Beloved Christians (Psalm 100 #6)

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.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

Today we conclude our short series on Psalm 100. Verse five culminates in a crescendo of praise and focusses solely on our Heavenly Father.

The Lord is good

Verse five tells us a simple truth – that the Lord is good. When things get difficult, or we look at the problems of the world, it can be easy to forget this fact. If God is so good, then why… <insert here>? We have all asked this at times, and there are no answers that can satisfy this side of heaven I believe.

The suffering of the world, and the pain we experience, does not disprove the existence of a “good” God. This world is broken, corrupted by sin and far removed from what God had originally intended. Yet He has not left us in this mess, alone and uncared for. The cross has said it all. God is indeed good because He came down into this fallen place, lived perfectly and died for each of us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (NIV)

This verse from James not only tells us that God is the source of every good thing, but that He is ever unchanging. He is good now, and will always be.

Enduring Love

Psalm 100:5 goes on to say that God’s steadfast love endures forever. This continues the theme of the verse from James above, in that God is unchanging. The word “steadfast” (describing God’s love) can be defined as “fixed in direction.” God’s love is not whimsical. It depends not on our behaviour, and His mood. He loves you today, and He will love you just the same tomorrow. You can count on it!

I have sometimes heard Christians say, and probably been guilty of saying it myself, “I just don’t feel that God loves me…” God’s love is not dependent on mere feelings. When your feelings are in disagreement with God’s Word, it is your feelings that are wrong, not the Bible. Whether you feel the love of Christ or not, you can know without a shadow of a doubt that it is true. This is but one of many verses which extol the permanence and endurance of God’s love for all of the saints.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

What a prayer! And I pray it for you dear reader, and please do pray it for me!

Faithful to all generations

Psalm 100 closes with words about God’s faithfulness. God is faithful to His people, and we can rely on Him and His Word without question. God is true to His Word, and if He has said it, you can consider it done.

God is not just faithful to us however, but also to the generations that come after us. This is another sign of His steadfastness and consistency. We can rely on the fact that God is no respecter of persons, and that He will bless my children in the same way He has blessed me. Too few of us take a generational view, thinking primarily of our own lives. If the Lord tarries however, then a new generation will rise up after us and we are responsible to them.

We can trust in the goodness of God, and we can know that God’s faithfulness will remain for those who come after us.

Summary

Psalm 100 may only be short, but I hope it has encouraged you as we have plumbed its depths in the last few posts. It is no doubt a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator God, and I want you to come way with many reasons to “shout for joy!”

You are a “Beloved Christian!” That is the culmination of this psalm. God’s love endures, and as a result we have much to thank and worship Him for. God’s love for each of us is reciprocated, and in turn we live to serve Him with gladness. We belong to Him, marked as His people, and so live our lives in gratitude for all that He has done for us.

Are there parts of this passage which really stand out to you? Is God saying something in particular to you during this season of your life? As we read and study the Bible, it should often lead to some form of change in our lives. This might be a specific action you take – like starting all of your prayers with words of thanks – or it may be less tangible than that. Has this psalm provoked you to action? I’d love to hear from you if it has.

Serve the Lord with gladness! Give thanks unto Him, and bless His Name!

Further posts in this series, if you wish to read more, are:

Shouting Christians #1

Serving Christians #2

Singing Christians #3

Created Christians #4

Thankful Christians #5

Thankful Christians (Psalm 100 #5)

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.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

Thankful Christians…? Is there any other kind? A Christian who does not give thanks, is like a Christian who does not pray!

This psalm directs us to enter the gates of our God with thanksgiving. Even in the midst of terrible trouble, we have much to be grateful for. It should not take us long to reel off a list of things we can thank the Lord for.

It was a privilege recently to record an interview with “understand the Bible.” When the video comes out, I’ll share it here so you can see it. One of the questions I was asked was, “Why do Christians pray?” Had you never heard of prayer, and studied our prayer lives to find the answer, what would you say? If you are anything like me, one might study my prayer life and say that prayer is “asking God for things.” Of course, this is woefully inadequate, and yet our prayer lives reflect little more than “petition” at times.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again, but in our prayer lives, our praise should always outweigh our petition. We should thank God and worship Him with far greater frequency than we make demands of Him.

As we “enter His gates” why not use this as the primary way to start off your prayer time. Enter the prayer time with thanksgiving. Tell God what you are especially grateful for right now, and let that overflow into praise.

Verse four concludes by again telling us to give thanks, but also to “bless His name!” Could it be that by giving thanks, we are blessing His name? Is it a blessing to the Lord when He hears His people expressing their gratitude? I think so.

