In Psalm 95:2, the psalmist reminds us to come before God with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. Few verses fit the holiday better. Psalm 95:2 sums up Thanksgiving. Let us look at these words and see how beautifully they suit this day of gratitude.

First, we are instructed to come before God with thanksgiving. This verse does not say come if you feel like giving thanks; it merely stresses to come with thanksgiving. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we are instructed to thank God amid all circumstances. Regardless of how we feel, we are to give thanks to God.

Hebrews 4:16 also reminds us to come before His throne with boldness — not in arrogance, not treating God as our magic genie, merely coming in confidence, but not confidence alone. According to Psalm 95:2, we are to come in a spirit of thankfulness. I wonder what power for living the Christian forfeits when they do not follow God’s instructions on these two points?

Then we are told to extol Him. “Extol” is an archaic word, but it carries so much meaning. Roughly, extol means “praise,” but frankly, the emphasis is “praising God in the very highest way possible.”

Years ago, I had someone come by my office at the little brick church I pastored. My visitor said, “I can’t stand ‘so-in-so,’ his praise is so artificial.”

“Why do you think his praise is artificial?” I asked. “Because he sounds insincere,” my visitor exclaimed.

I knew a lot of confidential things about this individual’s life my visitor did not know. I knew this person that my visitor was accusing of being artificial was in actuality giving God “sacrifices of praise.”

Hebrews 13:15 instructs the Christian to give God sacrifices of praise. I could not tell my visitor the particulars of this individual’s life, but what I knew was this person did not desire to be insincere; he merely had to go through a “routine” of sacrificing to God so he could get to a place of sincere “highest” praise. The sacrifices sometimes sounded insincere, but his worship to God surpassed the most ardent worshiper with time.

Maybe it’s hard for you to come before God with thanksgiving and high-holy sincere praise when life has you down. Try giving God a sacrifice of praise. Do not worry if it sounds insincere; keep praising God with thanksgiving and watch how that sacrifice transforms into the highest form of praise.

Finally, we are told to do this through music and song. You might say, “But I’m no musician or singer.” That is not an excuse to God. He desires your most devoted effort. What might sound like a chaotic, out-of-tune mess to the music critic sounds like a beautiful polyphonic masterpiece to our Creator (Psalm 100:1).

Do not worry about the “accusers” who might call your praise “insincere” or “out-of-tune”; they are not the Holy Spirit, they are not “god-junior.” Focus on God and praise Him until you get to the place of highest praise and thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving season, come before God with gratitude and extol Him with music and song. Even if it begins as a sacrifice, watch it become the highest form of praise to God if it is sincere.

Chuck Hartman is pastor at Up River Friends and is reachable at