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Worship Message - Sing and Make a Joyful Noise

Sing And Make a Joyful Noise

In a week-and-a-half, Thanksgiving Day. To help us prepare for that day and to remind us to give thanks to God every day, today and next Sunday the messages will center on what the Bible says about giving thanks.

Both weeks, passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament will be highlighted. For today, an Old Testament passage will remind us what some of the things are for which we should be thankful. The New Testament passage that will follow shares the sad news that even after Jesus did a great miracle, thanks was, for most of those affected, not given. Of course the challenge will be that we will not fail to thank God.

Today, the first of two messages on giving thanks. Today, we will start with the Old Testament passage that is the first part of Psalm 95.

The word “thanksgiving” is in verse 2 of Psalm 95. How to give thanks is before that.

Verse 1. “O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise.”

Of course we can thank God when we are by ourselves. We should give thanks to God all the time, including when we are alone. But did you catch the words “come” and “us”? The challenge seems to be that we take advantage of opportunities to be together. That we are to “come” together as often as we can. And when we are together, we are to sing together. Hence the word “us.” We are to join with each other in singing. In making joyful noise to the LORD - to God.

And sing? There are, as we know, sad songs. But here the suggestion is that our singing is to give happy expressions of what we feel. We are to joyfully sing to the LORD. Why? I it because He is, first of all, “the rock of our salvation.”

Salvation. Are you saved? You are if you have repented of your sins and accepted Jesus. His reward is saving you from your sins.

Salvation means never having to pay the penalty for what you have done wrong in the past. Salvation also means having the strength to live above sin now and in the future.

The source of both the saving and the living above sin is the LORD. It is God. He is the rock upon which salvation is built, The rock that keeps our salvation steady. So yes, He is worthy of being sung to. So “come, let us sing to the LORD. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

As we do that, we are - verse 2 - to come - “let us come” - into God’s “presence with thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving for what?

Well, as just mentioned, for salvation, which helps now and will result in an eternity in Heaven when life on earth is done. What better gift is there than that?

But there are other things mentioned later in Psalm 95 for which we are also to be thankful.

Verse 3. We are to be thankful “the LORD is a great God.” That He is “a great King above” - that He is greater than - any other gods.

By the way, there are no other true, real gods. There is only one God. However, some other people around the world worship others they consider to be gods. That has happened throughout history. It continues today. But as it is worded in verse 3, our God is greater than any other gods. Because of that, He is to be thanked. Giving Him thanks is to be part of our singing and noise making to Him.

Verses 4 and 5 refer to God’s creation.

In God’s hand are “the depths of the earth.“ That can relate to great canyons. It can also include what is underground. He created all that.

In His hand are “the heights of the mountains.” Israel has mountains. The reminder in this part of Psalm 95 is that God made them. Other parts of the world have taller mountains. Some too high for at least most of us to ever reach the tops.

God made the depths. He made the heights. Both are parts of His creation. His handiwork. As we think about or see what He has created, we are to give thanks.

And speaking of creation - the nature He created - can any of us do anything less than thank God for the beauty we have had this fall? The good temperatures most days until recently. Adequate rain through the fall. The gorgeous color of the leaves. The exercise we have gotten from raking the colorful leaves after they have fallen off the trees.

So far, some snow. It is likely more will come. But hey, that is moisture. Plus, snow acts as good insulation, protecting the grass of our lawns from the cold. We can be thankful for how God put nature together.

And it is not just dry land - the depths and the heights - that God’s hand controls. According to the first part of verse 5, “the sea is His” also, for “He made it.”

God is the rock of our salvation. He is a great God. Greater than any god anyone could ever come up with. His greatness is seen in the wonder of His creation. All His creation - depths, mountains, the sea, made up of all the oceans of the world. Because of all that, we should be thankful. The giving of thanks is to be part of what we do as we come together to sing and make joyful noise to God.

Singing and thanksgiving that are to be done worshipfully. Which takes us to verse 6. “O come, let us…” There are those words again - “come” and “us.” Let us come together, in this case, “to worship.”

But how? Let us “bow down” and “kneel before the LORD, our maker!” Which is another reason to be thankful. If it were not for God making us, none of us would be here. Bow down and kneel, which is the posture of humility.

We should be humble, should we not?

I mean, it was not we who created ourselves. God did that.

For those of us who know that - for we who accept God as our creator - we are, as is written in verse 7, “the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.”

Knowing that is a reminder we are to rely on Him for what we need, just as a sheep needs to rely on his or her shepherd. Such a reminder should keep us humble.

And it was not us who made dry land and the sea. God did that.

It was not us who devised salvation. God did that, too.

