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As we study through the Psalms in this series called Playlist, we learn more about the nature and power of God.
The Bible tells us that He loves us consistently and provides for us faithfully. In light of that truth, what should our response be? Let's turn to Psalm one hundred and find out as Pastor Skip begins the message "All of Me."
Would you turn to Psalm 100, Psalm 100. If you had to live your life over again, what would you do differently? When I asked that question last night, somebody up front shouted out, "Everything!" [laughter] If you had to live your life all over again, what would you do differently? Some people might piously say, "Nothing." I don't think that's a great nor is it an honest answer. A group of 95-year-old men and women were asked that question. It was a little sort of a target survey. They asked these elderly men and women: "If you could live your life all over again, what would you do differently?" There were three answers that dominated the response. Listen to them: "I would reflect more," "I would risk more," and "I would do those things that would outlive me more."
"I would reflect more," "I would risk more," and "I would do more things that would last or outlive me." In other words: "If I had to live my life all over again, I would be more thoughtful. I would be more intentional with my life, with my family. I'd think about things, I'd weigh things out more. I would also get out of my comfort zones more and more. And I would make sure that my life counts." Now let me ask you as a believer in Christ: If you as a believer in Jesus could live your life all over again, what would you do differently? Would you pray less? Would you love God less? Would you obey God less? Would you help people less? I have never met folks on their deathbed who have ever said anything close to that.
I have never heard anyone say, "You know, I really regret in my Christian life that I prayed as much as I did, and helped people as much as I did, and worshiped and loved God as much---I really wish I would have done a little less of that." So with that said, let's today plan what our response to God is going to be from this day forward, how we're going to spend the rest of our lives. What is our response going to be? And you know everybody on earth has some response to God, everyone. Every person responds to God in some manner. Some people will ignore him, completely ignore him. "He may be there. I'm not sure if there is a God, but I'm going to live my life as though God doesn't exist." They ignore him. Another response people have is to abhor him. They just hate God. They hate the notion of him.
Whenever you bring up God, they fidget, they squirm, or they leave the room, or they say something derogatory. They abhor him. A third response is some adore him. They adore him. They love him. The name of Jesus---they just respond, their heart warms up. Now I know most of us would like to think we're in category number three, but not so fast. Let me explain category number three, based on Psalm 100, to you. Because I actually think that some who claim to adore God really ignore him. Oh, they'll tip their hat to him every now and then and once a week, but they'll live their daily lives as though God really didn't exist as they live on and make their choices. One person said: "A Christian is someone who feels sorry on Sunday for what he did on Saturday and will do again on Monday."
That's not an appropriate response. Let me give you out of Psalm 100 four appropriate responses that every follower of God should have, four appropriate responses. And there's four words that I'm going to give you. Here they are: worship, serve, love, thank; worship, serve, love, thank. They're easily memorable. You can say them. Let's say them: worship, serve, love, thank. Now I'm going to explain those four words because those principles are found in our text. It's a short psalm, but it's a very powerful, powerful psalm. The language is lively and the theme is profound. Psalm 100 says: A Psalm of Thanksgiving. "Make joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!" or "all the earth." "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.
"Know that the Lord, he is God; it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful to him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations." The first word is "worship," but let me be more specific: worship the Lord joyfully. Worship the Lord joyfully. Verse 1, "Make a joyful shout," some translations say "a joyful noise," "to the Lord, all you lands!" The second part of verse 2: "Come before his presence with singing." Now we believe that this psalm was used in the temple, that it was a formal call to worship for pilgrims who were approaching the temple and coming into the courts to offer their sacrifices and to praise the Lord.
It is still to this day used in synagogues. But you'll notice that it begins by saying, "Make a joyful shout." I discovered no less than eighteen times, seventeen or eighteen, again, depends on which translation you use. Seventeen or eighteen times we are told to make a "shout" or a "noise" of joy unto the Lord. Now here's the thought behind that if you've ever wondered: in ancient times it was customary when you were in the presence of your king as a people, or if the king came into the presence of his subjects, that they would let out a shout of victory. It was their way of expressing "Our king is strong and we are victorious because of him." Here's an example: in the book of Numbers, the twenty-third chapter, when Balaam the false prophet is hired by King Balak to curse the people of Israel, and God wouldn't let him do that, you know that story?
