DAY 18 - ACTIVATION
One way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Below are prompts to get you started.
Tips for practicing gratitude
I hope these ideas help you kickstart your gratitude practice!
DAY 17 - THE GIFT OF CHANGE
What is speaking most to my heart about thankfulness this week? The gift of change. Apart from our recent election, with the possible change that might bring, the biggest news in my life has been a MOVE from Camp Hill to Harrisburg. Anyone who moves knows that it involves shifting...and an opportunity for change. New experiences, new people to relate to, and on a personal level for me now, sharing a home. This means greater levels of communication and building friendship, as well as learning and growing in ways that are foreign and new to me as I trade tree-lined drives for a walk through the city streets.
How does that tie into gratitude? Change and stretching are needed in my life, for I'm prone to comfort. Can anyone relate? So as God extends to me the invitation, "let Me expand your capacity to see differently," I'm GRATEFUL.
"Let Me give you opportunities to love people who are different than you!" GRATEFUL.
"Let Me change your narrow way of thinking." GRATEFUL.
Oh, I'm aware that these invitations also come with challenges. Yet I'm also aware that when you ask God to expand your heart, His answer to that prayer involves an invitation to change. Necessary change!
"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed, CHANGED, by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2
It's all part of that strength-to-strength, glory-to-glory road that we're on. We are not who we were - and we are not who we will become - but through the gift of change, praise Jesus, something different happens in our lives that didn't happen yesterday!! As followers of Christ, transformation is a cultural equation process for us. We move from old to new as we learn our kingdom reality. For me right now, that means "blooming where I'm planted."
I'm aware that some changes are not the ones that God's designed. But even in those - and we've been experiencing many of those as of late - His heart will always be to draw us closer. And every day that we can love Jesus more than we did the day before is a change worth fighting for.
So what change is happening in your life, that might be challenging for you? What beautiful shape is forming in your heart because of it, that wasn't there before? And what are you the most grateful for today that was the result of a recent change?
- Susie Chesson
DAY 16 - LEARNING TO FEAST
Sometimes it can be difficult to find something to be authentically grateful for during seasons when it feels like you’re holding on for dear life, weathering a storm that is battering you or the people you love. You look for a silver lining – something, anything, to be grateful for, to find consolation in, to feel good about – but it seems so far away, out there somewhere on the other side of the rainbow, while all you really feel in that moment is the rain pounding your face.
During these times, a call to gratitude can almost serve as a painful reminder that it feels like you’re holding crumbs, trying to be thankful for each morsel, while the rest of the world is feasting – or so it seems at least (a real recipe for self-pity right there).
Yet what is it that we are really meant to be grateful for? Is it the silver lining, something that’s out there somewhere but seemingly beyond our current reach, a hope beyond the horizon? Or is it the crumbs in our hands, which seem so insufficient to satisfy our hunger, but hey, at least we have crumbs? The answer is none of the above.
The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 knew about crumbs. Desperately, she came to Jesus, asking him to move in her situation. Yet at first, Jesus and the disciples turned her away. Let’s jump in at verse 25:
“But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you as you desire.’” (Matthew 15:25-28a, NLT)
Dogs were a metaphor for the Gentiles, those who at that time were outsiders to the children of God. At that moment in Jesus’ ministry, his primary calling was to go to the Israelites, God’s people – yet here was a Canaanite, an outsider, a “sinner,” asking for Jesus to move on her behalf. She asked for crumbs, and Jesus marveled at her faith. Her persistence and humility despite Jesus’ initial resistance served to magnify just how deep the lack of faith was among God’s people.
Even at a time when the gospel had not yet been released to the Gentiles, crumbs were not her portion, and he answered her prayer. How much more is there for us today, who can boldly come before the throne of grace! (Hebrews 4:16)
Am I meant to be thankful for crumbs, or have I been invited to come in, to feast with my Savior, my Lord, my lover, my true friend?
Father, teach us to feast. Teach us what it really means to be your children. Teach us to live in the abundance of your table, to eat and drink and digest all that’s available to us through Your sacrifice, so that it fills us to overflowing.
And then, let us be grateful, for He is good.
What does it look like for you to feast, with gratitude, at His table today?
- Azure Maset
DAY 15 - " WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR HAND?"
Exodus 4:2 “The Lord said to him, “what is that in your hand?” He said, “a staff”.
The Thanksgiving season is all about recognizing what we do have instead of what we don’t. I was in prayer one day when the Lord led me to the book of Exodus, recounting the story of the interaction between God and Moses after the burning bush. This was a holy moment and in the midst of God calling Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses opposes God. He begins to oppose God because of the lack he sees in himself. But God, in his kindness and loving mercy, asks Moses, “what is that in your hand?” Moses responds in saying, “a staff”.
What the Holy Spirit revealed to me in this moment was that in the midst of my own discontentment and restlessness, he was asking me, what is it I’ve already given to you?
In a world telling you your worth is attached to a monetary value or measure of success, God is saying you're priceless and I’ve given it all for you! Our culture today emphasizes the latest styles of clothing, newest cars, most updated technology and the list goes on. It’s not a matter of stating these things are bad, but it is when we strive after them in order to see ourselves as approved by God.
What has God already entrusted into your hands today? Do you trust him to move in power, transformation, multiplication and upgrades as you steward a grateful heart? Let’s posture ourselves in alignment with what He has already said and what He has already given into our hand!
Our God is asking you today: "What is that in your hand?"
- Bri Luscher
DAY 14 - PURSUING GOD'S HEART
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17
We live in a world surrounded by suffering and desperation, where this question is bound to rise from people’s hearts: “How can we know that God is truly good?”
