St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Shout For Joy (Thanksgiving Day)

Thanksgiving Sermon on Psalm 100

Text: 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; 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.

From little on, we have been told not to shout. We are told to use our inside voices. In general, that is a good rule. However, there are times when we cannot help but shout. For example, if someone is in danger, we shout a warning. Another time when we shout is when we are happy. We shout for joy when our team wins in the closing seconds of a close game. Watch families when a soldier who has been deployed comes home. You see their families shouting for joy as they rush to greet their loved one. This Thanksgiving, the psalmist would also encourage us to shout. Today we SHOUT FOR JOY. The psalmist gives us two reasons for this. 1. He Made Us. 2. His Love Endures Forever.

Verses 1 and 2 encourage this shouting: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” These verses are almost a trumpet call. The entire world is to assemble for the purpose of worshiping the Lord. We are not to stand there in quietness. We shout. We come to him singing songs of joy.

Verse 3 gives the reason for this shouting and singing. “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.” First of all, it says, “Know that the LORD is God.” This knowing is more than the accumulation of some facts in our brains. It is, also, an experiencing God’s gracious rule in the world and in our lives. This means that, when we look at our lives, we see what God has done for us and are, therefore, minded to come into his presence with shouts of joy.

First of all, it says, “It is he who made us.” If we just take a few moments and think about the bodies that God has created us with, we have to be filled with joy. Look at all of the systems that work together to keep us alive. Many of them do so without our thinking about them. Our hearts beat, sending the oxygenated blood to the various parts of our body. Our lungs breathe in and out. Our brains have centers for our memory, thinking, and all of our senses. The nervous system carries signals back and forth to bring us pleasure and warn us of danger. We take in nutrition and it becomes energy for our bodies. It is true that, because of the fact that sin ruined God’s perfect creation, our bodies do not always work the way that we would like them to. Sickness comes in and old age creeps in, and the bodies are hampered. However, when we take a good look at the bodies that we have, we have reason to shout for joy.

There is a deeper meaning to the idea that “God made us.” When the Israelite heard these words, he would be reminded of the fact that God made them the nation that they were. Not only this, but also, they had been chosen out of all of the nations in the world. This is emphasized by the words, “and we are his.” God made them a nation that came from Abraham. God increased their numbers while they were in Egypt. God led them through the wilderness until they reached the Promised Land. God drove out the people that were there and established them in the land. Furthermore, God made them his by entering into a covenant with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai. There God gave them his law. God told them exactly what they were to do and not to do. He gave them a series of sacrifices that all pointed ahead to the promised Messiah. God came to them in a way that he had not come to any other nation. It is no wonder that, when the Israelite was reminded of this, he would shout for joy.

That same can be said of us, as well. God made us his people and we are his. This is not something that we are by nature. By nature, we are not a part of God’s people. We born as lost and condemned creatures. We are born with sin. We still see evidences of this every day. For example, here it is Thanksgiving Day. Today, we are so careful to stop and thank God for all that he has given us, and that is wonderful. But, what about the rest of the year? Are we always thankful for what God has given us? It is so easy for us to complain about how things are going in our lives. Whether they are little annoyances or real problems, we complain about them to just about anyone who will listen. We are thankful today, but how many times have we found ourselves worrying about things in our lives? We look at our situations and worry if we will get through them. We are thankful today, but how many times don’t we find ourselves dissatisfied with what we have? We see what others have and look at what we have, and think that it isn’t fair. The list goes on and on.

However, “God made us, and we are his.” God made us his own through the working of his Son. Here we find our greatest reason for shouting for joy, because Jesus Christ came to the earth to be our Savior. Jesus came to this earth for the sole purpose of rescuing us from the punishment that we deserved. His path led him through the perfect obedience to his Father’s will. This path continued to the cross, where he laid down his life for us, paying for each and every one of our sins. The path led to a grave, from which he rose on Easter morning. That path led him back to heaven, where he rules the events of the world for our benefit. God made us his own through the washing of baptism. Faith was created in our hearts, by which we were adopted into God’s family. This closeness is referred to when it says, “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Think of the many beautiful pictures that God gives us in the Scriptures about our being his sheep. We have the Twenty-third Psalm, in which we gladly proclaim, “The LORD is my shepherd.” Jesus says of himself in John 10, “I am the good shepherd.” Today, this Thanksgiving Day, we shout for joy, because “God made us, and we are his.”

The psalmist returns to his call for the people to rejoice in verse 4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” The original reader might have thought of going up to Jerusalem for one of their major festivals. As they got closer to Jerusalem, there were psalms of praise sung to God. There were songs of praise when they entered Jerusalem and when they entered the temple. So also, today we come into God’s house with thanksgiving and praise to our God. We praise him for the many ways he has blessed our lives. We praise him, especially, for our salvation.

The psalmist gives us one more reason for shouting for joy to the Lord. He writes in verse 5, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” There are so many things in our lives that promise to always be there for us, but fail us. We buy a more expensive item, because it has such a great warranty. However, when the item breaks or fails us, we find that the warranty isn’t quite what we thought it was. It lets us down. There are people that we think we can always trust to be there. However, for one reason or another, they let us down. This verse reminds us that the Lord will continue to be with us. This gives us confidence as we go forward.

God will continue to provide for us in the future as he has in the past. Jesus, in speaking of the basic necessities of life, says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”(Matthew 6:32) Paul said in Acts 14:17, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” As our loving Father, he will continue to provide for all of our needs. How thankful we are that God continues to take care of us and will continue to do so.

More importantly, God will continue to keep us in the faith. He promises that he will continue to have his Word proclaimed in the world. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Every time we read and hear his Word, every time that we receive the Lord’s Supper, his amazing love is proclaimed to us. He promises that he will continue to protect us in our faith. In that Good Shepherd chapter (John 10), Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Those verses also remind us that we do not have to wonder if, at the end of it all, if there is really a heaven waiting for us. So many people make grandiose promises, but they fail to carry them out. Jesus said that he gives eternal life to his sheep, to us. We know that he will keep every single one of his promises that he makes to us, because, as it says in verse 5, “His faithfulness continues through all generations.” So, today, we not only thank God for all of the ways that he has kept us in the past. We also thank him for all of the promises that he has made to us, because we know that he will keep every single one of them. Shout for joy to the Lord because his love endures forever.

It may not be in your nature to shout. There are many soft-spoken people. However, when we are reminded of all that God has done and will continue to do for us, we cannot help but sing a little louder and smile a little more. We may not shout with our voices, but God gives us opportunities to shout his praises with our lives, as we give thanks to him by doing those things that are pleasing to him. This is one of those times when we do not use our inside voices. We shout for joy to the Lord because he made us and his love endures forever. Amen.