Preacher: Pastor Ray
Text: Matt 4:1-11
Jesus demonstrates how He walked in victory during His time of testing in the wilderness. We, too, can walk in the same victory by 1) filling ourselves with the Word, 2) expressing thanksgiving in every situation, and 3) refusing to bow the knee to anybody or anything but Jesus.
Text: Luke 17:11-37Sermon Audio
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up 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 went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” 22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Father, we want to tackle a passage of Scripture that has been so confused in the body of Christ. We pray that with the help of the Holy Spirit You would illuminate the truth of Your word. Your word is so clear. I don’t know how it is gotten so confused when Your word is so plain.
Father, we ask that You give us revelation. We ask, Lord, that we would be that one leper who turns and gives thanks to Jesus. We want to spend some time today doing exactly that. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Has anyone watched the “Left Behind” series? Tim LaHaye, he popularized this idea of a rapture and the book was written in 1995, but the video movie came out in 2000. And so in the early 2000s, that’s when youth groups across America showed the Left Behind series.
Today, I will be in direct opposition to what that video was about. One point for today — you’ve been left behind, that you and I may turn and give thanks to Jesus.
Based on some teachings you heard about the rapture and the Left Behind video series that popularized this teaching, you may think to be left behind is so tragic. Because doesn’t Christ come and rapture His Church? One is taken and the other left. And it could be a positive thing that you are taken or raptured. But Jesus does not come twice. He doesn’t comes three times with the second or middle one being a hidden coming only for His Church.
When it says “taken,” it could be a positive thing that you take someone to be your wife. This is an intimate gesture. You want to be close to this person. Or, it could mean to take by force and throw into prison. So that word “taken” alone doesn’t settle the debate — is it positive or negative? Its could go either way.
I believe it is negative to be taken and a positive thing that you and I are left behind because when it talks about this coming of the kingdom, it is talking about Jesus final coming. His Second and His only other Coming on top of the first Coming, Scripture is talking about the Second Coming of Christ.
And some people will say, here’s Christ. He’s here. There’s Christ. He’s over there. And Jesus makes a point — everybody will know when Christ comes. There’s no hidden middle coming. His Second Coming is as clear as lightning in the sky. And Matthew 24 clarifies, the lightning will start from the East. So Jesus will come from the eastern sky and it’s going to be such a magnificent event that everyone in the world will witness it simultaneously regardless of your time zone. You will know Jesus has come. It’s as clear as lightning in the sky.
And then He talks about Noah. Was Noah taken or was Noah left behind? Who was taken? The whole world was taken in judgment. Noah was left behind with his wife and his three sons and their wives. So eight in total were left behind. It’s a positive thing that God doesn’t take you. He leaves you behind.
What about Lot? Who was taken and who was left? All of Sodom and Gomorrah was taken. Who was left? Lot and his two daughters. Lot’s wife was so close. She should’ve been left behind, but her heart longed for what she was leaving behind. She turned toward Sodom and Gomorrah and was judged. God took her and she became a pillar of salt.
So to be left behind by God is to be shown mercy. The fact that we’re alive today and we’ve been left to live another day on earth, it’s His mercy. And with that time, God wants us to turn and give thanks to Jesus. And at the end of the chapter, I don’t know how you can view this as anything but the End. I mean, can it get any worse than what we’re reading? Everybody is fleeing. In the midst of that fleeing, is there a period of time when only the Church is saved and then a day later, the rest of the world is judged? Does that even make sense?
This is the coming of the Lord. There’s only two arrivals of Jesus. The first has already passed. This is the Second and only Coming of Jesus. It is signifying the end of the world.
And the clincher is given in the final verses of this chapter.
35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
The question is asked in verse 37. They ask, Where, Lord? They’re asking — where have they been taken? Because we’ve been left behind, we know where we are. The rest — where have they been taken? And does Jesus say, they’re with me in Paradise. No, it says, where the corpse is, there the vultures or the eagles will gather. These birds are gathering around people who are not in a good place. These people are dead.
Does that verse fit with the rapture teaching? If so, when God supposedly raptures His Church, the disciples ask, where are they? And Jesus answers, they’re with the corpses. Does that sound like a good thing? I just don’t know how the rapture teaching got popularized. It’s as plain as day.
To be left behind is a good thing. That means God has given you more time. He’s showing you more grace and with that time, He wants you and me to turn to Jesus and give thanks. Now, we get to the first part of the chapter — the 10 lepers.
This is not a parable. But this is parable-like, it’s a parable-lite. There is a profound message here for the believer. Because all ten of them, they see Jesus. They cry out to Jesus. They pray to Jesus. Jesus answers their prayer. Jesus responds to them. They hear the voice of the Shepherd. They actually obey the shepherd. The shepherd says, go show yourself at the temple. And in obedience, they’re walking to the temple. And it’s like the bumps on their skin are disappearing. They’re a walking miracle. As they’re walking, they’re healed. All 10 of them.
