Spending Time in God’s Presence: Thanksgiving

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Recap of Previous Articles

We are following the journey of God’s people in the Old Testament into the temple and the Most Holy Place.  The Most Holy Place was the innermost part of the temple.  Once a year the high priest would enter into this innermost place to meet with God.

This journey is a model of the steps we are able to follow entering into God’s presence.  Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have access to God.  The journey begins with singing.

Thanksgiving

As we sing and after singing, the next step in this model is to give thanks.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving.

— Psalm 100:4

The gates were the entry point point into the temple or tablernacle.  Entering was to be accompanied with thanksgiving.

Meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a combination of words that when ordered in sentence form is “giving thanks.”   So to practice thanksgiving is to freely offer up (give) thanks.

In the English language to thank is akin to thinking (think/thank).  Mentally, we think of the things for which we are thankful. So, in our minds we think of what God has done for us and we freely offer our gratitude.

Object of Thanksgiving

Often I hear people indicate their thankfulness without directing their thanksgiving.  We say things like, “I’m thankful for…” and do not seem to imply we are thanking God.  The New Testament often uses a phrase similar to “thanks be to God.”  We cannot offer up generic thanksgiving.  We are to think about what God has provided to us and then freely offer up our gratitude to God.

The purpose of giving thanks in this manner is to focus our attention toward God at the entry point (gates) to worship.  We are often tempted to think that we are responsible for the things which God has blessed us.  Instead of looking inward, we look upward to God.  He is the author of all we have.

Caution

Because we have a holiday in November about giving thanks and because many have been raised to say “thank you”, it can become easy to say thanks without engaging our whole being.  Let your thanksgiving be offered with thoughtfulness and from the depths of your soul.  If not, we can gloss over the beauty of what God has done in us and around us.  Do not miss the wonder of God in action.

Practical Suggestions

I suspect that most of us fall into limiting our giving thanks.  We are thankful for our health, our family and our food.  We should be thankful for these, but we should be thankful for so much more.  Think of these categories to aid in your prayers:

  1. Spiritual Blessings – be thankful if you are in a covenant relationship with God through the works of Christ.
  2. Historical Blessings – be thankful for God’s workings in salvation history and in your past.
  3. Relational Blessings – be thankful for those whom God has placed into your life.
  4. Material Blessings – be thankful for what God has provided in your life.

For what are you thankful?  What have you learned about giving thanks that might be helpful to others?  I would love to read your answers or thoughts.  Feel free to leave a comment.

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