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;[a]
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.Psalm 100:1-5 (ESV)
Yesterday, in my post – Shouting Christians – I began talking about Psalm 100. The psalm opens with an encouragement to “shout” or if you are reading from the ESV (as above), then to “make a joyful noise to the Lord!” Before we continue thinking about the next part of the passage, why not pause for a moment and offer the Lord a word or shout of praise?
Verse two instructs us to “Serve the Lord with gladness!” Christians are (or should be) marked out by their acts or even lives of service. We are to be a people known for serving others. The world looks only after itself and its own, whereas we are to put others before ourselves. We sacrifice that others may have.
Bearing that in mind, it is a poor reflection on our society that really does look down on those who would serve. Whether it’s waiting staff in a restaurant, or noble care staff meeting the most basic needs a person can have, it is so sad that such individuals are often looked down upon. We must recognise the massive contribution such “servants” make to our families and our communities.
During the height of the COVID pandemic in the UK, people were encouraged to step outside and onto their front doorstep at 8pm each Thursday evening. There, we would clap and applause our health service staff showing them a small token of our appreciation for their hard work during a very troubling time.
Christians should be serving Christians… but none of this is what this Psalm is really talking about.
Verse two directs us not just to serve, but to serve the Lord. How do we do that? How do we serve the Sovereign God who needs nothing from us? There are a few ways in which I can suggest.
First and foremost, we serve the Lord by worshipping Him. This is indeed a psalm which encourages us to do that in myriad ways. There is no shortage of things to thank God for, and studying His character will give you a thousand more reasons.
So many people float through life without purpose. I have been watching a TV show about people who gave up their “normal” lives to live in wild or far-flung places. The show tells their stories; the pain they felt, the reasons they changed everything in their lives, and the dreams they sought and fought for. Yet so many of them, once the battle was over and they had their dreams in their hands, felt lost and unfulfilled. Having achieved all they wanted, they had nothing left to live for.
Not so for the serving Christian! We were created for a specific purpose. Our very nature is established to worship the Living God. If we achieve nothing else in life, we have lived life well if we’ve lived a life dedicated to worshipping Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Dying to Self
I know that the phrase “dying to self” isn’t exactly an exciting one, and neither its alternative “crucifying the flesh.” In simple terms, it means killing off our old sinful nature and its whims. We die to self by starving it of its power. We deny our fleshly desires, and instead choose to follow Christ.
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.Luke 9:23 (ESV)
We serve God and follow Christ when we deny ourselves, and put God and others first. This is not easy, and as Jesus says above, is a daily exercise of our faith. You cannot deny yourself one time and it be dealt with, instead it takes a lifetime.
Verse two isn’t just about serving God however, but serving Him with gladness. This means to do so cheerfully, and not begrudgingly.
I’ve only given two examples of serving the Lord above, and yet each can be very difficult to do with gladness at certain times. Denying ourselves is rarely easy, but there are times and seasons in life where worship may be a sacrifice. When all is well in our lives, it may be easy to lift up holy hands to the Lord. In times of trial or despair however, it may be a real effort to worship.
Serving God is a privilege that not all accept or relish. We are indeed privileged and humbled to know and be known by the Creator of all things. We are a chosen people, and a Holy Priesthood dedicated an set apart to serve the Lord. The eternal promise of heaven should be more than enough to make us “glad!”
I commented yesterday that I do not find joy the most natural of things (or maybe I cut that out during editing!) I’m not the most exuberant of people, so the idea of shouting for joy isn’t all that easy for me. Joy is a cousin of gladness of course, and so as we turn our attention onto our loving Heavenly Father and off of ourselves and our problems, gladness will soon follow.
What might your service of God look like? It may be slightly different for each of us. If yesterday I encouraged you to be a “shouting Christian,” then today let me exhort you to be a serving one.
Two posts in, and we’ve not yet completed verse two! More from this fabulous psalm another day! God bless.