Thankfulness

Exploring The Question, "Are You Thankful For Your Salvation?".

Charles Homer
Nov 28, 2021    35m
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This message explores the important question, "Are you thankful for your salvation?". To understand the beauty of the Gospel, we have to understand our sins first. It's easy to lose our wonder over salvation, so as we remember the beautiful gift of our salvation, let's be thankful to our Lord Jesus Christ. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Charles Homer: [00:00:07] What's going on Venture? Thanks for joining us online again today. Hope you guys had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. You might have guessed it, today we're talking about thankfulness. Initially, when I started writing this message, I kind of rolled my eyes and thought, like, oh man, is this just one of those things that you have to do? Do we have to talk about thankfulness on Thanksgiving weekend? I'm genuinely excited for what the Bible has in store for us this weekend.

Charles Homer: [00:00:35] So just to kind of set the course before us, you're not going to learn anything new today. This message is going to be a little bit like the Thanksgiving meal where I would imagine you probably had turkey, some mashed potatoes, a green bean dish that didn't get finished, and then you wash it all down with a healthy slice of pumpkin pie, or at least, I hope you did. And in the same way, we're not changing up the tradition very much, we're going to be looking at thankfulness. Reasons why we have to be thankful, and then how we can take that thankfulness that first goes to God, and then give it to those around us.

Charles Homer: [00:01:14] If you have your Bible, if you wouldn't mind joining me in Luke chapter number 17, Luke 17, we're going to be reading a story that illustrates thankfulness. It starts here in verse 11, read along with me, “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy b met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Charles Homer: [00:01:14] Would you pray with me? Dear God, thank you for the abundance that you've given to us. Thank you, Lord, for all the good things, Lord, good food, family, friends, and just a chance to slow down and enjoy all of that this weekend. God, I pray that you would help us to see from this story, Lord, a reason that we all have to be thankful. And God, would you foster within us just a thankful heart, Lord, that gives praise to you for all that you've done, but then also is spread around to those around us? We pray these things in Your name. Amen.

Charles Homer: [00:03:05] In this passage, what I want us to see, is that there is a reason for each and every one of us to be thankful. As we get started, here's what I want us to realize, we're not going to be focusing, as we go through this passage, on physical healing. Sure, this story is absolutely about Jesus’ healing 10 lepers, and it's a physical healing, and honestly, I believe that Jesus still heals today. Man, growing up, it was just one of those stories that was influential in the back of my mind. I was probably first or second grade at the time, and there was there's a guy in our church who had a tumor on his neck, and he was kind of a close family friend as well, and I remember him being sick and going to the treatments, I was young, so I don't know exactly what the diagnosis was. But I remember coming back from church one day, and Y. Y. Poon was his name, saying, like, hey, I don't have the tumor anymore. And he said all we did was have the elders anoint me with oil, pray over me, and now it's documented in my medical file, it's a miracle, no more tumor. And so that story has just always stuck with me, even since I was a young kid. and I knew that, like, man, God still heals today.

Charles Homer: [00:04:29] If you're interested in this topic, you're thinking, like, man, how do all of these things work out? I would recommend Craig Keener's book for you, Miracles Today. Craig Keener actually wrote two large volumes on miracles in the New Testament, and why we still should think that those miracles happen today. A fascinating study, I recommend that if you're interested in miracles, you could go through that.

Charles Homer: [00:04:54] But we're not talking about physical healing today. The reason we're not talking about physical healing is because, for reasons that I don't fully understand, God doesn't heal everybody. Right now in the high school ministry, there are two students who have parents who are struggling with cancer, and I pray for them. I pray for a miraculous healing for their parents. But I'm not sure that, I'm not exactly sure how God's going to work in each of those circumstances. If our thankfulness is tied to physical healing, then, man, sometimes we will have reasons to rejoice and praise God. But other times it might leave us hanging, where we don't have those reasons to rejoice, to be thankful, to praise God.

Charles Homer: [00:05:44] But the reason that we have for everyone to be thankful, it doesn't have to do with physical healing, so today here's what we're going to focus on, we're going to focus on salvation. Yes, in this passage what Jesus does, is heal 10 people with leprosy. But in this healing, what we have is a picture of God's forgiveness of our sins. As the lepers walk away with skin cleansed, healed from all of their sores and the disease that's attacked their nervous system. Man, as fingers are restored, as feet are restored, as people are able to open up their hands and gain functionality again. what we have as a picture for us, is a picture of the forgiveness of sins.

