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
While many people believe “Thanksgiving” is only a day in November…which some have now renamed “Turkey Day”…the Bible teaches that “Thanksgiving” should be a lifestyle.
Today’s verse begins with a verb in the command form: “Enter.” It is phrased as an order, but like any order, we can choose to obey or disobey. Because most of human history was cruel and violent, many ancient cities were protected by thick walls. Thus, the only few places to go in and out were via a few, strategic gates. Plus, we are told “enter his gates.” That is, go by way of God’s gate, not by any of the other countless gates that are counterfeit.
So, the word picture here is we are told, or invited, to make a deliberate choice to pass through a specific portal into the realm of being thankful. In sum, being thankful is a choice, just like being miserable is a choice. Both paths are available, but which “gate” will we decide to enter? And the amazing thing is, we make that decision every day, even moment by moment!
In “The Healing Power of Gratitude” by Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., as published in The Epoch Times, he gives some specific steps to grow your gratitude.
Savor small moments that bring you joy. Rather than rush through the day, enjoy the aroma of the coffee, the fog bank hugging the mountain, the smile on the child’s face, the text from a loved one, five minutes to just “think,” etc.
Keep a gratitude journal. One young man got this idea from a sermon he heard, and immediately made it a daily family practice. Several years later, that habit has become a ritual, and his children participate enthusiastically.
Take a fresh look at loved ones. As someone has observed, “we are often most unkind to those close to us.” Try to use new eyes to see your spouse, parents, children, friends, etc.
Give a compliment to someone. It costs you nothing, you may quickly forget it, but it might make someone’s day. One author wrote, “Imagine everyone you meet has a sign hanging around his or her neck that says: ‘Encourage me.'” Be an encourager, and you’ll attract people like a magnet attracts iron shavings.
Pray or meditate. Our noisy world is constantly clamoring for our attention. Prayer can shut out the cacophony, and it lifts our thoughts from this world to the next.
Try to find the good in everything. The Bible tells us “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Instead of getting mad that your car is stuck behind a slow truck, tell yourself, “Thank you, Lord, I’m behind this truck. If I were going faster, I might have hit something or gotten a ticket.” It’s amazing how that mental reframing can lighten your mood.
The word for you today is, make the deliberate choice to “enter his gates with thanksgiving” and make gratitude a lifestyle.