11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
9 of 10 the lepers took GOD’S GOODNESS for granted.
& it took an outsider, a Samaritan who was despised by God’s people …
… to give Jesus the thanks that He deserved.
& When I first considered the topic of today’s sermon, I felt a bit challenged …
… because what could I share with you that you don’t already know about thankfulness?
How do you do a 1 hour sermon telling you that the Bible says we should always be thankful?
But as I studied the topic, I was astounded at the heart-rending & beautiful stories contained within the pages of the Bible …
… of real life examples of Godly men & women who expressed their thanks to God in unique & marvelous ways:
… including Jonah who was rescued out of the belly of the whale …
… the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears …
… the leper who, when asked to KEEP QUIET about his healing …
… couldn’t contain himself & published it everywhere he went …
… & even the story of Hannah, the prophet Samuel’s mother, who received a child of the Lord & vowed to give him up in life-long service to God.
The Bible is replete w/ stories of thanksgiving & praise.
& so I’d like to share some of these stories with you today.
But before I do, let’s cover what the Bible teaches about thankfulness.
The Bible, first of all, tells us to REJOICE at all times & to be thankful always.
Philippians 4:4-11 says:
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again [the Philippians had cared for Paul was while he was imprisoned in Rome for 2 years. In fact, Paul was writing the epistle to the Philippians from his prison in Rome]; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Paul was thankful that the Philippians had cared for him in his time of need …
… they had generously contributed to his practical needs & his financial necessities.
& then Paul says that he has learned: “in whatsoever state” that he is in, “therewith to be content.”
That’s the FIRST KEY of THANKFULNESS: learning to be CONTENT with our present circumstances …
& in every situation.
Hebrews 13:5 says: “… be content with such things as ye have …”
In other words, if you’re discontent, how is it possible to be truly thankful?
In 1 Timothy 6:6-8 Paul says:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
And so we are to be satisfied with the necessities of life:
Food, clothing, family, friends, and the freedom to preach the Gospel.
We really ought not to strive for more.
In fact, holding on to the security of having such things can be a major challenge in & of itself.
I work day & night in our business right now, aside from the work I do at church …
… just to maintain a level of stability, that will afford me the freedom to preach the Gospel and to study God’s Word.
I’m not looking to get rich, but I am looking for financial stability.
Proverbs 30:7-9 says:
7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
We need just enough to pay for necessities in life.
Now, for many of us, that also means not living in debt.
The ideal situation is to be neither rich, but to also be debt-free
… & to have a steady stream of income that supports all of our necessities.
In other words, some of us have some catching up to do, so as not to be enslaved to the global banking cartel.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says:
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When the Bible says that we ought to give thanks in EVERY THING, it means every thing.
That includes giving thanks for our trials and our sufferings.
I covered Romans 5:3-4 recently in another sermon, which says:
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
So we are to be thankful both in good times & bad, when we are being blessed and when we are enduring trials.
James 1:2-4 says:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Wanting nothing, again goes back to contenment, apart from which, by definition, we can’t be thankful.
Romans 12:12 says: “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;”
And it’s interesting that the Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that giving thanks is the WILL OF GOD for us: “in every thing gives thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I hadn’t considered before that GIVING THANKS is actually a part of God’s plan for my life.
It is pleasing to the Lord when we give Him thanks … it’s good for us, & …
We are to be trained by it and live by it.
So, according to Philippians 4, we are to REJOICE ALWAYS …
According to 1 Timothy 6, we are always to be CONTENT IN LIFE …
According to James & Romans we are to welcome trials & tribulation & the trying of our faith …
& according to the 1 Thessalonians 5, we are to GIVE THANKS in EVERY THING.
This is a living picture of the CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Whether we feel like it or not, we are to live with an attitude of THANKFULNESS all of our lives …
… regardless of our circumstances.
Notice also that in three of the major verses that I just touched on, PRAYER is always in conjunction w/ THANKFULNESS.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul said: “… in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul said, “Pray without ceasing” right before he said in v. 18, “In everything give thanks”.
In Romans 12:12, Paul says: “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;”
So PRAYER is ANOTHER KEY.
Along w/ THANKFULNESS & CONTENTMENT, we also ought to be PRAYERFUL.
We are to be thankful when we pray …
… having faith that God will give us what we ask for, when it is in accord with His will for us.
& one thing we have to be thankful for is our SALVATION in Christ …
& the fact that we have been given EVERLASTING LIFE.
No matter what happens to us in this life, we are assured of our salvation.
John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
HATH EVERLASTING LIFE is in the present tense.
John 5:24 says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
And if it’s eternal and everlasting, by definition, that means we are secure in our salvation, because it will last forever.
And that’s something we can be thankful for.
John 6:47: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
Just yesterday, I ran into someone at the Kent Hovind seminar, and he didn’t understand eternal security.
He thought there was something you could do to lose it.
But if that’s the case, then you have to do something to earn it and maintain …
… and so it wouldn’t be eternal and it wouldn’t by faith.
The doctrine of eternal security separates the saved from the unsaved.