Charles Homer: [00:06:32] Dr. Vern Poythress, who is a distinguished Professor of New Testament Biblical Interpretation, that's a mouthful, at Westminster Theological Seminary, says this as he's talking about miracles. He says, "The miracles dealt with people being saved from physical ills. Or they depicted being delivered from demonic power. Both of these deliverances were real in themselves." But here's what I want us to realize, "They also signified the whole structure of salvation as a whole. Jesus didn't come to simply accomplish something temporal in the lives of individuals, but to bring lasting and permanent salvation. This salvation includes, centrally, deliverance from spiritual death, deliverance from sin, guilt, the power of the Kingdom of Satan. This deliverance that Jesus brings to us, climatically through his suffering, death, and resurrection, brings to us the promise of deliverance from sin and condemnation, and one day resurrection to life everlasting."

Charles Homer: [00:07:44] What we have as Jesus goes performing these miracles is a picture, a picture of salvation, a picture of what Jesus doesn't just do for ten lepers somewhere in Judea, but something that he does for all people in all places. So with that lens, let's rewind a little bit, let's go back through the story, and let's just understand, man, what is the salvation that Jesus is offering to us?

Charles Homer: [00:08:12] A couple of things that I want you guys to pick up on. First, I want you guys to notice the shame and separation, shame and separation. There in verse 12, we see the lepers there standing at a distance as Jesus comes into town, they're not right there with the crowd, they're not mingling in with the group, they're not rubbing shoulders with the disciples, they're off at a distance. In Leviticus 13, there are actually prescriptions that are handed down from the Bible for what to do when somebody contracts leprosy, and part of the prescription was that this person was to be put outside of the camp, that they were to be a foreigner, that they were to be somebody who's not allowed to come in and enter into familial life, not allowed to enter into civic life, or even to worship. And if somebody was coming too close to a leper, what Leviticus tells them to do is to cover their mouth and to say unclean, unclean. We see that this is still a prescription that was observed to Jesus's day, where the lepers were shamed, they were separated, they had to go, they had to figure out life on their own, and shame and separation was part of that.

Charles Homer: [00:09:28] Dr. John MacArthur, in teaching through this passage, tells us a little bit about leprosy, that helps us to understand just how difficult of a disease it was. He says that this severe type of leprosy is caused by a type of bacteria, this type of bacteria affects the nerve cells in our skin. And initially, it develops in areas of the skin that are cool to the touch, and so in our ears, or in our nose, or in our eyelashes, our eyebrows, just the extremities, the elbows would be a place where initial infection would come off first, and as the disease progresses, it anesthetizes the nervous system so you can't feel what's going on in your skin. As the disease progresses, it's not uncommon for people to lose all feeling in their hands, in their feet, in their bodies. As I said, the disease frequently starts in the face and what will happen is that people will have an eyebrow that disappears, a nose will get infected, and in some cases, a nose will actually fall off. And in this extreme disease, there is suffering and shame that goes along with what's going on. This isn't a disease that we're super familiar with because it is a bacterial disease that's caused from just unsanitary living conditions, it's not something that we're familiar with, but in Jesus's day, this was something that was feared, that was common, that Jesus comes up again and again in his ministry.

Charles Homer: [00:11:05] But what I want us to see as we're talking about salvation, is that leprosy is actually a picture of sin. In Isaiah chapter 64, here's how Isaiah describes us. He says, "We have all become like one who's unclean." Remember what the leper had to cry out if anybody was coming too close to them? They would have to cry out unclean, unclean. And here Isaiah is making the association, he's saying, hey, in perspective of how God views us, we have all become like one who is unclean. And then he goes on, and he says, "All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

Charles Homer: [00:11:45] In that passage where Moses is talking about the prescriptions for those with leprosy in Leviticus 13 and 14, they're actually specific instructions about their clothes. Where if you were diagnosed as somebody who had leprosy, the clothes that you had on were then permanently unclean. If you were to get free of the disease, those clothes that you had would have to be set apart and they would have to be burned because they were forever unclean. And that's what Isaiah compares us to, he says, even your righteous deeds, even the good things that we do, they're like a polluted garment. The Old King James says, "It's like a filthy rag."

Charles Homer: [00:12:30] As we're looking at this story, we are the lepers, our situation is the same as theirs. Just like they carried a burden of sin and shame and that separation, so we are separated from God. Again, in Isaiah, the prophet says, "Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear." It makes it clear that our plight, our problem, that there's a shame that's on our shoulders, there's a separation that we all face from God.

