As we approach the celebration of the birth of our LORD and Saviour, Jesus Christ, which we refer to as Christmas and as the year 2023 comes to a close, let us take time to thank God.

Last week, I wrote that there is a likelihood things have not gone as some of us planned this year, but even then there is still so much to be thankful for.

Naturally, it is not possible to look backwards and look forward at the same time. Likewise it is not possible to be praising God and be worrying or complaining at the same time. We must choose one activity. That is the power in praise and Thanksgiving. When we start thanking and praising God our focus shifts to Him. So we cannot be in a place and attitude and mindset of praise and at the same time be in a place of grumbling or worrying. The truth is both activities cannot be activated simultaneously. Therefore, let us choose to praise God.

When David said in Psalms 100, about “entering His gates”, it is the case that we are actually going somewhere. We are going to meet with God. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalms. 100:4 KJV In the old testament praise and worship in the sanctuary was in stages. From the gates, worshippers came into the outer and inner courts from where the Priests took over going through the porch into the Holy Place to burn incense and from where only the Chief Priest would go into the Holy of Holies (to meet with God) which he could only do once a year on the day of atonement. Today our journey still begins with thanksgiving but it continues all the way into the Holy of Holies where we now have direct access to God because the veil that used to cover the Holy of Holies was torn when Jesus died on the Cross. Jesus came to reconcile us to a personal relationship with the Father. But if we keep getting disturbed and distracted along the way we will not get to our destination of  meeting with God. In Psalms 62:8 it is written thus: “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalms 62:8 NIV It is the One we meet with that we can pour out our hearts to. If we are busy focusing on our problems when do we get to meet with Him and pour out our hearts to Him? Let us focus on God as we thank Him this season and not on the things we were unable to do or achieve this year or any challenges we are up against.

Just think about how many fatal accidents we were spared from this year, how many sicknesses were not unto death, how our loved ones were shielded from all forms of danger. Do you remember that some people actually lost their lives during the cashless policy in Nigeria earlier this year? Thousands of families in Ukraine and Israel are seriously bereaved, what about all the violence around the world from senseless shootings and terrorist attacks. But you and I have been spared.

Some of us have walked through the water and the fire this year yet we were not burnt and we did not drown. God was with us. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up: the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 NLT When we praise God all moodiness will shift.

The devil and his agents of anger, anxiety, bitterness, fear and all other forms of negativity cannot stand in the presence of God. And God dwells in our praises.

The choice is ours to make. We can choose to focus on problems (that will not last forever) and by so doing we magnify them, or focus on God (by praising Him) and magnify Him instead.

Watch every problem pale into insignifance as we begin to PRAISE THE LORD NOW! and while we are at it let us throw in some dance steps too bacause ‘Tis the season to be jolly.