NOTE: This was originally published last week on the Extreme Love Ministries blog. If you aren’t familiar with ELM, you should check them out HERE.
It was a rough couple of weeks. There was so much happening, on so many fronts, it was hard to even keep track. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble” and boy is that true! Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of the statement because He went on to say, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
There is a lot of trouble in the world. Even though we know the ultimate victory has been won, we still deeply feel the effects of the many heartbreaks in this life. But regardless of what may be going on in the natural realm, in His presence there is fullness of joy.
To my rather simplistic way of thinking, that makes getting—and staying—in His presence a pretty big deal.
That also makes thankfulness and praise a pretty big deal.
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” The Passion Translation adds even more insight: “You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise. Come right into his presence with thanksgiving. Come bring your thank offering to him” (Psalm 100:4 TPT, emphasis mine).
To come into His presence—to come into the place that is filled with joy, peace, and overcoming victory even in the midst of the sorrows of life-we need to use the “password” of praise. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s costly. Even when it is contrary to everything we are feeling and experiencing.
Because that is when we have the privilege of bringing Him a sacrifice of praise.
But what does a sacrifice of praise look like? What does it feel like? We recognize the truth of the concept but might expect it to look and feel a bit more spiritual and dignified than it often does in real life.
“Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.” -Philippians 4:8-9 TPT
Keep your thoughts fixed on what is authentic and real. Even when praise and thanksgiving are a sacrifice, they need to come from a place that is real. The source needs to be truth. The character and nature of God is absolutely the most authentic and real thing we can possibly fix our gaze upon. And one of the most enduringly true things about God is that He meets us where we are, not where we wish we were.
Here’s the thing about God’s presence—it is always present. It is always now. He is the I AM. He is present in the present. He is where you really are right now. Thanking Him for His attributes and blessings even when we’re not “feeling it” is never fake. It is, in fact, the monumental choice to believe what we cannot see or feel in the moment. But that does not mean we need to pretend we do feel and see what we do not. It does not mean we need to pretend we are further along, or more together, or more mature, or walking in greater revelation than we have actually attained. If we drift from our authentic and real present by trying to be somewhere we are not, we can miss the authentic and real manifestation of His presence in our now.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in a great place for a lot of the last couple of weeks. My “sacrifice of praise” was messy. It was made even messier because I “thought” I should be further along. I thought I shouldn’t be struggling so much. I thought I should be “feeling” more thankful. But despite the messy swirl of thoughts and feelings that didn’t align with where I thought I should be, I chose to make declarations of thankfulness that I knew were true even though I didn’t feel them in the moment. Though my praise didn’t feel all that authentic, my desperation for Him was as real as it gets. And He met me there. He met me and revealed His presence in my present. He lifted my gaze-once again-to the beauty of His countenance. He reminded me of who He is, and of who I am to Him and in Him. And in that authentic and real place of truth, I remembered, once again, what I am most thankful for:
His love. His love for me. His love for the real me, the unfiltered me, the messy me. His love for the me in process, and not just the me I aspire to be. His love in me. His love through me-despite my failures and quirks. His love that never fails.
And there, present in His presence, there is no longer any sacrifice in my praise.
Since I’ve been rebooting these Monday Morning Musings on a semi-regular basis (for the third time, ha!), I’ve been combining them with a live video on FB. I’ve actually been much more consistent with the videos this time around than I have been with the written devos. If you want to catch the video, I’ll be going live on my personal FB page at about 10:15 am PST today. This is the link. If you don’t catch it live the replay will also be posted on the Monday Morning Musings page (here) later in the day. Happy Monday!