Thursday, November 28, 2013

“Giving Thanks to God” (Psalm 100)

S-1394 TD/C 11/28/2013 Hymns: (O) #568; (S) #36; L.S. #313; #572(C) #577

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:1-8; Philippians 4:6-20; Luke 17:11-19

Theme: “Giving Thanks to God” (Psalm 100)

Question: “Why Should You be Thankful?” Armour, SD

Blessed Thanksgiving Day to each and every one of you faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this Thanksgiving Day is from Psalm 100: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100).


Most precious people of the Resurrection this past Sunday we were in Sioux Falls having supper at our oldest son’s (Tony) house. At the table my oldest grandson’s wanted me to sit by them, so I sat between them. As the food was dished, Myles asks his mother to help him cut the lasagna. I said, “Grandpa will cut it for you.” After I cut it Myles said, “Thank you grandpa!” I was impressed. He then wanted to have some Mozzarella cheese sprinkled on it. Again, I said, “Grandpa will help you.” He, again said, “Thanks grandpa!” I said to him, “Myles that is so nice of you to say thank you. You are so sweet! Then his mother (Jody) said, “At the daycare, they have been learning about manners. So Myles wanted to make a ‘politeness plan’ where we made a chart that listed manners and nice things to do, and then a chore or a consequence for not doing it.”

It is indeed beautiful to hear a young child who wants to have a politeness plan in place to learn the art of saying thank you and please. Out of the mouth of children the truth is told. Even from the mouth of a child, we are reminded that we need a plan to be polite towards God. And to help us with this plan, the author of the Psalm has the perfect plan in the words of the text for our celebration of Thanksgiving Day.

Did you know that in the Hebrew Scripture the title of this Psalm is “A Psalm of Thanksgiving”? In this Psalm, we truly have the perfect politeness plan. In the opening words we are exhorted and encouraged to: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!” But why should we? Why does it matter? Because it is fitting for us who have been touched by the saving hands of God Almighty to thank Him, serve Him and sing His praises daily. PAUSE.

In a book titled Reading the Psalms with Luther, Luther states this regarding this Psalm: The 100th psalm is a prophecy of Christ. It calls on the entire world to be joyful, to praise, and to give thanks, that is, to worship God and come to His throne and His courts, and to call on Him with all confidence. For His grace is an eternal kingdom, which truly remains forever and ever. Yes, indeed it is about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. The whole wide world is called to be thankful for the mercy He gives undeservedly, for the love He pours unconditionally, the forgiveness He offers freely and the promised eternal life and salvation that is ours because of His Hesed—His grace..

We are taught and exhorted in the words of this Psalm to say thank You Lord for Your mercies which are new every morning. Every day we have opportunities and privileges to say thank You Lord for Your goodness to me a sinner who deserves nothing but wrath and punishment. Because of Your faithfulness towards me I have the blessings of knowing You intimately and bask in Your saving grace.

The Psalmist goes on to say: Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! That is part of the politeness plan to worship, pray and praise the Lord God Almighty. We are to make it a habit to enter His place of worship and give thanks to Him daily and praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness. For in this place we are constantly reminded of our need for a Savior and how the mercies of that Savior are delivered to us. In this place we are immersed with His goodness, faithfulness and love. In this place we get to dine not on turkey and stuffing, but on the precious Word and Life-Giving Sacrament. PAUSE.

But tragically, because of our sinful human nature we don’t worship our Savior often or give Him thanks always. We need to be taught as my grandson Myles was to be polite and say thank you. But that is not in our sinful and self-centered nature. We often think we are the ones who have it made. We think that by our own might and power, we make our own future plans and our dreams come true; but that is not the case. It is always a gift from the Lord Himself.

We are reminded of this truth in the Gospel lesson for Thanksgiving. One out of Ten lepers came back to say thank you to Jesus for being healed. But why was he the only one who said, “Thank you Lord!”? Because he knew what he needed and what was at stake for him without it. He needed the healing touch of the Savior to make him whole and let him live among his family and family of faith. This leper understood that before, he was head­ing for hell; afterward, he was readied for heaven. No wonder he knelt before Jesus with his humble thank you.

Why do we so often forget to say our thank-yous? Why do we have to be reminded to say thank you, just like we do for the little children? Could it be that, unlike that leper, we forget what we deserve and how much we’ve received? Thanksgiving is a time to remember that the only thing we deserve from God is damnation in hell. We don’t deserve the Savior He has sent or a bit of the forgiveness of sins He brings. Neither do we have the rights to the lesser gifts in life. We have a slice of bread to butter, a stitch of clothing to wear, fresh air to inhale, a loved one to enjoy, only because He is our merci­ful Father. Gratitude begins with remembering our unworthiness and His abundant HESED—His GRACE and mercy.

Genuine gratitude colors not only this Thanksgiving Day, but each day of our lives. The Psalmist reminds us of that with the words of the text. And even the Apostle Paul said it this way, Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).

Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit let us develop and execute today and everyday a politeness plan. In this plan let us review the blessings the Savior gives us daily. Let us sing, praise, pray and worship Him for being so faithful to us sinners. By the Spirit’s power as we are gathered in His house to hear His Word and receive His precious Sacrament, we know what precious gifts He gives us and are moved in humility and joy to say THANK YOU JESUS FOR LOVING ME A SINNER.

On this Thanksgiving Day, it is fitting for us, to say with Luther as he teaches us in the explanation of the First Article of the Creed saying: “for all which is my duty to thank and praise him, this is most certainly true!” Therefore, we boldly confess and say: “Thanks be to God for every blessed gift He bestows on us.” Amen.

Now the peace…


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