A Discipline of Thanks

A Discipline of Thanks

Enter his gates with thanksgiving. (Psalm 100:4)

The distance of God is an all-too-common malady among believers. It isn’t that God is really distant, but we go through waves of feeling that He is. Sometimes the waves are prolonged—circumstances batter us, discouragement plagues us, and God seems far, far away.

God’s prescription for entering His presence is to give thanks. This verse doesn’t just tell us the right attitude with which we are go enter His gates; it also tells us the means by which we enter them. Thanksgiving coupled with praise will bring us to where He is; or it will bring Him to where we are. Either way, we find that worshipful gratitude is the right place to be. God lives where He is acknowledged.

If God does not seem to be living near you, perhaps there is something lacking in your acknowledgment. You rarely see gratitude in someone who thinks negatively about life. Why? Pessimistic thoughts remove the glory of His presence. Negative thinking is not faith; it is the antithesis of reality from God’s point of view. Reality, as He defines it, is all about who He is and what He does. Negativity isn’t. It assumes the worst.  It feeds—and is fed by—the enemy of God.

Thanksgiving coupled with praise will bring us to where He is; or it will bring Him to where we are. Either way, we find that worshipful gratitude is the right place to be.

Paul told believers to give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He didn’t tell them to give thanks only when the clear evidence of God’s blessing is visible. He told them to give thanks always—in every situation. How can we do this? On the basis of who God is. If we always see the downside, we are doubting something about God—that He is good, or able, or wise. But if we know that he is good, and that He is sovereign, and that He is wise, we can give thanks that He is working out His plan even in the difficult circumstances of life.

Establish in your mind a discipline of thanks. Enumerate every aspect of your life and thank God for it. In every circumstance, choose to see it from an angle that will cultivate gratitude. God will be honored. And His presence will be real.

A life of thankfulness releases the glory of God. — Bengt Sundberg

READ: Psalm 100


©2023 by Walk Thru the Bible

5 Tips for Reading the Psalms

5 Tips for Reading the Psalms

“The Psalms are inexhaustible, and deserve to be read, said, sung, chanted, whispered, learned by heart, and even shouted from the rooftops. They express all the emotions we are ever likely to feel (including some we hope we may not), and they lay them raw and open, in the presence of God.” -N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

Having the Psalms in our Bible is a privilege. They help us express our innermost, and often most difficult, feelings and emotions to God. However, because of their emotional depth and complexity, reading through the Book of Psalms can be intimidating. Through what lens are we meant to read them?  What do we do with all of their intense pain, grief, anger, and joy? When we read chapter after chapter about despair and heartache, how do we apply them to our lives?

Are you standing on the precipice of the Psalms—the longest book of the Bible—unsure of how to journey through? Take a deep breath. We can help. Here are some simple, practical pieces of advice that will help you navigate the book of Psalms and discover the beautiful truths God has waiting for you.

1. See the big picture.

When we read the Psalms, we can very easily get stuck on one line or verse. After all, many of the Bible’s most famous, quotable verses come from Psalms. But when we don’t read them in the context of the full chapter, we miss out on the greater message the psalmists want to communicate.

For example, let’s look at Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” You’ve probably heard this verse more times than you can count. We preach it in sermons, write it into worship songs, and even hang it as artwork in our homes. But if we just read the first verse and skip the rest of Psalm 42, we don’t actually understand what this Psalm is trying to tell us. By verse 9, the psalmist is in a very different place, saying, “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning, oppressed by my enemy?’ My bones suffer in mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

As you can see, if we read either of these verses out of context of the entire Psalm, we miss the big picture. Many Psalms start from a place of brokenness and end in a place of surrender and hope. I encourage you to read through each chapter in its entirety so that you can experience the full, rich, emotional journey on which they take you.

2. Pay attention to the patterns.

Because the Psalms are poetry, the writers often employ certain patterns. You’ll see parallelisms—two lines beside each other that say similar things, or perhaps completely opposite things. This parallel structure will often help us understand the points the psalmist Is making.

