October 13, 2022
A GRATEFUL HEART – Proverbs 4:23
Proverbs 4:3 – Listen to last week’s sermon: A Grateful Heart
This Thanksgiving Sunday, Pastor Eric’s sermon focused on the importance of cultivating a grateful heart, beginning with the following quote: “He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness.”
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18
As indicated in the verse above, it is God’s desire that believers in Christ Jesus remain grateful throughout their lives, regardless of their circumstances, be they favourable or unfavourable.
Seeking the will of God should be our highest priority. In order to determine what the Lord requires of us, it is necessary to consult the Bible and pray. However, despite the clear teaching of the Scriptures, discernment of His will may sometimes prove difficult, and we may require His assistance. There may be times when the Lord does not reveal His will to us immediately, but He will do so at the appropriate time.
It is God’s desire that we give thanks in all circumstances. The Bible does not say to be thankful for all circumstances. Rather, it instructs us to be thankful in all circumstances. There is a significant difference between the two. Although we will encounter negative situations in our lives, we are not to give thanks for these unpleasant circumstances, but rather for the work that He will accomplish through them. It is noteworthy that even though our circumstances and seasons change, God remains constant. In light of all that He has accomplished, is accomplishing, and will accomplish in the future, He deserves our thanks. Every situation should be viewed as an opportunity to express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father. Whatever the season, we should strive to cultivate a grateful heart.
Read Psalm 100:4
Psalm 100:4 instructs us to
enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise.
We are to praise the Lord and give Him thanks. Despite His all-knowing nature, the Lord values our requests and our appreciation is of great importance to Him. A habitual expression of gratitude is a valuable means of developing a deeper relationship with the Lord.
Although we know that we should cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we are more inclined to grumble and complain. While there may be ten things for which we should be grateful, we tend to focus on the one thing that irks us.
Our tendency is to become fixated on a single area of failure while ignoring the other ten positive aspects. In view of the fact that gratefulness is a habit that can be developed, Pastor Eric recommends that we cultivate a gratitude-filled heart by placing ourselves in a position where it can be nurtured.
Read Proverbs 4:23 and 1 Kings 3:13
How can we cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our daily lives? Proverbs 4:23 provides the answer. Solomon, the third king of Israel, said,
Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.
The word guard can also be translated watch. Watch your heart. It implies that there is something valuable to protect. As fragile as the heart may be, it is also of utmost importance and value.
One day, Solomon was given the opportunity to ask God for anything he desired. While he could have asked for riches, fame, or the defeat or death of his enemies, he asked God to grant him wisdom that would enable him to judge and lead the Israelites in an ethical and honest manner. The fact that Solomon requested such wisdom pleased God, so He bestowed it upon him as no one else had or would have after him, other than Christ. Not only did Solomon receive wisdom from the Lord, but also riches and honour, which made him the greatest king of his time. Solomon imparted many lessons to us in Scripture, such as Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and an extensive portion of Proverbs.
Whenever Solomon speaks of guarding one’s heart, he is referring to the innermost core of one’s being. As opposed to the physical heart, which pumps blood throughout the body, he is referring to the individual’s inner core: the thoughts, feelings, desires, attitudes, and choices that are characteristic of him or her.
The expression of gratitude does not begin with words. Our words may express it, but, according to Pastor Eric, it actually begins in the heart.
The dedication of our new facility
The dedication of our new building is scheduled to take place next Sunday. Rev. Brian Egert, Director of Missions Canada, will deliver the keynote address, and Rev. David Blakely, Eastern Ontario District PAOC, will conduct the dedication.
Read Galatians 6:9
Twenty-two years ago, Pastor Brian led a team on a mission trip to Pamplona, Spain, to assist a church planner named Alister Belbin. Pastor Eric never forgot what Mr. Belbin said to him on that trip. He essentially repeated the words found in Galatians 6:9.
And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.
As a result of his lack of spiritual maturity, Pastor Eric was unable to fully comprehend what he was saying at the time. However, two decades later, he has come to fully appreciate what Pastor Alister was trying to convey.
Occasionally, we may become wary of doing good and allow things to enter and affect our hearts. It is for this reason that Solomon says,
Above all else, guard your affections, for they influence everything else in your life.
In other words, every action we take is influenced by what is in our hearts, since everything we do is driven by our emotions.
Read Psalm 139:23-24
The spread of bitterness is similar to that of a virus. It is contagious. Everything we touch is infected with it. Whenever our hearts become bitter, we begin to act out of that bitterness. We respond to offenses with actions that are vengeful and demeaning, which will ultimately impact our other relationships.
When we feel guilty, we will not act out of love but out of guilt. Likewise, the fear we feel in our hearts will prompt us to behave in a fearful manner. The same is true of gratitude. Though being grateful is not an obligation, we wish to express our appreciation to God for the kindness and generosity He bestows upon us. Serving Him is an honour, a privilege, and a joy. To ensure that gratitude is evident throughout our lives, we must cultivate it.
