A Manual For Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)

Introduction

I just finished eating roasted turkey, dressing, corn, mashed potatoes and . . . now I’m going to have to get another plate. So while we are feeding ourselves this Thanksgiving Day, I want to offer you a plate of theology to enjoy on this great holiday. There is much to learn from the Scriptures about thanksgiving, that is, giving thanks. We’re going to glean from Psalm 100, and see a couple of principles to use while we give thanks not only today, but in our daily lives.

In Psalm 100, we have what you might call a manual for thanksgiving. In this chapter, the people of Israel were called to give thanks to the Lord. It serves as both a song and instruction on giving thanks. The Israelites would gather for worship, and this would be one of the things they would sing. This psalm/hymn was likely sung during one of their many festivals. The Israelites had a ton of festivals, and this was one of the psalms that was likely sung during one of those. This Psalm will show us how we should give thanks to the Lord, and why we should do so.

So let’s begin by reading it together.

The Text: Psalm 100, ESV

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

1. A Celebration of Song (100:1-2)

Giving thanks should be expressed in song/gladness.

In verse one, we see that the whole earth is summoned to make a joyful noise to the Lord. It is an invitation to worship and give thanks that is extended to anyone: “A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (vv. 1-2)

Here, a joyful song is to be sung to the Lord. When the Israelites would gather for worship, this is one of the many ways they would express their worship of God. They used several instruments in their worship (Psalm 150:3-5). So according to this psalm, one way that we can express our thanksgiving to the Lord is by a song. Do you ever sing to the Lord? You don’t have to sing aloud to the Lord, because a song can also be in your heart.

We are also called to serve the Lord with gladness. Gladness is a feeling of joy or pleasure, to be delighted in serving the Lord. Since we are approaching the Christmas season, I want you to think back with me to Christmas when you were a kid. Now remember that gift you really, really wanted as a kid. Remember the Christmas when you actually got it? You were probably like me, and deserved coal from Santa or a bag of switches. But anyway, man opening that gift you really wanted was a joy wasn’t it? It was what you asked for, and when you opened it up, your heart was full of gladness and delight. That’s how worshiping and giving thanks to the Lord should be. We should have that same kind of gladness when we think of all the gifts God has given us.

2. A Celebration of Covenant (100:3)

Giving thanks should be intimate.

We’ve already seen that giving thanks should be expressed in song, and in this verse we see that giving thanks should be intimate. The psalmist writes, “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (v. 3). As we give thanks with joyful song, we are called to know the Lord. This only makes sense, for giving thanks to the Lord can only be done if we know Him. Giving thanks to the Lord includes knowing the Lord we worship. You can’t properly worship Him without knowing Him—that is, in a personal relationship.

That’s exactly what the author of this psalm is trying to say. In fact, the Hebrew word for “know” here is yada, which means to know intimately, or to have a deep intimacy. Much like the intimacy between a husband and a wife. Isn’t it interesting that the term knew is how Genesis describes Adam and Eve’s intimate relations? In Genesis 4:1, it says that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” If you’ve ever heard someone ramble on and say yada, yada, yada, in actuality they’re saying know intimately, know intimately, know intimately!

Our relationship with the Lord is that way. In fact, the New Testament describes our relationship with Him in terms of a Bridegroom, who is Jesus, and the Bride, the Church (Matt. 25:1-13; Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:6-10). So the idea here in this psalm is that we must have an intimate relationship with the Lord, and our giving thanks to Him should be personal, ongoing, and one-on-one. Our giving thanks to Him needs to be something we do in our private lives. When we get an A on a test, we should thank Him in our hearts. When we wake up, we should thank Him. When we’re about to go to bed, we should thank Him. When we read His word we should thank Him. It’s one-on-one.

Not only must we know the Lord, we also must know that we are accountable to Him: He created us, He owns us, we are His people, and we are His sheep. The psalmist talks about the ownership of God, saying that He created us, we are His, we are His people, and we are the “sheep of his pasture.” He tends to us like a faithful shepherd. These are terms that describe, once again, our closeness to the Lord. We must know Him, and because we know Him, we are His completely. So when you give thanks to the Lord, is it weak and heartless, or is it passionate and intimate? Do you understand your relationship with Him like that?

