"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:4-5
"Come on! We're going to be late for church!" Have you ever yelled this to your spouse or children on a Sunday morning? Or maybe everyone is ready on time but on the way someone touches someone else in the backseat and chaos ensues! If you're a parent you know what I mean!
But did you know our heart attitude has a lot to do with our ability to be truly thankful and truly worship God? God desires nothing more than for us to come into His presence. David declared in Psalm 27:
"My heart has heard You say, 'Come and talk with Me.' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming.'" Psalm 27:8
Jesus told His disciples:
"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." John 10:9 NKJV
Finally, Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
"Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us."
When our heart attitude is clouded by anger, worldliness, greed, idolatry, or any other sin; we cannot come into God's presence with true thanksgiving. Sin separates us from God. That's the whole reason Jesus came in the first place, to reconcile us to God.
"For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault." Colossians 1:19-22
In order to enter God's gates (His presence) with thanksgiving, we must have thankful hearts. Think about the very first sin. Why did Adam and Eve believe Satan's lie? They had become unthankful, unappreciative of all God had blessed them with in the Garden. Every one of their needs was attended to yet they fell prey to the lie that God was holding something back from them. Satan twisted the truth of what God had told them and made them feel deprived of something good. He does the same today. We must be alert to his tactics and stay focused on God's goodness in order to have a truly thankful heart.
In verse five we find three characteristics of God we should focus on: He is good. His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues to all generations.
Focusing on God's goodness leads to true thanksgiving.
To the rich young ruler Jesus said:
"Why do you ask Me what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:17
And James tells us:
"Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17
Focusing on God's enduring love leads to true thanksgiving.
"Dear Friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love...And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." 1 John 1:7-8;16
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
Focusing on God's faithfulness leads to true thanksgiving.
"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth, I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself." Psalm 89:1-2
"God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:9
This final verse tells us the exact way to and reason for true thanksgiving: A relationship with God. God desires a relationship with each one of us. He created us for this very reason. In the beginning, after creating all the earth, the waters, the plants, the animals; God said, "Let us make man in our image." Though He is God and is complete in and of Himself, He desired another with whom to share His enduring love. That someone was Adam; it was Eve; it is me, and it is you. In fact, God's desire for relationship with every person He has created is what delays Christ's second coming. Peter tells us:
"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some count slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
Certainly, unbelievers can be thankful people. However, believers have a greater reason to be thankful. Paul wrote to the Colossians:
"May you be filled with joy. Always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins." Colossians 1:11b-14
And again in Colossians 2:13-15:
"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross."
God's children should be the most thankful people around because of the cross of Christ. Surely when we stop to consider where we would be without Jesus our hearts should well with thanksgiving.
Gathered manna for Psalm 100:4-5 is:
True and lasting thanksgiving is only possible through a relationship with God.
What is your attitude as you go into worship each week? What can you do to ensure you have a thankful heart before entering into God's presence? How can you focus on God's goodness? His love? His faithfulness? What evidence in your life is there of a relationship with God? Is true thanksgiving part of that evidence?
Praying we each find ways in the coming weeks to focus on all God has done for us. May we all prepare our hearts for true thanksgiving by focusing on God's goodness, love, and faithfulness.
Until next time keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
God bless and keep you,