Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Shout for Joy and Sing - November 23, 2016 - Thanksgiving Eve - Text: Psalm 65:1-13
How fitting it is that we celebrate a national day of thanksgiving. That does not mean that this is the only day we are thankful for all the blessings our Lord has bestowed on us. We are thankful every day, or at least we should be thankful every day. We have so many things for which to be thankful and really only so many days on this earth in which to express our thanks to our Lord. Yet, it is not as if God needs our expression of thanks, but that we need to express our thanks out of the overflow from our hearts. This evening my message is based on the Psalm which we read responsively for the Introit. If you would like you may follow along in the bulletin as we use this Psalm to help us give thanks to the Lord.
The Psalmist begins by praising God for (v. 1-4) the mercy with which He rules out of Zion. In verse one he reminds us to praise the Lord as He rules over us from heaven. Our God is not a God who is a far off, rather He is a God who is very near to us. He is in heaven watching over us and ruling over us and at the same time He is right here with us. For where two are three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.
In verse two he reminds us to praise the Lord as He hears our prayers and answers them. Our God is not a God who turns a deaf ear to our petitions, rather He is a God who hears our every prayer and answers our every prayer, according to our need and according to His good and gracious will.
In verse three he reminds us to praise the Lord as He forgives our sins. Our God is not a God of vengeance, rather our God is a God of love, who loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son, to suffer and die on the cross for our forgiveness.
In verse four he reminds us to praise the Lord as He has chosen us to be His children, indeed each of us are reminded that He chose me to be His child. Our God is not an impersonal God, rather our God is a God who loves each one of us. He has chosen us to be His own. At our Baptism He has put His name on us. He has made us His.
The Psalmist praises God for (v. 5-8) the loving kindness which Israel as a people among the peoples has experienced. We can relate well to this because our great God also shows His loving kindness to us. In verse five the Psalmist reminds us to praise the Lord as He answers us with awesome deeds of righteousness. The deeds of righteousness with which the Lord answers us include our conversion, that is bringing us to faith, especially through the waters of Holy Baptism and His Word, earning our forgiveness on the cross, giving us life, eternal life and salvation.
In verse five he also reminds us to praise the Lord as He is our hope and is the hope for all the world. Here we are reminded that not only is Jesus our personal Savior, that is, not only did He die on the cross for me personally, He is also the Savior of all people of all time of all places.
In verse six he reminds us to praise the Lord as He is the Creator and Preserver of all things, of all the world. With these words the Psalmist reminds us that our God not only created the world and all things, but that He is also always with us with His ever preserving hand. God is not watching us from a distance, He is right here with us. It is the all preserving hand of the Father who keeps this world going.
In verse seven he reminds us to praise the Lord as He has power over the seas, the wind, the rain, over all nations. It is God who tends this world, giving us the rain in its season. He gives us the sun by day and the moon by night. He gives us the four seasons for planting, growing and harvesting. And His promise, contrary to what is believed by some in our society, is that the seasons, seed time and harvest will remain until the end.
In verse eight he reminds us to praise the Lord as He gives us each day, morning to evening. The Psalmist reminds us that each day is a gift from God. Yesterday is over that is why we call it the past. Tomorrow has yet to come, that is why we call it the future. Today is a gift from God, that is why we call it the present.
The Psalmist praises God for the past and (v. 9-13) the present year’s rich blessings, which He has bestowed upon the land of His people. In verse nine the Psalmist reminds us to praise the Lord as He sends the rain to water the earth. God gives us the rain.
In verse nine he also reminds us to praise the Lord as He waters the crops for an abundant harvest. God gives us the rain so that the crops grow so that we have an abundant harvest. Rain and harvest are gifts from God.
In verse ten he reminds us to praise the Lord as He sends the rain as we need it. God knows our needs and supplies them accordingly.
In verse eleven he reminds us to praise the Lord as He abundantly gives us bounty from His gracious hand. God gives everything and we are given everything. God gives graciously.
In verse twelve he reminds us to praise the Lord as He even cares for the desert which is ignored by man. God remembers and cares for even the little things about which we forget, the things for which we are negligent in caring, and the most seemingly menial things, the Lord cares for them all.
In verse thirteen he reminds us to praise the Lord as He covers the earth with meat and grain to eat. God supplies us with all that we need and more than we need.
In verse thirteen he also reminds us to praise the Lord, shout for joy and sing. Our response is to worship and praise the Lord. Our response is to receive the gifts that He has to give, shout for joy and sing praises to His Holy Name.
The only way to sum up this Psalm. The only way to answer, “What does this mean?” to this Psalm is to go back to Dr. Luther’s Small Catechism and to remind ourselves of his explanations of the articles of the Apostles’ creed. I say that because the Apostles’ Creed so well expresses our belief in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And Dr. Luther’s explanations so well explain what our great God does for us and gives to us as our God. I want you to follow along and read along with me. Please turn in your hymnal to page 322.
In the first article we confess that I believe in God the Father who is the giver of all. This means (please read with me): I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.
In the second article we confess that I believe in God the Son who is the giver of all. This means (please read with me): I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
And in the third article we confess I believe in God the Holy Spirit giver of all. This means (please read with me): I believe that I cannot by my own reason our strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
This evening we come especially to give thanks and praise to God for His many good gifts and blessings. This does not mean that this is the only time we acknowledge and confess that God is the giver of all, rather this is just an extra day, an extra opportunity, a special time to give Him thanks and praise. To God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.