Friday, November 10, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 10

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving    and His courts with praise;    give thanks to Him and praise His name." Psalm 100:4 NIV
     His gates...His courts... I pondered what exactly that meant as I studied the passage today. I have always heard it used as a reference to church, and sometimes, heaven, but is that all? I turned to my old friend, Matthew Henry to get his perspective. As always, he did not disappoint. Here's what He had to say:

"A strong invitation to worship God; not that God needs us, or any thing we have or can do, but it is his will that we should serve the Lord, should devote ourselves to his service and employ ourselves in it; and that we should not only serve him in all instances of obedience to his law, but that we should come before his presence in the ordinances which he has appointed and in which he has promised to manifest himself (v. 2), that we should enter into his gates and into his courts (v. 4), that we should attend upon him among his servants, and keep there where he keeps court. In all acts of religious worship, whether in secret or in our families, we come into God's presence, and serve him; but it is in public worship especially that we enter into his gates and into his courts. The people were not permitted to enter into the holy place; there the priests only went in to minister. But let the people be thankful for their place in the courts of God's house, to which they were admitted and where they gave their attendance."-Matthew Henry  (emphasis mine)
  We, of course, are no longer compelled to worship in the temple, and there are no longer the Old Testament distinctions on who can go where in the churches that have taken the temple's place. Best of all, we ARE allowed into the Holy Place because Hebrews 10:19-22a says:

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings."(emphasis mine)

   So where does that leave us, entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise? Well, I think it is the next step after what we discussed yesterday. First, we have to be glad for how God made us, then we have to be thankful for where God placed us. The temple had different areas, not everyone was allowed into the same area, however they could all be grateful for their place in the courts! To be clear: I fully believe that we all have the same unfettered access to God through Christ. 

     What I am saying is in some ways we can view this psalm as call to be grateful no matter our place in life. Whether I am live in a teeny tiny shack in the valley, or a gorgeous, enormous mansion on the hilltop, it is still a call for me to express my gratitude. If I am a stay-at-home mom struggling to keep the laundry in check, or a CEO of a major corporation bringing home major checks, I still need to offer praise. If I am where I want to be, or nowhere close. If I am surrounded by friends and family or completely alone. There are no exceptions, no clauses that say: offer praise, except...or give thanksgiving if.. I am to enter His gates with thanksgiving because of where *He* is, not because of where I am. The point is this: I am still allowed in. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, I can stand in the presence of a holy, mighty God. I can offer Him praise and thanksgiving. He placed me where I am for a reason, He put me here for a purpose, and while I may not fully realize it in its entirety, I can know this with confidence: a part of that is to offer Him praise and thanksgiving.

Today's Reflection:
   No matter where you are in the "courts" in life, consider this: through Jesus, you are past the gates, you have access to the throne. How can you thank God today for where He has you in life right now? Are you thankful that You can offer Him praise no matter where you are? 

Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!


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