Faith Matters column by Pastor Don Sturiano: Oct. 18, 2014

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I truly hope your time around the table will be a blessing.

I could also say I hope you have plenty to be thankful for. But if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that you already do!

I want to talk to you today about "The Power of a Grateful Heart."

Having a grateful heart is much more than positive thinking.

While positive thinking is a good thing, a grateful heart is a great thing.

It is a biblical principle from God's Holy Word that He wove into our grand design when He knitted us together in our mother's womb; Ref. "Psalm 139."

I am convinced that if harnessed, it is so powerful it will affect your mental, physical and emotional health, heal you of your past and bless your future.

"Everyone who thanks God for a glass that is half full, will always be filled."

So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 36 And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. 37 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. 38 Now those who ate were 4,000 men, besides women and children. -- Matthew 15:35-38 (NKJV)

Several years ago, a single mother and her teenage daughter started attending our church, I learned just before Christmas they were homeless and living in a shelter.

With a heavy heart I called the shelter one evening to encourage her.

After speaking with her for only a short time, I was the one who was encouraged and my heavy heart was much lighter.

I will never forget her words: "Pastor, what I am going through doesn't feel good right now, but I know God will work it out for the good."

She spoke of things she was thankful for and during that season she invited many from the shelter to our church who gave their hearts to Jesus Christ.

Today, she and her daughter are still with us; both have jobs, cars and a place to live. Now that's the power of a grateful heart and a living epistle of a sacrifice of praise!

If you have been around church and the Bible for any amount of time, you most likely will be familiar with the following passage: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

It is my strong opinion this scripture is much more than a two-step formula to get from God's gates into His courts; courts representing closeness with Him beyond the gates.

I believe it is the resulting power of a grateful heart that propels us into the intimacy of praise as we declare His goodness by thanking Him for what He has done, what He is doing and for the things yet to come!

Beyond anything else we could ever share with you, we offer you Jesus. Regardless of who you are, or what you've done, God really does love you. He sent His Son who paid the ultimate price for you. He died for your sins, but death could not hold Him. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ you, too, can have a new and eternal life.

Ask Him into your heart.

Ask Him to heal you, to teach you His ways and to use you to help others.

Welcome to the Kingdom!

Don Sturiano, is pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Church, which meets at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at 825 Ninth St. W., 941-776-0026. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.