By Lisa Young
Well, hello there and welcome to our fall Flavour Sisterhood! And I’m especially excited to be back teaching. This is an honor and a privilege for me and I’m really excited about what we’re going to do this fall. We’re going to do a four-week series from the book of Psalms.
One of the thing about Flavour Sisterhood, our mantra is that we are a gathering of women who change the world. But in order to be able to change the world, and by that I mean the way God wants us to change it, we have to first be changed from within. And so, the way we do that, it is not by our own power, Flavour Sisterhood doesn’t change the world by our own power, but by what God does through us and it’s through His Word.
So, I want to encourage you as we launch Flavour Sisterhood, that as we gather together each week, that you bring your Bible. Now, if you don’t have a Bible, you know, you could come to the Source and get one, you can go to the thrift store and get one, believe me they have a lot of Bibles at the thrift store. That’s kind of a tidbit of information. Borrow one, whatever you need to do, have a Bible because there’s something supernatural that takes place when you open God’s Word. And that’s where the transformation takes place for us before we step out into the world. And I just promise you, I promise you, promise you, promise you, that God’s Word is about transformation. And so as we study, iPsalms, you’re going to be transformed and I’m going to be transformed so that we can go into the world and make a difference for Jesus Christ.
Today, we’re going to begin iPsalms and one of the things that I love about the Psalms is that it is about the pronoun, I. It’s all about how I express myself and my feelings and my emotions to God.
If you study songwriting, well, and believe me, I am not a musician, certainly not a songwriter, but I have looked into how songs are written. And most successful songs are written the lyrics and the music out of the depths of emotion. What someone is feeling or experiencing, and then they express it. It’s not about necessarily making a rhyme. The great poets who’ve written throughout the ages and we’ve studied these poems in school. They’re not so much about the rhyme as they are the content of emotion.
I always liked when I was in school studying, you know, English. I always liked the poem that had the rhyme like, you know, “Rhyme on a dime every time.” You know, those weren’t the legacy poems. Those weren’t the ones that lasted and people studied forever. It was more about the ones that had some deep meaning and those always tripped me up. It’s like, what? I always liked the ones that have the little cadence to them.
But songs and music are about emotion. And it’s been said that the word, “psalm,” means hymn. That it is the music. It is the expression of emotion primarily from the writer David, King David who was a shepherd. And we know through studying his life that he became a great warrior and eventually became king. And he’s known probably as the greatest king of Israel. He’s also known as one of those with the greatest military strategists. But so much of the psalms, we know that he wrote at least seventy of the one hundred and fifty psalms.
Now, we’re not going to study all one hundred and fifty, we’re going to pick four, okay? So, in this time together, we’re going to pick four psalms. And we’re going to look at the emotion behind it.
Now, I know most of you know Pace Hartfield, who’s one of our pastors here at Fellowship Church. Now, his wife, Sarah, who happens to be in the room today, Sarah didn’t know that I was going to say this so, anyway, get ready. But Sarah is a wordsmith. Anybody who knows Sarah knows that she’s very well-read. She reads a lot, she studies a lot, but she takes great, I don’t know, I don’t want to say, takes great pride that she’s just real gifted at words. So, whenever we’re together, my husband, Ed, plays a little game with Sarah. She might not realize it’s a game, but he asked her, “So, Sarah, what is this mean?” And I think the other day he asked her about the word, sublime. And he’s asked her, “Oh, I know a word that Sarah used one time. It was uber.” And Ed was like, “Uber?! Uber?!” And he’s like, “Define it for me!” And so she’s kind a like that dictionary friend that you have that can explain words that you just would love to use, but you can’t because you’ll look like a fool when you use it out of context.
Well, now, Ed has been reading with his iPad. And it is so cool, because whatever book he’s reading, whatever novel, he can click on the word, highlight it, and then he can get the definition for it. So, what does that mean? There’s no more need for Sarah. You know, there’s always a need for Sarah. But it’s so cool that he can highlight that word as he’s reading, because the iPad knows the context for which the word is being used and then give the definition that’s appropriate.
So, as we study the Psalms, we’re going to look at several words. One of them being praise, another power, another the presence, and provision of God. These are some of the words that we are going to look at over the next few weeks.
Today, we’re going to be looking at Psalm 100. So, if you have your Bibles, turn to Psalm 100. And we’re going to look at one of the context and meaning of this psalm as it relates to praise. Say praise with me. Praise! That’s right, praise. Because praise is a word that we use. Oh, you know, we’ll go, “Praise the Lord!” You know in a moment, I don’t know, we’ll give praise to something. And yet, like so many words, in our common English language today, we don’t know the true meaning. What does it mean? How should it be used? What is the appropriate time to use praise or to praise? Because this is more than about a word. It’s about a position and an action.