Charles Homer: [00:13:12] And here's what I want to chat about real quick, in our world where acceptance is the highest of all virtues, it's really hard for us to talk about sin. Where sin is just a topic that's under-discussed, that we're under-informed on it, and it's almost just like, hey, let's keep this thing, let's keep these things out of sight, out of mind. This isn't something that we want to chat about, but until we understand our sin, we have no need for the Gospel. And I see this so often in high school ministry, where you can come in and you can have an amazing presentation of the Gospel, and high schoolers will just be sitting in their seats, you know, kind of slouched down just thinking like, I could care less about this. And the reason that we don't care about the Gospel, that the good news isn't good news for us, is because we don't know our condition, we don't know that we're sick, we don't know that we are in need of a healer, we're in need of deliverance, we're in need of the Gospel, and we need Jesus to do something for us that we can't do on our own.

Charles Homer: [00:14:23] And so to start to understand the Gospel, we can't start with us as perfectly righteous human beings who don't really need divine help. In order to understand the beauty of the Gospel, we have to understand our sins first, we have to understand this association as Jesus looked at the lepers like we are those people in this story. As we look for ourselves in the story of the ten lepers, we are the lepers, and it's not a skin disease that's bothering us, it's our sin condition.

Charles Homer: [00:14:55] Even Jesus himself, as he begins his ministry, he begins with addressing sin. In Mark Chapter 1, this is the first message that Mark records for us. He says, “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced." But notice what he says, "Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” What Jesus starts with before he gets into this kingdom of God, the Gospel that he's come to exemplify, the Gospel that he's come to provide, what he starts with is, hey, you have to understand your need first, repent of your sins. Sin is a prerequisite for us understanding our need for God.

Charles Homer: [00:15:36] Here's what John Stott says, “No man has ever appreciated the gospel until the law has first revealed him to himself. It is only against the inky blackness of the night sky that the stars begin to appear, and it is only against the dark background of sin and judgment that the gospel shines forth.” It's only against the dark background of sin and judgment that the Gospel shines forth.

Charles Homer: [00:16:05] We even see this in Jesus's teaching ministry, in Luke chapter number 18, he talks about the two men who went up to the temple to pray, you're probably familiar with this story, the Pharisee stands over and against this tax collector, and he stands by himself and prays, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." But here's the main character that Jesus wants us to pay attention to, "But the tax collector stood at a distance." He realized that there was a separation, that how he was, did not allow him to come close to God, "He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." And here is Jesus's promise, is that as we understand our sin, that just like the tax collector, "That this man went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”.

Charles Homer: [00:17:24] Charles Spurgeon says something similar as he's talking about our need for understanding sin. He says, "It is not possible that we have been pardoned if we have refused to acknowledge our guilt. A clear sense of our lost estate is absolutely necessary to make us even seek for pardon." The problem is, is so difficult to see sin in ourselves, right? But that's a starting point, until we realize that we're sick, that we have this disease, that we need a healer, there's no coming to Jesus, there's no realizing our need until we start with a starting point of sin. The lepers realized that they were under a curse that had some shame on it, they realized that they were separated from the crowd.

Charles Homer: [00:18:16] As we realize that we're separated, we moved into the next part of the story. What we see is that there's a request and there's a response. The request that the lepers have is, "Have mercy on us." And I love how simple it is, the lepers just cry out, have mercy on us. And with that simple request, Jesus, could you do something about our condition? Jesus responds, and he just says, hey, go show yourself to the High Priest.

Charles Homer: [00:18:50] And there's a second response here that I want us to see, is that at that point, the leper’s kind of had a response as well. They had to respond to say, like, OK, I'm still leprous, but Jesus told me to go do something. Am I going to do what Jesus tells me to do? And in the story, they do, they respond to Jesus's response and they say, OK, I'm going to go for it, and they start walking away. We don't know how far it is, but they headed their way. But I want us to realize this request and response, I mean, this is how salvation works, this is how we are freed from our sin, this is how we can experience the freedom that Jesus came to provide for us.

Charles Homer: [00:19:36] I love the verse, Romans 10:13, we went over it last week with Tim. Paul says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." I love sharing the Gospel with little kids because you just can radically simplify what salvation is. And as I do that, I love using this verse, just saying, hey, here's how salvation works, this Christian idea of becoming right with God, it works when everyone who wants it calls on the name of the Lord. And when that request is made, saying, Jesus, save me. Here's God's promise to us, they will be saved, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Charles Homer: [00:20:34] The last part of the story, which is kind of the climax, is that they're cleansed. The Bible doesn't say how far they'd gone, but as they are going, they're cleansed. I could imagine seeing the scene where Hezekiah looks over to Benjamin, and Hezekiah says to Benjamin, Benjamin, you have both of your eyebrows now. Whoa, I do have both my eyebrows. It's like Hezekiah, you have all of your fingers, and you actually have all of your toes as well. Leprosy has a tendency of making you a little claw handed, and so I can imagine them looking at their hands again and saying, like, man, I have functioning hands, I have feet, and I can actually feel the ground that I am walking on, and they realize that their skin disease is healed, they're cleansed. A miraculous healing has taken place in their life.

