Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving, Day 3

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: God is good, but I’m not. That’s why I need a savior. So the goodness of God brings us to thanksgiving; it brings us to praise; it brings us to repentance. We need a savior, and we have in Him a savior.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest. It’s Wednesday, November 23, 2016.

Nancy’s in a series called “Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving.” It’s a study of Psalm 100.

Nancy: As we’re recording this session today, my longtime dear friend, Patsy Fraser, a longtime friend of our family is in the hospital. She’s got cancer throughout her body. Her body is racked with pain.

Yesterday I got an email from a mutual friend saying, among other things, “As sick as Patsy is, she’s still witnessing to all in the hospital and full of the Lord’s joy and good cheer.”

I thought about that as I was preparing to teach on Psalm 100. And I wondered, How is this possible? How can you be in that kind of pain still witnessing to everyone and full of the Lord’s joy and good cheer even while your body is full of cancer?

Well, Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow. I’m thinking about people I know who are going through some really difficult times: a friend who was recently widowed. This will be her first Thanksgiving for that family without their husband and dad at the table. Several friends who are heavy-hearted over prodigal children. My husband and I pray for several of those every night, “Lord, bring them home. Bring them home.”

I’m thinking about a friend whose nine-year-old daughter has major life-threatening health issues and has since she was born. So here’s a sweet momma who has hardly had a good night’s sleep in nine years.

A friend who’s dealing with elderly parents, caring for a mentally ill family member, children in different seasons of life. Lots of stuff going on. I have friends who are trying to figure out how they can possibly make ends meet in this season financially.

I’m thinking about these friends and wondering, How is it possible in a week we call “Thanksgiving” to give thanks, to be full of the Lord’s joy and good cheer?

You may be dealing with some of the things I’ve mentioned or something else that’s heavy on your heart and your eyes are filled with tears. But tomorrow, we’re supposed to be giving thanks. Every day we’re supposed to be giving thanks.

Well, I think this psalm we’re talking about this week helps us with that—no matter what our season of life, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in. It’s called “A Psalm for Giving Thanks,” or as one translation says it, “A Psalm of Thanksgiving.”

It starts in verses 1 and 2 with a call to worship. If you have your Bible, I hope you’ll open it and join us at Psalm 100. One of the best known and best loved psalms in the Jewish hymnal, the Psalter. Just five verses, eighty-one words, and so full of God, full of joy, full of life. And this call to worship we find in verses 1 and 2:

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

And then in verse 3 we’re given causes or reasons to give thanks, to praise the Lord:

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Now, I want to just start with that first word “know.” Know that the Lord, He is God. Know. There are some things we have to know. I want to tell you that you will never have firm footing for your faith if you don’t know who God is.

If you don’t affirm these things to be true, you will be left on a sea of waves and turbulence and storms and whichever way the wind is blowing, whichever way the waves are blowing, it’s the way that you will go. Up and down, spiritual roller coaster, happy then sad, glad then mad, if your heart is not tethered to these things that you know. Know that the Lord, He is God.

We can’t rightly worship a God that we don’t know. Now, there’s so much more to know about Him than we can possibly know, but we have to be in a lifelong pursuit of knowing who God is. The more we know Him, the more we will worship Him. Know. Know that the Lord, He is God.

My friend Patsy, sick as she is, and maybe by the time we air this program, likely by the time we air this program, she will be worshiping the Lord in His presence in heaven. Sick as she is though, here on earth, she’s able to be full of the Lord’s joy and good cheer because she knows who God is. She knows Him. She knows His name, His character, His heart, His ways.

And that is the anchor for her soul at this time when if it weren’t for the Lord, she would have no hope, no anchor, no encouragement, no peace, no reason to press on into each new day, no reason to witness to these people in the hospital.

What would she tell them about? You get sick, you die, and that’s it? But she knows that’s not it—that she’s headed to a better place; that the best is yet to come. So, know that the Lord, He is God.

Two words for God in that phrase. He is the LORD: Yahweh, Jehovah, the self-existent One. And He is God: Elohim. In the beginning God, Elohim, created the heavens and the earth. And sure enough, that’s who we see Him to be. It is He who made us. The Lord God. It is He who made us.

