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Some things will never change... and I'm so glad.

The Lord doesn't change. 'Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.' - Hebrews 13:8, nkjv. The way into His Presence, doesn't change either. It's the same for all of us. 'Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.' - Psalm 100:4, nkjv.

Those who know Jesus all have a unique story of how He found them. For me, it was this constancy of character of the Lord that drew me to Him. Jesus is unchanging in nature, solid and sure as eternity, yet limitless in His creativity. I never know what He's going to do next.

He is easy to find though, if you know how to look. There are two keys I learned about finding Jesus where I stand that He has used to hold me solid for decades of following Him.

The first key is that if I feel far from God, praise is one of the fastest ways into His Presence.

Let me explain... I'm the artistic, musical, creative type. Not overly emotional but definitely not afraid to cry if something moves me. I had discovered that all that creativity God gave me had a downside... I was very moody. Happy and outgoing one moment, sullen and withdrawn the next. When I was bored it would lead to sadness. Sadness would lead to hopelessness. Hopelessness would lead to depression. Depression to illness. It could last for days back then and I didn't even know what was going on. I remember my mother in law seeing me lying on the couch in depression induced sickness that had lasted a couple of days. I was perfectly fine lying there feeling sorry for myself. Then she comes in and says, 'David. You get up off that couch, pick up your guitar, and praise God!'

My reaction? More self-pity. Didn't she know what I was going through? After she left I remember mumbling to myself, 'Who does she think she is to come into my house and tell me what do...' And on and on. Begrudgingly I picked up my guitar and did just that. Before long my half-hearted songs were wholehearted. The sickness fled. I was fully functional. Unbelievable? Yes, but it's true. I learned then that praise had an immediate impact on my awareness of the Lord being near me. It's like Psalm 100 says... 'we enter into His courts with praise.' No praise. No entry. This key alone kept me close to Jesus for years.

The second key is that if I feel far from God, expressing thankfulness to Him is also one of the fastest ways into His Presence.

Several years ago now someone gave me a book by Ann Voskamp called 1000 Gifts. Honestly, it looked like a girly book. Reading the first couple of chapters and my suspicions were confirmed... it was most certainly a girly book. Her story however, captivated me. Her past. Her pain. Her creativity. Her struggle to break free from the chains of depression. In the book a friend of hers who also loved Jesus, saw her pain and wanted to help. They were talking and the friend asked Ann to consider taking up a challenge... to write one thousand things she was thankful to the Lord for. She, like me in my first challenge, hesitantly accepted. She wrote one thing to be thankful for. Then she wrote two. Then three, four, five. Before long forced thankfulness and praise started growing into real thankfulness and praise. Every day soon became a hunt for Jesus that stretched the limits of her creativity and destroyed the chains of depression and past hurts. Jesus revealed Himself to her more and more and more. Like Psalm 100:4 says, we 'Enter into His gates with thanksgiving...' No thanksgiving. No entry.

It's funny... I have no idea how the book ended. The fire was lit. My heart was starting to burn for more of Jesus. Now I had two paths to find Him on... praise AND thankfulness. I started my own journal. Started writing one thousand things to be thankful for. One turned to two. Two turned to four. Four to eight. Before I knew it I had filled an entire book and reached five hundred! Five hundred grew into a thousand. One thousand piled up to two thousand. Two to three. You get the point. My next entry is #3154.

Now I'm a historian of sorts. I have seven notebooks filled with the evidence of Jesus Christ working in my life. This is my testimony. If I start to feel down or see that old nature of depression rising up to crush me I now have three paths straight to the only help I need, Jesus... Praise, Thankfulness, and remembrance. I can look up the date exactly one year ago in my history and see what the Lord was doing then... and give Him thanks and praise. If I need more I go back two years, read some more... and give thanks and praise again. And if I'm not reduced to tears of overwhelming joy and gratitude by that point, I will go back farther. It doesn't take long and Jesus will break through to where I'm at and comfort me with His mercy and love. He fills me with hope and joy and faith anew.

I live again. Revived. - Pastor David

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Verse Psalm 22:3 KJV

But thou art holy, o thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

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