I’m One of the Nine – A Thanksgiving Meditation

I recently preached on this passage in chapel.  Yet, I wanted to share with you some additional thoughts on this passage…

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:11-19

As I reflect on this passage this Thanksgiving Day, one truth jumps out at me.  I am one of the nine.  I know, I’m probably supposed to look at this passage and resolve to be like the one leper who comes back praising Jesus in the spirit of thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done for him.  I could even focus on gift of faith this one leper was granted and examine the real, complete healing he received at the end.  But, that’s not who I can relate with in this account.

Today, I look at the other nine lepers.  In fact, I think I can conclude that I am one of them.  Yes, I am one of the nine.  I don’t give thanks as I ought.  Though I acknowledge God as the author of all things and affirm his sovereign control of my life, I am sinfully ungracious and constantly fail to recognize the all the grace I have been so lavishly given.

That’s exactly where these nine lepers were.  They recognized Jesus’ authority.  When he comes by, they call out to Him as “Master.”  They ask for His mercy.  They know who Jesus is, at least to some extent.  These are not mere pagans selfishly demanding all they can get out this rube that’s being taken advantage of.  These are humble men who failed to focus on the Lord who rescued them from their terrible lot.  Just like me…

But, here’s what I find incredibly remarkable – Jesus still healed them.  He knew they would be ungrateful.  He knew they would not turn back.  He knew they would be more interested in receiving a confirmation from the priest than giving thanks to God for their healing.  Yet, He healed them anyway.   God healed ungrateful men.  Not only was God willing to converse with these vile men ravaged with a disgusted disease, He was willing to converse with men He knew would not immediately appreciate all He would do for them.  This is the God Kevin Thompson so desperately needs.

I would like to think that at some point these other lepers came back to Jesus.  I would like to think that at some point, perhaps after meeting with the priest, that these men were convicted their lack of gratitude and became overwhelmed at all that God had done for them.  I do know that the same God who healed them would also be more than willing to forgive them.  That’s the God I serve and love.

Thank you, Lord, for dealing with people like me.

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Spiritual Plagiarism

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came tohis own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 Forthe law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

– John 1:1-18

When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.

We become familiar with God’s voice in much the same way. By reading what He has written, we learn who He is and how He expresses Himself. Satan, however, tries to make himself sound like God (2 Cor. 11:14). By using God’s words in a slightly altered fashion, he comes up with convincing arguments for things that are untrue. For example, by convincing people to do things that simulate godliness, such as trusting in an outward regimen of self-discipline rather than Christ’s death for salvation (Col. 2:23), Satan has led many astray.

God went to extremes to make sure we’d recognize His voice. He not only gave us His Word, He gave us the Word made flesh—Jesus (John 1:14)—so that we will not be easily deceived or misled.

Instill within my heart, dear Lord,
A deep desire to know Your Word,
I want to learn to hear Your voice
That I may make Your will my choice. —D. DeHaan
Your Word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it. —Psalm 119:140
Julie Ackerman Link,
Our Daily Bread

Psalm 1 – The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

A Prayer for Feasting on the Riches of God’s Grace

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.Isa. 55:1-3

Most gracious Father, this Scripture moves me to praise you today for the simply delight of drinking and eating. You are the fountain of pleasures, the source of all good gifts—a God who richly gives us all things to enjoy. Help me to be a better steward of my thirst and hunger.

Too easily, I can be a hungry man standing in front of an open refrigerator, real and metaphorical, demanding instant gratification. I’ll grab whatever drink I think will slake my thirst, and I’ll eat whatever bread will make me full in the moment.

Like Esau, a bowl of steaming oatmeal in my hand, can have more power over me than the promise of a great feast in the future. I get impatient, demanding, and I binge. But the snack foods and fast foods of my lusts never really satisfy me.

But as this Scripture reveals, Father, you constantly beckon us to the only feast that will satisfy the deepest thirst and hunger in our hearts—the drink and meat of the gospel of your grace. And the only cost to us is our need and brokenness, humility and receptivity.

Lord Jesus, you are the “richest fare” the Father has promised. You turn the waters of this world into the wine of your kingdom (Jn. 2:1-11). You are the Bread of Life—the source and substance of all satisfaction and joy. At the cost of your life, you’ve given us the feast of eternity. Hallelujah, what a Savior you are! Hallelujah what a salvation you give!

I’m a foolish man to neglect the very means by which you feed us and in which you meet with us: the Scriptures, prayer, worship, the Lord’s Supper. The nutrients and nurture, we need; and the joy and satisfaction, we crave, can be found nowhere else.

Lord Jesus, in light of the ultimate banquet Day of our wedding (Rev. 19), I bring you my thirst and hunger as this day begins. So very Amen I pray, in your great and gracious name.

– Scotty Smith
Heavenward

Psalm 146 – Put Not Your Trust in Princes

146 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7     who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8     the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 118 – His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

118 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they went out like a fire among thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16     the right hand of the Lord exalts,
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God; I will extol you.
29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

Why Its Hard to Forgive

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. – Matthew 18:19-22

The most difficult math problem in the universe, it turns out, is 70 x 7. Perhaps the hardest thing to do in the Christian life is to forgive someone who has hurt you, often badly…

When we forgive, we are confessing that vengeance is God’s (Rom. 12:19). We don’t need to exact justice from a fellow believer because justice has already fallen at the cross. We don’t need to exact vengeance from an unbeliever because we know the sin against us will be judged in hell or, more hopefully, when the offender unites himself to the One who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).

A prisoner of war who forgives his captor or a terminated pastor who forgives a predatory congregation, these people are not overlooking sin. Nor are they saying that what happened is “okay” or that the relationships involved are back to “normal” (whatever that is). Instead they are confessing that judgment is coming and they can trust the One who will be seated on that throne.

You don’t have to store up bitterness, and you don’t have to find ways of retaliation for what’s been done to you. You can trust a God who is just.

– Russell Moore
Taken from – Why its Hard to Forgive