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Two keys

Many of us attempt to talk to God without ever entering into his house - into his presence. I guess we could talk to someone outside of our house by opening the door and shouting through the screen door, or through the screen of the window. There are seasons when the door or window are just not practical to be opened, though. If we really want to share communion with the each other, isn't it more practical to be invited in and to actually enter? Being face to face is a much better way to hear each other and it is much better to be free to be right there next to each other. There are times we try to relate to God without ever entering into his presence - like we are shouting through the screen door, but not really getting close enough to actually be touched by him. We have been invited, but we don't actually turn the 'knob' that opens the door to allow us to enter in fully.

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him.  Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. (Psalm 104)

Thanksgiving and praise - that is the key that opens the door to God's presence. Seems simple, doesn't it? Let me tell you the truth here - we rarely use that key FIRST. We attempt to shout through the screen door so many times, don't we? How? Ever just start out a prayer time with God by complaining about life's hardships? Ever just jump in telling God what you need him to do for you or another person? Yup, we have all likely done it. We never take out the keys of thanksgiving and praise to open the door to enter into the fullness of his presence. I have two locks on my front door - a deadbolt and another keyed lock. That means I need two keys to open the door. If I only have one of those keys with me, can I get in? No, because it takes both keys to open the doors - the security door and the front door. Thanksgiving and praise - they open the door into his presence in much the same way as those two keys open my house doors.

Did you ever stop to think why gratitude is so important? Gratitude is really an inward culture we allow to be created that 'does away with' other things in our lives that don't really belong there. Did you stop to consider it is impossible for a grudge to exist where there is gratitude cultivated? It is impossible for fear to stop us when we learn to be thankful in all things - realizing there is always something better in store for us on the other side of the thing we fear the most. Gratitude sets our heart in a positive direction - opening ourselves to the possibilities of things we never ever knew existed. Thanksgiving is grown - it is cultivated. That means we have to put some effort into it - because we won't always feel like giving thanks. We have a tendency to see things through a negative lens when it is not going very well for us, don't we? So, we have a tendency to hold onto things that seem to stand in the way of us being thankful for life and God's presence.

Thanksgiving is a daily choice - it is us letting go of the negative things and then embracing the freedom that gratitude brings into our lives. I think this might be why God tells us we enter with praise and thanksgiving - because we cannot hold onto the negative things in this life if we are to actually cultivate and be embraced by thanksgiving. Thanksgiving helps us actually let go of the garbage we would otherwise carry around way to long - things that stand in the way of allowing us to fully experience his presence. So, the next time you want to talk with God, try beginning with thanksgiving and praise. You might be surprised by the things that begin to be shed in his presence - things that you didn't know you were even holding onto that strongly. Things that really have no place in your life any longer. Just sayin!

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