When we understand the nature and the heart of God, we are able to trust Him even in hard circumstances. James, one of Jesus’ half-brothers, misunderstood Jesus’ ministry and only became a disciple after Christ’s resurrection (see John 7:3-5; Acts 1:14).
He teaches us about suffering and the power of prayer at all times. He also teaches about the importance of chasing a life of purity and holiness, as well as how to rejoice that in Jesus all our sins are forgiven. James instructs us about trusting God’s perfect plan for us and pursuing a closer relationship with our Savior. So instead of feeling despair when we fail or when life doesn’t seem fair, James encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus who lived a perfect life for us. He is at work in us and for us.
James also challenges us to live a life through the lenses of God’s heart. When he understood how long, how wide, how deep, and how high God’s love really is, he was able to comprehend with greater wisdom God’s goodness. Life in this world can be pretty tough at times, but without God, it’s impossible.
It is wisdom to know that we don’t have control over our own lives. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but He knows it before it happens and knows how to handle it. In the Bible, we will find countless testimonies of God’s unfailing love towards His people in all kinds of circumstances. Everyday is a gift from God to us, a new opportunity to grow in intimacy with Him and to grow wiser and stronger through the process.
As James declared, our God “does not change like shifting shadows.” God is absolutely perfect in all He does. His love for us is unfailing. His goodness is everlasting. “Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.
Let the word of Christ live in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts!
Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!” — Colossians 3:15-17 (Tpt).
- Carla Millener <><
DAY 13 - GRATEFULNESS
I stood on the sand of Rehoboth beach this weekend, feeling a little too chilly to do more than dampen my toes in the surf of the Atlantic. My senses soaked in the distant horizon, the thrum of the endless waves, the sting of the salty summer breeze now turned autumn wind against my face. Oh, what connection I feel to God when I am near the water! Eyes closed, I opened the deep part of me and thanked Father God for a day to renew and reset after the past few months. I sank into the familiar weight of surroundings that are so much bigger than me and invited the Holy Spirit to wash over me and refresh me with His living water.
I breathed. I listened. I prayed. I waited. I sang praises into the openness of the empty beach. Josh Baldwin’s “Fountains” began to pour out of my heart… “I have tasted life, nothing satisfies like you do; all my fountains are in You!” I laughed at the irony of what “tasting life” has been like during this crazy year. Yeah, I didn’t expect to taste a lot of what fell onto my plate in 2020. Yet I sit now at the table of the Lord, feasting on His goodness and finding my thirst quenched again. My source of joy is found in Jesus and His love for me as His presence fills me.
Psalm 136:1 guides us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Charles Spurgeon elaborated, “Here is a standing reason for thanksgiving. Although we may not always be healthy, nor always prosperous, yet God is always good, and therefore, there is always a sufficient argument for giving thanks unto Jehovah.” Our gratefulness grows out of God’s love for us, His care for us, His mindfulness of us, His pursuit of us, and His destiny for us. The waves of these truths wash away any shaky foundation we have, and we learn to live firmly planted in the joy of life in Him. Spurgeon says our thanksgiving should “be a fountain out of which the richest praises should perpetually flow” as we continually declare that God is always good because He can’t be anything other than that! Our thankfulness should never stop; it rises constantly from within.
God’s love always endures. He always cares for us. His mercy and lovingkindness are unending. May our hearts continually proclaim with thanksgiving the words of Psalm 87:7 (TPT), “Every fountain of delight springs up from your life within me!” Let us never forget - no matter what, God is always good, and there is always “sufficient argument” for giving thanks to Him!
Prompt: Father, how have you been good to me in a way I might not have seen? What thankfulness would you like to spring up from the fountain of delight You have placed in me?
- Marti Grahl
DAY 12 - GET UP AND PRAISE THE LORD
I’m writing this devotional on the topic of Gratitude in the midst of an interesting and challenging week. A week in which I had a pretty big unexpected car expense - which if I’m being honest - my initial reaction was not #thankfulandblessed. And even when the solution found me and everything was taken care of, I still for a moment found reason to not be happy with what was surely the Lord’s provision.
So when I sat down to write this, I opened my journal and asked: Father God, what does gratitude mean to you? I felt like He began to talk about how gratitude is an expression that is not determined by the what or the how or the why or the end result. Gratitude isn’t a verb or an action (it’s a noun in the dictionary). It’s a state of being that comes from resting in Him.
Philippians 1:6 then came to mind: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus. Now this isn’t necessarily your typical “thanksgiving” scripture but it really resonates. It has been one of those verses that pops up always at just the right time, including today. Learning to live from an eternal perspective, not just blowing with the wind of how the day feels. However, when I am having a moment where there seems to be no solution or I’m finding it hard to rest in God, the thing that usually helps bring me back to a state of gratitude is any sort of creative expression. Whether it’s singing or journaling or taking pictures or painting. It’s to take this “problem”, this very real thing, and instead do the vulnerable. Express yourself to the Father. Open your mouth. Pick up the pen. Pause and ponder. Create something with the Creator.
I’ll leave you with some lyrics to a song that we’ve been singing for several weeks now in our community. Every time we sing it I watch people abandon themselves and believe what they are singing. I watch people sing (or scream) the words with passion. And I have seen the fruit of it. I pray that it stirs you up as it has stirred me up.
So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
'Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it's not much
But I've nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah
So come on, my soul
Oh, don't you get shy on me
Lift up your song
'Cause you've got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord
Gratitude | Brandon Lake
- Natalie Zigarovich