Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 18

"I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:    You have given me wisdom and power,You have made known to me what we asked of You,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king."Daniel 2:23 NIV
      Okay, so bear with me. This verse really has to be read in context so you *kinda* should go back and read chapter 2 of Daniel from the beginning and end with the verse above. If you absolutely can't do that then a refresher: King Nebuchadnezzer had a strange dream and issued an ultimatum: he told the wise men of his kingdom to interpret the dream or he would cut them to pieces and turn their houses into rubble. So you know, no big deal! Oh, and also, one more tiny detail: the king wasn't going to tell the wise men his dream, either.

   So, Daniel, who is just an absolutely amazing example of a faithful prayer warrior, of course, turns to the Lord. And he summons his friends to pray as well (Who can forget the equally wonderful Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?). So they are all storming the throne and guess what? God does what He does best: is awesome.

    So, of course, Daniel has this supernatural answer and he tells the king all he wants to know. But he doesn't take the credit, instead he offers a beautiful prayer of praise, ending with this verse.

   And we serve the same God. If we ask for wisdom, He so graciously grants it.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5 NIV

   There is a requirement of faith, but we are promised that if we believe, He will answer. He will give to us out of the endless wealth of His wisdom. And that is pretty worthy of thanks and praise.

Today's Reflection:
When is a time that you know the Lord gave you wisdom? Thank Him for that, and also, take the time to thank Him for the times in the future He will answer your prayers for insight and direction, just as He has promised.

Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 17

"The Lord will surely comfort Zion

    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
He will make her deserts like Eden,
    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the sound of singing."
Isaiah 51:3 NIV
      Thankfulness in this world isn't always just a result of avoiding problems. Yes, it is easier to get the big raise, or the "A" on the final, or the "all clear" at the doctor's office. But, sometimes, what summons the most gratitude is the restoration, the carrying through, the forgiveness.

   Obviously, we should never do things on purpose to require grace or forgiveness (Romans 6:1), we should strive to always live in a manner worthy of Christ, but in this fallen world, it is inevitable that we will fall short. Like Israel, we won't measure up, and we will feel bereft and alone.

     Other times, life will just be hard. Through no fault of our own, we will suffer trials and hardships, things just plain won't go our way. We will wonder what happened.

   And then, sooner or later, if we continue to trust and have faith (or in the case of the fault being our own, recognize and repent of our wrongdoing) we will find that we have been restored. We will remember the promises, and begin to feel joy again.

   In this life, troubles are unavoidable. But we are also promised that is not all there is. God will bring hope and healing, joy out of mourning. And when that begins, when He comforts us and has compassion on us, that is definitely something to be thankful for.

Today's Reflection:
Think back to a time when you know the Lord restored you. Thank the Lord for His gift of joy and gladness, especially after times of sorrow or separation from Him. 

Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 16

"Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever."
Psalm 136:3 NIV
       We often thank God for things, and people, and His marvelous deeds. But how often do you stop to just thank Him for being GOD?

     True love (such as the kind God has for us) isn't based on the things we do. God's love for us is based on who He *is*. And He is pretty awesome. This verse says it more eloquently:

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV  
  He is above all. There is no comparing Him. He is an 11 out of 10. When you think of all the things a god could be, or should be, He blows it out of the water. He is perfect. Literally.  He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. He is every good thing. He is truth. He is life. He is love.

     I get a little teary-eyed when I try to wrap my mind around His awesomeness. It floods my soul and I am overwhelmed in the very best of ways. True worship is focusing on the attributes of God, and standing in awe. It really isn't hard to get to that place if you spend just  a few minutes thinking about His holiness and righteousness. We should feel as Isaiah did:

 "And they [the angels]were calling to one another:Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;    the whole earth is full of His glory.”
 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King,the Lord Almighty.”" Isaiah 6:3-5 NIV (emphasis mine)

    Doesn't that just make you want to fall on your knees? We serve the Lord of lords...

Today's Reflection:
Spend some time on your knees (if you can) thanking God for who He is. We serve a God like no other, and He deserves worship like no other. Focus on a trait that is especially meaningful to you, and offer Him your heartfelt worship. 

Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 15

"At midnight I rise to give You thanks
    for Your righteous laws.
Psalm 119:62 NIV
      Let's just jump right into this one: I literally do not know anyone (so far as they have told me) that sets their alarm to get up in the middle of the night to pray. Nobody. However, I don't think that the only application of this verse is a literal one-though doing that probably would have fairly dramatic effects on your spiritual life. I'll be honest, though, I haven't tried it.
    But anyway, we all find ourselves in situations where we aren't sleeping. I don't suffer from insomnia, but on occasion I definitely find myself querying my clock and doing the mental arithmetic, "If I fall asleep now, 7 hours. Now, 6 and a half. Now 5 hours, 15 minutes..." I'm sure you've been there.
   And I realized something: that is a really terrific time to pray, and particularly, to be thankful. Thinking of all the ways the Lord has provided for me, all the things He has done, and just how wonderful He is, is very soothing. It reminds me of the song from "White Christmas"  (Sorry, you'll have to imagine Bing singing!).
"So if you're worried and you can't sleep
Count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings..."
Sounds pretty good, right? And if you find yourself drifting off, you can always be thankful for this promise:
"In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety."
Psalm 4:8 NIV
   My mom always told me if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night for no particular reason, it is the Lord prompting you to pray. I can't think about anything better to talk to God about than all the things you are grateful for...can you?
Today's Reflection:
   Before you go to bed tonight, list some of your favorite blessings to the Lord. Perhaps you could consider making a short prayer of gratitude part of your bedtime routine. And if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, definitely think about using that time to thank the Lord. It definitely beats checking the clock!
Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 14

"I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation." Psalm 118:21 NIV
   I am pretty good at asking for what I need. I am a firm believer in presenting my requests to God. (Philippians 4:6). I try not to be demanding, or whiny, but I do try to remember to not worry, and instead pray. So, I don't present a huge list of "wants" to God every day, but I try to ask Him, because I know that He can provide all my needs (Philippians 4:19) and He is the source of every good gift (James 1:17).

   And guess what? He certainly does provide for my needs. He really gives me most of my wants, too. Not always, but often. He very, very often says, "Yes."

   But sometimes I am like a kid. I get what I want, I mutter, "thanks" under my breath, and five minutes later I'm asking for something else. Probably not exactly the response He wants. Instead, I think it would be really beneficial if I said, "thank you" in the moment, and then, like a good recipient, wrote a thank-you note a few weeks later. And maybe, after that, I could bring up it up in my  conversation with Him every now and then.

    God answers all our prayers. They aren't all "yes", nor should they be. However, when He is so gracious as to grant our requests, I think it stands to reason that we can give Him more than a cursory amount of gratitude. Or at least try...

Today's Reflection:
   What is something you were grateful for as soon as you received it, but now that it is a few weeks, months, or even years later you have kind of forgotten about? Tell the Lord today that you are still so thankful for that answered prayer, that "yes" He so generously gave.

Looking for the printable scripture writing plan? Or another day of the "Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart" study? Find them here!


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