Salvation is a moment of awakening. We are made alive, having been dead in sin. Life is breathed into us for the first time. We receive the knowledge of God that opens the door to us experiencing eternal life—beginning now. All of this satisfies a longing in us that nothing else in all of creation has been able to gratify. Our eyes are opened to the reality that this world is not our home. And in this moment of awakening, something wells up within us that will be the key to our success as a Christ-follower: gratitude.
The Psalms teach us that gratitude is the doorway into the presence of the Lord. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name (Ps. 100:4, NKJV). In the presence of the Lord, there is the fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). Gratitude is the key to finding joy, and joy is the key to living victoriously as a Christian. Remember, the joy of the Lord is [our] strength (Neh. 8:10b).
Unfortunately, gratitude does not come naturally to us. In our flesh, it is far easier to focus on the negative. We complain. We grumble. We whine. We may not even voice it aloud, but consider for a moment your inner dialogue—the conversations you have with yourself. Is it a struggle to think and feel the best regarding situations you find yourself in? Trials and tribulations come, and in those moments it is hard to “consider it all joy” as we have been exhorted by the Apostle James. Insults and persecution happen, and our natural inclination is not rejoicing and gladness as Jesus has counseled us. Gratitude is a discipline.
In order for us to practice this said discipline, we must have a vision of what gratitude affords us: joy in the presence of the Lord. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (Prvb. 29:18a). Our hearts need to know the why behind the what. As a parent, I know this full well. How often have I told my two sons to do something and have been met with the response, “Why?” We are commanded in the scriptures to be thankful in all circumstances, but in the day to day of life, our hearts need to be reminded of the why. God as the perfect parent understands this reality of the human heart.
The Father desires to continually envision our hearts to joy. So does Jesus. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (Jn. 15:11). Yes! One of Jesus’ objectives in conversation with you is the fullness of your joy. He wants a joyful Bride because a joyful Bride is a strong Bride!
A lack of gratitude to the Lord leads to slavery. Consider the words of Moses to the Israelites: Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart . . . therefore you shall serve your enemies (Deut. 28:47-48). Making this more specific to the work of Outpost, the only time the scriptures give a root cause for homosexual behavior is in Romans 1. Guess what it is—a lack of gratitude! Because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom. 1:21). I am going to make a bold statement: for the man or woman walking in the fullness of joy, homosexual behavior is impossible. Thankfulness to God increasingly leads to holiness. In contrast, a lack of gratitude leads to envy and all sorts of foolish ways of being and doing—homosexuality included.
If you are wanting the joy of your salvation restored, begin by thanking God for saving you, and not just once, but throughout your day. Stick with it UNTIL you break through to joy. Put off negativity and put on gratitude. Thanksgiving, praise, delighting and rejoicing are all hallmarks of the new man.
I have set a goal for the Outpost staff: at the beginning of 2015, I want us to be the most joyful ministry in the Twin Cities. I invite you to join us! Jesus is worthy of a joyful Bride. Therefore, let us continue to passionately walk humbly with God with gratitude in our hearts.