I am working on a book on Psalms (hopefully available on Amazon soon!) and I have organized it into a five-week study for small groups. Each week will focus on a type of psalm: praise, lament, trust, wisdom, and thanksgiving. As I was writing the leader’s guide chapter on Psalms of Thanksgiving, I wrote a discussion question that made me wonder what my own response would be: “Do you remember to thank God for everything he has given you?” I pondered that for a moment. Do I? Do you? Or do we take this life, this world, these homes, our families, good health, our food, and our jobs all for granted? Do we just go along living our lives and act like we’re entitled to everything? Or worse, do we think we have earned it all by the work of our hands alone?

I have a family member who would argue that she has worked for everything she has. Her lifestyle is a result of her hard work, her persistence, and her skills. I have no argument with that. Surely these things have served her well. But I believe that her work ethic was passed down from generations of people who worked God’s harvest before her and taught her that value. I believe her persistence is a personality trait that was knit into her by God when he formed her in the womb. And I believe that God gives us skills and spiritual gifts with which we can serve him and sustain our families. I don’t think there is anything we have for which we can take sole credit. God is the creator of everything, even our ability to earn a living. For that I thank God!

Our lectionary passage today tells a wonderful story of healing. Jesus was doing his thing, traveling between Samaria (where his type was not received) and Galilee (where his type belonged). Upon entering a village, he met ten men who desperately needed healing:

Luke 17 (Common English Bible)

11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”

14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 

It is interesting to note that a measure of obedience was required from the men. They were being asked to step out on faith and participate in their healing. They had to go to the priests. Their healing was not just doled out to them. It is also noteworthy that their common disease had broken down the societal barriers that normally stood between Samaritans and Jews. They were a mixed group, bound together in misery … and hope.

15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

The Samaritan was doubly blessed. While all ten received physical healing, only he returned to Jesus for a healing of heart and received an additional blessing of faith. The foreigner became the faithful.

I think that if we look hard enough, we can always find something to be grateful for. Bible commentator Matthew Henry was once robbed of his wallet. That night he wrote in his diary all the things he was grateful for. He was grateful that he had never been robbed before. He was thankful that they took his wallet but not his life. He wrote that even though they took all his money, it wasn’t very much. Finally, he gave thanks that he was the one who was robbed and not the one who did the robbing.

Do you owe God a debt of thanksgiving? Has he done anything for you lately? Don’t be ungrateful. It is never too late to return to the Lord with an attitude of gratitude.

He deserves no less from us.

Pink Sky Blessings

Be The 10%

Can you remember being told by your parents to say “please” and “thank you?” These two phrases are the beginning of learning manners and should stick with us throughout our lives. Unfortunately, they don’t. It can be frustrating and hurtful to do something special for someone and not receive a word of thanks for your effort.

Today is Thanksgiving in America, a time normally spent around tables laden with food made from family recipes that have been handed down for generations. This year, however, many are not gathering together due to the pandemic. Some of us are struggling with feeling any gratitude this year.

Jesus can relate.

Luke 17 (Contemporary English Version)

11 On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men with leprosy came toward him. They stood at a distance 13 and shouted, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 Jesus looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”

On their way they were healed. 15 When one of them discovered that he was healed, he came back, shouting praises to God. 16 He bowed down at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was from the country of Samaria.

17 Jesus asked, “Weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other nine? 18 Why was this foreigner the only one who came back to thank God?” 19 Then Jesus told the man, “You may get up and go. Your faith has made you well.”

Only one thought to return with a word of thanks. Who knows what was in the minds of the others? Were they just so joyful to be healed that they couldn’t help themselves? Did they rush off to be reunited with their families? Remember that lepers lived in complete isolation. Imagine how life-changing this was for them. Thanks to the pandemic, I think we can relate a little to what isolation feels like.

But Jesus deserved their thanks. And he deserves ours.

There are other things we can create from family recipes. We can share memories by letter or by phone. We can show off our tables by ZOOM and Facebook. We can encourage one another that next year will be different. We can leave food at a neighbor’s house who is struggling financially or dealing with COVID 19. We can flood the food pantries with financial donations.

We can give thanks to our Maker that we are alive to grumble and complain about everything!

I know it is cliche to “go around the table and say what you are thankful for,” but do it anyway.

I am thankful everyday for YOU. When you read, comment, and especially when you share these devotionals, you are helping God’s word spread throughout the world, which is the only reason I do this.

When it’s my turn around the table today, I will be thanking God for his Word and for all of you who turn to it every day.

Thank you!

Let Us Give Thanks by Karen Warlitner