Thanks for the Memories
Illustration: Gratitude Is the Natural Response of a Rescue
Imagine you fall off the side of an ocean liner and, not knowing how to swim, begin to drown. Someone on the deck spots you, flailing in the water and throws you a life preserver. It lands directly in front of you and, just before losing consciousness, you grab hold for dear life. They pull you up onto the deck, and you cough the water out of your lungs. People gather around, rejoicing that you are safe and waiting expectantly while you regain your senses. After you finally catch your breath, you open your mouth and say: "Did you see the way I grabbed onto that life preserver? How tightly I held on to it? Did you notice the definition in my biceps and the dexterity of my wrists? I was all over that thing!"
Needless to say, it would be a bewildering and borderline insane response. To draw attention to the way you cooperated with the rescue effort denigrates the whole point of what happened, which is that you were saved. A much more likely chain of events is that you would immediately seek out the person who threw the life preserver, and you would thank them. Not just superficially, either. You would embrace them, ask them their name, invite them to dinner, maybe give them your cabin! (William McDavid, Ethan Richardson, Paul Zahl, Law & Gospel (Mockingbird Ministries, 2015), page 73)
The Psalmist tells us to remember, to reflect and to give thanks for 3 elements:
- The wonders of God – which we looked at last week
- Heroes of faith – Servants of God: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
- Remember His covenant of God with you.
- Notice we are the supportive actor and actresses in passage that Elizabeth is going to read – we are to be thankful:
Psalm 105:1-10 (NIV)
1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 6 O descendants of Abraham his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones. 7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. 8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. 10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
I. Who are your heroes of faith? The Psalmist writes about the descendants of Abraham, the sons of Jacob, Isaac. Before we look at God’s covenant with us; we need to give thanks for our heroes of faith.
A. Who are those individuals of faith that have shared their lives and the grace of God with you so that you are now part of God’s covenant? Without people of covenant we would not have the faith that we have.
B. Turn to your neighbor – maybe someone other than your family member that you are sitting with and share with one another who your heroes of faith are.
C. When I think of the heroes of faith that affected me:
1. My parents - especially my father who taught me more about being a pastor than I learned in seminary
2. My mother-in-law Lorene – she lived her faith out in service
3. There is one pastor that shared his covenant faith with me; my Young Life leader; and a good friend growing up and my best friend:
a. Pastor - Uncle Jack McAdoo – a story teller, a practical down to earth Christian whose life was completely turned around by Christ – who became an evangelist a revivalist. He is the one who created the large offering plate that I stood in when I was a teen and totally committed my life to Christ.
b. Ray Saunders my Young Life leader when I was in high school who whet my appetite to study the Word. He challenged me and others to learn what Christ wanted and that we would find His directive in the Word.
c. Rick Johnson a good friend who was 2 years older than me – we were in Scouting together. He lived a life as a teenager that put Christ first. He didn’t just talk about living for Christ – he walked the walk. Even in his untimely death from cancer he gave a message that Christ was his salvation.
d. And my best friend in life, Mary Beth who has loved me, stood beside me, corrected me, and supported me for 39 years.
II. Those are my heroes of faith and I have more but let’s move to the other element the Psalmist tells us about – the covenant. The covenant mentioned in this Psalm is the old covenant; we have a new covenant.
A. What is a “covenant”? In ancient times, a covenant was a treaty between two parties. There were two kinds of covenants:
1. A voluntary agreement between equals (as with David and Jonathan, 1 Sam 18:3)
2. And treaties of loyalty between a great king and a lesser king (his vassal).
B. In the Bible, covenants between God and his people are always of the second type. God always dictates the terms of his covenants, which assert his sovereignty and kingship and the people’s obligation of faith and obedience. (NIV Bible Dictionary)
C. The “old covenant” got its start with promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12. These initial promises were: Land, People, God’s blessing. This covenant was amplified in the days of Moses, David, and the prophets, and expanded to include the law and the establishment of the priesthood with its tabernacle and temple sacrifices.
