Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Thankful Living Is Healthy Living

11 As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.  17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

{Luke 17:11-19}

 

            In a season filled with so much uncertainty in our society, our nation, and our world, Thanksgiving has arrived just in time. With so many frightening reports about job losses, a troubled economy, and an uncertain future, we are all in need of the blessing that comes with a thankful heart. While it is true that things may not be just as we would like them to be, we can still be thankful for the things that are. Sometimes even the difficult things of life remind us of all we have to be thankful for.

            Someone said once:

I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too tight, because it means I have enough to eat.

I am thankful for all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that I have freedom of speech.

I am thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means that I am alive.

I am thankful for the teenager who is not doing the dishes like I asked, and is watching TV instead, because that means he is at home and not on the streets.

I am thankful for the taxes that I pay, because it means that I have a job.

I am thankful for the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

I am thankful for weariness at the end of the day, because it means I have been able to work hard.

I am thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am able to walk, and that I have been blessed with transportation.

 

            Those words remind me that thankful living is healthy living. Gratitude has a way of lifting our spirits, brightening our outlooks, and helping us to see God’s hand of grace, even in the most difficult of times.

            Things may not be the way we want them to be this year at Thanksgiving, but we all have a lot for which to be thankful.

            I am convinced that one of the keys to healthy living in these uncertain times, is to meet each day, and each challenge in each day, with a thankful heart.

            We would all be more healthy if we said, even in these times, “This may not be exactly what I want; but I am thankful for what I’ve got.”

            One day long ago, Jesus had an encounter with a group of people in need, and He showed us the healthy benefits of thankful living.

            Let’s look at that story again today, and see what we need for healthy living in these uncertain times.

 

            In Luke 17 Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. He knows once He gets there, He will encounter rejection, betrayal, arrest, and ultimately the cross. But as He journeys toward Jerusalem, Jesus continues to encounter people who are in need of His help.

            It is here in Luke 17 that I see the first thing I need for healthy living:

 1. I need a circumstance beyond my control (Luke 17:12).

            Jesus meets a group of ten people who have the disease of leprosy. Because of this contagious nature of this affliction they are forced to keep their distance from non-lepers (Luke 17:12; Leviticus 13:45-46; Numbers 5:2). Leprosy was a disease that totally changed the lives of those who contracted it. They were forced to live in isolation from their families and communities, and lost their ability to earn a living except for begging for handouts. They were not allowed to touch other people for fear of giving the disease to someone else.

            Leprosy was a disease that brought with it not only physical consequences, but brought heavy emotional and spiritual baggage as well.

            It goes without saying that the first thing we need for healthy living is to be unhealthy. Before we can become whole we first have to be broken.

            Jesus said it this way, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick.” And then Jesus said, “I have come to call sinners to repentance.” {Mark 2:17}

            The first step to healthy living is to see that you have a need for healing that is greater than your resources.

            Before we can become healthy, we have to realize that we are unhealthy.

            The lepers in this story clearly knew they were in a desperate situation. They needed healing.

            If you are a long way from healthy living today, then you may just be on the front step of a turnaround and the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

            So what do I do when we realize that we are unhealthy? I do what these lepers did:

2. I need to make a request of Jesus (Luke 17:13).

            When the lepers saw Jesus passing by on His way to Jerusalem, they called out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13). It was a simple request: “Jesus, I’ve got a need greater than my resources. I know You have greater resources than my need. Have mercy on me and help me.”

            Do you think Jesus is bothered by their request?

            After all, He is on His way to Jerusalem. He is headed for a cross. He is on a mission to save the world. Does Jesus have time to be bothered by the needs of people like these ten lepers…or people like me and you?

            Jesus told His followers to ask Him when we have needs. He said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!…the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name” (John 15:7, 16d, NLT).

            Jesus wanted people to ask Him for help when their needs were greater than their resources.

            The lepers knew this about Jesus and took Him up on it! They not only asked Jesus, they “cried out” to Jesus, “Master, have mercy on us!”

            They knew they were in a serious situation, and only the mercy of God could change their circumstances.

            The first step to healthy living is to admit you are unhealthy. The second step is to go to the Great Physican and take your request directly to Him.

            The third step I need to take for healthy living is:

3. I need a word from Jesus (Luke 17:14a).

            When Jesus saw the condition of the lepers, He did gave them a command to obey: “Go show yourselves to the priests.”

            They now had a word from Jesus to apply to their situation. They could receive it, believe it, accept it, obey it, or disregard it. The choice was theirs.

            This is an important step in healthy living. To live a healthy life, I need regular, daily encounters with the Bible as a word from God to me about my own specific situations.

            Like the lepers, I need to find my hope and direction in the promises of God for the needs of my life.

