Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 30

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV
   So, this is the only verse in the plan that isn't in Biblical order, and it pained me a little to do that (it really should have been flip-flopped with yesterday's verse to stay in correct order) but I really, really wanted to end with this one.

   It is so perfect for the holiday season, and I'm sure you've seen it used on Christmas cards, but that isn't the only reason why I chose to place it here. It is just exceptionally fitting verse for the end. So, so short, but really the entire motivation behind this thing we do, with the praying and thanking.

I loved this commentary from Chuck Smith:

"So we're talking about giving to God, but yet, you think of what God has given unto us: that unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ. And what was the motive behind it? "God so loved the world that He gave" (John 3:16).
And so the motive behind our giving must be love. Our love for God. And any other motive is not really valid. Give because you love the Lord. Give what you purpose in your heart. What you can give hilariously, that give unto God and God will bless you abundantly for it. So the rule's really about giving. And I want that those rules should apply here." 
    See, that's the thing: we have to have love to be able to give anything, and especially thanks. And that indescribable gift? Well, that's Love, with a Name above all names: Jesus. I can't not put this Scripture here:

"7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:7-12 NIV 
    And this is what I want you to take away if you don't ever read any other words I write: if your thanks is based on something you totally understand and can completely describe, and you can do it simply and shortly, and be done with it, you have it all wrong. True thanksgiving-the kind that is an absolute outpouring of gratitude, a flood of gratefulness, appreciation without limit, isn't something you can write out for 30 days and be done with. It demands, He demands, your life, your soul, your all. He is Love, and He came down and He offered Himself and He can live within you. That kind of thanks... there are not enough words or days to ever express it. Because you can't really describe that kind of Gift. You can't put that type of sacrifice into human expression and really imbue it with the meaning it deserves.

   So here is the thing: indescribable gifts deserve endless thanks. Because you can't describe it doesn't mean you give up-it means you have to try every day for all of eternity. Not for 30 days in November, and certainly not for one Thursday a year. Every. Single. Day. For ALL of your life, with every breath if you truly have the slightest grasp of the weight of it.

   This gift...THIS IS LOVE. I can't write poetry, or music, and my words are stilted and limited and feeble. But I am going to keep trying because this is my offering of thanks. This is my sacrifice of praise. To try to share this indescribable gift until one day, perhaps, when I am finally in His presence and He will give me the opportunity to truly give Him the thanks He deserves.

Today's Reflection:
   Give thanks until your words fail you. This gift, it is indescribable, but we are allowed to offer our praise anyway. That is an awe-inspiring privilege, and one we should practice as long as we draw breath. Pray that the Lord will so fill your heart and mind with the awesomeness of that gift that you can't help but thank Him for it each and every day.

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

   It's almost Christmas! Another way to praise is through song, and I have a free printable devotional for December: your favorite Christmas carols paired with Scripture to celebrate the season. Find "Sing of His Birth" here

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 29

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Ephesians 1:16 NIV
     He's my person. When I think of him, I smile. When he's gone, I feel like a piece of me is missing. When I think of people I want to be with, he is at the top of the list. We don't get tired of being together, and we've been together for a long time-16 years since we started dating, almost 15 years of marriage.

   And when I think of things I'm thankful for, he's pretty darn near the top of the list. It's pretty much: 1. Salvation 2. Joel.  I have a wonderful family, they're really the best, and they're probably number 4 (my kids would be number 3) but he edges them out. He *knows* me, and he still loves me. Yup.

   So, truly, he is somebody I am thankful for. So thankful for. And because of that, he's in my prayers. All the time. I just want the best for him, because I love him. The Lord has used him to make me a better person, a stronger believer, not so self-focused. And I am so thankful for all of that. And I am thankful for who he is-a wonderful husband, terrific father, good provider, not to mention handsome, smart and funny. At least, I think so, and that's all that counts, right?

   And honestly, I think that the Lord appreciates when we pray for the things we are thankful for, but especially for the people we are thankful for. Over and over, we are reminded of the importance of prayer, and praying for each other. Jesus prayed for us, in the Garden of Gethsemane, right after He prayed for His disciples:

"20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:20-21 NIV

  He was thankful for us-for those who had followed Him, and those who would. And He prayed for us, remembering us in His darkest hours. How much more so, in times of joy in our lives, should we remember those we are thankful for? Yup, the people we are the most grateful for are the ones we should always be remembering in our prayers.