It’s not what saves us, it’s a consequence of being saved.
It’s what happened when you do get saved.
But it’s an indicator as to whether someone is trusting in the substitute of Jesus …
… or whether they’re trusting in their own ability to save them.
John says in 1 John 5:11: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
John really got the doctrine of eternal security.
We have everlasting life right now.
We were given ETERNAL LIFE at the moment we were born again.
It’s not something we get when we die, we have it now.
That’s why we’ll be resurrected.
Psalm 107:1 says: “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
We are to be thankful for our salvation.
Psalm 106:1 says: “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 100:5 says: “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting …”
I have no doubt of eternal security, easy believism, & once saved always saved.
If someone does, it’s a serious red flag as to whether they truly understand the substitutionary blood atonement of Jesus Christ.
• Praising God is one way to express our thankfulness to Him.
1 … I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
& While we ought to be thankful first & foremost to God for His saving work of grace …
… we ought to also be thankful for one another.
It’s so rare to meet likeminded believers nowadays.
Speaking to early Ephesian believers, Paul says in Ephesians 1:15-16:
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Paul’s thankfulness for other believers is abundantly evident.
He’s thankful for the GIFT OF SALVATION first & foremost,
… but he’s also thankful for other believers in his midst.
FINALLY, I mentioned this briefly earlier …
… but the THIRD ASPECT of THANKFULNESS is being thankful even during times of PERSECUTION.
When the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day persecuted the apostles …
… the apostles welcomed persecution with genuine joy & excitement …
… as though they were the recipients of some great prize.
In Acts 5:40-41, we read:
40 … and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
The apostles understood that genuine persecution for Jesus’ name was something to be desired.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:12: “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Now, we know Christians who have been persecuted for being hateful and on the wrong side of Christ’s love …
… there’s no reward in that.
We should also rejoice & be thankful wat times of God’s deliverance.
We see examples of thanksgiving & praise from men & women of God in the Bible.
JONAH WAS SUCH AN EXAMPLE.
LOOK @ Jonah 2:1-10: (this is the whole chapter; Jonah 2 is only 10 verses):
Jonah had been swallowed by the whale for running in the opposite direction of God’s calling.
1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,
2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
For Jonah this was all VERY LITERAL …
… for us, it’s a picture of life’s struggles overwhelming us …
… the waves & turbulence of the seas enveloping us …
… & the seaweed as it wraps around our necks & chokes us …
It can feel that way as we get overwhelmed w/ life’s struggles.
But Jonah, in gratitude of his deliverance …
… said that he would SACRIFICE unto God with the VOICE OF THANKSGIVING.
How is GIVING THANKS a sacrifice to God?
Offering sacrifices in the OT, was a way of orshipping & submitting to the God …
& and looking in anticipation to the Messiah who was to come.
While the children of Israel sacrificed the blood of CALVES …
… & offered MEAL & DRINK OFFERINGS unto the Lord …
… in what had become for many nothing but meaningless ritual …
Jonah offered a sacrifice of heartfelt THANKS & PRAISE, knowing that this was acceptable & pleasing in God’s sight.
FIRST & FOREMOST, God wants our HEARTS.
He wants an attitude of THANKFULNESS for His unending MERCY & GRACE.
Of Jesus the Bible says in Hebrews 10:6-7:
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
It’s all about Jesus.
• & God hates it when we complain in our hearts …
… because it shows that we lack FAITH …
Rejoice, be exceeding glad, in everything give thanks, be content with such things as ye have …
… give thanks unto the LORD …
Be like the leper who turned back, & with a loud voice glorified God …
We are to be THANKFUL IN EVERY THING, CONTENT IN EVERY SITUATION, PRAYFUL ALWAYS …
… & thankful to God & for our fellow believers.
You can’t do that if you’re in a STATE OF COMPLAINT.
You’re self-absorbed at that point.
• God hated it when the Israelites murmured & complained constantly in His ears in the wilderness …
… so much so that He kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years …
That first generation of Israelites perished of old age …
… it was only their children who inherited the Promised Land.
Numbers 14:1-3 describes their never-ending complaints:
Rather than lifting up their voices with THANKSGIVING & PRAISE …
… the Israelites cried out perniciously with GRUMBLING, MURMURING, & constant COMPLAINING.
1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
The Israelites murmured & complained in at least a dozen or more separate instances,
during their EXODUS TO THE PROMISED LAND.
In Exodus 5, before the journey had even begun …
… they complained that God had made things worse for them w/ Pharaoh.
They said to Moses and Aaron in Exodus 5:21: “… The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.”
In Exodus 14:11, when the Egyptians pursued after them, they complained to Moses: “… hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?”
In Exodus 15, they complained about water …
… even though God had just parted the Red Sea & obliterated Pharaoh’s army.
• But God still answers them by miraculously turning the bitter waters they had encountered into sweet water.
In Exodus 16:3, the Israelites complained about being hungry, before God fed them with heavenly manna:
“And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
In Exodus 17, they complained about water, again …
… not remembering the miracle God had done just 2 chapters before.
This time, they were ready to stone Moses.
v. 4 says: “And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.”
