Monday, December 29, 2014

A Thankful 2015

                It is that time of year again, when everyone starts making their resolutions for the New Year. If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you will know that I do not believe in New Year’s resolutions. Many years ago the Lord showed me that the resolutions that I did make never made it past the first few weeks. Not only did they not “do” anything for me, I never kept them up throughout the year. Instead He showed me a particular area of my life that was in need of His grace and His touch. Around this time of year I get a word. A simple word that speaks to an area of my heart that He wants to focus on in the upcoming year. This year, that word came right around the time of Thanksgiving.
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                You see, I have fallen into the sin of ungratefulness. More and more I find my words being ones of complaining, rather than ones of thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, the Lord sorely convicted me of this sin in my heart, and ever since then I have been convicted of my ungrateful heart. You may have guessed what my word for the upcoming year is, and if you guessed “Thankfulness”, you guessed right. However, this year, He gave me more than one word, this year He has given me three. Yes, I know, I need a lot of work if I got three words! But they all kind of go together- but I digress. Let me get back to the first word He has given me- thankfulness. (I will discuss the next two with you in my next blog posts)
                Since Thanksgiving, I have pondered on what the word thankful means. When I think about being thankful, a specific passage of scripture that Paul wrote in Philippians keeps coming to my mind.  “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere, in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:12) You may be wondering what this verse has to do with being thankful, and I did to. So, I asked the Lord to show me what it means to be thankful and to have a heart full of thanksgiving, and what exactly does being content have to do with any of it.
                The word thankful means gracious, and agreeable. It means to be mindful of favors, grateful and thankful to God. (Greek/Hebrew Lexicon, www.blueletterbible.org). The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines thankfulness as “heartfelt gratitude to God, expressed in response to His love and mercy.” Thankfulness is a condition of the heart. Being thankful is not something we do; it is who we are to be. Thankfulness is not in what we say, it is found in how we live and view this life we have been given.
                A thankful heart is a satisfied heart. One of the synonyms of thankful is to be satisfied. The opposite of thankful is ungrateful, critical and unappreciative. Thankfulness doesn’t look and see the lack and the want of one’s life. Thankfulness looks and sees hope, blessing and goodness in every aspect of its day. We have so much to be thankful for. Every day is a gift from God. Every day we are given is a testimony of His love and faithfulness to us. When I complain about my life, or when all I see is the lack, I am only confessing what is truly in my heart, a heart full of ungratefulness.
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                Paul was able to be content and satisfied in every aspect of his life, no matter if he was abounding or if he was lacking, because he lived with a thankful heart. He knew and understood that no matter what happened, no matter what came against him, no matter what loss he might have to suffer, he was thankful because in the end he had Jesus. Is that enough for us? Shouldn’t that be enough for us too?
We ask the Lord for peace in our lives, we ask the Lord to bless this and bless that, to provide this and provide that, but we forget to thank Him when He does. Not only do we not thank Him, we complain about it when He does give it to us, or we complain that we don’t have what we asked for. Oh, how sorry my ungrateful heart is today! He deserves my thanksgiving and praise, every single moment of every single day!
         Thankfulness is also a command given to us as His children. In Psalm 50:14 we are told to “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.” He deserves all that we can thank Him for. I sometimes complain about the lack of time that I have to accomplish things. But what I am really saying is that I am ungrateful for the time that He has given me. My ungrateful heart sees the lack, instead of being thankful that I have something to do!
 I am an avid house cleaner. I admit that I might even be a little borderline OCD. If my house is unkempt or unclean, my whole day is a disaster. I feel unclean and unkempt because my house is not in order. (I am weird, I know!) What happens is that I end up complaining about no one in my house ever helping to keep it clean, in my head I become upset and get angry at my husband’s inability to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I get all riled up inside and end up complaining about everything else in my life from that point on.
                What the Lord is showing me is that what I become ungrateful I lose His peace for my day. My frustrations and complaining are a result of my unthankful heart. Instead of seeing the lack, He wants me to see the blessing. I am blessed because I have a home to clean. I am blessed because I have a husband who works and provides a home for me. I am blessed because I have a dishwasher. Our first home did not have a dishwasher so all the dishes had to be done by hand, so I truly should be thankful for the dishwasher!
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                Paul tells us in Colossians 3:15 that we must “let the peace of God rule in {our} hearts, to which also {we} were called in one body; and be thankful.” The peace of God comes into our hearts and is able to rule in us because we are thankful for His love and faithfulness. I can be satisfied in every situation because I am thankful for Him. No matter what happens, no matter what comes my way, there is always something to be thankful for. His very life was given so that I might be saved from sin and death, isn’t that something to be thankful for? He gave me His word so that I might get to know Him and have a relationship with Him, isn’t that something to be thankful for? I have been given new life, I am a new creation because He went down into the grave and rose again so that I might be with Him in eternity, isn’t that something to be thankful for?
                In the end, I really have nothing to complain about. My ungrateful heart sees lack, but this new thankful heart He desires to give me will bring about that peace that I so desperately need in my life. Every day we are given another day to live a life filled with thanksgiving. I do not know what 2015 will bring, or even if I will be here to see it, but one thing I know today is that I am thankful that He has not given up on me yet. I am thankful for the home He has provided, the job He has blessed me with, the love of family and friends, and most of all, I am thankful for Jesus Christ who gave Himself so that I might live forever with Him. Amen.

                I pray today that we would see the condition of our hearts and cry out to Him for new ones. I pray that our complaining will be turned to thanksgiving, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will rule in our hearts as we give thanks each day for the blessing of His grace. In Jesus Name, forever and ever, amen and amen. May your New Year bring about a new you in Him.