A Thankful Heart

Sometimes, when life is throwing us nothing but crisis and turmoil, and well… Quite frankly, we are finding some of it just might be our fault.  It becomes more and more difficult to find a reason to praise God.  To sincerely thank Him from our hearts.

I was reading Psalm 138 from the message this morning and thinking about this very thing.

I mean truly… If I worship only out of obedience and offer praise from an unthankful heart then what exactly am I offering God.  I do believe that our emotions and our actions will line up with a strong desire and implementation of obedience in our hearts.  Yet, I still find that something I learned through my first season of true fasting to be the case.  God doesn’t just want obedient children who follow the rules and honor him on the outside. 

He wants our thoughts.
He wants our hearts.
After all, if He had wanted only obedience from us then Adam and Eve would have never had the chance to fall in the Garden.  They wouldn’t have had a choice.

The question becomes this:  Do I honestly praise God and worship Him from the sincerity of my heart because I am deeply thankful that He is God in spite of my circumstances and my experiences.  Or is my response to God circumstantial and experiential… Does it lack my heart?

Read the following eight verses aloud and think, beloved of God, what it is that God sees in your heart as you come before Him in Thanksgiving, Praise and Worship.

Thank you! Everything in me says, “Thank you!” 
Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
I kneel in worship facing your holy temple 
and say it again: “Thank you!”

Thank you for your love, 
Thank you for your faithfulness; 
Most holy is your name, 
Most holy is your Word.

The moment I called out, you stepped in;
you made my life large with strength.

When they hear what you have to say, GOD,
all earth’s kings will say, “Thank you.”
They’ll sing of what you’ve done:
“How great the glory of GOD!”
And here’s why: GOD, high above, sees far below;
no matter the distance, he knows everything about us. 

When I walk into the thick of trouble, 
keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
With one hand
strike my foes,
With your other hand
save me.
Finish what you started in me, GOD.
Your love is eternal — don’t quit on me now.
(Psalm 138 The MSG)

Perhaps it is just me, and the perspective with which I am reading this passage.  But, does it sound to you like the Psalmist is thanking God in spite of his troubles… Maybe even for them?

I think we have stumbled upon an important aspect of a Thankful Heart.

A thankful heart does not default to believing that God has abandoned them when the trouble comes.  His word promises us in several places that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.  He is for us and His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us — Even in the most painful circumstances of our lives  God is for us.  His desire is to bring our good and His glory from our lives continually. 

Jesus told his disciples “When trouble comes…” and “In this world you will have trouble…”

How many of us right now today would be bold enough to praise God when He did not keep us from being thrown in jail? Is our faith merely in what we judge God should prevent and not in what He can do in every circumstance?

How many of us could truly, from our heart thank God at the funeral of our oldest child?

I cannot answer this question for others, only for myself.  But, the truth is this: if my heart is not thankful then the words of thanksgiving that I pray and the songs of worship that I sing are the false echo of an empty heart. 

The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks deeper.  He peers beyond our faces and our postures… He looks deep into the hidden places of our hearts and searches to find Himself there.  What is it that God sees in your heart?

I once heard a teacher on the radio speaking about how she had interviewed a wheat farmer one time.  She was researching a teaching of the parables of wheat and the sifting of the wheat from the chaff.

She noted that in the Bible that Jesus compared the emptiness of a chaff kernel to the emptiness of a heart that confesses Jesus outwardly but lacks the inward affection and presence of the fruit.  In short, the heart of the chaff is not full.  What it produces is an outward appearance of wheat with no real benefit or influence because indeed, it is empty.

The teacher asked the farmer, “How do you know if the stem has actually produced wheat or if it is chaff?”

The farmer’s reply was this:  “That’s easy.  When the wind blows, the wheat bows down while the chaff stands tall against it’s movement.”

The fruit of our heart will be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control when we are walking in the abundance of His Spirit, in fellowship with His Word

What does that look like? 

I mean honestly… If your child fell off his bike and broke his arm, but came to you and said, “Mommy, thank you for my bike.  I know you didn’t intend for me to get hurt and I love riding it so much.  So, thank you for my bike even though riding it resulted in breaking my arm.”

Would you believe the heart of that child is thankful?  I would.  How often do I go before God and say, “Lord, I don’t like this… It’s not fair… Why did you let this happen? Thank you for being God. Amen.”

Does my grumbling and complaining both in prayer and in conversation deny the ability of God to bring good to me out of sorrow.  To bring life to me out of death.  To bring hope to me out of despair and beauty to the ashes that I see?  How big does my praise and my worship say my God is?

If I’m going to be thankful in all circumstances, I must count it all joy like Christ.  Even when I suffer. 

I must tell my pain to praise Him and worship from a heart that is grateful to God for who He is as much as I am grateful for what He has done for me.

bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me…. Bless His Holy Name and forget not ALL His benefits

I’m pretty sure I read that in the Psalms, but I cannot seem to find it this morning. 

How about you… Is it possible in our finite human existence to have a thankful heart in every circumstance?

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