Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 2 months ago

A Thanksgiving Psalm

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

1 Corinthians 10:23-33 and Psalm 136.

The Cross and was. We considerthat great and steadfast love which was demonstrated for us there, and not merelydemonstrated but effectively brought about our justification, the forgiveness of our sins, theimputation of Christ's righteousness, our access to the very throne of grace, thatwe might stand before you and worship you and the splendor of Your Holiness.All these things and war have been given to us through him, through thisgreat act of love by which we have been saved. Lord, we askthat you would help us to give you thanks for all of these things,that our mouths might be filled with your praise, that we might sing songsto your glory, that even the food that we eat would be given,when it would be eaten, according to your word, to Your glory.We ask now that, as you give to us your word, the verybread of life, for the sustaining in the nourishment of our souls, thatyou would give us keen ears to listen, you would open up our minds andour hearts that we might receive that which you have given and receive itgladly, that we might live by it. We asked that you would bless yourword to us and that we might hear and know Jesus in it.Pray this in his name. Then you may be seated. So I'm goingto read two passages this morning as we begin this week to turn our thoughtsto Thanksgiving feasts. Want to read the two passages that think about food andGod. First from First Corinthians chapter ten, and then from Psalm one hundred andthirty six. So if you would...

...please turn your attention with me tofirst Corinthians. This is in the New Testament, one of Paul's letters forFirst Corinthians chapter ten. We're going to begin reading at Verse Twenty Three.So let's hear God's word. First Corinthians ten, verse twenty three. I'llread to the end of the chapter. All things are lawful, but notall things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things buildup. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of hisneighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising a question onthe ground of conscience, for the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed togo eat whatever, whatever is set before you, without raising any question onthe ground of conscience. But if someone says to you this has been offeredin sacrifice, then do not eat it, for the sake of the one whoinformed you, and for the sake of conscience, I do not meanyour conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someoneelse's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of thatfor which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink or whateveryou do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offenseto Jews or to Greeks or to the Church of God, just as Itry to please everyone and everything. I do not seeking my own advantage butthat of many, that they may be saved. All right, and nowlet's turn to Psalm one hundred and thirty...

...six and consider the Lord, theGod who gives us all of this food. Psalm one hundred and thirty six,here we of a description, among other things, a description of theLord and his divine nature. I mean his supremacy in his divine nature andalso in his works, by which he saves US and loves us. Psalmone hundred and thirty six, give thanks to the Lord for he is goodfor his steadfast love and doers forever. Give thanks to the god of Godsfor his steadfast love and doers forever. Give thanks to the Lord of Lordsfor his steadfast love endures forever to him who alone does great wonders for hissteadfast love and doers forever. To Him who, by understanding, made theheavens for his steadfast love and doers forever, to him who spread out the earthabove the waters for his spet steadfast love and doers forever. To Himwho made the great lights for his steadfast love and doers forever, the sonto rule over the day for his steadfast love and doers forever, the moonand stars to rule over the night for his steadfast love endures forever. ToHim who struck down the first born of Egypt for his steadfast love and doersforever and brought Israel out from among them for his steadfast love and doers forever, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm for his steadfast love and doersforever. To Him who divided the Red Sea into for his steadfast love anddoers forever for and made Israel Pass through the midst of it, for thesteadfast love and doers forever, but overthrow Pharaoh and his host in the RedSea, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To Him who led his people throughthe Wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever, to him who struckdown the great kings for his steadfast love and doers forever, and killed themighty kings for his steadfast love and doers forever. Sihon, the King ofthe Amorites, for his steadfast love and doers forever, and Oga King ofBashan, for his steadfast love and doers forever, and gave their land asa heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever, a heritage to Israel,his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever. It is he who rememberedus in our low estate for his steadfast love and doures forever, and rescuedus from all our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever. He whogives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanksto the God of Heaven for his steadfast love indures forever. Amen. Soas we hear of our God and his great power, his mighty works anddoing things that we cannot even begin to really imagine how they might be accomplished, how they might be done. We consider this God who gives us ourfood, this same one who reigns above all gods, this one who doesgreat wonders, who can do things like parting a sea or creating the sea, or stretching out his hand and making the world of creating things like theSun and the moon and the stars, all the way down to the verybread on our table, the Cup to our lips. God steadfast love anddoes endure forever, because he is God,...

