Sermon for Thansgiving Eve, November 23, 2016

Psalm 145:10-21 (Thanksgiving Eve)

“Why We Thank the Lord”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

November 23, 2016


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is the Old Testament reading from Psalm 145:

10All your works, O Yahweh, give thanks to you and your pious ones bless you. 11They speak of the glory of your kingdom and they declare your might 12to make known to the sons of man his might and the glory and the splendor of his kingdom. 13Your kingdom is an eternal kingdom and your rule is through all generations. 14Yahweh supports all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down. 15The eyes of all hope toward you, and you give to them their food at its proper time. 16You open your hand and you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17Yahweh is righteous in all his ways and gracious in all his works. 18Yahweh is near to all who call upon him, to all who call on him in truth. 19He accomplishes the desires of those who fear him and hears their cry for help and saves them. 20Yahweh guards all who love him but all the wicked he will destroy. 21My mouth will speak the praise of Yahweh and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.


          In this 500th anniversary year of the Lutheran Reformation it seems right to me that we should, whenever possible and appropriate, highlight the texts of God’s Word used by Luther in some of his major works, especially The Small Catechism. Such is the case with our text today. Luther retained the use of Psalm 145 as he adapted material from the Roman Breviary for use in the Catechism section, “How the Head of the Family Should Teach His Household to Ask a Blessing and Return Thanks.” Here Pastor Luther gives this instruction:

The children and members of the household shall go to the table reverently, fold their hands, and say:

The eyes of all look to You, [O Lord], and You give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

 The shall be said the Lord’s Prayer and the following:

Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Your gifts which we receive from Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

          On this eve of our nation’s day of national thanksgiving, let’s take a closer look at this text of God’s Word in order to better learn why we give thanks to God on Thanksgiving and every day of the year.

          In Psalm 145, the author, David, speaks of God as King. Yahweh is a King whose works and mighty acts are to be commended and declared from one generation to another throughout all history (verse 1). It is God’s creation itself—everything that He has made, including all of those whom God has made a holy people by His grace—who give thanks and bless Him. Yahweh’s works and people speak about the glory of His kingdom and they declare God’s might so that more people will know about God the King and His glory and the splendor of His kingdom.

          As we examine this psalm, where do we see God in relation to His creation, His people, and His kingdom? The Triune God is with His creation. Yahweh is intimately involved in the life of His people. His eternal kingdom comes among His creation and people. We know this because David reveals God’s actions on behalf of His creation.

  • Yahweh supports all who are falling. He raises up all who are bowed down (verse 14).
  • Yahweh gives everyone their food at the right time. He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing (verses 15-16).
  • Yahweh is near to everyone who calls upon Him truly with faith and trust in His righteous ways and gracious works (verse 18).
  • Yahweh accomplishes the desires of those who fear, love, and trust in Him above all things. He guards all who love Him. Yahweh hears their cry for help and He saves them (verses 17, 19-20).

Here we do not have a God and King who is far away from His creation. God is deeply involved in the life of His creation and in the life of the crown of creation, humanity. Yahweh is constantly providing generously for all His creatures from His undeserved loving-kindness. A fallen, corrupted, sin-filled creation doesn’t deserve to have God do anything except to punish and to destroy in His wrath and anger that which He has made. Think about what the Lord decided at the time of Noah. We read in Genesis 6, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them’” (Gen. 6:5-7 ESV). But He was gracious to Noah and his wife, to his sons and their wives. God saved believing Noah and his family in the ark along with the creatures. He promised never again to destroy His creation with a flood. That’s grace!

Throughout history, God has been an active participant in the life of His creation and in the life of those whom He called to Himself to be a holy people. He graciously provided for the people of Israel during their time wandering in the wilderness even though they repeatedly turned against Him. Deuteronomy 8, “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years” (Deut. 8:2-4 ESV).

In Psalm 145 David acknowledges God’s gracious actions on behalf of His creation and His people throughout history. When we as sinful human beings turn from God, failing to fear, love, and trust in Him at all times, the Lord does not turn from us. As Dr. Luther explains the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people.” Or in the words of Psalm 145, “The eyes of all hope toward you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” It’s a powerful statement David makes here, that they eyes of all “hope” toward God. It means that all of God’s creation, people especially, wait in expectation for God to do what God does—graciously and generously to give “daily bread” to everyone. My dog, Joy, illustrates this very well. She comes “hoping toward” us knowing that we will fill her food dish. She comes with the full expectation of getting her breakfast or supper. She also trusts that when she hears the box open that there is going to be a treat for her. She comes to me and waits expectantly, confident that she will be given that which she is looking forward to.

That’s how David sees himself and us in Psalm 145. We are expectantly waiting in trust for the God who is near to us to give us that which we need, our daily bread. When God opens His providing hand to us He gives from His generosity and grace. What we receive isn’t deserved by our behavior or earned by our works. It’s a result of God’s undeserved loving-kindness to us and all creation. Yahweh is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. And that truth is found in the revelation that God Himself took on human flesh and became one of us in the person of Jesus.

Yahweh heard our cry for help as we have found ourselves buried under the fear of condemnation because of our sins, because of our failures to seek His kingdom first, believing Him to be a God who doesn’t always care. We have worried and been afraid of not receiving our “daily bread” and have failed to trust that Yahweh will provide to us at the proper time. When we were bowed down under the weight of our sin and guilt, having failed to do the things we should but having quite frequently accomplished the things we should not, at the right time, God the Father sent forth His One-of-a-Kind Son, Jesus. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5 ESV)

Jesus brought God’s Kingdom to us in His person and work so that He would reveal to us the glory and the splendor of that Kingdom and by His perfect life, death, and resurrection, make us an everlasting part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus lived a perfect life for us, always trusting His heavenly Father to provide for all of His needs of body and soul. Jesus’ perfect trust is credited to us as our perfect trust. Jesus’ death on the cross was for us, so that by the shedding of His blood, you and I would receive the forgiveness of all our sins. You and I are forgiven for all our failures to trust in the Lord always, to seek first His Kingdom, and to live according to His Word.

In Christ, you and I have the assurance that we are the forgiven and redeemed, the holy, people of God by grace through faith in Jesus by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. Yahweh has opened His hand and satisfied us in body and soul with everything that we need in this life. He has graciously given us the forgiveness and salvation that comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus so that we also have life forever in the world to come. The Lord guards and keeps us in this holy, Christian faith. He preserves us in this faith and life so that we have the opportunity “to speak the praise of Yahweh. . .  forever and ever.” And that most certainly includes giving Him thanks.

According to Psalm 145, why do you give thanks to God on Thanksgiving and every day of the year? Because Yahweh has made you a member of His kingdom through the saving work of Jesus Christ, our Savior. He has saved you from your sins and given you life everlasting. When you fall into temptation and sin, God in Christ raises you up. He forgives your sins for the sake of Jesus, restoring you to His favor. He is always near to you as you call on Him for help. With faith and trust you “hope toward” Him, trusting that Yahweh graciously and lavishly gives you all that you need to support this body and life. He opens His abundant hand of blessing and satisfies you.

That is why you and I thank and praise and bless God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have received from Him all things necessary for this life. We have received from Him forgiveness and eternal life in the world to come. By the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, we are able to speak of the glory of His kingdom to other people. We declare His might over sin, death, and the power of the devil. We joyfully make known God’s glory and the splendor of His kingdom so that many others might confess Jesus Christ as Savior and King. Speak the praise of Yahweh as His holy people in Christ Jesus. Along with all flesh, bless His holy name forever and ever. Amen.

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