Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
God’s providence is a wonderful and amazing truth. And as we considered in Sunday school last week, God was providentially at work preparing the way for the great rediscovery of the gospel in the period we know as the Reformation. The printing press, the Renaissance, a thunderstorm, a corrupt salesman … all used and ordained by the sovereign hand of God to prepare the way for the great re-discovery that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Come and join us this Sunday as we continue our look at the Reformation by focusing on the life of Martin Luther. Sunday school begins at 9:45 AM.
A few other announcements:
- Ladies’ Christmas Party – this Saturday at 5:00PM at the Arendale home (7818 Green Devon Drive, Houston, 77095).
- We will collect the thank offering again this Sunday.
- This week’s devotion is a reflection from Psalm 136 on giving thanks to God.
- Finally, be in prayer for the Lord to continue to sustain and to build his church here in Houston. There are several exciting things we hope to put in place in 2015 … please pray for wisdom and for grace, and that the gospel would spread far and wide in Houston.
God bless and I look forward to worshipping with you all this Lord’s Day.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“A Hymn of Thanksgiving”
Psalm 136:1, 26, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever … Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
The Apostle Paul calls us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18). Believers are called to be a thankful people. Thanksgiving is to fill our hearts and minds. And oh how much we have to be thankful for. And just as we have much for which to be thankful today, so God’s people under the Old Covenant also had much for which to be thankful. Psalm 136 is a glorious thanksgiving hymn. It was the final hymn sung at the Passover meal (Mark 14:26); and serves as a helpful model and template as we seek to be disciples of Christ whose lives ring with a note of thanksgiving.
Broadly speaking, the thanksgiving of Psalm 136 centers around two poles: creation (vv. 1-9) and redemption (vv. 10-22). The Psalmist and the congregation (Psalm 136 was likely sung ‘antiphonally,’ i.e. responsively) gave thanks to the Lord for his great work of creation and his even greater work of redemption. First, note what the Psalmist says regarding the Lord’s glorious work of creation. It was the Lord who “made the heavens … spread out the earth above the waters … and made the great lights” (vv. 4-7). As the Psalmist reflects on the power and the majesty of God on display in creation (see Psalm 19:1-6), his heart rises to praise and thanksgiving. “Give thanks … to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
But secondly, the Psalmist quickly moves to reflect on God’s great work of redemption – his work of redeeming his people from their bondage in Egypt. The Lord “brought Israel out from among them … with a strong hand and an outstretched arm” (vv. 11-12). The Lord “divided the Red Sea in two … made Israel pass through the midst of it … but overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts” (vv. 13-15). Moreover the Psalmist gives thanks for the Lord’s leading his people into the Promised Land. It was Yahweh who “struck down great kings … and gave their land as a heritage” (vv. 17, 21). Yahweh is the God who created the stars and the sun. He is the God who created the universe for his own glory. And He is the God of re-creation. He is the God who makes all things new. He is the God of redemption.
And brothers and sisters, as the Psalmist and the congregation sang this hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, reflecting on his ‘great work’ of the Exodus; how much more should we sing hymns of praise to the Lord, reflecting on the cross-work of Christ. The Exodus was the ‘typical’ salvation of the Old Covenant. That is, it was preparatory and anticipatory of the greater exodus to occur at the cross (Luke 9:31). It was at the cross where God worked salvation finally and fully for his people. It was at the cross where Christ laid down his life for sinners once and for all. It was at the cross where ‘where the body of Christ was offered once and for all’ (Heb 10:10).
Dear friends may we be a thankful people. May we give thanks to the Lord for his grand work of creation! Indeed he hung the stars and knows them by name! But we may we also give thanks for the grandest work of all – the work of redemption – the once and for all work on Calvary – the work where the Son of God gave his life for sinners. Yes, may we give thanks to God in all circumstances!