November 22, 2011
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him?and he was a Samaritan.
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?” ” — Luke 17:11-18 (NIV)
English Pilgrims and native American Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in 1621. The next Thanksgiving Day was observed 156 years later. It became a gazetted holiday in 1863 when U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of November ?American Thanksgiving Day.? This year it falls on the 24th of November.
What was the origin of this celebration? The Pilgrims arrived on the new shores in the midst of winter. They were unprepared for the harsh weather and many died. But with the help of friendly Indians they reaped a bountiful harvest. They declared a three day feast to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends.
Over the years I have personally enjoyed many Thanksgiving dinners, both in homes and in churches, locally and in the USA. The observation of the occasion varied from personal and corporate worshipful times, to just gatherings for eating and sports. Sometimes, it felt rather secular.
Jesus spoke of ten men with leprosy. In Biblical times these people were ostracized from society. They came to Jesus seeking to be healed. The Lord told them ?Go and show yourselves to the priests?. As they were going, they were healed. Sadly, we also read that only one turned back to thank Jesus.
Like the one leper, those early Pilgrims had grateful hearts. They began with a service of worship to God before feasting from the plenty of the land.
Over the years the national celebration has evolved. To some it means turkey and pumpkin pie; to others the focus is on a major football game; while for some, it may be nothing more than another holiday to get together with family.
But, for Christians, it is still a time to look back and thank the Lord for Who He is and what He has done.
Most of us live in countries where there is not an official Thanksgiving Day. But
gratitude to God ought to be a daily practice.
Make a list of things you can be grateful for. Include your relationship with Him; the ways He has been changing your life; the daily benefits you have enjoyed.
I often wonder why the nine never turned back to thank Jesus. Were they not grateful? I think they were, but their minds were too full of themselves and the normal life they would enjoy now that they were cleansed from the horrible disease.
Is it possible that we have become so preoccupied with daily affairs that we have forgotten to express thanksgiving to God?
I trust that the spirit of thanksgiving will be so deeply implanted in our hearts that every day will be an opportunity to express our gratitude to God.
Thought For The Week (TFTW) is contributed by Dr Koh Siang Kiang, Associate Professor (Christian Education) at the Singapore Bible College (SBC). She graduated from SBC and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), USA, and has served in various ministries for more than 35 years, including teaching at DTS. Dr Koh has been with SBC for the last 10 years, and has a passion for people and teaching the Word of God. She also loves to make the Bible come alive by leading tours to the Holy Land, and has led 12 such trips. To help her relax, Dr Koh likes to cook and cross-stitch.