3 Jan 2021


Worship – reasons for worship

Speaker:  Ps Daniel Tan
Sermon Title: Worship – reasons for worship 
Scripture Text: Psalm 100

Our Heads Content

 

 

Our Hearts Condition

 

 

Our Hands Concerns

 

 

Concluding Reflections:

  • Are the reasons for coming to service to worship God, found in Psalm 100, yours? If so, would it be evident to your family members?
  • In the light of Psalm 100, how would you prepare better this coming week for Sunday Service? How might you also encourage your family and friends as well?
  • Knowing that Psalm 100 is a call for ‘all the earth’ to give thanks to God, how can we be part of this invitation to our neighbours?
Scripture: Psalm 100 (ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

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.

Transcript

Introduction

Blessed Sunday to everyone and a blessed New Year.

We have crossed into 2021 and though the pandemic is still around, it seems we have rounded the corner and now see some light at the end of the tunnel.

We thank God that He has guided medical scientist to develop vaccines and so let us continue to pray that sufficient people in Singapore and around the world get vaccinated.

And with that, the possibility for us to move towards even greater normalcy.

One of the things I’ve truly missed, is going to minister and serve alongside our mission partners in Thailand and Myanmar.

Today, we are looking at Worship from Ps 100 and I can picture in my mind the exuberant Services which I’ve witnesses both at FEC and at Thai-Ezra.

These are believers who throughout the week, labour hard in tough conditions to barely make ends meet. Who walk miles to come to church and whose faith is even looked down upon in their society.

Yet these people sing from their hearts loudly as they praise our Heavenly Father and Almighty God.

This sense of purpose to praise God, you can hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes. Such joy and thanksgiving can only come from hearts in tune with God.

The PA system is not stable, the air temperature is not ideal, the powerpoint slides not in sync, oh but how they sing with joy and thanksgiving. 

That is something I miss and I’m sure, for those of us who have visited them, you can also attest to what I’m sharing.

As a church in Hermon, each year we begin with 6 sermons on the 6Ws which we have adopted as the signs of discipleship.

I’ve written about it in some detail in today’s Herald Editorial and so will not duplicate it here.

In 2021, our first W is Worship and for us the tagline for this W is ‘Participating in Sunday Service as the body of Christ’.

So even though worshipping God is 24/7 – meaning we are to have a life-style of worship, we want to narrow down to focus on our congregational time of worship on Sundays.

It means we treasure the public and corporate gathering of all Hermonites each Sunday.

Here, may I take the opportunity to thank all in the Worship Ministry for the weekly hard work of getting the service running both offline and online.

We have gone through Circuit Breaker, Phase 1,2 and now Phase 3. At each phase, we have had to adapt and modify procedures so that we can have our Services timely at 11 am each Sunday.

We are nearly doing two services each week. One online and another in-person at Jerusalem Sanctuary.

Thank you, members of the Worship Ministry.

So why are you here in this Sanctuary or participating at home now?

Why are you gathering to worship and giving thanks to God on Sunday

Ps 100 is an often-quoted Psalm for our call to worship and it is very appropriate because it gives us the reasons why we are where we are right now.

Why we are showing up together as a spiritual family to be in God’s presence.

And I pray that the truths from Ps 100 will resonate with all of us. And resonate not just intellectually in our minds, but that it convicts our hearts and control the responses of our hands.

Our Heads Content

Let’s begin with our first point, our heads content.

As we observe Ps 100, we would see logically that it fits into 4 stanzas.

 1  Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

 2   Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

 3  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.

4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!

     Give thanks to him; bless his name!

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

The first and the 3rd stanza instructs us to worship and give thanks to God. While stanza 2 and 4 gives us the reasons why.

So in this first section, as we look at our Heads Content, the focus is on stanza 2 and 4.

But before we go there, v1 already gives us a reason.

V1 describes to us the shout of welcome as the arrival of the King is announced. And as the king enters the presence of his people.

So here we see the first reason. As we gather, God our King comes into our midst.

