************ Sermon on Psalm 100 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 25, 2010

Psalm 100
"The Lord is Good"
Thanksgiving Day 2010

"The Lord is good." That's the words on our bulletin cover this Thanksgiving Day.

"The Lord is good." That's what my uncle kept saying three summers ago. And, every time he said it, he would put two thumbs up. "The Lord is good." Now for the rest of the story as Paul Harvey puts it. My uncle kept saying this as he was dying. From cancer. A painful cancer. A cancer that kept him from seeing almost everyone except for the most immediate family. A cancer that kept him bed-ridden. Yet, he kept saying, "The Lord is good." Two thumbs up.

Isn't that amazing? "The Lord is good." Why would a dying man say something like this? The answer is found in our Scripture reading on this Thanksgiving Day.

Did you happen to notice the heading of Psalm 100: "A psalm. For giving thanks." Which makes this psalm so appropriate to use for Thanksgiving Day.

The psalm itself can be divided into two stanzas. The first three verses are stanza one. The last two verses are stanza two.

Now, try to imagine God's Old Testament people coming to the Temple. As they enter the gates they are greeted by a choir singing stanza one; the congregation, in turn, responds with stanza two; it becomes an antiphonal song of praise and thanksgiving and worship. Or, even more likely, the choir would sing and the congregation would sing the words back as a kind of echo.

I God Wants our Thanks
A I want you to notice that God wants our thanks. He asks for our thanks. He invites our thanks. Did you notice that both stanza one and stanza two contain threefold invitations to give thanks? Listen to these words in stanza one: "Shout ... Worship ... come" (verses 1-2). And, in stanza two: "Enter ... give thanks ... praise" (verse 4).

This is God inviting you to give Him praise and thanksgiving and worship. Actually, to call this an invitation is not near strong enough. Every verb in Psalm 100 is a command. It is not a wish on God's part. It is more than an invitation. It is like an invitation to appear before a Grand Jury. You can ignore the summons but you do so at great personal risk and loss. Likewise, you can ignore God's invitation but you do so at great personal risk and loss. When the Almighty invites you to come and worship you had best respond to His call. And, you had best do so quickly.

Do you remember why God made us? What our purpose is? I've mentioned this a couple of times as we've been going through Genesis. We were made to glorify God ( 1 Cor 10:31; Rom 11:36; Ps 73:2528). We are to fill the earth and subdue it to the glory of God (Gen 1:28). Adam was supposed to work the Garden and take care of it to the glory of God (Gen 2:15). We are to live together as husbands and wives and families to the glory of God (Gen 2:24).

So, on this special day of Thanksgiving we are doing what God invites and commands us to do. When we give Him our praise and thanksgiving and worship we are living for His glory.

B I am sure you all realize that God does not need us, our praises, or our thanks. He can get along perfect well without us, thank you. God does not need us, or anything we have, or anything we can do. We are not doing God any favors when we worship Him and take up space in church. Rather, God is doing us a favor. He is admitting us into His worship. He is inviting us into His worship. He is calling us into His worship. He graciously wants our praise and thanksgiving and worship. He wants us to live for His glory.

II God Invites Us into His Presence
A Did you notice the movement that takes place in both stanzas? Look at stanza one; first there is a general call to shout for joy, then there is a call to worship the Lord, and finally there is a call to come before God's very presence. We see the same movement in stanza two: those giving thanks start off at the Temple gates, move to the Temple courts, and finally come to God Himself. Those giving thanks are being drawn nearer and nearer, ever nearer, to the very presence of God.

Now, as I already indicated, Psalm 100 was used for worship in and at the Temple. Though no room or building can contain God, the Temple was God's meeting room on earth. The Temple was composed of a series of courts or rooms. Gentiles could come as far as the Court of the Gentiles. Women could come a little closer, to the Court of Women. Jewish men could enter as far as the Court of Israel. Priests were allowed to advance a little further; they were granted access to the Court of the Priests. But the inner sanctuary of the temple, divided by a curtain into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, was off limits even for priests except for specifically stated times and carefully proscribed purposes.

Now, compare this to those of us in the New Testament. With the death of Christ the Temple curtain has been torn. From top to bottom it was torn. By the hand of God it was torn. The Temple was God's meeting place on earth, His throne room, yet the curtain was always there saying "no admittance, no access, off limits." To those who believe in Jesus Christ, the torn curtain says "admittance, access, enter in."

What I am saying comes down to this: because of Christ we can respond to God's invitation and command in a way that no Old Testament believer ever could. So, we are being invited into God's very presence this morning to give Him thanks.

B "Shout ... Worship ... come" (verses 1-2). "Enter ... give thanks ... praise" (verse 4). As I said, an invitation, a command, to glorify God.

To whom is this command given? To believers, of course. But is this command meant only for God's children? Is this command meant only for those who believe in Jesus?

Look at Psalm 100 as a Gospel invitation to unbelievers. God wants all peoples and all nations to acknowledge Him and worship Him and glorify Him. God invites the nations to come to Him in Christ. Remember God's blessing upon Abraham? God said "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Rev 12:3). They are blessed when they come to Abraham's God in and through Christ.

C "Shout ... Worship ... come" (verses 1-2). "Enter ... give thanks ... praise" (verse 4). As I said, an invitation, a command, to all peoples and all nations to glorify God.