D. The “Old Covenant” roughly corresponds with God’s dealing with man in the Old Testament scriptures. Some important aspects of the old covenant:
1. Focused on conformity to the law, like: Keeping the Sabbath holy and following worship regulations (annual festivals and animal sacrifices for sin)
2. God is wholly separate from humankind.
- Only 1 of 12 tribes could be a priest
- Only priests on duty could enter the tabernacle
- Only 1 priest a day could enter the holy place
3. Forgiveness was secured through the blood of animals offered by people to God at the tabernacle. Though sacrifices were offered daily, there was still the continuing problem of slavery to sin.
4. Salvation dependent upon obedience to the law. In other words, it was not secure. It depended upon one’s current level of obedience to the demands of the law.
III. But we are under the New Covenant - What is the “new covenant? The first of “new covenant” is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34, written 600 years before the time of Christ, and this passage is quoted and explained in the eighth chapter of Hebrews:
Hebrews 8:7-13 (NIV)
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." 13 By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
A. So we see that God promised, when the “new covenant” would be enacted, that he would “put His laws in their minds and write His laws on their hearts”. He would forgive humankind’s wickedness and forget about their sins. Some pretty awesome promises – and with the words of Jesus at the Last Supper we are told that that time has now come. Through the blood of Jesus – the New Covenant – a new agreement between God and humankind - was to be ushered in.
B. What difference does the “new covenant” make to us? It means God will change us from within. Rather than our attempting to change ourselves to meet His standards, the law Christ and His grace does the work.
1. The Good News of the New Covenant is that we no longer have to try and improve ourselves. We know God’s law – and by ourselves we would be just like the Israelites in the Old Testament. We’ll be unable to live by it. It’s just not in us – for we are by nature a sinners!
2. But, now that the New Covenant has been established through Jesus – We are promised that GOD WILL CHANGE US FROM WITHIN. He will write His word on our hearts. He will fill us with His very presence in His Holy Spirit.
C. It means we have full access to God’s presence (both now and for eternity). Revelation 1:6 (NIV) and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
1. Remember how only the high priest could enter behind the veil and only once a year? The Easter story tells us that the veil was torn in two – from top to bottom. No longer was God only allowing one person a year to come into His presence at the tabernacle or temple – not under the New Covenant! We can come into God’s presence through Christ.
2. The good news is that when Jesus died on the cross, pouring out His blood for us, He freed us from our sins – and “made us to be a kingdom and priests”. We are all now given the access that priests alone had. That means our worship is so much more personal now. We have full access, and in fact are encouraged to come into the throne room of God.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
D. Although the old covenant provided a means for covering up our sins and being forgiven – it did not provide the means for us to STOP sinning. Even the most faithful followers of the Old Covenant were still a slave to the sinful nature.
1. Hebrews 9:15 (NIV) For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
2. Because Christ died as a ransom for us, we have been set free from our sins. And because we can now have the Holy Spirit of God living within us, we have the power to overcome sin at our disposal 24/7/365.
E. It means we never need to doubt our salvation. (It comes with an “eternal lifetime guarantee”.)
Hebrews 9:25-26 (NIV)
25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
1. Our sins have been paid for – once for all. When Christ died on the cross He paid for all the sins of everyone living at that time, and all people who would come after.
2. He paid for all our sins – not just the ones we committed before we surrendered our life to Him – but the ones we will commit tomorrow or the next day. They have ALL been forgiven. And nothing we do will change that. It’s been paid for – in full – by His blood.
3. That means we can be confident of receiving the salvation He purchased for me – and we don’t have to worry that maybe we will lose our salvation because of a sin or because we somehow fail to live up to a list of good behaviors.
How do we enter into the New Covenant? Simply we have to say yes to His offer of salvation.
- And so – as He did then, He still does today. He offers the incredible benefits of the New Covenant to those who commit to a life of discipleship – a life of total surrender to His loving leadership.
- In exchange for your life given to Him, in the New Covenant, God offers you
- The power of the Holy Spirit to change you from within
- Free total access to God through Jesus Christ the King
- Freedom from bondage to sin, and
- The assurance of eternal salvation
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.