What does giving thanks for things I don’t like have to do with determining God’s specific direction for me?
A verse from Psalm 95 has been resounding lately in my soul…
“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Ps 95:7-8).
A few weeks ago I wrote these guidelines to myself:
To Hear from God…
#1 – I need to be still and know that He is God (Ps 46:10), to be “silent before Him,” (Hab 2:20) and “slow to speak”(Jas 1:19).
#2- I need to ask Him for His word, His wisdom (Jas 1:5; 1 Sa 3:9-10).
#3 – I need to turn to where His sure and settled word can be found: in the scriptures (Ps 119:89; 2 Pet 1:19; Pro 30:5; Ps 19:7-11).
#4 – (And here’s the relevant point…) From get-go to end, I have to be ready and willing to obey what He says (Jas 1:22). If not, I’m likely not to “hear” anything that doesn’t appeal to my foolish flesh and wandering, hardened, or hardening heart (Ps 95:7-8), two things opposed by nature to the Spirit (Gal 5:16-17).
The state of the heart, an important part of God being heard!
A hardening heart makes us hard of hearing!
What hardens a heart? Self-will and self-desires digging in their heels against God’s words of truth and instruction, maybe angry cynicism creeping in because we aren’t getting our own way.
What softens a hardening heart? A change in attitude!
And what best changes attitude?
“If you want to change your attitude, start with gratitude.”
I learned that little saying decades ago, from women living “hard eucharisteo” with amazing grace and strength. Little by little I tested their waters, followed their examples, learned to live it out in my own life, that thanksgiving in hard places, and saw for myself its glowing effectiveness.
To keep the heart from hardening with resentment or fear or buried anger or just stubborn self-will, our thanks must extend beyond what stirs up spontaneous smiles to the things we do not even like. Such difficult giving of thanks expresses trust in God better than mountains of offerings or achievements, and the heart that trusts Him holds no barriers between His words and its receiving of them.
This thanks in and even for difficulty can also empower us to spread the flame of love for Him like nothing else!
The next post gives a powerful example of how…