November 2015 Final Issue
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The Season of Thankfulness

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him; bless His Name.” (Psalm 100:4, ESV) I always get nervous when someone asks me to share my testimony. I never know where to begin. If I had to summarize it in one sentence, I would say: “God has transformed my heart into a heart of gratitude.” I have always been a person who tends to see the glass half empty. Instead of being thankful for what I did have, I chose to focus on what I didn’t have. This attitude transcended every aspect of my life including my marriage, my job, my family, my finances, etc. I recall several years ago trying to list one good thing about my husband and I couldn’t think of one. That breaks my heart today, because there are so many wonderful things about my husband. The problem was never with my marriage or my job or anything else that I chose to complain about – the problem was that I had a heart of ingratitude that didn’t comprehend what it meant to receive. In the midst of other work the Lord was doing in my life, I began reading a book called “One Thousand Gifts,” by Ann Voskamp. It took me on a journey of discovering how the act of thanksgiving ushers us into the presence of God where we worship God because we witness and experience the miraculous. In the words of Ann Voskamp, Giving thanks is the “bridge – the crossing over – that takes the not enough and makes it more than enough. The giving thanks always precedes the miracle.” Surely the greatest example of this point in Scripture is Jesus feeding the 5,000. This story appears in all four of the gospels. Most of us are familiar with the story of how Jesus took the meager five loaves of bread and two fish, offered in faith by a young boy, and multiplied it to feed over 5,000 people. But the very first thing Jesus did was give thanks. In doing so, He created a bridge from the not enough to more than enough. For the first time, I understood if I wanted to experience the power and presence of God, I needed to begin with thanking Him for what I already had – and not just the good. As the Christmas Season rolls around, we will gather with family, friends, and food and give thanks for the abundance. But how often do we give thanks for not enough – for the lack? Because it is in the lack that God is doing something good. When we don’t have enough money in the bank to cover this month’s bills, do we thank Him for the money we DO have and the bills that we CAN cover? Do we thank Him when we are out of a job because perhaps, for a season, it gives us extra time with Jesus and with our families? Do we thank Him for His presence when we are ill and ask Him to make us totally dependent on Him? Do we thank Him when we have a wayward teenager knowing He will produce something in that child that goes much deeper than his or her behavior? I recall a silly example during this time, when I was crawling into bed one night and began scratching my leg and grumbling over dry-skin season. I quickly caught myself and half-heartedly said “Thank you God for dry skin.” But immediately, I said to myself, “Although I don’t know what there is to be thankful for about dry skin.” No sooner than that thought entered my mind, I heard the words “because it means you have heat.” Those words still pierce my heart and bring me to tears. My ingratitude for my warm home created a place for grumbling over a minor inconvenience. Conversely, our grumbling always closes off our hearts to the power and presence of Jesus and causes us to miss the bigger picture of the good that He is doing. I love the Word of God and the thrill of discovery. The verse from above: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” led me to a picture of the tabernacle. God used the illustration of the tabernacle (and the above verse) to teach me how to approach God. The goal is His glory - the very presence of God in the Holy of Holies. That is what we all long for, is it not? To worship and experience the very presence of God Himself. In His goodness, He provides a formula and it all begins with thanksgiving. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving….”  Surrounding the tabernacle is a fence-like structure that contains one entrance - the Gate. Thanksgiving is our entry ticket. Without it, we are denied entry, because without it we are unable to receive. Once we enter, we come to the Altar – the place where we confess and lay down our sin. The place where Jesus meets us and takes our sin from us. Then, oh, the blessed Laver – the water basin where we are cleansed and the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” takes place. The place where we experience the gift of repentance – the changing of our minds and opening of our hearts’ eyes so that we can see the goodness of our God. “[Enter] His courts with praise.” After we have entered the gate with thanksgiving, laid down our sin, and opened our hearts and minds to the work of Holy Spirit, we are ready to enter the inner courts of the Holy Place with praise. My personal definition of praise is “the act of telling God the things that are true about Him.” Time after time when I have studied the biblical accounts of men praising God, I see that the purpose of praise is not for God’s benefit, but for man’s (note, I did not say “it is not for God’s glory. It is ALWAYS about His glory.) It is because the act of praise causes us to acknowledge His continual presence and recount the faithful provision, protection, and nearness of our God, represented in the Holy Place by the showbread (His provision,) the menorah (His watchful protection,) and the incense (His imminence and invitation to approach Him). This is the place where we “remind” God of His promises and of His power to act. All of the elements in the Holy Place remind us of God’s constant presence in our lives and cause us to praise Him. Like the Altar of Incense, our praises rise to the Lord as a sweet aroma. As we move through the tabernacle towards God, with thanksgiving and praise, we arrive at our destination, where we experience the Shekinah glory of our God. The place where we experience the miraculous – where the impossible is made possible and the not enough is transformed into the more than enough. This is where I want to live – the place where Jesus takes ME, the not enough, and gives me HIM, the more than enough. Read the word of God through the lens of this truth, seeing how faithful men of God employed thanksgiving and praise, which ushered them into the powerful, glorious presence of their God. In the story of Abraham, where he was called to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, the Bible says that Abraham arose early and headed out on his three-day journey to the place of sacrifice. What do you think Abraham did on those three days? My guess would be that he walked through the Tabernacle, before there even was a tabernacle. No doubt Abraham experienced some level of anxiety and numerous questions, but one thing was for sure – he trusted his God. I would imagine that his conversations with God looked something like this. “Thank you, Almighty God, that You kept Your promise and gave us a son in our old age. I am thankful to have had 30 years to enjoy the blessing of being a father. Whatever happens, I completely trust in You.“ Abraham entered His gates with thanksgiving – with a grateful heart. Then, perhaps after laying down his own expectations and confessing his own shortcomings, Abraham journeyed into His courts with praise. He may have said something like “You have made a covenant with me and promised to bless my descendants and all the nations of the world through them. Isaac is my only son and he has no descendants and You have always kept Your promises. Regardless of what happens on this mountain, I know that You are good and will accomplish Your purposes and keep Your promises. I rest completely in You. Show me Your glory.” When Abraham arrives within sight of his destination, he says to his traveling companions “stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham believed and knew that, on the top of that mountain, he was going to witness the power and presence of his God. On the way up the mountain when Isaac asked about the sacrifice, Abraham replied “God, Himself, will provide.” Abraham experienced the miraculous provision of a substitutionary sacrifice that day – and it began in the fertile soil of a grateful heart. Maybe you, too, will remember these truths as we celebrate this season of thankfulness. I am confident that it is no coincidence that the Thanksgiving holiday precedes the miracle of Christmas as “thanksgiving always precedes the miracle…”
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About Kristy Kobylinski

Kristy Kobylinski
Kristy is an ordinary woman who daily learns about what it means to be a servant of Jesus Christ. Kristy enjoys spending time at home and sharing life with her husband, two adult children, and other family and friends. She also works for a small business and leads bible studies in her local community. She is passionate about the Word of God and longs to see every woman (and man) healed and restored to the person he or she was created to be.

2 comments

  1. Jeanette Buchner

    Kristy is far from ordinary, she is an extraordinary Woman who loves God and intently listens, prays and helps women when we need her. She’s always there, like Christ, and she’s always HONEST and a true mirror of your soul. Not the person to go to if you don’t want to hear the truth about your situation as it relates to the Word. A straight shooter, which I love.

    Great article my friend, Hushai! xoxo
    Jet

  2. Thank you so much Kristy for sharing your heart. God has so used you to bring honor and glory to Him. Great article! Love you!

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