 

            When you read the Bible you can ask yourself some questions to help you find God’s Word for you.

            I was taught to remember them by the name S.P.A.C.E. P.E.T.S.:

What…

S = Sin do I need to confess?

P = Promise do I need to claim?

A = Attitude do I need to change?

C = Command do I need to obey?

E = Example do I need to follow?

 

P = Prayer do I need to pray?

E = Error do I need to avoid?

T = Truth do I need to believe?

S = Something do I need to praise God for?

 

            Whenever we read and study the Bible, we need to look for the word from God for our specific situation.

            Then we need to claim that word for ourselves.

            God’s promises then become a means of guidance to direct our lives. They serve as a source of hope to keep us going through the challenges we face.

            Once I get a promise from God, I am ready to take the fourth step to healthy living:

4. I need to make a response of obedience (Luke 17:14b).

            It is not enough just to read God’s Word and to know God’s Word, but healthy living means that I have to do God’s Word. I have to put it into practice in my life.

            When Jesus told the lepers to “Go, show yourselves to the priests” the Bible says they did what He told them.  And “as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14b).

            It was in the midst of obeying the word of Jesus that they experienced their healing. As they went about the rather mundane business of doing what Jesus told them to do, they experienced a life-changing healing. Healing may not always come in dramatic ways. Sometimes it may come in the midst of a daily life of trusting and obeying the Word of God in our lives.

            Step five in healthy living is that

5. I need a heart of worship (Luke 17:15).

            One of the lepers, when he realized that he had been healed of leprosy, turned around and came right back to Jesus. When he saw Jesus, the Bible says he began shouting, “Praise God!” (Luke 17:15). Then he fell down before the feet of Jesus and worshiped Him (Luke 17:16a).

            Healthy people are worshiping people.

            Worshipers know the healing power that comes from being connected to a God of creation and restoration.

            Even in the midst of the most difficult times of life, spending time in worship helps lift heavy burdens and strengthen us in our weaknesses. Worship helps us lift our eyes off our struggles and see the presence of our God who is greater than our challenges.

            The sixth quality of necessary for healthy living is that

6) I need an attitude of gratitude (Luke 17:16).

            The leper who returned to praise God and worship Jesus “fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done” (Luke 17:16).

            Healthy people are thankful people. Whether our blessings appear to be many or few, we all have much to thank God for.

            One sure sign of unhealthy living is the lack of gratitude to God for all that God has done for us.

            In March of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a resolution authorizing a National Day of Prayer and Fasting for the people of the United States of America. The nation was still in the midst of the Civil War. President Lincoln had only days before signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In the middle of all this turmoil, Lincoln felt the people of this country had allowed human pride to weaken our nation’s dependence on God.

            As he signed the proclamation of a day to return to God in prayer and fasting, Lincoln said:

            “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

            Lincoln knew that healthy people make up healthy nations. And gratitude is one of the characteristics of healthy living.

            President George Washington once said:

            “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

            Washington proclaimed that it is the duty of all people to acknowledge God, to obey God, and to be grateful to God, for all of the blessings of God.

            These six steps bring me to the result I need:

7) The result I need: faith that brings healing (Luke 17:19).

            What the man healed from leprosy experienced from Jesus was two-fold. First Jesus met His most pressing need–his disease. Then, when he comes back to Jesus in worship and gratitude, a second thing happens to him. Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you” (Luke 17:19).

 

            The first time this leper came to Jesus, He was healed of a disease. The second time he comes to Jesus, He gets his life put back together.

            That’s what salvation is all about.

            It is about coming to Jesus Christ in faith, with the broken pieces of our lives in our hands, and giving that brokenness to Jesus.

            In return, Jesus gives us salvation…healing, wholeness, and restoration.

 

            The way to live healthy in these troublesome times is to come to Jesus, to call on Him, to obey Him, to worship Him, to thank Him, and live by faith in Him.

              

The leper

1) Brought his need to Jesus.

2) Brought his thanks to Jesus.

 

            What need to you need to bring to Jesus today? Maybe you will want to come to Jesus with your most pressing need and thank Him in advance for what He is going to do to meet that need.

            What do you have to thank Jesus for today? In spite of all the recent turmoil and uncertainty in our economy, we have many blessings for which to be grateful. If you were to follow the example of the healed leper, what would you come to Jesus and thank Him for right now?

 

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One Response to “Thankful Living Is Healthy Living”

  1. I just loved this sermon and all the points you made…Alicia (Senter) and I couldn’t get over how good it was-God really spoke to us through you. It really inspired me this week to look at all that I have and not all that I could have or think that I need…we are ALL so blessed. Thanks and God bless. I love all of you dearly and hope your mtn. getaway was wonderful. Happy Belated Thanksgiving. Hugs to all!


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