Psalm 37 gives us an example of this type of structure. David writes, “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong.” He essentially says the same things twice, doubling down on his point that we should not waste our energy by giving undue focus to evildoers.

But in Psalm 37:9, he employs a contrasting structure: “For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” By setting these statements beside one another, he strengthens his message of why we can put our trust in God when we live righteously. By looking for patterns like these within the Psalms, we gain a better understanding of what the psalmists want to say—and how God’s people are supposed to live.

3. Immerse yourself in the imagery

One thing you’ll notice as you read through the Psalms is rich, beautiful imagery. As we read, let’s ask ourselves, “What is this image trying to tell me? What does it reveal about the writer’s message? What truth does it reveal about God?”

Let’s go back to Psalm 37, this time looking at verse 2. Speaking of evildoers, David writes, “for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.” What a clear, captivating image! Those who do evil may look prosperous and full of life, like beautiful greenery. However, just like a lush field during a drought, their flourishing won’t last long. Their earthly prosperity will indeed wither away.

God also uses the imagery of the Psalms to teach us about Himself. In Psalm 57:1, God inspires David to write, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” Reading this verse, we can imagine ourselves as baby birds finding shelter and safety under the wings of a massive, powerful eagle. God is our protector, our shield, our refuge. Through the imagery of this Psalm, we see that we can fully rest in the strength and protection of God.

4. Break the silence

When you read your Bible, you’re probably reading it to yourself silently. Obviously, that’s how we read most things, and normally that’s okay. However, the Psalms were not written just for silent reading—they were also written for worship, even public worship.

Psalm 57 opens with the instruction, “For the director of music. To the tune of ‘Do Not Destroy.’” David’s intention for this Psalm is clearly that it be set to music. We may not know the tune of “Do Not Destroy,” but when we speak or even sing the Psalms, they take on new meaning. We are no longer merely reading what someone else has written; we are now declaring these emotions, these questions, and these praises from our own lips to God’s ears.

5. Linger a little longer

We’ve all had the experience of needing to grab something quick to eat on our way to work or an appointment. We swing through a fast-food restaurant, order something we can eat while driving, and then scarf it down without really thinking about how it tastes. In these moments, food becomes purely utilitarian. The point is not to enjoy the meal.

Then there’s the experience of going to a favorite restaurant. We wait eagerly until the waiter brings out what we ordered, and once the food is on the table, we want to savor every bite. This is not a time for rushing through a meal. We want to experience the flavor, the texture, everything that makes this meal so special to us.

We often read the Bible like it’s fast food. As our lives become increasingly busier, we can maybe carve out a few minutes to quickly read through a chapter, say a quick prayer, and then move on to the next thing. No Scripture benefits from such reading, but the Psalms especially so. As we’ve established, these are passages brimming with emotion, symbolism, and truth about the very nature of God. They deserve our time. And when we do make time to fully explore them, they will be worth every minute.

By: Michael Gunnin, Walk Thru the Bible’s Chief Growth Officer

Lavish Love

Lavish Love

God loves us. We know that, don’t we? We sing about it, tell each other about it, and even quote well-known verses about how He is love and how He so loved the world that He gave His only Son. The love of God is foundational to our faith because it explains why Jesus died for us and motivates us to demonstrate His love to those around us. The two greatest commandments are about loving God and loving others. Clearly, we are saturated in the love of God—aren’t we?

Truth is, we’re more convinced of God’s love for others than for ourselves. We can say “God loves you” to any hurting, broken person, but when we’re hurting and broken, we wonder why we feel so abandoned by Him. Many hear an internal voice that says, “Yes, but…” after every declaration of God’s love. “Yes, but He has to. That’s His job description. God loves everyone.” Or “Yes, He may love me, but I don’t think He likes me very much.” As much as we declare God’s love, most of us are insecure in it anyway.

Insecurity with God shows up in a lot of ways. Perhaps we don’t want to bother Him with “the small things.” Or maybe we think our desires don’t matter to Him. Maybe we ask for a hundred confirmations when we think we might possibly have heard His voice—because we just can’t believe He might be speaking to us. Whatever the manifestation, the insecurity is real. And we have to learn to get over it.

