Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Grateful Heart

The disciple Andrew was used by God to change his brother, Simon Peter’s life. What a tremendous thing that was done for Simon Peter. To have someone give you the gift that brings eternal life is a value beyond measure. This is the gift that was given to Simon Peter.

I am sure being given a gift like this left Simon Peter full of gratitude towards his brother. I don’t know about you but my heart would be forever grateful. Grateful to my brother but more than that grateful to my Savior Jesus Christ for using Andrew to find me.

Like Simon Peter I find myself more grateful with each passing year. Take this past year. It has been a year of learning for me. It’s been one of trials and struggles but mostly learning to be grateful. It took some breaking of my pride to bring me humbly to the place I am right now. But for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t change a day of it. I won’t go into all the details because this study would then become a book. I’ll just share that in the last year it has felt like everything around me was being shaken. Like it must feel when the earth is shifting and moving during an earthquake.

It felt like the earth was moving all around me this year. It has left me with the feeling that nothing is permanent and everything can be gone in an instant. Truth be told, that is reality, everything can disappear in an instant.

We seem to rely on the things here on earth as things we can count on. The truth is, when we look at life through clear glasses not rose colored ones, there is only one thing we can truly count on. That one thing is God.

So as my world turned and quaked this past year, I was reminded who I chose to serve. I was reminded of who He is and what that means for my life. Not just here on this earth but for eternity. In the end, it has left me grateful.

It has left me grateful for the one who chose me before I ever considered choosing Him. Grateful that I am loved by the one who spoke the universe into being. Grateful that I can count on Him for all things big and small. Grateful to know that when my heart is weary and I’m tired of the circumstance life throws at me He is only a whisper away. Grateful that I can speak and before the words are out He hears.

More than anything lately I think I have learned that nothing is really under my control. In a way that’s a frightening thought. But when I lay what I fear in His hands I can trust in what I know. What I know is that He is good, just, loving, merciful and full of grace. He is all powerful and all things are in His hands. It has taken my stubborn pride to break to show me that I too am in His hands and what I have is much.

How is your heart? Is it grateful or is it full of other things?

When our heart is consumed with other things besides the ways of the Lord we tend to become ungrateful. Ungrateful is the state of the heart when we are lusting after the ways of the flesh and not the ways of God.

Galatians 5:16-17 - I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

You and I, we are called to walk in the Spirit and not by the flesh. The flesh and the Spirit war against each other. They are not compatible. If we want to have a grateful heart it will only come by walking in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:19-21 tells us further the types of works evident when we live by the flesh and not by the Spirit. It's quit the list given: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like.

How can anyone with a heart filled with lust, greed, profanity, anger, selfishness and envy have a grateful heart for God? It’s impossible. If we are going to have a grateful, humble heart we must yield to the Spirit. We must learn to walk by the Spirit. We must abide in the Spirit.

John 15:4 - "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Nothing good comes from us without abiding in the Him. Good fruit requires a good source to come from. The only good that comes from us is provided through the Spirit and not the flesh.

Having a grateful heart takes knowing what it is that has been given to you. If you and I do not really understand the value of the gift we have been given how can we be really be thankful?

To grasp the gravity of the gift of Jesus Christ, it takes a full understanding of our state of sinfulness. We deserved nothing and instead were given the capacity to live eternally with God. If we choose to accept the gift Jesus died and rose again to provide for us, to begin to follow and to be a disciple like Simon Peter did, we are given life eternal.

If we truly believe this to be true, we should drop to our knees, humble ourselves before His throne and spend the day praising Him. That would be just a fraction of what He deserves from us.

Speaking of dropping to our knees, how about we do that right now? Seems to me like a fitting place to end for the day and do just that.

Heavenly Father,

I come to with a heart that knows the gravity of what you did for all mankind. I know my own worth and that in my sinful state I deserved nothing. But you came as a man to die upon a cross so you could take the sin of the world. That wasn't enough, by raising again on the third day you defeated death. By your wounds I can be healed and spend eternity in your presence. I don't deserve a gift like that but I am grateful. I am so very grateful. Thank you Lord.