Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
(Psalm 100:1-5, NLT)
Have you ever had someone do something for you or bless you in some unexpected way? Have you ever asked yourself the question, “How can I show my gratitude?” Psalm 100 offers some suggestions on how you can express your gratitude to God. We can shout joyfully, serve gladly or sing joyfully.
It takes two things to shout: conviction and commitment. When my son started playing football in Arkansas I stood at the games with the dads. Primarily because the moms wouldn’t sit with us. We were loud and proud, cheering for our children like we were at the Rose Bowl. When we moved to Iowa I had to tone it down because fan Iowa fan enthusiasm rivaled the golf clapping gallery at the 18th green at The Master’s. When you shout, you get the attention of others because your words are loud enough to be overheard. When we joyfully shout our praise and thanksgiving to God, we become witnesses to the goodness of God, bearing testimony to his character. Our witness not only expresses our feelings about God, it indirectly becomes an invitation to those around us to join the chorus.
Our glad worship is the application of our praise and gratitude. The word worship literally means “service” (liturgy). We can move our mouths and our hands, expressing praise through our talents, time and treasures.
Older translations render sing joyfully as “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” That is not an invitation to the tone deaf to join the choir. It is yet another way that we can share our praise and gratitude to God.
The common denominator of these verses is joy and gladness. But what if you don’t feel joyful and glad? Sometimes the pain and problems of life leaves us feeling anything but joyful and glad. Are we, to borrow a cliche from years ago, to “praise the Lord anyway?” Does sincerity matter? Don’t let your circumstances cause you to be confused about the character of God. We live in an evil and fallen world, surrounded by brokenness.
So what can we say with confidence about our God? What can we acknowledge? First, the Lord is creator, He has made us. We do not come from ourselves. Second, the Lord is redeemer, for we are his people. We do not belong to ourselves. Finally, the Lord is our Shepherd–our care giver, for we are the sheep of his pasture. Ultimately we do not provide for ourselves.
Verse four issues a second invitation. Praise and thanksgiving are something used interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. Thanksgiving acknowledges what God has done while praise acknowledges who God is. Suppose you gave me a gift. Upon receiving the gift I might say something like, “Thank you for the gift. You are a thoughtful and generous person.” Thanksgiving acknowledges the gift, while praise acknowledges the thoughtfulness and generosity of the giver. See the difference?
So what is our motivation for this? Our motivation is rooted in the character and nature of God. Unlike the pagan deities of the day, God is good. His love endures, never diminishing. We can never do anything to cause God to love us less than he does and we can never do anything to cause God to love us more than he does. And he is faithful forever. He never quits on us or writes us off.
Praise and thanksgiving are cultivated in the humility of one’s heart. The proud and arrogant are not thankful. If praise and thanksgiving are absent from your life and lips, its not because you’re ungrateful. It’s because you’re proud. So take some time to raise your voice and lift your hands. No one has the perfect life. But we are blessed with more than we deserve. And every gift comes from the loving hands of our good God.