|“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.”|
So many times in Scripture, especially in the Psalms, we are encouraged to “Give thanks to the Lord.” The Psalms also persuade us to “Praise the Lord” and to “Worship the Lord.”
To me, praise and worship stem from a mindset that understands to Whom we belong and also understands His greatness and power. We worship because God is worthy of our worship. And, we praise Him for His attributes and those universal benefits we receive from His magnificent grace and power.
To give thanks, however, brings praise to a personal level. In fact, I would like to assert that we open the door to God’s presence with thanksgiving. Has your heart ever felt cold and indifferent when you came to God in prayer? Certainly none of us can claim that we always come to God with the totality of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, even though He requires that of us.
May I suggest that, when you feel distant from your Lord, you consider beginning your prayer time with a round of thanksgiving. It doesn’t take long before our hearts engage more fully when we think how personally God has intervened in our lives, even during times when we wait and wonder at the way He leads us.
This idea has come to me through two passages of scripture. The first comes from Romans 1:21-32. Here the writer describes the wrath of God against wickedness, and the steps to the decline of evil in a person. The very first step downward in this list of sins is a lack of thanksgiving. Romans 1:21:
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him.”
As you read the rest of the first chapter o Romans, you recognize with me that the sin only gets darker and deeper. One commentator uses the phrase: “…sin begets sin.” New sin heaps itself on existing sin.
You can find the other passage in which I read this kind of progression in Psalm 106. Here we find a record of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. Interestingly enough, the Psalm begins with the admonition, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” When the psalmist recounts the history of the Jewish nation and recalls their sin, the very first thing the psalmist writes states in Psalm 106:7:
“When our fathers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles, they did not remember your many kindnesses.”
From there on, the list includes: rebellion, discontent, jealousy, idolatry, unbelief, apostasy, insurrection, and accommodation to the culture around them. This represents quite a list of terrible sins. But, please take note that not remembering the Lord and His goodness with thanksgiving first started them down the wrong path.
During this Thanksgiving week, I invite you to rediscover with me the wonderful way in which giving thanks provides the key that opens the gate, allows us to come into the very presence of our Lord, and allows us to experience anew His sweet Spirit.