“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.” Psalm 100:3

Just as important as finishing well is beginning well. In navigation, if you start from the wrong point you are quite likely to end up at the wrong point. Without the aid of GPS, which automatically identifies your location, some of us would be pretty lost. Spiritually speaking, it is a good thing that Jesus does the finding for we are all lost without Him. Jesus Christ comes to rescue us out of the miry clay, sets our feet upon solid ground, tells us where we stand, and then He gives us a road map in the Bible that shapes our steps toward eternity.

All along your Christian life journey there are natural waypoints to take your bearing and each may, in turn, become a mini-starting point. Events like births, deaths, new jobs, marriage, first day of the new year, birthdays, anniversaries, communion service, or even the dawning of each new day all serve as opportunities to take a fresh bearing and begin anew.

Our text is taken from Psalm 100, one of the more famous psalms. It is unique in that it is the only one with the title verse, “A Psalm of Thanksgiving.” The whole life of the spiritual man is to be one that is energized thanksgiving, and produces the same in the lives of others. Hebrews 13:15f reads, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Whether Old Testament saint or New Testament, the purpose of life is still the same, to offer up thanksgiving in all we do and to do all we do so that our Lord may receive praise (Colossians 3:16f).

What is striking about the psalm is that there are five action words heading each section: make, serve, know, enter, and be thankful. The first two and the last two (make, serve, enter, and be thankful) seem to describe the actions of a faithful servant of God. The middle one (know) speaks to the servant’s mindfulness, his core, his focus, or the manner and reason of his service.

The psalm begins abruptly with the blaring words “make a joyful shout to the LORD.” It quickly follows up with “serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.” Then it further commands to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” It concludes with “be thankful to Him, and bless His holy name.” What better description of a Christian’s story from salvation to glory?

The moment a believer is saved he begins to exalt His Savior. His days of service begin, freed from dreary and degrading slavery to sin, every day of service to God is a day of gladness and fellowship with the Most High. He enters daily into the presence of God with thanksgiving until the big day when he enters into the very presence of God in heaven forever. There he will be full of thanksgiving and be blessing the name of the Holy One who bought him and saved him. This is the story of every saint and it is a roadmap to the promised glory.

Each of these four activities is to be pursued with knowledge, certain knowledge of God. Every action in the life of the saint, every waypoint along the pilgrimage, every endeavor he sets out upon is to be undertaken in light of the knowledge he has of his Master, or he will quickly lose his way and fail in his quest of service. The chiastic structure of the psalm gives prominence to the pivotal necessity of knowing the Lord and knowing about Him.

What must the saint know in order to start off on the right foot, time and time again? Our text identifies seven truths about God in which every saint must take every step in life aided by their light (v. 3 and 5). When you know these seven things, really know them, you will be walking in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Here are the seven fountains of knowledge for each new start in your pilgrimage:

  • Know that the LORD Jehovah, He is God. This is the covenant-keeping name by which God revealed Himself to His people, He keeps His word. He is sovereign. He is your Sovereign.
  • Know that He has made you, not you yourself. No believer is self-made, whether in righteousness or anything else. Indeed, God is our Maker, the Infinite One, “His we are.”
  • Know that we are His people. In every beginning remember your new identity in Christ. You live differently because you are different. You come from a different stock.
  • Know that you are the sheep of His pasture. All that befalls you, and all you seek to accomplish, is in a higher realm. You belong to, are protected by, and are led by a different Shepherd. You are privileged.
  • Know that the LORD Jehovah is good. When you step forth in obedience at each new beginning, quicken your steps in the assurance that He is good. (Psalm 23:6)
  • Know that the Lord is everlastingly merciful. His steadfast, loyal love will not fail you no matter what comes your way.
  • Know that His truth endures to all generations. He is nothing if He is not faithful. You can count on it. You can confidently tell others that fact, for He will not let you go!

To start right you must have a good foundation (Matthew 7:24ff) and you must know God’s Truth. Trust and obey.