fav things 2

Julie Andrews had it right you know.

When the going got tough and things were scary, when the dog bites and the bee stings and the storms of life rolled in…

“I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don’t feel so bad…”

Gratitude is a little bit like that.

It’s an intentional decision to recognize and acknowledge the blessings in our life – big and small – and giving thanks and worship to God.

“A heart is a one-feeling dwelling; gratitude evicts stress, sends frustration packing.”  Ann Voskamp

Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thankfulness and prayer, gratitude and faith in God, brings peace because we’re not looking at the storm around us but at the One who can calm the storm. Gratitude and faith brings peace because we are intentionally acknowledging in our minds and hearts and emotions that God is exactly who He says He is and that He is able to deliver and overcome.

Intentional gratefulness keeps our eyes looking up at our Father – the giver of all good things, the one who cares for us, the one who loves us and demonstrates His love in so many ways.

As Christians we have so many reasons to be thankful.  We have being saved, rescued, redeemed, called, chosen, forgiven, loved.  God’s love is lavish and everlasting.  We will spend eternity in His presence. We have access to the most Holy Place, the throne room of God because of Jesus. He knows how many hairs we have on our head and has a plan and a purpose for our lives. The Holy Spirit dwells within us to reveal God to us. We have been equipped and empowered.  He is our Healer, our Saviour, our Shepherd.

Also as we look around us we have so many reasons to explode with gratitude. We live in houses. We have toothbrushes. We have food for our tables. People who love us and people to love. Beds. Shoes. Weetbix. Sunshine. Rain. In so many ways we are blessed. It’s all about perspective sometimes.

“Nothing is ordinary. Life is an endless series of little miracles. The difference between living and existing is noticing.” Louie Gigilo

There are so many big and small things in life we can be thankful for – and when we intentionally look for opportunities to be grateful we find our heart filled with hope and joy and peace and thankfulness and this outworks in our everyday life.  It changes something on the inside of us.  It alters our perspective from hopeless to hopeful, from downcast to encouraged, from discouraged to inspired. 

David often would remind himself of the good things of God in His life.  He would stir his soul to worship.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” Psalm 42:5-6

David CHOSE thankfulness and gratitude because he knew the power it would have in his life.  He also knew deep within him that God is God – almighty and powerful, sovereign and in control, despite how he was feeling right at that moment.  He recognized that a downcast soul was remedied by hope and praise – gratitude and thankfulness. He intentionally chose to change his perspective on life.

So then how do we grow in gratitude? How do we increase our thanksgiving? How do we be more intentional about gratefulness?

– Make a choice to fix your eyes upon God and trust Him, even in the storms.

– Start a gratitude journal and begin making lists of things you are grateful for.

– In our personal prayer times begin with thanking God for the things of the day and the blessings we have.

– Use worship music as a springboard to stir your heart with the attributes and awesomeness of God and His love (remember, a song worked for Julie Andrews!)

– Express your gratitude – tell someone!

– Practice. Make it a lifestyle.

“Too often I miss Him, oblivious, blind. I don’t see all the good things that He is giving me, gracing me with, brushing my life with. True, He is everywhere, always. Before I thought of Him as further off, not so close. When I started to see all the things that I love bestowed upon me, I started to see Him as near, present, everywhere, showering me with good things. Seeing the things I love all around me gives me eyes to see that I am loved, that He loves me.” Ann Voskamp

When we’re living our lives with intentional gratitude we’re fixing our eyes upon Jesus and agreeing YES He is good and YES He is faithful and YES He is Lord and YES He is the one who loves us!  Gratitude is an expression of faith.

If we practiced gratitude what kind of effect would it have on our hearts? And the world around us?