Thus we are to welcome heartly the King of our lives. It means we acknowledge that we are His subjects and He rules over us. 

Secondly in v3, we are instructed, 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.

One thing we need to note is that all the verbs in this Psalm – Make, Serve, Know, Enter, Give Thanks, Bless, they are all in the imperative. This means it is a command.

That means, if you are a believer this morning, as you and I sit under the authority of God’s Word, Ps 100 is not something for us to just casually consider whether or not we feel like doing it.

No, under the authority of God’s Word, this is a requirement that the Lord expects from all of us to follow.

So firstly as we come for service this morning, Scripture says, know in our minds, perceive and realize in our thoughts, whom we are standing before.

The ‘Lord’ here is Yahweh.

In Exodus 3, as God sent Moses to free the people in Egypt, Moses asks, who should Moses say has sent him?

And so God revealed His personal name to Moses. Ex 3:14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’.

So Yahweh, the God who appeared before Moses, before Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, this is the God whom we come together to worship with thanksgiving.

And we remember that Yahweh defeated all the gods of the Egyptians to show that He is the true and living God.

Not only are we standing before a divine being, we are also told, He made us. He is our creator and we are His creation.

We all know that it’s a privilege to be in the company of the President of Singapore, the Queen of England or the Emperor of Japan.

We would have had to be part of some special national project or achieve something great to be in such prestigious company.

How many of us would spend time preparing for this meeting? I’m sure we would all do that right?

So Scripture says, this is the privilege we have each Sunday. As we gather in our Sunday Service, we come before God who is the creator of the universe.

If that is not enough, God is not just some deity out there, but He is a personal God to all of us.

Scripture says, we are his, we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

This God, mighty, strong, powerful is our pastor. He is our shepherd.

Not only did God create humans, Scripture says, of believers, God has selected us.

We are his and how precious that truth is. That the God for the universe says, I am His!

You may feel abandon by friends and even family, but God says you are mine.

Secondly, he has call us into his kingdom. We are his people.

So we should not feel alienated, or alone. We are family. Scripture says, we all have a sense of belonging.

Finally, we are the sheep of his pasture. It means God nourishes us. Think Psalm 23. God leads us besides quiet waters and green pastures.

As our shepherd, God is there to provide and to protect.

Church, do you realize that this is the God that you have come to praise and worship this morning?

If we know this, it should shape our attitude towards Worship.

If this is not sufficient reasons, let’s look at v5.

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

The character of God is good. There is nothing evil in God.

Because God is good, everything that He does for us is for our good.

God is for us. He wants what is best for us. Because this is His character, God cannot change and so He will always be consistent with His goodness.

And we know that God’s goodness is most evident at Christmas and Easter.

And the Psalmist says, his loving kindness, has no time limit. His steadfast love endures forever. That is also part of his character isn’t it?

God’s love for you and for me, endures forever. Now that means a long time. Not only that, it is always there, it is steadfast, it is not laid back but active and it does not give up, it endures.

God’s character is also faithful and true and His faithfulness is for all generations. This means, God is not fickle nor is He forgetful.

2020 has been an eventful year for Hermon.

We went through a very challenging negotiation with our sister church about our MOU. And we thank God for leading us to a good termination settlement agreement.

After 2 years of intense search, which included 1 failed attempt at our bid for HDB land and 1 other unsuccessful attempt to purchase an industrial unit, we finally have succeeded in purchasing 219 Henderson #09-03.  

We thank God that on 16 Dec, the property has been transferred to the Dew of Hermon.

As for the financial means to purchase this property, it was only through the sacrificial gifts and loans from Members and Sister churches, that we need not borrow a single cent from the bank for the purchase and the renovation.

Through each step of the way, our leaders have recognized that God has been our Ebenezer.

We have experienced, God’s good will for Hermon.

Hermon began in 1975 and became independent in 1988. We have had many generations of believers since then. And 2020 was significant for us.

We received 2 under-shepherds for our congregation. We had Ps Luwin ordained in April and Eld Chow Meng in Oct.

