Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
As I write this, I’m wondering how many of you, like me, had to memorize Psalm 100 as a child in Sunday School. It’s difficult for me to even read the NIV translation because I learned it from the King James. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” It seems like no other passage in scripture so clearly and concisely describes our proper attitude toward God. I’ll bet millions of us can still recite it.
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. The phrase sheep of His pasture also means He’s become our shepherd, responsible for our health and welfare. In John 6:39 He promised never to lose a single one of us, but to raise us all up at the last day. It’s paralleled in the promise of the 4th cup of the Passover, the Cup of Acceptance. “I will take you as my own people and I will be your God.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Our part is to adopt that viewpoint for all the events of our life and look for the blessings they invariably bring. “Be joyful always,” Paul wrote the Church in Thessalonica. “Rejoice in all things,” he told the Philippians. It’s obvious he was familiar with Psalm 100.
There’s no weasel clause here, and no conditional obedience on our part is acceptable. Regardless of situation or circumstance, we’re to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, because He’s promised that He’s working everything together for the good of those who love Him.(Romans 8:28) Even those things that don’t look so good up front always contain a blessing as we look back, if only we’ll see it.
As a management consultant I often helped clients improve their customer service levels. Invariably, I used a formula we developed for creating joy. It compares the expectation that customers form before going into a business with the experience they have while there. The more their experience exceeds their expectation the happier they are.
Because we don’t expect a gourmet burger and white glove service going into McDonald’s, for instance, we can have a satisfying dining experience there. Their advertising has taught us to expect a certain type of experience and as long as their delivery meets or exceeds it, we’re happy.
But getting McDonald’s level of food and service at a fine dining restaurant would be unacceptable. The expectations for that kind of experience are much different. The two things we have to do to insure customer satisfaction, I told my clients, is to use advertising to create an expectation before they come in, and then make sure their experience exceeds it while they’re there.
Being a Christian is the same. If we haven’t been taught what to expect, there’s no way we can evaluate the experience. Hence there are relatively few truly joyful Christians.
If I could tell Christians only one thing about their walk with the Lord it would be this. You can expect two things when you decide to go to work for Jesus. Battles and Victories! This idea is summed up neatly in one verse in John’s Gospel. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) When you stop to think about it, the two are joined at the hip. You can’t experience a victory without first going into battle! And when you make the Lord your Commanding General and follow His plan, every battle ends in victory. It’s as certain as day following night. That’s what the Book of Joshua is all about.
When we learn to expect a battle we won’t be surprised to find ourselves in one. And every time we yield command to Him, the Lord’s victory will always exceed our expectations. Even though we might not ever learn to look forward to the battles, we’ll never cease to be amazed at the victories. And then we’ll rejoice in all things, and making a joyful noise unto the Lord will be an every day occurrence. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Hallelujah!