November 2019  
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Coming to Church with a Thankful Heart


Coming to Church with a Thankful Heart
Psalm 100
For the next three weeks I want us to think about being thankful. Shakespeare said, “O Lord! That lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” If there is anything a Christian ought to be, it is thankful. Vincent De Paul was right when he said, “We should spend as much time in thanking God for His benefits as we do in asking them.”
The Bible has much to say about being thankful. In 1 Chronicles 16 we have what is called the “Song of Thanksgiving.” Verse 34 says, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.”
The place that thanksgiving should have in our life is beautifully expressed in how David appointed two men, Herman and Jeduthun, to continually be giving thanks before the Ark of the Covenant. Thanksgiving should be a perpetual and continual practice in the life of those who are saved.
Today I want us to look at Psalm 100, which has been affectionately referred to as Old One-Hundred. The Psalmist is describing a public offering of thanksgiving. I want us to glean from the Psalm some truths about how we should come to Church with a thankful heart.
First, we are reminded of:
In verse 2 we are told to “come before His presence with singing.” We are told to come, but where are we to come? We read in verse 4 that we are to “enter into His Gates” and “into His courts.”
The scene is of the Jewish people coming to the Temple to offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Lord. Psalm 100 was actually used in the offering of Thanksgiving. The Temple was that sacred place that bore the name of God and we find God's people assembling together at the Temple to worship the Lord.
This assembly, or their coming together, was commanded by God. There were specific feasts they were to observe and the command of God had been given that the people were to come together to celebrate these annual feasts. The word “come” is a call for assembly. It is a call to obey the command of God to assemble together as the people of God.
Why do we come to Church? There are many reasons why we come such as our need to attend Church as a Christian. Someone may say, “I don't have to go to Church to become a Christian.” That is true, but you will never be a strong and growing Christian if you do not attend Church.
But the ultimate reason why we come to Church is because God has commanded His people to come together. Upon the first day of the week we are be in Church and we are commanded not to forsake our assembling together.
I came across a February 5, 1895 clipping from the New York Times. It read, “A lady died in Pennsylvania last week, aged ninety-five years, who had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for eighty years, and to the best of her recollection had missed divine worship in the sanctuary only nine Sundays during that period.”
What a testimony of faithfulness to God's House. If someone was writing about your Church attendance what would they say about you? We come to Church because it is expected of us to come.
But there is more to it than just showing up. When I come to Church I am to be more than a spectator. I am to be a participator. I am to be more than an observer. I am to be a worshipper. Look at how this is expressed in this psalm. They are not only coming, but they are personally getting involved in the worship.
I don't think I am judgmental when I say that most people come to Church do not get involved in the worship. They watch other people worship, but never personally worship.
Just this past week I read about a most interesting court case. It involved a man by the name of Dave Van Ness of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. This may surprise you, but he was taken to court by his Church. Even more surprising is the reason. He was charged with disturbing the service. He said “Praise the Lord” so much in Church that the pastor and members, who had tried to get him to stop, took him to court to get the court to make him be quiet. The charges were eventually dropped.
I read that and thought, I wish every member here could be charged with disturbing the service. Amen! We are commanded to come to Church, and when we come, we are to participate in the worship.
Secondly, notice with me:
When the people came together, the focus of their celebration was the Lord Himself. When we come to Church, it is not about the preacher, the singers, or anyone else. It is all about the Lord, or at least it should be. When we assemble together, the Lord is the one who should capture our attention. He should be the one we think about. He should be the one who is magnified and glorified. He is to be the one who is adored by His people.
Look at how verse 3 begins: “Know”. In other words, there are certain truths that need to be understood about God. What it is that we are to know and understand about God? We are to know that He is “LORD” and that He is “God.”
In the Psalm there are two names of God that are used. In the Bible, names always have significance. Names were chosen because it expressed something about the character of a person, their relationship to God, or what a person felt that God was doing in their life or would do in the life of the person named.
We usually pick a name because it is popular or personally liked. We never pick a name because of what it means. I must say that in my case the name is appropriate. Do you know what the “Terry” or “Terence” means? It means “tender or gracious.” Amen! I felt the Spirit right there!
The names of God have special significance. His names are a revelation of Himself. God has a plurality of names because there is not one name that is sufficient to say all there is to say about God. His names tell us something about His person and nature. For example, notice with me the two names of God that are found in Psalm 100.
