Thanksgiving is upon us once again. Despite the song that says Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” for me it all starts with Thanksgiving. No matter what else you added to the calendar, it would be a dreary year for me if there were no Thanksgiving.
Ever since I can remember, Thanksgiving has included a special meal with special people, and when I was a boy, the church where I grew up had its midweek service on Thursday evenings. This meant we had church every Thanksgiving night. Those were the good old days when it would have been considered sacrilegious to even think of canceling the midweek service for a holiday. After a delightful day of family fellowship at my Aunt Dorothy’s house in Steubenville, we all went back home to go to church.
I come from a family of good cooks andgood eaters, but you probably already figuredthat out. Thanksgiving always included turkey, ham, oyster dressing, regular dressing, Waldorf salad, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mincemeat
pie (my favorite), and many other wonderful delicacies too numerous to mention. It’s alright to put this magazine down now and go get a snack.
While we’re on the subject, the Bible has a lot to say about thanksgiving—the attitude and the grace of giving thanks. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).
There are so many things we receive when we come to the house of the Lord, but you willnot find it all in God’s house. There are somethings He expects you to bring with you. When I come to church, I receive encouragement, strength, guidance, healing, edification, comfort, peace, joy, forgiveness, direction, insight, knowledge, blessing, and so much more. His storehouse is loaded daily with benefits, but you will not find everything you need in the house of the Lord.
You need thanksgiving, but you have to bring that with you. God expects you to bring your thanksgiving with you every time you enter into His gates. It is obvious that we always receive more from our trip to God’s house than we could ever bring. No wonder the inspired writer wrote to the Hebrews in 10:25 concerning “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is….”
No matter how much you put in the offering when the plate goes by, you still get more when you come to church than you ever bring with you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to bring something with you. Without doubt, you need to bring an offering. Bringing tithe and offering is scriptural, but I’m talkingabout more than finance. Every time we comeinto the house of the Lord, we need to bring thanksgiving with us.
Coming to church is designed by God to change you. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, God gave instruction to people that was meant to teach them this wonderful truth. “But when the people of the land shall come before the Lord in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it” (Ezekiel 46:9).
The New King James reads, “But shall go out through the opposite gate.” Each time we enter His gates, we should be determined we will not leave the same way we came. Every one of us should be radically changed every time we come to the house of the Lord. Every time I come to church, I need to ask God to help me be open to the change He wants to make in me that service. None of us have “made it” yet. There are things about each of us that need to be changed. Aside from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the presence of the Lord we encounter in God’s house is the greatest change agent in the world. Something wonderful happens whenwe immerse ourselves in the flow of His Spiritas it moves through a service.
Asaph had it right in Psalm 73. There are times when I’m in a chaotic mental muddle when I arrive at God’s house. Asaph said, “My steps had slipped…I was envious.” I had a bad attitude. My perspective about righteous people and unrighteous people was in disarray. In verse 13 he declared that all of his efforts to live uprightly were in vain, but in verse 17 he arrived in the house of the Lord, and things began to come back into proper focus. His perspective began to be healed in God’s house.
The very best things that have happened to me in life have happened in the house of the Lord. I got saved in the house of the Lord! I’ve been kept by my relationship with God and His house! Everything I have and everything I am I owe to God and to His house! My earliest recollections are of the church, the people of God, the Word of God, and the presence of the Lord—not necessarily in that order. I can relate to David’s words in Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”
More specifically, I repented in the house of the Lord. I received the Holy Ghost in the house of the Lord. I was baptized in Jesus’ name in the house of the Lord. I was called to preach in the house of the Lord. I’ve been healed in the house of the Lord. I married my wife in the house of the Lord. Our children were dedicated in the house of the Lord. Our grandchildren were dedicated in the house of the Lord. If I die before the rapture, I’ll be buried from the house of the Lord. I love the environs of God’s house. I can’t imagine living without the privilege of being in the house of the Lord.
In spite of everything good you receive and everything good that happens to you in the house of the Lord, there are some things you will not find waiting there for you when you arrive because God expects you to bring them with you. Is it any wonder that the psalmist instructed us to bring thanksgiving with us when we come to the house of the Lord? When I enter His gates with thanksgiving, it is my declaration of faith that something good is going to happen to me again in God’s house.
From my reading of the Word, you don’t get thanksgiving when you come to the house of the Lord; God commands you to bring it with you.
Psalm 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving— bring it with you. Enter into His courts with praise—bring it with you. Bless His name—you bring that with you, too.
When you come to the doors of God’s houseyou should already be filled with thanksgivingto the Lord for what He has done, who He is, and what He is going to do in your life! If you were waiting to get thankful after you got there,you’ve already missed the first step. If you’llstop and look around, no matter how dark things seem to be in your life, no matter how many things seem to be going wrong, you have so much for which to be thankful. This great God we serve is worthy of all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise.
The next time you go to church, be sure to bring your thanksgiving with you! When you come to God’s house, He will supply the healing, He will supply the blessing, He will supply the deliverance, He will supply the salvation, He will supply the encouragement, He will supply the direction, but you need to bring the thanksgiving!