...because he is steadfast, because heis love. And so we have both God's great supremacy in these actsthat are so hard to even begin to capture in our imaginations, to veryspecific and concrete things, the very things on our table, and also thesesituations we find ourselves in with certain people and in certain places, decisions wehave to make about who we eat, with, how we eat, whatwe eat. All of these things we ought to think about in light ofGod, who is the source of all things and to whom he calls us, to whom we can put our faith in. He calls us to putour faith in him and as we do so, he gives us the opportunityto give thanks to him, to remember the freedom that we have in himand to love others as well. These things that I just mentioned, thethinking about God is the source of things, thinking about our freedom and our foodand our responsibilities all in light of him, is a framework that wehave in scripture, principles that we have in scripture that teach us how weought to live. When Paul speaks to the church in Corinth Corinth, hespeaks to them in a very particular and difficult set of circumstances. As we'vebeen going through First Corinthians, we've seen on Paul dealing with these situations,ethically complicated situations or there isn't always a black and white. We have tokind of think through things, where you have to process the situation and thecircumstances through the principles of scripture, and he does that again here, anissue he's brought up before about food sacrificed to idols. What are we tothink about? How are we to make these kinds of decisions? Paul tellsus how and he gives us an opportunity...

...to think about how this applies toother things as well. Before we get to some of the specifics of that, though, I do want us to think more about God, about whohe is and what he has done. I want to begin thinking about thatwith you by asking you a question. I want to ask you to thinkabout some decision you made this week. I mean, maybe it was avery big one or maybe it was a little one. Maybe it was howmuch gas do I put in the car? How much time do I spend onthis assignment? Should I visit this friend or not? In all thesedecisions, whatever is you're trying to decide, you have to make them according tosome set of principles. Ultimately, you do make them according to someset of principles, ideas that you have the world, about how the worldworks, about God, about life, about your life. Maybe you thoughtabout the price of gas or maybe you thought about the importance of the assignmentor the nature of the friendship, and then, in observing these things,and severe early other things as well you made, you drew some sort ofconclusion. Well, in observing this decisionmaking process, I just want to pointout that we all have rules that we follow, laws that need to beobeyed, frameworks of principles that we look at that help us to make ourdecisions. But God is different. Unlike us, God has no rules thathe follows, no principles that he keeps an eye on. Now, thatdoesn't mean that God isn't good or that he doesn't do wise things or goodthings. It just means there's no ten commandments or constitution behind God by whichhe's making his decisions by. There's no...

...law or set of principles that Godlooks to and says, okay, I've got to make sure I keep myselfand the things that I do aligned with that. God is different than usin this way. There's no rule, no constitution, no commandment, noprinciple outside of God that he looks at and he depends on. There's nothingbehind God, no first thing before him. There's nothing deciding for God, nothinggenerating God or his plans or his actions. But for us he isour first principle. Because he is this way, because there is nothing behindhim, there's no constitution driving him, no commandment that he's trying to follow, nothing outside of himself. It means that we can and must look tohim as the first of all things, because he is the beginning of allthings, the eternal and steadfast beginning of all things. How do we understandwhat love is? How do we understand what wisdom is? How do weunderstand what law is? What principle is? It all begins with him who hasno beginning. He is our first principle, he is our ten commandments, our Constitution, our covenant, as the Scriptures say, by him andto him and through him are all things. There are many principles and laws inthis world, but God is the first principle, the first law,the starting place for all things. Now he's not just a law, he'snot just a principle. He is our trying God and three persons, Father, son and Holy Spirit who relates to...

...us. He is not just acommand he is the commander. He is not just love, he is alover. He loves US, he commands US, he charges us, buthe is our starting place. And because he is the true God and notan idol, not a demon, not the vain imagination of men, butbecause he is God, the True God, according to his eternal divine nature,he is our king and everything depends on him. Everything depends on him, and that's why Paul can conclude as he does in First Corinthians ten.He says whatever we do, we do according to his will, and wedo it all for the glory of God, whether we eat or drink, eventhese mundane things, these average things, these everyday things, even those things, we do all for the glory of God. Ultimately, it's allto redound to him. Ultimately, it's all for him. Psalm one hundredand thirty six speaks of it. That's in this way as well. He'sthe one who created all of these things, who spread out the earth, whomade the great lights, who made the sun, made the moon,made the stars? WHO GIVES US OUR BREAD? He at the end ofthe Psalm, remember, it is he who remembered us in our lowest state, who gives food to all flesh. That's why the Psalm ends give thanksto the God of Heaven for his steadfast love endures forever. But here's theproblem, though, we owe him all things, though we owe him morethan we can ever imagine. Without God...

...first setting us free from our bondageto sin, from the dominion that the devil has over us in our sin, we are not able to give God the glory that we're at that weought, we're not able to follow him as we ought. God may betrue, God may be our compass, but before the saving work of Jesusin our lives, we're unable to read the compass and we don't care toread the compass. We don't want to follow God. We don't give himhonor. That doesn't mean that he stops being that. He still is that, we just don't follow it. Instead of going to his throne of grace, instead of living in the splendor of holiness, instead of enjoying the goodgifts that are on our tables, instead of loving our father and praying tohim, we wander around on his earth, getting ourselves into trouble, worshiping idols, serving demons, as Paul spoke about last time. Paul and Glaciersfor eight describes this kind of life. He says formally, when you didnot know God, you were enslave to those that, by nature, arenot God's. What a slavery, what an awful thing to be under allthe time. For those of us who have been rescued for that, fromthat, this is a great joy, a reason to give things, areason to look at our food and praise the God who made it, theGod who gave it to us. It also, brothers and sisters, givesus great reason to pity and to mourn for those who do not yet knowGod, who are still in their sin, who still are enslave to those that, by nature, are not God's who fear death, who every dayare walking in its shadow and fear it and struggle and give their praise notto God but to created things, who...

...put their hope and their fear andthe things of this world who put there, who are entrapped by this present evilage. We ought to pity them and mourn for them and tell themof the hope that God gives to us in Jesus Christ. If the problemis is that, in our sin were broken and that we can't give himthe glory that he deserves, we can't live in the freedom that he givesus, the good news and the solution that God gives to us in theGospel is that he does set us free in Jesus through Jesus Christ, heenters into the world and he takes on human nature. Right before the verseI just read in Galatians for the Paul says this. He says when thefullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of awoman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying Abbafather, so that you are no longer a slave but a son, andif a son, then an heir through Christ. Formerly you were enslave tothose who are not God's, but now you call the one true God fatherthrough Jesus, who died for you, who redeemed you, who brought youout from under the curse of the law. So one of the things that Paulis speaking about, one of the Paul Things Paul is thinking through,is he addresses this question about meet sacrifice to idols. Can we eat thisfood that might be presented to us? Is He is first of all rememberingthe God who made it. The Earth...

...is the Lord's and the fullness areof it's all God's. It's not ultimately some idol or a demon behind anidol. It's God's more than that. Or, in addition to that,he's also remembering that this God that has freed us from idolatry. He's freedus from enslavement so that we can eat these things, not no longer underfear. We have a freedom to enjoy God's good gifts and to give thanksto God for them. These are the kinds of things that have been purchasedfor us through Christ. When Paul says we have been redeemed out of thisslavery, it's good to take a moment, beloved, and just think about whatthis freedom means. In our confession of Faith, in Chapter Twenty,there's a whole section called on Christian liberty or of Christian Liberty, and itlists these various freedoms that are purchased for us by Christ, the things heredeems us out and it's a slavery he redeems us out of and into thesekinds of freedoms. I want to list some of them for you. Here'ssome of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens the Kingdom of Heaven. Through Christ. We enjoy the freedom to obey God with childlike love and a willing mind. We have the freedom from guilt of sin, freedom from the condemning wrathof God, freedom from this present evil world, freedom from the bondage toSatan, freedom from dominion of Sin, freedom from the evil of afflictions,freedom from the sting of death, freedom for the grave, from the graveand everlasting damnation, freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law and greater freedomto the throne of grace in the new covenant than in the old. Somany things, and we could list others.

When we are walking in this world, when we are eating and drinking, we are people that are no longerenslaved. We are people who are free and can eat our bread anddrink our wine and eat our Turkey and all the rest, enjoy it infreedom. This is what Jesus obtained for us through his blood, by sheddinghis own blood, he got for US freedom, and it's this freedom thatwe celebrate when we worship on the Lord's Day, knowing that in his resurrectionthe victory is confirmed and our freedom is assured. Sundays are like the Christianfourth of July. Every Sunday Independence Day, and we get to sit down andrejoice and celebrate at this wonderful thing that we have. We get tobanquet with other people and say, look at what God has done for us. Brothers and sisters in Christ and even not on Sundays, even when we'rejust eating and drinking and living our lives in this world, we still enjoythat freedom. It's not just like a one day thing, it's all ofour lives. Sure, we are still in this world, but we're nolonger of it, we no longer belong, we're no longer bound to it andwe can live our lives and let go a little bit, celebrate andGive Glory to God. It's a freedom that changes everything. Being freed fromsin, being freed from lawlessness, being freed from idolatry, being free fromdemons, Satan, being free to be childlike worshipers of God and followers ofher son. We have great joy.

He is our king, our numberone priority, the focus of all things. He is and becomes through Christ,or I should say we. He's always our true north, he's alwaysour compass, but through Christ now we start to follow him. That way, God is steadfast in his love always and at all times, but inChrist now we begin to appreciate it and follow him and love him as weare. He becomes our first principle. Our Commandments are covenant by him andTrue Him. And through him are all things. Through Christ, whatever wedo, we do according to his will and according to his honor and forhis glory, and with all kinds of thankfulness. We give thanks as salt, the Psalm ends, to God of Heaven for his steadfast love endures forever, a love that we know through Jesus Christ, his son. With thoseprinciples laid down, we now begin and are able to think through the challengingsituations we find in our lives, and even the not challenging ones. Whateverwe do, hard times and easy times and complicated times, we can doit all to the glory of God. And so when we think about oureating, as Paul thinks with the Corinthians and gives them wisdom and guidance onhow they ought to think through this question about eat, eating, food,sacrifice to idols, he says one of them. The things he says,is eat whatever you want. You don't need to be bothered even to raisethis question. You don't need to think about this as a question of conscience. Why? Because the earth is the Lord's and the fullness of thereof,it belongs to him, not an idol.

You are his son. Enjoy it. Gladly, you can eat of it from him and to him andif someone offers so, if someone offers you food, you don't need tocheck first and see if it was offered to an idol or not. Justenjoy it and enjoy it to the Lord. It's not the ignorance of whether itwas offered to an idol or not that protects you. It's the knowledgethat God is the true God and the only true God, and that allthese things belong to him. But the other thing he tells us is thatwe don't look only to our own needs. He says, let no one seekhis own good, but the good of his neighbor. This is asecond principle that must be applied. A second principle that God wants us toattend to is we make our decisions. If our freedom causes another person tostumble, we let go of our rights, not because we don't have due appreciationto God or thanks to God for our freedom, but out of thatappreciation, out of our love for him, we sacrifice ourselves for others if oureating causes others to stumble and pay homage to false gods, or perhapsin in other ways. We do not partake and that seems pretty simple,and sometimes, honestly, it is, but sometimes the pressures can be greatand it's right to have these things very firm in our minds, very clearin our minds, so that we can navigate the complicated situations and the pressuresituations when they come. In Corinth, this was the case. Idolatry andfood and neighbors. These weren't just questioned, the esoteric questions about religion. Thesedinners, these parties, these opportunities that they had to eat with oneanother, were the means by which they advanced themselves in society, at leastthose who had the opportunity to. These were the networking events, these werethe deal making times, this is when...

