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Gratitude

Luke 17:11-19

 

 Next week marks the beginning of our Advent Season and to be honest with you, I can’t wait to experience it with you this year.  I plan to fully immerse myself in the season and enjoy an extreme encounter with God.  I pray that each of you will begin preparing for the season this week.

 Immediately following our service, we will all gather around the table to enjoy a turkey dinner to celebrate this week of thanksgiving.  The dinner is in honor of our locals who long ago opened their hearts and the doors of their church to military families and recently to our Spanish-speaking friends.  Their selfless service and vision is something we can all be grateful for and celebrate. 

 Our text today is Luke 17:11-19.  It says, “While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. [12] As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; [13] and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ [14] When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed. [15] Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, [16] and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. [17] Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? [18] Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?’ [19] And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’” (NASB)

 We often focus on the words of Jesus in verse 17, noting that only one of ten people returned to say thank you, but today I want you to notice what He says in verse 19, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”  Wait a minute, I thought he was already healed and that is why he returned.  Yet Jesus announced his healing after he expressed gratitude. Which is it, was he healed before or after he expressed his gratitude?  I guess it depends on how you define health.  A person can be disease free, yet still not be “well.”  This man’s healing was complete after he gave glory to God for what happened and said thank you to Jesus for his healing.

 We all know that we should always have an attitude of gratitude and should say thank you to those who serve us.  Today, I want to help facilitate that.  Every year we honor our military families on Memorial Day and express our appreciation to them for their service in our church and to our country.  Lately, we’ve highlighted our Spanish-speaking ministry and honored those who are serving to reach our immediate community with the gospel.  Annually, the church remembers my family and honors us on our anniversary with you.  Today we are honoring a group that usually does the honoring—our locals.  For the next thirty minutes or so, you will hear from different people who wish to say thank you.  Some of them are a part of our church today; others live in other parts of the world.

 We’ll begin with a greeting from the Johnson family.

 The Johnson family heard about our church while they were serving in Korea from the McCormick family.  Kip wrote me this past week telling me about that.  He wrote, “I just wanted to take time out to tell you and the congregation how much we appreciate Lighthouse Baptist Church.  Linda and I look back on our time with you as one that truly defined us in our walk with the Lord.  Up to then we were “dabbling” in Christianity.  At Lighthouse we saw the hands of God not only touch us but so many around us.  Some of our dearest friends in the world we met at Lighthouse and still maintain close contact with them. Our walk with the Lord is stronger and our foundation complete thanks to Lighthouse.

 As an aside, Linda and the kids and I were at church a couple of months ago and this young man came up to me and said, “Sir, I don’t know whether you remember me but you changed my life?”  I looked at him like a pig looking at a wrist watch – I had no idea what he was talking about.  And then it clicked.  Tony, his wife Darlene, and their kids were leaving Korea in June 2002 when we arrived there.   We had just come from Monterey, and they were moving to Monterey.  They were sitting behind us in church and I heard they were going to Monterey, at which time both Linda and I emphatically told them that they HAD to go to Lighthouse, how much they’d love the ministry, the youth ministry, the people…  They went, Tony became a deacon and now they’re back here at West Point.  He and I serve in a men’s ministry program together here and he is a great man of faith and example to our cadets.  I told him that I didn’t change his life; I just made a “no brainer” recommendation for something that changed my life and the lives of all in my family – Lighthouse Baptist Church.   Thanks for all you and the great people in Lighthouse do for the Lord.   God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!!

 Some people, like the McCormicks continue to recommend our church long after they leave, others just come back.  People like the Lanes.  Tim is going to come and share his gratitude to you now.

 Thanks Tim, Ed Herty sent me this message to read to you:  "Hello Lighthouse Baptist! For those of you who remember me, I'm Ed Herty and I left Monterey for Newport, RI last March. While at Lighthouse, I had the opportunity for tremendous spiritual growth and I was pleased to worship with many of you. More specifically, though, my experiences with you gave me the tools I need to fulfill our mission of "sending disciples to change the world."

 Since we've last been together, the Lord has given me wonderful opportunity to work with a new Church plant in Connecticut. While there, we grew from a small congregation of only 4 members to a thriving body of over thirty with 2 missionaries to China. More importantly, most of our members came to a saving knowledge of our Savior soon after attending. Things were not always easy, however, and I think that the values of discipline, patience, and a desire for service, which I learned at Lighthouse, proved of tremendous value with this new work.

 Having left the New England area, I'll soon be back in California and look forward to seeing you all again. May the Lord bless you over this Thanksgiving season. I wish you all the best!"

 Another family that’s returned to our church is the Rooke family.  Jessica agreed to express her gratitude to you this morning. 

 Thank you Jessica.  The Blighton family sent us this video greeting. 

 I also asked Jorge Padilla to come and speak on behalf of the Spanish congregation.  Jorge, venga por favor y dinos su testimonio. 

 The Turpin family also sent their greetings. “Eudell and I take pleasure in sending you special greetings at this Thanksgiving Season!  Although, we have been physically separated from you more than one year, you remain in our thoughts, hearts, and daily prayers.

 There is no way we can adequately thanks you for your ministry, fellowship, and love.  But, we do want to say thank you, thank you, thank you!

 We thank you for ministering to our family for more than 25 years.  We thank you for permitting us to minister to you for a period.  We thank you for personal contributions by the score you have extended to us.  You let us cry with you when you cried and laugh with you when you laughed.  Who could ask for more?  YOU WILL ALWAYS BE OUR CHURCH!”

 These sentiments are representative of many more of people who wish to honor you and to say thank you for thinking of others and fulfilling your God-given vision.  I pray that each of your will accept these expressions of gratitude in the spirit they’ve been given and that you will cherish these thoughts for years to come and we continue work together to change the world and bring glory to God.
 

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