What was your first thought as you woke up this morning? Was it one of thanksgiving or complaint? What was the first task that came to mind? Was it giving or taking in nature? There are little clues that reveal to us the true nature of our heart. It is good when we have the discipline to take the negative in our life and place it in submission to the Spirit but it is even better when our heart is so changed that thanksgiving and selflessness is our knee jerk reaction.
The transformation of our heart and mind is only possible by the power of God's Spirit in us but he does need our cooperation in the process. When we accept Jesus we are given a new heart and mind, or at least the capacity of righteousness is changed in them. They are now freed from the bondage of our sin nature and given the capability to be filled with the righteousness of God. This means that we are now capable of living according to the Father's heart and the character of Jesus Christ. We will stumble as a toddler stumbles, learning how to walk and negotiate the obstacles in his life, but the grace of Jesus picks us up, dusts us off and sets us on our way again.
One of the things that helps in this transformation process is the development of thankfulness. The greater our heart is possessed with thanksgiving the easier it is for us to submit to the Spirit of God. Let's go back to my opening question: Was your first thought this morning one of thanksgiving?
"Jesus, thank you for this new day of opportunity."
"Thank you for such a wonderful night sleep."
"Thank you for your presence this morning."
"Lord Jesus, thank you for your love."
There are so many of Jesus' promises we can wake up thanking him for, such as our salvation. That one thing alone is worth an eternity of praise:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Jesus "gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age" is enough to wake us up every morning with a new song on our heart. If not, we are losing sight of God's goodness in all the busyness of our day. There is no need for it. If things begin to fade in our life it is because we have stopped paying attention to them. If your great passion for Jesus is fading, it is because you have stopped giving him the number one place in your life.
I've been at this for far too long to listen to people's excuses of why they think God has become distant to them. It hardly ever starts with sin. It usually begins when we start spending less time learning about Jesus, less time in prayer, less time talking about Jesus and less time in worship. These things are what allows the Spirit to pour freshness into us. If we dam up these sources then the river is going to run dry. A dry river always leads to sin taking over again. It is never that Jesus has withdrawn from us but us who have stopped paying attention to him.
However, remembering what we need to be thankful for is a means to keep the sources clear of any debris. It is hard to forget Jesus when we keep praising him and thanking him for everything in our life, starting with our first thought in the morning. A person possessed by Jesus Christ is a joyful and obedient person. Their character is attractive due to this attitude of thanksgiving and joy. They leave no room for a negative thought to take root and the Spirit of God continues to refresh them throughout the day. Thanksgiving is our way of oiling our heart and mind so the Holy Spirit has an easy time of continuing with the transformation. So, let us lift up holy hands and thank our Lord Jesus for the great things he has done, is doing and will do. Fill your thoughts with Jesus and your heart will fill with love and praise. Praise the Lord!