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GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD

(114)

Sermon shared by Michael Otterstatter

November 1999
Summary: Psalm 100 encourages us to count God as our greatest blessing.
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: Believer adults
Sermon:
"God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness." (Genesis 1:16-19) That is how Genesis describes what God created on the fourth day in his work of creation. In addition to the stars God made two great lights to govern day and night. I am certain that even the very young children here this morning could name those two lights. The greater light in the sky that governs the day is obviously the sun. The second light is also easy to identify. The lesser light that governs the night is the moon. Have you ever wondered why God didn’t cause the writer of Genesis to name those two lights? The Hebrew language had names for the sun and the moon. Why didn’t God use them to describe what he had created?
At the time when Moses wrote the book of Genesis the word for sun and the word for moon were the also names of false gods. The pagan peoples of the world were worshiping the sun and moon so those two great lights in the sky were known by the names of the gods they represented. It seems that God deliberately left out the names for the sun and moon so they didn’t draw his people’s attention away from him. He simply called one the greater light and one the lesser light and left it at that. This illustrates a truth about God’s dealings with people. Although the sun and moon are important God wanted his people to know that their relationship with him was more important. God never wants the things he has created for people to enjoy to become a barrier in their relationship with him.
However, throughout the history of mankind things in creation have drawn attention away from the creator. Sometimes people have actually worshiped what God created. They have worshiped heavenly bodies, mountains, and creatures. At other times people have become stuck seeing only material things so that they fail to see the God who made them. Although we are not tempted to worship the sun or the moon there is a very real chance that the things God has created can block our view of him. Even on Thanksgiving Day the blessings for which we are thankful can hinder us from seeing the One who gave them to us. Before we count our blessings let’s count our greatest blessing. Our greatest blessing is God Himself. The Holy Spirit will use Psalm 100 to direct our attention away from material things to God. We will be lead to:

GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD
I. Give thanks because He is God
II. Give thanks because we are His people
III. Give thanks because His love endures forever

In our Bibles the Psalms appear as one book among the others books of the Old Testament. We learned to say the book in order along with the others, "Esther Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes..." To the Jews the Psalms were not another book in their Bible but their hymnal for worshiping God. Some of the Psalms served as liturgy for worship. Other Psalms were performed by choirs and groups of musicians. Just as our hymnal has special hymns for the seasons of the church year and festivals like Christmas and Easter certain Psalms were used for seasons of the year and for special celebrations.
Psalm 100 begins with the heading,
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