CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM BECAUSE GOD CARES FOR YOU. AMEN. (1 Peter 5: 7)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY WEB-WORSHIP!
Old Testament Reading: – JEREMIAH 29: 11 – 14
“FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU,” – DECLARES THE LORD, “PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE. THEN YOU WILL CALL UPON ME AND COME AND PRAY TO ME, AND I WILL LISTEN TO YOU …” (Jeremiah 29: 11-12)
New Testament Reading: – LUKE 17: 11 – 19
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?” THEN HE SAID TO HIM, “RISE AND GO; YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL.” (Luke 17: 18-19)
The healing of the ten lepers, and the return of a single one to give thanks to Jesus, is an intriguing story. Much has been made of the ingratitude of the nine, but there is more here than a teaching about thanksgiving. It also declares the joy of faith. Where are the other nine? (v. 17) With these words the healing-story takes its turn – and here lies its meaning for us. Where were the nine? Obviously, they were doing what Jesus told them to do, showing themselves to the priests. The priests were required to validate the healing of a leper, and Jesus had to tell them to do so. The nine did what they had been required to do, but only those who move beyond duty to devotion find faith in its fullness. What of the one? He becomes the hero of the story even though he was a Samaritan. He returns and falls at Jesus’ feet and praises God for the healing. His act is welcomed by Jesus. The healed leper had gone beyond duty to devotion. The story ends with this summary: – Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (verse 19)
There are people who never do even their duty of devotion. These consistently miss the opportunity to do the right things by faith. Responsibility for thankfulness is not part of their religious vocabulary. These people may well know Ephesians 2:8, – it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” But they forget the following verse, which says, – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (verse 10).
There are people who do their duty and nothing more. That is the example of the nine. Let us not get the wrong impression. We should all do our duty, our duty to God, family, church, country, which is a noble thing. But as important as duty is, the best of life is found in moving beyond duty, – all the way to devotion and thankfulness. Think of Jesus’ story of the Pharisee in the temple praying. He was doing his duty, praying at the appointed hour. He was very religious, but was unaware of the deeper duty to love mercy and walk humbly with God. He did his duty, but nothing more. There was another man at the temple, a lowly tax collector who in honest repentance confessed his sin, was welcomed by God, and went away justified, Jesus said. Despite praying, the Pharisee remained a troubled person. Years ago, a friend of mine told me about a conversation he had with his teenage daughter. The daughter was upset by her mother’s continuous requests. “Mum always says: clean your room, do your homework, get home early,” she complained. My father-friend said to her, “That sounds like the easiest question I’ve had today. It is so simple. All you need to do is clean your room, do your homework, and get home early.” Describing the prosperous plans for His people, in Jeremiah 29: 14 God declares; – I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity. Indeed, ingratitude is a trap from which we all need to be saved.
There are also those who go beyond duty to devotion. These are the ones greatly honoured by Jesus. The single one who returned to give thanks to Jesus for his healing is honoured not for doing his duty, but for his devotional gratitude to the Lord. Think of those people in your life who have been the most influential. Some are parents or grandparents, some teachers, relatives, friends or even ministers. They all hold one thing in common. They did more for you than duty required. They loved you even when you were unlovable, stood with you in your most difficult days, challenged you to be your best. They went the extra mile with you, and in doing so, affected your life forever. It is important to remember to let the people who help us with everyday things know how much their help means to us. Sometimes the little things can make a big difference. We can remember to say thank you just like the one Samaritan healed leper said thank you to Jesus. Here is the virtue God honours most: the authentic expression of devotion rising up naturally out of a committed and thankful heart. It speaks of motive. Here is a challenge for us. Some have not done their duty and need to begin. Others have done their duty, and perhaps quite well, but haven’t moved beyond the doing of duty to devotion. Still others have – as growing disciples – learned the joy of living and serving in God’s family. And this is what matters most.
We don’t know when and how this Covid-19 Pandemic will be brought to an end and we don’t know how many of us will be affected. But one thing is already paramount for a Christian: – Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare His praise? Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. Remember me, O Lord, when You show favour to Your people, come to my aid when You save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of Your nation and join Your inheritance in giving praise. (Psalm 106: 1- 5).
LET US PRAY:
Living and loving God, we have so much to thank You for, so much in our lives that is good and special. Day after day You bless us, week after week You answer our prayers, year after year You meet our needs, yet we not only neglect to express our gratitude, but are all too often ungrateful, forgetting Your blessings and overlooking Your love. Under the threat of Covid-19 we continuously complain and demand so many things, but we need You Lord as much as those lepers needed your healing. Forgive our taking You for granted, and our failure to acknowledge and appreciate Your innumerable gifts. As we continue asking for Your help and support in these tragic times, teach us truly to give thanks to You – not just in words, but through who and what we are, always celebrating Your gift of new life in Christ. Thank you for what You have done, what You are doing and what You yet shall do. Thank you that You not only came among us, but are with us now, constantly at work through Your Holy Spirit to bless, strengthen, guide and call. Continue to perform in our hearts the miracle of grace so that we may know and love You better, our lives speaking to all of Your saving and transforming love. Today, Lord, we want simply to say what we so often intend to say but forget to tell You: THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING! In Jesus’ name, Amen
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – Our Father, who art in heaven …
Give praise and thanks unto the Lord, for bountiful is He; His tender mercy doth endure unto eternity.
God’s mighty works who can express? Or show forth all His praise? Blessèd are they that judgment keep, and justly do always.
Remember me, Lord, with that love which Thou to thine dost bear; With Thy salvation, O my God, to visit me draw near:
That I Thy chosen’s good may see, and in their joy rejoice; And may with Thine inheritance triumph with cheerful voice.
Blest be Jehovah, Israel’s God, to all eternity: Let all the people say, Amen. Praise to the Lord give ye.
(Psalm 106, verses 1-5, 48)
PRAISE THE LORD, ALL YOU NATIONS; EXTOL HIM, ALL YOU PEOPLES. FOR GREAT IS HIS LOVE TOWARD US, AND THE FAITHFULNESS OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER. PRAISE THE LORD.