He tells us that He is the creator. Now remember, we are finding causes for praise, causes for worship, causes for giving thanks. He is the creator. We didn’t make ourselves. We didn’t evolve from some lower form of life. God lovingly, wisely, sovereignly, graciously fashioned us. He formed us for Himself.

Now, in our lifetime we’ve heard such an emphasis on evolution as if this were established scientific fact. When in fact, many scientists tell us there isn’t a shred of scientific evidence for the evolutionary development of mankind.

But why has there been such an emphasis? Why such a push to teach evolution as if it were a face? Well, if there’s no Creator, then we can be independent. We can be autonomous. We can rule our own lives.

But here’s the thing. If there’s no Creator, then we have no need or reason to be thankful. If we’re all there is, that’s a pretty sorry mess. But we do have a Creator. It is He who made us – Elohim, Jehovah.

And so, when we know who God is, that helps us then to know who we are and whose we are. It is He who made us, and we are His. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

And these things go together. If God is the creator, if He created us, if He made us, then we belong to Him. We are His. We are His regardless of what may happen to us here on this earth. With a body filled with cancer? On your death bed? Headed to eternity, you are His. You are kept by Him until the moment He says, “Come to Me.”

In a loveless marriage? You are His. Single, longing for marriage? You are His. Lonely? You belong to Him. Confused? You are His. Financial challenges, physical challenges, relational challenges. You are His. He is God. He has made us, and we are His. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. We belong to Him.

And that’s why the apostle Paul says in Romans 8: “For I am persuaded [I am sure. I am confident] that neither death nor life, [hospital bed, cancer, life or death] nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 38–39).

You see, we have an anchor for our souls. The Lord our God is He who made us, and we are His. We are His people, and we are the sheep of His pasture.

For He has said, Hebrews 13:5: “I will never you nor forsake you.”

These are things we need to remind ourselves of. They’re simple. They’re basic. You say, “I knew that. I had to turn on this program to hear this?”

Yes. We need to be reminded of this. I need to be reminded of this. Jehovah is God. He made us. We are His. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. He has redeemed us. He owns us. He created us.

And that means that He has the right to do with us as He will. He has the right to do in our lives and in our circumstances whatever pleases Him—whatever will bring Him the greatest glory.

We are not in charge. These are all implications of this verse here in Psalm 100.

It is He who made us. We are His. That means we’re not in charge. He’s sovereign. He’s God. We don’t tell Him how to write the script. We let Him write the script and we say, “Yes, Lord. I give you thanks. If it pleases You, it pleases me.”

He’s a good Shepherd. We’re the sheep of His pasture. He leads us. He provides for us. He cares of us. He meets our needs. He knows us by name. All the things that go with being a shepherd. He can be trusted.

I think that next year, Lord willing, my husband and I will be writing a book together called You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. You can trust God to write your story in every season of life.

I look back on my fifty-eight years of life now, and there’s so many twists and turns, so many things I never expected, so many things I would have never asked for, so many things I never dreamed would happen in my life.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and nor do you. But I know who’s writing the story. I know who’s written the story, and I trust Him because He has made me. I am His. I belong to Him. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Therefore, because all these things are true we get to verse 4 and we have another call to worship, a call to thanks. Three exhortations:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

You see our worship is rooted in who God is—who He is and what He has done.

Then we get to verse 5, and we have more cause for worship and thanksgiving—His character. And we see three qualities here:

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

His goodness, His steadfast love or mercy, some translations have it, and His faithfulness. One commentator on the Psalms says that we have in this passage “perennial sources of praise.” You know what perennials are in your garden. Perennials are flowers that come back year after year after year. You don’t have to keep replanting them. Now, you need to tend them. You need to take care of them, but they keep coming back. They’re perennials.

We have here perennial sources of praise: His goodness, His steadfast love that endures forever, His faithfulness to all generations. He never changes, so we always, always, always, no matter what’s going on in your life this Thanksgiving week, you have cause for praise.

So, let’s look at just those three characteristics of God. First, the Lord is good. He is kind. He is benevolent. Affirm that. Counsel your heart with the truth. No matter what’s going on in your life keep counseling your heart, “God is good. God is good. The Lord is good.”

