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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Matt's Messages - Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

“Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving”
West Branch Community Thanksgiving Service
November 21, 2007
Psalm 100

Good evening. It’s a real honor and privilege to be asked to open the Word of God with you this evening.

I want to thank my colleagues in the West Branch Area Ministerium for asking me.

It’s been 10 years since I last had this honor. I preached from this pulpit in 1998 at the community Thanksgiving service then.

That was 4 kids ago! And I was just a “rookie pastor” who didn’t hardly know what he was talking about.

But now, I’m a seasoned pastor...who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about!

If you have your Bible with you, would you turn with me to the 100th Psalm? Psalm 100.

The superscription for this Psalm marks it as “A psalm. For giving thanks.”

And it’s the only psalm with that marking in the whole psalter, so it is particularly appropriate for our Thanksgiving worship service.

Let me read it to you. You follow along.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
3 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.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100, New International Version)
Thanksgiving is my favorite of all of the holidays because it is not yet as commercialized as the others.

The day after Thanksgiving...well, that’s another story!

But Thanksgiving is pretty much still a day to gather some family around, to have a feast, to reflect on what God has given us in the last year, and to give thanks.

And watch some football! Right, guys?

Psalm 100 is a psalm (a song) for giving thanks.

One of the things I like about this psalm is how we’ve already been applying it this evening.

Now, I haven’t heard any shouts of joy tonight. At our church, we like to say, “Wahoo!” when we are particularly joyful. Anybody got a wahoo for the Lord tonight?

But we have obeyed v.2:

"Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs."

And I think, we’ve also been doing verse 4.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."

That’s why we’ve gathered tonight...to “Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving.”

And Psalm 100 gives us two basic reasons for our thanksgiving worship.

Here’s #1.

We should Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving BECAUSE THE LORD IS GOD.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth [not just Israel, but all the earth!] Worship 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.”

We should be thankful because the LORD is God.

Have you ever heard this quote?

“There’s two important facts to get in life. God is God, and I am not.”

That’s true, isn’t it?

The psalmist says, “Know that the The LORD is God.”

Know it. Know it deep down inside of yourself.

Be convinced of this. The LORD is God.

Now, when the Bible has L-O-R-D in capital letters, that stands for the covenant name of God, sometimes pronounced Yahweh.

This is saying that Yahweh is God.

Not just any god is God. But the God of the Bible.

The God Who revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The God Who rescued Israel from Egypt.

The God of Joshua, David, and Solomon.

The God who is all powerful, all knowing, all wise, all present, all holy.

The God Who has most fully revealed Himself in the person of His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not Allah, not Krishnah, not Buddha, and not some generic God of our own choosing, but the God who really is, the God of the Bible–YHWH, the LORD.

Know that the LORD is God.

The most fundamental reason for our thanksgiving are not the good gifts from God.

It is God Himself.

Are you thankful that God is God?

The Bible says in Romans 1 that the root of all sin is a failure to thank God for being God.

It says, “since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Adam and Eve were not thankful that the LORD was God. They wanted to be like God!

And that’s why there was a Fall.

Are you thankful that the LORD is God?

The next phrase says, “It is he who made us, and we are his.”

He made us!

The King James preserves another reading of the Hebrew that says, “it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves...”

God made us. We didn’t!

Have you ever thought of yourself as a created being?

As a product of Someone else’s creativity?

God made us, and therefore He owns us.

That’s humbling, but it’s a good reminder, that we aren’t our own. And that we aren’t God.

The LORD is God. And we should be thankful.

How would you like to be in charge of all Creation? I know that I sometimes act like I know what God should do with things, but I wouldn’t make it one second at the helm of this world!

That should keep us from being armchair quarterbacks when it comes to God’s world.

“Ah, what was God thinking when He did that Katrina thing?

Ah, I wouldn’t have done that! Or these San Diego fires. Or the drought in Georgia.

What’s God thinking? I would run a different play!”

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.

And He doesn’t think like us all of the time.

Instead, Psalm 100 says that we need to think of ourselves as sheep.

Now, that should be humbling.

