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2008.10.01 (15:21:48)
Sermon Date:  Sep 07, 2008 
Speaker Name:  Rev. Billy Chung 
Scripture:  Luke 17:11-19 
Passage:  Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"14 When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him-- and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." 

Introduction:

  Thankful people are hard to find. Generally people complain much much more often than they express thanksgiving.

What kind of words do you hear more often?

      “Do we have to eat leftovers again?”    or   

“This tasted great yesterday and I am sure it will taste good today too.”

 

“I can't stand my professor; I wish I had a different one.”  or

     “My professor really wants us to learn; that is why he is giving us a lot of homework.”

 

      “Mom, you are being so strict and unreasonable.”  or

“Mom, thank you for loving me and giving me a curfew even though I am 30 years old.”


      “Are you ever going to clean your room?” or

“Son, I am so glad you cleaned your room once this year.”

 

    Why is worship service soooooo long?

  “I am glad I get a chance grow in faith as I worship God.”

 

   “I hate staying in.” or

      “I am glad I have a safe home.”

 

      Dad, why do you get home so late? or

      “Dad, thank you for working hard so that we can have food to eat and clothes to wear and live in this country.”

 

 Background

Today, I am going to continue talking about the topic of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is something we need to do every day. It pleases God and it is also something is good for us.

In the Bible, God tells us that we should remember what He has done (Psalm 105:5) and express our thanks to Him. In Luke 19:11-19, Jesus meets 10 people with leprosy. I will explain what leprosy is. Leprosy was terrible skin disease. It first would begin with a small spot on  a person’s skin. However, it would spread through a person’s body. Eventually, parts of the person’s body would fall off. The leper’s nose might fall off or his toes fall would off or his hand would fall off. The person with leprosy would watch himself die as different parts of his body would fall off.

            It was required by law for lepers to stay away from normal people. If they were walking and saw normal people, they were required to yell, “unclean, unclean” so that people would be warned and stay away from them. Can you imagine having a disease and not being able to be near your family and friends? Lepers were in a miserable condition.

 

Emotional pain – Lepers felt lonely since they could not be near normal people.

 

Spiritual pain – Lepers were not allowed to worship God in public with other believers.

In biblical times, leprosy was thought to be very contagious and hereditary. It was also believed to be a divine punishment for sin. The Law was very specific about the diagnosis and treatment of leprosy (see Lev. 13). If a priest detected suspicious symptoms—pimples, scabs, sores, nodules, or white spots on the skin “like snow”—he ordered a quarantine of the infected person for seven days to protect the rest of the society. If the symptoms did not fade away within a week, another week of quarantine was prescribed.

Weeks could drag into months and months into years. Quarantined persons became social outcasts, living outside the Israelite camp. They fended for themselves as best they could. Some perhaps received occasional supplies from relatives, but most were reduced to begging. Those who actually had the dreaded disease slowly wasted away. As the disease took away sensation, they easily injured themselves without feeling pain, leading to deformity and “half-eaten flesh” (Num. 12:12) and, eventually, death.

There wasn't a cure for leprosy. Lepers were hopeless.   Their only hope was God. So when Jesus healed lepers, it demonstrated His divine nature and caused people to turn to Him.



            The lepers saw Jesus approaching and called out to Him with humility and faith. They probably wanted to hear Jesus tell them, “You are healed now.” However, that is not what He said to them. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests.

The law gave the priests (pastors) the responsibility of examining a leper and if the leper was clean, the priest would give the leper permission to be around people. The leper would also be given the privilege to worship God publicly with other people.

            The 10 lepers were probably surprised by Jesus instructions to them because they weren’t healed yet. Going to the priests would be expected from someone who was already healed.

            That would be like a single 50 year old woman praying to get married and God responding by telling the person to reading marriage books even before they had a boyfriend.

            That would be like a Cubs fan praying for the Cubs to win the World Series and God responding by telling the person to start preparing a victory celebration for the Cubs.

            That would be like a student who is getting failing all of his classes to pray to God for help and God responding by telling him to prepare for his valedictorian speech.

            That would be like a married couple who is unable to have children praying to God for help and God responding by telling them to prepare  a baby's room in their home.

 

Why didn’t Jesus heal them right away? He wanted to test their faith. If they really had faith in Him, they would listen to His directions. All of them trusted in Him and started walking toward the temple where the priests were located. While they were going, they were healed.

None of them would have been healed if they had disobeyed. Jesus healed them as they obeyed.

 

Sometimes, God answers your prayers right away. However, often God chooses to answer your prayers as you obey.

God answers your prayers as you walk in obedience to His Words.

ie: God answers your prayer for good grades when you obey His command to do everything (including studying) with all of your heart.

 

            God answers your prayer for joy when you obey His commands to confess your sins, meditate on His Word,  worship Him and  have fellowship with other believers.

 
             God answers your prayers for more money when you obey His command to tithe.

            God answers your prayers for wisdom when you obey His command to honor your parents.

 

            As they are obeying Jesus’ command to go to the priest, all of them are healed. 

