Practicing gratitude.

This week's devotional is from Pastor Jeff Mazzariello.

ENCOUNTER:  Read Colossians 2:6,7

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

As we talked about on Sunday morning, at first it seems counter-intuitive to have Paul list “overflowing with thankfulness” as one of the things he is imploring the Colossian church to practice as part of the way forward in their lives. You would think he had “stuff” for them to do, or he had some sin in mind that they needed to stop doing.  But “thankfulness” is where he lands.

It turns out thankfulness is an important concept in his letter, and indeed in the rest of the Scriptures: 

  • Col. 3:15 - "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
  • Col. 4:2 – "Devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and prayerful."

Even when we haven’t yet seen the answer to our prayers, or the relief of our burden, or the easing of our pain, or seen the Kingdom come fully on earth as it is in heaven, we are instructed to not forget that, while we cry out and contend in prayer, we must add thanksgiving to our prayers:

  • Phil. 4:6,7 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  • 1Tim. 2:1-3 - "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people...  This is good, and pleases God our Savior..."

Thanksgiving is a key foundational element in our walk with God.  Simply put, we are a people who practice gratitude to God.

BE REFLECTIVE:

Why do you think that God has us practicing gratitude as a core part of our spiritual journey?

Maybe it’s because then we rehearse that God is good... AND that God has been good to ME.  This builds our faith that God can and does show up for us...  even though we may be acutely feeling the ache of places where his will has not yet been done.

Maybe he has us practicing gratitude, because we were made to worship him, and give him the glory due his name for who he is and what he can do.  It is a fulfillment of our Creator/creation relationship.

Maybe it’s simply because the practice of gratitude brings joy.  Remember the clip from Dr. Brene Brown?  She said in essence, “I thought that people practice gratitude because they are joyful, but what the research showed was that people were joyful because they practice gratitude.”  In other words, it appears it’s just good for our hearts to count our blessings and return thanks.

Do you do this?  It sounds pithy or trite and a bit old-fashioned, but in light of the scriptures (and the research!), the questions must be asked:  Do you count your blessings?

Right now, spend just a few minutes in the presence of your good, good, heavenly Father breathing out prayers of thankfulness and worship as the Holy Spirit brings to mind several things for which you can be grateful.

BE A BLESSING:

When you get in touch with all the ways that God is showing up for you, even in the midst of imperfection, waiting, pain, and brokenness, it equips you and positions you to be able to bring hope and light to someone else.  Your faith and your heart of worship is strengthened and you can bring that to someone else.  Who can you encourage today with your heart of joy and gratefulness?  Call, text, or message them right now to bless them.  Or maybe, as you recount what you are thankful for today, a particularly special relationship comes to mind.  Or maybe a particularly neglected relationship... Message them and tell them how thankful you are to God for who they are and that God has put them in your life.

BE TOGETHER:

We hope you are able to be a part of studying Colossians with us this summer!  Join us on Sunday for the time in the Word together, and join in on the daily reading plan that we are all doing together.  You can download the PDF by clicking here.

Have you noticed that there is a multiplying effect of practicing gratitude?  Our faith and joy is exponentially increased when we get to hear what God is doing in others as well.  Do not miss the opportunities he gives us to be with other believers to be strengthened in this way.

See you Sunday, AND we want to invite you to a special event:  On Monday, August 1 we are going to gather at the church at 7PM for an evening of prayer, thanksgiving, and worship.

Why?

Just because.  Just because we need it.  Just because we are designed to practice gratitude and worship.  Just because we need to practice it together.  We hope you join us.