Summary: Praise . . . it is more than goosebumps and music. There is a progression to praise that we must move through.

The Progression of Praise

Text: Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3 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.

4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

As we have been celebrating Thanksgiving this week I have been doing some meditation about the concept of thanksgiving. At the same time our youth ministry mentioned that they are planning a progressive dinner here in a very few weeks. For some reason I connected the two and begin to think about the progression of praise. To progress literally means to “to move forward or to develop to a higher, better, or more advanced stage. As I began to think about thanksgiving and then the progressive dinner I began to think about the fact that thanksgiving is just one stop in a two stop progression. However, I also realize that each stop is important. In a progressive dinner one stop is not more important than the other. They all play a key role in completing the meal and the experience. And so I want to talk about the progression of praise, but I do not want to diminish any stop along the way. There are truths and lessons that we must learn from each step.

David deals with this progression. He simply says that we are to enter His gates with thanksgiving. Without going into great detail concerning the tabernacle setup it serves to reason and to logic that the gates were the first place you enter. It would parallel our front door. It is simply the entry point. The first step. It is essential to get in, but there are deeper things and places to go. Then David says that we gain access or entry into a deeper place called the courts with praise. David’s tabernacle had no veil to shield the presence of God from the people. So once you gained access into the courts you were in God’s presence. David teaches us that there is a progression to praise. We enter with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving gets our foot in the door, but praise takes us higher and further into God’s presence.

So if you will allow me this morning I would like to talk to you about this progression!

I. Thanksgiving

I want to deal with Thanksgiving first. Before we go too far may I share with you my deep revelation? OK, buckle your seat belts, hold on, get your pen ready, scoot to the edge of your seats, and hold your breath. Here it is – are you ready? Thanksgiving always proceeds Christmas! O.K., O.K., I know every elementary school student knows this truth. So nobody will write a book based on this thought and I certainly won’t get a call from TBN to expound on this concept. I realize that no one sits around pondering which comes first, the turkey or the tree. However, this thought may be more powerful than we think. I remind you of this because it seems that we rush past Thanksgiving to get to Christmas. Before we ever carve the turkey we hang stockings!

a. Thanksgiving proceeds miracles

Thanksgiving always proceeds the season that is about the birth of a miracle. There is a spiritual principle here! Thanksgiving precedes divine birth! There are numerous scriptural accounts that validate this principle, but perhaps the most significant one is Lazarus. Jesus approaches the tomb of a dead man prepared to perform a miracle.

Remember the account in John 11? John 11:39, “39Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

But a dead man is about to be reborn into life. Moments before Jesus wakes the dead with the clarion call, “Lazarus”, he pauses mid-miracle and has Thanksgiving. Listen for the pattern in this account. Look for the truth.

John 11:41-44, “41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”

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