For earth and our existence in it
II. For heaven and our home in it
Acts 17:24-28 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and
earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ In the name of Jesus Christ, Creator, Provider, Savior, dear Christian friends, The young child gives thanks to God for the furry love and comfort of the newest stuffed animal. The teenager offers thankfulness for a passing grade into the next level of learning. The young adult shows gratitude for the first regular paycheck. The middle-aged person expresses appreciation for another day of good health. The elderly individual gives thanks for the grand- and great-grandchildren.
Are you and I missing the big picture when it comes to offering up our thanks to God?
Do we find ourselves looking at the specific when we might be better served looking at the
general? Are we, as Lutherans are many times accused of, being too narrow-minded when this Thanksgiving holiday rolls around each year?
God is, as Paul calls him here, the Lord of heaven and earth. Where he resides and
where you and I will live one day is his to control. Where you and I reside now and where he is
not far from each one of us is his also to control. He is in charge of both heaven and earth and
who lives where and what happens here and there.
We do well, then, to look at the big picture! Don’t forget all the little things, but in order
to not overlook anything, join with me today and say THANK YOU, LORD OF HEAVEN AND
EARTH! I. For earth and our existence in it II. For heaven and our home in it.
In a mere six twenty-four hour day period, God made the world. How awesome is that?
Light and land, sky and stars, atmosphere and animals, plants and people— everything necessary for life and living on this earth— God created with his powerful Word.
He also made each of us. Generally speaking, this was in the course of nine months
through the amazing and miraculous way he planned for conception and gestation and delivery of each precious soul and body that enters into this world. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. Is it scary to think about how much God controls and directs our lives? Our human nature bristles at the idea that God should be in charge. Didn’t he give me a beautiful mind that I should be able to decide for myself when and where I should live? Didn’t he give me the gift of reason that I should be able to figure out what is best for me? Didn’t he put me in charge of all the other things he created (Gn 1:28)?
Do you really want to be left to your own devices? I actually wish God would control my
life even more. He allows me a free will that, because Jesus lives in me and only because Jesus
THANK YOU, LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH!
I. For earth and our existence in it
II. For heaven and our home in it
2 lives in me, sometimes chooses to do the right things, but, because of the sinful nature that lives in me, often chooses to do the wrong things— things that will anger God and hurt me and destroy others. When my free will is guided by God’s Word and inspired by God’s love for me in Christ Jesus, then I am able to please him with the choices I make.
Jesus set me free from the guilt and punishment of my God-angering wrong choices by
placing himself under the law and making only right choices and doing only right things. Jesus
rescued me from my hell-deserving sins by submitting himself to a blood-soaked and pain-filled death by crucifixion. Jesus proved he is still in charge of our lives by taking his own life back from the grave.
And [God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. God created the world and each of
us. What does the potter need from the clay? God will get along just fine without us and our
good works, but, at the same time, he calls on us to carry them out, telling us that “we are his
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance
for us to do” (Eph 2:10). There he goes again, taking charge of our lives! Can’t he just leave us alone? No...thankfully! He may not need us, but we need him! Just as we are nothing without his act of creation, so we are nothing without his absolution, forgiving us of every sinful thought, word and deed and we are nothing without his motivation, guiding us with his love to use our human hands and human mind to accomplish things that are pleasing to him and beneficial to others. We are all God’s offspring...believer and unbeliever. All have been created by him. All have been forgiven by the sacrificed blood of God’s own Son. Believers confidently trust a home in heaven is theirs, but unbelievers are without the hope of heaven because they reject the work of salvation Jesus has completed for them.
Give thanks to the Lord of heaven and earth that he wants all people to seek him and
perhaps reach out for him and find him, so all can be in heaven with him. The Apostle Paul
spoke these words to a bunch of unbelievers. While they were already God’s offspring by
creation, they had not yet been made his children by sanctification— the work of the Holy Spirit to bring them to saving faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul used their interest in, and devotion to, unnumbered and even unknown gods to get them to know the one true God.
Our existence here on earth is all about our home in heaven and getting other people there
as well. What does the Lord of heaven and earth say our focus should be? “Since then you
have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the
right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:1-2).
What does the Lord of heaven and earth say our mission should be? “Go into all the world
and preach the good news to all creation” (Mk 16:16).
Does the Thanksgiving holiday change any of that? Of course not; it only heightens the
need to focus on Jesus and proclaim him to others. While some of our loved ones will think there is no reason to give thanks this year because of the COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, we can pleasantly comment that we are never alone with the Lord of heaven and earth at our table. While some will conclude there is no reason to give thanks when overwhelmed with obstacles or saddled with sickness, we can quietly remind them that Jesus has overcome sin, death and Satan. While some will question if the Lord of heaven and earth is still in charge and, if so, why doesn’t he make things better, we can kindly assure them that he is still Lord of heaven and earth and he might not want to improve things here so that we can always focus on a much better— even perfect— place in heaven!
Let your thankful words be heard and your grateful life be seen by believer and
unbeliever! Give thanks to the Lord of heaven and earth because in him we live and move
and have our being. Your very life— your breathing and blinking, your walking and talking— is
a gift from God, so use it in a way that pleases the Savior who gave his life for you. Give thanks to the Lord of heaven and earth for heaven and our home in it, secured by our Savior Jesus!