Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!– Psalm 100:4, ESV
God is omnipresent, which means that He is literally present everywhere, at all times! This is an incredible truth! David recognized this great truth in Psalm 139:7-8, when he asks: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”
We know that God is present everywhere at all times. So what does it even look like for us to enter His gates and His courts?
Perhaps one of the most helpful ways for us to practically understand what the Psalmist seems to be saying is by thinking of the church building as the “House of the LORD”. Now, certainly there are myriad other ways to understand what the Psalmist is getting at, but let’s stick with this one simple illustration for now. Let us consider how we come to church on Sunday mornings.
Do we enter his gates with thanksgiving? When we enter the parking lot (or the building). do we do it with thanksgiving in our hearts? Are we thankful to be alive, and to have another opportunity to gather together with the saints in the house of the LORD?
Do we enter his courts with praise? When we enter the sanctuary, do we enter with praise on our lips for all that God has done in our lives and in the lives of those whom we know and love?
I believe that the Psalmist is calling us into this kind of attitude as our typical Sunday morning posture.
Yes, life is hard. As we head into church on Sunday morning, there are so many things for us to be concerned about. We have disappointments and struggles, no doubt. But we also have so much to celebrate! We have so much to be thankful for. We have so many reasons to praise God, who faithfully led us through another week!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
But what about the people who tune into the Midweek Worship Connection each week who do not physically attend church on a regular basis?
I have two thoughts for those people, and perhaps you are one of those people…
First, you really should be intentional about trying to find a gospel advancing, disciple-making church to plug into. It could be a church that meets in a big building, or in a small living room, or wherever. Where the meeting takes place is not the point. The point is that you want to surround yourself with people who are passionately pursuing Jesus in their everyday lives.
I am a bit of a runner. I enjoy getting out and running at least 3.1 miles each day. Yes, I can do it on my own (and I often do), but I become a much better runner when I surround myself with other runners. In fact, I regularly attend a “Group Run” on Wednesday evenings, and that community of faithful runners has helped me to become a much better, more passionate runner, myself.
That is exactly how a church community works. A thriving church community will be filled with people who have unique gifts and abilities, and by joining with them on a regular basis, they will help you grow in your faith, and in your relationship with Jesus. But YOU have also been uniquely blessed with gifts and abilities that God wants to use in a church community context, so by joining with a church community on a regular basis, you can help others grow. If you are not currently, physically plugged in to a church, I hope you will become intentional about finding one soon.
Second, the fact that God is omnipresent means that we can enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise right here, right now. Wherever we are, and whenever we are. At every moment of every day we have the opportunity to be aware of the truth of God’s presence, or to live in ignorance of God’s presence. There is peace in the midst of chaos. There is joy in the deepest pain. There is love for the unlovely. Jesus is His name.
God is here with us now. We can choose to see that and to live in the light of that reality, or we can remain blind to the fact, and live in accordance with falsehood. If we live in accordance with falsehood, then it makes perfect sense to go on stumbling, bumbling, and grumbling through our day. If, however, we choose to live in light of the fact that God is with us, and He is for us, then it makes perfect sense to enter this (and every) moment with thanksgiving and praise… to give thanks to Him, and to bless His name.