’s creativity. The key is that you just have to thank God. And don’t be shy about doing it publicly. Let people know how God has blessed you.

 

B. Recognize the things that God has done. (v.15)

The reason this man was able to proclaim what Jesus had done was because he recognized what Jesus had done. He didn’t take it for granted, as it seems the other nine lepers did. He recognized the incredible blessing Jesus has given Him and he rushed back to express his gratitude.

This came out of an American magazine a few years ago:

“Shall I thank God this Thanksgiving?
Why was I born at this particular time in the history of the world? Why was I born in a spotless delivery room in an American hospital instead of a steaming shelter in the dark jungles of the Amazon, Or a mud hut in Africa?
Why did I have the privilege of going to school with capable instructors while millions around the world, even without a school book, sit on a dirt floor listening to a missionary to pick up anything to know?
How does it happen that my children are tucked into warm beds at night with clean white sheets while millions of babies in the world will lie in cold rooms, many in their own filth and vomit?
Why can I sit down to a warm meal whenever I want to and eat too much when millions will know all of their life the gnawing pangs of hunger? Do I deserve to share in such wealth?
By what right?
Why me and not countless other millions?
Why was I born in a land that I didn’t build, and a prosperity that I didn’t create, and enjoy a freedom that I didn’t establish?
Why am I an American sitting comfortably in my living room this Thanksgiving, rather than an Indian squatting in a dark corner of some infested alley in Calcutta, shivering in the cold? Or Cambodian in the rubble of what used to be my home? Or Somalian caught in the midst of a terrible civil war?
Do I deserve all that I have? By what right do I have it?”

For us to be grateful, I think we need to see what we have through the eyes of someone who doesn’t have the wealth that we have. Most if not all of us came here this morning in a car. Do you realize that the majority of the world doesn’t have that option?

We’re very lucky and blessed here in a variety of ways. Do you recognize that?

 

C. Adore God for what He’s done. (v.16)

Luke 17:16 (NLT)
He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

This was an expression of adoration. And what’s extra meaningful here is that this man was a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans didn’t exactly get along. In fact, they were repulsed by each other. But despite this fact, this Samaritan leper threw himself in adoration at the feet of this Jewish rabbi who had healed him. His gratefulness to Jesus moved him to a point where he felt he absolutely had to throw himself at Jesus’ feet in grateful praise and adoration.

Are there ever times in your life when you kneel before God? Maybe beside your bed or at a chair, and you say, “God, I know that You’re in control. And this is just a physical way of me saying, `Lord, I humble myself before You. Everything I am, everything I have... it’s all yours.’“?

Yeah, I know that kneeling is uncomfortable, and it’s just a physical position. Kneeling doesn’t have any power in and of itself. But let me tell you, kneeling physically before God can help you to kneel spiritually. It can reinforce in you a spirit of humility, submission, respect and adoration. It can be a physical expression of worship to God.

 

We’re going to pick up here next week when we talk about “Worship Is… Adoration.” For now, let me encourage you not to get so caught up in the activities of the day that you forget to thank the one who is truly responsible for all the blessing we enjoy. Take a few minutes sometime today to thank God for what He has done for you.


 

 

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