Four times in Psalm 100 we find the name “LORD” (Vs 1, 2, 3, 5). You will notice that the name is in all capital letters. You find it spelled this way to identify this specific name. It is elsewhere translated “Jehovah.” It is a name that we really don't know how to say. It is sometimes called the tetragrammaton, meaning, “the four-letter name.” It is a name made up of four Hebrew consonants, YHWH. Vowels have been added giving us “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.”
It was a very sacred name to the Jewish people. They never spoke or uttered the name. When a scribe wrote the name, he would lay down the quill he had been using, take a quill and ink that had never been used to write the name. It has been referred to as the most excellent name, or the ineffable name. It is the name that speaks of God as being eternal, endless, timeless, and ageless.
God has always been and always will be. He is the eternal Is! There has never been a moment when He was not and there will never be a moment when He is not is. He is YHWH! He is LORD!
So when the people came together to worship they worshipped Him as the LORD, Ageless One.
The second name that we find in Psalm 100 is found in verse 3 and that is the name “God.” This is the first name by which God revealed Himself. We read in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God.” It is the name that speaks of God as being almighty, the all-powerful One.
After revealing Himself in Genesis 1:1 as “God,” He then demonstrates His might in the words “created the heaven and the earth.” The creation of all things out of nothing is a great example of His might. I think you would agree with me that it would take someone with great might and power to create our universe.
It is estimated that our universe is 10 billion light years in diameter. If on a scale we made the earth the size of the ball in the end of a ball point pen, the sun would be 15 feet away. Jupiter would be 100 feet away and Saturn 150 feet away. You get the idea that the magnitude of this universe is phenomenal. It is a great example of that God is “God.”
In Psalm 100:3 we read that it is “He that hath made us.” Man is an amazing marvel. I read about some Scientists that were asked to determine the size, the cooling system, and the power required to perform electronically the same functions that are automatically accomplished by a man's brain during his lifetime. They decided if all parts were transistorized and built on a miniature scale a machine would be needed the size of the United Nations Building in New York City; a cooling system with an output equal to Niagara Falls; and a power source that would produce as much electricity as use in the homes and industry of the state of California.
Yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made and we are a testimony of God's might. This is our God! When we come to Church we are to turn our attention on Him, think about Him, and worship Him.
Lastly, think with me of:
The heart and soul of Psalm 100 is that when we come together we are come with a thankful heart. Every service ought to be a thanksgiving service. We should come in the door giving thanks to God.
In fact, you can't read this Psalm without seeing how personal this matter of thankfulness is. We see God's people coming together and each one participating in the worship. Each person came to express their thanks to God. When it comes to being thankful, each and every one of us has so much for which to be thankful.
The late president Engleheart of the University of New Hampshire was heard to say after taking a trip through the lake region and mountain ranges of his state: “I hope I never get used to this.”
The problem with so many of us is that we have got used to all God has done for us. For many of us, it has been a long time since that glorious moment when God saved us. How easy it is to lose the wonder of it all. I hope I never get used to what God has done and does for me daily.
Now he word “thanksgiving” and “thankful” in verse 4 are different words but have the same basic meaning.
The word “thanksgiving” means to “extend the hands.” The word “thankful” means to “lift the hands.” As they expressed their thanks to God they lifted their hands.
Keep in mind that Psalm 100 describes a public experience of thanksgiving. When we come to Church, God's people should never be inhibited in expressing their thanks by lifting their hands to God. Someone may say that will make a charismatic out of us. No, you are just ashamed to public express your thanks to the Lord. That's the real problem.
Psalm 100 is full of visible and vocal expressions of public thanksgiving. In verse 1 we read that we should make a “joyful noise” unto the Lord. These two words are actually one word that means--hold on--”split the ear.” It speaks of a very loud shout. Some dead member may say, “He hurts my ear when he shouts.” Good! That is what he should do.
In verse 2 we read that we are “serve the Lord with gladness.” These words speak of a gleeful assembly. This time of worship was to be one marked by great joy and happiness. Church should never be a service in subdued tones like a funeral. It ought to be a time when there are expressions of great joy from those who are attending.
Why should we be so thankful? We read in verse 5, “For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.” God's goodness and mercy should be enough to cause a believer to lift his or her hands to say THANKS!
How should we come to Church? We should come to Church with a thankful heart!
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