Sermon title:  ARE WE THANKFUL FOR WHAT GOD DOES FOR US?

 

 

Luke 17:11-19    Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, May 19, 2019

 

 

The encounter our Lord Jesus had

with 10 lepers in Luke Chapter 17

teaches us to be thankful.

 

It also teaches us about 4 different ways

that our God cares for our physical wellbeing.

 

1)  He gives us advice and guidance in the Bible

to keep us safe from many diseases.

 

2)  He gives us medical care

through trained medical professionals

to help us get well and stay well.

 

3)  In response to prayer,

he heals us with his divine hand of healing.

 

4)  And he promises us

and eternal future with no disease, sickness or death.

 

But, before we look at

these provisions that should make us thankful to God,

let’s read the brief account, beginning at Luke 17:11,

of Christ’s encounter with the 10 lepers.

 

11 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."

 

Only one returned to thank him

and to give praise to God.

 

Only one out of ten.

 

That makes us ask,

how many people today

give thanks and praise to God.

 

Our health may not be perfect,

but do we thank God

for the measure of good health that we do enjoy?

 

Did we thank him

for the breakfast that we enjoyed

before coming to church this morning?

 

Did we thank him for the refreshment

we received through a night’s sleep?

 

Do we thank him

when we see the springtime flowers

bursting into bloom all around us?

 

Do we thank him

for the melodious songs

of the birds in the trees?

 

Did we thank God

that we were able to get out of bed this morning

and to leave our homes?

 

Really, is there any good thing that we enjoy

that was not given to us

either directly or indirectly by God?

 

James 1:17 tells us that

 

"Every good gift and every perfect gift

is from above,

coming down from the Father.”

 

So, are we like the nine healed of leprosy

who just walked away,

or are we like the one

who returned to express thanks and praise?

 

In some Bible translations, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says,

“Pray without ceasing.”

 

In some other translations it says,

pray continually,

Pray unceasingly.

pray constantly,

pray at all times.

 

And what are we to pray aboutconstantly, at all times”?

 

The very next verse goes on to say,

 

"Give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

 

It’s not that God needs to hear us saying Thank You all the time.

 

It’s that such an attitude of thankfulness

is good for us.

 

We are the ones who benefit

from that attitude of thankfulness.

 

And God wants the best for us.

 

He wants us to have that attitude of constant thankfulness

for our own benefit.

 

And that’s the main lesson we can carry away

from that incident

where Jesus healed the 10 lepers

and only one of them

returned to offer thanks and praise.

 

But there are also

some other important things

we can glean from this account.

 

It will help us, if we grasp

what a hopeless situation those lepers were in.

 

Leprosy was a horrible and incurable disease

at that time in mankind’s history.

 

It began with small sores

that wouldn’t go away.

 

It progressed to the point

where fingers and toes rotted away

and fell off

and even noses, ears and parts of the face

were grossly disfigured.

 

All of this took years.

 

So, leprosy meant

a life of hopelessness

followed by a painful death.

 

And that is what these 10 lepers

were miraculously healed from.

 

Yet only one of them

returned to Jesus with thanksgiving and praise.

 

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Long before God sent his Son

to heal lepers

and to give all of us hope

of an eternal future without disease or death—

long before that,

God gave the nation of Israel a set of laws

that included laws to protect them from leprosy,

and to protect them

from other diseases that afflicted their neighbors.

 

Let’s take a look

at some of these laws that are found

in the Old Testament book of Leviticus,

beginning with Chapter 11.

 

Many of God’s laws

prohibited the eating of meat

from certain birds and animals

such as pigs and seagulls.

 

This protected the Jews

from the parasites and diseases

that those creatures often carried in those days.

 

The neighboring peoples who did not have the Bible

ate pork and other meats forbidden to Jews,

and they suffered from the parasites and diseases

that the Jews were protected from.

 

And in Leviticus Chapter 11, beginning at Verse 32,

we’ll see that God’s medical advice

went beyond diet

and protected against infection in other ways. as well.

 

It protected them from nasty germs

that might be found on dead animals like rats or bats.

 

32 When one of them dies and falls on something,

that article, whatever its use,

will be unclean,

whether it is made of wood, cloth, hide or sackcloth.

 

Put it in water;

it will be unclean till evening,

and then it will be clean.

 

But those ancient peoples often used pots made of clay,

and porous clay pots

could absorb any infectious material

and contaminate any food

that went into the pot.

 

And, because a clay pot was so porous,

you couldn’t really clean it with water.

 

So, God went on to say,

 

33 If one of them falls into a clay pot,

everything in it will be unclean,

and you must break the pot.

 

34 Any food that could be eaten

but has water on it from such a pot is unclean,

and any liquid that could be drunk from it is unclean.

 

Remember, this was long before

the rest of mankind learned about germs

and the need for sanitation.

 

Turning over to Leviticus Chapter 13,

we see that God instructed the Israelites

to quarantine patients with highly infectious leprosy.

 

Beginning at Verse 45, it says,

 

45 "The person with such an infectious disease

must wear torn clothes,

let his hair be unkempt,

cover the lower part of his face

and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!'

 

46 As long as he has the infection

he remains unclean.

He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.

 

This protected the people of Israel

at a time when the rest of mankind

was ignorant of how infection could spread.

