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ENTER INTO HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING
"Iím just the messenger," I said to the director of Orphelinat Assemblee de Dieu in Antananarivo, Madagascar. I showed him the suitcase and oversized duffel bag full of clothes and shoes, toys and trinkets, supplies and little extravagances we had brought from America for the children. "Je parle francais un peu," I said. "I speak English a little," he said. And so we began to communicate Godís love for this island nation.
Eyes widened as ears strained to hear the "word" I had received for Madagascar. I explained that God had sent me all that way to break the poverty over the land and to exhort the people to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. To the director and the 41 children of this orphanage run by the Assemblies of God, we were the blessings of God dropping out of the sky.
As we walked through the facility and saw the deplorable condition of the thin foam mattresses in one "bunk" room, the Lord said clearly, "Give them $100 for new mattresses." I did. It became an object lesson for listening and obeying the Lord in the area of giving. With the average annual income being $250, I wish you could have seen the faces of those children!
The full time American missionaries overseeing the orphanage spoke to me about their work in Madagascar. Their dedication and heart for God humbled me as I listened to their concerns. The "word," they said, was "right on." Already it was being passed around and shared.
To date 36 nations have been called in for Christ since God first commissioned me to "GO" in 1989. We have also called to resurrection 12 nations since receiving the commission in 1999. The "strategy" of intercession for the nations has grown over the years as God continues to give revelation for the breaking of strongholds to set captives free.
This mission turned out to be the most physically exhausting and spiritually challenging trip to date. With 26 hours in transit and an 8-hour time difference, Stephen and I felt like college days, pulling "all-nighters" to get assignments completed. But we finished, with the grace and help of God.
This trip was about sheer obedience. We didnít always "feel" the presence of God, but He was with us all the way. We had to keep going, keep plowing, keep interceding, keep to the strategy and plans God had purposed. God protected us. The Word covered us.
At one point on the return flight to Miami, as I collapsed in the aisle from sheer exhaustion or enemy attack, whatever, I found scriptures flooding my mind, one after another. It felt like overcoming a curse, and as I got up, okay, I thanked God for "truth in the inward parts." I thanked God for the Word planted deep within. I thanked God that I was His servant. I thanked God that Jesus won the war and had the victoryÖevery time. I thanked God for all that He has taught me about spiritual warfare and overcoming. And I thought again how funny it is that the people of God just have this tendency to "rise from the dead."
Many of the scriptures that rose like a river of life in my mind, down on the floor of the plane, were old familiar friends, verses and passages memorized and re-visited frequently. So, as I asked God what the Spirit was saying to the churches, the answer came from a familiar favorite, Psalm 100. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving.
So many seek to enter the gates of God. No one likes to be left out of exciting and "happening" goings on. No one likes to be in the wrong, out in left field somewhere, left standing outside the gate! I believe God is now hearing the hearts of multitudes seeking for Him, seeking truth, seeking true love, seeking His acceptance, seeking favor. But they donít know how to enter.
"Gates" symbolize the entrance into a palace, camp, temple, or the city itself. Walls surrounded cities, and towers flanked gates. Elders met at the gates. Kings sat at the gate to meet and make legal decisions. Priests and prophets sometimes delivered their messages at the gate. Gates were the market place. Outside the gates, criminals condemned to death met their punishment.
Gates consisted of two halves, secured by strong locks and opened with large keys, sometimes more than two feet in length (Isaiah 22.22). Gates represent jurisdiction, dwelling, strength, power, dominion. We enter Godís gates on our way to His Throne.
Godís gates are shut to the unclean (Revelation 21.27). Jesus went to His death in our place outside the city, "without the gate," even though He lived "within the veil." Jesus Christ is the Way that makes it possible for us to enter not only the gates and outer courts but also the Holy of Holies itself. He is the "new and living way" by which believers are now welcomed to meet with the Father on His Throne of Glory.
