November 2

Psalm 100: Approaching God

Psalm 100:1-4 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

This psalm is all about coming into the presence of God in a way that honors Him and puts our hearts in the right place before Him. While each line fairly bursts with joy and can be meditated on individually, the psalm as a whole is a call to worship.

Like the “ascension psalms” (Pss. 120-134) that lead the pilgrim from a far distance to Jerusalem and finally into the inner rooms of the Temple, there is a direction to these first verses, too. The call goes out to the whole earth (“all you lands”) to come and serve the Lord. Those with ears to hear and hearts to respond will come: we will come to Him, in prayer, or together with other believers.

As we begin to gather, the psalm provides some inspiration and direction:

• Come before His presence with singing. This is more than an outward action; it’s a heart that is already blessing the Lord. Most godly gatherings begin this way. Open your heart to express love, truth and praise.

• Enter into His gates with thanksgiving. The gates were the outward, first entrance as a person would come into the Temple area. This could be starting to walk toward church, entering the parking lot, or even just getting your heart ready as you prepare to go to church. At this point, we are to come with a heart that is so directed toward God that thanksgiving—a natural response of a heart connected with God—begins to flow. A thankful heart is a sign of connection with our Lord and is a heart poised to receive from God.

• Come into His courts with praise. Now we are getting closer, in Old Testament language, to the most inner parts of the Temple, where the presence of God dwelt. In our New Testament experience, we already have access to God because Jesus’s death has removed the veil separating us from His presence (Matthew 27:51). Now we press in closer to God by humbly but enthusiastically giving Him the praise He deserves—both for who He is and for what He’s done. We express our gratitude (“Be thankful to Him…”) and magnify Him in our words and deeds (“…and bless His name.”).

There is no “formula” for entering God’s presence and desiring to get close to Him. But Psalm 100 inspires us to prepare our hearts and minds as we prepare our bodies and clothes. And it reminds us that we are not just “going to church” or praying; we are coming into the presence of a loving, giving God to whom we owe the deepest gratitude and worship. Let’s hear this call to worship as clearly as they did 2000+ years ago, and press into Him with thanksgiving, praise and blessing.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for the cavalier attitude I have sometimes when I come into Your presence individually or corporately. Remind me of this psalm and help me to allow You to draw me, step by spiritual step if needed, into a precious closeness to You.

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