So they saw Jesus. They heard Jesus. They obeyed Jesus. But only one turned and praised God and thanked Jesus as he knelt at His feet. Only one. And if this is a correction to the body of Christ, then what is that correction? Can we say that all 10 are saved? Well, if you see Jesus, hear Jesus, obey Jesus, isn’t that what a Christian is? Isn’t that salvation?
Nine were only physically healed. That’s all they wanted. They just wanted to get better. They were so excited to go to the temple and to be restored back to the community. They’re so focused on people and respect and being included — that’s where their heart is. But I would say only one turned and thanked Jesus and that is saving faith. Jesus says, your faith has made you well, and He’s not talking about being physically well because all 10 are physically well.
To the one who returned to give thanks, Jesus says, you’re not only physically well. You are spiritually well. He says, your faith has made you well. Only one had faith and you cannot be saved if you don’t have faith. Faith involves a turning to Jesus and giving Him thanks.
And I think this is tough teaching. Because I meet many people and they are thankful in a very generic sense. I am thankful. But there is a huge gap between saying, I am thankful vs saying, thank you, Jesus. You might think, what’s the difference? I’m a thankful person in a generic sense. God has been good to me. All 10 had that level of gratitude.
But the difference when it comes to a person of faith is you know where to direct your thanksgiving. You actually turn and you have to go back and say, what is the source? Where should my thanksgiving flow toward? To the person of Jesus and I think it’s notable that the one leper who does give thanksgiving and turns to Jesus, he’s a foreigner. Presumably the other nine are Jewish.
And as the chosen people of God, they might almost feel entitled. Of course, God will bless me. I’m chosen. And if you feel a sense of entitlement, that I deserve God’s blessing, I deserve a good life, things should go well, if we have that sense of entitlement, it is impossible to be thankful.
And I worry that this generation right now, we’re being brainwashed into feeling entitled. I deserve God’s blessing. Of course, Jesus should answer me. And this foreigner who is so humble, it’s like he’s used to being stepped on, he’s used to the Jewish people saying, you’re a dog, you’re a half-breed. There’s little sense of entitlement for a Samaritan growing up in Jesus’ day. It’s like, just give me a crumb from the master’s table. That is the type of humble person he is. And so when this type of person is healed, he knows, I got to thank Jesus.
Like when we pray before a meal and we give thanksgiving to God, and I’m guilty of it, you can just mouth the words. I thank you, Lord, for the food. But really, you’re just so hungry. You just want to eat. It takes a deliberate turning while you’re praying, you actually see Jesus and you actually go to Him and say, thank you, Jesus. Not merely, thank you for the food. I’m really hungry. I really want to eat. It takes a deliberate turning and saying, thank you, Jesus.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Truth is believing that every good and perfect gift is from above. Deception is believing, I don’t have to give thanksgiving to our Father in heaven for everything, do I? See, if you think that way, you are deceived because every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father, starting with Jesus. He is the greatest gift we could have ever received. And if you are not deceived, you can trace everything back to the Father above.
Like the food that you’re eating, deep down, you might think, I’m entitled to that. I worked hard at my job to earn money to put food on the table. And so we’re not thankful because we actually believe, I played a big role in getting that food in front of me. Is that true? For example, your brains — did you manufacture that yourself? The fact that many of us grew up in this country — was that your choice? Did you knit yourself together in your mother’s womb?
I mean, you can trace everything back to the Father above. The fact that you have a jaw and teeth and a tongue. Did you create them? The fact that you have a stomach that can digest the food you date — did you make that yourself? The fact that there are plants and vegetation — did you farm for them? Did you create the ground from which those things grew up from? Did you create the rain that came down to grow them? Did you call the sun into being that shines on the vegetation?
Every good and perfect gift, we can trace them to the Father above. It is a deliberate act to give thanks to Jesus. But if you’re entitled, you will not be able to do it. Or, if you are deceived, you won’t be able to give thanks to Jesus. But if you can see because your eyes have been opened, now you realize, everything is from above. Every good and perfect gift is from above.
If I grew up in a communist country or in the Middle East, maybe I would not be enjoying the life I have. You had nothing to do with where you grew up, or who your parents are, or what brain you have. Every good and perfect gift is from above. And somebody who understands this, their eyes are open and everything I can trace back to my Father in heaven. And I actually have a person to turn toward and say, Jesus, thank you.
You and I have been left behind to give thanksgiving to Jesus. And that involves a turning to Jesus. Micah, you know he had a skin issue. And we all pray as Christians. We all pray, Jesus, heal him. And then, he’s healed and we have a choice — we can thank Jesus for healing him, or we can say, actually, deep down, it’s the lotion that did it. See, there’s a deception if there’s a confusion as to who to thank — do I thank Jesus, or do I thank this lotion?
It’s a deception. Let’s say it was the lotion. Did you make the lotion? How did you have enough money to pay for that lotion? Was it because of you? The fact that you have a healthy body and you can work and earn money to buy that lotion, was that your doing? See, if your eyes have been opened, we’re never confused as to who to thank.
Somebody’s healed from cancer. We don’t say, yeah, it could be God, but maybe it was this experimental treatment. Most people don’t have access to that experimental treatment. How do you actually know if it was the treatment or it was supernatural healing prior to the treatment? You won’t know, but if your eyes are opened, it doesn’t matter which one it was because you can trace everything back to the Father above. Every good and perfect gift is from the Father above.
