Galatians 3:26-27 – Thank you, Lord, for washing me clean!
We all have so much for which to thank the Lord. So many things in our lives: homes to live in, food to eat, family and friends, air to breathe, and the list could go on and on. Today we pause and thank the Lord not only for what He’s done for our bodies, but especially for what He’s done for our salvation. We thank the Lord for sending Jesus into this world to live perfectly in our place, to die for our sins on the cross, and then to rise from the dead to prove His victory. There Jesus won some amazing things for us. He won for us the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, a new life, and life forever in heaven. Today we thank the Lord for the tools or the means He uses to get these treasures into our hearts. We thank the Lord for the tools He used to work the miracle of faith in our hearts and still uses to keep us in that faith.
One of the tools God uses is baptism. Well, why is that we need baptism? The fact is that each one of us was born into this world separated from God. “Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” And again, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins.” And “The wages of sin is death.” Each one of us has a deep need. Each one of us needed to be born again, to be reborn spiritually. Where there is a need, God fills that need. So when Jesus was about to leave this earth after He had completed the work of our salvation He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them…” Since every person in this world needs a spiritual rebirth God provides a way for every person, all nations, from the tiniest baby to the oldest adult to be reborn into God’s family.
And what are the results of baptism? God says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is important to note that in the culture when Paul wrote Galatians, sons were the ones who got the inheritance. God is saying, “No matter who you are, male or female, you get the inheritance from God your Father. God further says that in baptism you are clothed with Christ. What do Christ’s “clothes” look like? They are white with perfection. When someone is baptized they are adopted into God’s family and are given the perfect robes of righteousness Christ won for them on the cross. Now when God looks at you He doesn’t see your sinfulness, He sees Christ’s perfect life!
Now the devil likes to find ways to make you doubt, especially when older, “How do you know you are saved? How do you know? Are you sure you’re one of God’s children?” Not only do you look at the reality that Jesus died and rose but you can also look at your baptism. Your baptism is proof that you are a child of God- what a wonderful fact of history that you can point to “I was baptized, clothed with Christ, adopted as God’s child, my sins were washed away, I was given the inheritance of heaven!” We thank the Lord for the many physical blessings that He’s given us but any of those could change I a moment’s notice. The devil might be able to take away everything that you have on this earth, but one thing he can never take away… and that’s your baptism, the proof positive that your name is written in the book of life. Thank you, Lord, for washing me clean in baptism! And today we rejoice and give thanks to God that one more name is going to be recorded in the book of life!
Matthew 26:26-29 – Thank you, Lord, for giving me You!
So we’ve been baptized, adopted into God’s family. Yet the sad fact is…we have the terrible ability to walk away from our baptism, to despise our baptism as meaningless, and to lose all of its benefits. You plant a seed in a garden, then leave it alone, never water it, never weed it, what’s going to happen? It will die. The same goes for our faith as well. If we never feed our faith it will also eventually die. So the Lord in His grace gave us the tools to keep our faith strong and healthy. He’s given us the daily reminder of our baptism, He’s given us His Word that strengthens our faith, AND He’s given us Himself.
On the night when Jesus was betrayed, the day before He’d be crucified, on a very important day, just before He was going to leave His followers, He wanted to give something to His own. He could have done this in the company of the thousands who had come to listen to Him, but He didn’t. Rather He wanted to give something in the close company of the disciples whom He had been intensely training for 3 years. He had nothing else to give them… no bank account, no investments, no heirlooms…so what did He do? He gave them Himself. And what more could He give!!
“While they were eating Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom. When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Did you notice what Jesus said? Jesus could have said, “This changed into my blood,” but He didn’t. He could have said, “This represents my blood,” but He didn’t. Jesus said, “This IS my body…this IS my blood.” In a miraculous way when we receive the Lord’s Supper we really eat bread and wine and we really receive Jesus’ body and blood. Perhaps if anyone else said this we’d have reason to doubt, but who is speaking? It’s Jesus. The God-man. The Lord. We have every reason to take Him at His Word! What’s the point? How much is God’s own body and blood worth? It’s absolutely priceless! And He gives it to you in His Supper. In His Supper He not only assures you but actually gives you what you continually need: the forgiveness of our sins! Yes, thank you, Lord, for giving me You!
Matthew 4:1-4 – Thank you, Lord, for telling me about You!
What amazing love of God that He doesn’t deal with us in minimums! He gives us the life giving water of baptism, He further strengthens our faith in Him by giving us Himself for the forgiveness of sins in the Supper, AND He feeds our souls through His life-giving Word! God uses the tool of the good news in His Word to bring us to faith in him, to keep us in that faith, and to set us apart for a godly life!
We all need to eat. How long do you think you could go without having anything to eat? After a day of not eating, what happens? If you’re like me you get a headache, your stomach starts to growl, you start feeling lousy. What about a week? Probably at a week just about anything looks pretty good and you’re probably feeling very miserable. Now what about your soul? How long can your soul go without being “fed” by God’s Word? A day? A week? A month? Eventually if we stop eating, we will die, and it won’t take as long as you think. The same goes for us spiritually. If we stop feeding on His Word…we will die spiritually. We’ve all felt what it’s like to go too long without being fed spiritually, haven’t we? We’re miserable, we’re miserable to be around, we have a short tempers, we’re irritated, etc. God knows that so He’s given tons of opportunities for us to hear and read and grow in His Word!!!
When Jesus had been in the wilderness for 40 days and nights fasting, probably quite physically weak, the devil came and tempted Him. But Jesus, though He was tempted, never sinned. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Many of us will be enjoying a Thanksgiving feast later on today. But most of all we thank the Lord for the feast He gives us spiritually through His Word. Of telling us and reminding us again and again of all He’s done for us: Jesus paid for our sins, won us forgiveness, gave us new life, heaven’s ours. God gives us the food we really need in His Word. Thank you, Lord, for giving me Your Word and telling me about You!