God is a great God. Because of that, we should come to Him, alone and together, singing to Him. Singing praises to Him. Praises filled with thanksgiving. That is what we are to do so we can heed the warning in the first part of verse 8 of Psalm 95. The warning to “harden not your hearts.”

Verses 8 and 9 refer to something that happened at a place Moses named Massah and Meribah. What happened - this is recorded in Exodus 17 - was that the people of God, in a wilderness following their release from slavery in Egypt, were very short of water. What they did, instead of asking God for help, was to find fault with their leader Moses. They also questioned whether God was with them or not. They went so far as to wish they were back in Egypt.

At Massah and Meribah, God provided for His people. He had Moses strike a rock. When Moses obeyed, water came rushing out of it. Enough water to satisfy all of God’s people. A huge number of people were taken care of by God.

But in Psalm 95, that incident is referred to as those people hardening their hearts. Meaning they forgot all God had done for them just recently in getting them away from their slavery.

And get this. Even more recently, the people had been dangerously short of food. God had given them bread from Heaven.

God had proved His greatness to His people, which should have caused the people to sing and make joyful noise to the LORD. Instead, at Massah and Meribah, they had hardened their hearts.

Which also happened in something that occurred during Jesus’ ministry. Something recorded in today’s New Testament passage. Luke 17, beginning with verse 11.

What is recorded in Luke 17 happened toward the end of Jesus’ ministry. It is just two chapters later that He made His entry into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. Less than a week after that, He was crucified.

In verse 11 of Luke 17, Jesus was approaching Jerusalem. He was maybe 60 or so miles to the north, somewhere along the border of Galilee, the northern province of Palestine, and Samaria, the middle province. People in that middle part were disrespected - hated even - because of some problems in their history. Problems that caused them to be considered not as pure and good as other Jews.

By the way, Jerusalem was in the southern province of Palestine. Jesus was going toward that province. He was approaching Jerusalem. Along the way, He prepared to enter a village. Just as He was ready to step into the village, He was met - He was greeted - by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.

The distance was the result of their disease which was, at least at that time in history, very contagious. Because of that, lepers were required to stay at least 50 yards away from anyone without the disease.

In addition, lepers were required to wear clothes that were disheveled, and their hair had to be mussed up. Those two things were to be visual announcements they were to be avoided.

As one more safeguard, lepers were required to shout the word “unclean” if it looked as if a healthy person somehow missed the warnings and got too close.

Because the disease was so contagious, the requirements for those with leprosy made sense. Isolation was necessary for the protection of those who were healthy. But it was isolation. A person with leprosy was not allowed to have any physical contact with a healthy person.

So it was the ten lepers were outside the village Jesus was about to enter. So it was the ten did what they could to stay away from Jesus physically.

However, there was no law against them communicating with a healthy person. So after they probably shouted out they were unclean, they lifted up their voices and cried out to Jesus. They said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

Isn’t it interesting those lepers knew who Jesus was? And again, this happened toward the end of Jesus’ ministry. By that time, Jesus’ reputation was wide-spread. It was a reputation gained in part by having healed many people.

Because of Jesus’ reputation, when He was in the area, the attention of the lepers was grabbed. Who else would they cry to for help?

“Master,” they called Him. That indicated they were willing to listen to Jesus and do what He told them to do. That is what calling Him Master suggests.

“Have mercy on us,” they cried out. No one else would help them. They had learned that over the years of their disease. But Jesus? They had heard He was different.

Would He help them? That is what they asked Him. Asked is the way I hear it when I read it. Theirs was not a demand, but rather a plea. They asked for Jesus’ mercy.

The ten lepers lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” His response? When He saw them - when He looked at them following their plea - He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

Remember one of the things Jesus had said during His ministry? He had said had come for those in need. Illness caused those ten lepers to be in need. How wonderful it is that Jesus did not recoil upon seeing those ten - their torn clothes and messy hair. He did not draw farther away when He saw their disease. He did not turn around and continue on into the village, thereby ignoring their plea for mercy.

No. He gave them an assignment. An assignment that did not make any sense. The assignment to go and show themselves to the priests.

And no, that did not make any sense.

The priests would have been in the village. The lepers were banned from the village.

The lepers were not allowed to be closer than 50 yards from healthy people, which the priests would have been. Even if the lepers did enter the village, they would not be allowed to get close enough to the priests to show themselves.

And their clothes and hair? Those two things would have made them unpresentable.

What Jesus said made no sense. But the ten lepers obeyed anyway. And guess what. In a fantastic miracle, all ten were cleansed of their leprosy. They were cleansed as they went. Which means they were healed as they obeyed what Jesus said. Which should be an argument for us to obey what Jesus tells us. Wonderful things can happen when there is obedience.

