Moments in the life of a Pastor

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21 Worship with Thanksgiving – Part 2

Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Serve 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 is not just a call to worship but a call to remember who and why we worship because as people our tendency is to forget and we need a reminder. The first verse says that it is addressed to “all the earth,” and the last verse says that it includes “all generations.” When we look at this Psalm we need to see that God had us in mind. This message of thanksgiving is so deep and wide that it encompasses and applies to every person in every era in every stage of life. This thanksgiving psalm reminds us of five thanksgiving commands.

  • Shout

It means to “shout with the force of a trumpet blast,” Our Thanksgiving should be heard, from the depths of our being we proclaim our praise. The idea here is that praise can’t be contained, what God has done should be shared, unleashed because it can’t be keep inside any more. What the 100th Psalm does is that it emphasizes the foundation for our thanks, the Lord. Our tendency and the real danger is determining our thanksgiving on the basis of how much we have. “Do I have enough turkey to gorge myself sufficiently? Is my money secure? Am I healthy?” As a result we let these things determine out thankfulness. Yet after a quick scan in vs. 1 you’ll find the name of the Lord. In vs. 2 you’ll find the name of the Lord. In vs. 3 you’ll find the name of the Lord. In vs. 4 it says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving.” And in vs. 5 you’ll find the name of the Lord. The basis of our thanksgiving is the Lord.

  • Serve

It doesn’t say “serve the church or the pastor or the people it says, “serve the Lord.” The Bible teaches that if we witness on behalf of the Lord, if we feed the hungry, if we clothe the naked, if we do the work of the Lord, whatever it might be, we are serving the Lord. I’m not sure that we grasp the truth that the one we are really serving is the Savior. Often we serve out of obligation, fear, guilt or to be in the spotlight and draw attention to ourselves. But the Psalmist says, “In whatever you do, serve the Lord with gladness.”

  • Sing

Come before him with joyful songs, have you noticed that in these first three commands, God reveals that He wants us not only to sing but to smile and be happy. “Shout with joy, serve with gladness, and come with joyful songs.” Take a moment and look in the mirror, what does your life reflect, a smile or a scowl?

  • Be Secure

“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.” So often we base things on and respond by how we feel but God wants us to be secure and to know. He is our maker, the one who formed us inside and out and we are created in His image. The truth is that God made you the way He wanted you to be, have you given Him thanks for who you are? We are not just created we are also called into a relationship with God, we are His and we can belong. The problem is that most of us want to be shepherds, not sheep. “It’s not any fun being sheep,” we say so we go searching for the still waters on our own. We trust self when it comes to our safety, so we seek our own security and we invariably end up lost and separated. Submitting to the reality of being a sheep means I don’t have to try to be the shepherd. Today God is saying, “You be the sheep, let me be the shepherd, and I will lead you beside the still waters and the secure pastures, just let me lead.”

  • Seek

In the O.T. the temple symbolized the presence of God and whenever the people came to the temple and entered the courtyards they were seeking God. Now that temple no longer exists, but often the place where we meet to worship God is called a “sanctuary,” indicating that God is there. The truth is that God is everywhere, He is with you as you drive on the highway, at work and play, He is with you every moment of your life. This is the source of our thanksgiving, but what if God began to treat us like we so often treat Him? What if God met our needs to the same extent that we gave Him our lives? What if we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent the rain? What if God stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others? What if God took away His message because we wouldn’t listen to His messenger? What if He wouldn’t bless us today because we didn’t thank Him yesterday? What if God answered our prayers the way we answer His call to serve? What if God decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn’t follow Him today? Yet each day we have the privilege to shout, serve, sing, to be sheep and to seek the shepherd. This Thanksgiving will you take your Thanks and give?

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20 Worship with Thanksgiving – Part 1

1 Chronicles 16:23-29

Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the LORD made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. O nations of the world, recognize the LORD, recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong. Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the LORD in all His holy splendor.

