Enter with Thanksgiving

Go to content

Enter with Thanksgiving

Riverside Indonesian Fellowship
Published by Stanley Pouw in 2009 · 22 November 2009
One of the most beautiful Psalms of thanksgiving is the 100th Psalm. Please turn to it and follow along as I read: "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 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. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

With all my heart I believe we as His people have truly been blessed by God. And of all those who "give thanks to Him and praise His name" our name should be at the top of the list! But there is another list we often overlook a Thanksgiving Day list of all blessings for which we are thankful for.

Let me read part of a list that several housewives compiled. They wrote that they were especially thankful: For husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house because they usually make them big enough to call in the professionals. For teenagers because they give parents an opportunity to learn a second language. For smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkey’s done.

Now our list is not be the same as theirs, but I’m convinced that if we began to make a list, we would find that God has given us much more for which to be thankful for than just our material possessions.

My list would include the major things like life, health, family, friends, and the nation we live in, despite all its flaws. But even more than that, I’m especially thankful for my salvation, our church family, and the mercy that God showers upon us each day. With Jesus we have so much for which to celebrate on Thanksgiving!

But has it ever occurred to you that no Americans were more underprivileged than that small handful from the Mayflower who started the custom of setting aside a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God?

They had no homes and no government agency to help them build homes. They had no means of transportation but their legs. Their only food came from the sea and the forest, and they had to get it for themselves. They had no money and no place to spend it if they’d had any.

But they did have four of the greatest human assets: initiative, courage, willingness to work, and a boundless faith in God. That might sound strange today in a time when powerful forces are at work in our nation to strip us of every reminder that the very foundation of our nation was built upon the conviction that we are "one nation, under God."

America’s "Declaration of Independence" proclaims, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . ." And it ends with these words, ". . .with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Thanksgiving Day is a distinctive holiday. It doesn’t commemorate a battle or anyone’s birthday or anniversary. It is simply a day set aside to express our thanks to our God. In 1789, George Washington made this public proclamation. Here are a few excerpts.

"By the President of the United States of America. A proclamation: Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and

"Whereas, Both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me `to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God. . .’

"Now, Therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. . ." So read the very first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.

This week our nation will pause once again to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. And one would assume that because of the example of our forefathers, and because today we have so much, that we would be an extremely thankful people.

But it is often just the opposite, isn’t it? The more we get, the less thankful we become, the less mindful of God we are, and the more we want. The 100th Psalm was written to deal with that attitude, to remind us of our need to be thankful, and to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

B. There is also a real danger this season of determining our thanksgiving on the basis of how much we have. "Do I have enough stuff to make sure I can live in the manner I’m used to? Is my money in the bank secure? Am I healthy?" And we let these things determine whether we are or aren’t thankful.

The Psalmist says that all of these things may change at any time. They may drift away, or burn up or someone may steal them. The only thing we have for sure is our relationship with the Lord.

And that is what the 100th Psalm emphasizes. Just scan the Psalm. In vs. 1 you’ll find the name of the Lord. In vs. 2 you’ll find the name of the Lord. In vs. 3 you’ll find the name of the Lord. In vs. 4 it says, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving." And in vs. 5 you’ll find the name of the Lord. The basis of our thanksgiving is the Lord.

The basis of thankfulness is to remember that we got here with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have. Now, as we look more carefully at this Psalm, we find that there is a series of commands given.

The first command is in vs. 1, "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth." It means to "shout with the force of a trumpet blast," a shout of joy to the Lord that comes from the very depths of your being.

Maybe He solved your problem. Maybe He has given you the direction to go. Maybe He has provided a blessing, and you realize that it has come from God. So from the depths of your heart you proclaim your praise.

There is a story of a medical missionary who served for many years in India. And he served in a region where there was progressive blindness. People were born with healthy vision, but there was something in that area that caused people to lose their sight as they grew older.

But this missionary had developed a treatment which would stop progressive blindness. So people came to him and he performed his treatment, and they would leave realizing that they would have become completely blind, but because of him their sight had been saved.

He said that they never said, "Thank you," because that phrase was not in their dialect. Instead, they spoke a word that meant, "I will tell your name." Wherever they went, they would tell the name of the missionary who had cured their blindness. They had received something so wonderful that they eagerly proclaimed it.

