Luke 17:15-16a: Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving Him thanks.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
This next week, our neighbors to the north in Canada will celebrate their National Day of Thanksgiving. We'll have a Canadian guest speaker on The Lutheran Hour this weekend, Dr. Harold Ristau, from Ontario. Dr. Ristau will speak on the traditional Scripture for Thanksgiving—the account of Jesus healing people suffering from the debilitating disease of leprosy. Jesus healed ten people, but only one turned back to give Him thanks.
Giving thanks is like the act of exhaling in breathing. We inhale God's gifts—gifts for body, gifts for the soul, gifts in our relationships with God and others, gifts for time and for eternity. But, inhaling is only the start. Next, we exhale. We breathe out. We turn toward Jesus in praise and thanks. This inhale and exhale of faith sustains us in our service to our neighbors.
Breathing is mostly unconscious. However, many people testify to the benefits of breathing exercises. What about breathing exercises for our faith? Recall the gifts of God you've been breathing in. There are God's greatest gifts—gifts of the Word and the promises of God, gifts of forgiveness and new life in Jesus. But what about the thousands of other breaths you take?
This last month on The Lutheran Hour, we talked about how God has given us our neighbors as gifts. We marveled at the truth that every person we meet, without exception, is a fearfully and wonderfully hand-made gift from God (see Psalm 139:14). For me, contemplating this truth about my neighbors has been like a breathing exercise. It has deepened my thankfulness.
I am blessed to breathe in many gifts through my work with Lutheran Hour Ministries. I meet many gifted people, like Dr. Ristau, our guest speaker from Canada. When I visited with him, he gave me a gift of sharing his experience as a battle-tested, war-time chaplain. Recently, I attended a men's retreat with Lutheran Hour Ministries. There, I visited with a man named John, in his 70s, who since retiring has developed new skills in graphic design and he was designing Christmas cards to send to men incarcerated at the local prison. John gave me the gift of a vision for service that stretches beyond paid employment. I met Steve, an electrician, who prays for his adult daughter every day that she would turn back in faith to Jesus. Steve gave me the gift of a father's unwavering love. I met Nathan, a man in his 30s, who's battled leukemia for the last seven years. Nathan shared the joy that he found in writing a letter to a young boy with leukemia. "What prompted you to write him?" I asked. "I've been there," Nathan said. "And I know how much it means when someone notices you." Nathan gave me the gift of perspective—that God's gifts endure even the darkest days.
What about you? Take a deep breath. Now, let it out. And thank God for the people in your life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, You have richly blessed me with many gifted neighbors. Thank You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Can you name a person whose giftedness has recently enriched your life?
2. When is it difficult for you to give thanks for the people around you?
3. Why do you think God delights in giving so many of his gifts through people?
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