September 10, 2017

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Exodus 6:2-8

Gospel Lesson; Matthew 16:13-20

Sermon Text; Romans 11:33-36

The Word of God we focus on for today is taken from Romans, chapter 11, looking at verses 33 to 36. In Jesus' name, here the Apostle Paul wrote:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how untraceable His ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His adviser?” “Or who has first given to God that he will be repaid?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things To Him be the glory forever! Amen


During the course of this past week, as I was preparing for this sermon, one of the commentaries I was looking at said this is a great portion of scripture to look at, when there are personal struggles you are going through. And, it is a great portion of scripture to look at, when there is a national calamity that is happening. Well, here we are gathered together for worship, just one week after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. And, we are gathered together for worship at the very time Hurricane Erma is hitting the shores of Florida. What a great time to look to God's Word, as we are going through personal struggles, and when we are going through national calamities, (including the wild fires out west), to find comfort, and to find strength in God's Word.

The question I ask this morning is:

“What is doxology?” “What is a doxology?” “What is The Doxology?”

The word 'doxology' just simply means, 'a word of praise', or, 'a song of glory'. It comes from the Greek word, 'doxa' which means, 'glory', and the Greek word 'logia', which means, 'word of', or, 'saying of'. So, it is 'a saying of praise'. It is 'a word of glory to God, our heavenly Father'.

Back in the late 1600's, and the early 1700's, there was a man by the name of Thomas Ken. He became Bishop of England. Thomas Ken wrote three hymns. He wrote a hymn for the morning. He wrote a hymn for the evening. And, he wrote a hymn to be sung at midnight. The hymn he wrote for the morning, is the hymn we sang to begin our worship service today.

Awake My Soul, and with the Sun

We sang that this morning.

Awake my soul, and with the sun

Your daily stage of duty run

Shake off your sleep and joyful rise

To bring your morning sacrifice.

He encouraged his students to wake every morning, and sing that hymn.

He wrote a hymn for the evening. The hymn he wrote for the evening is:

All Praise to Thee, My God this Night

That is in our hymnbook, as well.

Now the tune it is put to in our hymnbook is different from the one I learned. Maybe you learned it this way.

All praise to Thee, My God this night.

For all the blessings of the light.

Keep me, oh, keep me King of kings,

Beneath thine own almighty wings.

Then, he wrote a hymn to be sung at midnight. That title was:

My God, Now I From Sleep Awake

The hymn he wrote for the morning is pretty well known, and popular, today. The hymn he wrote for the evening is pretty well known, and popular today. But, the hymn he wrote for midnight is not as popular. Can you guess why? Think about it for a moment. People didn't want to wake up at midnight, to join in singing the hymn he wrote!

But, with all three of those hymns he wrote, the very last verse is The Doxology. We sang that with our opening hymn.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise him above, you heav’nly host

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The end of all three of his hymns ended with that verse.

Thomas Ken knew that not every morning people would want to wake up, and sing praises, and glory to God. He knew that not every evening people would want to sing praise, and glory to God, because he knew personal struggles in his life. You see, Thomas Ken had been orphaned, when he was a little boy. So, he went to go, and live with his sister, and brother-in-law.

Thomas Ken went to school, became ordained, and then became a bishop in England. He became chaplain for Princess Mary of Orange.

But, Thomas Ken stood up for the truth of what God's Word said. He spoke out against the immorality that was taking place among the people who worked in the court. And, because of that, he was fired. He lost his job.

Later on, he became Bishop in the Church of England. It was King James II who wanted him to teach, and preach that the sale of indulgences was ok. Well, Thomas Ken said, “I can't do that”. Because of that, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

When Thomas Ken's life came to an end, he was very poor. He was a pauper. He died in poverty. He knew what it was like to go through personal struggles in life, and yet it is written about Thomas Ken that every morning he woke up, and sang his morning hymn of praise, followed by The Doxology. And every evening, before he went to bed, he sang his evening hymn of praise, concluding with The Doxology.

Our text for today is a doxology. It is really a conclusion to the first eleven chapters of Romans. And, it is really a conclusion to Romans chapters nine, ten, and eleven. It is a great place to include The Doxology, because the Apostle Paul had just written, and concluded with how it is we receive salvation, and who it is that receives salvation.

Salvation is for all people.

For the Jews, and the Gentiles.

Now, just years before this, Jesus had said Jerusalem was going to be destroyed, and it was going to be destroyed in the future, in 70 A.D. And, the Jews were concerned about that. The Gentiles were also concerned they would be shut out, and salvation would not belong to them. But, the Apostle Paul, in the beginning of Romans says,

“Salvation is for the Jews,

who believe in Jesus, as their Savior.