Church, these are evidence of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to Hermon. God has never forsaken Hermon for we have always had Pastors and Elders.

We may at times been very lean, but we never lacked under-shepherds.

Verse 3 & v5, gives us the reasons why we should give thanks to God. And I hope that the few 2020 examples I’ve shared, are concrete events we can all give thanks to God for.  

Our Hearts Condition

I’m sure we all can agree that an audience with the President of Singapore is an honour. And as such, we would anticipate the visit positively.

I’m sure also it would be very different from that of going to the Discipline Master’s office if you were a student or to see your doctor to receive your blood test results.

So Ps 100 tells us that when we know accurately and appreciate the truths of v3 and v5, then there will be appropriate emotions that will arise from our hearts.

Our hearts, the very core of our being will be filled with joy, with gladness. We will desire to be singing, we will be filled with thanksgiving.

On our lips will be praises and we will seek to bless God’s Name.

God’s steadfast love is shown in the grace of God in Christ Jesus. And that is the fuel for us to exhibit such exuberant praise and worship of God.

Remember what we went through from Colossians last year:

Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We need to remember where we were before Christ and where we are now by the blood of Christ.

Since we have been delivered, each Sunday, we should be giving thanks for our salvation.

Speaking about being His sheep, remember Ephesians:

Eph 1:even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

So from eternity past, God had already chosen us to be his sheep.

So we sing –

Before the world began, You were on his mind.
And every tear you cry, Is precious in his eyes.
Because of his great love, He gave his only son.
Everything was done so you would come.

And if God cared for us before the foundation of the world, He definitely cares for us through every minute of the day.

Could you pause with me to just have a quick reflection over your past week. Ask God to just show you one incident of His providential grace upon your life …….

I read the physical newspaper each morning and one of the pages I always pause to look at is the Obituary page. You know what it does for me?

It brings up gratitude. It reminds me, God’s mercies are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. I’m alive and so God has allowed me another day to live for Him.

There is a song written in 1905 titled ‘Why should I feel discourage’. And the first stanza says:

Why should I feel discouraged,

Why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely,

And long for heav’n and home;

When Jesus is my portion?

My constant Friend is he:

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know he watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know he watches me.

Whatever occasion the Lord has brought to mind, that church, is Jesus being our constant friend and having His eye on us.

And whatever the Lord has enabled us to recall, that, I’m sure we can all agree is worthy of praise this Sunday. For it is our testimony of God’s steadfast love for us.

And so Ps 100, gives us the sense of energy, that we are to have.

Make a joyful noise, Come with singing, enter with thanksgiving, give thanks, bless his name.

These descriptions are not for those who are ungrateful, the entitled, the consumer, the unforgiven and the self-absorbed.

Here are 3 remarks:

“Do I have to attend Sunday Service?”

“I’m required to attend Sunday Service.”

“You mean I can attend Sunday Service!”

The first remark sees Sunday Service as a punishment. The 2nd sees it as a duty, a requirement. The third sees it as a privilege.

Which describes you this morning?

Which do you think Ps 100 would describe? It must surely be seen, as a privilege if we are to be joyfully singing and giving thanks.

If we are not in category 3, may the reasons found in v3 & v5, shape our thoughts.

And I pray that God will impress upon our hearts also the experiences of His grace and mercies so that our hearts condition is as described in v1,2 and 4.

When the Lord transforms our minds, it will bring passion into our convictions and this in turn will control the responses of our hands.

Our Hands Concerns

Is it not true? That when what we know and our feelings are in sync, it will be evident in our hands?

Ask any married couple and they will affirm, love is not a feeling but a verb.

And so we definitely can witness when someone is making a joyful noise. That cannot be quiet.

Thus I know it is frustrating when we are unable to sing aloud now at our Sunday Services.

So I pray that when the time comes for us to again be able to sing, let’s be filling Jerusalem Sanctuary with our voices.

