In response to recent requests from subscribers, the Nugget will be featuring a devotional based on the book of Psalms once a month. We pray you will be blessed by this focus on the one book of the Bible that Jesus quoted the most.


This month's Lesson from the Psalms comes from Psalm 100. But first:


Interesting facts From the Book of Psalms
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Today's interesting fact from the book of Psalms is that in Judaism, the book is traditionally broken up into 5 different sub-books and is known as the "five books of David". We still see this division in many of our current Bibles.


Today's Psalm:

Today's lesson from the Psalms focuses on Psalm 100, a Psalm that provides a formula for praise.

As an introduction, please go back in time with me about 10 years, to a time when my family had been instructed to pray about which high school our oldest son, "D" would attend. There were three candidates, one of which was the local public high school, Centennial high. Join our family around the breakfast table one Saturday morning...

Mom: "So did you all pray about the high school?"

Younger brother shrugs...

Dad starts to answer but is cut off...

D: (Jumping in) "Yup! God gave me Psalms 100!"

Rest of family, staring blankly for a full minute, then finally, as one: "And? What does Psalms 100 say?"

D: "uh...I didn't read it..."

Mom, speaking forth what the looks of puzzlement around the table were all trying to communicate: "How do you know that God spoke to you through Psalms 100 if you didn't even read it?"

D: (Grinning) "Don't you get it? Psalms 100? What's the French word for 100? 'Cent', right? God was telling me I should go to 'Cent'ennial High!"

It's an amusing story, one that illustrates how God can speak to us in different ways; but when I went back to actually read Psalm 100, I realized something powerful about motivation for prayer, something that might have helped us in our dilemma about the high school, had we made the effort to follow the guidance of Psalm 100...

First of all, Psalm 100 is an outline for how we are to praise God. It says:
 
1. "Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!" (vs. 1 NLT);
2. "Worship the Lord with gladness." (vs. 2a NLT);
3. "singing with joy." (vs. 2b NLT);
4. "Acknowledge that the Lord is God!" (vs. 3 NLT);
5. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving..." (vs. 4a NLT);
6. "...praise His name." (vs. 4b NLT).

Most of us don't get quite this "into" our worship. We may sing, but do we shout? Do we sing for joy? Do we acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord? Do we have thanksgiving on our lips? Do we sing our praises because of His glorious name? Or do we praise God as an adjunct to our list of prayer requests?

I don't know about you, but my tendency is the later...

The Psalm goes on to tell us who should praise Him: "...all the earth." (vs. 1 NLT). Notice that it doesn't specify that only those with answered prayers should praise Him. It tells us that we all must praise Him, no matter what our circumstances!

The Psalm then tells us where to praise Him:
1. "Come before Him..." (vs. 2b NLT);
2. "Enter His gates..." (vs. 5a NLT);
3. "go into His courts..." (vs. 5b).

We may not have a physical temple with gates and courts anymore, but we are the temple of God, for His Spirit dwells in us (See 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:17-18, etc.). When we go to the Lord in our quiet place for prayer, for meditation and reflection, to simply sit at Jesus' feet, we are, in essence, entering "...His gates..." and going "...into His courts...".

Finally, the Psalm also tells us why we should praise God...
1. "He made us..." (vs. 2a NLT);
2. "...and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture." (vs. 3 NLT);
3. "For the Lord is good..." (vs. 5a NLT);
4. "His unfailing love continues forever..." (vs. 5b NLT)
5. "...His faithfulness continues to each generation." (vs. 5c NLT)

Of especially special note is that the primary reason most of us praise God is not listed in Psalm 100: It does not tell us to praise God because we want something from Him or that He has just answered some prayer. In fact, unlike many of the Psalms, there are absolutely no reference to prayer requests in this Psalm whatsoever!

It all made me think...Does praise even get 50% of my prayer time? I seriously doubt it...

I believe the vital lesson to be learned from the lack of "requesting" and the total focus on praise in Psalm 100 is that when we praise God, we should be doing it out of love and adoration, out of His goodness and mercy. We are to praise Him, as stated in the Psalm, for His goodness and love and faithfulness, not because we are trying to turn His hand.

This is what I realized when God spoke to my son through the Psalm title. We are to go before the Lord in thanksgiving and praise--without any other agenda. Perhaps if we had all not been so busy seeking God's guidance, we might have been more inclined to spend time praising God for Who He is. Then we would have been open to His voice speaking His wisdom to us. Fortunately, there was someone in our family that day who had this insight...

Friends, stop seeking God with to-do lists. Instead, put aside for a bit your own concerns and seek Him in the Psalms 100 way: With nothing but praise and thanksgiving on your agendas! I guarantee you will be blessed beyond imagination.

And--quite probably--you will also receive the guidance and blessings you seek...

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Lessons From the Psalms" mini-series, please click here.)