I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; 2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.[a] 3 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.[b]
4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, 5 and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. 6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. 8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138: 1-8 (ESV)
A thankful heart is the expressive attitude of a follower of Jesus Christ. When one comes to understand who HE IS and what HE has done, and what HE plans to accomplish with you and me, one can only drop to their knees with a grateful heart and thank HIM.
A thankful heart is the byproduct of gratitude which also leads to a more outgoing concern for the needs of others; and the heartfelt compassion and generosity are also balanced with truth and justice.
A thankful heart acknowledges God has given you and me boundaries to operate with for our good and the good of others. Instead of ruling over others, we serve them. Instead of showering others with empty rhetoric and fortitude, the thankful heart understands the value of the individual human spirit facing challenges and encourages them to grow and mature.
A thankful heart is not swayed by pompous living and make-believe-utopias, but by the simple, natural understanding of human needs and the marvelous creation given to us to explore and experience.
A thankful heart bestows blessings on others without expectation of any returns.
A thankful heart knows when to lead and when to follow; and who not to follow.
A thankful heart loves to share their blessings with others.
A thankful heart sees the best in others.
A thankful heart also sees the lies, hypocrisies, and false impressions of others and avoids their delusional imprisonments.
A thankful heart is a repentant soul understanding their need for a Savior.
These are just a few of the thoughts that came across my mind this morning. For those who want to bathe their mind with more thankful thoughts, click on the links below to read past blogs:
And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them. (ASV)
Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best! (Message)
God uses multiple ways to train us through discipline. One way is by giving us what we desire even though HE has expressly instructed us such an item will negatively impact us. Yet because of our rebellious and prideful heart, HE may remove a portion of HIS favor upon us so we taste the world without HIM. The experience may feel like God’s wrath has come upon us, but in reality, HE is being merciful and teaching us by experiencing the pain of how life apart from HIM is unsatisfying for the long term.
The first chapter of the Book of Romans outlines how God deals with people who do not accept HIS authority in their lives. The Bible speaks about the wrath of God which is the attitude mankind has toward a God who doesn’t give them what they want.
Like a two-year-old who is upset and angry at their parents for denying them her desire because the parent believes it will be harmful for them, the child looks at the decision as an act of malice. She may call her parent mean and state she hates them, but is emotionally upset and may not understand the entirety of the situation. You and I as children of the living God may occasionally act the same way toward our heavenly Father.
Again, the first chapter of Romans shows that when God pulls his favor away from people, they begin to act with a reprobate mind; a worthless mind which loses any sense of value. The ability to determine right from wrong, good from evil, and up from down soon disappears. The person becomes like an animal without divine attributes.
We witness in the Book of Daniel, when God disciplined King Nebuchadnezzar by allowing him to experience life as an animal because of his prideful attitude. After seven years, God restored his human spirit and the king glorified God learning from the ordeal. From a human perspective, one could easily get angry at God for such an act. Yet when understood over time, one learns that God has our best intentions in mind.
The first chapter of Romans also outlines the type of behavior one naturally craves when God’s unmerited grace is removed from everyday circumstances of life. Initially, one begins to worship the creation rather than the Creator (24-25). Soon thereafter, people forget what it means to be human. Instead of living life in the image of their Creator, they follow animalistic tenancies. Their sexuality becomes deprived (26-27). Soon thereafter their carnal, debased, destructive attributes become the norm (28-32).
A reprobate mind causes harm to the person and those around them. The love of God is missing. The care for human life is gone. The purpose of living and building a prosperous society for the next generation is replaced with a now only attitude. Fear becomes the standard measurement for decision making. Me, myself, and I become the three amigos which each person hangs around with. Marriage is replaced with unwritten partnership contracts; commitments last only as the feeling stays. The human race is subdivided into skin color or classes and pitted against each other. Though rich in material possession, the reprobate mind doesn’t know how to enjoy his riches in peace. The person is screaming for help but still refuses to turn to God who knows what is best for the person.
Like a prodigal child who takes his Father’s inheritance and spends it on himself until broke, busted, and beaten, he needs to burn himself out to truly realize what he needs and wants is a deep relationship with his Heavenly Father (Luke 15:11-32). Sometimes this is what it takes for us humans to fully understand our need for Jesus Christ.
