“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
Psalm 51:1-2 (NIV)
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
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)
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.
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.
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)
Humility go hand in hand. God is pleased with both.
#4 — A Thankful Heart permeates our circle
of influence with faith.
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
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
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
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:
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.’
You said, ‘We
will ride off on swift horses.’
pursuers will be swift!
A thousand will
At the threat of
at the threat of
you will all flee
till you are left
like a flagstaff
on a mountaintop,
like a banner on
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
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.
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
• 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.
(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
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.
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.
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
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.