The Father Feeds His Children
A sermon based on Psalm 145
Sunday, June 17, 2012 – 1st Article to the Apostles' Creed (Part 2)
For a couple of years my dad thought his name was, Dad-can-I? At least that's what he said. He joked that every time my brother or I would address him, we'd always begin with "Dad, can I have...?" followed by our request. "Dad, can I have the car on Friday?" "Dad, can I have ten bucks for a movie?" "Dad, can I get tickets to that game?"
Where there was something we wanted, we went to dad. We knew that he had the resources and the ability to meet our desires. And sometimes he'd give us what we asked for. Other times he didn't. But he always gave what he thought was best for his sons. And my dad did a wonderful job of providing for his children.
In fact, I just got back from my folks place where dad did a wonderful job of providing for my needs again—with steaks and wine, with my favorite meals and delicious snacks. He even treated me to a movie in 3D and filled my suitcase with dress shirts he would no longer wear.
Why did dad do all that for me? Because that's what good dads do. They love their children. They long to provide for their children. They strive to meet their needs.
And that's exactly what our heavenly Father does too. In our text for this Father's Day, King David praises God the Father for providing for all of his needs. And as we continue to examine Luther's Catechism on the Apostle's Creed this morning, we look at the second part of the first article and see that our Father feeds us, his children, still today. Let's read Psalm 145 (feel free to follow along in your worship folder) and let's ask, "What does this mean?"
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. 2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. 5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. 7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. 11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. 14 The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
I. He Feeds Us By His Love
Does your dad love you? Unfortunately, not everyone can answer "yes" to that question. For some, their dad is dead and gone. For others, dad was abusive and unloving. But for those who can answer "yes," how do you know? Maybe you'd point to the good things he provides—food, shelter, clothes (and often so much more). Maybe you'd point to the love he's shown you in taking care of your other needs, defending and protecting you. Maybe you'd point to the times he's told you that he loves you.
Well, even though not everyone can say their earthly father loves them, everyone can say their heavenly Father loves them. And all of us can point to the many blessings in our lives that God has showered on us every day:
"And I believe that God still preserves me by richly and daily providing clothing and shoes, food and drink, property and home, spouse and children, land, cattle and all I own, and all I need to keep my body and life."
And we can point to the way he keeps us safe from hunger or danger:
"God also preserves me by defending me against all danger, guarding and protecting me from all evil."
No wonder the Psalmist was led to declare: "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing."
He recognized that God provided all that we need, just as Jesus said in the Gospel lesson for today. A loving Father doesn't give a scorpion or stone, but fish and bread. Evil dictators take care of their own kids. How much more won't a God who loves you—who's crazy about you—take care of your needs?!
He opens his hand (with no effort on his part) and we're taken care of. You know that we've had some financial struggles at Grace—behind on our bills to the tune of a little over $14,000. But what you maybe don't know is that a few weeks ago we were given a gift by an anonymous donor—a non-member who doesn't even live in Alaska—in the amount of $15,000. God opened his hand and satisfied our desires. [Snap.] Just like that!
Why does God bless us so much? Purely out of love! Think of your pets, if you have any. Why do you feed them? Do they work for you? Do they earn their keep? Not really. But you open your hand and feed your pet. And probably give it more than just food. Why? Out of love. There is no other reason. And that's why God blesses us so much too. Luther wrote, "All this God does only because he is my good and merciful Father in heaven, and not because I have earned or deserved it."
God has certainly blessed us by his love!
So what's our response? Pure praise and thanks, right? Well… if we're honest, not always. Sometimes we hear the word promise that God "the desires of every living thing" and we think or even say, "Well then, God, here's what I want. And we proceed to place our order. But such malcontent (and that's really what it is) shows our ingratitude and says to God, "You haven't given me enough yet!" "If only I had ______", and you fill in the blank, "then I would be happy." What ingratitude we show!
Or, we misuse and abuse the gifts God has given. We use them for perverted and selfish purposes. One is given a computer, an incredibly useful tool, but uses it for evil illegal downloads or bringing pornography into the home. Another is given food in many varieties and great amounts, but uses it to over-eat and under-exercise. Another is given many dollars from God (who gives us the ability to work) and spends them recklessly, putting the support of the church out of thanks to God at the bottom of the list of uses—if there is any left. All of us regularly use the blessings God has given and still richly and daily showers us on us, for selfish, self-serving ends.
