Saturday, February 20, 2016

Thankful Hearts

Hebrews 13:17
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with JOY and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

If I am being honest, doing this IBS right now is the last thing I want to do. I feel like I am just repeating myself over and over and again. I understand that obedience is a huge subject, and it is absolutely something I struggle with, but I feel like I have completely run out of words to say. But, as I re-read this verse a couple dozen times, I noticed a word that all the other verses this week have lacked: joy. I love that virtue, and I love what it means to us as believers. This verse asks, or rather, commands us to do everything obediently, with joy. Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” The fact of the matter is that the world is watching you, whether you like it or not. They are looking to see if what you preach matches up with the way you live, and in a world where complaining and hateful words fill our ears to the brim, a smile and a cheerful spirit can go a long way. But as I dug deeper into what Joy biblically means, I discovered that it is so much more than a fleeting smile and a kind word. Joy is rooted in thanksgiving, and I mean that in a very literal sense. The greek word for thanksgiving is eucharisteo, which is derived from two words: charis, meaning grace, and chara, meaning joy. An ungrateful heart will never be fulfilled, but a grateful heart is filled to the point of overflowing. A joyful spirit has eyes to see God’s amazing grace in the dark, and in the light. Their heart is satisfied in the will of the Lord, and the joy that is produced, keeps them strong and running, in obedience, to the arms of Jesus. Jesus, may your joy fill my heart, and may I be satisfied in you alone. When people see me, may they see you, radiating through my words and deeds. Jeremiah 7:24 says, “But they [the Israelites] did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward, and not forward.” May I move forward in obedience and submit to the guidance of your hand. Keep my gaze ever upwards and onwards, and may my ears be attentive to your voice. 

Application: Today, I will set aside time to sit outside and write out a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord. I will not talk about myself, my worries and concerns, but rather, take in the creation that surrounds me, and praise God. 

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