Day 29: Practice

Practice: to do or perform often, customarily, or habitually. There are any number of things that each of us practice daily. Some we have done so often, we can perform them almost instinctively, without stopping to consider if it is a practice that still serves us well. Perhaps it is time to take inventory of our daily practices. What are the practices you engage in each day? Dedicate time to list each one. Prayerfully consider if there are any that need to be eliminated, for example, complaining and other practices that do not nurture your spirit. Also, consider if there are others missing from the list that you need to add, for example, gratitude. Interestingly enough, the practice of gratitude can reduce complaining.

This post is for Day 29 of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Writing Challenge. The theme of my series is, “Season,” (which, at this point in the challenge, is loosely) based on the definition, “make (wood) suitable for use as timber by adjusting its moisture content to that of the environment in which it will be used.” Please click here to find the Table of Contents and links to other posts in the series.

“Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]” (Colossians 3:15, AMP).

clearance and lessons

I found two items in the clearance section at the back of the arts and crafts store – a chipped plate and a damaged sign.

The chipped plate reminded me that things do not have to be perfect for me to be grateful.

The damaged sign reminded me that I can be brave even when wounded.

The life lessons gleaned from the clearance items give them worth far beyond their original price. And just in case you appreciate a great deal, I will share the original prices of the items and what I paid for them: the plate was $8.99 and I paid .89 cents; the sign was $23.99 and I paid $2.39 (plus tax). Sweet.😃

Practice

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).” It is not our natural inclination to give thanks. We have to practice doing so. One definition of practice is, “To perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient.” We have to develop the practice of giving thanks to God in all circumstances. This practice requires several things, among them the recognition that giving thanks is an act of obedience. An act of obedience which, like everything else God asks us to do, He provides sufficient grace for us to accomplish. Giving thanks to God in the good times stems from the awareness that God is the source of all good gifts (James 1:17). Giving thanks in difficult times, stems from the belief that He is sovereign and works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Oh that we would practice giving thanks so that we can become proficient at doing so.

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Practice.” The definition of “Practice” used in this post is from merriam-webster.com. The benefits of being grateful and expressing thanks are well researched and documented. Should anyone be more given to gratitude than the children of God? One of my favorite resources for developing the practice of giving thanks to God in all circumstances is Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. An additional resource is the website http://onethousandgifts.com/ where visitors are invited to share the things (gifts) for which they are thankful.

Thanks giving: An act. A process. A journey

Thanks giving

What is thanks giving? It is something we do. It is a process in which we engage. It is a journey we choose.

 Thanks giving: The Act

Thanks giving is something we do. As an author, Robert Brault, notes, “There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude. Let us first give wholehearted thanks to the One Who is the Source of all good things. Then, let us also express gratitude to those who are priceless gifts He has given us and through whom He sends other gifts, tangible and intangible.

Thanks giving: The Process

Thanks giving is a process, much like that of using starters to make bread. It is a process that has to be activated. Starters can include the actions of another person, the recognition that nothing is owed us and we are the recipients of so much, and awareness of the goodness of our generous (such an understatement) God Who seems able only to give lavishly.

Thanks giving: The Journey

Thanks giving is a journey one often initiated externally, for example, through the influence of a parent or caregiver, in childhood, as they taught us manners. Sometimes it was a clear instruction, Say thank you, honey. At other times it came in the form of a prompt, What do you say when someone gives you something or says something nice, sweetheart? Over time, and with repeated lessons, the expression of thanks becomes ingrained, almost an automatic response. But there can be moments in the journey that we are awakened to the truth that thanksgiving can be intentional, not influenced by anything but our will. We can choose to give thanks. We can choose to be thankful in every circumstance. In every situation. In every season of life. In everything. With His help.

Have a Gratitude Filled Thanksgiving Holiday.

 

Expressing thanks but ignoring the Giver?

Expressing thanks.png

Two years ago, speaking about the Thanksgiving season, a fellow blogger commented, “I’m always amazed this time of year to hear people speak of being grateful, but denying the one to whom we should direct our gratitude.”  Her comment invites reflection, does it not?

How is it possible to be grateful but never acknowledge God? Could it be that we fail to see Him as the Source of all good gifts? Could it be that, in the vein of king Nebuchadnezzar, we are taking all or most of the credit for the good in our lives? Could it be that we do not know or live in the light of the truths revealed in Acts 17:24-28 (CEV):

This God made the world and everything in it. … He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and He decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for Him and reach out and find Him. He isn’t far from any of us, and He gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are…”

Could it be that we do not know or remember that it is

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” and great is His faithfulness? (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

How well do those of us who call Him Father and claim that He is Lord know these truths? Is our knowledge only head knowledge? Or do these truths so permeate our being that thanksgiving, gratitude has become our lifestyle instead of something we do occasionally and without intentionality?

Someone posed this question, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” What would the answer be for each of us? Sobering. 

I close with an invitation/prayer/plea from Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9, NKJV).

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy… Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

 

Mid-week boost: Gratitude

gratitude

I am continuing my focus this week on thanks giving with an original poem, two Scripture verses, and a favorite song, “For every mountain.” Blessings to you.

“Gratitude”

Gratitude.

The necessary ingredient that enriches each meal.

The essential component which enhances every gathering.

The lenses which magnify the good in every life.

The medicine which brings healing.

The force which lightens every burden and uplifts and grounds each heart.

Gratitude.