1 Chronicles 16 records David’s heartfelt gratitude of praise and thanksgiving to God. The backdrop to his worship requires that we remember what had transpired prior to the praise.  The Ark of the Covenant that signified God’s word, provision, and power for his people had been stolen by the Philistines. The ark represented the reality of God’s presence with his people so in essence the Philistines stole the reality of God’s presence from God’s people. The result was that God’s people lost their focus and effectiveness. In 1 Samuel 5 we are told that after the Philistines took the ark they placed it in their temple in a position next to their “god” Dagon. The next morning the ark was in the same place but their “god Dagon had left his place beside the ark and instead was positioned face down before the ark. The Philistines propped him back up but the next morning their “god” was again face down before the ark this time his hands and head broken off. It’s one thing to have to prop up your “god” but you know it’s going to be a bad day when you have to piece him back together! The sad part is that they still didn’t get the message that there is only One God so they were struck with tumors. After seven months of self-torture, the Philistines sent the ark back ten miles from Jerusalem at a place called Kiriath Jearim and left it for 20 years. Saul became Israel’s first king and he neglected to bring the ark back to Jerusalem the center of worship. When David became king, a man after God’s own heart, he directed the ark’s return to Jerusalem and wrote the song of praise found in 1 Chronicles 16. What David teaches us about thanksgiving is that praise can be:

  • Proclaimed

For David praise wasn’t something to be proclaimed periodically but daily. David made it a point to praise and the question we should ask today is do we plan to praise? Do I make praise my purpose? Just as Israel was robbed of God’s presence by the Philistines, we too can be robbed by the enemy when we fail to proclaim God’s power.  It is easy in daily life to lose our awareness of God’s presence and Satan will use anything he can to distract you from an intimate relationship with Christ. His goal is to rob you so you become unaware of God’s presence and you lose your focus. God’s people lost their focus for a long time because God’s presence wasn’t at the center of their lives. The sad reality was that the ark was gone and no one seemed to miss it. It is so easy to let other things creep in and replace God and when that happens our worship is replaced by worry.   When God isn’t at the center of your life things get out of balance and we focus on blame. The constant chorus of our lives becomes to complain about our circumstances because when we lose our focus we lose our gratitude. David was intentional, he prepared himself to praise God by reminding himself and others of God’s power to save. By bringing the ark back David made God the center of their chorus of worship. Praise has the power to refocus us and re-center us in the chaos and the problems. Through praise God’s presence again became the center of life for His people. When they regained their focus they remembered why they were thankful. What is at the center of your praise, has anything replaced the Redeemer? And if it has, have you even noticed?

  • Published

Praise pours from a thankful heart. David now moves from verbal proclamation to written publication of the power and presence of God. The point here is that praise should be shared and the vehicle for delivering that praise is not limited to the verbal. Who are you telling about God and how are you doing that? Today we have put praise in a box by placing our preference above the purpose of praise, which is to focus all the glory on God.  The truth is that there are many vehicles on the road of praise, from the vehicle of verbal praise to the published page, yet there is only one destination. The road of praise is not about rules and restrictions and regardless of peoples preference we are to proclaim our praise. David rejoiced that God’s presence was again the focus of his people. David’s praise of thanksgiving came as he remembered what God had done. In verse 12 David recounts and remembers the wonders of what God had done but he also recalls in verse 15 how God remember His covenant with His people. Praise is not just a show of feelings but a focusing on the facts, and the facts are that we have a faithful Father.

  • Presents

In verse 29 David’s call to praise is also a call to present God with our presents, “Bring your offering and come into his presence” Praise is not just proclaimed or published it is presented in our offering and gifts of self, time, and resources. Are we coming into His presence to give or take? Thanksgiving is a time to stop and reflect, to refocus on what is important so we don’t get stuck in another rut. Our lives are like mirrors which are revealed by what they reflect and a thankful life reflects a life of praise. What you worship is reflected in your walk. What are you thankful for, what do you need to proclaim, publish and present to the world this Thanksgiving?