Having A Thankful Heart

Many believers misunderstand the difference in “Being thankful” and “Having a thankful Heart.” There are two key verses related to the two principles. The first is found in 1 Thessalonians 4 18, “…in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” The other verse is Philippians 4:6,” Don’t be anxious about things; instead pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your request, so talk to God about your need and be thankful for what has come.”(The Voice)

Being thankful is an act of the will regardless of how we feel. It is also an act of trust and obedience. Being thankful is a result of, and prerequisite to, having a thankful heart. Being thankful is an overt act of obedience, and the sweet result is having a thankful heart.

Does that mean we are to be thankful when we receive tragic news like, “You have cancer” or “You have lost your job”, or when we lose a friend or loved one through death? Yes, we are to be thankful – but not how you might think. No one in his right mind would say, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer.” Or would they say, “Hallelujah, my close friend has died.” That would be delusional.

But what it does mean is that we are to be so dependent upon a sovereign God for every event and circumstance in our life that we look for God’s hand and blessings in the midst of the trial. What God really desires is for us to be so “other-worldly” that nothing can shake our confidence and trust in Him. He wants us living at the level where we know that God knows best, even though in the midst of our problem we can’t see the blue sky for the fog.

Can we mourn and feel the pain of loss and still be thankful? Sure, those are natural reactions to the events of life. But because we know that God has a bigger plan in mind, and He knows the impact of the event on our life before it happens, we thank Him for seeing us through the event. We have the assurance that because of God’s love and care for His children, He will successfully see us through.

So this Thanksgiving, reflect not only on the obvious things that you are thankful for, but as the Scripture so plainly teaches, “in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus”.

“And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the liberating King” Philippians 4:7 (The Voice)

The Power of the Holy Spirit and Christ

The primary difference between a committed follower of Jesus and a well-informed religious church member is one key element, and that is the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to indwell every true believer. He refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth because there is a spirit of error in the world (John 14:17). Being led by the Spirit is a key link in living and functioning as a committed follower of Jesus.

Bible knowledge, education, great people skills, gifted speaking ability and a charismatic personality does not change lives. Only the power of God changes lives.

Every teacher and preacher desires to increase their ability to communicate effectively, but we know in the end, it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that brings change and transformation. Most committed believers have experienced giving counsel to someone, and as we walked away from the conversation we said, “Where did that come from?” We know that the wisdom of our words was generated from and by the Holy Spirit of God.

Dependence upon the Holy Spirit is to be the norm for us, not just an occasional experience. We are commanded in Scripture to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father to teach and guide us into all truth. It is important for us to memorize Scripture but it is the Holy Spirit that makes the Scripture alive and enables us to use it appropriately when speaking with others.

I believe that being filled and led by the Holy Spirit is one of the most important elements in the Christian’s daily walk. Dr. R.A. Torrey, one of the great evangelist and scholars of the past, makes an important point when it comes to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He writes, “The Holy Spirit is a real Person, infinitely holy, infinitely wise, infinitely mighty and infinitely tender, who is to get hold of and use us. When we think of Him in the Biblical way, as a Divine Person, our thought will be how can He have more of me?”

One of the key functions of the Holy Spirit is to reveal and manifest the life of Christ that is within us. How does the world see Christ at work in all His power and glory? They see Christ in us. That’s God’s plan to indwell man with the very life of Christ. Colossians 1 and 2 tell us that the “Mystery of Godliness is Christ in us”. God’s design is that the world experience what God is like through us, in and through our daily walk with God. It is the Holy Spirit that makes Christ within us known.

It is one thing to read about Jesus in the scripture and another thing to see His life lived out in the life of a human being. It is the filling of the Holy Spirit that allows Christ’s life to be shown and manifested through our life.

I want to encourage you to add a simple but profound prayer to your daily routine. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh filling of His Spirit every morning. As you are asking for His divine filling, also ask Him to examine your life and to show you anything that would hinder the flow of His Spirit through your life.

My prayer for you today is that the Lord will bring someone across your path that needs an encounter with the living Christ, and you will be that encounter as the Holy Spirit reveals Christ through you to a needy soul.

“(Speaking of the Holy Spirit) I can think of no thought more humbling or more overwhelming than the thought that a person of Divine majesty and glory dwells in my heart and is ready to use even me.” (Dr. R.A. Torrey 1910, Chicago)


Note: If you would like to have a PDF copy of Dr. R.A. Torrey’s book, “The Work and Power of the Holy Spirit” , email me and I will send you a copy.  This is a classic book, published at the turn of the century, and is no longer in print but is available in a eBook format. Email: larry@bibles4children.com