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What it Means to Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving 

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, and bless his name (Psalm 100:4 KJV)

It is the rare Christian who has not used the words of this verse or at least heard them in a sermon. But two keywords in this verse are crucial to apprehend and appropriate the meaning of this verse thoroughly. First is the verb enter, and the second is the proposition with. As we briefly examine these two words, I pray the Spirit opens your eyes to see depths in this verse for your next level of intimacy with Him.

The Psalmist uses the imagery of worshippers entering the gates of the Temple in Jerusalem to come before the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. In this scene, the Psalmist encourages the worshippers to come with thanksgiving and praise. Typically, the worshippers will enter the Temple with various sacrifices(animal and plant products). Still, by the Spirit’s leading, the Psalmist saw the prophetic fulfillment of those rituals in the age to come: instead of the usual sacrifices to God, he urged the people to come with thanksgiving and praise.

This imagery climaxes in the term “enter .” To enter means to come or go into a place(typically a building) through a door. Although “enter” was literal for the Jews in the Old Testament, entering the physical Temple is both symbolic and prophetic to us in the New Testament. Heb. 9:24 explains this truth vividly:

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24 ESV)

Christ entered the real heaven into the very presence of God. He did not physically move from one place to another place called heaven. Instead, He entered heaven in the spiritual sense of approaching God’s presence, accessing the Father, and fellowshipping with Him. As Christians, we enter God’s presence in two distinct ways. First, at salvation, we come in to establish fellowship with God forever. The second sense is approaching or accessing God’s presence in a practical sense, as mentioned in Hebrews 4:16. For more on this topic, please see these related devotionals on this subject 

In the second sense of practically approaching or communing with God’s presence, four prepositions reveal the mysteries of the verb “enter” here—into, by, with, and in. While into emphasizes what is on the other side, God’s presence, the prepositions by or through focus on the door or gate leading into that presence. That door or the way is none else but our Lord Jesus Christ. Whether in salvation or communing with God, it is by Jesus that we approach the Father.

As we enter into the presence by Jesus Christ, we must also enter with something in our hands. In the OT, the worshippers, including the priests, entered with ceremonial sacrifices like sheep. But in the New Testament, we enter with the sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, and worship. Our praise and thanksgiving are the gifts in our hands or our mouths that we bring into God’s presence. See how the ideas of the propositions by and with are beautifully woven in Hebrews 13:15; especially note how our praise to God is through Him(Jesus).

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15 ESV)

Therefore praise and thanksgiving, contrary to what we often assume, are not the means by which we enter in but the gifts in our hands( or mouths!). This beautiful picture illustrates the essence of our duties as God’s priests in the New Testament.

While into focuses on the presence we come into, the preposition in focuses on the activity that brings us into that presence. Hebrews  10:22 says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (H ESV). We enter in or come in faith. Furthermore, Hebrews 4:16 also reveals we come in the fellowship of prayer as we bring our requests to God. So faith and prayer are two crucial activities that practically bring us to the throne of grace.

In conclusion, we enter into God’s presence by Jesus with the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. I cannot overemphasize this: if you want to grow in a practical experience of God’s presence every day and every time, this truth should be wired into every fiber of your being!

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Meditate

What are the two ways in which believers enter into God’s presence?

Apply the Word

You no longer need to travel to Jerusalem to enter the Temple and come before God’s presence! In Anyplace, at any time, and in any circumstance, you can enter into that presence to find grace to help in time of need(Heb. 4:16) and give the Father the most precious and delightful human gift He seeks to receive—our praise, thanksgiving, and worship(John 4:23).

Pray

Ask the Father to teach you how to function in your role as His priest.

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