Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
November 20, 2016
Central Passage
Psalm 100
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

There are many wonderful hymns and songs about thanking God.  I’m going to quote the lyrics of two verses from one of them:  “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me…it’s your precious blood cleansing all iniquities.  It’s there on the Cross where you bled and died for me…Lord Jesus, I thank you that I’m fully justified in Thee.  Each day as I wake up, I come to you Lord…our fellowship sweet must be daily restored.  Void of offense, keep my conscience so pure…soften me, Lord, so that you alone may have my heart.”

Most of us grew up singingThank you, Lord, for saving my soul…thank you, Lord, for making me whole…”

Long before any of those songs were written and sung, the Psalmist had this to say in Psalm 100: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

We are a people and a nation that has truly been blessed by God…so much so that we often take it for granted.  But we should not…and we must not…if we are…as the Apostle Peter said. “…the kind of people that we ought to be.”

It’s not uncommon for people to compile a wish list at Christmastime…or a list of resolutions for the New Year.  Fewer people compile a list of all the things for which they should be thankful during the Thanksgiving season.  But, if Americans…and especially American Christians…really sat down and thought about it…each could compile a pretty lengthy list.  Lists would vary…but most thinking Christians would include a lot more than material possessions.

For example, is there anything you’re more grateful for than your salvation?  I can’t come up with anything that surpasses God’s mercy to me in that respect.  Jesus is the reason for this season…just as He is the reason for Christmas, Easter and every other day of the week.

This Thanksgiving we have rioting in the streets of America because political power-hungry people didn’t get what they wanted…and they’re willing to pay protestors to enact childish tantrums as a show of their frustration.  And, obviously, they do have followers who in their stupor and stupidity think they’re underprivileged.

Compare the Pilgrims…who began the custom of setting aside a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God…with this “give me” and “you owe me” generation.  The Pilgrims had no permanent homes…and no government agency to help them build homes.  They had no means of transportation other than their legs.  Their food came from the creeks, rivers, the sea and the forest…and they had to get it for themselves.

Think about it.  There was no need for money because there was no place to spend it.  No cell phones, TV or Internet.  No Social Security or Medicare.  No paid politicians, bureaucrats or government workers.

So how did these folks survive?  Well, they had four of the greatest human assets…which are initiative, courage, a willingness to work and a boundless faith in God.

The very idea that people had a boundless faith in God sounds strange to the ears of many in a culture that for the large part denies the existence of God.  Satan has been hard at work in America in trying to overturn the concept of our forefathers…it being that we are one nation under God.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…that they are endowed by their  Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

And it ends with these words: “…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

Thanksgiving is a distinctive holiday.  It doesn't commemorate a battle or anyone's birthday or anniversary.  It is simply a day set aside to express our thanks to our nation’s God.

Here’s a small part of a public proclamation made in 1789 by President George Washington: “Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God…now, therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…”

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day…but just how thankful are we?  We have every reason to be the most thankful people in the entire world…but are we?  It seems that the more we get the more we want…and the less thankful we become...and, of course, the less mindful of God.

In the 100th Psalm God basically tells us, “When you come into the Promised Land, when you settle down in your homes and have plenty to eat, don't forget me.  I led you out of the wilderness and brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey.”

I believe God had us in mind when this Psalm was written.  The first verse says that it’s addressed to “all the earth” and the last verse says that it includes “all generations.”  This message of thanksgiving is so deep and wide that it applies to every person in every era…and in every stage of life.

Did you know that only two other countries celebrate a Thanksgiving Day?  That would be Canada and the Philippines.

There’s a real danger of tying our thanksgiving to how much we have.  People often allow things to determine whether they are or aren't thankful.  But the Psalmist warns that all of these things may change at any time.  The only thing we have for sure is our relationship with the Lord.

In all five verses of Psalm 100, you will find the word LORD.  The basis for…and foundation of our thanksgiving is the LORD.  We need to remember that…that He is the provider of every blessing we have.

There are five thanksgiving commands in Psalm 100.  The first, which is in verse one, is to “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”  The word “shout” means to “Proclaim with the force of a trumpet blast.”  It’s a shout of joy to the Lord that comes from the very depths of a person’s soul.

It may be that God solves a problem for you.  It may be that He gives you a direction to go in life.  It may be that He provides a blessing.  Whatever He does for you…from the depths of your soul you’re to acknowledge Him and shout for joy.  He has been so good to you that you can't keep your joy inside.

The second command is to serve the LORD with gladness.  The Bible teaches that if we feed the hungry…if we clothe the naked…if we do the work of the Lord…whatever it might be…we are serving the Lord.

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”  That’s what Psalm 100 is saying.  “In whatever you do, serve the LORD with gladness.”

The third command is to come before God with joyful songs.  Psalm 98:4 tells us to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD.”

So God’s first three commands to us are to be happy…shout with joy…serve with gladness…and come with joyful songs.

The fourth command is to know that the Lord is God.  It is God who made us.  We are His people…the sheep of His pasture.

Your brain…your heart…and every part of you was made by God.  You don’t have a “Made in the USA” label on you…you have a “Made in Heaven” label.  He made you and me the way He wanted us to be for this earth on which we live…but He’s not through making us.  He’s still making and shaping every part of our spiritually weak lives.

The Bible says God is Spirit…and that those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  Therefore our spirits must be made to coincide with God’s Spirit…so that we can embrace His truth.  His truth…and what the world considers truth…often collide.  But our thoughts and actions must be made to always accept God’s truth…not the world’s definition of truth.  And that’s why God is not through making us.

God is your maker and mine…and we’re created in His image.  Give Him thanks for who you are…and for the opportunity He gives you to be all that you can be.  If you’re spiritually weak…He can make you strong.  If you’re tempted by what the world offers…He can deliver you from temptation.

God says we’re His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Obviously, most people don’t want to be sheep…even God’s sheep.  They want a more prominent role…maybe as owner of the sheep…and they want to own the pasture, too.  But when you take God out of the mix…you end up in a far country eating with the hogs.

If, however, you allow yourself to be one of God’s sheep…He will lead you to green pastures and beside still waters.  So don’t be led by every Tom, Dick and Harry.  God made you and He knows you better than any other person on earth…including your immediate family.  That’s because He is your most immediate family.  So let Him lead you and you’ll never get off course.

Command five is to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…and give thanks to Him and praise His name.  Why?  Because “…the Lord is good and His love endures forever.  His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

In Old Testament times the temple symbolized the presence of God.  So whenever the people came to the temple and entered the courtyards…they understood that they had come into the presence of God.

We believe the presence of God is everywhere…that the Holy Spirit is with a believer wherever he or she goes…and that He never leaves us.  That’s an awesome feeling…and it should be the source of real thanksgiving.  But many people try to get away from God…even after having said they trust Him for their salvation.

How can that be?  How can anyone want to be out of the presence of God?  Well, Adam and Eve tried to hide from Him.  And that seems to be the rule of people…not the exception to it.

Think about this: what if God started treating us the way we treat Him?  What if He started treating us with the same degree of commitment with which we treat His church?  What if God loved and cared for us to the same degree that we love and care for others?  And what if God took away His message of salvation because we wouldn’t listen to His messenger?

What if God didn’t bless us today because we didn’t thank Him yesterday?  What if God answered our prayers the way we answer His call for service?  What if God decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn’t follow Him today?

We need to think long and hard about “what if.”  As stated in Psalm 103:10, we need to be thankful that God does “…not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Read the 100th Psalm every day this week.  Heed the commands in it…and your heart will overflow with thanksgiving to the Lord.

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