...the positioning would happen. Hierarchies andranks and authority and these kind of things were so important in Rome. Thecommon good, the joining together, the working together for the benefit of peaceand and civil society, while contwall increasing your ranks, this was what reallyreally mattered. So to give up on these things, to walk back onthese things, to say to your host no, thank you when everyone aroundyou is eating, when all this event is about something that will possibly benefityou and your career and your place and all of this, especially when you'redoing it for a weaker person, a weaker brother, perhaps that could bea very hard thing and a very challenging thing. And what Paul is askingthem in that moment with Paul is requiring of them and of us in thosemoments, is to go back to the beginning and to remember our principles,to remember God and what he has done for us in Christ, to rememberthat, first and foremost, above anything in this world, our identity isin him, our freedom is in him, and that we have a life thatis that goes beyond this world, that goes beyond the things of thisworld, and that we can give up things like rank and money and abig house and a lot of followers and even our own lives for the sakeof that kind of freedom that we have in Christ. The freedom that wehave in him, the redemption that we have through his blood is worth losingeverything. And when we have that in our minds and when we have thatclearly in our hearts, when we remember his steadfast love for us and thathe will never let us go and that he gives us all good things thatwe need, both for this life and...

...the life to come. I thinkthings do get a little easier sometimes, we get a little clearer about thekinds of things that we need to do, the kind of sacrifices that we needto make, when we remember that we do these things for the gloryof God and through his work for us, because he gives us a higher end, a higher purpose, a better promise and a better life, andhe does it through his very own love. We don't need sharp elbows to getour ways, our way up into the Kingdom of Heaven. God descendsto us and gives to us the very blood and life of his own son. So my encouragement to you from the scriptures is to put your faith inhim. Look to God, who gives the source of all of these things, not only for the source of things in this life but also the lifeto come. And as you put your faith in him, through Jesus Christ, the son of God, give thanks for the things on your table,make wise and good decisions about whom you eat with and how you eat withand how you eat and all the rest, and give glory to God. andwhatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, let's pray our heavenlyfather, we do give you thanks and we give you praise. We refuseto give this honor and this glory to other created beings, and certainly notto those whom seek nothing but our own destruction, our own death, ourtrouble and a stealing of your glory. Lord, let us not turn tofalse idols and let us not turn to the things of this world as away to secure our freedom, to get...

...food and shelter and honor and allthe rest. But, Lord, let us look to you and to youalone, as the King of Heaven, as the God above all gods,the one who made all of these things and does great wonders. In YourPsalm, you talk to us about how you struck down the first board ofEgypt, how you brought Israel out from slavery and into the Promised Land.You have done this for us, but even better, in rescuing us outof the dominion of darkness and bringing us into the Kingdom of your beloved son. Oh Lord, forgive us for not living as citizens of that kingdom.Forgive us for being too tied to the things of this world, for notenjoying them as we ought, for despising them as we ought not, fortying ourselves to them, for fearing them, for hoping in them, for lovingthem too much. Lord, we ask that you would forgive us forthese things and instead, let us look to you through the salvation offered tous in Jesus, and give you thanks with every bite, with every drink, with every good conversation. Let us give thanks to you and our heartsand with our mouths, for you are go so good to us, andindeed your steadfast love indures forever. May You receive all praise and honor andglory now and forever. Amen.

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