Gratitude Week Five: God Gives God's Self to Me

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My recent trip to the Holy Land put me face-to-face with people who are persecuted and oppressed, so it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination that I would come home grateful for all my blessings. 

I am. So grateful. 

But I’m also moved beyond words at the grace and hope and peace that radiated from my Christian brothers and sisters who live in a place full of injustice. I put myself in their places and can’t imagine being hopeful for a brighter future when walls and other barriers block all access to basic human rights…even needs. I can’t imagine being grace-filled toward my persecutors…and toward those who support them. I can’t imagine wanting to find peaceful ways to resolve differences if I’d been dealt nothing but intolerance…and violence. 

And yet we were welcomed with the warmest of hospitality – fed, sheltered, cared for. 

I loved hearing their stories although there was part of me that didn’t want to have to hear them. They’re too hard. Too unimaginable. Too shattered. Too UNFAIR. 

But listen I did. As a result, my heart grew. My vision expanded. My understating, well, it’s just beginning. 

When I think about what it looks like to be made in God’s image, I’m pretty sure I will always picture my new friends and how their faces, that bore the lines of hardship, also glowed with God’s love and grace. I have a long way to go in discerning what I’m to do with what I’ve seen and learned, but I do know that for now I will pray for them and share their stories. And remain grateful for a God who is faithful and just, gracious and loving, full of joy and peace…especially in the midst of life’s storms. 

Shelley Johnson

 

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Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.


DAY ONE:

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

Psalm 145:8-9, 13-14, 17-21 (MSG) 

Lord, You are all mercy and grace—never quick to anger but rich in love. You are good to one and all; everything You do is suffused with grace. 

You always do what You say, and are gracious in everything You do. 

You give a hand to those down on their luck, giving a fresh start to those ready to quit. 

Lord, everything You do is right—the trademark on all your works is love. You’re there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it. You do what’s best for those who fear You, and You hear them call out; You save them. 

You stick by all who love You, but it’s all over for those who don’t. 

Lord, my mouth is filled with your praise. Let everything living bless You! May we bless your holy name from now to eternity! Amen. 

Ask yourself: Do I believe that God is all mercy and grace, slow to anger and rich in love? How can I better listen for Him? What praises can I offer Him today?


DAY TWO:

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

Day Two: We are all disciples of Jesus, and we want to trust Him. As we live out our lives, we want to prioritize Jesus. Use these verses as a prayer to help you recognize what might distract you and discover a deeper trust in God because of the love He has for you. 

Romans 8:33-39 (MSG) — Father God, with You on my side like this, how can I lose? If You didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for me, embracing my condition and exposing Yourself to the worst by sending your own Son, is there anything else You wouldn’t gladly and freely do for me? 

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen...with me? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for me—who was raised to life for me—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for me. 

No one will ever be able to drive a wedge between me and Christ’s love for me. There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…. 

None of this fazes me because Jesus loves me. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between me and God’s love because of the way that Jesus, our Master, has embraced me. Amen. 

Ask Yourself: What would it look like if you had no worries? What would it look like to have a treasure that never failed, where no thief could come and no moth could destroy?


DAY THREE:

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

Day Three: The idea that God has given “God’s self to me” might be a little hard to understand, but if we think back to Genesis, to the Creation Story, we recall that God said that He would create US in His image. In other words, we are not only His creation, but we reflect His image. He is our ultimate gift! 

James 1:16-18 (MSG) — Father God, help me not get thrown off course. Instead, help me remember that every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. These gifts are rivers of light cascading down from You, the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in You, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. After all, You brought life to all, to me, through the Word of Truth, showing us off as the crown of all your creatures. Thank you for your gifts! Amen. 

Ask Yourself: Who do you favor most in your family? What does it mean for you to have “God’s self” in you? How can knowing you are created in God’s image help you stay the course of faithfulness? How can James’ words help you navigate the journey God has called you to?


DAY FOUR: 

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

Day Four: Another way God has given Himself to us is through His Son. Jesus came to earth to dwell among us – He is Immanuel. And now His Spirit dwells IN us. God has given God’s self to us…to you! So as you face the trials life brings, remember these truths and promises. 

Psalm 34:4-11, 17-19 (MSG) God, you meet me more than halfway any time I call on you. You free me from my anxious fears. I look to You and give You my warmest smile, never hiding my feelings from You. For when I was desperate, I called out, and You got me out of a tight spot. 

God, Your angel sets up a circle of protection around me while I pray. I open my mouth and taste. I open my eyes and see—how good You are. I know I am blessed when I run to You. I know that to worship You is having the best; worship opens doors to all Your goodness. 

I know, Lord, that young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God. You call Your children to listen closely; You want to give us a lesson in God worship. 

If I cry to You for help, You are listening, ready to rescue me. If my heart is broken, You are right there with me; if I’m kicked in the gut, You help me catch my breath. 

I so often get into trouble; still, God, You are there every time. Thank you! Amen. 

Ask Yourself: When has God delivered you from fears or troubles? Make a list of them as you go throughout the next few days so that when you face your next trial, you can look back and remember God’s faithfulness in the past. And as you remember His faithfulness, your trust in him will grow. He really is close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. He really will help us in our times of need – watch for Him!


DAY FIVE:

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

Day Five: God’s self in us is three-fold because God is three-in-one. We are made in God the Father’s image. God the Son came to earth and lived among us. God the Spirit is in us. Keeping these truths in mind, take a look at how God the Son prayed for us while He was still on earth then read the prayer below it and make it yours today. 

John 17:20-24 (NIV) Jesus prayed, “...I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world….” 

So, I pray, Lord — I believe in You and want to be one with all the believers – near and far! I want to be in You just as Jesus is in You because I want the world to believe that You sent Jesus here, to this world, to save the world. Father, because we are one with You, we have your glory to share with others. Help me to show your glory and your love to everyone I meet, not out of fear or to earn a place in heaven…but because You love me. And may your glory spread the earth so that more and more people believe in You and live with you forever. May Jesus’ love for me and the Spirit’s presence in me help me to love others well. Amen. 

Ask Yourself: What does it mean to “be one with God?” Or “one with other believers?” How does this one-ness help us to love others well and to spread God’s glory? Why would we make this our prayer?


DAY SIX:

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

Day Six: Sunday marks the start of the season of Advent, those days leading up to the first coming of Christ, His birth. This holy season makes room for us to set aside time to focus on what His birth means – for all believers corporately, as well as, for each of us individually. Below is the prayer Jesus’ mother, Mary, lifted up upon hearing she would bear the Son of God. In your first reading, hear it in Mary’s voice, as her prayer to God. In your second reading, make it your prayer, and let its truths to lift your spirit and cause your soul to rejoice! 

Luke 1:46-55— 

“My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Amen 

Ask Yourself: In what ways has God been “mindful of the humble state” of YOU? How has God extended mercy to YOU? How has God helped YOU, His servant? Sit with these questions till you can answer them, then allow yourself to praise God with all rejoicing for His mindfulness, mercy, and help!


DAY SEVEN:

PRAYER: Lord, I have a deep appreciation of your constant care and provision for me. In this season of gratitude and giving, may I never lose sight of You. Amen.

 

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Day Seven, The First Sunday of Advent: 

Look over your notes/prayers from the past week. What seems meaningful to you? Did you receive any insight, inspiration, or challenge? Does something require more prayer of discernment? We don’t decide when God will “show up;” instead, we want to be ready and aware when He does. Take time today to put some thought into what Advent looks like for you – how can you align your heart with God’s as you await His son’s coming?

Catherine HortonComment