Redeemer Ev. Lutheran Church, Iola, WI

Sermons, Devotions, and News from Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iola, WI

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Feasting with God #2 – O, Give Thanks

Feasting with God #2

“O, Give Thanks”

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Romans 7:24-25

24Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Every year we come back around to this day, this holiday known as “Thanksgiving.”  Every year, I have also heard the discussions: What does this holiday really mean?  Is it just a day to stuff our faces and get sick with what we eat?  Is it a day for family and football?  What are we really giving thanks for?  Whom are we really giving thanks to?  For Christians, the answers to these last two questions are really one and the same.

In the first place, we do indeed see the feast that is spread before us and our loved ones, and we thank God for providing for us bodily.  Without God to provide food, no one could live.  God is “he who gives food to all flesh” (Ps. 136:25), to man and animal alike.  When we give thanks, then, we recognize God working in the world to care for us, and we are grateful for it.

But this is not enough.  Even the well-fed will die.  Remember the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus: poor Lazarus who couldn’t even get scraps from the Rich Man’s table, and the rich man “who feasted sumptuously every day” (Luke 16:19).  They were very different in life, and yet when the “poor man died,” the “rich man also died” (Luke 16:22).  The same end awaits us all: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades” (Is. 40:6-7).  But there was a difference yet between Lazarus and the rich man, and here is where we find the other reason to give thanks.

The apostle Paul also saw the death that surrounded him, the death that awaited him, and the death that was in him.  His very sins he felt weighing him down, dragging him closer and closer to hell.  This is where the rich man ended up.  Because his concern in life was only for his fleshly reward, only for the food that would fill his belly, the rich man condemned himself.  But Paul here seeks rescue from that fate: “Who will deliver me?” he wonders.  “Who will save me?”  And yet he answers it immediately: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  He knows that through his faith in God he has grasped the salvation won for him by Christ Jesus.  Lazarus also could not rely on himself, but trusted completely in God’s providence.  Because of that faith, Lazarus was delivered into heaven by the angels.  Because of that faith, Paul saw how he was saved from his body of death.  Because of that faith, we, too, are saved from the death of our souls on account of our many sins.

And Paul’s answer is every Christian’s answer to those two questions: “Whom are we really giving thanks to?”  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  “What are we really giving thanks for?”  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  We thank God and Christ for the salvation won for us by God and Christ.  this is the essence of true Christian Thanksgiving.

Thank you Lord, God, Heavenly Father, for all you provide for our daily living and well-being.  Thank you for the food and drink you give us to nourish our bodies, the air we breathe, the homes in which we find shelter, the family and friends with whom we find comfort and joy.  And even as we thank you for our daily bread, we thank you also for your spiritual care, in that you sent your only Son to die for us, that whoever has faith in him may come to everlasting life, which you also provide for us freely.  Continue to provide for us, as you have always done.  We ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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Feasting with God #1 – Praying for God’s Blessings

Introduction:

This weekly series of devotions will seek to nourish the soul of the reader as food nourishes the body.  Each week, based on a specific text of God’s Word, we will delve into how God feeds our spirits through that Word, feeding us forgiveness, life, and salvation.  From the blessing of food in the Garden of Eden, to the feast of the Passover, to the institution of the Lord’s Supper, to the heavenly marriage feast of the Lamb in his Kingdom, God seeks to satisfy our spiritual hunger.  So we ask all to join us, feasting with God.

Vicar Michael G. Lilienthal

618px-Grace1918photographEnstromFeasting with God #1

“Praying for God’s Blessings”

Psalm 145:15-16:

15The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Every family has its own tradition of table prayers.  Some families pray what is called the “Common Table Prayer,” which begins, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest….”  Others pray some translation of the Psalm text above.  Still others pray, “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts….”  Whatever the tradition of the family, these table prayers are the means by which we ask God to bless the food we are about to receive.

What does it mean for our food to be blessed?  No, it’s not a magical incantation that somehow makes the food more nourishing to our bodies.  This blessing means so much more than that.  Because of our sinful natures, our whole lives have been corrupted by sin.  Everything we do, even our good deeds, are tainted by our innate sinfulness, so that even those good deeds are considered sins, as Isaiah writes that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6).  As sinful beings, everything around us is sinful, everything we do is sinful, and everything we take in is sinful, including the food we eat.

But looking to God, we can see where our salvation comes from.  This psalm says, “You satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  In one sense this means that, whatever every living creature needs to survive in its daily life, God provides it, as the Creator and Preserver of the universe.  The hunger of each being is not satisfied by anything other than what God provides.  But in another sense, we can understand the keen desire of God’s creation, being broken and corrupted in sin, to have salvation brought to it.  And that, God satisfied.  Paul wrote to the Romans, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:22-23).  Creation groaned for its salvation throughout history until the satisfaction came in the form of a literal birth: a child born in a stable, who then grew up performing miracles and never sinning, and ultimately who died on a cross, suffering the pains that our sins deserved.  And he rose again to lead those who followed him into a new life that never hungered again.

Because of our faith founded on Christ, all the corruption of sin in us and around us is sanctified, made holy.  Now, doing our good deeds in faith, they are no longer sins but true good deeds.  Now, although this world is still sinful and continues to harm us, the things we eat are nourishing our bodies and our souls.  Therefore we pray God to bless our food the same way we ask him forgiveness.  We pray it knowing that he provides, knowing that he opens his hand.  And so we have the blessing of food given by God, and the forgiveness of our sins, salvation of our souls, and new life in his Son.

Come now to us, Lord Jesus, and bless us with your presence.  Be a welcome guest at our table and in our lives.  Help us to realize that the gifts you give us of food and nourishment are truly blessings from you, as are the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of our eternal life after our death.  Bless these physical gifts also with your grace so that we may grow in our holiness and thankfulness to you.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

 Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.