So he looks over and sees the people spread out before him and he says, "The Lord their God is with them and the shout of a king is among them." They believed by that shout that the presence of God was with them. In Joshua, chapter 6, they surround the city of Jericho and the instructions of General Joshua to his troops are this: "Shout, for the Lord has given you this city!" Here's another great story: in First Samuel when the Philistines are fighting the Israelites, there's a crucial point in the battle when the Israelites ask for the ark of the covenant to be brought into their camp. Do you remember that story? "We want the ark brought into our camp." So the ark of the covenant was brought into the camp of the children of Israel.
And this is what the text says: "When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. And the Philistines said, 'What is all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?' And then they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp." To them this signified the presence of their King, the presence of the Lord. Third chapter of the book of Ezra is another one. The temple has been rebuilt and the Bible says, "All the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord." Now, with just a sampling of the verses that I just read, it sounds like their worship was pretty alive, that they actually believed they were in the presence of God himself, and it was a joyful shout. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, "Our happy God should be worshiped by a happy people; a cheerful people is in keeping with his nature and his acts."
Now, do you know that the Bible does not tell us how we are to sing to the Lord; that is, in terms of technique or beat or song choice? The Bible never says something like this: "Thou shalt sing to the Lord thy God with four-four beat; three-four and two-four is strictly forbidden." There's none of those kind of instructions. However, the Bible does say we are to sing. And the Bible does say here we are to shout. And the Bible does say it is to be joyful. Can we all agree that the Bible that we just read says those things? Now whenever this is brought up, and I do bring it up, there are rebuttals to it. There are excuses to it. Let me give you a few: "But I'm not a good singer. I don't sing because I'm not a good singer." If you were the sing, others around you would sing louder just to drown you out. [laughter] That's a positive.
"But I'm not a good singer." Let me say this very respectfully and very tenderly---get over it. The Lord God Almighty as given you an adequate enough voice, an adequate enough instrument to make a joyful noise unto him. You c---anybody can do this. Anybody can do a joyful noise, a joyful shout unto the Lord. I've told you what my camp counselor told me, told us when we were, years ago, at a summer camp. He said, "If God has given you a good voice, then use it in worship to him. If he has given you a bad voice, give it back to him." [laughter] "I'm not a good singer." Let me just say to you nonmusical people, the voice you have is the voice God has given you. And it applies to you and to me and to all of us what Jesus said in Mark, chapter 12. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind"---and what's the fourth one?---"all your . . . ?---all your strength, all your strength."
Here's the second excuse: "I just don't feel like it." Okay, that's an act of will. You don't feel like it. I understand that we have bad days, bad weeks, tragedy may have happened, and you come into the house of God, you don't feel like it. You don't feel happy. You don't feel good. You don't feel like expressing it. But can I just add something or say something in response to that? You don't feel like getting up early Monday morning and going to work either, but I'll bet you'll do it. You will often do what you don't feel like doing because you gotta do it. You do it. It doesn't make it less real when you do it. Here's a third rebuttal: "Well, I'm not the emotional type." Okay, fair enough. I understand this one: "I'm not the emotion type."
But let's suppose that you as a nonemotional person are teeing up on a par 3, and it's a perfect day. And you swing that club, and your ball goes so straight and so far and you see it hit the green, and you watch it, with one shot, roll into the cup. Now you've gotten a hole in one. I have a question for you: Do you stand there and fold your arms and go, "How nice." [laughter] No. You'll be five or six feet off the ground and you'll be shouting and telling everybody. And I've seen some of you at Lobo games when our team scores. There's some emotion that goes on there. There's some excitement that goes on there. Or maybe more to the point, when one of your sons or daughters at a game scores a point, you get pretty emotional about that. You know why people do that for those events? Because those things are real to them.
And when God is in your midst, if the Lord is real to you, you will engage him on some level of worship. Why is it that Christians think that enthusiasm for the most worthy thing in the all of the universe must somehow be carefully contained? God is not too excited about secret admirers. He likes to be told that you love him. You know, I hate to say this, but some folks are gonna even complain when they get to heaven. I think they will. It's going to be too loud for them in heaven. It says they sang a song so loud, Isaiah said, that the doorposts of the temple shook. In Revelation 5 the song was a "loud voice" of praise unto the Lord. Some people won't like that. Some people are going to complain because of the lights.
