God instituted a form of worship for the nation Israel that was comprised of sacrifices and offerings.  Each spoke of some aspect of the Person and Work of Christ. The animal sacrifices pictured the future death of Christ on the Cross, the innocent dying for the guilty.  Faith exercised toward the coming of Christ and Him bearing the sins of mankind brought salvation to those living prior to the Cross.  With faith declared came the need to have faith demonstrated -- not for salvation but for fellowship, a life lived in obedience to God’s mandates (Lev. 7 11-15).  The regulations for worship required the giving of thanks and thus David designated certain Levitical priests for that purpose. “He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel” (1 Chron. 16:4 NIV).  Likewise, “Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions — each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites — to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD's dwelling” (2 Chron. 31:2 NIV).  Some two hundred years later, Nehemiah would lead back into the land a remnant from the Babylonian captivity.  Though the returning Jews faced great hardship and threats of war, they completed rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Their celebration at the dedication of the wall is recorded by Nehemiah … “the choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah.  And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away (Neh. 12:42-43 NIV).  Ezra, perhaps the son of the writer of Psalms, records the jubilation at the rebuilding of the temple.  “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel.  With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid” (Ezra 3:10-11 NIV). But worship with thanksgiving was not limited to Israel.  The Apostle Paul in writing to the churches urged the Christians to develop a lifestyle of gratitude … “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19-20 NIV).  “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:9-14 NIV).

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