 

Moving on to Leviticus Chapter 15,

we’ll see how God’s law

told the Israelites to practice sanitation

around sick people—

--sanitation that the rest of the world

didn’t begin practicing

until thousands of years later.

 

When we visit hospitals

and doctors’ offices today

we see posters on their walls

reminding them to wash their hands between patients.

 

But, beginning with Leviticus 15:1, we read

that thousands of years earlier,

 

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them:

 

'When any man has a bodily discharge,

the discharge is unclean.

 

3 Whether it continues flowing from his body

or is blocked,

it will make him unclean.

 

This is how his discharge

will bring about uncleanness:

 

4 "'Any bed the man with a discharge lies on

will be unclean,

and anything he sits on will be unclean.

 

5 Anyone who touches his bed

must wash his clothes and bathe with water,

and he will be unclean till evening.

 

I’ll stop there,

but these instructions from God went on and on.

 

And there were similar instructions

for anyone who handled a dead human body.

 

These instructions from God

that remind us of the measures taken in a modern hospital

to prevent the spread of infection.

 

But these instructions were given by God

back at a time when humans had not yet discovered

the existence of viruses and bacteria

or how germs spread disease.

 

It was special wisdom from Godto protect his people.

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Even today, following the Bible

helps safeguard us from disease.

 

Thousands of people in modern times

have suffered from syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes,

or HIV Aids,

who would not have contracted those infections

if they had followed the Bible’s

prohibition against sex outside of marriage.

 

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Besides Bible laws and guidance

to help keep his people healthy

our God also provides us with good medical care

from doctors, nurses, EMTs and hospitals.

 

In the early days after leaving slavery in Egypt,

the Jews didn’t seem to have doctors among them, yet.

 

In Leviticus Chapter 13,

we see that the Lord assigned the priests

to do that sort of work in Israel.

 

Beginning at Leviticus 13:1 it says,

 

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

 

2 "When anyone has a swelling or a rash

or a bright spot on his skin

that may become an infectious skin disease,

 

he must be brought to Aaron the priest

or to one of his sons who is a priest.

 

3 The priest is to examine the sore on his skin,

and if the hair in the sore has turned white

and the sore appears to be more than skin deep,

it is an infectious skin disease.

 

When the priest examines him,

he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean.

 

By the time of the Apostles,

there were already trained doctors,

although they still had a lot to learn,

compared with the medical profession today.

 

The writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts

was a medical doctor.

 

At Colossians 4:14 the Apostle Paul spoke of him

as “Luke, the beloved physician.”

 

Can we really count good professional medical care

as something that God provides for us?

 

Well, that question makes me think of a story

that has been going around for a long time.

 

No one seems to know who originated this story,

but it goes like this:

 

A religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters.

 

He climbed onto the roof of his house

and trusted God to rescue him.

 

A neighbor came by in a canoe and said,

“The waters will soon be above your house.

Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

 

“No thanks” replied the religious man.

“I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

 

A short time later the police came by in a boat.

“The waters will soon be above your house.

Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

 

“No thanks” replied the religious man.

“I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

 

A little time later a helicopter hovered overhead.

The rescuers inside let down a rope ladder and said,

“The waters will soon be above your house.

Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

 

“No thanks” replied the religious man.

“I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

 

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise,

until soon they reached above the roof and the man drowned.

 

When he arrived at heaven asked God in a hurt tone of voice, “Lord, why am I here in heaven?

I prayed for you to save me,

I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

 

 

Yes you did my child” replied the Lord.

“And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter.

But you never got in.”

 

The point is that God uses people to help us.

 

So, when we benefit from good professional medical care,

that is a gift from Godthat we should thank the Lord for.

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Besides biblical guidelines to keep us healthy

and medical care through human hands,

God is also still in the business

of doing miraculous healing.

 

There are some religious groups that falsely teach

that God doesn’t do miracles any more.

 

I know of one man in such a group

whose prayers were answered

when the Lord healed his little child

of a foot problem that the doctors said was incurable.

 

The people at his church insisted God doesn’t heal people today,

and when he kept on praising God for that healing,

they told him the devil must have done it—

since God doesn’t—

and they threw him out.

 

I know from personal experience

that God does heal miraculously today.

 

But, at the other extreme

from those who deny divine healing,

there are others that teach

that God is obligated to heal us.

 

An example is a popular Christian TV show,

where I’ve heard a woman declare something like,

“‘God, I demand that you heal my son.’”

 

Well, we’re not in any position to demand things from God.

 

The truth is

 that sometimes his answer to our prayer

is ‘Not now, but later!’

 

And that’s the way it’s always been.

 

The Lord used the Apostle Paul

to do miraculous healings,

but at 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul spoke of

a physical ailment of his own

that he called his “thorn in the flesh”

that did NOT go away in answer to prayer.

 

In the next two verses, he wrote,

“Concerning this thing

I pleaded with the Lord three times

that it might depart from me.

 

9 And He said to me,

 

‘My grace is sufficient for you,

for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’”

 

So, if the Lord could tell the Apostle Paul to wait,

he can tell us the same thing.

 

But God does promise us

an eternal future

with no more pain, suffering or disease,

and no more death.

 

Revelation 21:4 promises,

 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death

or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away."

 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death

or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away."

 

How we look forward to that day!

 

In the meantime,

whatever our circumstances,

Paul tells us at 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to

 

"Give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is the will of God

in Christ Jesus for you."