A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of gathering with a group of believers from across my denomination. The opening service for that weekend’s gathering featured one of my favorite worship leaders, and I sat with some lovely young women who embraced the opportunity to sing with full gusto. These are my people. Hymns and worship music are stories of God’s faithfulness that remind our hearts and renew our minds.
I walked into the service carrying some painful situations and while nothing of my own circumstances changed during the event, I felt a heart shift. While raising my hands high and giving joyous thanksgiving to God, my anxiety lessened, my irritation with life’s unfairness waned, and gratitude flooded my heart. In a season of leaving and letting go, God gently reminds me to give Him thanks because it does me good.
God does not need me to remind Him of all He has done for me, but clearly, I need to recall. Something unique happens in corporate worship carrying me closer to God’s throne even when I feel least capable of getting there by myself. On that evening, I needed an assist.
Psalm 95 contains both a call to God’s people to worship with a thankful heart and a dire prophetic warning.
1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2 ESV
Lord, thank you that you invite me to gather with my community to sing, make a joyful noise, praise, and come into your presence. You know that I am designed to be encouraged by sisters and brothers in the faith.
3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. Psalm 95:3-4 ESV
Lord, thank you that there is nothing out of your reach. No place on earth that you aren’t there. You are always present everywhere.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! Psalm 95:5-6 ESV
Thank you that when I kneel before you, I have an opportunity to know you more. I can also surrender my own efforts and plans to Your sovereign will.
7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. Psalm 95:7-9 ESV
Lord, thank you that you know me full well. You understand that my heart can become world-weary and slowly but surely toughen up in a protective stance. A hard heart struggles to hold on to hope and believe You are working. Keep me from grumbling because the caustic effect on me and those around me can destroy our relationship. Help me to hear your voice in daily doses.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.” Psalm 95:10-11 ESV
Lord, keep me steadfast and surrendered to your will. Guard my heart against moving away from You in slow and imperceptible ways. Save me from the dire consequences of separation due to unrepentant sin and rebellion. Amen
In this week leading up to the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States, I must intentionally cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. Left to my own devices, I default far too easily to spotlight the less and the lack. I will choose to praise You and give thanks for all You are doing.
Don’t mind me, I’ll be the gal blasting praise music in my car as I run errands. As I walk in the mornings, I’ll take time to recall Your good deeds. As I spend some extra time in my kitchen next week, I’ll give thanks for the abundance of opportunities to show hospitality.
How about you? How will you cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving this week? I would love to hear your thoughts.