Thanksgiving Eve, 2014
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Standard Time
The Hymn # 558 All Praise to Thee 4.44
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 100 p. 144
The First Lection 1 Timothy 2:1-8
The Second Lection Luke 17:11-19
The Sermon Hymn # 574 Come Ye Thankful 4.9
Thanksgiving To God
The Prayers and Lord’s Prayer p. 44
The Collect for Peace p. 45
The Benediction p. 45
The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1
KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Thanksgiving To God
KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
It is telling that in this world of great abundance, more people are turning to speaking of blessings in terms of material abundance. Lenski said it well, "People pray for what God already gives them." Certainly God has ordained that the natural world will give us all the food we need, plus many delights in terms of decorations and enjoyable creatures - gems, minerals, precious metals, birds, domestic animals, and decorative flowers, bushes, and trees.
If people take care of what God gives them, they have an abundance of healthy food and good water. Most of the world (90% within 100 miles of the oceans) live near the sea to enjoy the food and transportation provided there. We even have an abundance of medicine growing around us, from the bread mold of penicillin to the many compounds available from herbs.
|The saguaro cactus, with arms,|
can only grow in a limited area of Arizona and Texas.
The Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix is a lesson for everyone.
This unique cactus garden has some cacti worth $25,000 and a tree worth $100,000. Because cacti are so easy to grow in the Sonoran desert, few residents of Phoenix view their own special garden - 165 acres. They take it for granted. On any given tour, most of the visitors are from other areas of the country and the world. It is difficult to get residents to go the first time, because they always say, "It is a few miles away. I will see it later. It won't move."
We take for granted what we have in abundance and that can easily be taken away from us, through neglect and abuse. That can be seen in the Means of Grace, abundantly offered to us through the Word and Sacraments. Once upon a time, about 1918, all the Lutherans used the same liturgy and creeds (with variations in settings) and sang almost the same hymns, and they listened to Biblical sermons.
I read today about Aimee Semple McPherson. She became so famous because she put on entertainment extravaganzas, with sets designed and approved by Hollywood workers and stars (like Charlie Chaplin). When a Lutheran pastor linked the story, I pointed out that it was now the ideal for "conservative" Lutheran pastors to put on similar shows, with traveling rock bands like Koine ($3,000.00 to show up), theatrical lighting, and heart-rending or spine-tingling entertainment.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
The purpose of the entire Bible is to teach us about Jesus, His love and compassion, and to fill us with faith in Him as our Savior. The grace of God moves us to faith, and in faith we receive this grace in abundance.
I teach Evangelicals all the time, and they often express their faith in harmony with the Scriptures. But another theme comes up at times, based on their teaching - not that they are awful and Lutherans are perfect. But this comes through more clearly through a silence about the Means of Grace.
The Evangelicals, above all, will talk obedience. They speak of obedience and reward. Like Karl Barth, the Calvinist, they see the gift of grace as a demand more than a blessing and an energy for serving God. It is easy to see how this is converted to social/political activism when faith is lost.
Not a Small Matter
Creating and sustaining faith is the purpose of the Scriptures. The world and individuals in the world have a common burden - forgiveness of sin and the peace that comes with it.
There is so much confusion about this that many Lutherans, most Protestants and Catholics fail to articulate the answer. They see terms and actions and consider them all good, but they cannot explain in a few words how this all fits together in harmony with the Scriptures - unless they call upon their own authorities.
The simple answer is this - the Gospel produces and renews faith, and this faith in Jesus as our Savior receives the gracious atonement which He earned in our stead, His death for our life.
The preached Gospel and the Sacraments are Instruments of Grace because they clearly announce how this gracious forgiveness comes to us through faith in Him.
|New book on the Holy Trinity|
A watch is super-expensive if it has 24 complications that all work together. But the Bible has hundreds upon hundreds of complexities that all work together.
One issue is the Holy Trinity. Is it taught in the Scriptures, Old Testament and New Testament? The answer is clearly shown simply by going through the Scriptures and listing the clearest examples of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit expressed in close connection, within two verses.
That is a long list that begins with Genesis and ends with Trinitarian references in Revelation. That is just one answer to one question, and it inspires faith in the Holy Trinity as true concept, not an invention of man - as the skeptics want to say.
If someone asks questions of the Scriptures, the same results will be found. Not only will clear examples of the doctrine be found, but hundreds of supporting verses will be clear to the reader who honestly and sincerely inquires.
God knows our weakness, our tendencies to grow tired of an abundance, even of spiritual treasures, and to become curious about something new. Marketers have found that by adding "new" to a label, sales increase. Every time a false teacher launches a new place to fleece the sheep, he or she announces something new and exciting.
Thankful for the Spiritual Treasures
What keeps us close the benefits of the spiritual treasures is being thankful for them, not taking them for granted. God manages them even better for us than He manages the lives of sparrows, as Jesus promised.
The most solemn warnings come from Jesus because He knows the dangers of abandoning the truth. We do not say to children, "Try not to fall in the fire." Instead, we tell them the horrible consequences of carelessness near a fire. And we threaten them because of love. So in the same way, Jesus has dire warnings but also the constant emphasis on wanting all men to be saved - 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
And how many times is that expressed throughout the Scriptures?