Monday, January 5, 2015

Tankful Heart

Four Things happen when we have a Thankful Heart


There is an unmistakable power always at work when we live with a thankful heart. I’m sure more can be added to this list, but I offer you four to consider.


#1 — A Thankful Heart increases our awareness of God’s purpose.


“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).

God is good all the time; all the time God is good. We are assured over and over by the full weight of Scripture that God’s hand, though often unseen, is working “all this together according to the counsel of his will”(Eph 1:11).


When we live with a thankful heart our eyes open so that we may know with calm assurance that God is working for our good — even in the midst of something that is really bad.


The Bible says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Th.5:18). Everything? Yes, everything. This means while we are going through something — good or bad — we give thanks while we are IN it.


We do not curse or complain, for that opens us to the destructive power of bitterness. And that can destroy our souls, and bring great sorrow to many others.


This brings me to my second point.


#2 — A Thankful Heart keeps us from the destructive influence of bitterness.


The Bible says, “Make sure that no one misses out on God’s wonderful grace. Don’t let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you” (Heb.12:15).


Oh, how many thousands of stories can be told about the destructive power of bitterness in families, businesses, churches, and teams! One bitter person can unleash a poison that destroys thousands of lives.


Job said, “I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11). That’s what bitterness does: it complains. Bitterness quenches joy and makes one critical and mean-spirited; hell-bent on depriving others of blessings. It dominates the mind, disrupts the conversation, destroys friendships, and spreads discord among others.


When we live with a thankful heart — even in our darkest, most trying moments – God gives us perspective and peace.


King David wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.    You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” He concludes by saying, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (see Psalm 119:67, 68 and 75).

Afterwards, he bursts forth into song, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!” (Psa 30:11-12)

Every experience in life makes you bitter or better. A thankful heart always takes us along the path of that which is better.


#3 — A Thankful Heart prevents us from falling into pride.

While bowing our heads before God shows reverence, there is also something redemptive about doing so. It holds us in a place of humility.

Matthew Henry, the famous Bible scholar was once accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse.  Afterwards, he wrote these words in his diary:

“Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed another.”


This is a worthy example of choosing wisely. He could have been bitter, and complained to the Lord about the unfairness of the situation. He could’ve become angry and carried an offense that would make his suspicious of any travelers he might encounter on his journey, which would have closed his heart to them lest they assault him as others had done.

Instead, he turned to God in humility, and gave thanks. Thus he was saved from the pitfall of pride and anger. As for the robbers, we can be sure that God’s justice tracked them down and they paid dearly for what they had done. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19)


Thanksgiving and Humility go hand in hand. God is pleased with both.


#4 — A Thankful Heart permeates our circle of influence with faith.


Thanksgiving is the highest expression of faith there is, especially when it is offered during times of distress and difficulty. Thanksgiving looks beyond momentary afflictions, convinced that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18).


A Thankful heart is focused upon God; a bitter and ungrateful heart is absorbed with its problems. Thankfulness lifts our vision and builds our faith. It causes us to become an influential encouragement to others who are struggling with life’s difficulties.


Paul wrote, “Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be blameless and innocent. You will be God’s children without any faults among people who are crooked and corrupt. You will shine like stars among them in the world as you hold firmly to the word of life.” (Php 2:14-16,)


As we are thankful – even in the midst of great difficulties – God “leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Co 2:14)


Are you the kind of person that brightens up a room by leaving? When others see you coming, do they turn aside to avoid an encounter with you so as not to be criticized, corrected or condemned?


Or, are people drawn to you so as to be near somebody who can help them experience God’s presence? Do you repel people from Christ, or attract people to Him?



In a Peanuts cartoon, Snoopy is getting dog food for his Thanksgiving Day dinner. He stares at the bowl and talks to himself.

“How about that? Everyone is eating turkey today, but just because I’m a dog I get dog food.”

He then trots away and positions himself on top of his doghouse and concludes, “Of course, it could have been worse, I could have been born a turkey.”


There is always something we can be thankful for; find that one thing and start there. Give thanks to God….and watch how quickly your list will grow; and how dramatically your life will change!


Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness to always work things for our good. Forgive us when we let hurt, anger, and bitterness sour our minds and turn our hearts away from trusting You.


Renew our vision so that we may see beyond the circumstances that trouble us. Let us instead catch a glimpse of the good that You are bringing after we pass through the test. Give us thankful hearts. In you precious name we pray amen!!


LAST CHRISTMAS I WAS DISTRACTED AS I OFTEN AM DURING the holidays. Every year I say I’m going to get better about scaling back so I can really keep my focus where it needs to be for the season. I have moments where I do this well. But I have other moments that are just plain pitiful.


Honestly, I can be an utter nincompoop.


I was rushing about, frustrated. I went to Target for wrapping paper and somehow left the store having spent ninety-seven dollars on who knows what. Then got all the way home before I realized I left the wrapping paper on that little shelf underneath the shopping cart. At checkout I didn’t remember to grab it and purchase it. So all my moments of trying to match this and that to keep up with expectations in this Pinterest-crazed world were all for nothing. Now I’d be using recycled bags


I was so caught up in the rush of superficial things in my world that I missed

hearing the cries for help in someone else’s world. God had been prompting me to listen, really listen, to stop and focus and give him just a few minutes. But I refused. I rushed past. And I acted like I was perfectly justified in doing so.


When all of life feels like an urgent rush from one demand to another, we become forgetful. We forget simple things like where we put our car keys or that one crucial ingredient for dinner when we run into the grocery store. But even more disturbing, we forget God. We say with our mouths that we are trusting and relying on God, but are we really?


A quick check to see if this is true is our ability to notice what God wants us

to notice and our willingness to participate when God invites us to

participate. The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow. I’m always asking God for direction, but I’ll miss it if I constantly ignore His instruction.


It’s in those little breaks in our companionship with God where confusion sets in about what we’re really supposed to do. we must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please? Not being able to hear God’s direction is the exact spot where this confusion gets so many of us in trouble.


Have you ever heard that amazing verse from Isaiah “that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (30:21)? I love this verse! I want it to be true for me! I want my ears to hear God say,


“This is the way; walk in it.”

I want that with every fiber of my being. Don’t you? Can you imagine how much angst and pain we could save ourselves if we were really that in tune with God?


This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:


“In repentance and rest is your salvation,

in quietness and trust is your strength,

but you would have none of it.

You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’

Therefore you will flee!

You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’

Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

A thousand will flee”

At the threat of one;

at the threat of five

you will all flee away,

till you are left

like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,

like a banner on a hill.”

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;

therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the LORD is a God of justice.

Blessed are all who wait for him! (30:15–18)


Right here the Amplified Bible adds blessed are those “who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!” (v. 18). Who doesn’t love that?


You turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you,

saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols

overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (vv. 19–22)


This is how God is speaking to me through these scriptures.


• God asks us to return and rest.

• But we say no and speed on our own course.

(Remember the rush can often make us rebellious.)

• The Lord is gracious and shows us loving-kindness even while we run ourselves


• He hears our cries. He answers with compassion.

• Yes, there are consequences for our refusal to listen, but there’s always a second chance to experience that unbroken companionship when we wait expectantly for Him—or, as the Amplified Bible says, when we look and long for Him.

• So He whispers, “Say hi to her; pick up that cup; have those girls over for

dinner. Look for Me. Long for Me “Experience unbroken companionship with Me.Then we will see and hear Him.

• And these other idols we’re so bent on chasing—anything we prioritize over God—we’ll be able to let them go.


Do I do this perfectly? Obviously not. If we want to hear from the Lord, we must confess that sometimes we walk right past the Lord’s instruction and set ourselves up to miss His direction. If we want His direction for our decisions, the great cravings of our souls must not only be the big moments of assignment. They must also be the seemingly small instructions in the most ordinary of moments when God points His Spirit finger saying, Go there. And in doing that, we are companions of God with eyes and ears more open, more able, more.


Grace Grace Grace  in 2015


(Ecc 3:1 NASB)  There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven.