And that is what the Psalmist is saying. "Suddenly you realize that God has been so good to you that you can’t keep it inside any more. From the depths of your heart you begin to tell everyone of your joy from the Lord."

But you might say what about all the people that are suffering because of sickness, because they lost a loved one, because of an earthquake or a tsunami they lost everything, how can they be thankful? How can God asks us to be thankful in a time like that?

Do you remember how close Jesus was to Mary, Martha and Lazarus? Do you remember what happened when Lazarus died? Listen to the Word of God from John 11:32-35, “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Here you can see how much God cares for our loss, “33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept.”

Jesus did not come up with all kinds of reasons at that time to lift up her spirits. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” And that is what Jesus did. But Jesus also taught in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Listen to God’s word in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God does not say that we are to be thankful for the earthquake or tsunami, but He says that we need to be thankful in all circumstances. Even though what we experience is dreadful, God will there with us to see us through it and comfort us.

It is not that God does not understand how much we hurt or how much we miss a loved one, but God knows what is good for His children even though we do not and He wants us to thank Him anyway.

There is so little we know about how God works. Only God can use terrible experiences that are meant for evil and turn them into blessings. Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

How much faith do we really have in God? Do we trust him only when we have it good? Or do we say what Job said in Job 2:10, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Chuck Colson was a non believer entering prison after Watergate where president Nixon resigned, and while he was in prison I’m sure he suffered. But God used his suffering to open up his heart for the gospel, and turned the prison curse into a blessing for Chuck and for all the others that are being helped because of his prison ministry all over the world.

B. The second command is, "Worship and serve the Lord with gladness." It doesn’t say "serve the church." It doesn’t say "serve the preacher, or serve the leaders, or serve the organization." It says, "Serve the Lord."

The Bible teaches that if we witness on behalf of the Lord, if we feed the hungry, if we clothe the naked, if we do the work of the Lord, whatever it might be, we are serving the Lord. In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."

I’m not sure that we grasp that. Maybe we serve at times out of a feeling of obligation or a fear of guilt if we don’t serve, or maybe even because we want to draw attention to ourselves. It’s natural for us to desire appreciation when we do something that is worthwhile. But the Psalmist says, "In whatever you do, serve the Lord with gladness."

C. The third command is, "Come before Him with joyful songs." Psalm 98:4 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." Now just take a moment and look at the people around you. Do they look happy? Or are they just sitting there with scowls on their faces? The Psalmist says, "Come before Him and serve Him and sing His praise with joy in your heart."

D. Command #4 is, "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." God took every bone, every joint, and He welded them together with sinews and muscles and covered them with skin and gave us eyes that see, brains that think, and fingers that can hold things. God made us, inside and out. He made you the way He wanted you to be. And He made me the way He wanted me to be.

That is a mystery, isn’t it? I don’t understand why, but somehow in God’s providence He decided that He wanted a medium sized man, not too good looking, not outstanding in anything, but just a faithful father and husband who would keep plodding along. So He made me. Someplace along the way He had you in mind, and He made you.

And He is still making us. That is important to realize, too. He’s not satisfied with the unfinished product. He’s not satisfied with your temper. He’s not satisfied with the weak areas of your life where you are giving in to temptation. So He’s still making us. He’s still working on our lives. God is your maker, and you are created in His image. Therefore give Him thanks for who you are.

E. Command #5 is this, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations."

In the O.T. the temple symbolized the presence of God. So whenever the people came to the temple and entered the courtyards they knew that they had come into the presence of God. Now that temple no longer exists.

But God is everywhere. You know that. He is with you as you drive on the highway. He is with you when you work. He is with you as you care for your children. He is with you every moment of your life.

That is the source of our thanksgiving, isn’t it? But I’m still worried. What if God began to treat us like we so often treat Him? What if God met our needs to the same extent that we give Him our lives? O Lord, help us to be thankful that you do "not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" [Psalm 103:10].

This evening if you have a decision on your heart, we pray that you will make it, that you’ll come forward, confessing your faith and repent, being faithful to the Lord in Christian baptism, whatever your need might be. He is inviting you right now.


© 2017 Ferdy Gunawan

2401 Alcott St.
Denver, CO 80211

Service 5:00 - 6:30 PM
Children 5:30 - 6:30 PM
Fellowship 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Bible Study (Fridays) 7:00 PM
Phone (720) 338-2434
Email Address: Click here
Back to content