© Esther W. Wright, November 22, 2016

 “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8)

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes].” (James 1:17, AMP)

 

 

Thanks giving: An act. A process. A journey

Thanks giving: The Act

Thanks giving is something we do. As author, Robert Brault notes, “There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” Let us give thanks with all our hearts and to the One Who is the source of all good things.

Thanks giving: The Process

Thanks giving is a process, much like that of using starters to make bread. It is a process that has to be activated. Starters can include the actions of another person, the recognition that nothing is owed us and we are the recipients of so much, and awareness of the goodness of our generous (such an understatement) God Who seems able only to give lavishly.

Thanks giving: The Journey

Thanks giving is a journey … one often initiated externally, for example, with the influence of a parent or caregiver as they teach us manners. Sometimes it was a clear instruction, “Say thank you, honey.” At other times it came in the form of a prompt, “What do you say when someone gives you something or says something nice, sweetheart?” Over time, and with repeated lessons, the expression of thanks becomes ingrained, almost an automatic response. But there can be moments in the journey that we are awakened to the truth that thanksgiving can be intentional, not influenced by anything but our will. We can choose to give thanks. We can choose to be thankful in every circumstance. In every situation. In every season of life. In everything. With His help.

(Today’s post is a revised version of one shared November 2014).

 

 

 

 

Expressing gratitude but denying the Giver

Today’s post is inspired by a recent comment C. M, a fellow blogger, made in response to one of my posts. She noted, “I’m always amazed this time of year to hear people speak of being grateful, but denying the one to whom we should direct our gratitude.”  As I continue to reflect on her words, I wonder if one reason individuals can “speak of being grateful” without acknowledging “the one to whom we should direct our gratitude,” is that they fail to see Him as the Source of all good gifts? Also, in addition to not seeing God as the source of all good gifts, can it be that, in the vein of king Nebuchadnezzar, even if they believe that God exists, they take all or most of the credit for the good in their lives?  Can it be that they do not know the truths revealed in Acts 17:24-28 (CEV):

This God made the world and everything in it. … He gives life, breath, and everything else to all people. From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and He decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for Him and reach out and find Him. He isn’t far from any of us, and He gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are…”

Can it be that they do not know it is

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” and great is His faithfulness? (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

And how well do those of us who call Him Father and claim that He is Lord know these truths? Is our knowledge only head knowledge? Or do these truths so permeate our being that thanksgiving, gratitude has become our lifestyle instead of something we do occasionally and without intentionality?

I think of a question I came across once, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Sobering, is it not? I close with an invitation/prayer/plea from Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9, NKJV).

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy… Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

Monday Vitamins: Gratitude Quote and a Link

thanks“A Thanksgiving Prayer that God Might Rarely Hear” by Cindi McMenami http://www.ibelieve.com/motherhood/a-thanksgiving-prayer-that-god-might-rarely-hear.html

Despising and Complaining: Tests of gratitude and belief

They first grabbed my attention several months ago, convicted me then and convict me still, and continue to make me ponder on them.  What does? The questions raised by Psalm 106: 24-25, that were like a mirror held to my heart.

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the Lord.”

Question 1: Do I despise the good He has given and gives daily?

Despise seems like such a strong word. Maybe take for granted? Even feel entitled to?

I looked up the meaning of despise and one of the two provided by Merriman-Webster is,  “to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful.” Negligible – “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention.”

No way. I am not guilty of regarding the good He has given and gives as, “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention.” Am I?

Let me see. Sins forgiven. Clean water in my faucet. Ability to move without help and little or no pain. Redeemed from destruction. His unfailing compassion. Loving family. His unending mercies that are new every morning. Faithful friends. Ability to see (even if it is with spectacles or contact lenses) and to read. A world of color instead of grayscale. Humor. Laughter. Ability to feel touch and to touch. A job. Forgiveness. Grace for every situation, regardless of size or level of difficulty. Beauty in so many forms. The list is endless.

Yet … how many days can go by in which my, “Thank You” to Him is cursory, mechanical, perfunctory, instead of the genuine expression of a truly grateful heart? “They despised the pleasant land,” considered what He provided as negligible, “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention. Like them, I too am guilty, Father.

Question 2: Do I believe all of Your Word? Do I believe You? A simple test is the degree to which I complain and my obedience. ”They did not believe His word, but complained in their tents, and did not heed the voice of the Lord.”

Synonyms for complain include, “bellyache, fuss, gripe, grouch, grouse, grumble, grump, kick, kvetch, moan, murmur, mutter, nag, scream, squawk, squeal, whimper, whine, kick up a fuss.”  At the heart of complaining is unbelief, distrust. I cannot believe His promises and complain at the same time. The minute I start complaining, no matter how momentarily, I have stepped from a place of belief and trust to one of unbelief and distrust.

This perspective may seem extreme but let us test it with the well-known, and oft quoted Romans 8:28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.” If I believe this to be true in and for all circumstances, no matter how strength draining, mind bending, disorienting, tsunami like pain triggering, I will not complain. I may howl in pain or may be rendered mute for a moment or a long time, but I will not complain. And when I do, it would be best for me to confess my unbelief, rather than use the, “I cannot help it. I am only human” card. I am human, it is true, but I have His power available to me at all times. Self-pity may provide temporary comfort but maturity must be my goal. It is His.

Do I believe all of Your Word? Do I believe You? The answer is not always, Abba. Not always. As evinced by my complaining and disobedience. I echo the words of the desperate father who wanted Jesus to deliver his son from demonic possession, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”