 

a.       9 Healed lepers

The 9 healed lepers do not return to Jesus to thank Him. They do not return to praise Him for His love and power. They acted as if nothing special had happened to them. Jesus had saved them from a lifetime of misery, loneliness, humiliation, and pain, yet 9 of them do not thank or praise Jesus.

b. One healed leper – a Samaritan – (Samaritans were enemies of Jews)

                        The Samaritan realizes that he is healed. He is so happy and so thankful. He comes back praising Jesus with in a loud voice. He falls down on his face before Him and thanks Him. The Masai tribe in West Africa have an unusual way of saying, "I thank you." They say literally, "My head is in the dirt." When the Masai express thanks, they literally put their forehead down on the ground. They want to acknowledge gratitude with humility.

 

Jesus’ question:  - “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

 

Jesus’ question about where were the other nine men implies that they also should have expressed praise and thanksgiving to Him for healing them. The 9 lepers wanted Jesus’ healing and blessing, but they didn’t want to bless Jesus.

 

   True faith is NOT only wanting God’s blessings in your life. Everyone wants God's blessings but not everyone has true faith. True belief includes the realization of what God has done for you and responding to Him with worship and thanksgiving.

 

Why does God want us to express thanks?

 

  1. Expressing thanks is the appropriate response to God’s mercy.

People were not supposed to talk to lepers. They were considered social outcasts. Jesus not only listened to them, but He also talked to them, healed them and saved them from a lifetime of misery.  In the same way, we were like spiritual lepers, not permitted to go near God because of our sins. However, Jesus died for our sins so that we could draw near to God the Father.

Express thanks to God for saving you from a lifetime of misery. Sin is the worst of all leprosies; it not only separates those to whom it cleaves from the righteous, but it separates them from God; and nothing but the merciful heart and powerful hand of Christ Jesus can set any soul free from it.

 

If you are a Christian, there was a time in your life in which you were miserable and realized that you needed God. You probably heard from someone that God could fill your heart with joy and that He was willing to forgive you for all of your sins. You responded to God by asking him to save you for your sins.

 

  1. Expressing thanksgiving to God honors God and not expressing thanksgiving dishonors God.

      Suppose you help someone study for an important exam such as the TOEFL. You also are with them when they get their test results in the mail. The letter says they passed and since they passed the exam, they are able to get into graduate school. Even though you helped them pass their exam, suppose they didn’t say anything to you. How would you feel? You would probably feel angry that the person you helped didn’t acknowledge you and your help.

            God also is insulted and angered when we don’t acknowledge His help in our lives.

 

  1. Expressing thanksgiving helps you grow.                                                                                                                Another reason why God wants His children to express thanksgiving to Him is because it keeps them spiritually healthy. Jesus only told the man who thanked him that his faith had made him well. The other lepers who were healed were only healed physically, not spiritually. 

WEED ILLUSTRATION

If you want to prevent weeds from growing in your garden, you need to plant other seeds. In the same way, if you want to not become depressed, discouraged, and bitter, you need to plant seeds of thankfulness in your heart.

 

VACCINATION ILLUSTRATION

            Expressing thanksgiving is like getting a vaccination for the flu. Just as flu vaccination prevents you from getting the sick, expressing thanksgiving prevents you from getting depressed, discouraged and bitter.

If people thanked God for good things, they wouldn't have time to complain about the bad.

 

Results of expressing thanksgiving

            God is pleased. -            When the Samaritan leper thanked and praised Jesus, Jesus was honored and pleased.


Expressing thanks pleases God.

Back in the 1930’s, America was in a deep economic depression. Many people didn’t have jobs and enough food to eat. Many people committed suicide and people were generally very discouraged and depressed. During that time, William Stidger was sitting with a group of friends in a restaurant. Everyone was talking about how terrible life was: suffering people, homeless people, jobless people, people committing suicide, etc. The conversation became more and more miserable.  During this conversation, William felt God spoke to him: "Why don’t you give thanks to those people who have been a blessing in your life....?”

He began to think about that people who had been a blessing in his life. He remembered have He began to think about that. He remembered his English literature teacher. She was very kind to him and passed on her love of literature to him. William Stidger wrote her a letter thanking her for teaching him and helping him.

A few days later, he got a reply from his former teacher. She wrote, “My Dear Willy"--Stidger says at that time he was about 50 years of age and was bald, and no one had called him Willy for a long time, so just the opening sentence warmed his heart. Here's the letter:  "My Dear Willy: I can't tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf of autumn lingering behind." Listen to this sentence, will you? "You'll be interested to know that I taught in school for more than fifty years, and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue, cold morning, and it cheered me as nothing has done in many years."

   Stidger says, "I'm not sentimental, but I found myself weeping over that note." Then he thought of a retired kind gentleman. He was old and had recently faced the death of his wife and was all alone. This man had taken a lot of time, given him advice and counsel and love several years ago. So he sat down and wrote a letter to him. In two days a reply came back.