Being thankful is an admission of how good we have it. It helps us remember that no matter whatever else is going on, we do have some positives to focus on. The Bible is full of exhortations to thank God, and I for one am convicted that I should be doing it all the more.

How about you? On a scale of 1-10, how thankful would you rate yourself? Be honest…

Let us all get into a habit of being grateful. Help each other by commenting below with tings you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be long, even one-word answers will inspire each of us to say “thank you!” to God for something.

It must go deeper than just saying the words however. I train my children to say “thank you,” after we give them something they have asked for. For a long time (even years) they may repeat the words out of pure habit. Hopefully, sooner or later though, they will learn that thankfulness is in actuality an attitude of the heart.

A heart which is not thankful is one which is arrogant. It demands, or even, expects to have whatever it wants. A humble heart though gives thanks for even the smallest of contributions. One who is humble and thankful recognises what others have done, and acknowledges it.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever! Amen!

Further posts in this series, if you wish to read more, are:

Shouting Christians #1

Serving Christians #2

Singing Christians #3

Created Christians #4

Every Morning and Every Evening

“And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to him.”

1 Chronicles 23:30 (NLT)

In my daily Bible reading, I have been working my way through 1 Chronicles. I deliberately chose the words “working through” as it is quite tough going at times! The Chronicler has quite a different angle than the writer of Kings, and so there are some stark differences between the accounts of King David and his sons.

This morning I read from chapter 23, and include a particular verse above. In this chapter, we essentially see a total staff reorganisation like you might have in the business world. The Levites, who previously served in the Tabernacle of God, would soon begin to serve in the Temple built by Solomon. This meant a change in their duties. No longer would they need to pack up the Tent of Meeting, and move it around, as the Temple would be a fixed site to stand for generations.

With this change, what would the Levites now need to do? Chapter 23 gives some of the details, but verse 30 in particular stood out to me.

Imagine the job advert or “Help Wanted” sign… dedicated servant to give thanks to God each morning and evening. Desired characteristics – strong singing voice…

The Levites were given the specific role of thanking and praising the Lord both morning and evening. It was deemed such an important task that it was noted alongside all the other necessary duties of worship in the Temple.

Two thoughts spring to my mind about this. Firstly, it is wonderful to recognise the importance of praising and thanking God. We should learn from this, and much of our prayer lives should be focussed on that very task. We have so much to be grateful for, and yet often we find ourselves grumbling that we do not have more. Perhaps I’m alone in that, but I suspect not!

I was reading a fellow blogger’s post yesterday about the terrible situation in Mozambique, where not just Christians are being attacked and killed on a daily basis. Very few of us reading this are doing so in secret, or in fear of our lives. We likely have basic comforts – a roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food in our stomachs. For this, we should be truly grateful. It is certainly not too often to thank God both morning and night.

My second thought was this: did the people of Israel become complacent about thanking God because they had a dedicated team of servants doing the job for them?

I recall a time in a previous church where we discussed appointing a “welcoming team.” The role of the team was to keep an eye out for new people and to make sure they were welcomed and looked after the first few times they attended the church. The problem we worried about was whether by having a dedicated team like this, those in the church not on the team might falsely believe it was no longer their responsibility to welcome anyone.

It is everyone’s responsibility to give thanks and praise to God. Even if you have a dedicated worship leader on staff at your church, that does not absolve you from the need to worship Him yourself. I hope that the people of Israel likewise gave regular thanks to the Lord in the same way.

How is your thanksgiving looking at the moment? Mine is inadequate I’m ashamed to admit. When I really think about how much the Lord has done for me, and all the many blessings I have in my life, I’m humbled. There is more than enough for me to thank and praise Him for the rest of my life – non-stop – and all eternity as well.

What are some of the things you need to be thankful for? Do share them below. And I leave you with this verse from 1 Thessalonians.

Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Notice Paul tells us to rejoice always. This can only be done by someone who is willing to thank God every morning and every evening.

Have a great weekend – full of thanksgiving to the Lord!

Lessons from the Garbage

It is bin/rubbish/garbage day here in the village where I live in the south-eastern part of England. And can I take a moment to say a huge thank you to all those who work in refuse collection and waste management. We applaud our healthcare workers every week now in the UK, and rightly so, but those men and women who pick up our waste and help keep everything clean fulfil an important role too. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if they didn’t do it! So a massive thank you to all of them today.