Rather than being led by fear and guilt, we should be guided by love, faith, and thankfulness. The heart is the source of gratitude; therefore, we must safeguard it and pray the psalm David addressed to God. In Psalm 139:23-24, David said,
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Listed below, are four things that can poison a grateful heart:
1 – Discontent
Discontent, or dissatisfaction, is caused by an obsession with what we do not have while ignoring what we do have. How do we counter dissatisfaction? We count our blessings. The time has come for us to focus on our blessings rather than our problems. A wise person once said,
He who is not grateful for the things he already has, would not be happy with what he wishes he had.
Read Philippians 4:10-13
An appreciative Paul expressed his gratitude to the Christians. He said,
I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.
Paul faced some extremely challenging circumstances. He was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and persecuted, among other things, yet through the strength he received from God, he learned to be content in every situation.
As Paul demonstrated, having a contented life is attainable. To be thankful in all circumstances, however, we must learn how to cultivate gratitude.
2 – Disappointment
A second factor that may poison a grateful heart is disappointment or a past hurt. It is important to note, that the moment we are in the presence of another individual, we are liable to experience disappointment. Godly individuals, however, will not intentionally engage in such behaviour. For instance, we may commit time and effort to someone who does not reciprocate, disagrees with us, criticizes us, or fails to appreciate our efforts. This may result in disappointment.
Despite our best efforts, we will disappoint someone at some point. Life is full of disappointments, and we cannot allow other people’s actions to adversely affect our hearts. We should, therefore, place our trust in God, since He will never let us down. Our gaze must be upward and our walk upright. We must also protect our hearts as they are the driving force behind everything we do.
3 – Disillusionment
Disillusionment is the third factor that may poison a thankful heart. It is defined as
the condition of being dissatisfied or defeated in expectation or hope.
Disillusionment generally occurs when one learns that a certain thing is not as good as it appears. This is usually the result of self-created expectations.
According to Doctor Howard Hendricks, a long-time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, couples enter marriage with a mental picture of what an ideal marriage should be. After a few trials, however, the couple realizes that their spouse is not a perfect individual, but rather an imperfect one. When they become aware of this fact, either they will tear up the picture or they will tear up their spouse. This is what Pastor Eric meant by disillusionment. There are times when we place unrealistic expectations on those whom we are supposed to love unconditionally. Pastor Eric explained to everyone in attendance and watching online that we are to love others for who they are, as opposed to how we would like them to be. Despite their shortcomings, we must love them unconditionally.
Read Romans 5:8, Matthew 9:13, and Luke 19:10
The sad reality in the world today is that so many Christians are afraid of loving sinners since they believe doing so would compromise their faith. In loving the sinner without accepting the sin, we embody the love of Jesus, who loved us without restriction. A very tangible manifestation of God’s love is revealed to us in Romans 5:8. As we wasted our lives in sin, Christ died for us. While we were enemies of God and of righteousness, He loved us nonetheless. The cross was the punishment for our sins. Because Jesus loved us so much, He sacrificed Himself in our place. It was Jesus who stated in Matthew 9:13,
For I have come not to call those who consider themselves righteous, but those who know they are sinners.
He also stated in Luke 19:10 that
the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Due to His immense love for us, He transforms us despite our flaws.
4 – Dismissal
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13
The fourth factor we must watch out for is dismissal. This term is representative of individuals who are troubled by the absence of support and belief from those around them. King David is an excellent example of this. When we think of David, we envision the man who composed most of the Psalms, the sinner, and the man after God’s own heart. However, do we recall young David who was forgotten by his father? In light of Saul’s rejection by the Lord, a new king was about to succeed him. Therefore, God sent Samuel, the prophet, to the home of a man named Jesse. To determine which son would serve as the new king, Jesse’s first seven sons were summoned to appear before the prophet one by one. Seeing Eliab, Samuel was certain that he would be anointed. Nevertheless, the Lord instructed him to disregard Eliab’s handsome appearance and height since he was not selected. The Lord does not view things from a human perspective. While we tend to focus on the outward appearance, He focuses on the heart. Abinadab and Shammah were then brought before Samuel, but neither was chosen by God. When all seven sons had passed before him without being anointed, Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons. One more son remained, but since he was the youngest and of such little importance, his father had left him out in the field tending sheep. When David stood before Samuel, the Lord said,
Go and anoint him. This is the one.
It is comforting to know that the Lord does not judge by appearances, but by the heart. God observed David faithfully caring for the sheep, a very low-level and mundane task that few sought to accomplish, yet he performed it with utmost diligence. Despite his father’s disdain for David, God saw David honoring his father.
Safeguarding our inner being is of utmost importance. For us to achieve the goals the Lord has placed within our hearts, we require guidance, encouragement, and support from those around us. If God instructs us to pursue a certain goal and those with whom we interact hinder our efforts, we need to seek out new friends.
It is imperative that we guard our hearts. In the event that we allow our inner core to be affected or infected, it will negatively impact our relationships and our actions since everything stems from the heart.
Watch the video here.