So, when you hear the word, praise, yes, “Praise the Lord!” That you would use in a sentence. But more than that, it’s about understanding the meaning so that we could use it correctly in context, but not just use it, but act it out. I guess that’s the best way to say it, act it out. How can our praise be what it’s supposed to be?
So, let’s look at Psalm 100. And I’m just going to read it for you. It’ll be on the side screens if you don’t have your Bibles. Here we go. Psalm 100:
“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 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. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Now, you may or may not have read Psalm 100 throughout your lifetime. I remember it being one of those psalms that you kind of knew about. Psalm 23, of course, was one. But Psalm 100 was one that we knew about because of that big word, “Shout to the Lord!” And I think about how we read it, and do we fully know the impact of what it represents?
If you notice in verse one, there’s several words at the beginning of each verse, shout, worship, know, enter, and for. I got to the fifth verse where, for where it says, “for the Lord is good,” and I thought, “For.” Gosh, that is so like weak compared to like shout, worship, know, enter. Those are all words that I clearly know and see and can go, “Oh! I know how to shout. I know how to worship. I know how to enter. I know those things. But what about for?”
Well, we can translate that little word, for, f-o-r, to consider. And when you put the word, consider, in place of the word, for, it makes a huge difference in how you look at that verse.
Verse five. Instead of for, go, “Consider how the LORD is good.” Just consider it. Contemplate it. Think on it. You see how it makes a difference when you really dive in and look at what the scripture says?
So, these words are so important. But, the most important thing is for us to understand the meaning of praise. Because it’s been said about this psalm, Psalm 100, it’s about praise. It’s about praise. Say praise with me, “Praise.”
So, as we unpack this, I want us to use Ed’s iPad if we will. We’re going to leave Sarah alone and we’re going to use Ed’s iPad if you will. And we’re going to highlight praise and how you and I can truly incorporate praise in our lives and how we can be the kind of praiser that God expects us to be. Whoa! God expects us to praise? Yes, because He is God and He’s worthy of our praise.
But so often, in our world of decaffeination, we decaffeinated praise by giving praise to all these other things. And we’re going to see that. I’m going to give you a succession of five steps. Five steps that will help us, and help me and you, to praise God adequately and accurately. And these steps will help us understand what praise is all about. It’ll lift the word up off the page, highlight it, put it into context and then we’ll know what it means for sure. Okay?
The first one is, acknowledge. Look at verse five. “For the Lord is good…” Or let’s go back to consider. “Consider how the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues throughout all generations.” Do you see the words there? His faithfulness. God is faithful. And you can talk about a faithful spouse, a faithful co-worker, you could talk about all these different things in our world as we see them in our culture of faithful. But none of those that we would consider in our culture being faithful are perfect faithfulness. They’re not perfectly faithful. God is the only one who has ever been perfectly faithful from the beginning of time through the end of time, whenever that may be. We don’t know. But throughout all generations, all meaning there’s not generally a generation that was skipped, there’s not a generation that is missing, He was faithful through all. Now, there’s generations that may not have been faithful. But God has been faithful through them all.
We have to acknowledge who God is and His faithfulness is such a key character quality. The psalms does a great job throughout all one hundred and fifty psalms, talking about character qualities of God. This is one of them, His faithfulness. And it says He is good. Good. In fact in Genesis it says that God as He created the universe, He said, “This is good, this is good, this is good.” It was just how God intended it. God is just what you and I need. His goodness is perfection. And His love endures forever.
Those are powerful words. But we can see them on the pages of scripture but unless we acknowledged them in our heart, then we really don’t understand praise. Because you can’t give adequate praise, until you know the object of your praise. And the object of our praise is a God who is good, whose love endures forever, and whose faithfulness has been from the beginning of the time to the end of the time. Does that make sense? Do you see the necessity, if you will, to acknowledge God for who He is? We can praise God because of who He is, His perfection in love, His perfection in faithfulness, His perfection in goodness. God is God and He is worthy of our praise, but we have to be, in order to praise Him, we have to acknowledge that. We have to understand who He is.
