Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Oct 11th 2015 - Thanksgiving Sunday / Deuteronomy 8:1-10 / Who is Perfectly Thankful?
Sermon Thanksgiving Sunday - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Deuteronomy 8:1-10 Who is perfectly Thankful?
“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers. 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. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and by fearing Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land He has given you.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Thanksgiving is an occasion when we spend some time thinking about our appreciation for what we have. Often it is a time to contemplate the abundance of the riches that we've accumulated, For the Christian we want very much to focus our thinking on the fact that all of what we have is a gift from God and not the results of our diligent work apart from God. That even the fact that we are able to work, have been able to work, is a gift from God to be thankful for. While Thanksgiving is a time for family and is seen as a happy holiday full of nostalgia and feasting it can be a complicated and troubling time.
'I don't feel thankful! I don't know if I'm thankful enough! I have things going on right now that make thankfulness very hard!' Have you felt this way before at some point? Is this you? Do you feel that way right now? Worn out, stressed out, flipped out, down and out? Plum out of thankful feelings.
Maybe it's the reverse - everything is going great and there seems to be not one care in the world. Martin Luther commenting on Deuteronomy chapter 8 mentions this German proverb, "You need strong legs to hold up under good days for man endures evil more easily than good." Perhaps the hardships in life are to your spiritual advantage. Through His servant Moses The LORD says this same sort of thing to the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 8, when Moses says, "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."
The hard parts of life are humbling, you are invited to remember them, not to negatively dwell on them but rather to look back and see how it was that God brought you through them. Through your own "40 years in the wilderness." You are invited to remember that in those hard times as you came up against various trails that the LORD was testing your heart.
Will you follow His commandments, and when you failed did you, do you, will you turn to Him for forgiveness. Was His Word more important than riches and food and clothing? Is it more important? Will it continue for you to be more important than these things?
And why should the Word of God be more important than house and home, even more important than family at times? Because without it you would not know Jesus, "the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Saint John says that it was, "from [Jesus'] fullness (that) we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
If you were to read Deuteronomy 8:1-10 in isolation from the rest of Scripture it would simply be a transaction. You follow the commandments and God will give you wheat and barley, vineyards and fig trees and pomegranates, olive trees and honey, stones of iron and copper. If you follow His commandments He will give you a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing. The trouble is you are not able to perfectly follow God's commandments and neither am I, in fact you and I have already failed at it, so why should you and I have the things He promises through Moses?
(Side note - If I can't follow them perfectly why bother? 1) You are commanded by God to follow them, 2) by doing so you improve the life of those around you, your neighbour, your family, your friend, your enemy - Following the Ten Commandments is an act of love for God and an act of love for everyone around you)
Now, when read in its fullness Scripture teaches why God is inclined to give you the things you have. His inclination to do this is found in His love for His Son Jesus, and that eternal love spills out, and overflows to you and me and all people, in a flood of grace and mercy. As Jesus says, "[your Father] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." This love is rooted in God the Father's love for Jesus who was, and is, and ever shall be faithful and true, The One who lived with no sin of His own, who did follow the commandments with failure: Jesus who had no sin but my sin and your sin which was put on Him, sin which He bore to the cross nailing it there that it should die and never be held against you or I again. In this way God gives you more than the physical things of life, He gives you good gifts for your soul too, By the Holy Spirit He gives you faith in Christ Jesus when you hear God's Word read and preached, when you read it, and He gives you the forgiveness of sin won for you by Jesus - and for all of this too, you're invited to be thankful.
The flipside to thankfulness is ingratitude and Jesus didn't fall to the temptation of ingratitude.
Today there are people who are thinking of Turkey and Yams, Mash Potatoes, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, cranberry sauce - but not everyone has this today ... think about this: Jesus was faced with great hunger He remained faithful and true to the LORD, He remained faithful and true to the Commandments and He resisted the temptations to want more, He resisted the temptation to want more than He had. St. Matthew tells us that, "Jesus (after His baptism) was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But [Jesus] answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command His angels concerning You,’
“‘On their hands they will bear You up,
lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed [Jesus] all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to [Jesus], “All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and Him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him." Those stones, those kingdoms will all pass away, but God's word would not, has not, will not pass away.
Jesus continued in this way of living, trusting God's word over riches, over food, over clothing. Of Himself Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Proverbs 1:32 says that, "the prosperity of the foolish destroys them." Sometimes having everything can be a problem. That complacency is treacherous and a grave danger. All the good things in this life that you have now by the grace of God are simply sign posts along the way, pointing towards the new heavens and the new earth that will come on the last day when your feast of thanksgiving will extend into eternity, where the wedding feast of the Lamb will continue without end, where the Supper of the Lord will be celebrated without sin.
So today as you give thanks - thank the LORD for the discipline He has given, for the hard times and challenges that have come and have been allowed to happen because they act as an encouragement for you to trust in the LORD and His Word: Give thanks for this discipline alongside the many conventional blessings you have been blessed to receive. Be thankful that Jesus perfectly received discipline in its fullness that was coming to you, that as Isaiah says, "He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed." From the manger, to the cross, to the empty tomb, to the Right Hand of God, Jesus gives you all that you need, and prepares for you all that you will have on The Last Day at your resurrection. Suffering you experience now is an invitation to think of His suffering, an opportunity to trust as He trusted.
Today and all through the year then take St. Paul's advice from Colossians, "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." And when being thankful is hard, remember how Jesus was perfectly thankful, and remember that He, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are steadfast in Their love for you, and that that love of the Holy Trinity endures forever. Amen
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Luther's Works AE, Vol 9. Lectures on Deuteronomy, Concordia Publishing House, 1960, Pg 92
 John 1:14
 John 1:16-17
 Matthew 5:45
 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake He made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
 Colossians 2:13-14, "you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross."
 Matthew 4:1-11
 Proverbs 1:32
 Isaiah 53:5
 Colossians 3:15