Sensing God’s love—fully accepting it, breathing it, swimming in it—is foundational to God’s Kingdom. Why? Because it’s the truest expression of His nature. He lavishes love on those who come to Him. His children are precious to Him. If we live as Kingdom citizens, royal heirs, children of the Most High, we have to live not from a place of fear or insecurity but from full confidence of His delight in us. You aren’t worthy of it, you say? Of course you aren’t. No one is. That’s the gospel. He loves anyway. Accept that, and your faith will swell. And that changes everything.



We worry about our lives. But God promises that if we trust in Him, He will take care of us. God is Jehovah Jireh—The God who provides.


God had given Abraham an odd request—to sacrifice the promised son he had waited years to have. Abraham obeyed and prepared an altar on which to kill his son. As Abraham lifted the knife to kill Isaac, “the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham! . . . Do not lay a hand on the boy. . . . Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’” (Genesis 22:11-14). God is Jehovah Jireh—The God Who Provides.



The scene with Abraham and Isaac is such an uncomfortable scene. But in its discomfort, it illustrates an amazing point. Because while God stopped Abraham from killing his son, years later He didn’t stay His own hand when it came to His own Son, Jesus. Why? Because in Jesus’ death, God was providing for us. He was providing us with salvation. He was providing the only cure for our lethal disease, sin.



And while salvation is huge, that’s not all that God has provided. “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). So what do you need? Food, shelter, safety, friendship, love, rest, courage, patience, purpose, help? God will take care of it all. What are you scared that God will not provide for you? What do you worry about? Remember this: God has never dropped you. He has always taken care of you. Spend a few minutes remembering how God has faithfully taken care of your every need.



Read Matthew 6:25-34; Romans 8:31-34.

For more devotionals about who God has revealed Himself to be throughout Scripture, sign up for your FREE copy of Names of God today!

Come Back

Come Back

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:2

“Come back! Come inside! Enjoy the wonders of My realm.”

“Repent” has been thrown around a lot, and usually in a way that feels more condemning than hopeful. If, upon hearing the call to repent, we were to ask why, we might get a response about avoiding sin and hell. While that response is certainly arguable from Scripture, it isn’t the rationale Jesus gave His listeners. No, after telling them to repent, He followed up with a reason: because the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.

That’s a fuller, much more positive purpose than we might have heard before. Repentance—in Hebrew thought, to change one’s direction; in Greek thought, to change one’s thinking—is not primarily about avoiding something; it’s about entering something. It’s a plea to those who are walking away from God’s beautiful realm to turn around and walk into it. It’s not an oppressive command; it’s a welcoming invitation. It is God’s way of saying to those who are about to miss Him, “Come back! Come inside! Enjoy the wonders of My realm.”

If that’s what biblical repentance is all about, who would pass it up? Who forgoes the adventure of a lifetime? Who gives up a front-row seat to history’s most thrilling events? Who wouldn’t want to enter into the throne room of ultimate power and sit at His feet? Who doesn’t want a new start, new eyes, new wisdom? Why would anyone disregard access to the supernatural Kingdom? Only those who don’t recognize what’s at stake. Only those who think their way is the right one and no turning around is needed.

History is full of such tragic mistakes, but we have a daily opportunity to align ourselves with truth, beauty, love, and goodness. We are zealous about repenting— changing thoughts, feelings, words, and actions—in order to see more, do more, and live more fully. The word “repent” may be laden with extra baggage, but the decision is remarkably free of it. Stepping further into the Kingdom experience is always a good thing.

Names of God

Names of God

Names of God – a Devotional Study

What if Jesus had never told us anything about Himself?

We’d be left to guess who He is and what He is like. The possibilities would be endless. And no matter what theories we came up with about Him, we’d have no guarantee that we were ever close to being right about the true nature of God.

But thankfully, that’s not how God wants things to be. The God of the universe has chosen to tell us who He is, to reveal his heart to us.

In Names of God, a FREE devotional study from Walk Thru the Bible, we explore the titles God has given Himself throughout Scripture—and what they tell us about His character.

Names of God

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