As we approached and are now getting started on this New Year, it is of course a time to reflect on the previous year, but this year I have been more lead to look forward instead of back. My wife and I have challenged each other to determine a verse and a word for the year. The word for me came relatively easily and is “intentionality”. I really want to be more intentional in many areas of my life and less “happy go lucky” or just plain lazy! The verse I have decided on is Psalm 100:4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Another area in which I want to be more intentional. I tend to be a “visual” learner and I love the picture of the temple courts and how it relates to this verse. On Lifeway.com I found a sermon on the protocol of worship which included the following:
Open the door to God
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psa. 100:4). Drawing an analogy from the temple, the Psalmist informs us as to how we can open the door into God’s presence. The gates were a part of the outer wall that surrounded the temple grounds. One entered the temple complex through the gates. As we enter God’s presence we enter his gates with thanksgiving – here we thank God for what he has done. Once through the gates, the worshipper enters the courts with praise – here we extol God for who he is. One gets a sense of movement from the outside to the inside, moving closer to the presence of God.
Praise is not worship. It sets the stage for worship. Praise anticipates what is to come, entering the presence of God. Praise precedes worship. Praise is the way into worship, and worship is the way into an encounter with the living God. David Edwards in his book, Worship Three Sixty Five, writes, “When we praise God, we are ringing the doorbell, making our presence known, letting Him know that we have come to see Him. When He hears our praise, He gets up to open the door and invites us to come in. When we go inside, we move from praise to worship. In other words, praise is the vehicle into God’s presence, and worship is what we do once we get into God’s presence.” While God is everywhere (omnipresence), God’s revealed presence occurs when we worship God. God has chosen to manifest himself in the praises of his people. David wrote of God, “But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psa. 22:3). God is enthroned in our praises. Thus, our praise creates the atmosphere for an audience with the King. We come before God with thanksgiving and praise on our lips and in our hearts.
I love the natural progression laid out in the verse. I am determined to start my days thanking God and being allowed to enter the gate … and praising God into his Courts! What I am most excited about is having access to the Inner Courts!!! NOT by anything I can do, but solely by the Grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ when he died on the cross for MY SINS!!! Mark 15:37-38 – 37 “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
Thank you, Jesus, for making the way for us to have fellowship with You, at Your throne in the Holy of Holies!!!