The second thing. The first is we acknowledge, the second is approach. In order to praise God perfectly, we must approach. It says in verse four, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving.” Enter. Enter is an action word. It means to come before; to go into. We are entering into the presence of God. In order for you and I to praise, we’ve got to have a time that we enter into His presence. Wow! There are so many things that I enter into that are good. There are so many things that I enter into that are not so good. And it takes me away from entering into that thing which is amazing and that’s the presence of God. It’s about time. It’s about when we acknowledge who God is, are we acknowledging Him and taking that step to enter into His presence and giving Him time? The presence of God. Enter. It says in verse four, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” And then look at verse two. It says, “Worship the Lord.” You can’t really worship God unless you’re in His presence. And when we come into the presence of the Lord, something supernatural happens. Now, if you’re like me, you take for granted the “enter in” ability. We take for granted the “enter in” ability. You see, in the Old Testament, there had to be a high priest. In fact, a normal common place person like me and you, we could not enter into the Holy of Holies. Only a priest, who was going through all of these different rituals, and, you know, standards, could enter in. And then the priest would come back and report to the people and give the Word of the Lord. I imagine if we lived during that time, we would be going, “Wow! Wouldn’t it be cool if we could come into the presence of God?” I know I would. I’d be saying, “Wow! What if I could come in?” But right here, it says, “enter into His presence.” And because of Jesus, you and I can enter into the presence of God. Do you take that for granted? Every morning when you wake up, do you take for granted that you can pray in His presence? That you can praise in His presence? That you can enter in? What does it mean to “enter in?” Is it going to a place? Is it coming into, you know, in the Old Testament, it was going into a certain specific room? No. Right now, with our relationship with Jesus Christ, “entering in” means everywhere, because of the presence of Christ in our lives. We have a communication line. We have a ticket through the door and the ticket’s name is Jesus. And I don’t mean to minimalize that. I’m just saying let’s picture this, you’ve got it! I guess it would be like a teenager, and this is a very weak illustration, but a teenager who had a ticket to the One Direction concert and it was front row and they did not use it! Whoa! And others would go like, “What are you thinking?! What are you doing?!” That’s how it is in a micro way to entering into the presence of the Lord. So, we first acknowledge who God is, and then we approach Him with entering in and worship.
The third thing that we have to have in place is alignment. In order to praise accurately, and in the right definition we must align. Verse three says, “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.” I love these pronouns! Because these are pronouns with purpose. They’re possessive pronouns. Woo hoo! I’m so excited I knew that! They’re possessive. We are His! That is such a cool thing because we belong to Him. Once we’ve stepped over the line and given our lives to Christ, not only can we enter in, and know who God is and praise Him for that, but we can be aligned with Him because we’re His! We’re a part of His family. It’s amazing what happens at a football game. Now, I’m somewhat giddy because it’s football season. And I’m talking about college football. No offense to the professionals, that’s awesome, but there’s something, I can’t really use the word “pure” because of what’s going on at A&M, but… sorry, Aggies! I really am a fan of all college football. But last Labor Day, the Saturday before Labor Day, I got to go to the Alabama game that was at Texas Stadium. Oh my goodness! And, I mean, I’ve never experienced anything quite like that. First of all, Texas Stadium, I haven’t been to Texas Stadium very many times, or it’s not even called, Texas Stadium now, it’s Cowboys Stadium. I have been to the Dolphins Sun Life… I think that’s what it’s called? I have been there. But anyway, so you go to these games and I’m talking PACKED. PACKED! And there are two sides and this was a neutral place. So, you had Alabama and I can’t remember who the other team… Missouri maybe or something? I don’t know. Alabama was so big, it didn’t really matter, But. So, there was another team there, but everybody had on their school colors. I mean, I have never seen so many dapper and preppy and adorable dressed people in one place in my whole life. I mean, red, black, they had tributes to the, you know, Bear Bryant, the coach. Unbelievable. And the other team as well, you knew exactly the other section the other team’s fans were sitting in because they had the colors. They had everything. Now, there are two groups of people in that stadium. Those who are pulling for Alabama, the Crimson Tide, then you had whatever team that wasn’t so impressive that I can’t even remember! But, if you think about it, let’s just take those people who are there for Alabama. You have every background imaginable. Every race, every ethnicity, I mean I saw all types of cultures represented. You saw different socio-economic levels. You saw different genders. You saw all these differences among all the people, but they came together for one thing… to watch the Tide roll. That’s what they came together for. They were united. And no matter what their differences, at that moment, they were aligned. They were not aligned necessarily with one another, meaning, I’m identifying with you, you’re identifying with me. They were aligned for Alabama and that brought them together.
