Gather: Gratitude – Week 2

Welcome back!

We are grateful for your presence with us in our gathering up of thanks to forge an attitude of gratitude.

Do you have your fellow travelers alongside? a meal to share? a heart open to Him and one another?

Then let’s begin…

Lord Jesus, You welcome us with open arms when we come with grateful hearts. Open our eyes to Your great grace and bless us with the faith and humility to be thank-full.

Gather Review: Gratitude

Our October Gather is all about Gratitude centering on one verse:

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

Psalm 136:1

How did you focus or meditate on the verse of Scripture this last week?

What did God reveal to you?

Stacy says:

As I drove home from work my middle son called from hundreds of miles away. He listened quietly as I shared with him the story of Joseph, and how God used what the enemy meant for harm for good. “Don’t allow bitterness to take root in you son. God intends all of what has gone before for your good.”

A few minutes later the oldest called. She shared how she went to church with a friend, and God spoke to her and the season of life she finds herself in. She told me of about peace flooding her soul though her circumstances haven’t changed yet. “Mom, God’s got this. He is right here in my waiting. There is nothing for me to worry about.”

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. These conversations are few and far between. Experiencing two in the same day reminded me God’s love is steadfast. His love for my kids reaches much deeper and farther than I could ever imagine. He is determined to draw all my children to Him.

Steadfast means firmly fixed in place, immovable, unchangeable, determined (Merriam-Webster’s). God’s love toward all He made is set firmly in place. Not one thing will ever change his love for us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (emphasis added)

Carol says:

The very next day after last week’s gathering, I struggled in the wake of a failure to listen which led to thoughts of condemnation. The voice was hard to shake and I felt shame and guilt even after confessing my failure to God, so I knew this voice was not His.

I began to repeat our verse over and over in my mind: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever… Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever… 

The repetition distracted me, but did not ease the feeling of guilt. Then I began to do what the verse says: Give thanks to the Lord… 

Thank You Lord for making a way of forgiveness. Thank You Lord for revealing my failure to listen. Thank You Lord for Your ability to work all things for good. Thank You Lord that my failure cannot keep Your purpose from being fulfilled. Thank You Lord for Your grace…

As my meditation turned to the actual action of giving thanks, being grateful, the voice of condemnation fell silent and I was set free by the forgiveness of His grace.

Not just knowing His Word but putting it into practice is the key to living out our faith and experiencing the power of His Word.

God’s Grace to All

In addition to meditating on Psalm 136:1, we started a Gratitude Journal. This last week we recorded three things each day we were thankful for where we saw God’s grace to all.

What did you find to be grateful for? What surprised you as you gave thanks this week? 

On the back of the Gratitude Journal for the month, there is a quote:

There is this:

We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of who He is. 

–Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Do your feelings determine your thankfulness?

When we begin to recognize and give thanks to God for His grace to all He has made, we begin to get a glimpse of who He is and the reason He deserves our gratitude.

What did you discover about God this week as you thanked Him for evidence of His grace to all?

God’s Grace in Action

This week we move deeper into gratitude by focusing on: God’s Grace in Action. This is an opportunity to look back over our personal experience with God and be grateful for His acts of kindness and love.

A second definition of grateful is:

grateful — affording pleasure of contentment: pleasing; pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated (Merriam-Webster’s)

Comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated. Gratitude reminds us of God’s past graces in the lives of His people — His power and willingness to intervene on their behalf.

When we re-member and re-count the ways God has shown up in our past or His faithfulness to His promises in general as recorded in Scripture, we find ourselves encouraged to be faithful, especially in the midst of a difficult situation or circumstance. 

No matter how large or small, a difficulty has the power to sap our joy and fill us with discouragement. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past with thankfulness encourages us to move through what we find difficult or simply inconvenient.

Read Psalm 136:3, 10-26

What is the theme of the reasons to give God thanks in these verses?

How might remembering these acts of God’s grace help you face daily difficulties and challenges?

God shows up for His people. He sets them free from slavery in miraculous and supernatural ways, all the while revealing His love and compassion for His people. He leads us through wilderness times — dry places in our lives. He sees when we are low and lost and provides for our needs. He loves His people perfectly no matter what season of life.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.

Read Luke 22:19-20

What does Jesus ask us to remember?

How can this act of kindness be rooted in our hearts through gratitude?

Is Jesus’s sacrifice on behalf of those He created something you remember daily? What effect does it have in your day-to-day life?

Read the following quote out loud. 

This is the crux of Christianity: to remember and give thanks, eucharisteo.

 Why? Why is remembering and giving thanks the core of the Christ-faith?

Because remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust — to really believe.

–Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional

Read it again silently. Consider what it is saying to you.

Eucharisteo is Greek and means “to be grateful, feel thankful, give thanks” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). Eucharist means Communion, so at the heart of an appropriate approach to Communion is a spirit of thanks.

How can giving thanks for the things God has given us in the past cause us to trust God more?

In our meditation verse, Psalm 136:1, “Give thanks” is one word in Hebrew. It means “to throw, to shoot (arrows)” and “to give thanks” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). When we take this literal meaning of the original language, we see that thanks is always aimed at someone.

When we recognize the graces of God in our lives, those from before we even knew Him and those where we see Him act on our behalf, we are moved to trust Him. Recounting God’s grace and giving thanks is like shooting arrows of faith into our present circumstances. We see He is for us. Especially in the act of grace poured out through the life of His Son. Thanksgiving affirms this truth in our hearts.

Giving thanks for God’s grace in action encourages us in our daily life and increases our faith in the God who is good and whose steadfast love endures forever.

Homework: Gratitude Journal

Continue to meditate on Psalm 136:1 and take note of what God reveals to you through this verse.

This second week:

Every day, remember and recount three things God has done in the past for you personally or for His people as a whole and be grateful. Begin with the stories in the Bible and be thankful for God’s acts of grace in the lives of those who have gone before us.

Father God, show us the evidence of Your great grace and steadfast love. Fill us with thank-full hearts. Increase our trust in Your goodness.

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