Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him; bless his name! 

For the Lord is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalms 100

A true heart of gratefulness is one of the necessary characteristics for maturity. Real gratefulness is an awareness of things and situations that are a blessing to you and others that causes you to understand that it could have been different and not so wonderful. It takes some experience in places that are not so easy, or to go through times that are difficult for one to have a richer understanding of the blessing of the knowledge and certainty you have captured in your heart. Which makes it possible to even be grateful in times that are difficult and painful. I am reminded of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16), after being beaten and thrown in chains (feet put into the stocks) and jail, and then they began to sing and praying hymns to God.

In the time the psalm was written the gate was an entry point and the courts were on open space just inside the gate. The gate is often our heart, and the ‘open space’ is the contents of our heart. Paul and Silas gave thanks to God in a physical space that was very painful, but the contents of the hearts were full of gratefulness to the Lord — so out came thanksgiving. Paul understood the grace that he had been given by Jesus. His heart was full of understanding to what he was guilty of, and what he had been forgiven of, and that he was still chosen by Jesus to deliver His message of hope. Saul the murderer. Saul the persecutor. Now Paul …. Jesus’ messenger of grace and forgiveness.

Do you understand the grace that has been given to you? Have you accepted His offer of grace? Or do you still allow the enemy to ‘beat you up’ over your past mistakes and sins? Is your heart full of thankfulness to Him? Does that thankfulness spill out in difficult times? Are you thankful and grateful to Him when things don’t feel so good?

I am often reminded of what ultimately ‘awaits’ me some day soon. The gates of heaven, and His courts of praise. Where His joy and Presence will be unending. Where laughter is like breathing. That assurance knowing He is preparing “my” place, so that I can be with Him forever in His Father’s court. My heart is drawn to those experiences He has given me with the times where I encountered Him personally and deeply. I hold on to those times like precious pearls that are hidden in the deepest recesses of my heart and being. They are reminders of what is to certainly come in the greatest way eternally.

When the uncertainty surrounds us — do we thank Him for His goodness and kindness to us, even when we don’t see it or feel it? That certainly was the case for Paul and Silas. Have we matured enough to know His steadfast love for us, knowing He will never leave us?

Open the ‘gate’ of your heart and allow the contents to ‘spill out’ before Him. A mature spiritual heart is filled with gratefulness and thanksgiving. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart. Allow Him to remind you of His goodness and grace towards you.

Father ..thank you for…

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