When will this command be fulfilled? It is being fulfilled right now. Because of Christ. What has Christ done? With His blood He has purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. He has made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God (Rev 5:9-10).

"Shout ... Worship ... come" (verses 1-2). "Enter ... give thanks ... praise" (verse 4). The church is not a silent bystander in all of this. It is her calling, our calling, to disciple the nations and to preach the Gospel. We are God's tool, God's instrument, to call the nations, in Christ, to bring their praise and thanksgiving and worship to God.

III The How of our Thanks
A "Shout ... Worship ... come" (verses 1-2). "Enter ... give thanks ... praise" (verse 4). As I already said, the setting is the Temple. As I already said, an invitation and a command to all peoples and all nations.

Do you realize what this says about how we are to give thanks? As a body. As the people of God. As the church. None of this individualistic stuff. None of this "I can praise God while taking a walking by myself in Sequoia National Park" stuff. The praise and thanksgiving and worship that God wants is corporate. God wants to hear the voice of every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea singing His praises (Rev 5:13). Together. Not separate. Not private little gatherings. Not silent mediation. But together.

Which is why we are here this morning. To do together what God commands us and invites us to do.

B "Shout ... Worship ... come" (verses 1-2). "Enter ... give thanks ... praise" (verse 4). Did you notice the upbeat and positive language that goes along with these words of invitation and command? Not only are we to give thanks as the church but we are to do so with "joy ... gladness ... joyful songs ... thanksgiving ... praise ... praise." This is not something half-hearted we are being called upon to do. Not something we mumble or yawn our way through. Praise, thanksgiving, and worship is not something we do reluctantly. It is not something we do under compulsion. It is not something we do to keep our parents or grandparents quiet and happy. It is something we want to do. It is something we look forward to doing. It is something we do with heart and soul and mind and strength.

IV The Why of Thanks
A Scattered throughout the psalm are reasons to give God praise, thanksgiving, and worship.

So, let me start off by asking, "For what do you wish to give God thanks?"

This morning as you got up did you try to count your blessings. If you did, I bet you lost track the first ten minutes already. Let's do some counting:
1. You woke up. You could have died during the night. But God has given you another day.
2. You woke up in a bed. A comfortable bed. Not a cardboard box.
3. You stretched. Your toes still wiggle. Your arms still flex.
4. You opened your eyes and you could see.
5. Maybe you said a prayer and thanked God for another day in which to serve and love Him. What a blessing to talk to God in prayer.
6. You sat up and swung your legs out of bed. You are able to do this when so many cannot.
7. You felt carpet under your feet. Not dirt. Not cold cement.
8. You stood up and walked.
Your day is only ten or fifteen seconds old and already you have had eight blessings. Do you see where I am going with this? Seen the right way, everything is a blessing. I dare say if you tried to do this for the rest of the day, the blessings would be too many to count, wouldn't they?

B Take a look a what the psalmist all mentions. He starts off with God. He says, "The Lord is God" (vs 3). He is the only living and true God. He is perfect, self-existent, self-sufficient, the fountain of all being. He is an eternal Spirit. Which means we cannot understand Him nor can we see Him. What a blessing and what a privilege to know this God. Thank you, O God, that we know You in Christ.

"It is he who made us" (vs 3). As we have been learning from our study of Genesis, no life is self-existing not plants, not fish, not birds, not living creatures, and not man. Not even the planets, the sun, the moon, or the stars are self-existing. We are not an accident. Nor are we the result of one big cosmic reaction which started the chain of evolution. Now, God did not have to make us. God did not have to make the universe. Yet, God did make us. Our bodies. Our souls. Our personality. Our gifts. Thank You, O God, for making us.

"We are his" (vs 3). Remember the first answer of the Catechism? "I am not my own but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ." God is my Owner to do with as He wishes. Thank You, O God, that I belong to You and not to me, because You are so much greater and better and wiser than me.

"We are his people" (vs 3). A king has people. A ruler has people. A general has people. God is King. God is Sovereign. God is my Master, My Lord. As the Sovereign, God is both Lawgiver and Judge. He sets the standards. I am not at liberty to do what I want but what He wants. Thank You, O God, that You are my King and my Lord.

"We are ... the sheep of his pasture" (vs 3). Which makes Him the Shepherd. Who feeds us, leads us, cares for us, protects us, and gives us all manner of good things. Thank You, O God, that You are the Shepherd and that I am one of Your sheep.

Listen to the psalm's triumphant conclusion: "The Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations" (vs 5). I looked up that phrase, "The Lord is good." The Bible can hardly mention God's goodness without also saying something about God's love and faithfulness (Jer 33:11; 1 Chron 16:34; 2 Chron 5:13; 7:3; Ezra 3:11; Ps 86:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 136:1). Which is why I have all of verse 5 lumped together as one big reason to give thanks to God.

Remember my uncle? "The Lord is good." Two thumbs up. Yes, he had cancer. Yes, he was in pain. Yes, he was bed-ridden. Yes, he could see only those closest to him. Yet, "The Lord is good." Why? Because regardless of what happens the Lord loves him. Because regardless of what happens the Lord is faithful to His promises. In Christ. Even in the midst of cancer, my uncle saw and felt and knew the Lord's love and faithfulness in Christ. Thank you, O God, for being so good to me. For loving me and being faithful to me in Christ. And I have to add, for loving me and being faithful to me in spite of my sin!
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