What's the result? We incur God's wrath. We try his patience. "Dad-can-I? Dad-can-I? Dad-can-I?" How long would you put up with such arrogant demands driven by a sense of entitlement and ingratitude? God ought to be angry with us. God ought to take away all of his blessings. That would be hell (literally—that's what hell is—the absence of God and all of his blessings).
And when we realize that that's what we deserve for our whiney ingratitude, then, what we desire most is not more stuff, but forgiveness. And God meets that need...
II. He Feeds Us With His Love
God ought to be angry with us. But... But he's not. Instead, verse eight tells us that he is "slow to anger." Literally the Hebrew says he is "long in nose." Does God look like Pinocchio? No. It's a Hebrew idiom. You see, when you get really angry, you get flushed in the face. Your nose gets red like Rudolph. But if you're long of nose, it takes a long time for it to get lit up. It takes a long time for you to get angry. God is very patient. He puts up with our whiney demands and doesn't get angry very quickly. But more than just patient, God even takes away our sin!
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
That love and compassion that God has for us is evident not only the way he blesses us and protects us in the first article, but especially in the way he rescues us in the second article.
King David said, "One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts." And we do tell of God's mighty acts—that God himself took on human flesh to become man like us!
King David said, "5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works." And we do meditate on the wonderful miracles that Jesus performed, proving his divinity!
King David said, "They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds." And this morning I tell you of God's awesome work in dying on the cross. I tell you of the power of that act: to pay for your every sin! I proclaim Jesus' great deed of rising from the dead to prove that you are forgiven—of every abuse of God's gifts, of every selfish demand driven by ingratitude, of every sin you've ever committed!
King David said, "They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." And we do sing of the righteousness that God has given to us through Jesus.
That desire for forgiveness that God's law has awakened in us, that deep yearning to be at peace with God, well, that desire, God satisfies. He opens his hand to satisfy that desire by opening both hands to be nailed to a cross. He gives us our food at the proper time, feeding us not just with physical food, but with spiritual food—with the Gospel, with body and blood, in, with, and under the bread and wine. And by that food he assures us we are forgiven.
And the only way that we know all this is because one generation did tell the next of God's love. And that generation told the next, and that generation told the next… This week as we discussed different Bible translations at our district convention, I was reminded again of what a blessing it is that we have a Bible in English at all! That's because God in his grace preserved the truth for us. From our spiritual fathers, and in many of our cases, through our physical fathers, we've learned these truths. And if that's the case, be sure to thank your dad for that great gift! (Thanks, dad!)
Yes, God certainly "is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made." God has not only blessed us by his love, but he has blessed us with his love—with his forgiving love in Christ. He certainly does provide for all that we need. Maybe not all we want, but definitely all we need.
"Well, what about where it says he satisfies the desires of every living thing?!" one might object. But look again at the context. Verse 19 says, "He fulfills the desires of those who fear him." You see, when we fear God, what we desire changes. Fear God and we don't want sinful things. We don't want what will serve me. We want what will bring glory to him.
Now, what's our response? "For all this I ought to thank and praise, to serve and obey him." We can't help but thank and praise God just as King David did in Psalm 145. In fact, we can't not praise him! And not just with our words, but we praise him in how we live. We praise him every day for ever and ever. And we praise him by telling others. Don't keep it to yourself. Tell everyone that our loving Father feeds us, his children, by providing for all of our needs, especially satisfying our desire for peace with him.
And today, on Father's Day, I'll especially encourage you to tell the next generation of our loving Father. Support the work of the church here that at the school the next generation may know of God's mighty acts. Support the work of our synod that trains pastors and teachers and sends out missionaries that the next generation may know of his wonderful works. Tell your own kids and grandkids yourself that the next generation might know of his great deeds. Then, together we can, "celebrate [God's] abundant goodness and joyfully sing of [his] righteousness." "This is most certainly true." Amen.