But then this. One of the ten, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. When he got back to Jesus, he fell on his face at the Lord’s feet, giving Him thanks.

That is of course what we are to do when the Lord blesses us. We are to take time to praise God. We are to worship Jesus. We are to thank Him for whatever blessings He gives us. Isn’t that what Psalm 95, which we looked at first today, teaches us?

But apparently that one, who was a Samaritan, was the only one of the ten who did give thanks.

Of course, it could be said the others were simply doing what they had been instructed to do. They had been told by Jesus to report to the priests. But isn’t it sad that even after that, none of the others - none of the others who had received the miracle of healing - thought to go back to Jesus and worship Him and thank Him?

That apparently bothered Jesus. He said to the one who had returned, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except you [a Samaritan]?”

The significance of that was that Samaritans were, as mentioned earlier, not respected. Because of that, they were not expected to ever do anything right.

But it was the Samaritan - apparently the other nine were either Galilean or Judean - it was the Samaritan who was the only one who did what was right in being thankful for the miracle he had received.

Jesus said to that one, “Rise and go your way. Your faith has made you well.” That one continued to be blessed.

What about the others? Do you suppose they violated verse 8 of Psalm 95. Remember the teaching there? The teaching, harden not your hearts? Do you suppose the other lepers violated that teaching? Do you suppose they hardened their hearts?

I think that is a very good explanation of what they did in not singing to the Lord. In not making joyful noise to the Lord. In not thanking Him. In not worshiping Him. Instead, they simply took the goodness of the Lord and then forgot about Him.

May we work at not doing the same as the nine. Whenever we receive any of God’s blessings, may we be thankful. May our thanks be expressed in worshiping the giver of all that is good. May our worship include singing and making joyful noise.

And let’s not forget any of His blessings, including what I found in a list of blessings. Let me read through many of the things on the list. As I do, perhaps say a quick prayer of thanks for the ones you have received. Or maybe, if the blessing comes to you through someone, jot the name down and this week let that person know he or she has been one of the Lord’s blessings to you.

Here is the list.

Family. You know, of course, that not everyone has a family. That can lead to loneliness. And hey, maybe not everyone in your family is perfect. If you at least get along, that is a blessing.

Health. You know, of course, that not everyone has health. Some suffer from all sorts of diseases. If you do not suffer that way, what a blessing it is. And hey, maybe if you are sick, you know recovery is on the way. Hope for that is a blessing, too.

Bright minds. How about education? What a privilege it is to learn. And hey, studying may be a struggle. Compared to my sister, who has a photographic-type memory, learning has been less easy for me. But I can still study. What a blessing.

Food, clothing, a comfortable house, a clean bed. What blessings those things are. Blessings a whole lot of people around the world do not have. Let’s be thankful for what the Lord gives us.

Faithful friends who encourage us.

Strength for daily demands. Wisdom and guidance in daily circumstances.

Financial blessings.

Spiritually, how about being thankful for forgiveness? For hearts for obedience. Including obedience to the call to be thankful. For the privilege of having a loving relationship with Jesus.

May our hearts not be hardened. To keep our hearts soft, let’s recognize the blessings the Lord gives us. Then let’s worship Him. Let’s thank Him. Let’s make joyful noise to Him. Let’s sing to Him.

And not only in a week-and-a-half on Thanksgiving Day. Let’s do all that every day.

Today’s closing song is a hymn that reviews many of the things for which we are to be thankful, including the wonders of nature, of life, and of God’s care. It is the hymn In Thanksgiving Let Us Praise Him.

From the first bright light of morning, to the last warm glow of dusk,
Every breath we take is sacred, for it is God’s gift to us
In thanksgiving, let us praise Him; in thanksgiving, let us sing
Songs of praise and adoration to our gracious Lord and King.

In the season of our plenty, in the season of our need,
We will find His grace sufficient, we will find His love complete.
In thanksgiving, let us praise Him; in thanksgiving, let us sing
Songs of praise and adoration to our gracious Lord and King.

Safe within His hand that guides us, hidden in His healing wings,
Day by day His love provides us every good and perfect thing.
In thanksgiving let us praise Him; in thanksgiving, let us sing
Songs of praise and adoration to our gracious Lord and King.

There is a saying I read that was found on a card. It is this. “Lord, You have given us so much. Give us one thing more. A grateful [a thankful] heart.”

Whenever we are blessed by the Lord, which happens over and over again, let’s sing to the Lord. Let’s make joyful noise to Him. Let’s be thankful to Him. Let’s worship Him. May all that be pleasing to the Lord. Amen.

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