Just that little phrase is something we need to remind ourselves, tell ourselves, counsel ourselves. When it feels like God isn’t good or when it feels like our lives have no goodness in them, the Lord is good. Then personalizing it, “Lord, You have been good to me. You have been good to me. You’re not just good to this universe in general, You’re good to me. You have been good to me.”

I have another dear friend who was a member of the Revive Our Hearts board for a number of years, Scott Melby, who last year went home to be with the Lord after a two-and-a-half-year battle with leukemia. As I was with Scott and Karen in the hospital room at one point when he was very sick, hardly aware of our presence in the room, just moaning and groaning and in great pain and in great anxiety and could hardly talk.

But every once in a while there were two sentences that would come out of his mouth—just barely intelligible, but clear from his heart. First he would say, “God’s been so good to us. God’s been so good to us.” And then he would say, “We’ve got so much to be thankful for. We’ve got so much to be thankful for.”

Just pulling those words out of his heart, out of his mouth, blessing his family, his wife, his five children. But those frequent constant reminders that the Lord is good and that we have so much to be thankful for.

I had the privilege a number of years ago of attending one of the Tuesday night prayer meetings at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. If you’ve never been there, it’s a great experience. I love hearing those people sing. I love hearing the choir sing, but I even more than that love hearing the congregation sing.

Because here are so many people who have powerful current testimonies of God’s grace. They’ve come out of really difficult circumstances—out of poverty and drug addiction and sexual promiscuity and just old-fashioned self-righteousness. But they’re saved, and they know it, and they’re people who sing like they know they’ve been saved and they know God. So I love listening to them sing. I love listening to them pray. I love participating in their services.

But in this particular service, some friends and I were sitting or standing during the service on the front row—so we just want to catch everything. At one point, Steve Green, the singer, had been at the Brooklyn Tab I think it was the week before. He had taught them a new song that they were practicing and singing. They had just learned it. It was new to me that night, though I’ve sung it many, many times since. It’s that song:

He is good, He is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.
He is good, He is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks for He is good.

It’s a very simple song, simple melody, simple words. We sang it over and over again. At one point, Pastor Cymbala said to the congregation as we’re standing there, in-between the singing of that chorus, he said, “I want to ask you, if you’re here tonight and you don’t have a job and you need a job, you want a job, you’re looking for a job but you can’t find work, I want to ask you to come to the front of the auditorium.”

Well, we were standing on the front row, so all these people . . . we almost got run over. Tens and tens of people, maybe dozens or scores of people just filling that entire front area between the platform and the front row.

And they came. They poured in. They’re standing there. “I don’t have work. I’m looking for work.” As these people flooded in, Pastor Cymbala said, “Now, let’s sing it again.”

“He is good, He is good. His love endures forever.”

Then he would interrupt the song, and he would talk to these people standing right down in front of him who don’t have work. And he would say, “Don’t let your head fall down like that. Lift your eyes up. Lift your head up. Sing to the Lord. 'He is good, He is good. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.'”

And we sang it again and again and again. Those people without work, without a livelihood, without income, asking the Lord. Yes, asking Him to provide. But in that moment there was no asking, there was just thanking. Saying, “God is good regardless of my circumstances, regardless of my pain, regardless of my lack, God is good. God is good.”

I’ll never forget that moment. I wonder how many times I fall into a state of discouragement, despair, weakness, weariness, because I forget that God is good. Give thanks to the Lord. Bless His name. For the Lord is good.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Ps. 34:8).

God’s kindness, God’s goodness is meant to lead us to repentance, Romans 2 tells us and as we focus on the goodness of God, we’re reminded that God is good, but I am not. That’s why I need a savior. So the goodness of God brings us to thanksgiving, it brings us to praise, it brings us to repentance. We need a savior, and we have in Him a savior. God is good.

The Lord is good. Two more causes for gratitude and thanksgiving in this final verse of Psalm 100. His steadfast love or His mercy endures forever.

You have different translations translate this word differently. Some of them say, “The loving kindnesses of the Lord endure forever.” Not just the loving kindness of the Lord but the loving kindnesses of the Lord—multiple. There is a plurality of them.

His steadfast love. His mercies. One of the most important words in the Old Testament Hebrew is that word hesed. The covenant-keeping committed love of God. It's not based on how loveable we are; not based on how well we perform, but it is based on the faithful character of God in His covenant. It’s a steadfast love. It’s a love that says, “I will never ever, ever cease to love you.” God could not love us more. He cannot love us less.