And salvation is for the Gentiles,

who believe in Jesus, as their Savior.”

What is a fitting way to thank God for the salvation He has won for all people, Jews, and Gentiles alike? A fitting response is to come before Him in praise, with a word of glory, or a verse of praise, like this doxology the Apostle Paul has written.

       -It was God, our Heavenly Father, who planned our salvation.

       -It was God, our Heavenly Father, who revealed the plan of salvation to us.

       -It was God, our Heavenly Father, who gave us His Holy Spirit, who brought us to faith to believe in Jesus, as our Savior, so that the plan of salvation is now ours.

We praise God for that!

And yet, there are times in our lives, when our sinful human nature gets in the way. Our sinful human nature blames God for who He is, and what He has done. Maybe your thoughts have been this way, this past week, (including mine). “God, how could you have allowed Hurricane Harvey to hit Houston the way it did?” “God, how could you have allowed Hurricane Erma to come ashore on Florida, and travel all the way up the coastline?” “God, how could you have allowed those wild fires out west to have consumed those many acres?” “God, who do you think you are?”

Our sinful human nature gets in the way.

Well, there is a man in The Old Testament, who knew what suffering, and struggles were like. His name was Joseph. A bad thing happened to him. His brothers sold him into slavery. It was a terrible thing. And yet, near the end of his life, he could look at his brothers, and say,

“You intended to harm me,

but God intended it for good,

the saving of many people.”

You see, in our text, the Apostle Paul asks these questions. All of which the answer is the same. He says,

“For who has known the mind of the Lord...”

Isaiah wrote that in The Old Testament. The answer is, “No one”.

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“...or, who has been His adviser?”

Isaiah wrote that too. Again, the answer is, “No one”.

Paul wrote,

“Or who has first given to God that he will be repaid?”

Job wrote that in The Old Testament. Again, the answer is, “No one”.

No one knows the mind of the Lord.

No one has been God's adviser.

No one has first given to God that we should be repaid.

But, wow. Look at the salvation God has won for us in His Son, Jesus. God has won salvation for us, through His Son, Jesus.

There once was a man who was a Switch-man at a railroad track. It was for a railroad track bridge that spanned a river. Throughout the course of the day, this railroad track bridge ran parallel with the river, so that tugboats, and barges could go up, and down the river. But, there would be those few times each day in which he would have to push the switch so that the track would move perpendicular to the river, so that a train could safely pass by.

Well, one night his shift was almost over. He was waiting for the last passenger train to go by. He saw the light off in the distance. He knew it was time to push the button, so the track would allow the train to cross the river. But, the track didn't move. So, he ran down, and grabbed the manual switch, down by the track.

The track began to move. It came into place, but he realized it was not locking. He would have to hold onto the switch, until the train had passed by, otherwise the track would not line up properly, and the train could derail and everybody on board of that passenger train could perish.

So as he was holding on to the switch, he looked out, and saw his four year old son running down the track, after him. He needed to hold onto the switch, but he saw his son in harms way.

What would he do? Would he save his son, or would he save everybody on that passenger train?

He made the decision. He kept hanging onto that switch so that everybody on that passenger train would be saved. He knew the price that would have to be paid. It would be at the expense of the death of his son.

The passenger train safely passed by, and his son fell to his death.

That is just a little picture of the love, and compassion God, our Heavenly Father, has for you, and for me. In His great love for you and me, God, our Heavenly Father, saved the world. He saved you and me, through the expense that was paid through the death of His one, and only Son.

What is our response to what God has done for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord? Our response is to do exactly what the Apostle Paul wrote in our text for today. It is to do exactly what Bishop Thomas Ken did, with the hymns he wrote. It is to come before God, our Heavenly Father, with words, or sayings of glory, and praise,

As I said, earlier today, in Bishop Thomas Ken's hymns, the very last verse of all of his hymns were that verse of a doxology.

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

That verse became so popular that it now is a stand alone hymn that is sung to the long meter of the tune, Old One Hundredth. This morning, as we conclude our worship service that is the very last hymn that we are going to be singing, 'The Doxology'.

There may be personal struggles you are going through, as an individual, today. There certainly is a national calamity. There are national calamities that are happening around us. And yet, as we gather together for worship with those struggles, with those calamities, we CAN sing a doxology. We can sing a verse of sayings of glory, and praise. This morning, when we conclude our service by singing 'The Doxology', I want you to personally think about the blessings you can thank God for, in your life, because of what God, our Heavenly Father, has done for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord!