Sunday, October 9, 2011

Struggling To Be Grateful

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada; a day for pausing and giving thanks for so many different things. Our local news station asked Montrealers if they would be giving thanks this weekend and 76% of those who responded said yes, they would be giving thanks. My questions is, to whom will they give this moment of gratitude? There is only one who is owed our praise and thanksgiving and he should receive it every day.

I continue to preach this over and over again, that we need to be a grateful people as we enter the worship of our holy God. Gratitude opens the door to so many things in our relationship with Jesus. If we flood our hearts with malcontent, bitterness, disappointment, distrust, sour complaints, it will not be long before we feel separated from God. It isn't necessarily that we are separated but such a heart cannot even sense the presence of the Lord. We can try to worship but it won't get past the ceiling. We need to allow love and trust to flood our hearts and wash all the ugliness away so we can receive the joy of the Lord.

Trust goes a long way in the maintenance of a grateful heart. Trust tells a person that we love them, that we have confidence in them. When we trust Jesus we refuse to allow worry and fear to take over. When we trust him we allow him to work out our circumstances. When we trust him we will not allow ourselves to become angry when things don't go our way. Trust says with the psalmist that God is on our side and he desires everything to benefit us. He is our protector:

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
   which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
   so the LORD surrounds his people
   both now and forevermore.
(Psalm 125:1-2)

This isn't some sentimental greeting card we are talking about here but part of the foundation of our relationship with Jesus. The reason we can trust him and remain in his peace is because of his great love for us. We are told that he has a plan for us, to see us become more than we are today. That hope permeates the scriptures as we are told again and again that what he is planning for us goes beyond our imagining. Today may not have been great but it will be used by God for our future. Consider one simple promise from one tiny portion of scripture:

You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
   and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
   for an everlasting sign,
   which will not be destroyed.
(Isaiah 55:12-13)

That's the other thing you can be sure of; God will not allow us to be destroyed because it will rob him of his glory. He enjoys pouring out his blessings upon his children, of protecting them, of walking them through the scary bits because it is who he is and it reveals his greatness, his glory.

So, take a moment before you enter into worship this morning and reflect on the goodness of our Lord. Make a list of all the things you for which you are thankful. Fill your heart with gratitude and see how deep the worship is for you today. If there is bitterness, anger or fear on your heart today write it out, put it in an envelope and put Jesus' name on it. Leave it with him and instead trust his many promises. Trust his love. Trust and rest in his peace. Also, walk in this fact today: we simply owe him our praise and worship for who he is.

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