Hearing the Music

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A Psalm for Giving Thanks

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It is quickly approaching that time of year when we express our thankfulness.  Each year as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day, I am reminded of Psalm 100, “A Psalm for Giving Thanks.”  Charles Spurgeon said of Psalm 100, “Nothing can be more sublime this side of heaven than the singing of this noble Psalm by a vast congregation.” Augustine said, “A Christian is to be a hallelujah from head to foot.”  With those responses, it is interesting that Psalm 100 is the only psalm in the psalter with the heading “Giving Thanks.”  It may be the only one, but oh how full of instruction it is for us today.  Psalm 100 tells us not only how we are to give thanks, but also why we are to give thanks.

The psalm begins by giving us 3 imperatives (commands) telling us how we are give thanks.  We are to make a joyful noise to the LORD.  This does not mean our corporate gatherings are just one big cacophony.  The Hebrew word here captures the understanding of a fanfare for the entrance of a king.  The second imperative we interpret as serve the LORD.  Some translations use the word ‘worship.’  This Hebrew word carries the understanding of laboring for and with another.  We delight in serving one another because of the service we have received from our Savior.  This is the same word used in Exodus 12 where Israel was told to tell their children the meaning of the Passover when they entered the land God was giving them.  The third imperative is to come into His presence.  We come into His presence with singing.  We experience this every Sunday, don’t we?  We are blessed to have such wonderful musicians at Christ Church and that includes everyone of us as we open our mouths and sing His praises.  Thanks be to God!

The psalm ends by telling us why we are to give thanks – because He is God (verse 3) and He is good (verse 5).  I must admit verse 3 has long caused me to scratch my head.  I grew up with a mother who taught speech and drama.  She constantly corrected our English usage.  Reading our verse 3 in English, I can almost hear my mother’s correction, "You are never to use a proper name followed by the pronoun" (ie “Bryant, he…”) and yet we have it here, “…the LORD, He is God.”  This is a tool for emphasis in Hebrew.  The author wants to be sure we all understand that God is God and we are not.  This is why the psalmist uses different names for God.  You will notice the psalm opens with yehweh which is translated LORD.  This is the name for our covenant making and keeping God.  In verse 3 the psalmist uses the name Elohim which is translated God.  This is the name for the creator.  He is showing us the vastness of our God because HE alone is God.  The psalm ends reminding us He is good.  He has entered into a covenant with us, He has saved us, He has showered us with grace and mercy because He is good.  

Our response then is to give thanks.  F.W. Boreham, an Australian pastor from the late 1800’s, said this, “Every hair of my head thanks you; every throb of my heart thanks you; every drop of my blood thanks you; because you gave your best to save me.”  That is my response to my LORD and my God.  In addition to that, I give thanks for my new friends at Christ Church.  It is a great joy to unite my voice with yours in making a joyful noise, serving the LORD, and coming into His presence with singing.  I’m looking forward to doing that this Sunday with each of you, when we also will be looking at Romans 8:12-17 together.
 

Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

Posted by Bryant McGee

Content, or Not Content?

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 As I sit at my desk looking out my office window watching some yellowish colored leaves fall from the tree to the ground, I realize something: fall is finally here! My first Michigan summer was awesome. Everyone kept telling me last winter and spring were unusual and just wait for summer. It finally arrived and I was delighted to welcome it. I must admit now, however, I’m looking forward to fall, some colder weather, and even some snow. Ouch! The past few weeks I have found myself getting ready for a season change and excited for it. I got everything up off the ground in my garage so the snow can melt from the undercarriage of my cars and fall to the garage floor. I was given a new snow thrower and I’ve been plotting my route from the garage, down the driveway, and to the street and back again. I’ve even planned for my patio furniture and getting it put away for the winter while cutting back some plants. I’m ready for a change…but I know as soon as it comes I’ll be ready for that to change as well.

        With all this recent activity, I have come to realize something after digging into Romans 7:7-25 in preparation for preaching this Sunday. I’m never content. When it is hot, I’m ready for cold. When it is cold, I’m ready for hot. When it rains, I’m ready for sun. There are times when it’s sunny and I am even ready for cloudy days. It seems whatever place I am in currently, I am ready to move out of it and into another one. Does this mean we should always to be ‘content’ and never be ‘not content?’ Me genoito – no, no, 1000 times no. We are going to look at Romans 7:7-25 this Lord’s Day and I would like to ask you to keep this in mind as we do because, perhaps like many of you, here is where I am completely content. I am content in continuing to live in my sin instead of letting God’s law reveal it for the purpose of lavishing me with more of His wonderful grace. I am content in not using God’s law to shine light into the pollution of my heart in order to run to my Savior who constantly gives more and more mercy. I am content just to keep on going the way I am going and doing the same ole things I’ve been doing. All the while, of course, while complaining about how ready I am for a change in something else! So, content, or not content? The answer is yes, and I pray our time in Romans 7 this Sunday will only seal that to our hearts as we open our ears and eyes. I pray we would never be content to remain in our sin, and we would always be content, even take great delight in, God’s holy, righteous, and good law, for there He seals to us we have been delivered from death and into His marvelous light and life.     

 

Photo by Matt on Unsplash

Posted by Bryant McGee
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