The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 14

Come Into His Presence With Gladness

Before we worship or serve the Lord today, we should all read Psalm 100 once again. Which would come first: obtaining joy while serving God, or do we serve Him with gladness first? It may sound like the ‘egg-and-chicken’ debate.

Psalm 100:1-5 says,
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath 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 unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

How many of us can truly make a joyful noise unto the Lord when we come to worship Him each Sunday? During the worship service, you can hear some noise; but is it a joyful noise. Some are singing, while others are talking. If you listen carefully enough, you may even hear someone snoring. Are we really making a joyful noise to the Lord?

The psalmist seems to imply that we can only make a joyful noise unto the Lord if we truly understand how great our God is. With a proper understanding of God, we will then be able to respond with serving Him with gladness. But, oftentimes, we tend to be so caught up with service, or serving God in the different ministries in church, that we end up not experiencing any joy at all. We should examine why this is so by reflecting on our understanding of who our God is.

The psalmist brings us back to the right perspective of our relationship with God: “…it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (v 3). Indeed, it is God who made us, and given us skills, talents and abilities, whether inborn or developed over the years. He made us for Himself, and wants each of us to dedicate whatever He has given to us to be used for His service. We may have achieved high levels of academic learning, or attained high status in school, at work or in society. But, we must not forget that all this is possible because who God is, and what He has done for us. When we acknowledge God our Creator and the work He has done in our lives, we will then be able to serve Him with the appropriate perspective.

Service unto God must start with gladness in knowing God our Creator. As we acknowledge Him as our Creator, we will want to praise and thank Him, and bless His holy name (vs 4). We will want to thank the Lord for He is good (vs 5). We praise Him because His mercy toward us is everlasting, and His truth (His Word) will endure throughout all generations. Even our children, grandchildren and future descendants will continue to learn of Him, and remain thankful to our Creator.

While we aspire to be glad in the presence of God, or serve Him with gladness in our hearts, Satan will make things difficult for us. He will try to keep us busy serving the Lord in more than one way, but soon our service becomes done out of obligation. We do it because we have been rostered; or worse than that, we do it because we have been put in charge of the specific duty. We may have started with some enthusiasm, but soon it becomes boring duty. Satan kills the joy and enthusiasm that was once there.

What takes away the gladness in our hearts?

The Bible gives us a few reasons:

1) Weariness of the heart

Isaiah 43:22-24 tells us what God told the people of Israel through prophet Isaiah. God says, “thou has been weary of me, O Israel…thou has wearied me with thine iniquities.” Malachi 113 says, ‘ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts…” The people of God were literally dragging their feet to the altar. They were getting bored with the monotony of worshipping God.

Yes, for some, worshipping God and/or serving the Lord has become such a burdensome and boring thing to do. Some worship/serve with heaviness of heart. Perhaps there is unconfessed sin, or something else has taken away our focus on the Lord. Therefore, there is no joy or gladness in the worship/service.

Serving the Lord with joy and gladness is not just a Christian responsibility, but an outcome of a thankful heart to a God who is great and good. We serve Him because we know that He has been so merciful to us! We need to come before Him with joy because we are worshipping a great God. Let us not be half-hearted in our singing of hymns, our prayers, our giving of tithes and offerings, or in listening to the sermon. Let us come whole-heartedly to be in the presence of a great, yet loving and merciful God.

Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not be weary in well-doing…” It is our privilege and responsibility to maintain the joy in serving Him by ensuring that our personal relationship with Him, and with fellow-believers, is right. We must not let anyone or anything cause us to slacken in our service towards Him. Beloved, if you are worshipping/serving the Lord with a heavy heart, you should come before Him, and tell Him all about what is taking the focus away from Him. Ask God for renewed strength, and turn your focus on Him again. Let what Christ has done for you help you remember why you are worshipping/serving Him.

2) Fear in the heart

Joy disappears when there is fear in the heart. Today, many live in constant fear, worry or anxiety. When we come to church with so much fear, we forget that we have a great and living God who is able to give us strength to cope with all of life’s trials. Some may come to church to confess their sins, or pray about their concerns for their families, school life, work situations, relationship or financial problems. But, after the worship service, they rush off in a hurry, and then start to worry again. There is little time to apply the sermon, or God’s Word into our lives, and let God speak to the heart. How then will there be joy if we continue to hold on to our fears?

2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Yes, God’s Spirit lives in us, and we should not be afraid of anything. He assures us of God’s love for us, and shows us how we can remain calm and sound when we encounter problems in life. He also enables us to tap on His great power to overcome temptation and sin, and emerge victorious when Satan wants us to give up worshipping/serving, or being glad while worshipping/serving our great God.

Look around you today, and see if we are worshipping or serving God with joy, or just going through a boring routine, filled with anxieties. The minds of many may be filled with anxiety over health or financial problems; relationship problems at home or outside the home; concerns for children or grandchildren; education failures/achievements, job performance or change of job; business profits or losses, and so forth. Could any of these be taking away the joy in being in God’s presence, or robbing us of the gladness that we should be experiencing as we worship and serve Him today?

3) Rejoice In The Trial Of Your Faith

If there is anyone in our midst who is facing a problem or two, the Apostle Peter tells us that it is to make us better followers of Christ. He says in 1 Pet 1:6-8,

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

God has a purpose for each of us to go through difficult times in our lives, even when we are serving Him. As pure gold that is brought about through a fiery process, likewise our faith must be tested. Only, continue to trust in our great God who is merciful and good. He will see you through the ‘fiery’ trial of your faith, and grant you victory over Satan.

Consider your worship or your service of God today, and let God’s Word speak to us.

Let us once again enter His gates with gladness and thanksgiving in our hearts, and enter His courts with praise. In service, or out of service for a moment, let us reflect to see if we truly know our great God. If it is a resounding ‘YES”, then let us make a joyful noise before Him today, and throughout the week ahead. Let us give glory due unto God’s name, and be challenged to serve Him faithfully, no matter what happens in us, or around us.

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing 11 Mar 2012)

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