Welcome to part two of our series called Stay Positive. I don’t know about you, but I have found this series to be a great encouragement because of all the negativity I hear and see on a daily basis. It’s like everywhere you go people just want to be critical, to pick things apart, to find what’s wrong instead of seeing what’s right. And today people can find almost anything to complain about. You know, it’s like the weather, it’s either too hot or too cold, to dry or too wet, and the humidity… well people just complain about almost anything.
Last week, we talked about “Seeking Good”, and almost as an addendum to my message, quarterback Peyton Manning returned to the field to a standing ovation leading the Broncos to victory. However, after the game Peyton was interviewed in the locker room and revealed the deep hurt that lingered from 2015 and he put everything into perspective. He said regarding the fans response last Sunday, “I'm pretty sure they were sitting in the same seats where they were booing six weeks ago after my fourth interception.” Yet in spite of the adversity of 2015 he stayed positive and expressed thankfulness for another chance to play, he focused on the game and said, “Be a pro, handle it, and keep the faith” (Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post).
You see, Manning chose to stay positive, but let me ask you this, how many of you complained about the parking this morning? Maybe you went to McDonald’s where someone served you your food and you can’t believe it took over three minutes to get an egg McMuffin and a cup of coffee. And honestly we do complain about all sorts of things, there are people who open the refrigerator full of food and complain because there’s nothing to eat. They turn on the television with over 100 stations and complain there’s nothing to watch. They go into their closet, flip through all their clothes and what do they say? I’ve got nothing to wear right?
Isn’t it amazing how blessed we can be, and I’ll confess, I’m just gonna tell you how it is, this is how I am naturally. I want bigger, better, faster, and newer, and I want it now. And so my goal today is that as we together pursue a heart of thankfulness that our hearts would be transformed from one’s that are often grumbling, covetous, and entitled, to hearts that are thankful and full of praise. And I pray that as we continue in this series that we would unlock many other positive qualities.
First this morning we’re going to look at an interesting story in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 17, starting at verse 11, as we look at some lepers, ten of them to be exact, who encountered Jesus in a profound way, yet tragically only one returned to say thank you. This is the account of 10 men who came to Jesus crying from the depths of their hearts for help. These are men who have been rejected physically, socially, and intimately. And here is what I mean, according to the law, whenever someone got close, they had to shout, "Unclean, unclean!" Warning people to turn and go the other way, so it was very humiliating. These people, were not only physically hurting, but you can only imagine the emotional pain to not have had relationships, contact, or intimacy with loved ones for years and years. And so here in chapter 17, these 10 guys see Jesus coming down the street and well, let’s read from verse 11.
“On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 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? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" NIV
I still remember how awkward it felt the first time I said, “Praise the Lord!” I actually had a hard time getting it out, but once I did it felt so good, because that is what we were created to do. We were created to give glory to God. God wants to hear us give him praise and truly we should give him the glory that he deserves. Psalm chapter 29, verse two says it this way, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness“
Yet far too often we’re like those lepers who were so quick to ask God for help but very slow to give him thanks. I would like to think that we would be as devoted in our praise to God as we are in crying out to him for help, but here in chapter 17, 10 individual lives were miraculously transformed and yet only 1 of the 10 came back to say thank you. This morning I want to be that one! I don’t care if it’s 1 out of 10 or 1 out of 100, but I want to have a heart of thankfulness. And so today I want to talk about three statements to speak, breathe, and pray according to God’s own word that will help us to be that one who chooses thankfulness.
James chapter one verse seventeen, tells us this. James says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Our God is faithful and every good and perfect gift actually comes from him. You may think that you’ve worked for it, that you’ve earned it, and there may be some truth to that, but you’re actually a manager of what God has given. You see every place where you prosper, thrive, or flourish it’s through the bountiful grace of God and the good things that he’s given to you. God is and has always been the giver of all good things.
For that matter, as you look through the pages of Scripture and consider those who have done great things for God he was always the resource of everything they had. Just think about Adam and Eve; they sinned, they became aware of their nakedness, and God “made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). God not only gave Noah instructions and resources, but he also gave him the ability to build the ark to save his family. God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, giving them both bread from heaven in the morning and fire by night. God provided the perfect stones for David to kill Goliath. God gave Jonah a fish to take him safely to shore. God gave a young girl named Mary the faith to say yes and bring the Savior into the world. God gave the wise men a star to lead them. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. And when you put your trust in him, God gives you a supernatural peace that goes beyond your ability to understand. God gives us his Spirit to comfort us, to convict us, to guide us and to counsel us.
