Faith and Thanksgiving - David Mitts

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)

Click here to listen to "Faith and Thanksgiving"

Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at the inner conversation we have that orders our lives which is called faith.  We recognized that God speaks “light” and “order” to our chaos and disorder which is the ever-present background conversation.

We saw that the “waters” of Genesis 1 are the same waters that became “living waters” when Yeshua who is the eternal Word made flesh, the conversation of God made flesh, spoke and was heard.  This is echoed in the cry of the ancient Hebrew prayer, the Sh’ma expressed in Deut 6:4:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! (Deu 6:4)

When we listen with our heart, we open our eyes to the reality of the love of our Father.  This allows in us the love response that brings our lives and the lives of our families into alignment with His goodness. This is expressed in the next verses of Deuteronomy:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut. 6:5-7)

These verses describe the inner conversation, what we call faith as a living day to day reality. We love God with an open heart through listening and trusting in His conversation with us. This trust empowers us in our soul, the mind, our will and the emotions of our life. Trust also strengthens us with supernatural and eternal power. There is in us the oneness of understanding that emanates from the open dialogue which goes beyond what is said and captures the spirit of who is speaking, what the Lord reveals as the Holy Spirit.  This inner dialogue of the heart is expressed outwardly towards those we love, our children, our friends and those who make up the key relationships of our lives.

This is the reality of a living faith. Last week we looked one access door into the conversation, the doorway of grace.  Grace is an attitude of the heart.  God is gracious.  Our ability to activate grace is conditioned by how we see others.  I used the analogy of the parents of a newborn who see their baby through the eyes of love which generates grace.  Grace is more than permissive and forgiving. Grace is also proactive, in defense of the person to whom we love and are gracious towards. It is by this grace that we are “saved”.  God sees us beyond our childishness and our sin and has valued us through the ultimate sign of love, the sacrifice of His only Son. This is true grace.

When we open our eyes to the beauty of others then we enter grace as well and are transformed by that grace. Grace, the wall that protects and treasures the seed of God, manifests in and affects both sides of a relationship. Grace is the power of the golden rule.

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Mat 7:12)

When you see others through the eyes of love, we transform in the seeing.  Treating all people with grace releases us from the grip of the fear that is the power source and the consequence of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the need to be right and the pride of life that defiles us.  

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1Jn 2:15-17)

These 3 attitudes of the world are in opposition to the love of God, which is the fruit of the Tree of Life, who is Yeshua. These attitudes, lust and pride, are all about a life that is driven by a deep emptiness that comes from needing to prove ourselves.  Yeshua teaches us the opposite, to surrender ourselves.

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luk 9:23-25)

I used to be afraid of this scripture because I thought it was about sacrificing the things that were important to me to serve God. I would see the missionary to Africa, and I would think, “I don’t want to leave my family like that”.  I kept thinking that God might ask me to leave everything that was important to me.  Then one day I realized that I had been looking at it all wrong.  I was so focused on me and the potential loss of my life.  I realized that what Yeshua was speaking about had nothing to do with what I feared. I realized that He was speaking about covenant.  

Like a bride who leaves her singe life, to become married, he was inviting me to be His bride.  He wasn’t asking me to lose anything! No! he was inviting me to live in His home as His beloved. The “things” that were mine, were now ours.  My children became our children.  My finances became our finances. My health was now our health.  He would forever look out for me!

This is the salvation that grace opens for us!  We shift our perspective to what is now ours in covenant and suddenly our lives become the greater life of the Spirit.

In this revelation, then my heart opens to what is His.  You see I am NOT working for God!  That concept is a lie.  There is no “work of the ministry”!  That is a corporate mindset that is at odds with the love of God! No, He woes me and I become His betrothed.  My life is lost to me and given to us!  This is what it means to lose my life for His sake. Now He also invites to see what is His that He brings to the covenant.  Oh! What a reality to think about!!

