“Let us Just Praise the Lord!”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

25th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

NOVEMBER 11, 2018

Title: “Let us Just Praise the Lord”

Text: Psalms 100:4

  1. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

 

Scripture Lesson: Psalms 100:1-5

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. 2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

 

As we approach another season of Thanksgiving, it important for us to trim our focus on the most important person in our lives: God.  This is important because when we lift our hearts and souls, our total personality, in a pure offering of praise to God, we are linked with the universe and we are tune with the Infinite God. When we lift our hearts and souls in praise to God, it teaches us a valuable lesson about worship: It must never be haphazard or careless.  Our coming together for worship should never be “just church.” The worship assembly of God’s people must be a place where His children are ever searching their hearts and preparing themselves to lift up an offering of pure praise to their heavenly Father because of the work and the continuing ministry of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I invite you to join me this morning, as we learn about why we should just praise the Lord.

Although the writer of Psalms 100 is unknown, he was doubtless a man who had a proper understanding of the person of God.  This psalm is a call to praise and thanksgiving. It was a psalm sung responsively by worshipers as they approached the temple for worship.  It is a psalm that urges us to shout joyfully to God, acknowledge that He is God, and give Him thanks. Three things I want us to glean from this psalm are: God is worthy of our highest praise and adoration; Our praise should reflect the joy of knowing God; Our praise is gratitude showing we understand who God is..

Let us just praise the Lord because God is worthy of our highest praise and adoration.  In verse 1 and 2, the psalmist says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye land. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” The point the psalmist is making here is when a man’s heart has been filled with God’s grace, his countenance and lips should reflect it.  God is worthy of cheerful service. In real life, no one enjoys being serve by a mopped or depressed servant or waiter who finds his work a cheerless or irksome task. How often believers do things because they ought to. They prayed because they ought to. They attend worship because it is what they ought to do. Some of us tithe because it is what we ought to do.  In this day and age, some believers do things out of a cold sense of dutiful obligation rather than out of a heart flowing with gratitude.

God’s people must always sing joyfully to him in worship.  The great hymn writer John Watt in his hymn “We are marching to Zion,” penned these words, “Let those refused to sing who never knew our God; but favorites of the heavenly king must speak his praise abroad.”  When we sing praise to God, there is joy in our expression. Joy is the outward sign of an inner experience of grace. Gladness not grimness, smile not frown, is the distinguishing mark of anyone who is truly thankful for the goodness of the Lord.

In Luke chapter 1, we find Mary the mother of Jesus praising God because He is worthy of praise and adoration. Finding she was pregnant with the Savior of the world was not easy news to swallow.  But Mary, the young girl chosen to carry the baby Jesus, would exemplified great praise. Her heart was full of praise and out poured into the world. Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.  For he hath regard the low estate of his handmaiden: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed…”  Mary’s response to the news that she was chosen to bring forth the Christ signifies that God is worthy of our highest praise and adoration.

The story is told of a converted Hindu who gave the following address to a number of his fellow countrymen: “I am, by birth, of an insignificant and contemptible caste—so low, that if a Brahmin should chance to touch me, he must go and bathe in the Ganges for the purpose of purification; and yet God has been pleased to call me, not merely to the knowledge of the Gospel, but to the high office of teaching it to others. My friends, do you know the reason of God’s conduct? It is this, if God had selected one of you learned Brahmins, and made you the preacher, when you were successful in making converts, bystanders would have said, it was the amazing learning of the Brahmin and his great weight of character that were the cause; but now, when any one is converted by my instrumentality, no one thinks of ascribing any of the praise to me: and God, as is His due, has all the glory.”  This lowly Hindu gave God praise and adoration for making him the person God wanted him to be.

In verse 3, the psalmist says, “Know ye that he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”  From this verse, we can say that no one helped God during creation.  No one counsel or advise Him. God alone is God. God is a supreme Spirit who alone exist of Himself and is infinite in all perfection. God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth” (Job 38:4)?  Isaiah 55:8-9 also tells us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord, ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  God has made us. We have not made ourselves nor are we the current product of evolution. Because God made us, we are His.  He shepherds us as His people (Psalms 23:1).  He knows us intimately and is concern about our needs, even as a shepherd cares for his sheep.  Because God knows us intimately, we should also know God. If we know God, our lives should reflect the joy of knowing Him.  What is the joy of knowing God? What is the joy of the Lord?

The joy of the knowing God is the gladness of the heart. This gladness comes from knowing God.  This gladness is translated into praise. When Jesus Christ was born, the angels announced “Good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10).  All who find Jesus, with the shepherd of the nativity, finds the joy He brings.  Even before Jesus’ birth, he had brought joy as attested by Mary’s song (Luke 1:47).  Mary knew God. Knowing God reflected the gladness in her heart.

One morning R.C. Chapman, a devout Christian, was asked how he was feeling. “I’m burdened this morning!” was his reply. But his happy countenance contradicted his words.  So the questioner exclaimed in surprise, “Are you really burdened, Mr. Chapman?” “Yes, but it’s a wonderful burden–it’s an overabundance of blessings for which I cannot find enough time or words to express my gratitude!” Seeing the puzzled look on the face of his friend, Chapman added with a smile, “I am referring to Psalm 68:19, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah,’ which fully describes my condition. In that verse, the Father in Heaven reminds us that He daily loads us with benefits.” The joy of knowing God rest in the fact that we are always grateful no matter what our circumstances.  

Verse 4 tells us, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praises: Be thankful unto him and bless his name.” In all of life’s journeys, the Psalmist is telling us that we have only one person to thank, God. Our praise shows gratitude to God.  Our praise shows the One we are worshipping. Our praise show the One we strive to pleased. A story is told of a famous violinist who was to perform at a concert hall of world renown. As he stood before the packed house that night and played his violin, he mesmerized the audience with his prowess and skill. As he lifted his bow off the string on his final note, the hall erupted with thunderous applause and he was given a standing ovation. He looked at the crowd for a moment and walked off the stage only to return to render an encore performance. To the amazement of the masses gathered there that night, his encore performance was even more beautiful and flawless than the first.

He looked to the audience and left the stage for the second time, but was beckoned back by the deafening roar of the multitudes that once again stood to their feet in adulation. He gave yet another encore number, leaving the audience fumbling for words that could describe what their eyes and ears just experienced. This sequence was repeated several more times until finally this virtuoso of virtuosos finished his piece, looked to the audience, nodded his head and simply walked off the stage while the ferocious cheers could still be heard long after he exited.

Reporters pressed outside the violinist’s dressing room, waiting to catch a word from the man who had just given the performance of a lifetime. As he emerged from the small room, one reporter asked the question, “Sir, why did you give so many encore performances? You could have stopped after the first and everyone would have been amazed.” The violinist stopped and replied, “For the very first time in my career, my master, the one who taught me to play the violin, was in the audience. When I finished my performance, everyone stood except for one person. I played again, and everyone stood to applaud except for him. I continued to play. On the conclusion of the last encore I looked into the seats and I noticed that everyone, including my master, was standing and applauding. It was only then that I was satisfied that I had done a good job.”

Church, who are you living to please? Is your life focused on receiving the praises of men or are you striving to please your Master, God? If we strive to please God, let our praise shows it.  Let us enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Let us give God thanks and bless His name. “Let us Just Praise the Lord.” Let us praise Him with a grateful heart! God bless you.