Friday, 13 June 2008

#1 - Shouting for joy

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving thanks.

1 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 [
a] ; 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.

As I have never been to a huge Christian festival (though I have been to 'Sorted' - a one day youth event in Westminster Chapel, with hoodies!! - ... twice) I don't think I've ever really shouted for joy to the Lord.

On a worship CD I have, there's one song on it in particular called 'Salvation' by Charlie Hall, when everyone is prompted to cry the name of Jesus... listening to it often makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up... in a good way, of course. One day I'd love to climb up a high mountain on my own and praise God out loud, by shouting amidst the howling wind hurtling around me.

In verses 1-2, it talks a lot about joy, when we rejoice in what God has done for us. Verse 3 explains more fully why we should be happy:
  • 'The Lord is God' - it's a relief knowing that only Jesus is God, and also a challenge - unfortunately we stray away and worship other 'gods', things which hinder us from knowing God fully and distract us from him. The good news is, that as only Jesus is Lord, He's got the power to help us follow Him, whereas other things have no real power and will fade away.
  • 'It is he who made us' - it can sometimes seem like we create ourselves nowadays - discussions about designer babies and IVF imply that we are the ones who thought up the idea of sperm and egg cells combining and dividing in a womb to create new life. This is a lie that millions believe. But God is the divine creator - He designed and formed us. He, not us, is in control.
  • 'We are his' - Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the one who takes care of his flock with so much love and care that he is ready to lay down his life for them. If we have accepted Jesus in our lives, we are the 'sheep of his pasture', and God will take care of us, in our lives on Earth and in Heaven.

Every time we pray, we are speaking to our Father in Heaven - we gain access through the gates and enter his courts, as we speak face to face. When I begin praying, I try to praise God first, before I ask for anything or seek repentance - as God has done so much for us we need to thank Him, for his grace, his love and faithfulness.

Verse 5 emphasises that these attributes are not fleeting - they are eternal:

As Chris Tomlin's song 'Forever' emphasises, God's love will never end. And neither will His faithfulness - throughout the Bible, God has always remained true to the people of Isreal. Moreover he has always remained faithful to the early Christians, from the day Jesus was crucified, continuing to our generation in the 21st century. How incredible is that? How patient and faithful is our God!

And if Jesus doesn't come back while we're still alive, God will still remain faithful to our children, our grand children and our great grand children.

God is truly amazing - forever loyal and forever loving - what more could we want Him to be?

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