ENTER HIS GATES

Ps. 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

This is the great lesson of the children of Israel in their wilderness drama. They couldn’t enter in to the promised rest because of unbelief. Their unbelief was expressed in unthankfulness. All they could think about was the good old days in Egypt. The glory of God was in their midst, the promise of entering the land of promise was just ahead, complaining rather than giving thanks to the Lord blocked them from the blessing. Sometimes we have to give thanks to the Lord as an expression of faith, it is in thanksgiving that we access His presence and His promises. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this verse.

“In all our public service the rendering of thanks must abound; it is like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke….Mercy permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy. What better subject for our thoughts in God’s own house than the Lord of the house. And into his courts with praise. Into whatever court of the Lord you may enter, let your admission be the subject of praise: thanks be to God, the innermost court is now open to believers, and we enter into that which is within the veil; it is incumbent upon us that we acknowledge the high privilege by our songs. Be thankful unto him. Let the praise be in your heart as well as on your tongue, and let it all be for him to whom it all belongs. And bless his name. He blessed you, bless him in return; bless his name, his character, his person. Whatever he does, be sure that you bless him for it; bless him when he takes away as well as when he gives; bless him as long as you live, under all circumstances; bless him in all his attributes, from whatever point of view you consider him.”

David had learned the power of thanksgiving in his life. As a matter of fact Psalm 136 is an entire Psalm given over to thanksgiving. He thanks God for His mercy, His goodness, His signs and wonders, for His creative wisdom, for deliverance from his enemies, for giving them the land of promise, and for remembering them when they were nothing. Acknowledging God’s past goodness and giving thanks places us in a position to continue to enter in to His promises and His presence. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

Ps.100:4,5 – Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

Nothing like fervent, corporate worship. Actually, worship flows out from our love of God. Once you taste His incredible love that He has for you worship will be your response. One of the places we see this is in Luke where Luke describes a woman of questionable character who had tasted the love and forgiveness of Christ and could not pull herself away from His feet. She was caught up in fervent thanksgiving, washing His feet with her tears, her hair, and some expensive perfume. She was worshipping from her heart, responding to God’s love for her. Thanksgiving always follows love. Once you glimpse His love for you clearly demonstrated at the cross, your heart will overflow with the fervency of giving thanks. Here is a snippet from Jonathan Edwards Thanksgiving Day message from 1734.

“Love is a principal ingredient in the grace of thankfulness. There is a counterfeit thankfulness in which there is no love. But there is love in exercise in all sincere thankfulness. And the greater any person’s love is, the more will he be disposed to praise. Love will cause him to delight in the work. He that loves God, proportionably seeks the glory of God, and loves to give him glory. Now the hearts of the saints in heaven are all, as it were, a pure flame of love. Love is the grace that never faileth; whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. Faith shall cease in vision, and hope in fruition, but love never faileth. The grace of love will be exalted to its greatest height and highest perfection in heaven; and love will vent itself in praise. Heaven will ring with praise, because it is full of love to God. This is the reason that great assembly, that innumerable host, praise God with such ardency, that their praise is as the voice of many waters, and as the mighty thunderings, because they are animated by so ardent, vigorous, and powerful a principle of divine love.”

So are you ready for Thanksgiving this year? It’s a good opportunity to clear our heads and get back to what really matters in life. Determine this year you will enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise.

THE ESSENCE OF OUR FAITH

Pas. 100:4 ¶ Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name!
There is nothing worse than lukewarm praise. If you think about it, the Lord put up with all sorts of sin when He was here on earth. He had former tax collectors, prostitutes, religious zealots, and all sorts of scoundrels following Him. He was patient and always brought mercy and love. His love changed their lives. Then there was the way He treated the religious crowd. He was furious at their lukewarm worship. How could someone be apathetic about this majestic God. It seems that that is the one sin that stands out above all others on God’s radar. He doesn’t allow apathy. That’s why David was a man after God’s heart. David was passionate and demonstrative in his worship. David appreciated the presence of God. Today, we have all been given access into God’s very presence. How do we draw near? Through faith in the blood of Jesus and worship that comes from a pure heart. Check out Spurgeon’s thoughts on today’s verse.
“In all our public service the rendering of thanks must abound; it is like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke. Expiatory sacrifices are ended, but those of gratitude will never be out of date. So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks. Mercy permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy. What better subject for our thoughts in God’s own house than the Lord of the house. And into his courts with praise. Into whatever court of the Lord you may enter, let your admission be the subject of praise: thanks be to God, the innermost court is now open to believers, and we enter into that which is within the veil; it is incumbent upon us that we acknowledge the high privilege by our songs. Be thankful unto him. Let the praise be in your heart as well as on your tongue, and let it all be for him to whom it all belongs. And bless his name. He blessed you, bless him in return; bless his name, his character, his person.”
So it’s time to worship God. Put off all of your excuses, draw near with a full heart. Let’s enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. This is the new and living way that Paul spoke about in Hebrews. Let’s draw near today.

THE LORD IS GOD

Psa. 100:3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Psa. 100:5 For the LORD is good;

His mercy is everlasting,

And His truth endures to all generations.
For many years now I have read from the book of Psalms almost everyday. Most are written by David and are still permeated with his love and pursuit of the presence of God. In today’s two verses from Psalm 100 we see an incredible revelation of our God. Here are some comments from Matthew Henry on this amazing Person and some of my observations following Henry’s quotes. Enjoy!

“That the Lord he is God, the only living and true God; that he is a being infinitely perfect, self-existent, and self-sufficient, and the fountain of all being.”
Wow! We are sustained and satisfied by this unspeakable person.

2. “That he is our Creator: It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. We do not, we could not make ourselves; it is God’s prerogative to be his own cause; our being is derived and depending.”
This is why we are totally dependent on the Lord.

3. That therefore he is our rightful owner. The Masorites, by altering one letter in the Hebrew, read it, “He made us, and his we are, “or, “to him we belong.” Put both the readings together, and we learn, that because God “made us, and not we ourselves, “therefore we are not our own but his.
The fact that He created us gives Him ownership. What a place of safety, owned by God.

4. That he is our sovereign Ruler. We are his people, or subjects, and he is our prince, our rector or governor, that gives laws to us as moral agents, and will call us to an account for what we do.
He rules all things, this too is a place of safety and assurance in times of trouble.

5. That he is our bountiful Benefactor;we are not only his sheep whom he is entitled to, but the sheep of his pasture, whom he takes care of.
No one can touch me, I live in the Shepherd’s hand.

6. That he is a God of infinite mercy and good; The Lord is good, and therefore doth good; his mercy his everlasting.
His presence is a manifestation of these qualities, mercy and goodness.

7. That he is a God of inviolable truth and faithfulness; His truth endureth to all generations, and no word of his shall fall to the ground as antiquated or revoked.
His words are guaranteed, I can base my life on His written word.

CHICKEN MESS AND OTHER JOYS

CHICKEN MESS AND OTHER JOYS

Ps 100:1,2
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.

I learned some of my greatest lessons in the early days of my Christian walk working at B&C Egg Ranch. I can’t think of a much worse job, I was the official chicken mess cleaner upper. I don’t know how to put a positive spin on my title or job description, it was what it was, it was the bottom of the pecking order (no pun intended). I finally came to the conclusion that the Lord would keep me at that job until I could be happy in those miserable circumstances. I have to admit, I didn’t always pass the test, but I think in those eleven months as chicken mess cleaner upper, Christ was formed in me. I learned about humility, I drank from the cup of submission, learned to value the sovereignty of God in all things, and I learned to drink of the cup of joy in the worst of circumstances. I’ll never forget the owners of the egg ranch coming to visit me on the last day of work ( I had never seen them on the property for eleven months). They told me “Son, there is a future for you at B&C Egg Ranch”. I think that outrageous statement is what finished me off, I finally got the joy thinking of the ridiculousness of their words. A. B. Simpson spoke of serving the Lord with joy in menial tasks.

