(Another Saturday devotional. This seems to be becoming a habit, and thanks for letting me add this to your weekend email box. Glen.)
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:15).
Humanity's woeful deficit of appreciation expressed toward the One who gives to us "life and breath and all things" reveals an important opportunity for prayer in a personal sense, and also for each other (Acts 17:25). We should pray for an increasing awareness of our utter need for God's provision, and His inutterable generosity in supplying it.
"Lord, make us truly grateful for Thy bounty which we are to receive." This was a frequent mealtime prayer request in days gone by, and such intent remains a vital sensibility in the hearts of believers. The doctrinal content of the request is somewhat faulty, however, because being made to give thanks by God would make gratitude meaningless in both His heart and in our own.
"Accept, I beseech Thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD" (Psalm 119:108).
Love coerced is no love at all, and thanksgiving is a chief expression of a heart freely and lovingly devoted to its Benefactor. Believers' offerings, while certainly the product of the Holy Spirit's moving within us, must necessarily ascend to God from a place deep within our hearts where we ourselves consciously determine to express our thanks. By doing so, we sacrifice the natural bent of our flesh to a wandering mind, ingratitude, and callous indifference to God. Only eternity will tell what such loving expression of appreciation does in the heart of our Heavenly Father, and our own hearts are blessed whenever we kneel at the warm hearth of thanksgiving that exists in the heart of every born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The presence of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus forms the hearth within us. On eleven occasions in the New Testament, our Savior is recorded as expressing gratitude to His Father. His thankful heart now dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, and our hearts would be bereft of any true thanksgiving apart from the Father having "sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6). Nevertheless, in the mystery of Divine/human relations, we have a real and vital role in the matter of gratitude. The "freewill offerings" of our mouth spring forth from freewill determinations in the heart that we will join the Psalmist in his loving determination: "O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee forever!" (Psalm 30:12).
Perhaps we might pray for each other that greater awareness will be given of God's kindness and generosity. Certainly every true believer's response to such light will be greater wonder and awe that we could be so loved by the One who made and sustains our being. Gratitude felt and expressed will follow in this wake of grace, and rather than being "made thankful," we will bless the heart of God with "the freewill offerings of my mouth." Knowing that we are able through Christ to love our Heavenly Father so genuinely will also bless our hearts with the joy of love freely received, and freely appreciated.
"I will love Thee, o Lord my strength."