Giving Thanks

by Duane Maust
Psalm 100
November 23, 2008

This is a wonderful little chapter for this season. Psalm 100 is a simple and beautiful hymn inviting God’s people everywhere to enter into worship with thanksgiving and praise. The whole psalm speaks of joyful response to life, seeking to praise God for all God has done and is.

Psalm 100 is second to Psalm 23 in popularity. Psalm 23 is “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Imagine a procession of worshippers approaching Jerusalem with its Temple gleaming in the sun. They would sing the first three verses of Psalm 100 at the city gates. Then from inside the Temple courtyard the choir would answer back with verses 4-5.

We are called to thanksgiving, to celebrate God as Creator and King.

Imperative verbs (a request or command) invite adoration of the Lord by all the earth: make a joyful noise, worship, come!

In the second verse it says “serve the Lord with gladness.” It doesn’t say serve the church. It doesn’t say serve the preacher or some other group. It says we are to serve the Lord.

The Bible teaches that if we serve the Lord, we will feed the hungry, we will clothe the people that need clothes, we will visit. That is serving the Lord. Matt 25:35-36

Then in verse 3 we have another imperative verb: know. We are to know God. We have God in our heart. God is a part of our life.

Read verse 3 again.

The last two verses are loaded with some good words. Look with me. Thanksgiving praise, thanks, praise, good, love, forever, faithfulness, all.

The reason for our worship is beautifully stated in verse 5. For more then 20 centuries both Jews and Christians have used this simple psalm in joyous worship to God. It is a universal invitation to all the earth to praise him. He is God of both the universe and his people.

May God who has given us so much give us one more thing: a grateful heart. “Lord make us truly grateful.”

I am glad that our country has a day to stop and give thanks.

We are the only country besides Canada and the Philippines that has a Thanksgiving day. I don’t want the commercialization of Christmas to swallow up Thanksgiving.

The 100th Psalm was written for the people of Israel. God said to them, “When you come into the promised land and settle down in your warm homes, and you have plenty to eat, don’t forget Me. I led you out of the wilderness and I brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Psalm 105 would be a good Psalm to read this week. As the Children of Israel are reminded to give thanks, so we should be reminded to give thanks. We need to pause from our busyness and think about how good we have it. At the men’s prayer breakfast I asked the guys, what are you thankful for? John Opel quickly answered, “our country.” It is easy for us to talk about everything that is wrong with this country we live in and not stop to think about how good we have it here. We can worship the way we want. We also have a place that is warm and dry. We all have food enough. We have friend and family that love and care for us. We have a beautiful world to live in.

Lisa fixed the front table for us today. It is thanksgiving theme. And it also matches the bulletin for today. I like Indian corn. We grew a little bit of Indian corn in Michigan where I grew up. But I want you to think about what things you could put on the table to remind you of thanksgiving. I could have a picture of my family. I could have a picture of my church family. Or a picture of Jesus. Or just a cross. What could you have on the table to remind you to give thanks?

I read that Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, “Why is that there?” Alex Haley would answer, “Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words and think that they are wonderful, and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help.”

That is the basis of thankfulness – to remember that we got here with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have.

Read verses 4-5

Now that temple no longer exists. But often the place where we meet to worship God is called a “sanctuary,” meaning that God is there. But God is everywhere. We know that God’s Holy Spirit is everywhere. He is with us when we drive our cars on the highways. He is with us as we work. He is with us as we care for our children. He is with us at school. He is with us at every moment of our lives! And this is the reason of our thanksgiving.

I pray that this will be a most meaningful thanksgiving week. May our hearts overflow with thanksgiving. May our hearts overflow with thanksgiving to the Lord as we meditate on his word, as we think about His goodness, on his love.

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