Here we are in November, and hopefully you are being consistently reminded of what you should be thankful for. I am sure many of us are making plans for Thanksgiving with loved ones. It is without a doubt a season where many turn their focus to gratefulness and contentment.
But as a believer, it begs the question “Why isn’t this our attitude all the time?”
I think it has so much to do with our mindset and our view of who God is.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-5 we read “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Such truth spoken right to our hearts today!
But a distinct addition comes when we read almost the same verse in Mark 12:29-30: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Here we see God introducing another step to the process in calling us to devote our thoughts to Him! Here we are called to keep our mind, which along with the condition of our hearts is so much of who we are, set on Him!
In all honesty, there are tough days. There are days and seasons where the decision to give up and give in are too easy. If my mind, will and emotions are not set on Him and His people, I will always give myself the option of quitting.
We have to ask ourselves and assess just like Jesus asked Simon Peter in John chapter 15, “Do you love me more than these?
I believe that it’s the “these” that tend to be an obstacle for most of us. What is in the way in your life of your love, your words professed to Christ being lived out?
How much do you really love him? What is the intensity of that love and how is it shown daily?
Do we love him more than our homes, cars, and possessions? Do we give him greater if not equal amount of attention as some of the sports we follow or the things we do for ourselves and others?
To the doubter or the unbeliever … to the person who is struggling answering this, I know the obvious question is “Why should I?”
Because He has heard your prayer. He hears our voice and all our needs and asks.
If your prayer life isn’t what it should be, then maybe you’ve never sought him out or truly prayed, then you really cannot know of his love.
We have to have the correct view of Him which will only come through time spent with Him and in His word, or we will never be able to truly live the life He has called to Our words are empty if there isn’t an action to follow.
He meets us where we are. He came to us in our sinful state. As we were and as we are, He takes us in.
Why should I love Him? Because He isn’t promising me as a believer what I deserve. After hearing my prayer and meeting me where I was, He did something about it. He saved me. He didn’t leave me as He found me but instead changed me.
Where can I show this love? The real question is, where can’t I show this love?
Are those you come in contact with daily leaving your presence in a better place because of how you love them?
I am sure many have the question: what is the point of sacrifices in our daily lives?
In Psalm 50, basically what we are told is “I won’t accept your sacrifices. If I was hungry I wouldn’t come knocking on your door for a handout.”
To our human hearts, it does not make sense. Why would God require sacrifices and then reject them when they were being offered? Simply put, God doesn’t want the animals on the altar or even the checks in the offering if He first does not have our hearts.
He’s not moved by the amounts that we give if it isn’t coming from a pure heart.
He asks us to take up our cross, not because He feels snubbed for having to die in our place, but because He wants us to see the price of our forgiveness. He wants us to take His yoke upon us, not because it’s too heavy for Him to bear on His own, but because He wants us to feel the weight He bore on our behalf.
We cannot give God our heart and keep everything else. We would only be deceiving ourselves. Our heart is intricately tied into the treasures of this world. Jeremiah 17:9 tell us “The heart is deceitful above all else. Who can understand it?”
Sacrifices are a way of us keeping our priorities straight.
We need to have a fire team of men to surround us and uphold us, but most of us don’t like asking people for help. We don’t want to burden other people with our problems, so we don’t often speak up.
He’s already done the work, so why would we fight fights that are already won?
By trying to go it alone, we are suggesting that the sacrifice that Jesus made was not enough. This is the greatest insult we could make toward God. It is in realizing our own foolishness and weakness where He is most glorified. Denying who we are without Christ is a slap in His face!
Sacrifice your complaints and frustrations.
Sacrifice the fears that are holding you captive.
Sacrifice your wants. This is a tough one for anybody. We all have things we want to achieve, and most of the time these are good things. Wealth, good health, security, all these things are beneficial. But all too often these desires can become a distraction from God’s provision and will for our lives. When we set our hearts on something other than God, we are saying that God is not enough for us.
To the unbeliever reading this, today, sacrifice your life by crying out to Him and acknowledging that you have been trying this on your own for too long, and it is time to operate in His will!
Reflect on this: God, the one who is completely satisfied in Himself and had no need of us at all, has set His love on us and rescue us from eternal and just condemnation. Not only that, but every day we are surrounded by evidence of His grace, we only have to pay attention. We have the promise of being made like Jesus Christ through our submission of self. We have the promise of being able to dwell in the presence of God without a barrier or mediator to go between.
Suddenly the cares and concerns of our daily lives shrink. When our eyes are finally open to all of God’s provisions, our complaints, fears, and selfish wants become so trivial, and we truly get to live in thankfulness and joy.