Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; (Hebrews 12:28)
Click here to listen to "Gratitude and Unshakable Faith"
We have been sharing about faith, the inner conversation of our heart that determines our lives. This conversation is often called thinking.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. (Pro 23:7)
In Hebrew, the word translated as “thinking” in our heart that determines our being, or our isness, how we define ourselves and our lives, is “sha-ar”. The word picture definition is of opening a gate. The idea is that there are gates or boundaries to our hearts and our thoughts. These are in place by definitions. As we “define” reality we enclose it in those gates, those thoughts. This is where we get the concept of “opening our mind”.
Jim Richards uses the term, “boundaries of the heart” to address what we have faith for. What are these boundaries, these gates and how are they determined?
Boundaries define territory, physically. Territory is an expression of authority or stewardship. Authority comes ultimately from God but also from the agreement of the people. Ultimately, boundaries are about agreement.
In Biblical times, people understood boundaries
"When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. (Deut. 32:8)
In this case, God used population to define territory. One way of looking at that is population represents a label. For example, Germany is the country, but the people are Germans. What makes someone a German? We know it means they either were born in the boundary known as Germany or they decided to adopt the identity and become a citizen, a German.
The people of Germany are Germans, a label which if you drill down into it, reveals a set of agreements, a common conversation, that identifies them as Germans. These agreements bind the people together and set a boundary that shows up on a map like it’s a physical reality but really is just a set of agreements. The countries around Germany also share a respect for those agreements which form their boundaries.
Why am I talking about all of this? I am talking about this because boundaries, the definitions in our minds and hearts define who we are. We make judgments, conclusions based not on the truth of the Word of God but based on the “truths” we believe that are a result of traumas and the fears of more traumas. These decisions and conclusions then define our reality by becoming boundaries in our heart.
In this way, we literally become our judgments.
"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Mat 7:1-2)
The standard of measure is another way of saying the boundaries of our heart. It sounds almost like God judges us by the way we judge, our measurement. Actually, I think it is the measurements themselves that define our lives. This is the place of authority in our lives. What we say in our heart has the ultimate authority in our lives. This is what faith truly is and is defined by the definitions in our heart, the boundaries or measurements.
Another biblical term for this is binding and loosening. These terms describe how we respond to the conversations in our lives. Look with me at Matthew 16:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He *said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Mat 16:13-19)
You see binding and loosening are not about how to deal with satan and demons. No. Binding and loosening are about boundaries in the heart. Yeshua is asking about the conversation, what people are saying about Him. Simon Peter answers with the God-conversation. Yeshua “measures” that this response shows that Peter is listening, sh’ma, to the voice of the Father. This transforms the conversation to one called the rock. Look with me at Matthew 7:24-27
"Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Mat 7:24-27)
The “rock” is the example of how solid a life is that is built on listening to the voice of God and allowing His voice to transform our inner conversation. We have authority or if you like responsibility in the arena of faith, the inner conversation of our heart.
When Yeshua says He will build His church on the revelation, the rock, He is speaking about the inner conversation. The gates of hades are the boundaries that are built in our hearts based on lies and false gospels. It wasn’t Peter himself that was the rock. God would never build His church on a man. No! He builds His church on a relationship, a listening and speaking hat comes from the only secure reality that exists. We have a responsibility to respond!
Our autonomy is a sign of His love! No one wants love based on obedience. That is slavery. The Spirit of God doesn’t lead us into obedience. No! He leads us into love and love produces obedience out of love.
Our autonomy is called binding and loosening. These are called keys to the kingdom. Keys open up doors or gates, the shaarim. These are the thoughts in our hearts, the boundaries in our lives. The thoughts control our heaven earth reality. God honors our thoughts. He releases authority into our lives based on our thinking.
So, how do we alter our reality, our gates, our boundaries?
One way is through gratitude. Hebrews 12:28
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; (Heb 12:28)
Gratitude is a way to move or open the gateways, the boundaries of the heart, the sharim.
There are many evidences of this both in and out of the Bible. Let’s look at the area of provision, one near and dear to most of our hearts. Turn to 2 Cor 9:6
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, "HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER." Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, (2Co 9:6-13)
The heart of this section is that how our heart attitude is, is key in our offerings. This is a way of describing the thoughts of our heart, the gatekeepers. In the terminology of binding and loosening, we can think of our heart as being bound by fear in our offerings or in agreement with fear or loosed into generosity. Either of these is produced by our thinking in our heart which reflects how we trust God.
The Apostle Paul is telling us that this affects outcomes. The outcome that is most evident is grace. God is able to make all grace abound to you. We spoke a couple sessions ago that grace is the heart perspective of love that softens our heart towards others and allows us to see their mistakes and our mistakes through that lens of love. We used the example of how the parents of a newborn see their child through grace. We also considered that grace is not only forgiving and loving but also proactive, defending the one we have grace for.
So God in response to the attitude of our heart releases grace, abundant grace into our lives which changes the conversation of our hearts, what we call faith when we give with a cheerful heart. The challenge is that we want to give with a cheerful heart but when we go to give, we often feel the fear of lack gripping the action and negotiating pointing out the boundary thoughts the gatekeepers. We might press through and give anyway but something inside of us knows that it wasn’t truly the “cheerful giving” that we want it to be.
This is an example of the boundaries of our hearts. So how do we move the boundary? Through gratitude. Paul was training the Corinthian disciples in grace. He says that God can be counted on to supply the seed, but through “us” thanksgiving is being supplied. Thanksgiving, the attitude of gratitude identifies the seed with the conversation of God! Can you see it? Read and re-read the verse until it begins to inform your conversation of this reality.
OK, one more example:
Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?" This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little." One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, *said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?" Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. (Joh 6:4-11)
What unlocked the abundance? Yeshua gave thanks! Thanksgiving opens up the realm of heaven, the place of abundance. It seems so simple, giving thanks. It is! Never underestimate the power of something because of its simplicity. That is the nature of the Gospel. Simple but powerful.
Activation: Begin your prayers with gratitude. Instead of focusing on lack, what is not the way you want it in your life, begin with abundance, with gratitude. The power to meet the lack is in the abundance and the abundance is activated through thanksgiving. So first give praise, give thanks. Then in that place of the fullness of God and the overwhelming joy of His provision, whisper your requests to Him, knowing that His love for you is worthy of your trust because He has never forsaken you or left you. He has always provided for you. Now in that place of trust experience the shalom, the peace that surpasses what your circumstances look like.
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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Php 4:6-7)
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