“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100: 1-5)
Psalm 100 begins with a universal cry to “make a joyful noise unto the LORD”. The Jews were God’s chosen people, and Israel was once God’s appointed nation. Yet this particular call was issued to “all ye lands” – to encompass the elect of God from every nation. All of God’s redeemed people – both Jews and Gentiles – are summoned to join in praise and thanksgiving to Jehovah God Who alone is worthy of our worship.
On this happy day of our 9th Anniversary/Thanksgiving Service, it is appropriate that we gather as God’s people to praise Him (vv. 1, 4). We thank the Lord for His faithfulness in seeing us through nine years of ministry. He has graciously led and blessed us in our ministry of exhorting the saints and evangelising the sinners.
Like the psalmist, we praise the Lord that He is our Creator (vv. 3a). He has made us and we belong to Him – “all that we have and are, we owe to Him” (Albert Barnes). God is the Good Shepherd Who owns the flock. He loves and guides us, and provides for us (v. 3b).
We thank God also that He has called us to serve Him. Verse 2 exhorts us to “serve the Lord with gladness”. In what ways can we “serve the Lord with gladness”?
1. With a servant’s heart
It is an honour and privilege to serve the Lord. This brings to mind the parable of the unprofitable servant: “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Lk. 17: 7-10). Even after a hard day’s work in the fields, this servant came home to wait upon his master. He did his duty without complaint, for he considered himself an unworthy servant who deserved nothing. It was his privilege to serve his master. Likewise, as we serve the Lord, let us remember the great debt we owe to Him. We are wholly His because He has created us, and saved us by His grace. Jesus, the Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. The least we can do for our Lord is to serve Him with a willing, humble and thankful heart.
2. With a desire to please God
The Lord has called each of us to serve Him in the various ministries of the church. Whatever our area of service –whether it be preaching, chairing, playing the piano, evangelising, teaching, visitation, administration, preparing the sanctuary for worship, cooking, driving, hospitality or providing refreshments – let us check ourselves. How have we served the Lord? Are we joyful in serving our Master and His people? Or do we find it a burdensome chore? What if no one notices the work we do for the Lord? What if people misunderstand or criticise us? How do we respond? Do we feel like giving up? Do we murmur against the Lord and our brethren?
As we serve, let us remember that we “serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3: 24). Our object is to please Him Who has called us to holy service. Let us learn from the apostle Paul who went through much in the ministry: “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5: 9-10). Let us labour to “be accepted of him”. Seek to please our Lord, rather than men: “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1: 10).
3. With a love for the saints
When asked whether we love God, most of us will readily answer: “Yes”. But loving our brethren is something which is harder to do. We often respond: “My brother in Christ has so many faults. I can never love him.” If this be the case, then we cannot serve God with gladness because our hearts are bitter and resentful.
One way we can love our brethren is by learning to overlook their faults: “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins” (Prov. 10: 12). Another way is to esteem them better than ourselves: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philp. 2: 3-4). This will help us to relate kindly and graciously with our brethren.
4. With dependence upon the Lord
We cannot serve God in our own strength. If we do so, we will fail miserably. There will be times when we feel we cannot carry on because the work seems too tough. Let us not be discouraged. Look to the Lord for strength and wisdom: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas. 1: 5). Like the apostle Paul, let us look to the Lord Who is our Sufficiency: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Cor. 12: 9).
Once again, we thank God for His gracious leading and for blessing us throughout the past nine years. Let us faithfully press on to “serve the Lord with gladness” till He returns for us. May the Lord find us faithful. Amen.