Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
Psalm 100 . We turn to this most sung Psalm - but how well is it known and understood? And, how is it practised?
We read that this Psalm is for giving thanks. It also tells us why we should give thanks - and how to give thanks.
This was Jesus’ ‘hymnbook’ – his praise book – he would be so familiar with these words – as was the writer to the Hebrews.
There is variety in the Psalter – they teach us so much about worshipping God – the Psalm are God centred – the Psalm are songs for God’s people.
And yet these words are not always addressed to God – sometimes they address the singer – why are you cast down my soul – O thou my soul bless God the Lord – let everything in me praise the Lord.
Verse 1 - Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth.
Verse 2 - Serve the Lord with gladness. May we never find it a drudgery to attend Worship. Come before Him with joyful songs - may it never be a burden to serve and praise the worship the living God through Jesus Christ.
Serve - not a popular word in these days - not a popular teaching - but we are to encourage one another to serve. If we are serving God, we cannot be serving in the household of any other false gods.
Jesus said - "No man can serve two masters" - you just cannot do it.
Many try - from both sides - they are in the world and they like a little bit of Jesus now and again - or they are in the Church and there is that hold - that magnetic attraction of the world and from the world - which continues to have a drawing power.
God doesn't just hire you for a week or a month or a year - He calls you - and wants you to experience His Love and Peace and Power and Goodness and Blessings - all the days of your life.
The invitation to worship is not a melancholy one - "Come before His Presence with singing". It is so God centred .
Verse 3 - Know that the Lord is God. There are things that we are to know - not doubt - or question. This is not open to debate and discussion. We are not to wonder what this is all about - we are to know. We are to know Who we worship and why – may our worship be God centred.
That will help keep us, if and when funny teachings arise - hopeful and reassured when times are challenging - persistent in prayer - unwearied when it comes to demanding and draining service - and calm in times of affliction – firm in days of temptation - and bold when persecution comes.
It is HE Who made us - we are HIS. The creature is coming before the Creator.
We are His people - the sheep of His Pasture. Consider what a privilege all this is. Isaiah speaks about us being all like sheep - we all like sheep who have gone astray - and then Jesus comes and calls us into His Fold - and we can graze in His Pastures.
To be chosen from the world - guided by His Wisdom - tended by His Care - fed from His Word, through His Word, by His Word - we have known all this to be true over the years. Somehow this Word feeds us and nourishes us spiritually. The shepherd walks in front to His Sheep and they trust him to lead them to pasture where they can safely graze.
Verse 4 - Enter His Gates with thanksgiving - and His Courts with praise.
It is a picture of a worshipper approaching the place where God is to be worshipped. It is like entering the city Gates of Jerusalem giving thanks - and then drawing nearer and nearer - and walking into the Courts of the Temple, with PRAISE. There are strongly emotional words throughout this Psalm.
The Gates of Mercy are also open - so that the man seeking mercy and forgiveness can find Jesus Christ. God centred . This is the way into God's Presence - and the gates are open. These gates into the presence of God have always been open.
Verse 5. 1 – The Lord is good. 2 – His love endures for ever. 3 – His faithfulness continues through all generations - it flows down through the centuries. These are three eternal unchanging facts.
There is no-one else in the whole world about whom you can say these three things. He is good, through and through - His Love endures and lasts for ever - His faithfulness continues - it goes on and on through all generations. God centred .
God does not change. If God was always changing we would always be wondering what He was going to be like today - what will He be like this week? In our generation? In our day?
Know what HE will be like this coming week - verse 5 is for us. It is 3,000 years since these words were written – for 3,000 years men and women have been singing these words of praise and reassurance.
Is there any evidence of which we are aware to make us question or doubt or wonder about these three qualities and characteristics of our God? None! And we experience all this in Jesus - and through Jesus - and from Jesus – and one of God's goals is to make us more like Jesus.
Just as our fathers found Him faithful - so will we - and so will our children as they come to trust Him.
Our God is no fickle frail Being who makes promises and then forgets – and He has been known by man for a long long time - since Adam walked in that perfect parkland.
God has entered into a covenant with His People, Israel - and then there came that day when He chose us in Jesus - and He will not go back on either of these choices.
This Psalm is ablaze with adoration - this entire Book is pointing people to God - and this Book teaches us that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life - and no-one comes to God the Father except through Jesus. So – we come before Him with Praise and Thanksgiving.
The writer of this Psalm certainly knew God. He knew moments when he had shouted with joy - he had served the Lord with gladness - he had come before Him at various times. He knew who made him - who raised him up - to whom he belonged. He knew who fed him when he was spiritually hungry. He had come time and time again through these gates and into these courts. He had experienced love and faithfulness time and time again.
God's Love and God's Faithfulness - and all this is poured out in five brief verses - to bless us - and encourage us - and inspire and motivate us - to pour out whatever is upon our hearts before our almighty God. This man has worshipped many times. You can almost sense the glow on his face. You can almost hear his voice vibrating with excitement.
Did he understand how many people go through severe strain and hardships and difficulties, which each of us experiences? Of course, he did.
Many times he had come through these gates and entered these courts. These are not his only writings remember. He knew what it was to struggle, and he knew what it was to praise - to be tempted and to overcome - to be troubled and to triumph.
Remember Paul had this continual thorn in the flesh - which he asked the Lord to take away - and the Lord said "NO" - my grace is sufficient for you - strength was made perfect in weakness and through weakness - and while remaining weak in one or more departments of life.
There is not a man of God - a woman of God - who has not gone through - or is going through – challenging circumstances - to some degree.
There is more - "God will not fail - God will never be unfaithful - God will never let His plan for this world fall or fail. God will never allow His plan for you be unfinished and incomplete. His care for you will never slacken. God will not suddenly drop the work He has begun." We focus upon GOD .
We come to worship along different roads - no two roads will be the same – but when we come through these gates and enter these courts something happens – when we are God centred – Christ centred – in Christ . All this has happened to thousands down through the years as they have sung their songs of thanksgiving and praise.
“Loving Father – our gracious God – we join our praises with the many thousands who have praised You down through the centuries. We pray, knowing that we have a God who is good and loving and faithful. As we worship and pray, reassure us that You are a God who speaks and acts and moves – a God of grace – and before You we bow in Jesus’ Name.” Amen.
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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