Monday, 10 November 2014

The Source of Gratitude - and a detour from Matthew...

Starting the Love God Greatly study on gratitude:

Who God Is and What He has Done

M Ps. 145:3-8 Ps. 145:8
T Dan. 2:20-23 Dan. 2:20
W Ps. 18:30-32 Ps.18:31
Th Lam. 3:21-25 Lam. 3:22-23
F Rms. 5:6-8 Rms. 5:8

Our Response

M Col. 3:1-2, 12-14 Col. 3:12
T 2 Cor. 12:9-10 2 Cor. 12:10
W Ps. 100:1-5 Ps. 100:4-5
Th Eph. 1:18-21 Eph. 1:18
F 1 Pet. 1:3-9 1 Pet. 1:8-9
So, to begin:

Psalm 145:
God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.

Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
each one tells stories of your mighty acts.

Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
I compose songs on your wonders.

Your marvelous doings are headline news;
I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.

The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
your righteousness is on everyone’s lips.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

Yes - but how I realise how failing I am in thankfulness, how meagre my 'attitude of gratitude' is.  Despite trying to notice things to be thankful for every day, and grumbling far less than I used to, my heart is still not naturally overflowing.

And I want to 'write a book full of the details of your greatness'. My prayer is to open my eyes wide so that I see, really see, God's goodness:
God's grace
God's compassion
God's patience
God's love.

And God's mighty power: Job 37:5 - 6 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

Read this again today, elsewhere, as well!
He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
The breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.
He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
Job 37:6,11,12
Daniel, put on the spot to interpret the King's dream, is given the answer by God. His instinctive response is to take his eyes off the situation and focus on God, praising and thanking him:
Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever. He knows all, does all:
He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down,
he provides both intelligence and discernment, He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark—light spills out of him! 

God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise!
You made me wise and strong. And now you’ve shown us what we asked for.
You’ve solved the king’s mystery.” '

And so Psalm 18:30 - 32 says: 

What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.

Is there any god like God?
Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
then aimed me in the right direction?

So, God our rock: as Brian Doerksen sings so  beautifully in Faithful one: our rock of peace, our rock in times of the middle of trouble, in the storm of uncertainty, his faithfulness carries us through.

He is a firm foundation, always there, always faithful, always loving:

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;        
Lamentations 3:21 - 25

And so we acknowledge Romans 5:8 "Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us." Jesus PROVED it. I just have to look to the cross to realise this.

So (thank you Colossians 3:1 - 2), let's keep focused on heaven, not on the minutiae, important as it might seem in the day to day. "So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ,act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective." It is in the day to day that we I need most help to do this.

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without love."

The next few verses under the banner 'our response' stymied me at first: talking about power in weakness.  Paul talking about his 'thorn in the flesh': "At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

'My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."

The NIV says: "for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties."

Whitney at Love God Greatly says: "How glorious that the imperfection of the needy leads to gratitude for the provision of a perfect Savior."

And here's the challenge: "Since gratitude is our focus, and since Jesus is the lasting Source of our gratitude, it follows that if you’ve been rescued, you too have an important story to tell.

“I can’t tell my story,” you say.

It’s too messy.

Too imperfect.

Too incomplete.

Too unresolved.

Too hard.

Too {fill in the blank}…

But wait.

Remember, the best stories aren’t the perfect ones. Listen, no one can relate with those anyway. The best stories are centered on the hope and gratitude we live out in the midst of our imperfect stories, because all of the glory is shifted away from us and back onto the real hero of our story… our perfect Savior.

If we actually lived out this kind of consistent, genuine gratitude in the middle of our imperfect mess… it might just go viral.

A woman confident and content in who she is in Christ overflows with gratitude even in the midst of her less than perfect story, allowing God’s beautiful story of redemption to continue to shine through her to the next generation.

He’s given each of us a story.

It’s up to us to decide what we’ll do with it.


And so: On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

Respond to The Gift with a gift in return.

And it seems that everywhere I look, I am invited to respond with thankfulness. Psalm 95:1 -2 was my 'verse of the day' today: 
"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song."

And we thank God for each other, for this encouragement. Ephesians 1:15 - 19 says:"That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for youevery time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks."

Thanksgiving leads to encouragement and intercession: "But I do more than thank. I askask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!"Than

Thankfulness turns us to consider others' needs. It turns us to want to help. It turns us to prayer - not for ourselves, but for others.

And so this study on gratitude finishes with our ultimate response to God's goodness: "You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation." (1 Peter 3:8 - 9, The Message)

We haven't seen God, but we love him.
We don't see him now, but we believe in him.
Because we believe in him, our future is totally secure, even after death....

Now, that is something to be thankful for.

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