Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 1 year ago

A Thanksgiving Psalm

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

1 Corinthians 10:23-33 and Psalm 136.

The Cross and was. We consider that great and steadfast love which was demonstrated for us there, and not merely demonstrated but effectively brought about our justification, the forgiveness of our sins, the imputation of Christ's righteousness, our access to the very throne of grace, that we 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 this great act of love by which we have been saved. Lord, we ask that 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 songs to 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 very bread of life, for the sustaining in the nourishment of our souls, that you would give us keen ears to listen, you would open up our minds and our hearts that we might receive that which you have given and receive it gladly, that we might live by it. We asked that you would bless your word 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 going to read two passages this morning as we begin this week to turn our thoughts to Thanksgiving feasts. Want to read the two passages that think about food and God. First from First Corinthians chapter ten, and then from Psalm one hundred and thirty six. So if you would...

...please turn your attention with me to first Corinthians. This is in the New Testament, one of Paul's letters for First 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'll read to the end of the chapter. All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising a question on the 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 to go eat whatever, whatever is set before you, without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you this has been offered in sacrifice, then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience, I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the Church of God, just as I try to please everyone and everything. I do not seeking my own advantage but that of many, that they may be saved. All right, and now let's turn to Psalm one hundred and thirty...

...six and consider the Lord, the God who gives us all of this food. Psalm one hundred and thirty six, here we of a description, among other things, a description of the Lord and his divine nature. I mean his supremacy in his divine nature and also in his works, by which he saves US and loves us. Psalm one hundred and thirty six, give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his steadfast love and doers forever. Give thanks to the god of Gods for his steadfast love and doers forever. Give thanks to the Lord of Lords for his steadfast love endures forever to him who alone does great wonders for his steadfast love and doers forever. To Him who, by understanding, made the heavens for his steadfast love and doers forever, to him who spread out the earth above the waters for his spet steadfast love and doers forever. To Him who made the great lights for his steadfast love and doers forever, the son to rule over the day for his steadfast love and doers forever, the moon and stars to rule over the night for his steadfast love endures forever. To Him who struck down the first born of Egypt for his steadfast love and doers forever 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 doers forever. To Him who divided the Red Sea into for his steadfast love and doers forever for and made Israel Pass through the midst of it, for the steadfast love and doers forever, but overthrow Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever.

To Him who led his people through the Wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever, to him who struck down the great kings for his steadfast love and doers forever, and killed the mighty kings for his steadfast love and doers forever. Sihon, the King of the Amorites, for his steadfast love and doers forever, and Oga King of Bashan, for his steadfast love and doers forever, and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever, a heritage to Israel, his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever. It is he who remembered us in our low estate for his steadfast love and doures forever, and rescued us from all our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever. He who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of Heaven for his steadfast love indures forever. Amen. So as we hear of our God and his great power, his mighty works and doing 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 our food, this same one who reigns above all gods, this one who does great 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 the Sun and the moon and the stars, all the way down to the very bread on our table, the Cup to our lips. God steadfast love and does endure forever, because he is God,...

...because he is steadfast, because he is love. And so we have both God's great supremacy in these acts that are so hard to even begin to capture in our imaginations, to very specific and concrete things, the very things on our table, and also these situations we find ourselves in with certain people and in certain places, decisions we have to make about who we eat, with, how we eat, what we eat. All of these things we ought to think about in light of God, 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 put our faith in him and as we do so, he gives us the opportunity to give thanks to him, to remember the freedom that we have in him and to love others as well. These things that I just mentioned, the thinking about God is the source of things, thinking about our freedom and our food and our responsibilities all in light of him, is a framework that we have in scripture, principles that we have in scripture that teach us how we ought to live. When Paul speaks to the church in Corinth Corinth, he speaks to them in a very particular and difficult set of circumstances. As we've been 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 to kind of think through things, where you have to process the situation and the circumstances through the principles of scripture, and he does that again here, an issue he's brought up before about food sacrificed to idols. What are we to think about? How are we to make these kinds of decisions? Paul tells us how and he gives us an opportunity...

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

...law or set of principles that God looks to and says, okay, I've got to make sure I keep myself and the things that I do aligned with that. God is different than us in this way. There's no rule, no constitution, no commandment, no principle outside of God that he looks at and he depends on. There's nothing behind God, no first thing before him. There's nothing deciding for God, nothing generating God or his plans or his actions. But for us he is our first principle. Because he is this way, because there is nothing behind him, 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 to him as the first of all things, because he is the beginning of all things, the eternal and steadfast beginning of all things. How do we understand what love is? How do we understand what wisdom is? How do we understand what law is? What principle is? It all begins with him who has no beginning. He is our first principle, he is our ten commandments, our Constitution, our covenant, as the Scriptures say, by him and to him and through him are all things. There are many principles and laws in this world, but God is the first principle, the first law, the starting place for all things. Now he's not just a law, he's not just a principle. He is our trying God and three persons, Father, son and Holy Spirit who relates to...