Today's Reflection:
    Who are you most thankful for? Are you constantly remembering them in your prayers-both thanking God for them, and thanking Him for His work in their lives? Today is a great day to start. And if you're feeling brave, share your prayers with the one you for whom you are thankful. Nothing is quite as wonderful as knowing you're in someone's prayers.

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 28

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." 2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV

   I love a good deal. Black Friday=totally my jam. I like the thrill of finding just the right thing at a better than right price. And if I find something that is really great? Well, you better believe I am going to tell everyone I know! I don't understand the concept of "full price". I love to share my finds-because I believe that everyone agrees with me.

    I want to share what I have when it comes to fab finds. And I try to put that into practice in other areas of my life, too. Every day is filled with opportunities to share, to give, to pour into others. Our lives are overflowing with opportunities to be generous. 

    And that inspires gratitude in others. When you bring a meal to someone who recently had a tough time, when you send a shoebox to a child overseas, when you put change into the red bucket outside the store, those things elicit feelings of appreciation in others. And whether in big things or small, God recognizes that and provides more opportunities, and means, to be generous. Which brings about more thankfulness! It is a wonderful circle of giving and thanks, or thanksgiving, whichever you prefer. 

  But that is the thing-giving, God giving to us, God giving through us, and our giving to God, all result in gratitude. Those who are blessed by our giving, we are blessed by giving, and God is glorified. It is really wonderful! And everyone involved will give thanks to God.

Today's Reflection:
    How can you be generous today in a way that will result in thanksgiving to God? Whose generosity can you be grateful for? Thank God for providing you with means, no matter how small, to be generous. That could mean with your time, talents, money or words-all these can be given generously and generate praise. 

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 27

"All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV

     The "all this" that Paul is talking about was the preceding verses were he encourages his readers, reminding them of how God's power is at work in their lives. They are walking and talking examples of His goodness, and this exemplification of grace is spreading-exactly what is intended for the Gospel.

  And that is cause for a big ol' gratitude party that is going to have one special guest of honor: God Himself. Because thanksgiving that recognizes the true source of all good things is always going to draw people to Him and bring glory to His name.

   So, straight to the point: how is your thanksgiving overflowing? Maybe every day you thank God for the norms: family, a roof, food. The basics. But is your gratitude really truly spilling out of you from all sides? Can someone spend just a few moments with you before they see your appreciation, even in the smallest of things? Are you practically synonymous with thanks? Is your pleasure over God's grace to you, and to all who receive it, blatantly obvious?

    So much has been done for your benefit-and that isn't just for you, it is for everyone who believes (John 1:12). That grace is continuously reaching more people, and that is a cause for rejoicing.

Today's Reflection:
     Is your thanksgiving truly overflowing? If not, a good place to start is by spending some time on God's grace to you, and how it is spreading to more and more people-salvations are occurring every day! Consider how your spirit of thankfulness can aid in that process and how that glorifies God. 

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

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thankfulness: From Hand to Heart Day 26

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere." 2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV
    I don't think too many of us would put the words "thankful" and "captives" in the same sentence. But Paul isn't like the rest of us. And he loved some good imagery. This idea of a triumphant, commanding leader with a train of all of the spoils of his victories behind him, would have been well understood by his readers. The Romans were busy conquering all the things in that day and age, and they often had these glorious parades showing off all they plundered-both things and people.

   This idea offends our modern sensibilities-we are really not fond of the concept of subjugation or conquering in general. But here, Paul is using it in a positive way-we are joyful captives who have been redeemed and rescued, not slaves cowering in fear and defeat. The country we were taken from is one of death and destruction-we are being led to a land of life and rebuilding.

   And the best part? As we are marching in this parade, we are giving off the incredible, tantalizing, mouth-watering scent of freedom! Everywhere He leads us, others are being enticed by this amazing aroma-and it is making them want to jump in line. We are enveloped in the sweet perfume of His love-and it is practically irresistible.

  The next verse puts it so well.
"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." 2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV 
    We have the smell of "rescue" all over us, and to those who are going under, that is exactly what they want to catch a whiff of.

How about being thankful that we have been "captivated"? His love not only holds us close to Him, it also covers us with the beautiful aroma of His love! That is definitely something to be thankful for.

Today's Reflection:
   We serve an awesome Leader who is at the head of our joyful, sweet-smelling parade. Are you thankful to be a part of that? How can your thankfulness add to the enticement of the aroma of the knowledge of Him and His love?

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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