3. A Celebration of Thanksgiving (100:4)

Giving thanks should be corporate/together.

We’ve already seen that thanksgiving should be expressed to the Lord in song, and that our thanksgiving should be intimate with the Lord, but notice also that our thanksgiving should be expressed together—it should be corporate. This is another call to praise, like vv. 1-2 above. The psalmist says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (v. 4). Notice the terms gates and courts here. This is clearly referring to corporate worship that would take place in the Old Testament temple. It is an invitation to community worship. It is a call to enter the temple of God with an attitude of thanksgiving—to enter his courts with worship and praise. This was the purpose of the Israelites’ gathering—to give thanks to the Lord. They were to give thanks as they prayed, as they read the Scriptures, as they sacrificed, and as they gave. Even Jesus did this, as we see recorded in Luke 4. Luke writes there, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read” (v. 16). He went to the Jewish place of worship on the Sabbath day and took part in the service by reading the scroll of Isaiah (see v. 17). Basically, Jesus went to church. He valued corporate worship, and so should we.

It bothers me when people say, “I’m a devoted Christian, but I don’t go to church because I don’t believe in it.” Corporate worship is laced throughout the whole of Scripture; Jesus attended corporate worship; it is how we grow in our faith and are equipped to do God’s will (Eph. 4:12-16); and the local church is the representation of the worldwide church of God scattered throughout the earth. When we gather for worship in our local churches, our services should be saturated with thanksgiving. We are to enter our sanctuary doors with thanksgiving, and as we fellowship, sing, and learn from God’s word, we are to do so in His courts with praise and thanksgiving.

4. A Celebration of God (100:5)

Giving thanks should be done because of God.

So we know that our thanksgiving should be expressed in song, it should be intimate, and it should be corporate. Finally, we see in this manual of thanksgiving that our giving thanks should be done because of God and who He is. The psalmist writes, “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (v. 5). Three reasons are given for giving thanks to the Lord. First, we are to give thanks because “the LORD is good.” I love the old saying, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” There is so much truth in that statement. God is completely good in His nature and everything He does. We are to give thanks because He is a good God. Second, we are to give thanks because “his steadfast love endures forever.” Because He is a good God, His love for us endures forever. It is a constant love that never ends. That should definitely be a reason to give thanks to the Lord! He loves you with an eternal love! Finally, we are to give thanks because “his faithfulness [extends] to all generations.” God’s faithfulness never runs out, they are in fact new every morning (Lam. 3:23-33).

Conclusion

We’ve seen in this Psalm that our thanksgiving should be expressed in song and gladness. It should also be intimate, one-on-one with the Lord. It should be corporately expressed, together as we gather for worship. And it should be done because of our good, loving, and faithful God.

If you’re like me, every time I get new tech, I always throw away the manual. Heck, I can figure it out for myself . . . until there’s a problem. Then I have to go to the professionals and have them check it out. And most of the time it’s a simple problem that could’ve been resolved easily if I had only read the manual! Well, let us not make the same mistake in our thanksgiving lives. We have in this Psalm the very manual for thanksgiving, instructions on how to give thanks. So let us use it, cherish it, and use these principles in our lives so that our thanksgiving won’t need to be fixed or repaired.

WATCH THIS MESSAGE BELOW:

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Missions Panel Discussion With Bro. Nicholas J. Rafael and Bro. Brandon Bramlett

Following Bro. Nicholas’ message on missions emphasis, we had a panel discussion on missions. Several questions were submitted to us that we attempted to answer on this panel, that you can listen to below:

  1. What is/are missions?
  2. Does God call all Christians to missions?
  3. How do I know if I’m called to missions?
  4. Why are missions so expensive?
  5. How can I be mission-minded?

WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION HERE:

I invite you to listen to his message that was preached that night also. You can hear it by clicking here: Missions Emphasis Message.

Missions Emphasis Message by Bro. Nicholas J. Rafael

“As His followers, we are His hands, we are His feet, we are His mouthpiece. And it is our duty to make His word known.”

