Gratitude for God’s Creation | 03

AUTHOR: Holy Scripture

READ:

Read or listen to 2 Chronicles 15:1–7.

The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without instruction, but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought him, he was found by them. In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. But as for you, be strong; don’t give up, for your work has a reward.”

How were the Israelites to ensure they would prosper in the land? Weather permitting, go outside today and be reminded of God’s glory and love for you in creation.

The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.

FOCUS:

Read or listen to the blog. How did it encourage or challenge you?
What is one thing in creation that you are grateful for? Put something down that you have not listed in previous weeks.


“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more.” Melody Beattie                                       

 

Small Graces  

By Leslie Crane                                                                            


Several times over the course of our marriage my husband has suggested that I write a book. Each time he has mentioned this I have considered it, but ultimately come to the same conclusion. Although I am never without an opinion or words to share, I really have no new idea, amazing discovery, or intriguing story to tell. I have become somewhat suspicious that my husband is hopeful this book idea would keep me focused on putting words on a page, and fewer of my opinions or thoughts would be directed elsewhere in my home! Regardless, although I have no content for this imaginary book, I do have a title:
Small Graces.

I don’t know if I dreamed up this phrase or not, so someone has probably already written the book or has a successful business selling t-shirts emblazoned with these words. But for me, small graces are those little things that bring joy, comfort, help, accomplishment, or a little extra ease to our lives. It’s that parking space close to the cart corral so you can more easily get your kids in and out of the store. That gorgeous red maple tree you see on your way to work each fall. That unexpected kind word from a stranger. The embrace from your adult son. A little bit more in your paycheck. A friendly smile from a store clerk. The washer that’s fixable without a big price tag. The spring flowers in your yard that appear overnight. The work project that has finally come together and is ready to go. The household chore taken care of by your spouse. But all those little things are actually tied to a much bigger thing. 

 

Small Graces and the Big Grace

As a Christian, if you ask me about grace, I will readily acknowledge the ultimate gift of grace from Jesus Christ: forgiveness of my sins, the constant presence of God in my life through the Holy Spirit, and the certainty of eternal life at the end of my earthly life. But what about all those small graces? Do I remember that they come from the hand of God? Not always. Herein lies my need for the discipline of gratitude. The daily attention to finding those gifts of grace that don’t always register as a gift. Looking for those things that are given to us out of God’s love for us, just to please, help, or make it possible to live.

 

Dark Nights

But there are times when I do not care about that red tree or handy parking space. In the “dark nights of the soul” when the burdens of life are so heavy, the physical pain or discomfort is all-consuming, depression is an oppressive blanket, and worry overtakes all other thoughts. Then the search for small graces becomes elemental. I am breathing unassisted. I have a place to sleep with sheets and a blanket. There are people who care about me. There is food in my pantry. The sun rises each morning. I have legs and arms that move as I wish, even if there is pain involved.

 

Interesting Things Happen

When I consistently make the effort to look for things to be grateful for and attribute them to the One Who Provides, that practice or discipline of gratitude becomes ingrained. It happens more naturally and becomes a habit. And when I am looking for things to be grateful for, I find them, and become increasingly aware of God’s presence with me and the joy he provides. Seek and you will find (Matthew 7:7). And when I find more things to be grateful to God for, I am loving him more, expressing my love and worship through gratitude. This creates a desire for others to share in the grace and joy of God’s provisions. I become more thoughtful of others and look for ways to care for them, and not just for myself. As Scottish theologian John Baillie expressed in a prayer, “…in loving you and my neighbor help me to be saved from all false love of myself;….” 

This is me actually managing to live out Matthew 22:37–39:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself….

 

Convicted Again

I am a disciplined person, but as with most things, at some point I abandon the diligent routines until I get convicted enough to re-establish the habits that I know are the best, healthiest, and most productive. The small graces become lost to me again until the Holy Spirit finds some creative way to remind me. The most recent reminder came from my four-year-old grandson. He is conquering the skills of dressing and undressing himself, and after successfully pulling up his pants one day he announced that we needed to pray. This was his prayer: “Thank you Jesus for Derek the furnace man knowing how to fix the equipment, and me pulling up my pants, and thank you for all my joys. Amen!” So much for the wisdom of old age.

“Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

May you and I remember to regularly praise God from whom all blessings flow. 

PRAY:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour out speech;
night after night they communicate knowledge.
There is no speech; there are no words;
their voice is not heard.
Their message has gone out to the whole earth,
and their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1–4

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Week 3 of 11 Gratitude

2 Comments

  1. Annettia Riedesel

    Leslie, thanks so much for this reminder to look for the small graces, and like the precious example of your grandson, may I continually offer up gratitude to God”for all my joys”!

    Reply
    • Sharon Nowlin

      Leslie, I also thank you for your words of encouragement to look for those small graces in my life that God so lovingly offers me! Today the Holy Sprit prompted me to express gratitude to the men washing our windows, offering a cheerful greeting to those hired to do a service for us. I pray those promptings continue as I choose to be more grateful!

      Reply

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