Thanksgiving is a Call to Action | Thanksgiving Devotional Series: Psalm 100, November 17, 2020
Psalm 100 concludes the psalms known as ”enthronement psalms”, which as Pastor Chris explained last Thursday, celebrate the Lord’s kingship and his eternal sovereignty. You may have even heard the words of this Psalm before as they have been used in liturgy at church and in praise songs. Although it is a shorter psalm, it packs a punch in what it is saying regarding giving praise and thanksgiving to God. The title of this psalm in the NIV version even says that this is a psalm, “For giving grateful praise”. Then what does “grateful praise” look like?
We are called to action with four verbs: Shout for joy, worship, come, and know. These words may seem to be simple, but they serve as an outline of the meaning of thanksgiving, or todah in hebrew, which is “the act of praising thanks”. Thanksgiving, or giving “grateful praise” is more than a posture, it is also a call to action. We are told in the very first verse, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.” Not only do we need to declare joy to the Lord, but it says, “Shout” and it says to do this to “all the earth”. The action of “Shouting for joy to the Lord” means we need to declare blatantly the joy of the Lord to others, not just ourselves. We are to witness to the one who is our source of unending joy. Shouting for joy, is our job as kingdom ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven, declaring the source, the very reason we have joy to celebrate- Jesus Christ.
Next, we are told to, “Worship the LORD with gladness.” (verse 2). Worship is an outward expression of where our trust, obedience, and affections lie. Sometimes, we find ourselves worshipping things other than God because we have misplaced our trust, our obedience, and our affections with those other things. Possessions, status, other people, and addictions can easily draw our attention away from God. There are so many mini gods that can take the place of our true God, but they will always fail us. The worship of the false gods in our life, end in disappointment, the need for more, the feeling of dissatisfaction, and it does not end in gladness or thanksgiving. Look at the story in Exodus 32, when the Israelites created the golden calf to worship in place of the God who actually did go before them and had just delivered them from the hands of Egypt. They were not thankful, and they so easily let their trust, obedience, and affections wander. Not only that, it says, “Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.” (verse 25). Their worship of this false god made them a laughingstock, and they were out of control. On the other hand, when our worship is centered on God, then it will end in gladness, because he is the one who never fails us, and truly satisfies us. He “makes our paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6) and takes chaos and turns it into peace, only when we place our full trust in Him.
Third, we have the call to, “come before him with joyful songs.” (verse 2b). We have a God, who is present and in whose presence we can always enter. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” The Lord’s grace paves the way to his presence. When we accept his Grace, we understand that He is ever-present in our times of need and that we can approach Him with confidence because we know who he is, a merciful and grace-giving God. We are assured by His character as an approachable King. We celebrate great things all the time in song, whether it is victory, a celebrated hero, or love. Why shouldn’t we celebrate and praise with joyful songs the greatest victor, the most celebrated hero, and the greatest of loves the world has ever known?
The last call to action in our grateful praise, is to “know”. “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.”(verse 3). When we know that the Lord is God, when we give Him that rightful place in our lives, we know our place with God. We know that we are His people and knowing that we belong to God makes our faith not just a practice, but our identity. In our current culture, we often struggle with our identity because we place it in the roles we occupy, whether it be our career, our roles as children, our roles as parents, what society prescribes as our gender’s roles, the list goes on and on. We will fail (notice I say will) at all of these roles and the security of who we are can be shaken to the core by those failures, by the loss of those roles, or by the changing of roles. I am not saying our roles in life are bad, but I am saying they are not your true identity. Your true identity is that you belong to God, and you are a child of God. That identity is secure because it is rooted in knowing you belong to a God who relentlessly pursues you, loves you with a steadfast love, and chooses you regardless of your misgivings. Even when we wander away from this identity, or lose sight of it, we have a Good Shepherd who leads his sheep back to where we belong because, “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”(verse 3). Sheep “know” their shepherd’s voice and sheep and are fully dependent on their shepherd. When we “know” our Shepherd, we know where we belong and to whom we belong. We have an identity that rests in grateful praise because it is rooted in sacrifice, love, and redemption.
All of these calls to action require us to take time for the Lord. Take time in worshipping Him, take time in coming before Him in prayer, take time to share Him with others, and take time to be in His Word. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we can be changed by His Holy Spirit to become the people of God He has always meant us to be. The more we are changed, the closer we grow in relationship with the Lord, and that profoundly impacts the way we live our lives and the way others see us living our lives.
Consider & Discuss
What currently has your trust, obedience, and affection? Write them out and surrender them to the Lord in prayer regularly.
Which of your chosen identity or identities is/are a struggle for you? Think about where you feel the most disappointment, frustration, failure, guilt, or shame. Now, think about your identity of belonging to God, and pray how you can bring that identity into those roles you occupy that are not your true identity.
With whom do you feel called to share what God has done in your life? Pray about this and then share with that person that the Lord has put on your heart.
Pray through each line of Psalm 100 today. Meditating on each line and what that means to your life currently.