Recently at our church, we had a missions emphasis night with our students. We focused on unreached peoples, we prayed, and we heard a great message from Bro. Nicholas J. Rafael from Murphysboro, IL. This was a great message on missions, and I invite you to take a few minutes out of your day to listen/download his message below:

Be sure to check him out on Facebook, and to listen to our panel discussion that also took place that night by clicking here.

WATCH THE MESSAGE BELOW:

3 Things Essential to In-Home Church Groups

“. . . Teaching you in public and from house to house” (Acts 20:20)

Let’s imagine for a moment that, since the birth of Christianity as recorded in the book of Acts, no one ever built a church building. Never. No one took into consideration that a large number of believers could meet in a large building for worship. But believers still need to meet for worship because it’s biblical . . . So where would they meet? The most convenient place would be in homes. That’s the next best thing to gathering for worship in a church building, isn’t it? Bible study and worship in your own home. Well, that’s exactly where the early church met for worship before there was ever one brick laid in construction of a church building (Acts 2:46; 20:20; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 2).

Many churches are still following this model for “doing church” even today, and they should be because it is both biblical and strategic for reaching people for Jesus Christ with the gospel. First it is biblical. It is biblical because it is usually only a smaller version of our regular corporate worship gatherings at our own local church. The Bible commands and exhorts us to meet together with other believers (Psalm 150:1-6; Matt. 18:20; Heb. 10:25; 1 John 1:7). You cannot be a growing, thriving believer if you’re not attending and participating in a local church somewhere. So meeting in a home for worship and Bible study, or meeting in a community center or restaurant is only a condensed version of what you would normally do with more believers in a larger setting and building. Second it is strategic for reaching people for Christ. Most people today, especially today, have their preconceived assumptions about the church. With this in mind, people are far easier to reach with the gospel in your home or out in public, than they are in the church. When you think about it, that is actually essential to the way evangelism is supposed to be done. People will respond more positively to an invitation to your home than they will an invitation to a church they know nothing about. You can reach them with the gospel in your home, and then they are far more likely to attend your church and continue attending your church. We need to be reaching people with the gospel and bringing them into our churches in non-threatening ways. We’re not changing the message of the gospel, only the means through which we present it. We can have a bonfire at the house, a cookout, we can meet for lunch with a couple of friends, and the list goes on and on – there are several available options for meeting places, which makes it that much more strategic for reaching people for Christ.

So you want to start doing this. You want to get this thing going. You want to be biblical and you want to reach people for Christ through our own home and community. Well, there are at least three things essential to these “in-home” church groups. Three things that you need to keep in mind in order to start and sustain groups in your community or home:

1. Focus. You need a missions-focused church that is on board and ready to do smaller churches in homes. I believe we should excite our church members by sharing with them this model of doing church, and encouraging them to participate in and support it. If no one else in your church is concerned about outreach, you should be concerned about your church – they are destined to close their doors. Your entire church needs to be focused on reaching people with the gospel in this way. It might take some time to get members informed about this, and excited to participate, but your time will be well spent if you do so. This is something that should be consistently promoted in your local church. Both you and your church should have a continual focus on meeting in homes, so that members can participate and do the same thing you’re doing.

2. Training. You need people who are trained, at least in some way, to teach the Bible – leading those Bible studies, able to answer tough questions, able to lead others to Christ, and things of that nature. Someone in your church may have an earnest desire to be involved in small groups that meet in homes, but if they haven’t ever taught a Bible study, they need some type of training where they can learn how to do so. It doesn’t need to be formal Bible college training per se, but they need to know the basics because one day they will teach someone else to be a teacher of the word. You and your church should have people who are fully prepared.

3. Resources. Anytime something like this is done, you need resources. You need financial resources, literary resources, and a place to meet. Your home should be a place where you can meet for Bible studies. If it’s a one bedroom apartment, it’s probably not the best place to meet. Perhaps you can meet in your local park or in a restaurant or coffee shop. You also need literary resources: Bibles, Bible study booklets, books on the Bible, gospel tracts, etc. Those things will contribute to your overall outreach. Many people you will have in your home or meeting place do not have resources like this. All of this will require some type of financial support. Are you financially able to carry out a continuous small group Bible study? Are you financially able to have cookouts or snacks around the table when you meet for fellowship?

Those are a few things to keep in mind as you have “in-home” church groups. Is there anything else would you add?