Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)
Thanksgiving Day is Thursday! When I was growing up, Thanksgiving Day was a day for family and good food. We’d drive about 3 hours to my Dad’s parents on Wednesday after school let out. Next day: Turkey, dressing (both with and without oysters), homemade noodles, homemade rolls, homemade pumpkin pie, and so much more.
When I was in college, we only got Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving. I’d always make sure I had good attendance. I’d skip that whole week of school to be able to go home for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Day is important. Always right and good to remember the Source of all our blessings. I have a horrible and real tendency to take things for granted.
I’m confident that I’m not that only one who ever needs jolted into Thanksgiving, right? You’ve never taken anyone for granted . . . Not a spouse, not a child, not a parent. You’ve never taken your job for granted . . . Only to find out you’re being laid off. You’ve never taken your house for granted . . . Only to have it destroyed in a fire or disaster. You’ve never taken your health for granted . . . Only to have it fall out from under you.
God understood that we mortals have a tendency to forget and to take things for granted. God commanded the Israelites to build a memorial in the middle of the Jordan so that their children would be taught about the crossing of the Jordan (Josh 4:5-7). The Lord’s Supper serves as a weekly reminder of what God has done in Jesus. The giving of thanks plays a huge role in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23-26). The Greek word for “giving thanks” is eucharisto. The early church referred to the Lord’s Supper as the “Eucharist.” The early church, in other words, understood the need to give thanks in and through the Supper.
This Thursday will be a day of football, parades, family, and good food throughout the country; nothing wrong with that. But, there’s something wrong if we forget to thank God . . . Something wrong if we only give thanks on the 4th Thursday in November. The point of this morning’s text is: God deserves our thanksgiving. We want to hear this text and learn not to take God’s blessings for granted. We want to learn to give thanks.
Scripture (Psalm 100)
We express our thankfulness to God through worship. The earth is called upon to make a joyful noise unto the LORD. We often use this verse to laugh and to say that our singing-regardless of how horrible it might be-is a joyful noise to God. But, imagine how great the noise would have been in Jerusalem. Standing in the temple with all the instruments commanded for use under the Law, all the people singing-the noise would have been quite great. Imagine if all the earth had come together to praise God thus-what a great noise that would have been!
Yet, we can’t lose sight that this noise is to be “joyful.” Thanksgiving-the main concept of this text is God deserves our thanksgiving-causes great joy. Can you imagine how bitter ungrateful people are! The most hateful woman I ever knew was extremely ungrateful-there was absolutely no way of making this young woman happy-nothing was ever good enough for her.
With thanksgiving, there is joy! You understand that everything you have comes from above. How can you not be joyful when you understand the great bounty the Lord God has given you?!
Serve the LORD with gladness. “Serve” in this context undoubtedly refers to worship. Worship of the Lord is to take place with gladness. In many places I’ve been, worship seems more like a funeral than it seems with “gladness.” As we’re thankful, we’ll have a great deal of gladness.
The congregation is urged to enter the divine presence with singing. We have largely resisted the idea that church buildings themselves are holy. We don’t, for example, typically call the place where we worship a “sanctuary.” However, that was very untrue for the Jews. The temple was, in fact, a holy place. God dwelt in the temple (1 Ki 8:10-11). Therefore, as they came to that structure, they were in the presence of God.
Entering his gates with praise refers again to entering the temple. Entering the gates of the temple. As we enter into worship, we symbolically enter God’s presence.
The psalmist expounds why God deserves our thanksgiving in verses 3 and 5.
- The LORD is God. In Hebrew, this would have been YHWH; this would serve to contrast the living God with all the pagan gods of Israel’s neighbors. How grateful we ought to be that our God is not like other gods! He’s merciful instead of vengeful. He can act when we pray instead of just being a piece of stone/wood.
- He made us. Life itself would not be possible without the LORD. It is God who made man in his own image: Genesis 1:27.
- The LORD is good God’s very nature is good vis-à-vis all the pagan gods.
- His steadfast love endures forever. The idea of God’s steadfast love is his faithfulness to his covenant. The term encompasses both God’s mercy and compassion toward our sins and the fact that he keeps every single promise.
- His faithfulness endures to all generations. Every promise God has made will be kept. God will never, ever fail to keep even one of his promises.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day, the psalmist reminds us why and how to give thanks to God, for God deserves our thanksgiving.
Why should you give thanks to God? What great things has he done in your life? Take inventory. Get off to yourself sometime this week and think about what God has done in your life. What things has God given that you have a real tendency to take for granted? Write them down. Some ideas of what God has done:
- Salvation through Jesus Christ: forgiveness of sins, resurrection from the dead.
- Hope for tomorrow.
- Many temporal blessings-How much do we really lack in this country?
How will you give thanks to God? Our text urges worship. Modern worship greatly connects with the idea of thanksgiving. We previously mentioned the Lord’s Supper. Prayer is an opportunity to express thanksgiving: Philippians 4:6. Singing connects with thanksgiving: Colossians 3:16. Giving connects with thanksgiving 2 Corinthians 9:12, 15. We’re connecting preaching with thanksgiving this morning.
How is your worship? Do you simply go through the motions? Do you bring yourself to thanksgiving before God? How can you make your worship better? Examine yourself to see what you can do to express even more thanksgiving. How can you express thankfulness in your life? How can you best serve God?
Why would God want us to be thankful? When we’re thankful, attitudes are different-we’re not on an ego trip, we’re not trying to do everything ourselves. When we’re thankful, we treat everyone around us so much better.
Would understanding that God deserves our thanksgiving change anything? Wouldn’t our worship be vastly different? Wouldn’t lives be vastly different? Wouldn’t our attitudes be vastly different? Do you need to begin giving God proper thanksgiving and be changed?