“There is nothing that tells more of Christ than to see a Christian rejoicing and cheerful in the humdrum and routine of commonplace work, like the sailors that stand on the dock loading the vessel and singing as they swing their loads, keeping time with the Spirit of praise to the footsteps and movements of labor and duty. No one has a sweeter or higher ministry for Christ than a business man or a serving woman who can carry the light of heaven on their faces all day long. Like the sea fowl that can plunge beneath the briny tide with its beautiful and spotless plumage and come forth without one drop adhering to its burnished breast and glowing wings because of the subtle oil upon the plumage that keeps the water from sticking, so, thank God, we too may be anointed with the Holy Ghost that sin, sorrow, and defilement will not adhere to us, but we shall pass through every sea as the ship passes through the waves- in, but above the floods around us.”

When you walk in joy that has nothing to do with your circumstances, that brings great glory to the Lord. Any one can show some degree of happiness when they are in pleasant surroundings, only a Christian (or a fool) can rejoice in the chicken pit. Have you found your happy place? Maybe that is why you are in the circumstances you are in now. There is a good chance those circumstances won’t change until you find your joy in the Lord.

THANKSGIVING 1735

THANKSGIVING 1735

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Ps 100:4

It had been an incredible year, God had come down in Northampton in a way not seen since the days of Pentecost. It was 1735, Thanksgiving Day and Jonathan Edwards had plenty to be thankful for. His church was packed to capacity that morning, joy and anticipation were in the air. The people were thankful for all that had happened in the last year. There had been an incredible outpouring of the Spirit in 1735, many family members had found faith in Christ that year. They had been in church almost daily since the awakening had begun about twelve months before. Even though so much time had been spent on spiritual activities that year, it had been an unusually prosperous year. Their barns were full, the harvest had been abundant, yes it was an usually good time.
As Jonathan began to preach that morning, a greater sense of thanksgiving began to fill the church, his message that day was “God Amongst His People”. There was no mistake about it, God had come down in Northampton. That morning, Edwards reminded his people about the thing that they should be most thankful for, “When so great and holy a God dwells among a people, he not only is able to supply them with all good, but he himself is the sum of all good. God is theirs, and therefore they are happy, if they have nothing else. If all other things fail, the enjoyment of God is sufficient to make them completely happy. They have God for their portion, they have a sufficient portion. Such a people may well glory in their portion, and make their “boast in the Lord”. “The Lord is the portion of our inheritance and our cup: thou maintainest our lot. The lines are fallen to us in pleasant places” [Ps.16:5,6]. “Whom have we in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that we desire besides thee” [Ps73:25]
This year, we have plenty to be thankful for. We may be going through financial instability but we are still blessed beyond measure. Our cup is full, He has blessed us individually and as a nation. Today, we should heed the words from 1735, God has come down amongst us “He, Himself is the sum of all good”. We can be happy and thankful because He is our portion.

ENTER IN TO THE TREEPLANTER’S REST

ENTER IN TO THE TREEPLANTER’S REST

Psalm 100:1-2 ESV

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing!

Serving the Lord with gladness is one of the perks we have as Christians.  Most people relate work, or serving, with duty which lends itself to serving out of obligation rather than delight.  There is a spiritual place available to us where we can enter into a place of rest and service regardless of what the
circumstances may be.
One of my first experiences with this supernatural service took place in the mountains of Oregon and Washington when I was doing reforestation work to support our Bible school in California.  Parris and I lived in the mountains with our infant son Jeremy for seven months.  We would camp with our team near a river, and live in our tent village.  The living conditions and working conditions were quite difficult.

Tree planting takes place in the fall and winter months, and is especially cold and rainy in the mountains of the Northwest.  Planting trees on the sides of those mountains for 10-12 hours per day was quite difficult and rather dangerous.  Because of the conditions, without serving the Lord with gladness, you could be quite miserable.  I experienced a number of those miserable days.  One of the things we were taught by our Pastors was what they called “entering in”!  The author of Hebrews describes this in Hebrews 4:11. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of
disobedience.”.
You could embrace the work with joy if you embraced the Lord and His presence while treeplanting and if you saw the work connected to the ministry. Our physical work was advancing the kingdom, believing and acting on this changed everything. Planting trees in the mountains proved to be a great joy in my life.  I was able to learn how to “enter in” and embrace the  Lord in the midst of unpleasant circumstances.  I was learning to serve the Lord with gladness.