Charles Homer: [00:21:26] I love that word cleansed; it's actually used later on in the Bible in First John. In First John, the disciple who was there with Jesus, used the same word, cleanse, to talk about us and our sins. He says, "The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all of our sins." And then the famous verse First John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Charles Homer: [00:22:00] Jesus gives us a promise that, yes, there were only 10 lepers who are cleansed that day, but that wasn't his primary work that he came to Earth to do, The primary work that Jesus came to Earth to do was to bring salvation to all, "For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.", that was his mission. And he says, hey, do you want cleansing? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." What does that forgiveness look like? It's cleansing us from all of our unrighteousness. The 10 lepers were cleansed.

Charles Homer: [00:22:47] I love taking the miracle stories in the Bible, and kind of looking at them, not just for the miracles that they were, those are amazing, but looking at like the significance and understanding the salvation that God's provided for us. I love doing it. But just to be honest with you, it's really easy to lose our wonder over salvation. As I was preparing for this message, I was thinking, you know what, like, it's true, salvation is amazing and I love teaching about it, I love meditating on it and realizing that's what God's done for me. But to be honest, if somebody was walking around and had leprosy, leprosy still exists today. Preparing for this message, I watched a documentary about how in certain areas of the world, leprosy is still an issue that's ongoing and there are treatments, but there are still people who are severely disfigured from leprosy. And I was thinking if I actually saw somebody with their clawed hands from the disease of leprosy and missing a couple of toes and walking around with a limp, and the skin generally changes colors either to like a scaly white or like a lifeless gray, if I saw somebody walking around with leprosy and out of nowhere, they were healed, I would lose my mind. Like I would instantaneously whip out my phone and try to catch a little bit of the transformation, I'd be like, I want you guys to see this, like, I saw a miracle happen, leprosy went to cleansed flesh, I would want to share that with everybody.

Charles Homer: [00:24:37] But what is it that's broken within us, guys, we are so excited about physical healing, that when we look at this as salvation, we're not equally excited. Like, what is it about us that the temporal cleansing of like physical needs is so miraculous, but when Jesus promises us eternal life cleansed from all of our sins, forgiven of all of our wrongdoings, we just think, like, yeah, I've heard that before? I just hope that this weekend, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, that we'll realize we have something to celebrate, that we are cleansed. And not because of anything we did, because we cried out, God, Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

Charles Homer: [00:25:29] And the story is not done, of course, as the ten were walking and they realized that they were healed, one of them stops where he's at and realized, yes, Jesus told us to go to the priest. But if there's somebody who is standing in between God and man, I think Jesus is the high priest that I need to return to. And so he makes an about-face, and he starts going back to where Jesus was. And he comes back to Jesus, he falls down near his feet, and praises God. And Jesus just gives us this question, it's like, weren't there 10 healed? Where are the other nine? How come there's only one here that returned to say thanks, to give praise to God?

Charles Homer: [00:26:16] And so as we look at salvation, I want to exhort us, man, let's be thankful, let's be thankful for what Jesus has done for us. Not necessarily in the physical healing, that's not our focus for this weekend, but in this aspect of salvation, that Jesus has healed us. So often it's easy to say, oh yeah, I'm thankful, but not express that thankfulness. I love Andy Stanley, in one of his messages, he says, "Unexpressed thankfulness is useless." I think he's right, man, as we feel thankful, especially for God's good gift of salvation, let's express that thanks. Let's say thank you, Jesus, for what you've done to me.

Charles Homer: [00:27:00] And then here's the last thing that I want to talk through with us, is that as we are thankful to God, man, we should allow that thankfulness to spread out to those around us. One of my favorite moments in all of high school ministry came from one of our senior nights. There was this particular senior who was, he was a lot, the first week David came to youth group, he had this dyed mohawk that went all the way down his head. And I didn't know this kid from anywhere, and he just comes up behind me and gives me a bear hug and says, wow, I'm so glad I'm here. I'm glad you're here too, buddy, like, who are you? Like, do we know each other? Like, why are you grabbing me from behind?

