One Activity that Can Produce Gratitude

Living in a broken world can get tough sometimes. For Jesus-followers, we aren’t home yet. Heaven is still in the future. As long as we are here on this earth, we will continue to have opportunities for worry, stress, anxiety, anger, grief, loneliness, and any number of other feelings that remind us that we are in a broken, Genesis 3 world.

But, for the Jesus-follower, we are supposed to march to a different drummer. We get our cues from somewhere else.

While we want to be fully honest with what we feel, and while it is wrong to pretend that things are OK with us when they are not, we realize that we have a source of happiness that can and should make each day a blessing.

In my Bible reading this morning, I was meditating on John 1:1-18. Let me share three verses with you that I spent most of my time with:

John 1:1 (NLT) “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:14 (NLT) “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

John 1:16 (NLT) “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.”

Verse 1 tells us that the “Word” existed before the created order of Genesis 1-2. It also tells us that the “Word” was with God and WAS God.

When we think about a word, we realize that it is simply an audible sound that enables one person to communicate their thoughts to another. If I simply thought up these reflections but failed to put them into words, you would have no idea what I was thinking. Words are necessary to communicate what’s going on in our mind and heart so that others can understand.

That is what the WORD in John 1:1 does. The WORD allowed us to know God’s mind and heart. It allows God to make Himself understandable to us.

So, what or who is the Word?

All we need to do is look at John 1:14. It tells us that the WORD became a human and lived among us. Then, it tells us that He was “the Father’s one and only Son.” Clearly, the writer John is talking about Jesus. Jesus is God but He is also the WORD that allows God the Father to communicate with us in a way that we can understand. We would never be able to understand who God the Father is if He hadn’t sent Jesus to us.

But, we also realize in John 1:14 that Jesus, God’s Word, is “full of grace and truth” (ESV). Essentially, grace is God’s goodness lavished freely upon us. Truth is God’s commitment to what is right, particularly His standard of holiness, and His punishment of those who do not comply.

Grace without truth does not respect God’s standard of holiness and seeks to whimsically forgive the sinner without truly acknowledging the seriousness of the sin. Truth without grace does not care for the sinner but only seeks to crush him since he has failed to comply with God’s perfect standard of holiness.

Jesus was not one or the other. He was both. He emphasized God’s standard of what is right and wrong, called us to live by that standard, but pointed that we will constantly fall short of it so He is prepared to forgive us and love us regardless. He is full of grace AND truth.

But, then we get to verse 16. “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another” (John 1:16 – NLT)

Jesus, who is FULL of grace and truth, has chosen to lavish that grace upon us. Every moment of every day, we are recipients of his gracious gifts. The air we breathe is from him. The lungs that can take in that air work because He has decreed that they do so. The beauty that we see around us is His handiwork. Our ability to enjoy time with Him in His Word and prayer come from Him. Friendships comes from Him. The ability to work and the ability to secure a job come from Him. EVERYTHING comes from Him!

James 1:17 (NLT) “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens…”

So, why not spend some time today thinking about the gracious blessings that are yours because of Jesus. Maybe you will want to take out a piece of paper or fire up your computer and put the following heading at the top of the page: “Gracious Gifts from Jesus.” And then start writing down all of the good things that you are enjoying. After compiling that list, let it move you to a prayer of gratitude, thanking Jesus, who is full of grace and truth, for lavishing that grace upon you.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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