Enter his gates with thanksgiving…
Psalm 100:4 ESV
Giving thanks used to be something I did in November and before special meals. I loved the thought of an entire day, a holiday set aside just for thanksgiving. It wasn’t something I practiced daily until I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. As I took Ann’s challenge to list 1000 reasons to be thankful, the scripture “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” took on new life and meaning. Giving thanks is the first step to entering the presence of God… literally the point where we begin to move closer to Him.
I often imagine it as I give thanks. Me, walking through the gates leading right to the very throne room of God. Every step represents something to be thankful for, and there is always a reason for gratitude. Giving thanks redirects my path straight to Him.
Being thankful to God for family and food, home and love, forgiveness and grace are generally easy for me to do. But the hardest thanksgiving lesson to learn was giving thanks for difficult, painful experiences.
My first lesson came several years after my mom’s illness and death. It was her dying that turned me to God. He used her witness during her illness to capture my heart. Through the sorrowful experience of losing my mom, I was changed by His grace. My three young children ended up with a different mom, my husband with a different wife. Much later, after some growth in faith, I became very thankful for my mom’s illness and death, the timing and what came from it.
We have praised God, celebrated who He is and reminded ourselves who we are talking to. We have confessed our sins and been forgiven, readied ourselves to come before God. Now we enter His gates with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4)! During thanksgiving we prayerfully thank God for all He has done for us. There is plenty to thank Him for.
Read Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26. Make a list of the reasons shared by the psalmist for giving thanks to God.
God is Creator and Keeper of the universe. The entire world in which we live is a gift from Him. The entire universe in which our world revolves is a gift from God. Thank Him.
Not only is God Creator of the world, but of you personally.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made… —Psalm 139:13-14 NIV
Everything you are is a gift from God. You were knit by God. Have you ever seen anyone knit? Every inch of yarn touches the knitter’s hands, every stitch moved and removed from needle to needle until the creation is finished. Every part of you has been touched by God and He has a plan for your life. Thank Him.
God remembered us in our low estate (Psalm 136:23), even though the state of sin in which we are born comes from our own rebellion. God remembered us and saved us through Christ. Thank Him.
Everything you have is from God who gives food to every creature (Psalm 136:25). Not only food but shelter, family, friends — everything good is from God. Thank Him.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. —James 1:17 NIV
God deserves thanks and appreciates our thanks. When we forget to thank God it affects how we view the world around us.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
—Romans 1:21 NIV
It is foolish not to thank God. Approach Him with thanksgiving, remembering we are nothing except for what He has given us. Thank Him.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
Have you ever done something special for someone and they did not thank you? How did it make you feel?
Talk it over with God:
Confess times of ingratitude and negligence in giving Him thanks for everything He brings into your life. Ask His forgiveness.
You are my God, and I will give You thanks. You are my God; I will exalt You.
Psalm 118:28 HCSB
Exercise Your Faith
Set a timer. Take one minute, just sixty seconds and list as many reasons to be thankful as possible… Then give Him thanks for each one.
__________ ________ ___________________ _____ _______________
________ ____________ _________ _________ ________ ______
_____________, ________ _____ ______________ ___________
_______________ __________ _________. _________ _____ ______
__________ ___________________ __________, _______ _________
__________ _________________. ___________ ____:____