This last Friday I had the honor of being a substitute worship leader for Angie West at Celebration Recovery at New Life. I’ve subbed and assisted her several times in the past and I truly enjoy it every time I’ve been invited to participate in any capacity on their team.
In preparing for the theme for the week, Gratitude, it really left an impression on me as what it means to be truly grateful.
In the set, we did songs all revolving around the theme, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart, and 10,000 reasons. The final song of the set we did an old old spiritual, Give Me Jesus. As I contemplated over the set, I tried to replace the last song, but truly felt it needed to be there and at the end.
As I was playing through the song, the last verse grabbed me with the lyrics
‘When I come to die,
when I come to die,
when I come to die,
give me Jesus’
As I played through the chords, this scripture kept repeating in my head:
Are we just waiting for the end of our lives, or are we talking about the denying/death of self?
Remembering that there is no pleasing God without faith (Hebrews 11:6) and faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), gratitude from the mouth without action is lip service, flippant and motivated by something other than faith.
If we are truly giving thanks from a space of true gratitude and faith, then we find Luke 9:23 to be a natural outcome of our gratitude. Not of obligation, or an incredible burden we bear, but out of love and faith.
True gratitude produces a response of joy and freedom when which is given is given freely and out of agape or charitable love. Meaning, that which was given, was given freely, of great price and nothing is expected in return, except to just believe the gift was given freely.
That our savior died for us, took upon himself that which was meant for us, death, and gave us life eternal, how do you respond? How do you express your gratitude?
Do you express it by pursuing what you want?
Do you say thanks over your meals and then live as you wish the rest of the time?
Do you express your thanks by walking through the door of church, sitting in a big comfy chair and then walking out, not giving a thought for the people you sit next to in church the rest of the week?
Do you spend a portion of your day satisfying the desires of your heart, or do you seek the face of God to find what His desires are?
I understand, seeking the face of God can be scary.
There’s all kinds of media images of a Zeus like figure with lightening bolts, looking wild, hairy, and angry. God running around throwing wrath to and fro, with disregard to people.
If you are familiar with the scriptures, and I mean the entire Bible within context, you see a God who desires to be among people, who wants relationship with them, who will put up with all kinds of shenanigans and sins as long as people are truly sorry and turn from them eventually. His desire is that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance and know Himself, to have life and have it abundantly!
He is patient with Jews and non Jews alike, fully accepting those who truly believe in his promises and his word.
Truly express gratitude towards God by first, discovering the heart of your Savior, and through that, denying self, death to self will make itself clear.