Alignment is crucial in praise. Because when you step over the line for Christ, we are aligning with Him. That’s why we can gather as Flavour sisters across all the different campuses, across, you know, states. But yet, though we come from different socio-economic levels, though we may come from different backgrounds, how we were raised, different ethnicities, whatever the differences might be, we are aligned. Not because of each other, but because of the God that we praise. The God that we serve.
So, in order for us to have praise, we’ve got to acknowledge who God is. We’ve got to make sure that as we acknowledge Him, we approach Him and praise Him for who He is. And as we approach Him, we become aligned. And alignment helps us stay focused. You think that focus brings alignment, but in this case, alignment brings focus. So, that we can focus on being obedient every single day. We align with God and then it helps us focus in all the different areas of our lives. So, that we don’t get trapped up by the good. We are focusing on the great. We’re not giving our praise to some, you know, unworthy thing, we’re saving our praise and adoration for the God we know, because we’ve acknowledged who He is.
The fourth thing…. Is appreciate. So, we have acknowledge, approach, align, appreciate. Verse four. We’ll come back to this one. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving, believe it or not, is not just a time of year where you eat turkey and watch football. Okay? Thanksgiving is something that we do, moment by moment. Because in light of who God is, we have to thank Him for that. And not only for who He is, but for what He’s done for us. You realize we can’t enter into His presence without the sacrifice of Jesus. That alone is worthy of thanksgiving. But I want to rush to say that so often our minds are caught up in what we don’t have, what is lacking, that we don’t thank God for those things that He’s provided.
Just in the past couple of weeks, we’ve been doing a series here at Fellowship Church, “Interview with the Devil.” And Ed has mentioned John 10:10: “The thief comes to steal, to kill and destroy.” But Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.” But the devil wants to steal your thanksgiving. He wants to steal my thanksgiving.
I spoke with a young girl the other day who was struggling with disappointment. And she’s still struggling with disappointment. Just a major disappointment in her life. Something that she had counted on, that she had worked toward, and it did not come to fruition. And the disappointment had overwhelmed her. And I had the opportunity to talk to her. And I have to be careful because I’m a cup-half-full person and so I tend to rush to all the great things that are going on in life, and minimize all the difficult things in life. And that sounds like something really good, but we still have to process through the difficult things. In fact, we’re going to find through the book of Psalms is all about processing difficult times. But, so, I tried to be very balanced in my conversation with her. But I said, “You know what? The reality is that what you were hoping for is not going to come to pass. It’s not. And you need to set a new ideal. Your focus is so much on you can’t do right now, and that is not happening, that you’re missing out on so many different things that God is doing right here in your midst.” And I brought up John 10:10 verse. “Please don’t allow Satan to take away your understanding and your vision of what God is doing right here in your midst.”
If you woke up today. You’ve got something to be thankful for. Because there are people that I know right now, who that may not be the case tomorrow morning. Okay? So, your breath is worth thanksgiving. Your relationships are worth thanksgiving. And maybe you’re in a difficult one right now, but, hey… you’ve got a relationship with someone. Even if it’s difficult, you can thank God for that, and then pray on behalf of that relationship coming together again. But what if you didn’t even have a relationship? You have friends. You have co-workers. You have things to be thankful… you have a job. Whoa… is that not something to praise God? Is it the job you want? Wow! No not necessarily. Well, I could just complain about that, or I could thank God that I do get to get up and go to work every day. You see? It’s a perspective thing. But we have to have a perspective of thanksgiving. It’s a part of our worship. It’s a part of entering into the presence of God. Think about your children, for those of you who have kids. I love and adore my children. Love them! But I am so much happier when they run up to my lap and tell me something great that’s going on, then when they run up to my lap and say, well, they’re not coming to my lap anymore. But, I had like a flashback there for a minute! But when they come up to me and they’re like, “But Mom, would you please do this for me? And I need for you to blah, blah, blah… and have you put this money in my account and all these other things?” And yes, that’s part of it, and I’m more than willing. But if that’s all I get? Whoa. I’m not real happy.
So, let’s think about God and all that He has done for us. And it can’t even compare to what I do for my kids as a parent. Because, I mean, I mess up all the time. God’s perfect, remember? We’ve acknowledged that.
So, let’s come before Him, telling Him all of the great things He’s done for us. And He doesn’t have to be reminded. But it gives Him pleasure when we do that.