What is His that becomes ours? Look with me at 2Cor

But as it is written: "EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1Co 2:9-12)

The whole purpose of the indwelling Spirit is for us through the inner conversation to discover the treasure that He brings to this covenant. You see there is entire kingdom of light and order that He shares with us as His beloved.

This is what opens the eyes of grace. When we can see what He treasures and the awesome responsibility that it is to be trusted with His heart and His secret counsel, we will operate in an entirely different realm of conversation that we call faith.  

We have thought of faith as a muscle in our inner man that we must exercise, to strengthen.  While this is a truth, it is not I believe the whole truth.  Faith is not just an ability, to believe, it is primarily a relationship, a covenant relationship. When I am truly His, then I am in faith. As Solomon declares:

I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies. (Son 6:3)

In this place of love, His conversation intermingles with our conversation. This process is called faith or I like the word trust, Emunah in Hebrew. Emunah goes beyond the western concept of belief into the idea of mutual support. When I am in Emunah, I am supported and I am supportive. It is a covenant word.

What overflows out of Emunah and gives it a reality in our lives is thanksgiving, todah. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)

This scripture can be thought of as a prayer formula. When I petition God, I need to be thankful for what He has already done. This is certainly a truth. When we look however from the place of covenant love, where I am my beloveds and He is mine, then perhaps we can see a deeper more intimate reality being described.

Thanksgiving. Todah. What is thanksgiving? How do we enter into todah?

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  (Psa 100:4)

The word “todah” comes from the Hebrew root word, “yadah”, which means to know intimately. Yad means hand and the “Hay” means to reveal.  The composite word picture is to move aside the veil or curtain to reveal the inner place, the heart.  Thanksgiving is an activation that moves aside a veil or protection that reveals the heart.

We should ask ourselves, what veil are we using to protect our heart that keeps us in a posture on unthankfulness? One thing to realize is that in first covenant times, a sacrifice, death, was required to deal with the unthankful heart.

"When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. (Lev 22:29)

The word translated accepted is the Hebrew word “ratzon” which literally means a person’s will. 

King James: And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. (Lev 22:29)

The will is key to being thankful.  We must be willing to be thankful. The will is the doorway of miracles, the veil over our heart. In the realm of the inner conversation, a listening heart that is passionate and responsive is the highest achievement.

Solomon asked for this very thing to begin the life of authority in the kingdom:

"So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. (1Ki 3:9-12)

Solomon, whose name means “his peace”, asked for a heart that could pierce the veil of self-protection, the need to give an outcome of good or evil, right or wrong. He knew that a leader needs to be able to know the heart of the Lord in the matters before him.  He also knew that there were veils within veils in the realms of human understanding.  We know in part and prophecy in part. Yet Solomon needed to see beyond the veils of partiality. He wanted to rule with the heart of the Lord, the place of life.

This is the place of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving brings the Solomon factor into the equation. His peace which surpasses our understanding is available in the place of gratitude. You see it isn’t just adding the words “thank you” to your prayers like it is an accomplished fact.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing. No! What I am pointing to is the appreciation, which at its root is a living statement of honor and value, of the place of intimacy and trust that comes from covenant.  I am full of gratitude when I am full of love.  Love produces gratitude and results in peace.

When I return to first love, I am thankful, and I am at shalom.

Activation: Faith, works by love. It is energized and activated by love. Faith is the conversation of our hearts the inner speaking and listening that frames our world. In this way, faith is the Word made flesh.  This is not just a statement about Jesus but about all humanity. As we believe in our hearts so are we. God is love and when we act according to the conversation of love, our life “works”. It is a divine alignment. What blocks our love conversation is when we lose the connectedness of grace. We are truly lost when we stop seeing life, ourselves and others through the eyes of love.  Gratitude is a love activator. Think about a relationship that you are hurt by or offended with. Think about what you can be thankful for about that person or situation. Find the good and allow love to begin to heal your heart.


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