Psalm 100 issues some commands. MAKE a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! SERVE the LORD with gladness; COME before His presence with singing. KNOW that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100.1-3)
God likes joyful sounds and singing. He exults over us with joy and rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3.17). He wants us to celebrate His victory over His enemies and ours. Yahweh, the Covenant Lord, is God, Elohim, deserving of homage from all the earth. He created us. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Our first response of worship owed Him is to serve Him with gladness. We can do so because He is deeply concerned with our total well being. Our praise and our prayer, our worship and our work conjoin so as to keep one or the other from being stale or sterile in isolation.
Knowledge of God forms our base, our foundation, our grounding in Him. He is the Covenant Lord and we stand in favored relationship to Him. We give thanks on the basis of remembering
Who God is and from whence we came. Thanking is thinking, and our thoughts should run to our origins, God as Elohim, Creator, and God as Jehovah, our Redeemer.
We enter Godís portals with extended hands, giving thanks. We proceed into His courts with praise. ENTER into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. BE THANKFUL to Him, and BLESS His name. (Psalm 100.4)
We cannot bless what we do not know. I encourage you to research the Names of God, for therein you will discover more of who God is and from whence you came. God reveals Himself through His Names. He is Jehovah, the Covenant Lord. He is Elohim, the Creator. Out of all the earth, God has those who live in covenant relationship with Him. Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus came to live the life, die the death, and rise from death that we might access God through His Blood atonement and be delivered from the curse of the Law by His Body broken for us.
Psalm 100.5 encourages us to know that every believer can express thanksgiving to their Creator/Redeemer by giving careful thought to the following three reasons:
- The LORD is good. The omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Creator, our Covenant Lord, is good. His heart is holy, clean, pure, and good. His thoughts toward us are good. He considers us to do us good and not evil. He desires our well being. As His sheep, He is our Shepherd. He cares for us and we can bless His Name.
- His mercy is everlasting. Mercy forms one tower standing next to the gate of the covenant of grace. Godís mercy extends from a heart desiring relationship with a people who are now without the gate, unclean, but who can enter in because in His mercy, God has provided the Way. In mercy, God forgives the sin that separates from Him. In mercy, God covers and cleanses unrighteousness. In mercy, God restores and repairs the breach. Today, the Blood of Jesus sits on the Mercy seat above the Law in the heavenly tabernacle as Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant. (Hebrews 9, 10)
- His truth endures to all generations. Truth forms the other tower flanking the gate of the covenant of grace. Godís Word is truth and remains. Jesus Christ is Truth. His Name is Word of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Godís truth endures, for every word that proceeds from the mouth of God brings life.
Many seek to enter the place where God dwells. It begins with a knowing that yields a glad worship expressed in serving Him. We sing and we serve with joyful shouts of praise. We bless the Name of the LORD because He is good, and His mercy and truth enable us to approach Him, a holy God, to find grace and favor. In His mercy, we can have our sins forgiven and our hearts cleansed, for
Truth sanctifies and we are made clean by the words which Jesus speaks. The ungodly and unrighteous suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Knowing God, they do not glorify Him as God, neither are they thankful. They become futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts are darkened. They profess to be wise, but they change the glory of the incorruptible God into images of the creation. They exchange the truth of God for the lie, and so God gives them up. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge, and approve those who practice deeds deserving of death. (Romans 1)
But the goodness of God leads to repentance. (Romans 2.4) So think carefully. Think about God who is good. Think about His mercy and His truth. Think about what He offers you in Jesus Christ, so that by yearís end you will not only be entering His gates and His courts, but also entering into the very Holy of Holies so as to abide there before the Face of the Father of Glory.
As I remember you, I thank God for you. Your gifts make it possible for us to go to the nations as God sends us as His messengers. Your gifts enable MCM to give to orphanages, ministries helping the homeless, and to the poor. And your gifts will enable us to make our vision of a refuge center for the spiritually orphaned and wounded soldiers of the Christian community a reality.
Calling the nations to resurrection,
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest
by the Blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil,
That is, His flesh,
And having a High Priest over the house of God,
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience
And our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10.19-22)
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