Monday, September 19, 2011

The List - Having a Grateful Heart

"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20 (my emphisis)

I began The List the other morning - a list of things for which I am thankful.  I want - I need to develop a more grateful heart so I am making The List.  It will be somewhat random in nature though I am putting Jesus, my Savior at the top of The List.

What prompted The List?  I have been perusing One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and have been thoroughly convicted of my failure to recognize how truly blessed I am.  I know that fact, but as I actually name my blessings (as Ann has emphasized),it gives me greater awareness of  how God has blessed me.  It also shines a light on my lack of thankfulness.

That very morning on which I began The List, God sent a most refreshing rain after a long dry spell.  Refreshing rain made The List.  My screened porch, where I have my time alone with God during the spring, summer and fall, also made The List.  Cooler temperatures, gentle breezes, a hot cup of coffee, butterflies, hummingbirds, family and friends all made The List.

My prayer is that God will give me a grateful heart through this exercise so He will shine through me.  I desire to be thankful even for the small things in life such as my first cup of coffee in the morning.  I don't want the tough things in life - divorce, illness and the like - to consume me and take away my thankfulness or my joy.

I want to give God the tough things in life and turn my focus to Him and His abundant blessings - His gifts.  "Give me a grateful heart, Lord."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oaks of Righteousness

There are those who gain our attention and respect because of how they grieve over their losses.  They are such a testimony to God's faithfulness and provision.

Isaiah was sent to preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted . . . . . ., provide for those who grieve in Zion . . . . .(Isaiah 61:1-3)  Isaiah says of those who grieve in Zion- "They shall be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor." (Isaiah 61:3c)  Those who grieve are very special to the Lord.  He wants to give them a crown of beauty, the oil of gladness, a garment of praise and they will be called "oaks of righteousness."

The Lord plants these "oaks of righteousness" and there is a purpose - "for the display of His splendor."  When we experience deep hurts and losses, we have a God-given opportunity to display the splendor of the Lord.  Will we be called "oaks of righteousness?"  Will we display His splendor?