Because in heaven we're told that the heavenly Jerusalem has an iridescent shine, and that the light of the city comes from the Lamb of God, Jesus, himself. And he is compared to shining so brightly it's like the strength of the sun. That's a bright light. "Oh, it's too bright. I don't like that light." And some will complain about the haze in heaven. The vision that Isaiah saw in chapter 6 says the glorious singing shook the temple to the foundations and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke. That's the evidence of the Shekinah glory of God in that covenant. Worship God joyfully. "Make a joyful shout to the Lord. Come before his presence with singing." That's an appropriate response. Here's a second: serve God gladly. Serve God gladly. Verse 2, "Serve the Lord with gladness."
So we have glad singing, number one; number two, we have glad service. Singing joyfully is great, that's the first response when you're in the presence of the King. But God wants more than fans; God wants followers. Yes, I think we should respond to God on some level of emotion, but we should also respond with motion, following up the emotion with the motion of obeying what he says, serving him. There's an old saying that says: "It's not how high you jump, it's how straight you walk once you hit the ground." Okay, it's great to get all excited about the presence of the Lord, but then living and serving out that lifestyle is so important. You see, spiritual maturity isn't measured by glorious singing as much as by glad serving. "Serve the Lord with gladness."
Have you ever seen somebody serving the Lord, but they moan when they do it? They moan---they're doing it, but they're complaining, they're griping, they're moaning. It's the worst. There was somebody like this in the New Testament. Her name was Martha. Remember Martha? And what's her sister's name? Mary. And she comes to Jesus---this is Luke, chapter 10---and she complained in her serving. "Lord, how come I'm the only one doing the work and you're letting Mary sort of get away with it? I'm the one that's serving. I'm doing all the work." Mary, you remember, was at the feet of Jesus listening to his voice, listening to his message, worshiping him. And Jesus said to her, "Martha"---the serving one, the one doing the work, because she wasn't doing it with gladness, but with a moan.
"Martha, Martha, you are distracted by much serving. Mary has chosen the better part, the better part, which will not be taken from her." Why did he say that? Because worshiping is a lot better than whining. "Serve the Lord with gladness." Now we have an Old Testament example of somebody who served the Lord while moaning. Can you remember his name? He's a prophet. That's a clue. He has a book named after him and it's a very short book. Jonah. When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, did he go, "Yes, Lord, joyfully I'll serve you. I'd love to go and do whatever you want me to do and say whatever you want me to . . . ." Did he do that? He went in the opposite direction. He went on a Princess Cruise all the way to Portugal. That's where he wanted to go, opposite direction.
Nineveh's this way; he went that way. You know why he went that way? You know why he wasn't joyful? He couldn't stand the thought that God would forgive and be merciful to those he hated the most, the Ninevites. He couldn't stand that thought. Well, eventually he went, but he didn't go joyfully. He went under duress, he went out of duty, and he went after he was dumped on the shore by a great fish. If you're going to serve the Lord at all, please do it with gladness, not with sadness, not with complaining, not with moaning, but with gladness, with joy. There was a time in church history, oh, it was in the Middle Ages, when it was thought that if you're in the clergy, if you're like me, you should wear all black, all black. That is befitting what clergyman ought to wear, all black.
And you ought to be very serious and austere and not smile much, for this is serious business. No wonder Oliver Wendell Holmes years later said, "I would have entered the ministry except all the preachers I know look and act so much like undertakers." [laughter] My apology, if you're an undertaker and you have a joyful life. You do not have to be sad in order to be sanctified. You do not have to be gloomy in order to be holy. God wants whatever is done for him to be down with gladness. And that goes for every activity, including our financial giving. Remember what Paul writes, Second Corinthians 9, "Let each one of you give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly nor out of necessarily; for God loves a cheerful giver." The Word in Greek is a "hilarious" giver.
Can I---let me just append that verse a little bit: "God loves a cheerful giver"; God also loves a cheerful liver. And I don't mean---I don't mean that. [laughter] I mean he loves a life that is lived cheerfully for him. Do you know that serving the Lord gladly is great advertising? There's nothing more infectious and inspiring than genuine joy. Sometime back a newspaper in Boston, Massachusetts, found out about a woman who was a cleaning lady at an office complex, and she held the job for forty years. They were interested in any lady doing the same "boring," they said, "monotonous job" for forty years. So they interviewed her and they asked her point-blank: "How could you do this? How could you for forty years do this same boring, monotonous job of cleaning after people?"