Charles Homer: [00:27:47] After a couple of years, David and I established a good relationship. I grew to know David, and to love David, but David just had a rough background. His parents were in jail, he was living with grandma, he had some developmental issues that just made his life rather difficult. And as we came to the end of his senior year, we have like an open mic night where all of the seniors have the opportunity to take five minutes to share what God has done in their life over the last four years of high school ministry. And just as a pastor, those are nights that I look forward to and celebrate, except for when somebody like David comes up to the microphone. And if you know anybody, that's just kind of like wild and crazy, and you hand them a mic, and you just think like, oh no, what's going to happen in this context? David grabs the mic, and sure enough, he lives up to his reputation. He kind of rambles for a little bit and says some uncomfortable and awkward things, and everybody's kind of thinking like, oh man, is this going to get worse? But it rounds a corner, and David, in that context, taught me one of the most important lessons that any high school student has ever taught me. Here's what David said, Davis said, I started coming to the youth group a couple of years ago, and as I came to youth group, I realized that there were a group of people that loved me, and through their love, I realized that Jesus loved me. And if Jesus loves me, then I can love myself, and there's no one in the world that I can't love as well. I wasn't there in person that night, I was listening to it in a recording on the way home. And honestly, I started crying when David said that, just because he got it. He realized that, man, the church is a place of love. And not because we're loving for no reason, but we're loving in order to show the love of Jesus to other people. And David realized, that as Jesus loves him, he's able to love himself. And as he loves himself, he's able to share that love with those around him.

Charles Homer: [00:30:01] I want us to do that same thing with thankfulness this weekend. That, man, as we are thankful for all of the good things that Jesus has done for us, would our hearts overflow with thankfulness not only to God but also to those around us. Would you frequently share those two words that are so powerful? Thank you. Thank you.

Charles Homer: [00:30:33] As we wrap up, one of the most important thank you’s that I've ever been able to share was a few years back as my mom was battling with cancer. My mom was sick at the time, and our family, we have really good relationships, what I mean by that is we all really love each other, but we are terrible communicators. I mean, just honest to goodness, like we're never the people who are calling each other, we're not really invested in each other's lives, mostly because we live all over the world, really. Dad and Mom, at that time, were living in Taiwan, I was in California, my brother was in Florida, my other brother was in Japan, so we were just all over the place.

Charles Homer: [00:31:20] But I took the time to write mom a note, and just want to read that note for you guys this weekend. Dear Mom, do you remember back when I was a senior in high school applying to colleges? When it was time to submit my essays for my applications, I remember more than one night of you staying up until 2:00 a.m. to help me get them just right. When I think of my childhood, that kind of self-sacrificing service is what I remember the most. Even when you were working full time, you're going to school, you're helping at church, you always showed your love for us kids, by making our lunches, helping with our homework, and taking us on adventures. You really were an extraordinarily adventurous mom, what other mom would put two kids on the back of her bike and cart them around Fairview Park, going to the park, and going to the Park and Shop, and walking around the pond? What other mom would take her family up to Lantau Mountain to spend a month camping out each summer? Especially now that I have my own kids, I realize how stressful camping can be, and I realize how hard it must have been for you to do what you did, and to do it alone many of the times. And when I think that you didn't just take us up to Lantau, but you were also the camp chef and would take us swimming every day, what other mom would even dream of doing what you did? Not only did you feed my adventurous soul, but you also showed me a passion for telling others about Jesus, especially children. I remember the neighborhood Bible classes you hosted while we were in Fairview in [inaudible], you had me and Mindy ride our bikes around inviting our friends over to the house for a mini VBS. You'd start with creation and teach all the way through the resurrection, while Anthony translated. Even though it was in our house, I think I remember you having organized snacks, games, and crafts. On Oak Stride, you did another Bible club. Through Heritage, you ran a great vacation Bible school, I remember doing puppets for the skits and being so frustrated at you, mom, you were such a perfectionist insisting on us doing it well, which is harder than I thought it would be. I think that your insistence on having quality programs for kids is part of what makes me good at what I do now. You loved us, kids, mom, and you modeled a love for children and for Jesus, and I just want to say, thank you. I pray that the knowledge of my love, and God's love, would sink down deep and fill this day and the rest of your days with happiness. Your loving son, who is so thankful for all that you've done, Charles.

Charles Homer: [00:34:21] It was about a year and a half after that, my mom passed away, and it was her time, we all got a chance to say goodbye. But honestly, as I look back, I just I'm thankful that there was the occasion to say a significant thank you. And so this weekend, as there's so much good happening, would you not worry about finding the best deals with shopping? Would you not worry about getting your house just right, or making sure you get that football game? But would you make the most of this weekend by saying a significant thank you? First off to Jesus for saving us, but as that thankfulness like wells up inside of us, as we are so thankful for what God has done for us, will that spread out to the people that are around us? Would we be thankful?

Charles Homer: [00:35:19] Let's pray. Dear God, help us to be thankful people. In Your name, we pray. Amen.



Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032
408.997.4600