Fall is such a wonderful time around here. My family and I enjoyed a great October with all of the fall festivals and activities around town, capping it all off with the fun downtown trick-or-treating event. What a great time of year to be in Globe/Miami!
Now we enter some of the most joyous (and stressful) times of year. Are you ready? Are you ready for good food and good times with friends and family? Are you ready for cheerful songs and treats? How about the beautifully chilly weather that makes you dress a little warmer and cuddle up a little closer? At the same time, are you ready for busy shopping centers and high prices? How about the headache that comes from trying to think up the perfect gift idea for that special someone? Trying to do it all with a smile and balanced checkbook can be a daunting task for many. However, I think that if we focus on the reasons we celebrate this time of year that perhaps all of the added baggage will be lightened.
For starters, are you willing to live every day in thankfulness to God? If there ever was a month to do so, November is that month. God abundantly blesses, provides for, and sustains each of us daily. Even those who refuse to bow the knee to Christ are currently receiving daily benefits from Him. “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) Still, in spite of God’s goodness and provision for all His creatures, many continue to rebel against Him, despising His good gifts. This is the corruption of sin.
It reminds me of the time Jesus came across a group of ten lepers as He was on His way to Jerusalem. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” they called out to Him from a distance. (Luke 17:13) He looked at them and told them to go and show themselves to the priests. As they went, each of the ten lepers were cleansed. They were healed physically and they also were now ritually clean, bringing them back into the community. No longer would the lepers live as outcasts but now as fellow citizens. You can imagine the joy and excitement that would have flooded these people and the gratitude that they must have had for what Jesus did for them. Yet you wouldn’t have known it by what happened next.
“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” (Luke 17:15-16) Only one of the ten turned back to praise and give thanks. Jesus responds, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Jesus replies (Luke 17:17) You see, each of the ten received the same physical blessing from Christ and yet only one gave thanks. Why is that? Why are people so prone to take the good things from God and yet not give Him thanks and praise? Do we really think that we have obtained everything we have by ourselves, apart from God? The Apostle Paul asks the question this way, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Finally, Jesus turns to the one leper who returned to give thanks and said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19) Now some Bible commentators say that this is simply Jesus showing that it was right for the man to turn back with thanksgiving and that the man was recognizing Jesus’ unique status and identity. And yes, they are correct. However, I think that other Bible commentators are on the right track when they notice that the phrase “your faith has made you well” is often used to point to not merely physical healing but something of a spiritual healing as well. I think this man who turned back to thank Jesus, doing so in faith, received something that day which the other nine did not. His faith in Jesus made him well in body and in spirit. Just like all of God’s creatures receive daily blessings from God, but only some turn to Him in faith and give thanks.
So then, how will you spend these next two months? I encourage you to do so with thankful hearts. Thanking and praising God for all of His mercies and blessings in life. Don’t be like the lepers who take the good gift and then forget about the Giver of the gift. Instead, fall at the feet of Jesus and give thanks.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