Let’s drown out the Worship Leader and the vocalist. Let’s really be singing from our hearts and personalizing the words of the song.

For those of us who are participating in Service from home. I trust you are singing aloud. Let not the YouTube service be a TV documentary which you just idly watch.

Make sure you are singing loud enough so that your neighbours know you are attending Sunday Service online.

Also I hope you are not listening to this while fixing lunch in the kitchen.

Interesting, in the midst of this Psalm on congregational worship, Scripture says, serve the Lord with gladness.

So giving thanks to God in worship is a service we can render to Him. A service we can render to Jesus who is our King. (Worship Ministry)

And we do it gladly. It is not a punishment, it is not also a duty but we see it as a delight.

May I add, that our presence and our active participation in the service is also a necessary service to God’s children too. We serve one another by being physically present and by our varied contributions (e.g. HCYM, Chrysalis)

In the normal football season in England and elsewhere, fans come into the stadium singing the club songs and cheering one another and their team players.

For those of us to do watch these games, how is your preparation for that game and the feeling you get just before kick-off.

Scripture says, Come into His presence with singing. If the feeling before kick-off is a fantastic one, it cannot be any less than that each Sunday in service for you.

Verse 4 describes the journey up to the city of Jerusalem and the temple.

As they enter the gates of Jerusalem, they are filled with thanksgiving and as they enter the temple courts they are filled with praise.

Not everyone lived in Jerusalem. So it took effort and planning to be in the city. There was also preparatory action needed as they entered the temple court.

Today, because of the blood of Jesus, we are not just within the temple courts, but we are able to be in the very presence of God, the Holy of Holies.

Knowing the privileged access, we have today, how might we compare our preparation against that of the Jews?

Do we complain about the distance? Do we prepare by giving ourselves sufficient time to arrive? Do we even get sufficient sleep the night before?

Our Sunday Service has 4 main portions. We have the ‘gathering’, this is where the call to worship, the various prayers, singing of praises and the offertory.  

Next we have the ‘Word’ which is the reading of Scripture and the Sermon.

Thirdly, we have the ‘Meal’ which is Holy Communion. Now we do it weekly because we cannot have everyone in one service, but usually it is administered monthly.

Finally we have the ‘Sending’. This is the closing elements of the service especially the Benediction. It is to send us out into the world, encouraged and equipped to be God’s Salt and Light.

So our Sunday Service has these 4 key elements and this is a complete service. Therefore, I’m not sure why we are observing that there are Hermonites who come in only halfway through the service.

Now that we know whom we come to worship each Sunday, I pray that it is sufficient encouragement that He deserves our participation in the full service and not parts of it.

So what we have seen is that Ps 100 gives us the reasons why we should come each Sunday to give thanks to God and that provides the content for our head.

But we can only be certain that we have understood it when it is evident in the attitudes that we have to Sunday Service. And our attitudes of joyful praise reflects our hearts condition.

Finally, the knowledge of our heads, will convict our hearts and control the very visible response of our hands.

May the Lord be pleased with the work of our hands this Sunday morning.

Conclusion

In v3, we are instructed about how believers are God’s covenant people. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

But Ps 100 gives us a much broader vision for our Sunday Service and our corporate worship of God.

In v1 it says, Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

The command to make a joyful noise is targeted at everyone.

We know that when Jesus comes again, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. But many will not be doing it willingly.

So till then, Jesus has commanded us, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We have been given the call to go and make disciples of all nations.

Thus as the gathered body of Christ, our worship is to be a witness to the society that we are worshipping Yahweh who is the creator of the Universes and our Divine King.

That is the reason why Evangelism and Missions are still needed because the world has not repented and returned to worshipping God alone.  

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the ‘sending’ of the Sunday Service especially the Benediction is a blessing so that we can be channels of God’s grace during the week.

So when we receive the words such as from Ephesians 3:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”

We are being sent out of the sanctuary with God’s resurrection power for us to live for Jesus. And by doing so, to point others to Him.

And when that happens, the next part of the verse is realized,

“to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”.

 

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