The Power Of A Grateful Heart

Here we are on the verge of another Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving is a great national holiday on which family and friends are brought together. But Thanksgiving didn't start as a national holiday back when the first settlers started the concept. Actually after that first brutal winter and growing season, it was a celebration of life and harvest. The first settlers (the ones who were still breathing) gathered to commemorate God's protection and sustenance. The gratefulness was genuine. I mean think about it. Many of your family and friends died throughout that first year. Through the difficulty, death, and destitution...a group had survived and now wanted to give God all the thanks. Making it through hard times and difficulty produces a truly grateful heart. That's what it's all about - gratefulness.

Understand that a grateful heart is very powerful. It is a force that motivates a person to endure the most difficult of circumstances. A grateful heart can recall God's past faithfulness and envision His future faithfulness. The result is a steadfastness in the present that has a supernatural essence. No one looks forward to tough times. But it's the tough times that toughen us up! Connie and I understand tough times and I'm sure you do too. Tough times come in different shapes and sizes for different people but the result (should we choose it) is the same...a grateful heart. I'll admit, tough times can also produce numerous opportunities to complain and maybe even murmur. But a truly grateful heart acknowledges God is fully in control. We don't always understand the circumstances...but we can understand that God does and has all the answers. Yes, we can thank Him in the hard times as well as the easy times. 


A grateful heart makes one sensitive to the needs of others. I don't mean this to sound bad, but there is always someone whose situation is worse than yours. What a great time to thank God for His faithfulness to us, and offer ourselves to Him as an instrument to help others. A grateful heart. It's very powerful. A grateful heart endures circumstances because its eyes are not on the circumstances, but on God. 


I'm reminded of how Judah was completely surrounded by its enemies in II Chronicles Chapter 20. Jehoshaphat was a Godly king and gathered the whole nation for prayer. If God doesn't intervene...the whole nation will be wiped out. In this prayer meeting Jehoshaphat leads the prayer and begins to thank God for all He has done and all He has promised for Israel. Then He says, "We are powerless against this great multitude, nor do we know what to do. Nevertheless...our eyes are on You." God moved in behalf of the nation of Judah and routed its enemies. It took three days for Judah's people to collect the spoils of the battle.


A grateful heart is powerful. I encourage you in these hard times...remember His faithfulness, thank Him for His future faithfulness, and thank Him for all you have today. Be thankful for the things that matter this Thanksgiving. It will change things. It's the power of a grateful heart.

Do You Believe There's A Hell?

This post is a little on the heavy side. It is not my intent to scare or even offend anyone. Sometimes the truth can be disturbing, but all the time, the truth will set one free. (See John 8:32)

Many folks don't believe in Hell. Why is that? Because many believe God wouldn't create a place like hell. Or at least God wouldn't send people there. You've heard it before: "If God is so loving, why would He send anyone to hell?" God doesn't send anyone to hell. It is a choice people make. "Then He (Jesus) will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." The "accursed" ones referred to as goats here, are those who choose to reject God and His Son, Jesus. (Matthew 25:41)

The above verse makes it clear that hell, the lake of fire, is prepared for the accursed ones, and for the devil and his angels. Hell is also prepared for the antichrist (the beast) and his false prophet. (See Revelation 19:20) Hell is also prepared for death and hades, and anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. (See Revelation 20:14-15) God gives us the choice: heaven or hell. Jesus or not. Choose Jesus, get heaven. Reject Jesus, get hell.

So what is hell? Hell is a place. The Bible says hell is very, very hot. It is called the lake of fire. This lake burns with fire and brimstone, a form a sulfur. Yes, hell is hot...and hell is forever. Many preachers preach about hell fire and brimstone in judgmental fashion. Only it is not really judgmental. It is the passion coming from one who understands the seriousness of hell. Again, hell is not only hot...hell is forever.

The Holy Spirit impressed something upon my heart a few weeks back revealing another aspect of hell not mentioned very often. Hell is a place totally devoid of the presence of God. The term "God forsaken" is taken to an unimaginable level. The first thing a person will do when they land in hell (besides yell "Ouch!") will be to cry out to God, "I was wrong! Help me Jesus!" But God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will not answer them. Why? Because God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will not be there...forever. Hell is hot, hell is forever, and hell is completely devoid of the presence of God.

There will be eternal remorse, eternal heartbreak, and eternal regret. Over and over the cry for help and repentance will go up, but to no avail. Why? God is not there. It this cruel? No! Why? Because Jesus stands ready at this very moment to answer the cry of whosoever will call to Him! Your opportunity is today, not when it is too late. "Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION" (2 Corinthians 6:2b) This is what the grace of God is all about. Today is the day of salvation. Today you can choose to turn your life over to Jesus and not land in the lake of fire...hell. This is good news!

Jesus made it possible for you and me to avoid hell which is also referred to as the second death. "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14) Jesus died a physical death and rose three days later making it possible for you and me to rise to Him in the resurrection. But He also died the "second death" making it possible for you and me to avoid the second death, the lake of fire. Jesus paid this price for you and me on the cross as He took upon Himself all the sin of the world. As He became your sin and my sin God could not look upon Him. Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" God had not forsaken Jesus. The sin upon Jesus brought a separation between He and God. Jesus experienced this separation from God in your place. To choose Jesus today means to avoid the second death, total separation from God in the lake of fire later. Then it will be too late.

Myriads of people will not turn their lives over to Jesus today because they don't want to change or lose the lifestyle they maintain. This is a lack of understanding of the concept of eternity. Your life on this earth is just a vapor compared to eternity. We must understand that the next life, whether in heaven or hell never ends. While those who have been there 10,000 years, singing praises in God's presence suddenly realize "We've only just begun", those who have been crying for mercy...unheard for 10,000 years will realize "we've only just begun". How tragic! My friend, hell is forever. The good news is heaven is forever!

God is full of grace and mercy. Those who call upon Him in sincerity now, will find that grace and mercy. No one has to leave this life without Jesus. Today is the day of Salvation. Perhaps today is the day of your salvation. Jesus has left it up to you. Choose Him! If you are in the least bit concerned about your final destination, again which will be forever, check out the reality of knowing Jesus today. It begins with a simple prayer of repentance. And this wonderful relationship of grace and mercy lasts forever and ever!