Every good and perfect gift we have comes from God, and therefore we need to understand that God is completely good and that he will never not be good. God cannot be any less than good. Everything he does is good and when we embrace that, it changes our attitude, and thankfulness overflows into our lives. This morning we can say number one, “I know every good and perfect gift is from above” and number two…
Now this morning I don’t know what it is that you want, but I know a lot of people who would like to have a better car, a bigger house, some new clothes, and even the newest phone. Isn’t that true? I want this, I want that, I wish I was there, and on and on. But listen to what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes chapter 6, verse nine, "Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite." Isn’t that good? Just think about that for a moment. Better what’s in front of you, than that which you’re longing for. It’s better to embrace what God has given you, than to always want something more. What you have is better than longing for something else to make you happy. And so, whenever we adopt an attitude of thankfulness it turns whatever we have into enough. Thankfulness turns what’s before us into enough as we recognize God’s blessings. You see, it’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy, so I’m not going to let what I want steal the joy of the blessings I already have.
I’m thankful, because most of you will probably have three meals a day, some of us four, and some of us five, but we all have enough to eat. Probably most of us can go somewhere and pay someone else at least occasionally to serve us food. Almost everybody here has a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear and probably more than one pair of shoes. Some of you have shoes to work in, shoes for church, shoes to mow the yard in, and even shoes to wear inside. Most of you have a car to drive and even a job, as a matter of fact, if you make minimum wage, you’re making 10, 20, and even 30 times the average wage of half the people in the world today. Most of you have a phone that does more than just talk, and most of you are so blessed you actually upgrade phones that are working for a newer better working phone because you’re so blessed.
But here’s what thankfulness does. Thankfulness turns what you have into enough because every good and perfect gift is from above and I will be content in any and every situation. You see, thankful people are happy, in fact Paul said this in Philippians chapter four, he said in verses 11-13, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul said, “I have learned the secret!” You see, he got to the place where Christ was all that he had, and until Christ is all that you have, you may never know that Christ is all you need. But when you get to that place suddenly you find great blessing and when you have Christ you can do all things through him. It doesn’t matter whether you have a lot or little, he is what matters, he is what satisfies, and he is what I need.
That’s what David said in Psalm 63, verses 4 and 5, “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”
In all things, I will acknowledge the Lord, and I’ll turn every blessing into praise. You see, every day he sends us blessing after blessing, whether we ask for them or not, whether we deserve
them or not, whether we acknowledge them or not, we’re absolutely flooded with blessings from our good and gracious God. And so as we acknowledge his blessing, each blessing becomes an act of worship
as we turn each blessing back into praise.
Now don’t miss the power of this, because this changes our perspective. As we become more thankful and praise God our hearts are transformed. As we take something that we take for granted every day, maybe a bunch of things, here’s what you do. Just pretend for a moment that you lost it and then pretend that you found it. Now what do you do? Suddenly you start thanking God for what you already have and when you do this all of a sudden, instead of saying I'm tired of my car, you thank God for your car. Instead of I'm tired and my house is a wreck, God I thank you that I've got kids, a spouse, and all the blessings that make my house a wreck. I'm so busy, but I'm thankful I've got a job and friends and places to be, people to help, and children to shuttle around. I'm thankful that I've got all these opportunities to be busy. My house is so small, but I'm thankful I've got a roof over my head. I don't like this job, but God I thank you that I've got a job.
You know, parking may be bad at church today, but thank you God that we’re in a place where we can come and you change our perspective. When the rest of the world wants to tear everything down, we’re going to stay positive, because we've got a really good God. We recognize that every good thing we have comes from God above. We will be content in any and every situation. And so we are going to praise the Lord as long as we live. We’re going to praise the Lord never forgetting his benefits because he is worthy of our praise. That’s exactly what David did in Psalm 103 verses 2 through 5 and I hope this becomes the cry of your heart.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things…” NIV
David says, “My God fills my life with good things and therefore I am not going to wait to be thankful. I'm going to be thankful, I’m going to praise him, and therefore I’m happy, because my God gives good things to his children. And so I’ll never let what I want steal the joy of what I already have, because I've got blessing upon blessing. Therefore, I will turn those blessings back into praise because I have been forgiven and because of that I will let all that I am praise my God. He is that good.
Will you be that one? And not just with God, but think about the people around you. Will you be the one that stops long enough to say thank you. Will you express your thankfulness to someone who has impacted you? Will you be the thankful one?
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
January 10, 2016