Enter His gates with thanksgiving

[And] His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Psalm 100:4 NASB

I believe the quickest way to awareness of God’s presence and the quickest way to intimate relationship with Jesus is through a grateful heart. I have long said that gratitude is alike a diving board that launches us into the deepest places of God’s presence in our lives. Who wants to stay in the shallow places of relationship with God?

We never leave God’s presence. We either forget He is here or we choose to ignore Him. We are people of choice. We may not get to choose our circumstances but we always have a choice as to how we will respond to them. What is the proper response to our circumstances? Joy born of a relationship via a grateful heart.

Happiness depends on my circumstances. When I hurt, I am not happy. Joy depends on my point of view. I may be hurting, but God is with me in the moment of pain and offers comfort and companionship.

When are we to rejoice? Always.

When are we to walk in intimate relationship with Jesus? Always.

When are we to give thanks? In and through anything life brings our way. How do I know this? God’s Word!

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB

God’s Word does not say to thank God for everything, but to thank Him IN (through) everything! I do not thank Him for Parkinson’s Disease…but I am thankful He chooses to use even this illness for the kingdom…and that gives me joy.

Even on the days when the effects of the illness seem too much to bear, I talk with Him about it - pray - and acknowledge His presence in the situation…and He gives grace to get me through this rough patches…and this makes me grateful.

I call this the cycle of gratitude within the circle of life. Rejoice. Pray. Thank. And once I’ve gone through that cycle, it produces grace and the cycle starts all over again…and I can repeat the cycle again and again as often as necessary. And then it dawns on me that I am not cycling downward in such moments, but rather, I am spiraling upward…into the higher places in awareness of God’s presence with me.

The Lord GOD is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds' [feet,]

And makes me walk on my high places.

Habakuk 3:19 NASB

I have been to Israel and the Nahal David in En Gedde and walked along the pathway up the sheer cliffs of this amazing spring in the desert. While there, I was privileged to see the Ibexes romping around the sheer cliff faces where a man could never walk. Life is difficult for the Ibex, but somehow it maintains its footing. How do we maintain our footing when we traverse the cliffs of life?

This cycle of gratitude - seeing life from the Kings point of view - actually lifts me even when I am weary and worn out. In a sense, facing things like Parkinson’s causes me to pause and wait upon the Lord’s presence

He gives strength to the weary,

And to [him who] lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up [with] wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:29-31

Let’s enter His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts today. Let’s rejoice in the midst of sorrow today. Let’s talk with God throughout the course of our day today…and let’s traverse the cliffs of life…and let’s soar over the cares of this world today…and then start the cycle all over again as often as necessary.

Dennis Jernigan

Picture courtesy of https://pixabay.com/photos/pray-hands-praying-hands-prayer-2558490/