The Thankful Heart
The soft plaster and drywall underneath the dining room window should have motivated a response long before the decay forced me to provide one. The hidden water damage was discovered shortly after moving into our family home in 2007, but it was an easily ignored nuisance in an under-used room. As a 29-year-old father with a pregnant wife, full-time job, and graduate school course load, there were more pressing matters at hand. At the time, I did not expect a delayed reaction to also include spiritual consequences.
Fast-forward to November of 2018 (yep, over a decade later) when an attempt to be a 40-year-old handyman resulted in an onion-peeling experience revealing just how serious decades of a small water offensive could be. As the baseboards disintegrated while prying them loose, the crumbling drywall exposed many completely rotted 2x4s that framed the window. This was an unwelcome nightmare of a problem to face right before Thanksgiving. Suddenly, gratitude and thankfulness were not residing in my heart. Hope had taken a serious hit as the holiday season would now kick off at a $2,000.00 deficit because of this unplanned repair expense.
I wish I could say that I immediately recognized this situation as an attempt by the enemy to steal my joy and peace. If only I had just shrugged it off and called the contractor without being stressed, frustrated, and even angry. The emotions of, “Why now?” and “Why me?” were overwhelming and my heart was way off from the appropriate place for the season of gratefulness. A focus on circumstances resulted in a hopelessly negative and defeated attitude.
In the same way, circumstances in today’s world can seem oppressive. Most of us are experiencing the pinch of finances in response to rising inflation. Political division is invading almost every facet of life. The government, media, and entertainment industries are racing to indoctrinate our children to abandon any semblance of a God-fearing existence. Hope is at a premium. Thankfulness is elusive. Circumstances appear bleak.
As Christians, we cannot afford to lose hope. We must prioritize gratefulness. In this, God’s word is clear:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15, CSB).
Our hearts are our religious center. If we profess faith in Christ, He is therefore the cornerstone of our existence. Revering Christ naturally results in unending gratitude on our part, but also as the Scripture states, be prepared to share our hope. But we cannot share what we do not possess.
This world is in chaos. People are in pain. Christians must be the ambassadors of hope. We are to be a beacon of light amidst this darkness. Faith in Jesus Christ gives us more to be thankful for this season above any circumstance the world can throw at us. People are desperate for this hope. We have it. We must live in it. We must offer hope.
As we scurry through the holidays experiencing heightened stress and busyness, encountering challenges and frustrations in our paths, stop and reflect on God’s Word. Does your heart revere Christ as Lord? Is Jesus your center? If this is true, the way you live your life will attract attention. Those around you will notice your hope, so much so that they will ask, “How is it possible?” Are you prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have?
My dining room window was reframed. New drywall, plaster, and paint have been applied. Rehabilitation has occurred. Life is full of frustrations, challenges, and disappointments, but God is a God of restoration. He is calling us to live beyond our circumstances so that we can be sources of hope. Don’t let the discouraging situations of life rob you of a heart of thankfulness. Be grateful for hope. Share it. When people ask how you do it, be ready to give your answer this season and beyond.
Isaiah 8:19-20 19When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.
One of God’s complaints against his people was their willingness to seek direction from mediums and spiritists. When people turn their heart away from God, they will want to know what the future holds so that they can prepare for it. Their fear is not their impending judgment, but circumstances they hope to avoid. They will not inquire of God because God would tell them to change their ways.
This fascination with knowing the future stems from a lack of faith and trust in God. If a person is walking in the Spirit, he trusts God for each day. If there is a need to inquire about direction in life, he waits upon the Lord. The Great Shepherd cares for His sheep today and in the future. Only those who are wandering from the sheepfold will be desperate to know what tomorrow will bring. King Saul was such a person. He dared not inquire of God for he would not repent, so he sought out a witch to act as a medium.
Evil sources of information will often contradict what God has said. In this passage Isaiah was told to be different from the people he lived among. He was told to continue to fear the Lord. The mediums will often bring up a person who will speak in contradiction to the Word of God. They had no light in life, and they have none in death. The dead have finished their time in this life. How can they help others where they failed? Jesus is the one that is victorious in life and death.
Streams in the Desert – November 26
- 202226 Nov
And Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs (Joshua 15:18-19).
There are both upper and nether springs. They are springs, not stagnant pools. There are joys and blessings that flow from above through the hottest summer and the most desert land of sorrow and trial. The lands of Achsah were “south lands,” lying under a burning sun and often parched with burning heat. But from the hills came the unfailing springs, that cooled, refreshed and fertilized all the land.
There are springs that flow in the low places of life, in the hard places, in the desert places, in the lone places, in the common places, and no matter what may be our situation, we can always find these upper springs. Abraham found them amid the hills of Canaan. Moses found them among the rocks of Midian. David found them among the ashes of Ziklag when his property was gone, his family captives and his people talked of stoning him, but “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” Habakkuk found them when the fig tree was withered and the fields were brown, but as he drank from them he could sing: “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of my salvation.”
Isaiah found them in the awful days of Sennacherib’s invasion, when the mountains seemed hurled into the midst of the sea, but faith could sing: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved.”
The martyrs found them amid the flames, and reformers amid their foes and conflicts, and we can find them all the year if we have the Comforter in our hearts and have learned to say with David: “All my springs are in thee.”
How many and how precious these springs, and how much more there is to be possessed of God’s own fulness! —A. B. Simpson
How to Know That You’re Saved
Do you have doubts about your salvation? You can settle the issue today.
The most important issue we must settle in this life is our eternal destiny. Throughout history, churches have been composed of both believers and unbelievers, and it’s often difficult to tell the difference. That’s why John wrote his first letter. He wanted to assure the true Christians of their salvation and warn those who professed belief but lacked saving faith. John gives a four-fold test describing the beliefs and practices of genuine believers.
- Right understanding of Christ and salvation (1 John 2:18-27). To be saved, we must have the true gospel and the right Savior, as described in God’s Word.
- Right attitude toward sin (1 John 1:5-10; 1 John 2:1-2). True believers hate their sin and are quick to confess and turn from it.
- Right practice of obedience (1 John 2:3-6). God’s commands are not burdensome to those who belong to Christ. Although they fail at times, their life is primarily characterized by obedience.
- Right relationship with God’s people (1 John 2:7-11). Christ produces within His followers both a love for fellow believers and a desire to be with them.
If you have doubts about your salvation, reading the book of 1 John will help you settle the issue.