"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you,and you will give me glory.”
Welcome if you've found me today through my published devotion: "How to Grow in Love for God"
In that devotion I wrote about the woman who washed, perfumed and kissed Jesus' feet. Her story can be read in Luke chapter 7. In her account, Jesus teaches that those who are forgiven much, tend to love Him more. They are more aware of their sins.
Does this mean we need to go out and do a lot of sinning, so that we can be forgiven much, so that we will love God more? Of course not! It means we need to realize how much we've already been forgiven - and probably will have to be forgiven in the future - and express our gratefulness to Him for that.
I suspect we think that we are thankful people, but in reality we rarely show it or express it. Especially to God. Let me challenge you to do something about that today.
Else, we're currently stuck in a difficult situation, and we assume there isn't much to be grateful for at the moment. Let me encourage you to examine that assumption closely.
Here are 5 ways you can cultivate and show God your gratitude this month.
1) Perhaps the simplest is to spend some time right now remembering your life before you came to know and follow Christ. What was your life like? What was your spirit like? What what your mind and thought processes like? What guilt, habits and sins weighed you down? And how have you changed? What have you been delivered from? What's been transformed? Give thanks to Him for this!
2) February is the month of love, try writing a love letter, or a thank you letter to Jesus this week for enduring the cross for you. And for producing that transformation in your life. It doesn't have to be long or skillfully written - just heartfelt. Tuck it in your Bible in Luke 7 next to this woman's story as a reminder to cultivate gratitude in your heart.
We don't have to relegate our gratefulness to removed sins, the Bible says all good things in our lives have come from God. Everything good. All of it. Even those things you thought you earned yourself, or got by chance. All the big things and the little things God has had a hand in.
3) Try this, try keeping a gratitude record for the rest of this month. Keep it in a notebook, on a legal pad, in a journal, or on some post-it notes on your desk or bedside table. Doesn't matter what you write it in. Each day for the rest of February write down one to three things you are thankful for from that day. Can be anything - just direct your appreciation and gratitude for it God-ward in prayer as you write it. I've challenged myself to end all of my blog posts in 2010 with something I'm grateful for.
The Psalms can be terrific reminders to give God thanks. They rehearse what God has mercifully done for us (Psalms 107 and 136). They challenge us to express gratitude for what we have (Psalm 92:1). And they remind us He is the source of everything we have (Psalm 104).
4) For the rest of February, read a Psalm each morning after you rise (or every night before you go to sleep) and give thanks in prayer for anything that comes to mind as you read. See if you don't experience gratitude expanding your heart towards God
Finally, are you a devotion writer? Have you always wanted to be? You like reading devotions?
5) Check out my previous post here or from my side bar called "Calling all devotion writers," and try your hand at writing a devotion about love - it can be yours towards God or God's towards you - on your blog. Then come back here after Valentine's Day and post a link to it in the devotional carnival that will be up here. Be sure at least to come back next week and read some of the devotions that are posted - hearing others give thanks and recite God's goodness often grows our own gratefulness and faith.
And there you have 5 simple ways to grow your gratitude towards God. Research shows focusing on gratitude can reduce your stress and improve your outlook. I've found it can put your problems, and your God into proper perspective. And help you enjoy life more. The verse from Psalm 50 above shows it somehow gives us direct access to God when we need rescuing ...
So which of these 5 will you try this month?
Thankful that my dad came to love this God he cannot see.