Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We have a sign in our home that says, “There is always something to be grateful for.” I believe it. I am thankful for our life. My husband. Our children. Our family. Our friends. Our jobs. Our home. Our cars. The list could go on and on. But when I read the sign again this morning passing by, I felt as though there was a spotlight on the word “grateful”. It made me wonder is there something significant about the word. I pass the reminder at least once a day if not multiple times. Gratefulness is not the same as thankfulness and often confused with gratification. Didn’t know that? Reading the definition, it becomes clear that gratefulness is something much deeper than the way we feel. It is how we express it.
Grateful means to be warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received. It is to express one’s gratitude. Gratefulness is pleasing to the mind or senses, agreeable or welcome, and refreshing. Thankfulness is simply defined as feeling and expressing gratitude. The end. Gratefulness seems to go much deeper than that. It is often confused with gratification. Gratification is to give pleasure to by satisfying desires. It is humoring inclinations or feelings. The enemy has a hay day with this one. People are born bound by their desires, emotions, and feelings. Eternity is hidden in our heart to be discovered. It goes much deeper than how we feel to what we know and our ability to believe it. To be truly grateful one must get over our emotions and feelings that form our desires, move past just merely being thankful and step into to gratefulness before the Lord. This is the place one experiences full satisfaction that produces contentment in our life. Happiness based on how we feel will always be questionable. It is a product of the heart to be grateful. It is an expression of that to live above our circumstances and situations in a state of constant peace and thanksgiving. Oh, how I long to be grateful today!
How does one experience gratefulness? How do we abide there? It begins by allowing the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts. I am saved is that enough? If you are truly saved, His Grace is always enough. Those who repent will turn from sin and pursue Jesus. Calling His Name and walking away is not a relationship but rather simple acknowledgement. Need I remind you, the demons know the Name of Jesus and bow before Him, so there really will never be enough? To live at peace with Jesus is to decide in our heart and mind that He is our Savior and Lord expressing our choice with our life. I don’t care what anyone tells you even the pastor you sat in front of last Sunday without repentance there is no remission of sin. You have to believe enough to give up your life in the darkness and step into the Light of His Love. Grace is not a doormat it gives us access. It is not intended as a threshold to walk in and out of God’s Way. If you want to be grateful, it means moving past how we feel and what we think to know Jesus.
Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. (I Corinthians 6:12) This is the reality of salvation and human downfall wrapped into one. Paul confided that fighting our flesh is a battle fought every single day. Verse 14 sums up our success when we clothe ourselves in Jesus and do not think about how to gratify the desires of our flesh. Gratification is directly connected to our flesh. The sinful nature in us cries out daily to be heard, obeyed and satisfied. What is our response? Some days are better than others I think we all will admit. Galatians 5:16-17 says that those who walk by the Spirit do not live to gratify their flesh. Good to know and remember. Finally Ephesians 2:1-10 sums it up nicely – salvation turns our heart from seeking self-gratification to a life of grace and gratitude that will make us truly grateful.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord has clearly spoken to my heart today about being grateful. Many mornings before I get up, I begin to thank the Lord for everything that I can think of. Image after image comes to mind of the “things” that God has done for me and my family. It goes on and on. However, this is thanksgiving. I want to be grateful. Gratefulness comes when we begin to express our thanksgiving and gratitude for Jesus. Just Jesus. Not a single thing that He has done outside of His Great Love and Sacrifice. See really and truly nothing else matters beyond that in our life. The good things we have and experience are all because we have a Good Father and His Son who sacrificed everything for us.
Matthew 16:15-18 (NIV)
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Gratefulness comes down to this. Jesus. Nothing more or less than Jesus. It doesn’t matter if we live hidden in our church, buried in the Word, overtaken by the Spirit – if we do not know Jesus and call Him by Name it is meaningless. Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will never experience disappointment in life because hope will never take us there. What about you? Who do you say that He is today? Sugar daddy? Santa Clause? Associate? Acquaintance? Savior and Lord? The level of intimacy defines our connection. I have a second cousin who is a major league baseball player. Played in the World Series, in fact. He knows who I am and I know who he is. We have spent a few holidays together. His grandmother is my aunt. His mother and I played together as children. Though we have all of this in common, we do not have a relationship other than a familial bond. We can say that we know Jesus. We can share stories about Him. We may have some things in common with Him. We may even have shared some life experiences together. But until we have a relationship with Him that supersedes our flesh and desires to know Him more personally and intimately until we believe in Who He is and what He came to do enough to allow His Grace to change us – we will never know what it means to be grateful.
Gratefulness is to be warmly and deeply appreciative of the kindness and benefits received from Jesus Christ by His Grace. Such knowledge is enough to be completely satisfied and truly content because just knowing Him gives us the Keys to His Kingdom, by faith we unlock that which we desire most the inner most longing deeper than physical gratification and emotional support but our innermost need for completeness. Such intimacy found in His Presence day by day and moment by moment will cause us to express gratitude. He please our mind and senses with peace and joy that we have never known and will not find in this world. The more agreeable our life becomes the more established gratefulness becomes. We are refreshed not by provision and worldly sustenance but by our connection to Christ alone. I am so thankful for Jesus today. Lord, take my heart and make me truly grateful now.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV)
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.