Tilling the Soil of the Heart: Thankfulness
This week we'll look at a vital spiritual practice to all those seeking to grow in God:tilling the soil of the heart. Jesus spoke in Matthew 13 of two different types of soil—hard and soft. God longs for us to till the soil of our hearts that we might be receptive to the seed of his word and bear fruit. May your heart become more responsive to the presence, will, and love of God this week as you cultivate good soil with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture:“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
Devotional:Thankfulness is one of the most powerful tools in making our hearts both soft to the seed of God's word and filled with abundant joy. Thanksgiving aligns our thoughts and emotions with the reality of God’s goodness in a world wrought with lies about the character of God. It breeds joy and trust rather than entitlement and negativity. With each declaration of thankfulness you dig a shovel into the hard, rocky soil of your heart and churn it over until it becomes receptive to the fullness of God and filled with the fruit of the Spirit.
The Bible is laden with commands to be thankful. Ephesians 5:20 tells us to be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” But my favorite command on thankfulness is Psalm 107:1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
You see, it's important to understand that the Bible doesn’t suggest that we give thanks, but rather commands us to always be thankful. And in God’s command he reveals his heart. We learn in Psalm 107 that our thankfulness is meant to be a response to the steadfast love of our heavenly Father. Thankfulness is meant to be the overflow of remembering, encountering and mulling over how our God is abundantly faithful and filled with unconditional love for us.
I used to read Scripture commanding me to be thankful and think, “Sorry God, I know I need to be more thankful. I know I'm so provided for and loved. I'm sorry for not thanking you more.”
But after meditating on Psalm 107:1, I realized that my lack of thankfulness is a symptom of not spending enough time encountering God’s wonderful character rather than a core issue in and of itself. Tilling the soil of my heart through thankfulness requires that I set aside time to simply experience God’s goodness and love. Because everything he does is by grace, my natural response to his character will always be one of thanksgiving.
Take time today to reflect on the faithful and loving character of your heavenly Father. Allow his goodness to cause thankfulness to well up within you. May your time in guided prayer be filled with a transformational encounter with God and cultivate good soil that bears the fruit of an abundant life.
1. Reflect on the faithful and loving character of your heavenly Father.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28
“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:1-5
2. Now respond to God's character with thankfulness.Take Scripture and thank God for who he is. Look at your life and thank God for any good gifts he’s given you. Allow his goodness to stir up thankfulness within you.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
3. What changed in your heart as you engaged in thanksgiving? Journal about the power of thankfulness. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see how God is at work in your life today and offer thanksgiving in response.
If you start to feel your heart begin to harden because of something that happens today, simply reflect on the goodness of God and give thanks. Negativity and sin have an incredibly harmful effect on our hearts. Decide to put away any form of slander, impurity and anything negative at all, and instead focus on the goodness of what God is doing. Choose to love today and align your thoughts and emotions with faith and trust in who God is. To walk in relationship with God is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit at all times. If you get off track for a bit, simply ask the Spirit to lead you back to the perspective and posture of heart he desires for you! God's grace is abounding and powerful. He longs to walk in relationship with you all day today. May your day be filled with peace, joy and a passionate pursuit of bringing his kingdom to earth all around you.
Extended Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
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