So I spent most of this week just thanking God for every good and perfect gift. The fact that we live in California with incredible weather, every time we wake up and there’s sun in the sky, we got to be thankful and not just thankful in a generic sense. But you turn to Jesus and you have to say, Jesus, thank you for the sun. Thank you that I live in this kind of a country, and out of all the states and all the cities, I’m here where everybody wants to be in LA.
And I’m thankful for Jackie. Other than salvation, she is the greatest gift from above I’ve ever received. And I pray that all of you can say, 18, 19, 20 years into your marriage, the greatest gift, if you’re married, is my spouse. My children are such gifts from above. I could have easily taken them for granted. If I was confused and I didn’t receive them as gifts, I could easily neglect the kids. Or, put other priorities ahead of the kids. Things can get so out of whack. But I understand now, these are gifts, the little ones are gifts. I need to steward and care for them. Because God doesn’t give gifts so that I can abuse the gifts, or take the gifts for granted. No, there’s a purpose in the gift.
And I’m thankful for everyone here. I’m thankful that dad lives here. I’m thankful for Andre and Peter and David and Joel and Faith and Jimmy and Jeralyn and DY and Elaine and the little one, Micah. And Sophia, Matthew, Emma, Ezra, John, Abraham, Sarah, Lois, Pauline, Joshua, Daniel, Sora, Pastor Brian, Brittany smn. And so many people I can give thanksgiving to Jesus for.
These are gifts from above. And I’m not just thankful generically. I have to go to Jesus and say, Jesus, thank you. I thank you, Jesus, that you gave me Jeremiah. He’s 13 years old today. What a gift I don’t deserve, Lord. You know my heart. I don’t deserve it. You’re so good to me, Lord, for giving me this son.
And it’s a deception if we are unable to give thanksgiving to Jesus because you and I have been left on earth, that we would turn and give thanks to Jesus. Like when people don’t turn and give thanks to Jesus, it shows that all along they were not interested in the Person giving the gift. They were only interested in the gift itself.
The fact that these nine just received the gift, remember how desperate they were, how they cried out to Jesus, they know Jesus and they cry out. And Jesus tells them to do something and they do it. And they are healed. The fact that nine did not turn back means that they were only interested in the gift all along.
How many people are in a desperate situation and Jesus meets them, Jesus answers them, and as soon as they get what they wanted, do they turn to Jesus? If they turned to Jesus and gave thanks to Him, their lives would be radically changed from that point on. Unfortunately, many are just happy, I’m healed, I’m delivered, I’m in a better situation. Now I can live out the rest of my life.
It’s a subtle thing. It is not enough just to be thankful. You can be a secular person and be thankful for your lucky stars, thankful in a general sense, believing that goodness simply comes my way. It’s just fate. No, Christians, we exercise our faith when we turn to the person of Jesus. And so I hope we can spend some time today and throughout the remainder of the year, specifically turning to Jesus and thanking Him.
Saying, thank you, Jesus, You healed me. You shepherded me. You forgave me. You led me. You delivered me. And You’re leading me back to the Father’s house. Thank you, Lord Jesus. All these gifts are bonus. I don’t take them for granted. I don’t feel entitled. I don’t deserve them, Lord. I’m just an unworthy servant, but you treat me like a son or a daughter.
That is the heart of a believer — when we turn to Jesus and we thank Him and we praise Him. That’s when our faith saves us. Okay, let’s pray.
Father, every good and perfect gift is from above. I pray that the scales would fall from our eyes. So that we would not be deceived. And think you owe us, that we’re entitled to a blessed life.
Lord, may we be more interested in the Giver of the gifts than the gifts themselves. Every gift you give us is an opportunity to exercise our faith and turn and thank you, Jesus.
Forgive us, Lord. We cry out to You to answer our prayers. And as soon as you answer our prayers, we don’t pause and give You thanks. We may even text “Praise the Lord” to our friends, but do we actually do it? Do we actually take a moment to praise You directly and personally?
Did we ever exercise our faith, or did we just want an answer? We confess — we just wanted the gift. We just wanted to be accepted back into the community. We just wanted a good life. That is not faith. Faith is a personal encounter with Jesus where we thank you. We have to thank You, Jesus.
May we begin doing that during this moment and for the rest of our lives. Every prayer and supplication, with everything, may we pray with thanksgiving to Jesus even when You don’t answer.
Help us to be thankful to You. There are so many things to be thankful for. We just want to be very specific now and thank you, Jesus, for coming as a baby. Thank you for being ridiculed and rejected by this world. And enduring the shame of the cross by looking past it and seeing the joy that was set before You. Thank you for enduring the cross and for dying and being resurrected in victory.
We celebrate what you did for us, Lord, and we want to turn to you and say, Jesus, thank you. Thank you for saving us. In Your Precious Name we pray, Amen
We thank the Lord and give Him glory for all the wonderful testimonies we heard today. God is so good to us!