...us. He is not just a command he is the commander. He is not just love, he is a lover. He loves US, he commands US, he charges us, but he is our starting place. And because he is the true God and not an idol, not a demon, not the vain imagination of men, but because 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 we do it all for the glory of God, whether we eat or drink, even these mundane things, these average things, these everyday things, even those things, we do all for the glory of God. Ultimately, it's all to redound to him. Ultimately, it's all for him. Psalm one hundred and thirty six speaks of it. That's in this way as well. He's the one who created all of these things, who spread out the earth, who made the great lights, who made the sun, made the moon, made the stars? WHO GIVES US OUR BREAD? He at the end of the 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 thanks to the God of Heaven for his steadfast love endures forever. But here's the problem, though, we owe him all things, though we owe him more than we can ever imagine. Without God...

...first setting us free from our bondage to 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 we ought, we're not able to follow him as we ought. God may be true, God may be our compass, but before the saving work of Jesus in our lives, we're unable to read the compass and we don't care to read the compass. We don't want to follow God. We don't give him honor. 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 good gifts that are on our tables, instead of loving our father and praying to him, we wander around on his earth, getting ourselves into trouble, worshiping idols, serving demons, as Paul spoke about last time. Paul and Glaciers for eight describes this kind of life. He says formally, when you did not know God, you were enslave to those that, by nature, are not God's. What a slavery, what an awful thing to be under all the time. For those of us who have been rescued for that, from that, this is a great joy, a reason to give things, a reason to look at our food and praise the God who made it, the God who gave it to us. It also, brothers and sisters, gives us great reason to pity and to mourn for those who do not yet know God, who are still in their sin, who still are enslave to those that, by nature, are not God's who fear death, who every day are walking in its shadow and fear it and struggle and give their praise not to God but to created things, who...

...put their hope and their fear and the things of this world who put there, who are entrapped by this present evil age. We ought to pity them and mourn for them and tell them of the hope that God gives to us in Jesus Christ. If the problem is is that, in our sin were broken and that we can't give him the glory that he deserves, we can't live in the freedom that he gives us, the good news and the solution that God gives to us in the Gospel is that he does set us free in Jesus through Jesus Christ, he enters into the world and he takes on human nature. Right before the verse I just read in Galatians for the Paul says this. He says when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, 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 Abba father, so that you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through Christ. Formerly you were enslave to those who are not God's, but now you call the one true God father through Jesus, who died for you, who redeemed you, who brought you out from under the curse of the law. So one of the things that Paul is speaking about, one of the Paul Things Paul is thinking through, is he addresses this question about meet sacrifice to idols. Can we eat this food that might be presented to us? Is He is first of all remembering the God who made it. The Earth...

...is the Lord's and the fullness are of it's all God's. It's not ultimately some idol or a demon behind an idol. 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 freed us from enslavement so that we can eat these things, not no longer under fear. We have a freedom to enjoy God's good gifts and to give thanks to God for them. These are the kinds of things that have been purchased for us through Christ. When Paul says we have been redeemed out of this slavery, it's good to take a moment, beloved, and just think about what this freedom means. In our confession of Faith, in Chapter Twenty, there's a whole section called on Christian liberty or of Christian Liberty, and it lists these various freedoms that are purchased for us by Christ, the things he redeems us out and it's a slavery he redeems us out of and into these kinds of freedoms. I want to list some of them for you. Here's some 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 wrath of God, freedom from this present evil world, freedom from the bondage to Satan, freedom from dominion of Sin, freedom from the evil of afflictions, freedom from the sting of death, freedom for the grave, from the grave and everlasting damnation, freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law and greater freedom to the throne of grace in the new covenant than in the old. So many 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 longer enslaved. We are people who are free and can eat our bread and drink our wine and eat our Turkey and all the rest, enjoy it in freedom. This is what Jesus obtained for us through his blood, by shedding his own blood, he got for US freedom, and it's this freedom that we celebrate when we worship on the Lord's Day, knowing that in his resurrection the victory is confirmed and our freedom is assured. Sundays are like the Christian fourth of July. Every Sunday Independence Day, and we get to sit down and rejoice and celebrate at this wonderful thing that we have. We get to banquet 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're just eating and drinking and living our lives in this world, we still enjoy that freedom. It's not just like a one day thing, it's all of our lives. Sure, we are still in this world, but we're no longer of it, we no longer belong, we're no longer bound to it and we can live our lives and let go a little bit, celebrate and Give Glory to God. It's a freedom that changes everything. Being freed from sin, being freed from lawlessness, being freed from idolatry, being free from demons, Satan, being free to be childlike worshipers of God and followers of her son. We have great joy.