CHICKEN RANCH JOY

CHICKEN RANCH JOY

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence with singing.”
Ps 100:1,2

Many times our work can be a source of frustration and can be something we do because we have to work, just to pay the bills. I had one of those jobs. I worked for one year at B & C Egg Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley in the early seventies. I hated to go to work. My job consisted of pushing chicken manure. It was hot, it was stinky and I was miserable. On one of those miserable days I had a great spiritual breakthrough. I felt like I could not do that job anymore and began to cry out to the Lord. Thousands of chickens went silent as I began to shout out to God. He met me in an amazing way. In a moment of time He changed everything. He reminded me of my tithes and my offerings that I had given at church the night before. Then the Lord reminded me of the missions team we were sending out. In a moment of time I saw it. My work was connected to my giving. My giving was connected to the advancing of God’s kingdom. My work was not in vain. A portion of my earnings was going into the work of God. Joy began to flood my soul. Instead of crying out in misery I began shouting for joy.
Everything changes when you see your work as valuable. Just pushing chicken mess seems like a waste of time and energy. Maybe your job seems like just pushing chicken mess. If you give the first fruits of your harvest, your tithe, into the work of God, your work is not in vain. Your work is connected to the Lord’s work.
My experience at the egg ranch changed drastically that day. I was no longer working with regret and hopelessness but now I was serving the Lord with gladness.

SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS

Psalm 100:1-2 ESV

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing!

Serving the Lord with gladness is one of the perks we have as Christians.  Most people relate work or serving, with duty which lends itself to serving out of obligation rather than delight.  There is a spiritual place available to us where we can enter into a place of rest and service regardless of what the circumstances may be.

One of my first experiences with this supernatural service took place in the mountains of Oregon and Washington when I was doing reforestation work to support our Bible school in California.  Parris and I lived in the mountains with our infant son Jeremy for seven months.  We would camp with our team near a river, and live in our tent village.  The living conditions and working conditions were quite difficult.

Tree planting takes place in the fall and winter months, and is especially cold and rainy in the mountains of the Northwest.  Planting trees on the sides of those mountains for 10-12 hours per day was quite difficult and rather dangerous.  Because of the conditions, without serving the Lord with gladness, you could be quite miserable.  I experienced a number of those miserable days.  One of the things we were taught by our Pastors was what they called “entering in”!  You could embrace the work with joy if you saw it connected to the ministry.  Planting trees in the mountain proved to be a great joy in my life.  I was able to learn how to “enter in” and embrace the Lord in the midst of unpleasant circumstances.  I was learning to serve the Lord with gladness.

Many times our work can be a source of frustration and can be something we do because we have no other choice and we have to pay the bills.  I had one of those jobs.  I worked for one year at B & C Egg Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley in the early seventies.  I hated to go to work.  My job consisted of pushing chicken manure.  It was hot, it was stinky and I was miserable.  One of those miserable days I had a great spiritual breakthrough.  I felt like I could not do that job anymore and began to cry out to the Lord.  Thousands of chickens went silent as I began to shout out to God.  He met me in an amazing way.  In a moment of time He changed everything.  He reminded me of my tithes and my offerings that I had given at church the night before.  Then the Lord reminded me of the missions team we were sending out.  In a moment of time I saw it.  My work was connected to my giving.  My giving was connected to the advancing of God’s kingdom.  My work was not in vain.  A portion of my earnings was going into the work of God.  Joy began to flood my soul.  Instead of crying out in misery I began shouting for joy.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness.  Come into His presence with singing.”

My experience at the egg ranch changed drastically that day.  I was no longer working with regret and hopelessness but now I was serving the Lord with gladness.

Serving the Lord with gladness is what I observed this year at Feed the Multitudes.  In every venue I saw volunteers joyfully pouring out to the needy.  From the food tent to the spa tent, from the foot washing to the groceries, from the elderly to the children, from the music tent to the prayer tent, everywhere I saw the joy of the Lord.  Feed the Multitudes is just one day but serving the Lord with gladness can be part of our everyday.

The Lord has a place of service for you.  It may be with children, youth, home groups, evangelism, healing room, prison or countless other options, but there is a place for you to serve with joy.  When you tap into this new life you leave behind serving out of obligation and step into the pleasures of God.  I think I can hear the brothers on the tree planting line crying out “enter in” enter in to this brand new kind of life.