From Pastor Mark
This week, Dr. Harton challenged us from Psalm 95 with this message: Guard your heart to live humbly grateful.
You can read Psalm 95 here.
1. Live humbly grateful
Psalm 95 starts by inviting us to give thanks to the Lord with joy (verses 1-2). Today, will you accept God’s invitation to express your gratitude for all he has done for you? Can you still thank God with joy even in the midst of a trial or struggle?
The psalmist tells us why we should give thanks with joy—because God is great (verses 3-7). When is the last time you meditated on God’s greatness? Does God’s power and majesty draw you into a deeper sense of gratitude that this same God has chosen to reveal himself and offer you redemption?
Dr. Harton spoke honestly about his pain over the last year as he watched his wife, Ellen, struggle with cancer. He shared how difficult it was to say good-bye to her. And yet, he professed with great confidence that he was grateful to God for the years he did have with Ellen. Even in his sorrow, he has chosen to dwell on how good God has been to give him such an incredible gift in Ellen. And then he shared a very probing question that we should ponder:
How sour does life have to turn before you lose your gratitude?
2. Guard your heart from living grumbly hateful
The psalmist warns us not to harden our hearts against God when life gets hard. He points to a moment in the history of the Israelites when they did just that. The Israelites witnessed God’s miraculous power rescuing them from the Egyptians through the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. And yet right after this incident, they grumbled against Moses and God because they didn’t have any water to drink (Exodus 17). In fact, they said it would have been better if they had stayed in Egypt!
What we learn is that it doesn’t take much for our hearts to turn from gratitude to grumbling. One trial, one bad diagnosis, one phone call, etc. All of a sudden, we can’t remember all that God has done and all we focus on is the problem before us. And our hearts begin to harden. Have you ever experienced this before? Why is it so easy to forget God’s goodness and start complaining? Why do we like to complain so much?
Dr. Harton closed by saying, “Guard your HEART to keep it tender toward God. God is at work in all the people and circumstances in your life.” How are you guarding your heart today? Do you believe God is at work in all the circumstances of your life?
Read Psalm 95 together.
Talk to your children about the importance of gratitude. Ask them to name some things that they can be thankful for in each of these categories: God, family, church, and community. Share with them some things that you are thankful for in each of those categories.
For example, you cans say, “I am thankful for God’s faithfulness. He always keeps his promises. What about God are you thankful for?”
Fighter Verse Questions for Groups and Families:
2 Corinthians 4:15: For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
In this passage, Paul is describing how even the hardships of life allow for him to experience God’s grace and to extend God’s grace to others. Do you see the hardships of your life as a tool for God to shape you and shape others around you?
How can the hardships in your life possibly lead to you and others expressing thanksgiving?
What can you do this week to develop a heart of gratitude regardless of the circumstances you are facing?