   "My Dear Will: Your letter was so beautiful, so real, that as I sat reading it in my study, tears fell from my eyes, tears of gratitude. You'll never know how much your letter has warmed my spirit. I have been walking around in the glow of your letter all day long."

 

Just as his letters of thanksgiving touched the hearts of these people, expressions of thanksgiving and praise touch the heart of God and other people.

 

 

When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

   G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Your attitude will determine whether you are thankful and joyful or bitter and depressed.

 

Franciszek Gajowniczek. 

      Auschwitz. Four million Jews died there in World War II. A half-ton of human hair is still preserved. The showers that sprayed poison gas still stand.

In February 1941 Kolbe was incarcerated at Auschwitz in a Nazi death camp. He was a priest. In the harshness of the slaughterhouse he maintained the gentleness of Christ. He shared his food. He gave up his bunk. He prayed for his captors. One could call him the “Saint of Auschwitz.” 

In July one of the prisoners escaped. The Nazis had a rule that if a prisoner escaped, 10 prisoners would be killed.

In July of that same year there was an escape from the prison. It was the custom at Auschwitz to kill ten prisoners for every one who escaped. All the prisoners would be gathered in the courtyard, and the commandant would randomly select ten men from the ranks. These victims would be immediately taken to a cell where they would receive no food or water until they died.

The commandant begins his selection. At each selection another prisoner steps forward to fill the sinister quota. The tenth name he calls is Francis Gajowniczek.

As the SS officers check the numbers of the condemned, one of the condemned begins to sob. “My wife and my children,” he weeps.

The officers turn as they hear movement among the prisoners. The guards raise their rifles. The dogs tense, anticipating a command to attack. A prisoner has left his row and is pushing his way to the front.   It is Kolbe. No fear on his face....no hesitancy on his face. One of the Nazi soldiers shouts to stop or be killed.

“I want to talk to the commander.”

 For some reason the officer doesn’t club or kill him. Kolbe stops a few paces from the commandant, removes his hat, and looks the German officer in the eye.

“Herr Commandant, I wish to make a request, please.”

That no one shot him is a miracle.   “I want to die in place of this prisoner, pointing to Francis want to die in the place of this prisoner.” He points at the sobbing Francis Gajowniczek. “I have no wife and children and besides I am old and not good for anything. He's in better condition.

Who are you?  “A Catholic priest.”     The block is stunned. The commandant, uncharacteristically speechless. After a moment, he barks, “Request granted.”    Prisoners were never allowed to speak. Gajowniczek says, “I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me- a stranger. Is this some dream?,

            The Saint of Auschwitz outlived the other nine. In fact, he didn’t die of thirst or starvation. He died only after carbolic acid was injected into his veins. It was August 14, 1941.   Francis Gajowniczek survived the Holocaust. He made his way back to his hometown. Every year, however, he goes back to Auschwitz. Every August 14 he goes back to say thank you to the man who died in his place. In his backyard there is a plaque. A plaque he carved with his own hands. A tribute to Maximilian Kolbe—the man who died so he could live.    There aren’t very many similarities between Franciszek Gajowniczek and you. You speak different languages. You have different nationalities. We eat different food and look very different. However, we have some things in common. We both had someone set us free from prison. We both had someone die in our place and His name is Jesus.

 

 

Psalm 100:1-4

              A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him  with joyful songs.  3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who  made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his  pasture.  4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  5 For theLORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 - give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Sermon Date Subject Scripture Speaker Name
Nov 16, 2008 The Secret To Success - Being Filled With the Holy Spirit - Ephesians 5:18 Rev. Billy Chung
Nov 02, 2008 Wise guys - Ephesians 5:15-20 Rev. Billy Chung
Oct 05, 2008 Seeking joy and God's honor by serving 1 Peter 4:10,11 Rev. Billy Chung
Sep 21, 2008 Prayer Part 6 - Prayer that God answers 1 John 5:14,15 Rev. Billy Chung
Sep 14, 2008 Prayer part 5 - Supplication (Praying for fellow soldiers) Ephesians 6:10-22 Rev. Billy Chung
Aug 17, 2008 Prayer part 1 - Adoration Psalm 73 Rev. Billy Chung
Aug 24, 2008 Prayer part 2 - Casting Your Burdens Upon God 1 Peter 5:6,7 Rev. Billy Chung
Aug 31, 2008 Prayer part 3 - Come Home Luke 15:11-32 Rev. Billy Chung
Sep 07, 2008 Prayer part 4 - Expressing Thanks Luke 17:11-19 Rev. Billy Chung
Aug 10, 2008 A Church That Pleases God Matthew 25:31-46 Rev. Billy Chung
Aug 03, 2008 Running The Race 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Rev. Billy Chung
Jul 27, 2008 Open My Eyes Mark 10:46-52 Rev. Billy Chung
Jul 20, 2008 The Lord's Supper Matthew 26:26-29 Rev. Billy Chung
Jul 13, 2008 May God bless you. Numbers 6:22-27 Rev. Billy Chung
Jul 06, 2008 Serving God Acts 13:36 Rev. Billy Chung
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