Thanksgiving Day – Pr. Anderson sermon
Psalm 147 “O Come Let Us Worship the Lord, For He is Our Maker”
November 23, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Lord God, heavenly Father, You have created us and endowed us with all that we are or have as a pure gift of Your “fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us.” You sustain us from day to day with the gifts of daily bread in the food that we eat, the family that surrounds us, the friends we enjoy, the country where we live, and countless other benefits that we constantly receive from Your open hand. On this Day of Thanksgiving, cause us to gratefully remember the good gifts that You shower upon us. Deepen in us the knowledge of Your goodness, and awaken our hearts to praise You for all of Your gifts, especially the forgiveness of sins that You have purchased and won for us and the whole world in the atoning death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Keep us mindful of Your mercies every day, and grant that we may thank, praise, serve, and obey You not only with our lips but also with a life dedicated to the service of our neighbors. To You, O Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, praise and thanksgiving, now and forever Amen. Lutheran Book of Prayer p. 176-177
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 147th Psalm. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure…. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who shelters us under His cross, deserving all thanks and praise for such an indescribable gift, dear fellow redeemed:
If you have had the Hallmark channel playing around the clock since October, then you might have heard the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams playing in the background. Or maybe you already have the Christmas radio station playing and have heard it. Now besides Christmas, I do like to take the meaning of that song and apply it to the season of Fall. The weather changes to nice brisk days. The leaves change colors, providing the landscape with some beauty before the storms of winter. It is also the blessing of hunting seasons for those who love spending this time outdoors. As we look at the changes that are happening with the weather, the seasons, or even at the changes occurring during the end times, it is the end time changes that maybe make this not the “most wonderful time of the year.” As we look at the world and how it changes, there are so many small things that take place, the ways that God blesses us, and we can take them for granted. Psalm 147 points out not only how God protects us, but He provides and sustains the universe. It is because of His great providence that we can rejoice when we hear the invitation, “O come let us worship the lord, for He is our maker.”
This Psalm is one of the Psalm’s of thanks written for Israel to sing God their praises. As history teaches, Israel has a very big reason to give God thanks. The Psalm is written around the time of the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah. These prophets are tasked by God with the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. The Jews had been in exile for 70 years. They had been given land flowing with milk and honey. They had the city of Jerusalem, their temple on a hill, where they could give sacrifices to God for their sins, worshiping Him. Not only could they worship God there, but as Scripture records, “As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
They had the presence of God dwelling in the temple and in 400 years, they threw it all away. They had been warned. God told them that there would be consequences for their sins. “…if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you” (Joshua 23:16). God had given them so many blessings, choosing them of all the nations to be the nation of the Savior, and they broke the oaths they took. God took them from the land of milk and honey. After 70 years of captivity, God reminded them that He keeps His promises. As they confessed at the dedication of the temple, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:3).
God is good! Israel knew that God deserves worship and honor. Like Israel, we know that God deserves worship and honor. It is not hard for us to look at the things that we have done in our lives and see that at times we haven’t given Him that worship and honor. To worship and honor God means that we listen to His Word, and we obey it perfectly and we yield to it. We also shouldn’t be worrying about what is happening in the world. When we worry about the dangers we can quickly forget about God’s caring hand, and this is nothing new. Like Israel, we can turn our back on God and if we do then we must look somewhere else for help. Many will turn to some sort of false god. When the false gods fail to make things better, then there is panic. People don’t know what to do. Scripture makes it clear. Jesus tells us that yes, the world will not get better because its end is coming, and He also tells us to look at everything that God has created, witness how God take care of His creation, and know how much more you are worth as a human being.
Israel witnesses how much they are worth as they come back into the Promised Land, and they rejoice and sing praise to God because of His care over where they live. “The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” The world does not exist on its own. The maker takes care of everything. Israel continues to put their hope in His steadfast love and in His love, God sent His One and only Son to lift the humble. Here are the kept promises of God, taking care of the earth, providing for His people a place to live, land to live off of, and a promised Messiah who takes away their sins.
What a wonderful time of the year, a wonderful time in our existence because God keeps His promises. You hear in this psalm of thanks that God knows what you need. He has the solution to your problems in life. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Your wounds from sin are bound up by the wounds and the blood shed by your Savior. Nothing is too great or too small for Christ. The problems of life are temporary as He saves you from this world promising He will take you out of it. He will call you home. You don’t have to worry about the times. You don’t have to worry about what is next. “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Even in a fallen world, God still takes care of His creation. His power and understanding is unmatched. In our understanding, why would anyone worry about a fallen world? Great is God as He not only takes care of His creation, but as your maker He takes care of you and me with His Son’s death and resurrection, the ultimate reason to be thankful.
Not only can the world forget about Christ’s death and resurrection, it can be easy to not see the reasons to be thankful for how God takes care of the place that we live, especially in this most wonderful time of the year. “He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.” We are headed into winter knowing that spring will come again, and God will continue to care and provide for the earth. And God provides for us here when we gather together. We are here today and come here every week to worship our maker for His continual care. We do this not to give God anything, but to acknowledge and witness how He comes to us. “He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel.” As we hear in the worship service how we come into the presence of God and don’t deserve His presence because of our sins, in our confession He declares to us the gracious gift of forgiveness. He points us to our baptism where He washed us and made us His child. He strengthens us with His body and blood in the Supper where we remember His death. We give Him all thanks and praise because of these gifts that are freely given to us.
During this time of the year when we receive gifts, we feel thanks and praise to those who give them to us. God’s gift of Salvation comes thanks and praise. As we sang, “Oh Come Let Us Worship the Lord. For He is our Maker,” we can hear the music of the Venite Exultemus, and we sing it loud and proud knowing that God is taking care of us. He takes care of the earth so that it is habitable for us. He gives us the blessings of food, shelter, and clothing. He teaches us how in His goodness, He is our Salvation through the death of Jesus on the cross. As we spend this holiday season being thankful for what we have, how much or little it may be, we can never be thankful enough for what God has done for us. He saves us now to dwell with Him forever. It is through Him that we can return thanks, saying as the psalmist, “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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