Don’t forget!

Thankfulness is a really important theme in the Bible. Many of the Psalms are simply prayers of thanksgiving.

The trouble for us is – we often have a problem with our perspective. We act as though our lives are the Big story and God’s story fits into ours. We all do it. It’s part of our humanity. We get obsessed with the details of our own lives and our focus gradually turns from God and onto ourselves.

We begin to try to make things happen for ourselves, trying to do stuff instead of receiving from God. Or  we are so focussed on our problems or circumstances or business that we miss what God is doing in our lives.virtual-reality-1541316_1280

We need help to keep looking to God. Thankfulness is a simple and helpful practice which really helps. It is not a new method or the latest idea but it is something the Bible has taught over centuries and many christians have made it a daily practice. Instead of reciting our list of requests we begin with thanks.

In Psalm 103 King David speaks to his soul, “forget not all his benefits”, many hymns take up this theme too. Why do we need reminding not to forget all that God has done for us? Isn’t it so incredible that we couldn’t possibly forget? Well Yes – and No. It is incredible but we do tend to lose sight of all the blessings we have in the light of other things that are going on for us. This is why it is so helpful for us to be reminded. What are those benefits that King David remembered?

  • that  God forgives all our iniquity
  • he heals all our diseases
  • he redeems our lives from the pit
  • he crowns us with steadfast love and mercy
  • he satisfies us with good
  • our youth is renewed like the eagle’s
  • He works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed etc

It’s all about God’s goodness towards us. It’s great to read it through thinking about how each of these phrases is true for us individually.
In Lamentations there are some  very familiar verses:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. (Lam.3:22)

Ask yourself what are those mercies that are new every morning? They can be as simple as I have breath in my lungs, food on the table, a roof over my head etc – things that we can take for granted.  Since having had breast cancer I am so thankful to be healthy, to be alive, that I have lived to see my son marry. I am thankful for friends who love me and support me. But of course there is so much more than that. Every day we wake up loved by God. What a mercy that is! We should remind ourselves of this and all that God has done for us everyday.

The Bible encourages us to be thankful not just because God deserves our thanks but because thankfulness changes us too. It changes our focus. It  is a great way to help get our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances. We need help don’t we? When we are bogged down in the everyday mundane things of life, when we experience pain and hardship, when we are really joyful and happy. Emotions overwhelm us at times and our gaze turns inward.holzfigur-980802_1280 There is a reason why the Bible so often encourages us to lift up our heads. It’s because we need to. It helps us gain a different perspective. To relocate our lives into His big picture, to be dependent on Him.

Thankfulness is also a good start if we are struggling to pray or don’t know how to pray – because we always have something to thank God for.

Psalm 104  tells us I will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise. In the ancient world the courts were  the way into the Palace, where the King lives. Where He is. Thankfulness helps us to come into the presence of God. As we begin to thank Him, Praise for him begins to rise in our hearts.

Some practical ideas

Do you love lists? I do. Why not make lists of things you are thankful for. You can write a new list each day, each week or month. Whenever you do it, it is a great discipline to reflect on our lives and remember the things we are grateful for. How about starting a Gratitude Journal? bullet-2428875_1920You can do this in all sorts of ways to suit you. You don’t need to write paragraphs. You can write a list for every day. At the end of the day just spend a few minutes reflecting on your day and noticing the things you are thankful for.

 

You might want to use some prompts:

Today I am thankful for  ………………

I felt joyful today when  ……………

My favourite part of the day was …………….

You might want to take Psalm 36 as a template – take your list of things to be thankful for and after every line insert “for His love endures forever”.

Remember though, the point of the exercise is to use the list to help you give thanks to God. Don’t just make the list – use it to fuel your prayers.

Secular studies show that people are happier and healthier if they are thankful even if they don’t know who they are addressing their thanks to*. For us as Christians thankfulness holds so much more meaning and it is powerful. Being thankful reminds us that there is One to be thanked, whose love and goodness are always directed towards us whatever our circumstances might be and that He is worthy of all our praise and honour.

 

 

Photo Credits:
Don’t forget – created using wordswag
Other images: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

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The Marvelous in the Mundane

How often do we sing or pray “His mercies are new every morning” without really stopping to think about it?

As I  was walking to work this week There was a thick white frost and a dense fog hanging over the landscape. It was so beautiful that I began to thank God for it, thanking Him for the beauty he had created that morning. Of course it wasn’t just for me but I enjoyed it all the same and stopped to take the photos used in this blog.

How often do we sing or pray “His mercies are new every morning” without really stopping to think about it? I know I do.

God has already been incredibly merciful to us. He sent His son to die in our place so that we could walk free from sin. He adopted us into his family to become joint heirs with His son Jesus, so all that is His – is mine – including the love of the Father. I’ve come home to a place of rest where I am known and loved. I have been given all this freely. What new mercies can there possibly be?

Some blessings are so everyday that  we  take them for granted. They are so much part of our lives that we don’t even think about them.

First of all, there is life itself. Every breath we take is a mercy of God. Since recovering from cancer I am much more aware of how precious life is than I was before. Our lives are a gift from God for us to experience His blessings. God knitted us together in our mother’s womb, he gave us life and he has numbered our days. Each one is a gift from God. Each day is full of potential for experiencing the blessing of God, for living the adventure of faith and serving Him. Sometimes I think we miss the marvelous in the midst of the mundane. We do the same things in the same way not stopping to see what the Father is doing in and through the small things that shape our lives.

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We have been placed within God’s wonderful creation. Everyday we can enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. Each morning as I walk to work I have been taking photos, many in the same places and of the same trees.File_000 (22).jpeg It has meant that I have taken time to notice all the changes taking place as the seasons come and go. If we take the time to notice we can find the wonder in the smallest flower and thank God for the incredible diversity in His creation which is for us to enjoy.

Ps 103:2 encourages us to “forget not all his benefits” It’s really good to take a little time to think not just about the big things that God has done but for the everyday mercies and blessings that come our way.

In one of the VeggieTales movies Madame Blueberry sings a song called “The Thankfulness Song”. which includes the line “a grateful heart is a happy heart”.Our boys used to watch this when they were small and I always remember that phrase. Being grateful leads to happiness. When we remember all that God has done and is doing for us it lifts our hearts.

What new mercies are you thankful for today?