Mankind may think they know what is good, moral, righteous, and virtuous, but one’s opinion is another person’s anti-opinion. Unless there is a God with absolute, objective values who reveals HIS knowledge of goodness, men & women only think they know. Humans need Jesus Christ to fully understand the logic, meaning, and purpose of life. As many theologians and non-theologians have observed, if there was not a God, mankind would need to make one if they want to survive as a human race. The problem has always been to narrow the scope and identify the real deal rather than man-made religious beliefs. When one studies into the life of Jesus Christ, one can only leave with the understanding that HE is who HE claimed to be, or he was a liar or lunatic.
When history completes its final chapter, hindsight will reveal the answer for many who fail the choice to believe HIS claim. So rather than wait until then, if this be you, how about making today the first day of throwing away that reprobate mind and participate with Jesus Christ in HIS way of life?
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Both my parents were prisoners of war during World War II. They each worked in separate labor prisons in southern Germany for a good portion of the entire war. How each responded afterward throughout their life from the negative impact of such an ordeal is a lesson I carry with me every day.
They both carried scars from their ordeal. Yet Dad’s was less noticeable than Mom’s. In fact, Dad seem to take those ugly events, put it behind him, and gracefully launch himself into a productive, fulfilling life. Mom on the other hand, never seem to forget the past, continually blaming everyone whose hand she suffered under, and always considered herself a victim of circumstances.
In hindsight, their 50+ year marriage would be an ideal study of what modern day freedom and enslavement is all about. Dad and Mom were both religious, but Dad quietly practice his faith while Mom only played the part.
As Dad would always remind us, God protected him so many times during the war and throughout life, he was grateful to live in America and build a comfortable home for his family. He only had an eighth-grade education, but a strong character developed through hard work, personal responsibility, and love of God which molded him and was expressed through his skills and temperament.
Mom though never let the past die. She was a very intelligent woman and hard worker likewise with only an eighth-grade education. She could speak five languages, and cook a banquet for an army. Yet her personal demons never died. She never forgave the people who hurt her, always blaming others for her suffering, and viewed the world from a victim mentality.
Both Dad and Mom suffered similar trials. Yet both responded in different fashions. Dad yielded himself to His God, praying twice a day on his knees in the living room early mornings and before bedtime in the evening. He didn’t understand theology but knew His God was real and with him. Mom believed God, but wouldn’t allow Him full access to change her from the inside-out. She always had to maintain control and her pride blocked anyone entrance into her heart. Like many people today who unbeknownst struggle with victim mentality, she had everything physically around her that was the good life, but inwardly fighting a war which should have been finished in 1945.
As Christ-followers, we know our heavenly Father has adopted us into His family and given us a Spirit of freedom. But we need to allow His Spirit full access into our heart and mind to change our values, perspective, and worldview. Freedom requires responsibility and strong humility. Anyone can abuse freedom, but to maintain and unify relationships requires the freedom to respect others even when we don’t agree with the other. And most importantly, when we are done wrong, the quicker we learn to forgive and move on, the more freedom grows and opportunities abound.
Being a slave to anyone or an ideology is a prison term without parole. But being an adopted child of an intimate God allows real freedom to abound. HE owns everything, knows best, and relates with everyone. He allows you and I to experience in a small way the life HE lives. HE provides resources to limit and better manage the carnal passions of our soul which boomerang into unpleasant consequences when we express them. HE knows our limitations and still loves us wanting what is best for us. As HIS adopted children, we have full access to HIM anytime we desire. We have HIS ear every time we speak with HIM. All made available through Jesus Christ who is our King.
As a servant in the house of the Lord, I am free to come and go. His grace abounds all around me. Those who try to possess me, control me, and enslave me only become more frustrated and angrier with contempt. They do not recognize nor accept the living power and grace of their heavenly Dad. If they did, they would repent, slowly watch the scales fall from their eyes and ears, and experience the life they were designed to partake. They would break the yoke of enslavement they live under and experience real freedom. The same way my earthly dad did.