And then the final thing, the fifth thing is we acclaim. Acclaim. That means zealous, energetic approval. The word, “shout” in verse one, “Shout to the Lord!” Good night, I have to take it back to my football analogy. I get chills when I get to go to see the University of South Carolina play and they bring out their flags and, you know, it’s the big, you know, I think it’s “2001 Space Odyssey,” or whatever that song… what is it called? Anybody know? Anybody? Yeah, I see nods. Okay. Whatever it is, that song. And I’m just like, “OH, MY GOSH!” And it’s like, “YEAHHHH!”
Now, maybe it’s like walking into a mall for some of you all. I don’t know what it is and you go, “Macy’s is having a sale!!! YEAHHH!!” That’s what it might be for you. For me, it’s the football thing. But, it’s a zealous and approval of what I’m experiencing. See the emotion involved? Because praise is about the expression of emotion, remember? The songwriting, the great songs are about the expression of emotion. And the writer is starting out with, “SHOUT!!! THIS IS HOW GREAT OUR GOD IS!!! SHOUT TO THE LORD!!!” And let Him know that you’re not some comatose Christian on the face of this earth. That you are like, WOW!!! This is my God!!! This is who I get to wake up and serve!!! And I even am just overwhelmed with what He’s doing in my life and who He is and how I get to appreciate Him. And how I align myself with Him, which causes me to be obedient to Him and my praise is something that is zealous and exciting!!! It’s not, “Shout to the Lord.” It’s, “SHOUT TO THE LORD!!!” That’s what we get to do. I want my praise to be that lifted-off-the-iPad kind of praise where the meaning is real and true and defined. And in the context of how our great God expects and deserves.
Okay. As I was reading and studying Psalm 100, I started questioning something. And finally… I don’t want to say I got up the nerve to ask Ed, but I thought, “You know what? I’m just going to ask him. I’m crazy thinking this?” But if you look at Psalm 100, backwards… don’t show it quite yet guys.
Okay, back in the 80’s, there was this thing with rock and roll music. About how rock and roll music was horrible? And they would say, “Well, if you play the Beatle’s song backwards, it says, ‘Paul is dead.’” “Paul is dead.” It did and it really was a legit thing. But there was this guy that would go on the radio and he would talk about the horrors of rock and roll music. And it was called backward back-masking or something like that. Okay. So, I mean, for fear of falling into that trap, I was like, “No! This can’t be! This can’t be!” But I asked Ed yesterday, and he goes, “Lisa. I think you’ve stumbled onto something.” And I’m like, “By George she’s got it!” But if you look at Psalm 100, but start with verse five, and then go to verse four, and go to verse three, and go to verse two, and go to verse one… let’s do it.
Verse five. “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Verse four. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
Verse three. “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.”
Verse two. “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”
Verse one. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.”
That is the plan of salvation. Look at it. God is good. I’m acknowledging, God is good! He is faithful. He has been working in perfection from the beginning of time to the end of time. And He’s invited me to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. And if I know that the Lord is God and that it is He who made me, and I am His, then I’m going to worship Him with gladness. And I’m going to come before Him regularly with joyful songs. And when I am one of His children, I’m going to shout with the praise that goes beyond any type of enthusiasm I could ever have for any other thing on the planet. Does that make sense to you guys? Because I was like, “WHOA!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!!” “THIS IS AWESOME!!!” And it has been said that the Old Testament, which is where the book of Psalms is, the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. And the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. And we see the brilliance and the genius of God’s Word as there is a thread of salvation from the beginning to the end. A thread of salvation. Praise. Don’t ever let that word be just a word. It’s a posture, it’s a position, and it’s an action for what we, His children, get to do.
Let’s pray. Father, thank You so much for desiring a relationship with us. So much so, that you gave Jesus Christ. That when we know who You are and Your perfection, we know that we need a savior and You’ve invited us in. And it’s because of Jesus that we can enter into Your presence. I thank You, Father, that I am yours and that so many here are Yours. And they worship You and they proclaim You with shouts because of being a part of Your family. But I pray, Father, if there’s anyone who has not made that decision, that tonight would be the night. And it’s just as simple as saying, “God, You are God and I’m not. I accept Your invitation to enter into Your presence through Jesus Christ. I know He’s forgiven me of my sins and I’m so thankful for that. And I want to worship You. I am Yours forever and ever and ever. And I praise You because of that.
That’s the greatest decision you will ever make. Others of us are here, and we have just been guilty of giving our praise to this, that, and the other… things that are so unworthy. And now that we know the true meaning of the word, help us to do it and be it and live it out the way You want us to do. We pray ALL of this in Jesus’ name, Amen.