Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This is an outline of what Makeesha shared at MOPS in November.

So if I asked you this question: What do you think some of your struggles or weaknesses are? Many of us could name a few. Most of us though may not say oh yeah, thankfulness. Yet, many of our struggles stem from a lack of a thankful heart. Thankfulness can be a tool we use to overcome many of our sins. A daily gratitude towards God and what He has done for us can arm us for battle against the sin in our lives. Living out the gospel message daily yields a thankful heart. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and the God of this universe, in His mercy, saved me from what I deserved. He gave me the blood of Christ to wash away my sins so that I could put on the righteousness of Christ. Nothing that I did or will do can earn that or lose it. It is the finished work of Christ and only that which saves me. This breeds thankfulness!!! Live out this thankfulness through the gospel of Christ and you will decrease as Christ increases. Less of you naturally then allows less of our fleshly struggles to intervene in our lives. Today if you are struggling with contentment in your relationship with your husband—thankfulness can be the answer. Today if you are dealing with envy or the comparison game—thankfulness can be the answer. If anger and bitterness are welling up inside—thankfulness can be the answer. If today you do not like the circumstances God has put you in—thankfulness can be the answer. So how does this look? Well....

First we need to understand that thanksgiving is not just a response when something good comes our way—rather it is a perspective. A proper perspective of who God is and what He has done for us and still continues to do through us daily. When we come with the perspective of knowing we are lowly and undeserving of His favor, not able to offer Him anything good or worthy. We are then in a place where thanksgiving can thrive. We need to realize all we have is from Him—who we are, what we are capable of doing...everything! By understanding this we have a free-flowing thanksgiving. A thanksgiving that in continual because we understand everything we have is due to Him and for His glory.

When we step outside of this perspective, into our flesh, is when we start to demand things for ourselves. Our expectations in relationships rise. We believe we are justified in our anger, bitterness, envy, vanity, and pride. We believe we deserve certain treatment, a kind of love, and carry an heir of entitlement. How ugly our sin can be. I believe many sins start with a lack of thankfulness in our lives. Thankfulness can be the remedy to many of our fleshly struggles. By reminding yourself how little you deserve and how much you have in Christ thankfulness can abound and our desire to cater to ourselves can die. When we are thankful the automatic result is to take our eyes off of ourselves. In taking our eyes off of selfish desires we can put off the sin like envy, discontentment, bitterness, anger and more... The easiest way to put off sin and keep it off is to then put on a biblical action—like thankfulness. Thankfulness is proactive—it pushes hindrances aside. Adding thankfulness to your arsenal to deal with sin, especially sins of self, will help you conquer those nagging ugly sins that just don’t seem to go away... Thankfulness can be the action that replaces the sin because a thankful heart does not question, does not boast, does not seek its own. A thankful heart does not gripe at their husband or tuck away bitterness or let anger take hold.

Choosing to look at each situation through God’s perspective and not our own is the challenge. Our own perspective will take us to a place where we say: Why didn’t he plan anything for me? Doesn’t he know how I am feeling? I deserve the kind of love the world has shown me I deserve. Our expectations, which are full of selfish gain, can leave us cold, bitter, hurt and unresponsive. This is not a godly perspective. Instead, we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto Christ. When our eyes are on Christ then thankfulness is what naturally follows. This may sound oversimplified. It is simple, however it is not always that easy to put into action. That is why we need to arm ourselves with the Word of God, friends, mentors, and prayer to daily take off the action of self-gratification and put on a thankful heart. A thankful heart sees who provides, who gives the abilities, who allows the good and bad in our lives.

There are 4 steps to a more thankful heart:

1) You need to believe that GOD is the creator and giver of all things. He is the One who saves us from our sins. We do nothing to deserve His mercy. Rom. 5:8 while we were still sinners Christ died for us

2) You need to be reliant—or dependent on God for all that you do and who you are. Nothing we do of our own strength is worth anything. Die to yourself and let Christ live through you. Phil 4:13- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.do it in Christ’s strength!

3) Talk truth to yourself—know scripture so that in times of struggle you can feed yourself the truth found in the Bible. For example memorize scripture that takes you from a place of discontentment and brings you to a place of joy. Phil. 4:4Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice!”..... If you are struggling with envy, pride, expectations gone awry go back to I Cor. 13 and define love to yourself over and over—it is kind, patient, does not boast, seek its own, does not envy, is not rude-it bears, hopes and endures all things. 1 Thess. 5:16-17 –in everything give thanks.

4) You need to pray and give praise to our mighty God. Psa. 92:1-4

Heb. 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

The right perspective knows that we are the creation and we need to give praise and thanksgiving to the Creator in every circumstance that He brings our way. Remember a thankful heart is a happy heart and a happy heart does not fall to the sins of the flesh as much as a discontented one. So when you are struggling with comparing and envy, anger, bitterness and more a thankful heart can take you to the place that overcomes those sins. See God for who He is—Praise His wonderful name.