Gather: Gratitude – Week 1

Welcome!

We are so glad you are here and we look forward to all God has in store for us this month in Gather as we focus on Gratitude.

We hope you have gathered others with you for food, fellowship, and a serving of Scripture. Let’s begin.

Father God, we are so grateful for Your grace. Prepare us and grow us to receive all You have for us. We ask for Your blessing, but also pray our gathering will bless You.


The Heart Behind Gather

We gather because God calls His people to come together. The church is literally a calling out of people from the world and into His Kingdom for a singular purpose: glorifying God by loving Him and loving others.

Initially in our walk of faith, it makes sense for us to gather together to learn what it means to live a life of faith. To seek others to mentor us and help us find our place in the Kingdom.

The importance of gathering with other Believers never diminishes in its importance as we grow spiritually. It is equally important for mature Believers to gather with others regularly, not only because they have something to offer but because they need support too.

Read John 15:1-5

What happens to branches that bear fruit?

What does a branch need to bear fruit?

The Vinedresser (God the Father) prunes the fruitful branches. Pruning includes cleansing of harmful disease. Jesus tells us His disciples are cleansed by the Word, the gospel message He has spoken to us. But another aspect of pruning is to remove “fruitless” branches. Those things in a Believer’s life which are unproductive, like guilt and shame, fear. God works to remove everything in our life which keeps us from producing fruit for His Kingdom.

Jesus tells the disciples bearing fruit is not something we do on our own. First and foremost we bear fruit by abiding in the Vine. One of the ways we abide in Christ is gathering in sacred community.

Picture a tree laden with fruit… or a grapevine weighed down with grapes…

What can happen to a branch of the tree or vine when it is producing fruit at its peak capacity?

A branch can break. When that happens, part of the tree or vine will no longer be able to bear fruit.

A good gardener supports the heavy-laden branches until the fruit is fully ripened and ready to pick.

Our Father in heaven is the perfect Gardener. The support He provides is fellowship in His church. In the gathering, His people support, encourage, and walk alongside each other. In every season of fruit-bearing, whether just beginning or heavy laden with fruitfulness, we need the support of fellowship.

Every member of the body of Christ — the Church — needs to be part of a community of Believers for fellowship: actively giving and receiving their gifts and support to one another.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

Hebrews 10:24-25

How has gathering in sacred community helped you grow and bear fruit?

This session of Gather is a lot like our most recent offering. We will carry one verse with us to meditate on through the month and keep a Gratitude Journal.

What is your understanding of the word meditate?

What do you find yourself thinking about most often?

Stacy says:

I read a good example of meditating recently. The teacher said if you can worry, you can meditate. 

When we worry we turn something over and over in our mind, considering every possible outcome and attempting to figure it out. Some of us lie awake at night, our thoughts churning over a certain situation or circumstance again and again.

Worry is meditation. Only the focus is on what we can do or how to fix something with our own strength and power.

Paul points to meditation in his letter to the Philippians.

Read Philippians 4:8

What does Paul tell the Philippians to think about?

Can you see the correlation between the skill of worry and the discipline of meditation?

The Scripture we will carry with us and meditate on this month is found in Psalms.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

Along with the Scripture we will practice the spiritual discipline of gratitude by keeping a Gratitude Journal.

gratitude — the state of being grateful: thankfulness (Merriam-Webster, emphasis added)

grateful — appreciative of benefits received (Merriam-Webster)

state — a mode or condition of being; condition of mind or temperament (Merriam-Webster)

The goal of the spiritual discipline of thanksgiving is to move us toward gratitude, where our modus operandi, our condition of being, our mind and temperament, are set on being grateful.

Gratitude opens our eyes to God’s “prevenient” grace. Prevenient means antecedent or anticipatory (Merriam-Webster). 

So God’s prevenient grace is the grace He gives before or in anticipation of people recognizing and receiving Him. This type of grace is a staple in creation. One He uses to draw people’s attention to Him and it is available to all people.

God’s Grace to All

Read: 

What do these verses tell us about God?

How does He begin to speak to us and tell us about His goodness and grace?

Why would this turn out hearts toward gratitude?

God is good to all — good and evil, righteous and unrighteous — alike. He provides for all the basic needs in abundance (and much more) through creation. And if we look, we can’t help but see evidence of His great mercy and compassion in all He has made.

Read Psalm 136:1-9

What reason are we given to give God thanks?

What is listed in these verses that reveals God’s love toward us and in turn should fill us with gratitude?

Oh… God’s steadfast, unfailing love! He is love. And because of His love He created and cares for and pursues even when His beloved creations rebel.

This is all the reason we need to give thanks and when we do our hearts begin to move toward a constant state of gratitude.

Homework: Gratitude Journal

Meditate and journal what God speaks to you about our focus verse.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

In addition, during this month of Gratitude we are asking you to keep a Gratitude Journal. Each week will focus on a different aspect of our lives and where we can look for God’s grace and be grateful.

This first week: Gratitude for God’s Grace to All

Every day record three things you are thankful for where you recognize God’s grace toward ALL He has made. Begin by looking at creation.

Lord, open our eyes to You incredible grace to all You have made and fill us with thanksgiving and gratitude.

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