Thursday, November 23, 2000


Thanksgiving Day
"A Hymn at Harvest Time
November 23, 2000 
Psalm 65

Introduction:  This morning we will meditate upon one of the Psalms, that is suggested to be read at harvest time, Psalm 65.  If you wish you may turn into your hymnals to page 136 where you will find this Psalm.  Our Psalm for this morning is a Psalm that was sung by God's people at harvest time. As we remember the tender mercies of our God and King may we too sing a song of Thanksgiving unto the Lord our God.

But how should we sing?  David gives us three suggestions in three stanzas. On this Thanksgiving Day 2000, we worship God; approaching God, apprehending God and appreciating God.

I.  We worship approaching God (Psalm 65:1-4) As David begins stanza one the people approach God. They come to Him. But how do they come?         

A.  They come as a Silent People "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed." (v.1) God waits. He waits for praise to come. Shall we praise Him on this day of Thanksgiving or will this day be just like any other day of the year?  In a country, filled with so many opportunities do we take the time to return thanks and acknowledge the Creator? This is our opportunity today, to offer the Lord our worship and praise.

B.   A Seeking People - "O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." (v.2) As we come we know that our Lord will hear us. This is why we approach Him. We come as He draws us to Himself to hear our cry and to answer our prayer.

C.  A Sinful People - "Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away." (v.3) We need to approach God for forgiveness and life. We are in need of restoration, forgiveness and life. We approach God this day seeking His pardon and His peace.

D.  A Satisfied People - "Blessed is the man who thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee that he may dwell in thy courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of they house, even of thy holy temple." (v.4) When we come we leave satisfied. He opens His hand and He satisfies the desire of every living thing. This is how the dear Lord chooses to deal with His people; He satisfies our every need.

Transition: David praises God for hearing prayer, pardoning sin, satisfying and protecting His people. These are the things that the Lord our God has done. We approach God. We come to worship apprehending all that God has done in our lives.

II.  We worship apprehending God (Psalm 65:5-8) God has the power to convert, to create and to control.

A.  God's Power to Convert -"By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea" (v.5)  

1.   The Hebrew People - "By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; " (v. 5a) By virtue of His righteousness God is able to convert us. This He did with the children of Israel making them His chosen people.

2.   The Heathen Peoples " who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea" (v.5b) But He also extends His kingdom to all who will come to Him in faith. "His kingdom shall stretch from short to shore 'till moons shall wax and wane no more" {TLH #511 stanza 1b}

B.  God's Power to Create -"Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains, being girded with power" (v.6) In ten short sentences God created the entire universe. By His same word He creates faith in our hearts. God's power is demonstrated in His Word which makes all things new.

C.   God's Power to Control (vv.7-8)

1.  The Restless Waves  "Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of the waves,"(65:7a) The forces of nature are powerful. Yet the wind and the waves are subject to Him. When Jesus says "peace be still" the elements are brought under His authority. Remember the words of amazement spoken by Jesus' disciples "who is this that even the wind and the waves obey Him?"  Who is this, He is the Mighty God who has the power to control even the forces of nature.

2.    The Restless World "and the tumult of the people. They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens; thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice" (65:7b-8)  St. Paul reminds us that the world seems to be groaning, waiting to be delivered.  Jesus is able to grant peace to a world that is restless and in search of peace. But His peace is not as the world sees peace. His is an everlasting peace. A peace that only He can give.

Transition: For fixing the mountains, calming the sea, preserving the succession of day and night, and making the earth fruitful; for these blessings we are truly thankful. Thanksgiving calls us to appreciate all of the blessings, which comes from the hand of God.

III.  We worship appreciating God Psalm 65:9-13

A.   The Plenty to the Heavens "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it; though greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou has so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; thou settlest the furrows thereof; thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing thereof." (vv.9-10) The ground becomes parched and dry. We cry for rain and the rain comes and the world is refreshed. The rain dissolves the high and hard clods of earth. We see this happen year after year. Who sends the rain? It is God. David simply calls for us to appreciate this mighty gift which comes from the Savior's hand.

