Proverbs 31 Ministries

Where Gratitude Grows Best

Alicia Bruxvoort

ALICIA BRUXVOORT

March 8, 2019
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“In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP)
I heard the clank of the crash before the clamor of her wail.

Devotion Graphic

Following the thrum of sobs to my daughter’s bedroom, I found her sitting in a spray of tiny plastic bricks.

“My plans are ruined,” my 8-year-old whimpered.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I was building a castle,” she explained. “But when I reached over to put the princess in the watchtower, I bumped the roof with my elbow, and the whole thing came tumbling down.”

I felt the ache of my daughter’s disappointment as I gazed at those bricks splattered like rainbow polka dots across the floor. But there was nothing I could say to fix her frustration, so I just pulled her onto my lap, and we sat there together in the middle of the mess.

When her sobs finally gave way to quiet sighs, I began to sift through the pieces of the capsized creation. I gathered tiny pink doors and wee plastic windows, tall slender spires and boxy blue bricks. Then, I slowly began to rebuild.

My girl lifted her head and watched me work. Her frown flipped upside down, and she flashed me an expectant grin.

“Mom, thanks for making something marvelous out of this mess,” she declared.

The blob of blocks I was fastening together didn’t look like a pristine palace or a fabulous fortress. In fact, it didn’t resemble anything marvelous yet.

But my daughter’s eyes sparkled with confidence.

“How do you know what I’m making?” I prodded with a playful wink.

“Oh, I have no idea what you’re making,” my girl admitted with a carefree shrug.

“But I know you …”

Her words dangled in the air between us. And my heart lurched with quiet conviction.

My daughter’s gratitude wasn’t based on what she could see; it was rooted in who she knew me to be.

Perhaps this is the kind of gratitude Paul had in mind when he penned those challenging words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — “In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

It’s worth noting Paul doesn’t instruct us to give thanks to God for every circumstance. Instead, he urges us to give thanks to God in every circumstance.

Paul’s words remind us that gratitude isn’t anchored in ease; it’s anchored in intimacy. The more we know God, the more reasons we have to thank Him.

Gratitude may not be our first response when our circumstances are challenging or disappointing. But when we focus on who God is rather than on what He is doing, we discover that we can give thanks even from the middle of our mess.

We can thank Him for His wisdom even when we don’t see the reason for His ways.

We can thank Him for His faithfulness even when our faith is faltering.

We can thank Him for His peace even when our doubts are raging.

As we become familiar with the bent of God’s heart, we learn to trust the work of His hands, even before His work is finished.

I don’t know where you are right now, dear friend. Maybe you’re sitting in the midst of plummeted plans or picking up the pieces of your shattered confidence. But wherever you find yourself, I’m certain of this: God is with you. And He is for you. And He’s doing more than your eyes can see.

So fix your gaze on God’s faithfulness, and continue to seek His heart. Because if I know our Savior, He’s making something marvelous in the middle of that mess.

Dear Jesus, You are worthy of my praise even when I don’t understand Your ways. Turn my gaze from my frustrations to Your faithfulness. Shift my sights from my hurt to Your hope. And grow in me a heart of thanksgiving as I seek to know You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Truth For Today

Psalm 106:1, “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (NIV)

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Related Resources

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Are you in the midst of celebrating in your walk with Jesus? Or are you struggling through trials and tribulations? See how God’s steadfast love and faithfulness is present through all of life’s circumstances. Click here to learn more. Join us in the First 5 app on March 4 as we begin our study on Ezra and Nehemiah, Opposition and Opportunity.

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Connect

For more encouragement and a chance to win a gift to help you give thanks from the middle of your mess, stop by and visit Alicia Bruxvoort at her blog today.

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Reflect and Respond

What circumstances in your life need a fresh infusion of gratitude? Take some time to lift your gaze and give God praise by writing Him a thank-you note this week.

How is God meeting you in the midst of your mess? We’d love to hear your thoughts today in the comments!

Day 64: Read today’s devotional on Bible Gateway.

Exodus 4:18-31

Stirred and empowered by God, Moses sets off for Egypt, bringing his wife and sons along. On the way, Moses still has to deal with his past transgressions before he can become the leader of God’s people.

“Bridegroom of Blood”

Read

So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.”

“Go in peace,” Jethro replied.

Before Moses left Midian, the Lord said to him, “Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.”

So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God.

And the Lord told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go. Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, “Let my son go, so he can worship me.” But since you have refused, I will now kill your firstborn son!’”

On the way to Egypt, at a place where Moses and his family had stopped for the night, the Lord confronted him and was about to kill him. But Moses’ wife, Zipporah, took a flint knife and circumcised her son. She touched his feet with the foreskin and said, “Now you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” (When she said “a bridegroom of blood,” she was referring to the circumcision.) After that, the Lord left him alone.
(Exodus 4:18-26)

Reflect

God was about to kill Moses because Moses had not circumcised his son. Why hadn’t Moses done this? Remember that Moses had spent half his life in Pharaoh’s palace and half his life in the Midianite desert. He might not have been too familiar with God’s laws, especially since all the requirements of God’s covenant with Israel (Genesis 17) had not been actively carried out for over 400 years. But Moses could not effectively serve as deliverer of God’s people until he had fulfilled the conditions of God’s covenant, and one of those conditions was circumcision. Under Old Testament law, failing to circumcise your son was to remove yourself and your family from God’s blessings.

Before they could go any farther, Moses and his family had to follow God’s commands completely. Moses learned that disobeying God was even more dangerous than tangling with an Egyptian pharaoh.

Respond

Often we look for God’s leading in one aspect of life while ignoring the sin that remains in another area. But to God, we are whole people. Our whole lives are laid out before him. God does not just want compartments of us; he demands our whole selves. If you’re looking for God’s direction in one area, take an honest look at your whole life. What is God calling you to surrender to him?

How Can I Be Filled with the Spirit?

Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

How can we be filled with the Holy Spirit? How can we experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our church that fills us with indomitable joy and frees us and empowers us to love those around us in ways so authentic that they are won to Christ?

Answer: meditate day and night upon the incomparable, hope-giving promises of God. As the verse above shows us, that’s the way Paul kept his heart full of hope and joy and love.

The full assurance of hope comes from meditating on the promises of God’s Word. And this does not contradict the sentence eight verses later that says that the Holy Spirit gives us hope (Romans 15:13). This is because the Holy Spirit is the divine author of Scripture. It is no contradiction that the way he fills us with hope is by filling us with his own word of promise.

Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache. Hope is the confidence that the stupendous future promised to us by the Word of the Spirit is going to really come true. Therefore, the way to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with his Word. The way to have the power of the Spirit is to believe the promises of his Word.

For it is the word of promise that fills us with hope, and hope fills us with joy, and joy overflows in the power and freedom to love our neighbor. And that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

  

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