In Numbers 11:6, it’s recorded that the Israelites tire of the heavenly manna that God had given them & complain about food again: “But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.”
In Numbers 12, even Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ brother & sister chime in and complain about Moses’ leadership.
Numbers 12:2: “And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?”
OK, THINK ABOUT IT.
Moses was the man anointed by God to MIRACULOUSLY LEAD them out of Egpyt …
… part the Red Sea …
… deliver them from Pharaoh …
… & receive the 10 Commandments in stone tablets directly from God.
… Yet they found reason to complain about his LEADERSHIP 101 skills.
In Numbers 14, after all this, after all they had been through …
…. God still delivered the people of Israel to the VERY BORDERS of the Promised Land …
They could see it with their eyes …
… BUT THEY REFUSED to enter in.
… They said it was too hard …
Instead, they wanted to STONE Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb …
… the only faithful among them …
Talk about a hardheaded and stubborn people.
• & you might think that they were an extreme case of murmuring against God …
But how different are we?
Think about how often we don’t trust God in our most difficult circumstances …
& we start to complain or to lack faith.
• This continued w/ the Israelites, until they LITERALLY DIE.
Ezekiel 3:7 said of them: “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.”
But the better examples we have are examples of HOPE, FAITH, & THANKFULNESS by God’s elect.
Moses, who lived among & was surrounded by these bitter complainers …
… found time to THANK GOD & to PRAISE HIM in song.
Being himself an example of the opposite of the Israelites whom he led, Moses praised God by writing a new song to Lord in Exodus 15:1-6:
1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
Moses’ song continues for another 13 verses, until Miriam, his sister joins in with a timbrel & dance.
God’s people knew how to praise Him. They weren’t stiff Baptists like us today.
v. 20-21 says:
20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Praising & thanking God in song was common among God’s faithful …
… and it was often spontaneous & Spirit-led.
Mary’s song, what is commonly called Mary’s Magnificat, is another example.
After Jesus was conceived, Mary traveled to her cousin Elizabeth.
READ LUKE 1:39-55
* Notice the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb …
* But Hillary Clinton thinks that babies have no Constitutional Rights.
• In Mark 7, there was a blind man with a speech impediment whom Jesus healed …
… and even though Jesus told him not to spread the news of his healing …
… the man and his friends could not contain themselves …
32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;
37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
The man who previously could barely speak, now could not stop praising & speaking of Jesus.
• Why did Jesus tell him not to tell anyone?
The Gospel of Mark explains in a similar incident.
After Jesus healed a man of leprosy, He told him not to tell anyone …
… but the cleansed leper could not contain himself either.
Mark 1:45 says: “But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.”
His fame grew so quickly in that town, that he was unable to do the work which He had purposed.
& Jesus didn’t want to be known as merely a “miracle-man” or a SIDE-SHOW …
… but had come with the greater purpose: of sacrificing Himself on the Cross for our sins.
• Another example of thankfulness is of the WOMAN WHO WASHED JESUS FEET with her own tears & dried them w/ her hair.
READ LUKE 7:36-48
It’s harder to become a self-righteous Pharisee, when you know what you really deserve.
The Bible is replete w/ stories of thankfulness.
• Another well-known example is the story of the PRODIGAL SON.
You all know the story of the prodigal son …
… who took his inheritance early and wasted it on riotous living.
Starving & living w/ dirty swine, he finally came to his senses and decided to return to his father.
READ LUKE 15:19-24:
First of all, you receive an inheritance after the death of a family member, not normally before.
That was the young man’s first problem.
He was too immature to manage such wealth.
But what’s amazing is that his father, rather than being angry that he wasted his inheritance …
… was THANKFUL for his son’s repentant heart.
• The Father in this story represents God.
God has great joy when a wayward Christian turns back to God …
… or when a sinner turns to God for the first time & gets saved.
Luke 15:10 says: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
The angels are thankful when we humans get saved!
FINALLY, we get to perhaps one of the most precious encounters of LOYALTY, FAITH, HOPE, & THANKFULNESS in the Bible.
The STORY OF HANNAH.
Story of Hanna is in 1 Samuel 1.
The entire book of Samuel, begins with her story; it’s really the lead to the subsequent books of Kings as well.
These great historical books start with the story of Hannah.
Hannah was barren & she was being provoked and afflicted …
… and so she cried out to the Lord to open up her womb, so that she could bare a child.
1 Samuel 1:10-11 records her prayer:
10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
Hannah fulfilled her vows …
… & gave up her child to the service of the Lord all the days of his life.
Hannah was like the healed leper who who turned to God and was thankful …
& If we are truly thankful, we should put our thanksgiving into practice …
… by working for the kingdom of God …
… by fulfilling our vows …
… by sacrificing our time & resources to God.
We can commit our most precious resources & most beloved possessions to God.
For Hannah, there was nothing more precious than the very child that God had given her …
… in answers to her prayers in the first place …
Hannah gave away the answer to her prayers.
We need to give back to the kingdom that’s given so much to us.
Colossians 3:15-17 says:
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.