First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I pray for you regularly and I believe God will make 2015 the best year of your life.  Not because you will be perfect, not because you will earn it, not even because you deserve, but only because of His amazing grace!


It's a new year and the annual calendar gives us an opportunity to mark and measure our progress (or lack thereof).  As believers we should measure our progress and every year should take us incrementally closer to God's overall expected end for our lives.  While God speaks to each of us individually and specifically, there are certain 'sounds' that comes from heaven during certain seasons and times.  Right now I believe we are in a season of GREAT GRACE.  If you have been listening to the 'sound' coming from heaven for the past few years, it has been a sound of grace.  You are hearing the message of God's unearned grace preached all over the world, by everyone, everywhere.  


In past years I have taught on purpose and vision in January.  I do this because I believe we live out our lives in times and seasons and I believe the Lord gives us vision (the ability to see supernaturally) in order to maximize the season we are in.   Like Solomon said, "There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven."  


With all my heart I believe we are in a time where we will see the grace of God manifested like never before.  So during this time, the month of January, I will teach on God's great and abounding grace.  For this month, we will focus on discerning the season we are in and receiving divine insight in order to maximize the season.  My prayer for you is that discern the Lord's will for your life for 2015 and that you open your heart to receive and walk in His best.  If you do, I am convinced that 2015 will be the best year of your life.


So what does this mean to you today?  A few things as we get ready for this season.


1.  You have already experienced God's grace and you can surely acknowledge that He has been better to you than you deserve.  But during this season you will see the grace of God manifested on another level.  You are more aware of God's grace now, your heart is more open to it, and you will more readily receive what He wants to do IN, WITH and THROUGH you.


2.  When dealing with God it is often hard to receive what you cannot perceive.  But since your perception of God's goodness and grace has increased, you are now in a position to receive from Him on a greater level.


3.  God made plans for you before the world began.  He made those plans solely by His unearned grace and He is tirelessly committed to seeing His plans for your life come to pass.


4.  Doubt and unbelief hinder God from operating freely in our lives.  There was a time when you could not receive God's best because you quickly equated His desired blessing to your performance, resulting in a sense of unworthiness, which led to doubt and unbelief.  But in this season you no longer tie God's desire to bless you to your performance.  You now know you could never earn what God wants to give you.  So you simply open your heart to receive everything God says He wants to do IN you, FOR you, and THROUGH you.  Living this way you will  experience the Greater Grace!


5.  Our mind attempts to REDUCE Christ to what we are.  But God's grace raises us UP to what He is!


6.  Grace is unmerited, unearned, unexpected, and seemingly unbelievable at times; that's why it's AMAZING!


7.  I speak into your life, and I declare 2015 to be the best year of your life.  Not because of your goodness or performance, but only because of God's great grace.  This year you will experience God's best and it will not come with more trying... it will come with more dying.  As you die to self,  yield to God, and surrender to Him  in every area of your life, you will experience God's Greater Grace and everyone you come in contact will be able to see it!


Father, I thank You for Your Great Grace towards me.  You love me with an everlasting love.  You care for me more than I can fathom.  You are committed to me and the plans You made for me before the world began.  You have been teaching me about Your grace and You have been pouring out Your favor over my life, and I thank You for it.  But I declare that this year shall be even greater.  I am more open now to Your grace than I ever have been.  My heart is open to receive.  My soul is quick to believe.  Fear, doubt and unbelief are no longer an issue for me.  As You reveal to me what You want to do in my life this year, I am quick to believe it, receive it, declare it, and pursue it by faith.  I refuse to factor-in what You have already factored-out.  This year I will not allow fear, doubt or unbelief to cause me to put a "No" where You have put a "Yes".  Your "Yes" is my "Yes"!  Your "amen" is my "amen"!  I declare that I have no hindrance, no barrier, no issue, and no blessing-blocker in the way.  This year Your grace will flow in and through me like never before.  This year is a year of Great Grace for me and it shall be the BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!  Not because of my goodness or performance, but only because of Your unearned grace!  I declare this by faith!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.