Here's her answer: "I don't get bored. I use cleaning materials that God made. I clean objects that belong to people that God made, and I make life more comfortable for them. My mop," she said, "is the hand of God." How's that for joyful service? "My mop is the hand of God." Two appropriate responses: worship God joyfully, serve God gladly. Here's a third: love, love God intelligently. Love God intelligently. What's the first word in verse 3? Go ahead, you can speak to me. I can have a little interaction here. What's the first word? "Know," "Know." The psalmist says, "Know that the Lord, he is God; it is he who made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture." The word "know" means what you think it means. It means to perceive something with understanding.
In other words, in relating to God, there are certain things he wants us to know. I believe that Christians should be great thinkers. And I fear that some brain cells are seriously underexercised. Your mind matters to God. We just quoted it, but let me quote that one word again. You're to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." Your mind is important. In Romans, chapter 12, Paul says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." In Hosea chapter 1 verse 6, the Lord says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Second Peter 3:18, Peter says, "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Let me just say to you, it is okay to think and be a Christian. In fact, it's imperative. He wants you to think. I want to engage your mind. I want you to think deeply about spiritual things.
There's no sign in our foyer that says, "Please Check Your Brains at This Door." You're to "know." And so we're to love God intelligently. What exactly are you to know? You're to know his lordship, first of all. Notice it says, "Know that the Lord, he is God." Can I paraphrase that? "He's God, and you're not." He's the Lord, let him be that, and you're not." Know that the Lord, he is God." What's the first commandment out of the Ten Commandments? "I am the Lord your God. You will have no other gods besides me." There is only one God. There are not two gods. There are not ten gods. There are not 300,000 gods you can choose from. There is only one true and living God, and there's only one way to that true and living God; and that is, through his Son Jesus Christ. He is the Lord God and you and I need him.
I love how the eight-year-old prayed in Sunday school, something like this: "Lord, bless our mommies, daddies, our teachers, our brothers and our sisters. And please, God, please take care of yourself, because if anything happens to you, God, we're sunk. Amen." [laughter] Sweet little prayer, but so profound. "We totally depend on you. I know that you are the Lord. I know that you are God and I depend on you." So we're to know his lordship. We're also to know his craftsmanship. For Psalm 100 it says, "Know that the Lord, he is God; it is he who made us." You were an act of creation. You're a special creation of God. I've long marveled at the human body. I studied science and the sciences for years. And I just marvel at the human body that God created.
And the first model he created out of nothing, ex nihilo, completely out of nothing. I marvel that our brains have 100 billion cells in them all performing complex activities. I marvel that the skin on our body has 2 million tiny sweat glands to regulate temperature no matter where we're at. I marvel that the heart is such a good pump that it could pump through the arteries, and then return through the veins, blood traveling, I'm told, 168 million miles every day. It's a marvel created by God. And, by the way, the first model worked perfectly. God made man upon the earth and he didn't go, "Ooh, I gotta---I better do 2.0 because 1.0 isn't working so well." [laughter] First model worked perfectly. And I'm not here to get into the intricacies of evolution versus creation. We've done that on many an occasion.
But let's just ask a simple question: If evolution works, why do mom's still have only two hands? [laughter] Think about that one. Moms know exactly what I'm talking about, because by now if evolution worked, they'd have like eighteen hands, all that they do and all that they juggle. All that so say this: you are not a human accident; you are a divine incident. You are created by God for a purpose---know that, know that. Know his lordship, know his craftsmanship, and, finally, know his ownership. He says, "For we are his people and we are the sheep of his pasture. We are his. We are God's. Now how is it that we are God's? In two ways---one way if you're not a believer, two ways if you are. You are his, number one, by creation. He made you. If he made you, you belong to him.
You are his work. That's number one. If you're a believer, you're his by another means; and that is, by redemption. Not just by creation, but now by redemption. He paid for you. He paid the hefty price for you. That's what the anthem is going to be in heaven according to Revelation, chapter 5. He says that "[You] have redeemed us"---saying this to Jesus. "[You] have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, kindred, tongue," that we belong to him by redemption. So, he owns us and ownership implies care. See, it really helps to know this---"I belong to him." Because tomorrow if the bottom drops out of your life, you can fall back on this---"He owns me." If you lose your job---"I'm his." If a disease comes into your life---"I belong to him. He owns me."