I’m learning a lot more about that love now that I’m married to Robert Wolgemuth because I see a man who, though he’s flawed, he’s a sinful man as we all are. But he’s a man who has steadfast love. It’s the love of the Lord.

He loves me when I’m loveable, and he loves me when I’m not. He keeps reminding me of that. I see in this man a picture of a God whose love is far greater than any human love. Steadfast love of the Lord. His mercy. His steadfast love endures forever.

So we have His goodness and His steadfast love. You see those put together in Psalm 23:

Surely, goodness and mercy [same word; steadfast love; the loving kindness of the Lord] shall follow me [or pursue me, literally] all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6).

The goodness of the Lord. The steadfast love of the Lord. The mercy of the Lord. It goes before me. It goes alongside of me. He lives within me. And from behind, He pursues me. When I’m faltering, when I’m feeling like I can’t take the next step. When I’m weary with serving the Lord or serving others; when I want to give up; when I want to throw in the towel, the goodness and the steadfast love of the Lord, they are my attendants on either side. And they pursue me every day of my life until I’m face to face with the Savior.

These are truths that are simple. They are basic, but they are foundational. We need to counsel our hearts with truth because I know I’m looking into the eyes today of women. I know there are people listening to this broadcast today, in this Thanksgiving week, your eyes are filled with tears. It’s hard.

There are circumstances in our nation and in our world that look hopeless. But I’m telling you, over it all, the Lord is good and His steadfast love, His mercy, His loving kindnesses endure forever.

And there’s one more: and his faithfulness to all generations”

His goodness and His faithfulness; grace and truth. In fact, in the Old Testament, that word “faithfulness” is sometimes translated “truth.” The hesed of the Lord, the grace of the Lord and in that the Hebrew word for faithfulness or truth. That speaks of reliability, stability, dependability, fidelity. That’s our God.

In a changing world, in a crazy, upside-down, inside-out world, He is the one constant. Forever unchanging; forever and ever and ever forever faithful. His faithfulness, not just to you but to your children, to your grandchildren.

Listen, that prodigal son or daughter? God is faithful. God loves that child more than you could. God is pursuing. Now, a child may or may not respond to the pursuit of Christ. And you can’t control that. But one thing you can be sure of, there is a God who is good, who has steadfast love and who is faithful to all generations.

So in this Thanksgiving season, I want to call us to worship. I want to remind us of the causes for worship, many of them found just in these five verses. Psalm 100:

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back. She’s been showing you why praise and thanksgiving could make such a big difference in your life.

Nancy’s been taking us through Psalm 100 leading up to Thanksgiving Day. But I hope that even past the holiday, you’ll keep learning more and more about giving thanks in all circumstances.

To help you grow in more gratitude, we’d like to send you a booklet called “30 Days of Choosing Gratitude.” You’ll read an entry in this booklet each day for thirty days. Reading it will give you ideas on how to express thanks and remind you of reasons to be grateful. We hope that by going through this booklet for thirty days in your quiet time, you’ll develop a lifelong habit of thanksgiving.

We’d like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. You can ask for “30 Days of Choosing Gratitude” when you call 1–800–569–5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

I hope you have a meaningful Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Here on Revive Our Hearts, we’ll hear from some women who have learned to give thanks even when their emotions might want to complain. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. To end our time, here’s Nancy with a final thought.

Nancy: As we were in the break between this session and a previous one, one of our team members came over and showed me this wonderful verse. Psalm 50:23 from the ASV 1901 translation and here’s how it reads:

He who offers praise over and over makes a beaten path over which God comes with deliverance.

He who gives thanks, he who offers praise over and over makes a beaten path over which God comes with deliverance.

And, oh Lord, how I pray that in this week, in this season, in this day that You would give encouragement and grace for the hearts of Your people. That we would praise You, give thanks to You over and over and over and over and over and over and over until the whole world joins in this great chorus of thanksgiving and praise with one unanimous shout to the Lord—a joyful shout to the God of the Universe.

We thank You, that as we make that beaten path of praise and thanksgiving, You will come riding, running to bring deliverance. And for that we give You thanks in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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