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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Fifth Key to a Grateful Heart

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22
Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Daily Scripture Reading - 2 Timothy 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #44 - Which is the second commandment?

Answer - The second commandment is, "You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." (Ex. 20:4-6).

Devotional Thoughts

The Fifth Key to a Grateful Heart - Receive the Word with Discernment

Giving thanks in every circumstance and every situation is God's will. This we have established from the Word of God. No wonder then it is so difficult to be thankful. It runs contrary to our flesh. In our greed we have no room for gratitude. Think about it - when we try to fulfill ad satisfy our lust are we ever really satisfied? Sin is always a let down. It always takes more and more of a thrill and a rush to make us feel the high of living in sin and being our own boss. And yet the higher we go the harder we fall and the heavier the conviction for our sin. We really do reap what we sow.

If we want to develop an attitude of gratefulness, if we want to grow in grace and live as a thankful person, then we must take this last step found in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22. In fact, all the rest of the four keys of a grateful heart find a foundation here. Let us break this key down into parts and study just what it is that we must do if we are to be a truly thankful people.

First, we must not despise prophecies. This does not refer to forth-telling the future in a prophetic sense. It refers to the proclaiming of the truth of the Word of God. Preaching is what is in mind here. We are told that we must not despise the preaching of the Word. We must not belittle it, reject it, mock it, or neglect it.

Preaching is God's methodology for the saving of souls. It is the bold proclamation of the truth of His Word. We know that the gospel is the power of God to salvation and we also know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He tells us in the Word that it is through the foolishness of the message preached that the gospel is proclaimed (1 Cor 1:21) and the lost saved. Preaching is a powerful tool. It is an element of right worship. It is necessary for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. And do not ever let anyone tell you it is an easy job!

If we are to be grateful we must have a proper attitude regarding the Word of God. How else do we know what to be thankful for? In fact, I would go so far as to say that without an understanding of the gospel and a deep love for the Word of God people really do not know how to truly be thankful. It is humble dependence upon God that teaches us the real depths of gratitude.

Secondly we are told that we must test all things. Whatever we are taught, whatever is preached to us, we must test it. By what standard? The Word of God. We go to the Word and we seek to either establish or discredit what we have been taught with the Word of God. We must not despise preaching on one hand, but on the other hand we must not accept all preaching as equal or sound.

The Bereans were commended for testing what the Apostle Paul taught to them. They took it to the Word to confirm that he was teaching truth. No matter the education, experience, credentials, or authority of one that is teaching us we must understand that the highest authority and standard by which we try all things is the Word of God. We must test the doctrine we are taught.

We do not do this with suspicion or with belligerence. We do this out of love for the pastor and the church. We do this out of love for God and His Word. It is the twisting of the Word that leads to ungratefulness.

Thirdly we are told to hold to what is good. When we find teaching and preaching that is sound - that is it leads to godly living - then we are to embrace it! Hold on, don't let go. There is nothing more important for the church than that she is taught the truth. Sound doctrine is good, it promotes growth, maturity, and well being. Unsound doctrine harms, it makes us spiritually weak and sick. So when we try what we are taught by the Word, if it lines up with Scripture we should hold on to it.

Fourth, in this context, we are told that we must abstain from every appearance of evil. What does this mean? It means that we avoid false teaching. How do we know? Again we test the teaching by Scripture and we measure the fruit! Examine the fruit sound doctrine promotes health and growth and unsound doctrine promotes strife and envy. The true test has already been mentioned - sound doctrine leads to godly living and unsound doctrine leads to ungodliness.

This means then that false doctrine promotes greed and idolatry and lust. False teachers we are told feed their own depravity. They live in sin. 2 Peter 2 was written to tell us how to note a false teacher by the way he lives. And so while sound doctrine is necessary for thankfulness so to we see that unsound doctrine promotes pride.

Think about it this way - sound doctrine always focuses on God and false doctrine always brings the focus to men. Did you get that? Unsound doctrine points us to ourselves. Sound doctrine points us to our need for Christ. It drives us to the Cross. It exalts God. False doctrine on the other hand promotes self and is driven by lust - it is religion that is practiced to get for self instead of give to God.

This is crucial in our understanding of gratitude. Sound doctrine, that which we do not despise, test, and hold to promotes gratitude because it gives us an accurate picture of God and of ourselves and we come up needy and poor! We declare with Adam and Eve after the fall that we are ashamed and convicted. We need to be covered. And when we see that God by His grace has covered us with the blood of Christ we have all that we need to be thankful for.

What more do we need than Christ? Is there anything that this world has to offer that compares to Him?

We see then that false doctrine and greed drive us away from Christ deeper and deeper into our depravity and lust. And sound doctrine and truth reveal to us the magnificent gospel by which we have been saved - the truth drives us to gratefulness.

We can sum it up then by saying that in order for our hearts and minds to be focused appropriately on God instead of ourselves, and for our attitude to be one of gratitude and dependence on Him, we must not only hear faithful Bible teaching and preaching but we must obey the Word we hear! The foundation for gratitude is found in sound doctrine and application from the Word for every day life. When we learn all we have been given in Christ we have to be grateful. It gives us an outline of how and what to pursue (pursue what is good). It gives us reason to always rejoice. It motivates unceasing prayer. It illuminates the straight and narrow way. It helps us maintain an attitude of gratitude! We have nothing and are nothing without Him. He is our everything. We must thank Him for all He is and has done for us.

In closing let us meditate upon the truth we find in James 1:22-25:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

The blessed man is a grateful man. He is the man who knows he has been saved by grace. He does not deserve salvation. He cannot earn salvation. He is unworthy. And yet God has saved Him. We know Jesus! What more do we need when it comes to giving thanks?

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Thoughts on the Last Battle by Charles Spurgeon
Be Thankful for the Grace in You by Samuel Rutherford

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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