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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blue Ridge mountains from along I-81
View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from I-81
. This is one of the prettiest routes in Eastern USA in our view with I-81 running through the Shenandoah Valley through much of Virginia.
(Click on photo for larger view)

"The Power of Thankfulness"
(Part 2)

Note: This week we are traveling to Nashville Tennessee to visit with Brooksyne's family. We do not expect to be able to post new messages each day but depending on access to the internet hope to get several out. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Note: Due to travel a podcast was not prepared today.

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?'" (Luke 17:15-17).

The entire story in today's second Scripture text comes from is Luke 17:11-19.

"Hearts, like doors, swing wide with ease
to very, very tiny keys, and don't forget,
that two of these are "Thank you, sir"
and "If you please."

Mom often quoted this etiquette poem with her four children, Michael, Pat, Genelle and me, as we were growing up. Instilling good manners was important to her and it's likely that her mother or a thoughtful teacher quoted it often in the classroom to her students. Mom later recited this poem to her grandchildren as well. The poem was so embedded in her memory that she couldn't resist sharing it with young children who'd visit our home, even to the last year of her life at 84 years of age.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 But where do parents get the original teaching that their children should learn to be thankful? Its origin comes right from the Bible: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). Inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul expresses the importance of having a spirit of thanksgiving not just once a year, celebrated with turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, but every day and in everything. It's not giving thanks "if", but giving thanks "in". We're to be thankful even in the difficult circumstances of life and look for those things in which we can give thanks, since this is God's will for our lives. "In everything" also refers to a constant attitude of thankfulness; that is, being thankful for big things and little things.

Jesus Himself taught the importance of being a thankful people. One day on his way to Jerusalem he entered a certain village where ten men with leprosy stood at a distance. Leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease and at that time many thought that those who had it were under a curse. Lepers were covered with ulcers; their bodies often disfigured and many were blinded from the dreaded disease. They also emitted a foul smell due to their open sores and were considered unclean along with their clothing and house.

Generally relegated to the outskirts of town they became outcasts; out of other's view and touch. But should a passerby be nearby the leper was required to speak up with this warning, "Unclean!  Unclean!" Can you imagine how it would feel to verbally declare oneself to be "Unclean!" to strangers or friends in addition to the obvious discomfort, loss, and isolation associated with leprosy. When we get sick we desire others to pamper us with extra TLC, a sympathizing touch, and medical expertise. Instead the lepers' admission of "Unclean" drove people away.

Ten lepersBut Jesus was coming by and on this particular day the ten lepers saw Him coming from a distance. They lifted their voices and rather than cry out, "Unclean" they loudly cried out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" Interestingly, Jesus didn't respond to the lepers with a healing message such as "Be healed" or "Your faith has made you whole" as He did in other miraculous healings.

Instead he told them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." Scripture does not indicate that there was any physical change in their appearance at that point, so it required faith for these men to head in the direction of the temple where they could show themselves to the priest to be declared "clean".  I can't help but wonder how far they walked before the healing took place, but then I realize that's not the point of this story.

Thankful healed leper The teaching point is that only one of the ten lepers returned to Jesus to offer his heartfelt thanks after being declared "clean" by the priest. Interestingly Jesus highlighted the fact that the one from whom His listeners might least expect humility and gratitude was the Samaritan who was despised by the Jews. Perhaps their mothers didn't adequately teach them how to show appreciation.  Or did they forget because they were so excited about their cleansing that they immediately returned to their families and communities, got involved in all they had missed out on, and simply forgot to return thanks to the very One who made it all possible.

There are many excuses we could come up with if we think on it for awhile.* But more importantly Jesus teaches us that He is pleased when we remember to express thankfulness and acknowledge where our blessings come from. He showers them upon us hour by hour, day after day, and He also uses other people to bring blessing to our lives. It is important that we remember where our blessings come from and to express thanksgiving for them regularly.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to praise You "from the first bright light of morning to the last warm glow of dusk" as the old hymn says. Every breath that we take is sacred, for it is Your gift to us. In the season of our plenty and in the season of our want we find Your grace sufficient, for we find Your love complete. Safe within Your hand You guide us, hiding us in Your healing wings. Day by day Your love provides us every good and perfect thing. We thank You for it all. Amen.
(Prayer adapted from the Hymn, "In Thanksgiving, Let Us Praise Him")

* See this message for a list of possible excuses the other nine may have used (scroll down below prayer).

Here is a suggested Bible Study developed from today's message suitable either
individually or for a small group or family gathering.

1.  Read Luke 17:11-19

2.  When the lepers spotted Jesus what did they do?  Do you think they were looking for Him?

3.  List five possible excuses that the nine lepers might have used when confronted with the question, "Why didn't you return to Jesus and thank Him for your healing?"

For extra credit list nine excuses, one for each thankless leper. See here for a list of nine.

4.  In what ways do you identify with the nine lepers who forgot to give thanks?

5.  In what way do you identify with the Samaritan who returned to give thanks?

6. What was his attitude when he approached Jesus?

7. What was significant about his being a Samaritan?

8.  List other attitudes that lead to a thankful spirit:

9.  Share with the study group one thing for which you are thankful (in addition to the typical answer such as food, your house, your family, etc.).

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave them up through Thanksgiving.

We appreciate singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not hear this season.

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

"In Everything Give Him Thanks"
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul"  Video  Holland Davis

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns"
(printable web page).

"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (web page) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"Come We Thankful People Come"  Video  
Traditional version  Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart"  Video  Don Moen

"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done"  Video  The Cathedrals

"Worthy Is The Lamb Crown Him .. Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"Thank You For Loving Me"  Video  Tommy Walker

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

"For These Reasons"  Video  Lincoln Brewster

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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