B.   The Plenty of the Harvest - "They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks: the valleys also are covered over with corn they shout for joy the also sing." (vv.11-13)  With each harvest there is plenty. True, we could ask for more, but there is always a sufficient amount. The harvest abounds as God gives the increase.

Conclusion: Luther concludes the explanation of the first article of the Apostles' Creed with these words: "for all which it is my duty to thanks and praise, to serve and obey Him, this is most certainly true".  What more can be said? This is most certainly true!  A blessed Thanksgiving!  Amen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
"A Hymn of Praise
November 22, 2000 
Psalm 100

Introduction:  Yet another year has come and gone for us to remember the blessings which come to us from t he hand of our gracious God. Thanksgiving is a special time of the year for us as we recall the blessings, which the Savior has graciously showered down upon us and then in worship and praise we render to God what He is due.

Yet, how do we do it? David in Psalm 100 gives us a method for us to return our thanks back to God.  On page 144 - 145 in your hymnal you will find Psalm 100. Let's consider David's hymn of praise in which he thanks God for the blessings, which God has given. 

I.   Approaching God (Psalm 100:1-2)

A.  Universal Harmony "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands " (v.1) In tonight's Gospel lesson, the story of the ten lepers which were cleansed, we are reminded that only one returned to offer thanks. David urges all to render thanks to God; from the greatest to the least. All are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord; all are to unite in harmony together.

B.   Unrestrained Happiness "Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing" (v.2) St. Paul reminds us that we are to worship God with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. When we are blessed we are a happy and a joyful people. Consider the blessings that you have received. They are too numerous to count. How do you respond with cold or a grateful heart? The sound of music, and singing suggests that we respond to God with a heart overflowing with joy and gratitude.

Transition: As we approach God in worship and praise we discover that it is the very nature of God to bless us. This is His nature.

II. Apprehending God  " Know ye that the Lord he is God it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves: we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm 100:3)

A.   Consider His Person -" Know ye that the Lord he is God…" Thanksgiving causes us to acknowledge God. He blesses us because He is God. He can do none other then to bless us. When we return thanks we return thanks to our Creator.

B.   Consider His Power - " it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves:" As thinking persons we can invent numerous things. God does us one better as He creates. He creates life, He creates eternal life. He is the one who has knit us together. We are fearfully and wondrously made.

C.   Consider His Purpose - "we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture " We have been created for a purpose. Christ Jesus has said "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly" (John) Jesus has come that we might be given His life; that we might have fellowship with Him; that we might dwell with Him.

Transition: Once we come to know and understand God we can truly appreciate what He has done for us and what He has promised that He will continue to do for us in the future. This is thanksgiving that comes to appreciate God.

  III.  Appreciating God (Psalm 100:4-5)  We do this in two ways:

A.   First, by Coming to Him - Thankfully  "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name" (v.4)

1.    Arriving at the Temple - "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise;" This is why you have come tonight. You have come; you have arrived at His temple to worship God and to thank Him.  But what's more; once you have arrived at His dwelling; His temple you will also be…

2.    Arriving at the Truth -" be thankful unto him, and bless his name" Pilate asked the question "what is truth?" Jesus answers than question with the words "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me" That is the ultimate truth to understand God and to know Him in a real and significant way.  We now know God as He comes to us through His Word and Sacrament to give us His life, His redemption, His freedom, His forgiveness.

B.   We also come to appreciate God by Communing with Him - Thoughtfully  " For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations." (v.5) David gives us three facts, which can not be disputed.

1.    An Essential Fact (God's Goodness) - "For the Lord is good," This is God's essence. He is Good. He wants nothing but the best for us. Nothing but good can come from Him.

2.    An Eternal Fact (God's Mercy) -" and his truth endureth" God's mercy will never die, it can never run out. While we might grow tired of certain things God's mercy will always satisfy for it is new to us each day and it will endure forever. It will never run out, it will never need to be replaced. It will always satisfy. God's mercy will endure forever.

3.    An Enduring Fact (God's Truth) -"to all generations" God's mercy and grace will withstand the test of time. It will last forever. This is God's promise to us. Great is His faithfulness!

Conclusion:  Great is Thy faithfulness. What a wonder to behold. All we have is but a gift. His story must be told.  A blessed thanksgiving to you and yours. Amen.