Because the most famous thing about sheep is that they are dumb and needy.

I mean dumber than Mater the Tow Truck!

I’ve read that sheep can get lost going into a garage!

Not a very impressive picture!

But that’s what we are. We are foolish, and we are needy people.

So, it’s not just humbling. It’s also good news.

Because we need a Shepherd.

We are dependent people. So, we should be thankful that the LORD is God, and the LORD is our Shepherd.

...If He is our shepherd.

The only people who can truly sing this psalm are those who have come to know Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior.

The only people who can be truly thankful in this way are those who know Jesus as their Good Shepherd.

And that is only possible through the Cross of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on [Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all.”

At the Cross, Jesus was gathering sheep into His flock.

And you and I can be a part of His flock by turning from our sins and putting our trust in Jesus and Jesus alone and what He did on the Cross for us.

It’s so simple a child can do it.

In the last couple of weeks, my three year old son Isaac has done it.

A few nights ago, he seemed to be under conviction for his sins. And he seemed to understand the gospel in a clear way.

And Heather prayed with him and the next day, he began telling everyone that God had given him a new heart.

In our house, we call that, “becoming a found sheep.” He once was lost, but now he’s found.

He is now part of God’s people, the sheep of His pasture.

I asked my church family what to say tonight to our community. I passed out some surveys at church and asked if they had the opportunity to address our community like I have tonight, what would they say.

Here are some of their quotes for you:

I would tell the community:

“That Jesus is Christ and Lord.”

I would tell the community:

“We need revival in this area–people need hope, opportunities, etc…….but we need Christ first and foremost.”

I would tell the community:

“That Jesus cannot be denied; in grace nor power.”

I would tell the community:

“That we need Jesus! That he is the way.”

I would tell the community:

“True satisfaction in the world can only be found through Christ. How thankful are the hearts of those who know the Lord.”

I would tell the community:

“There is a difference between believing that there is a God and salvation through believing in Jesus.”

I would tell the community:

“That there is only one way to God, Jesus Christ.”
“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people [through faith in Christ Jesus], the sheep of His pasture.”

We need to enter His gates with thanksgiving because the LORD is God..

And then #2 (and last), We need to enter His gates with Thanksgiving BECAUSE THE LORD IS GOOD.

Listen to verses 4&5.

“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.”

The LORD is not just God. He is good.

He loves His people.

He is not a bad shepherd. Or just an okay one.

He is the Good Shepherd.

And His love and faithfulness are forever. They continue through all generations.

He was loving and faithful to our grandparents in the Lord.

And He will be loving and faithful to our great-grandchildren if they trust His promises, too.

God always keeps His promises.

And He’ll be forever GOOD to His people.

Even when it doesn’t seem like it.

One of the surveys I gave out came back with this:

"I would tell the community:

'Be thankful even when things are going wrong.'”

It often doesn’t seem like Psalm 100 is true.

Sometimes (often!), life hurts.

But even in those times, because we KNOW that the LORD is God and because we KNOW that the LORD is good, and loving, and faithful, we can trust Him.

And even thank Him.

When I spoke here 10 years ago, I preached on 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

“Give thanks in ALL circumstances for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

All circumstances. Even the bad ones.

Because God is sovereign over all of those bad ones.

And He will work them out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

We won’t always understand them! The LORD is God, and not us!

But we can trust Him. And in those circumstances, we can thank Him.

Last Friday, my daughter Robin got hit with a cannonball and broke her collarbone.

Well, she was hit with a basketball thrown by a little boy whose last name is Cannon.

So, we say she got hit with a cannonball.

And while she was in the hospital, she picked up a bug. And now, she’s got a low grade fever.

But she’s been a real trooper all along.

And she’s trusted her Mom and I as we’ve tried to take care of her, as we’ve shepherded her.

Maybe you’ve gotten hit with a cannonball this year, too.

Know this.

“The LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

You can trust Him.

We need to Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving:

Because the LORD is Good.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

• Because the LORD is God.
• Because the LORD is Good.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all West Branch Community!

Worship 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.

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