He is our king, our number one 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 always our compass, but through Christ now we start to follow him. That way, God is steadfast in his love always and at all times, but in Christ now we begin to appreciate it and follow him and love him as we are. He becomes our first principle. Our Commandments are covenant by him and True Him. And through him are all things. Through Christ, whatever we do, we do according to his will and according to his honor and for his 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 those principles laid down, we now begin and are able to think through the challenging situations we find in our lives, and even the not challenging ones. Whatever we do, hard times and easy times and complicated times, we can do it all to the glory of God. And so when we think about our eating, as Paul thinks with the Corinthians and gives them wisdom and guidance on how 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 raise this 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 and if someone offers so, if someone offers you food, you don't need to check first and see if it was offered to an idol or not. Just enjoy it and enjoy it to the Lord. It's not the ignorance of whether it was offered to an idol or not that protects you. It's the knowledge that God is the true God and the only true God, and that all these things belong to him. But the other thing he tells us is that we don't look only to our own needs. He says, let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. This is a second principle that must be applied. A second principle that God wants us to attend to is we make our decisions. If our freedom causes another person to stumble, we let go of our rights, not because we don't have due appreciation to God or thanks to God for our freedom, but out of that appreciation, out of our love for him, we sacrifice ourselves for others if our eating causes others to stumble and pay homage to false gods, or perhaps in in other ways. We do not partake and that seems pretty simple, and sometimes, honestly, it is, but sometimes the pressures can be great and it's right to have these things very firm in our minds, very clear in our minds, so that we can navigate the complicated situations and the pressure situations when they come. In Corinth, this was the case. Idolatry and food and neighbors. These weren't just questioned, the esoteric questions about religion. These dinners, these parties, these opportunities that they had to eat with one another, were the means by which they advanced themselves in society, at least those who had the opportunity to. These were the networking events, these were the deal making times, this is when...

...the positioning would happen. Hierarchies and ranks and authority and these kind of things were so important in Rome. The common good, the joining together, the working together for the benefit of peace and and civil society, while contwall increasing your ranks, this was what really really mattered. So to give up on these things, to walk back on these things, to say to your host no, thank you when everyone around you is eating, when all this event is about something that will possibly benefit you and your career and your place and all of this, especially when you're doing it for a weaker person, a weaker brother, perhaps that could be a very hard thing and a very challenging thing. And what Paul is asking them in that moment with Paul is requiring of them and of us in those moments, 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 remember that, first and foremost, above anything in this world, our identity is in him, our freedom is in him, and that we have a life that is that goes beyond this world, that goes beyond the things of this world, and that we can give up things like rank and money and a big house and a lot of followers and even our own lives for the sake of that kind of freedom that we have in Christ. The freedom that we have in him, the redemption that we have through his blood is worth losing everything. And when we have that in our minds and when we have that clearly in our hearts, when we remember his steadfast love for us and that he will never let us go and that he gives us all good things that we need, both for this life and...

...the life to come. I think things do get a little easier sometimes, we get a little clearer about the kinds of things that we need to do, the kind of sacrifices that we need to make, when we remember that we do these things for the glory of God and through his work for us, because he gives us a higher end, a higher purpose, a better promise and a better life, and he does it through his very own love. We don't need sharp elbows to get our ways, our way up into the Kingdom of Heaven. God descends to 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 in him. 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 life to 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 with and how you eat and all the rest, and give glory to God. and whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, let's pray our heavenly father, we do give you thanks and we give you praise. We refuse to give this honor and this glory to other created beings, and certainly not to those whom seek nothing but our own destruction, our own death, our trouble and a stealing of your glory. Lord, let us not turn to false idols and let us not turn to the things of this world as a way to secure our freedom, to get...

...food and shelter and honor and all the rest. But, Lord, let us look to you and to you alone, as the King of Heaven, as the God above all gods, the one who made all of these things and does great wonders. In Your Psalm, you talk to us about how you struck down the first board of Egypt, how you brought Israel out from slavery and into the Promised Land. You have done this for us, but even better, in rescuing us out of 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 not enjoying them as we ought, for despising them as we ought not, for tying ourselves to them, for fearing them, for hoping in them, for loving them too much. Lord, we ask that you would forgive us for these things and instead, let us look to you through the salvation offered to us in Jesus, and give you thanks with every bite, with every drink, with every good conversation. Let us give thanks to you and our hearts and with our mouths, for you are go so good to us, and indeed your steadfast love indures forever. May You receive all praise and honor and glory now and forever. Amen.

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