Anyway, back to the post already in progress…

In our village,and it might be the same where you live, we have a local Facebook page for local people to share all kinds of things. The are plenty of adverts for local businesses, which can be helpful, and update on what is going on in the area. As well as this useful material, there is more than a reasonable amount of complaining too.

One neighbour photographs the other’s bin and shares it to the page saying “They’ll never take all that!” Another comments that they saw said neighbour putting an extra bag in the other neighbour’s bin without permission… it’s quite the soap opera!

This is all vaguely interesting Andy, you might well be thinking, but what does it have to do with the Bible? Actually i think the Bible has a lot to teach us in our everyday lives, and here are a few lessons we can all learn from the garbage!

Be grateful for what you have

As I dragged our multiple bins and bin-bags out to the kerbside last evening, I glanced up and down our street. We produce a fair amount of waste as six humans live in our house. We used to use a voluntary recycling scheme to reduce our waste, but COVID-19 put a stop to that. Every house in our street had a lot of rubbish to put out for collection.

It got me thinking – if we are throwing away this much, then we must have an awful lot to begin with. How fortunate we are to have so much, and to be able to throw away so much!

Most people reading this will be reasonably wealthy in comparison to some in the world. We take our blessings for granted, and do not realise that many of us throw away more in a month than some people own.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

Given how much we have, and how much we waste, we have no excuse for not being thankful.

The things we throw away are not just waste, but they represent the time we spent working to earn them, and often the joy we got from using them. When you throw something away, take a moment to thank God for it. I know it may sound silly, but everything we have comes from God and it’s not wrong to say thank you.

Be considerate to each other

At a house where I used to live, they were fairly strict about what you could and couldn’t put out in your household waste. As well as only putting out certain items, you had to ensure they were in the correct colour bin or sack. Woe to anyone who got it wrong!

One time we put out a sack of garden waste; grass cuttings and the like. Unfortunately, we put it in the recycling receptacle by mistake! An eagle-eyed refuse collector spied the suspect package, ripped the sack open to inspect the contents and then unceremoniously dumped the grass clippings all over the side of the road.

I hold my hands up to the mistake of course, but it was not really necessary to make the mess as he did. Such behaviour is just inconsiderate. Someone else had to come along and clear that up, and it was clear they did not care who it was.

Be considerate of other people, even if it inconveniences you slightly. Don’t take shortcuts and put other people out just because you cannot be bothered.

another now infamous post on our village’s Facebook page shows a car parked right across the pavement blocking anyone with a pushchair (stroller), wheelchair or even those walking. Why? I suspect because parking spaces were full and they did not want to park down the road and walk the rest of the way.

We are all in a hurry at times, and it can be very tempting to take the path of least resistance. But make sure that your choices do not impact on others.

Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3 (GNT)

Put other people ahead of yourself. And please notice that Paul makes no mention of whether they deserve it or not. If you cannot do it for them, then do it for Jesus.

Don’t complain

As our waste is collected on a Thursday, I try to remember to put it out the night before. However, it is usually just after I’ve sat down for the evening on a Wednesday that I remember. Sadly I’ve spent many an evening uttering to myself and grumbling about having to do it. What a terrible attitude!

Don’t complain about having to sort out your waste into recycling, non-recycling, garden waste and food. Do it with a good attitude and be grateful you have waste to sort.

Don’t complain about your neighbour’s huge pile of rubbish, or those who do not recycle for whatever reason. Don’t grumble if your bin is missed from the collection one week, or if they refuse to take it because you have not put the right items in the right place.

And don’t take photos of your neighbour’s bin and put them on Facebook, it’s just not cool.

Do everything without complaining or arguing

Philippians 2:14 (ISV)

Do everything without complaining. Even putting out the rubbish. I hope this gives you something to think about the next time you are hauling a bag to the side of the road!

Praise in the Morning, Praise in the Evening (Psalm 92 #1)

Part of my Bible reading this morning was in Psalm 92. It is a wonderful psalm of praise and thanksgiving, and I think we need a good dose of that right now. In fact, we always do, but times of struggle seem to require an extra boost of worship.

The psalm is one for the Sabbath day. In case you are not familiar, the Sabbath was a day of rest, dedicated to the Lord which the Jewish people celebrate from Friday evening to Saturday evening. No work is done on the Sabbath, and the intention is that the time is spent in praise to God, resting our bodies and souls.

While Christians do not celebrate the Sabbath in the same way, the principles are still very much needed and it would not hurt us one bit to dedicate a day to the Lord to rest and worship. We do not need to make it a law, and whether you do it on a Saturday, Sunday or any other day perhaps does not matter. what matters is that we spend dedicated quality time with God.

