Monday, July 1, 2013

A Joyful Heart is Yours

The studies prove conclusive: grateful people are happier with their lives, have better relationships, are physically healthier, and are more optimistic about the future.

Sounds wonderful, but how do we get there?

First, we pray for a thankful state of mind.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

God commands us to be thankful, yes, but he never expects us to change on our own; He's always there by our side. Real heart change comes from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves, so when we want change, we should first pray, then listen.

Along with prayer, we can start keeping a gratitude journal, which studies show produces positive results in just 10 weeks!

So don't just read someone else's gratitude journal, start your own and reap the benefits. 

The next thing we can do is make a practice of writing thank-you notes to all those who've blessed us in some way. I believe in this practice myself, but I need better discipline to keep up with it. That's where prayer comes in: I need to pray for the discipline and commitment. 

Armed with these suggestions, we're well on our way to a more grateful heart, but nothing will happen outside of careful planning. We have to plan for the quiet time to pray for thankfulness.

A consistent quiet time arises only through planning. Otherwise, it's hit or miss. The changes in our hearts will be hit or miss too. We get out of our relationship with the Lord only what we put into it.

So first thing, we need to sit down and think about our day. Where does prayer fit in? Are there other things that must go, to make room for quiet time? What idols are squeezing God out of our lives? Did we arrive at church yesterday with our Bibles, only to realize that we hadn't opened them since the previous Sunday? If so, we're missing out on so many gifts from a gracious God, gratitude being only one of them.

Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Giving thanks today

Dear Father, thank you for these graces and blessings:

~ For the beautiful sunset last night.

~ That God will finish the work he started in us.

~ That it's never too late to start a love affair with the Lord our God.

~ For freedom from persecution here in America.

~ For the redemptive power of prayer.

~ For a gentle husband.

~ For the glory of God as seen in a firefly, in garden growth, in the birds that visit, in sunsets.

~ For a houseful of kids to love.

~ That kids can see the glory of God even in a pesky Japanese Beetle.

~ That Christians dare to love each other and sharpen each other in Him.

~ That even when the Gospel separates us from family, God satisfies our hearts. He is enough.

~ That my father-in-law, 90 years old, called here on Father's Day, after not speaking to us in 5 years (not answering calls, not opening letters). How we have prayed and prayed! He has undiagnosed OCD that rules a lot of his spiritual thoughts, and he's a whole lot of stubborn. Had my 11-year-old son not had OCD, I wouldn't have recognized it in husband's father. Their thought patterns are similar, but because of no diagnosis or treatment, the father's is far worse. At his age he wouldn't be open to a discussion about OCD.

I pray we can care for him soon, but he thinks it's too cold for his arthritis here and may opt for assisted living near his home in Florida. He lives alone right now and has since his forties. My husband's mother was killed in an auto accident when husband was just 16 years old, and his father never remarried. Having been raised by a mentally-challenged mother, he had no model for love or graciousness. He's hurt more than he's helped his kids, but my husband carries no grudge and is gentle and loving with his father.

I pray that we can speak Jesus' love into his heart in his last days, giving him peace and hope. He brought his family up in Bible-teaching Baptist churches and we thank he's a Christian, but the OCD distorts so much of his core beliefs.

I want to encourage you: when you're praying for something for a very long time, it's hard to keep the faith. I know. But recently our prayers about my headaches have been answered, and now this prayer about my father-in-law contacting us has been answered. Always keep track of the answers, and never give up.

My own parents and siblings have yet to be saved and are as hostile as ever to the Gospel, but I know an answer can come at any time.

Our Lord is always there, working it out for His glory...on His timetable.

Bless you friends. I pray you have a beauty-filled week!



Tesha Papik said...

Thank you for inspiring thankfulness in me! SO happy to read about your father-in-law what a testimony! Praying that God would use your family to bring totally healing to his heart.

Christine said...

Tesha, thank you for visiting here. I always appreciate seeing your friendly face and reading your sweet comments. Love to you this week.

Lisa said...

Dear Christine,
Rejoicing with you about hearing from your father-in-law. I know first hand how wonderful it is hearing from a dear one after a long time of silence.
Praying that the Lord will use you in a mighty way in his life.

Christine said...

Thank you, Lisa. So good to hear from you. Your photo that appears to the right of your name above is so lovely! :)