Can you say, like Paul in Romans 8, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." He said, "I'm persuaded. I know that. I know that." So, this is loving God intelligently. Worship him joyfully, serve him gladly, love him intelligently; here's the fourth, and we close: thank God consistently. Look at the last two verses. "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving," verse 4," and into his courts with praise. Be thankful to him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations."
Now can't you just picture whoever is singing this at the temple inviting the worshipers to "Come on in. Come through these gates, and as you do, have a thankful heart." "Enter his gates with thanksgiving." There was once a little boy sitting next to his parents in church. And the little boy sort of right in the middle of the service, like right about now---well, this is toward the end, but---he was sitting there and leans to his dad. His dad and mom are there, but he says to his dad, "Look, Dad, Mom would rather be home cooking dinner, you would rather be out on the golf course, I would rather be playing football. So why are we here?" he asked. It's a good question to ask. Why are you here? Why are we here?
I suggest that we are here for all four of these responses: to engage in joyful worship, to serve God and his people, to engage our minds and learn of him, and to say, "Thank you, Lord, for your mercies and your goodness." Now, you might not feel like doing any of these, but you and I are called to do all of these, and we're called to thank him. And notice the psalmist gives us three reasons to thank him: number one, he's good. Whether you've had a good week or not, is the Lord good? We thank him. "Lord, thank you because you're good. That's your character. That's your nature." We thank him because he's merciful: "His mercy is everlasting." It'll never run out. It'll be there tomorrow for you. And, finally, because he's honest: "And his truth endures to all generations."
So I think we agree that God deserves our thanks. That's why Paul in First Thessalonians 5 said, "In everything giving thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I know it's more fun to complain, I know it's more enjoyable to whine, but it is more fitting and honorable to God to give him thanks. Have you ever stopped to think about the worst time in American history? The worst generation that Americans ever experienced was the founding of this country. You're thinking, "I thought it was this day and age." No, no, no. The very worst time in American history was our pilgrim fathers settling this country. Because during that time, I am told in what I have read, that they made about seven times more graves to bury the dead than they built houses to house the living.
The death rate was enormous because of the deprivation and the conditions. Seven times more graves to bury the dead than houses to house the living, and yet it was during that time they felt the necessity to take one day a year and call it Thanksgiving and pause and go, "Thank you, Lord, we've made it this far." And eventually our president, the very first president, George Washington, signed that into law. And both houses of Congress agreed. Isn't that a miracle? Probably the first time that every happened. [laughter] Both houses of Congress agreed that we ought to thank God for his benefits toward us. That was the worst time of our history. Now I know some of us are thinking, "It's pretty bad now. The tax rate is pretty high."
You know, I read a story of a 92-year-old immigrant who came to this country and at 92 years of age sent a check to the president. This was a couple terms ago. And he expressed deep gratitude for what this country has afforded him. Here's the note: "Dear Mr. President, here is a check for $35,000 as a gift to say thank you to the United States of America." Who does that? [laughter] "Yeah, I am just going to give 35,000 extra dollars to the government." Here was an immigrant who knew what it was like in his country, and is now in this country, and says, "I never was afforded those kind of abilities to get ahead---thank you." So let's just take ourselves and put ourselves here. "God, this act of service that I'm doing is to say thank you. Lord, this raised hand is to say thank you. Lord, the joyful task that I will perform is just to say thank you."
If you had to live your life all over again, what would you do differently? I hope you would say these things. In essence I would say, "All of me, Lord, take all of me." What do you give to the God who has everything? He only wants you. But he wants all of you and he will not settle for anything less. Father, that's a thing to ponder. If we were to do things differently, what would we do? And if we can think of anything, then it's time to start doing it. And these four things, according to this psalm, are responses of worshipers gathering together, of people going out into community and living their lives. And these four things sum up a very appropriate response: worship, serve, love, and thank. Help us in our worship, to do it joyfully; in our service, to serve you gladly; to love you intelligently and learn and engage the mind; and then be very consistent in thanking you for your benefits---in Jesus' name, amen.
Our response to God should be more than emotion; it should be a motion of surrender and obedience. If what you've heard today has encouraged you, tell us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder: you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for the Calvary Albuquerque with Skip Heitzig Podcast.