The psalm begins like this:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2 It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
3 accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp,
and the melody of a lyre.

Psalm 92:1-3 (NLT)

It is good to give thanks to the Lord

Amen to that!

It is indeed good to give thanks to God, and something we all lack at times. Too often we are asking for more from God, while neglecting to thank Him for all He has already done.

Thankfulness is less of an activity, and more of a heart attitude. I mean that we ought not to just thank God for a set time, then move on, but rather make thankfulness an integral part of our lives and who we are.

Times may well be tough right now, but can you find things to be thankful for? Knowing Jesus is no small thing if it be the only thing you can think of immediately.

Sing praises to the Most High

I love music, but have never been specially musical. I play guitar, but it has always been a bit mechanical rather than any natural musical ability. Singing, like my guitar playing, is not a natural talent of mine. Where I have learned to play the guitar, I have also learned to aim my voice in the general direction i wish it to go!

Whether you are tone-deaf, or a top suprano, we can all sing praises to the Most High God. In church or at home, we can all lift our voices and unite in singing about the goodness of God.

Verse 3 encourages us to use instruments to accompany our voices. Whether you play or not, many of us can play background music to sing along with. I mentioned in my post on Wednesday – The Blessing– how we had been playing a lot of worship music lately. This is good to do, and helps us focus on our relationship with God and not on the worries of the world.

In the morning and in the evening

Verse 2 tells us it is good to proclaim God’s love in the morning, and His faithfulness in the evening. While I do not think these two specific things are literal instructions i.e. that we should only proclaim Gods love in the morning, and the evening is reserved for His faithfulness, I think the principle is clear. We should start and end each day in worship to God.

If you are like me, then you tend to start your days rushing around getting children ready, grabbing a coffee and then dashing to work. Days end in a similar way, but in reverse and with less coffee!

The ideal is to put God first, right at the start of the day. Jesus did this. We see many times in the Gospel accounts of Jesus rising early in the morning to spend time with His Father.

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.

Mark 1:35 (NLT)

Days can end in a similar way. As we prepare for bed, what if we took the time to give thanks for all the good that happened this day. I imagine our sleep might be a fraction more peaceful having dedicated some time to recalling the good, and not worrying about the bad.

I want worship to be an integral part of your life, but do not want it to be a chore you schedule into an already packed routine. Focus on different aspects of God’s character each day. Keep it fresh by using different songs or even different places where you worship. Most importantly, worship while you work, clean or shop.

Never stop giving praise to the Most High!

How can I #pray for you?

For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the Good News of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Romans 1:9 (WEB)


Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,

Romans 15:30 (WEB)

Prayer should be as essential to a Christian as breathing. Yet, it is often only in difficult times – such as the one we are all facing right now – that we truly turn our hearts to God in prayer.

The Bible encourages us to pray in very many places, and I share a couple of verses above from Paul’s letter we know as Romans.

In the first verse, quoted from the very first chapter, Paul tells his readers how fervently he is praying for them. He says both “unceasingly” and “always” in the same sentence, showing us that this is not some passing, throw away prayer, but a constant remembering of them.

I want to follow Paul’s lead and pray for you in like manner. I will record a video message praying for all the readers, family and friends, and really want to encourage you to send me your prayer requests. If no one responds, that’s not an issue as I have many people I know need prayer at the moment. However it would be great to be able to receive requests from you and pray with you.

You can send your prayer requests to me by commenting on this post, commenting on my social media posts or by using the contact form on the web site. Please confirm that you are happy for me to mention the request on a video, but I’ll always only ever use first names to keep things private.

I have no idea what response I will get. But know that I will pray over every request I receive (unless I get millions of course, and then I might need your help!) and please watch this space for the videos to appear.

Please also share this post with anyone who you think might need prayer at the moment, and encourage them to send any requests they have.

God is faithful, and He is listening. Even though things may seem bad at the moment, please don’t ever doubt God’s love for you and the fact that He is in total control. We who trust in Him have no need to be afraid. Not because bad times won’t come, but rather because He will carry us through them.

Our second verse today sees Paul asking his readers to pray for him also. He has told them how committed he is to praying for them, and asks for that same commitment in return.

While I cannot demand anything anywhere near the same degree as Paul could, I do also ask for your prayers. I need God’s help, mercy and grace as much as anyone and so, even in small ways, please strive together with me in prayer.

Prayer has tremendous power, not because of us, but because of who we pray to. Praise be to the god and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hears and responds to our prayers both day and night! Amen