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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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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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.

  

Bible

Daily Audio Bible


Numbers 10:1-11:23The Silver Trumpets

10 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Make two trumpets of hammered silver for calling the community to assemble and for signaling the breaking of camp. When both trumpets are blown, everyone must gather before you at the entrance of the Tabernacle. But if only one trumpet is blown, then only the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel—must present themselves to you.

“When you sound the signal to move on, the tribes camped on the east side of the Tabernacle must break camp and move forward. When you sound the signal a second time, the tribes camped on the south will follow. You must sound short blasts as the signal for moving on. But when you call the people to an assembly, blow the trumpets with a different signal. Only the priests, Aaron’s descendants, are allowed to blow the trumpets. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation.

“When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies. 10 Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God.”

The Israelites Leave Sinai

11 In the second year after Israel’s departure from Egypt—on the twentieth day of the second month—the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle of the Covenant. 12 So the Israelites set out from the wilderness of Sinai and traveled on from place to place until the cloud stopped in the wilderness of Paran.

13 When the people set out for the first time, following the instructions the Lord had given through Moses, 14 Judah’s troops led the way. They marched behind their banner, and their leader was Nahshon son of Amminadab. 15 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Issachar, led by Nethanel son of Zuar, 16 and the troops of the tribe of Zebulun, led by Eliab son of Helon.

17 Then the Tabernacle was taken down, and the Gershonite and Merarite divisions of the Levites were next in the line of march, carrying the Tabernacle with them. 18 Reuben’s troops went next, marching behind their banner. Their leader was Elizur son of Shedeur. 19 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Simeon, led by Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, 20 and the troops of the tribe of Gad, led by Eliasaph son of Deuel.

21 Next came the Kohathite division of the Levites, carrying the sacred objects from the Tabernacle. Before they arrived at the next camp, the Tabernacle would already be set up at its new location. 22 Ephraim’s troops went next, marching behind their banner. Their leader was Elishama son of Ammihud. 23 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Manasseh, led by Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, 24 and the troops of the tribe of Benjamin, led by Abidan son of Gideoni.

25 Dan’s troops went last, marching behind their banner and serving as the rear guard for all the tribal camps. Their leader was Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26 They were joined by the troops of the tribe of Asher, led by Pagiel son of Ocran, 27 and the troops of the tribe of Naphtali, led by Ahira son of Enan.

28 This was the order in which the Israelites marched, division by division.

29 One day Moses said to his brother-in-law, Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, “We are on our way to the place the Lord promised us, for he said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised wonderful blessings for Israel!”

30 But Hobab replied, “No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.”

31 “Please don’t leave us,” Moses pleaded. “You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide. 32 If you do, we’ll share with you all the blessings the Lord gives us.”

33 They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the Lord, with the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest. 34 As they moved on each day, the cloud of the Lord hovered over them. 35 And whenever the Ark set out, Moses would shout, “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered! Let them flee before you!” 36 And when the Ark was set down, he would say, “Return, O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel!”

The People Complain to Moses

11 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped. After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means “the place of burning”), because fire from the Lord had burned among them there.

Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”

The manna looked like small coriander seeds, and it was pale yellow like gum resin. The people would go out and gather it from the ground. They made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars. Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes. These cakes tasted like pastries baked with olive oil. The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night.

10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? 12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? 13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! 15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

Moses Chooses Seventy Leaders

16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. 17 I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.

18 “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. 19 And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. 20 You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

21 But Moses responded to the Lord, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ 22 Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!”

New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Mark 14:1-21

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

14 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.

But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

The Last Supper

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”

19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”

20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Psalm 51

Psalm 51

For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 10:31-32

31 The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice,
but the tongue that deceives will be cut off.

32 The lips of the godly speak helpful words,
but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.

New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.