Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cultivate Gratitude

Luke 3:14
“The soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.’”

I have always been a lover of history, and biblical history especially excites me. In this passage, some of the prophecies of Jesus come to life. John the Baptist is living on the earth and finally, the moment he has been waiting for: God tells him to begin preparing the way for the coming of Jesus. Obediently, he preaches repentance and forgiveness of sins, which introduces the idea of a personal relationship with God. John was making straight the paths for Jesus to come, and the people did not know what to do with themselves. Sinners of all kinds began to approach him, carrying the baggage of their sin and the weight of their past, heavily on their shoulders. What an image. Sinners were coming to lay down their burdens, and soon they would be able to sit at the feet of the Son of the Most High God! This is an encouragement to me today. I need to come and come boldly to the feet of Jesus and humbly lay down all of my sin, asking him to wash me clean. The Roman Soldier comes in need of change and he leaves with a very simple way of being cleansed and healed. He is told not to lie, or steal, and to graciously receive the wage that was given to him. In essence, he was commanded to reject his former ways, cast his sins far from him, and learn to find contentment. Be honest. Be true. Be grateful. The problem I find, is in the coming. I know the message of repentance, I know the message of forgiveness, and I know that it is life for followers of Jesus Christ. I also know that repentance and forgiveness means change, and change means pruning, and pruning means pain. It is a selfish thought process, but it is one that genuinely runs through my mind when I feel convicted of my sin. Since being at IGNITE, I have learned that I must come boldly to the throne of God: day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. I must fight my flesh, which persistently tells me, “No! You do not need God to heal you. You have done nothing wrong.” Jesus wants to pick up our burdens, and he wants to teach us, in all simplicity and grace, how to be free and how to be content with the hand he has dealt us. Though repentance requires change, I will come, because I know that the pruning process produces great gain in the heart of a sinner like me. It is by the grace and mercy of God, that he even wants me to be grafted into his tree. John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” I am nothing apart from God, and apart from him I have nothing. May I be content, no, overjoyed, with what he has given me. And what has he given me? Life love, grace, mercy, everything. All is gain in the hands of my father.

Application: Tonight I will meet up with Shannon and share with her things in my life that make me discontent. Together, we will pray that God will transform my heart and make me a grateful human being. 

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