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Where Are The Nine?
Luke 17: 17
These ten victims of leprosy wandered alone.
They were forbidden to be near anyone who did not also have the disease.
And as they approached anyone, they would have to utter the cry of the leper: "Unclean, unclean!"
Then Jesus came.
Evidently, the lepers had heard that Jesus had healed other lepers, and they believed implicitly
in the power of the Galilean teacher to heal them -- and He did.
After they were healed of this loathsome disease, they went their way at His command, rejoicing,
and to find a priest to pronounce them cured.
The eyes of Jesus searched the empty streets to find the returning ten, who now were healed, but saw only one.
That one was a Samaritan.
The Samaritan fell on his face at the feet of the Master, with love and gratitude and joy, giving to Jesus his thankfulness.
But Where Are The Nine?
Where are the sons of Israel, the chosen ones?
Where are the nine sons of Israel who were healed?
Yes, they have forgotten!
- Have they so soon forgotten the loneliness, the darkness, the disease, the hatred, the pain,
and have they forgotten the living death?
- Have they forgotten the cure, the new life now surging through decayed tissue?
- Have they forgotten the Master?
- Have they forgotten His face, His hands, His voice, His salvation for lost humanity?
America has also forgotten God!
- Like sinful America with its full pockets and empty hearts, they had forgotten Jesus.
- Like sad America with its frustration, and its broken hearts and lives and with its screaming jukeboxes,
the nine had forgotten Jesus.
- Like shameful America, with its big churches and its little souls, the ten lepers had forgotten Jesus.
Never a land so blessed -- never a people so prosperous, but never a God so soon forgotten!
Have we emerged from the leprosy of ancient wars and recent battles, cleansed by the Master's own hand,
blessed by His countenance, raised by His goodness, lifted by His providential care,
saved by His vicarious love -- only to forget?
God forbid that we should forget!
When all others have gone their merry way, drunk their wine of rejoicing, reveled in the pleasures of sin
--- when others have forgotten -- God forbid that we should forget!
One of man's most common vices and most tragic sins is the sin of ingratitude.
Wordsworth cried out:
"I've heard of hearts unkind
Kind deeds with coldness still retiring:
Alas! The gratitude of men
Hath left me oftener mourning."
Does it not break your heart to love, to sacrifice, to give, to go the second mile, turn the other cheek,
only to be forgotten and go unthanked?
Then, how must our Father in heaven feel as He looks upon us here today...
Oh, but we are grateful!
We express our thanks.
We would never shirk our obligation.
No, neither would the nine had they been called on to live up to their obligation.
But they where so anxious to get home to their friends and back to their plans, that they did not stay
to consider their obligation.
And we are so busy, so rushed, so crowded, that we do not stop to think and show our gratitude.
We Must Come to God in Thanksgiving With Sincerity!
Repetitious words from Pharisaic lips, hypocritical prayers, are not Thanksgiving.
Extolling the praises of God before men while patting ourselves on the back, singing anthems of highest honor,
telling what God has done for you, but all the while knowing that He couldn't have done it without you
-- that is not thanksgiving.
But acknowledging, humbly and gratefully, that "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world,
and they that dwell therein."
Psalm 50: 10 tells us that the cattle on a thousand hills are God's.
Your silver and gold, your car, your money in the bank, your parents, your family, your home, your church
-- all are His-- including yourself!
That is Thanksgiving!
We Must Come To God With Simplicity!
In spite of his persecution, imprisonment, beatings,
and exclusion from friends and loved ones, Paul could say from a heart of serenity and simplicity,
"I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11)
Do we hope to blind our Father's eyes with words of thanksgiving,
so He will not notice when we grumble?
Do we think that we can offer thanks and in the same breath ask for more?
Real gratitude is thankfulness for what we have, not for what we want, or what we think we deserve,
but for what the Father has lovingly and boundfully sent our way.
Just for today be grateful!
Say that each day!
"Therewith to be content!"
But content to realize that joy is not in things; it is in us, if Christ is in us.
- Content in the state of suffering
- Content in dire necessities, content in confusion, problems, and doubts.
- Content just to be with Him, and take what He gives us, and love Him for giving it.
- Content just to breathe His name in prayer.
- Content, not in lazy complacency or sinful negligence.
- Content, not without ambition or aspiration.
Thoreau said: "A man is rich in proportion to the things he can do without."
Here is real gratitude
To be content, humble, thankful, gladly taking what each day brings, living in faith and expectation
of what God is going to do that day, responding to His direction and will.
We Must Come To God With Sacrifice!
Can a person be truly thankful for what he has received unless he is willing to give back something in return?
Neither can suffering humanity express its gratitude for a dying Saviour, and then refuse to give its soul
in exchange for that substitutionary death.
We join in singing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," and then refuse to love His Son!
Do we mean to be harsh and cruel in the face of His kindness?
Do we wish to break the heart of the Redeemer?
I don't think so!
It is just that we are not willing to let go up of our life, or of our companions who would lead us to stray.
We are not willing to give up our filthy habits, or to relinquish our popularity,
We are not willing to put business last, or to oppose friends or loved ones.
But, he who has not committed his soul, his life, his will, has not really given his thanks.
Neither can he claim that he is grateful to the Creator of the universe and be oblivious to the needs of his fellow man.
John dared to stab the truth into our cold hearts, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar."
Markham reiterates an old truth:
"There is a destiny that makes us brothers,
None goes his way alone.
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own."
Today, let us bring our puny offerings, our drawfted souls, our little lives, our warped opinions, our hesitant wills,
- Thanksgiving is the time to say "Thank you" to One who has cared for you.
- Thanksgiving is the time to show respect for those who can be of no possible service to us.
- Thanksgiving is the time to gladden a sad heart with words of appreciation.
- Thanksgiving is the time to lift a discouraged warrior from the gauntlet of life.
- Thanksgiving is the time to sweeten the day for a wayfaring stranger.
- Thanksgiving is the time to brighten the hopes of a dispondent youth.
- Thanksgiving is the time to cheer the twilight of an aged person.
- Thanksgiving is the time to be used as an instrument of God to be a light in the darkness for a dark world.
our stubborn reluctance to God!.
Bring them now!
Once and for all!
Bring them and lay them on the altar of your heart with your prayers of thanksgiving, knowing that God can not be out given,
knowing that God works all things for good to those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
This, then, is gratitude: Sincerity! Simplicity! Sacrifice!
Here is the prayer of the grateful:
"When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org