When I open my eyes every morning, it has become a discipline of mine since last Thanksgiving to think through all my blessings and give thanks daily and be very intentional. I have loved this discipline, reflecting on God’s hand in my life. God for sure is in the smallest of details of our lives, but if we don’t discipline ourselves to STOP, unplug, and look back, we will miss or forget or misplace the work of His mighty hands. His purpose is for our faith to grow and for our obedience and confidence to be strong. My faith has grown so much by starting this new discipline last year at this time.
While reading through the life of Moses found in Exodus, and also seeking to memorize the book of James this year, I have found a running theme of just how much “doubt” can creep in and rob us of the joy of past blessings and the confidence of God’s future hand in our lives. It can also stunt our faith and cause great sin in our lives that can affect not just us but our children.
James, the half brother of Jesus, witnessed up close and personal all the miracles Jesus performed, yet he did not believe Jesus was the Son of God until after Jesus’ death and resurrection. How could this be?
The Israelites, when led out of slavery from Egypt, experienced many miracles first hand…the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, being led by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, just to mention a few… but they grumbled and complained. When adversity happened, they doubted and even wanted to return to Egypt! How could this be?
The Lord heard and saw all of it!
How does God feel about our forgetting? Glazing over? Lack of gratitude? Lack of growing faith? Our grumbling when things don’t go the way we desire? He detests it and eventually there are consequences.
We see in Numbers 14:11 that God calls it “contempt.” “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?”
James writes in his book in chapter one verses 6-8, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should NOT expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is DOUBLE-MINDED and UNSTABLE in all they do” (emphasis added).
How does thankfulness/gratitude correlate with faith?
If you are taking a breath today, you should be grateful! If you live in America, you can worship freely. How about clean drinking water? If you read any history book, just look at how God has blessed the hands of man to develop all of our modern conveniences, medicine, abundance of food, all of our choices. The list is endless, yet how much do we complain when things don’t go as planned? Or how often do we fail to thank Him for daily provisions?
The Israelites’ ungrateful hearts led to a lack of faith and ultimately some didn’t enter the Promised Land. God’s greatest blessing He had in store for them was delayed for some and missed by many.
What is the example we need to pattern after? Scripture gives us one –– Caleb! Numbers 14:24, “But because my servant Caleb has a DIFFERENT SPIRIT and FOLLOWS me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to and his descendants will inherit it” (emphasis added).
Remember, Caleb was an Israelite and he experienced the same miracles and hardships that all the thousands of others did, but his heart was different. Joshua is included with Caleb. The children of the grumbling Israelites did eventually get to enter the Promised Land but they had to “suffer for their parents unfaithfulness,” (Numbers 14:33.)
God’s Word is clear in Exodus and in James. We are to endure hardship and count it joy. God provides in the good times and in the bad. He has a plan and it is a great one, but it isn’t void of trials or adversity. Our faith is to grow right along with our gratitude. We are to follow God wholeheartedly regardless.
Point of post: Thanksgiving no longer comes one time of year for me, it is everyday without the turkey and dressing. 😉 I encourage you to count your blessings, count them one by one, daily. Endure hardship and keep your eyes on Jesus, trusting His heart and reflecting often on His hand of provision in my/your life. Let us not be numbered among those who treat God with contempt. Being intentionally THANKFUL this year has given me a DIFFERENT SPIRIT, it has opened my eyes and my life to a more intimate relationship with Jesus, and no matter what life brings, my heart has overflowed with gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving today and everyday to anyone reading this blog! The following are two quotes that inspired me this time last year:
“God is in control, and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks –– not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.” ~Kay Arthur
“In happy moments, PRAISE GOD. In difficult moments, SEEK GOD. In quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. In painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.” ~Rick Warren