Category Archives: Gratitude

The Power of Gratitude

Researchers conducted a study with two groups of people, both were assigned the task of keeping a daily list. Group A made a list of everything they were grateful for. Group B made a list of everything they were frustrated about.

It didn’t take long to see a dramatic difference between the two groups of people. Joy, happiness and energy skyrocketed for the gratitude group and plummeted for the frustration group. Science proves it really is quite simple – what you focus on determines your level of joy.

We want to challenge you to join us in using the very practical, tangible tool of a daily gratitude list.

There really are no rules. You can use a scrap of paper, a leather bound journal, a spiral notebook or your smart phone. You can do it first thing in the morning, before your go to sleep or all throughout the day. Just start counting things you are grateful for.

Nothing is too small to record and you can list the same things over and over – things like waking up in the morning to watch the sun rise, eating your favorite meal, or completing a challenging project.

Soon you’ll begin to notice everything, like a good parking spot, rain filling our lakes, a kind word and a friendly smile as an expression of God’s love for you.

In making a conscious effort to express gratitude you’ll find what you appreciate appreciates – things you take note of and give thanks for will grow in value.

Developing a habit of gratitude will require learning to be grateful for flawed people and imperfect gifts. Nothing is ever perfect, give thanks anyway. Write those things down too!

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18 AMP

For a wonderful read and more inspiration to record your own daily gratitude list, pick up a copy of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Increase the joy in your life by developing the disciple of gratitude.

 

This post originally appeared in a 2015 series on Gratitude, click below to read the entire series:
Live in the Moment
Who, What and When
Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
The Year of Gratitude
Make a Daily Gratitude List
Grateful for the Leftovers

Grateful for the Leftovers

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and we are wondering, are you tired of turkey and dressing? Or are you grateful for the leftovers? As we wrap up 2015, our year of gratitude, we want to inspire you to thank God for the leftovers.

Thank God for leftover provision – God is not the God of just enough. He is the God of more than enough. Remember when Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 people? They each had plenty to eat but then the disciples gathered loads of leftovers!

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:20-21 NIV

While we’re thinking about food, we need protein, carbohydrates, fats and water but aren’t you grateful for the variety of tastes, textures, flavors and combinations? God didn’t just meet our needs, he gave us so much more to enjoy.

Thank God for leftover grace – God’s grace is a massive overpayment for our sin.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV

God’s grace is incomparable. Nothing in our experience comes close. We will never exhaust the riches of God’s grace.

Thank God for leftover family – Let’s face it, family dynamics can be more than a little dysfunctional. We love our biological families but aren’t you glad you are also members of God’s family? God provides brothers and sisters in Christ! He fills in the gaps that our families leave gaping wide.

Thank God for leftover power – There is more than enough power available for us to live the life God calls us to. More than you could ask, think or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Thank God for the leftover the in lack – You may be thinking, I don’t see God’s abundance or generosity. We all face difficulty, but God promises he is with us each step of the way. Look again with eyes of faith. Look for one, small thing to be grateful for, Look for the silver lining. When you look up, miracles happen.

Look for the gifts God gives and you will find peace, hope and joy.

To reflect back on the Gratitude series from the beginning of 2015 click below:

Part 1 The Year of Gratitude
Part 2 Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
Part 3 Make a Daily Gratitude List
Part 4 Who, What and When
Part 5 Live in the Moment

Live in the Moment

Joy increases as you express gratitude. There is a direct relationship between gratitude and joy. There is also a relationship between gratitude and time.

No matter how you measure it, we each get the same amount of time to spend each week:

  • 168 hours
  • 10,080 minutes
  • 604,800 seconds

We think about time a lot:

  • Time is of the essence
  • Ain’t nobody got time for that
  • Time flies
  • You do that all the time
  • You’re wasting your time
  • We are running out of time

The Bible talks about time:

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Time is a big deal and the big decision is what to do with the time we’ve been given. As Gandalf told Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring,

“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

We want to get the most out of time and learn to live in the moment but it’s not easy. Regrets drag us back into the past. Worries about the future trap us in tomorrow. The hurried pace of life keeps us running, breathless. With everything we need to accomplish and all our to-do lists, we rush around skimming the surface and missing the satisfaction of living deeply aware in the present.

God calls himself I AM, not I was or I will be. I AM. Present tense. God is with us, in us and all around us but we miss it.

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Genesis 28:16

So what is the antidote for hasty, shallow, hurried living? Gratitude!

When gratitude becomes your priority, something supernatural happens.  It causes you to focus. In all the complexities of a shameful past, a worrisome future and a harried present, gratitude brings simplicity and perspective

Watching for gifts and searching for wonders helps you live in the moment.

Gratitude slows the pace of life down to the perfect rhythm. Enjoy!

 

This is the fifth part in a series
Click here for the fourth part Who, What and Wen
Click here for the third part Make a Daily Gratitude List
Click here for the second part Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
Click here for the first part The Year of Gratitude

Gratitude – Who, What and When

One of the most destructive, unhealthy habits is chronic complaining. Complainers are “when and then” people. When this happens…then I’ll be happy. When that happens…then I’ll be grateful. But “when and then” doesn’t work because there is always a new “when.”

Throw the “when and then” mindset out the window and embrace a better way of thinking about gratitude  – who, what and when.

Who

When something good happens, we may feel fortunate, excited and happy but we don’t always connect the dots and recognize the source of the good that has come our way. Feeling fortunate is not the same as being grateful.  Becoming a grateful person requires you to understand these three elements:

  • The beneficiary – the person who receives a good gift
  • The benefit – the good that has come
  • The benefactor – the giver of the gift

Gratitude acknowledges there is a source. God is the benefactor. God gives gifts and he also uses the people around us to pour out benefits. We are the beneficiaries.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

What

Give thanks for gifts of every size – small, medium and large. Thank God for miracles and breakthroughs. Thank him for the big things that display his power and strength. But don’t disdain the small. Get out your magnifying glass and search like Sherlock Holmes for small gifts to be grateful for. When you offer gratitude for seeming insignificant, ordinary things you unlock the secret to living with great joy.

When

There is never a wrong time to be grateful. We all go through different seasons in life and in every single one of them we can give thanks.

 

You don’t have to look very hard to find things to complain about. But let’s face it, when we complain we just get grumpier. Our glass moves from half empty to dry as a bone. Complaints are like fingernails on the chalkboard of life. Instead of complaining open your eyes and search for just one good gift. Feel God’s gracious benefits and give voice to your gratitude.

  • Who? – God
  • What?  – In everything
  • When? – Always

One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations. — Saint John of Avila

 

This is the fourth part in a series
Click here for the third part Make a Daily Gratitude List
Click here for the second part Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
Click here for the first part The Year of Gratitude

 

Make a Daily Gratitude List

Researchers conducted a study with two groups of people – both assigned the task of keeping a daily list. Group A made a list of everything they were grateful for. Group B made a list of everything they were frustrated about.

It didn’t take long to see a dramatic difference between the two groups of people. Joy, happiness and energy skyrocketed for the gratitude group and plummeted for the frustration group.  Science proves it really is quite simple – what you focus on determines your level of joy.

2015 is the Year of Gratitude at Shoreline and we want to challenge you to join us in using the very practical, tangible tool of a daily gratitude list.

There really are no rules. You can use a scrap of paper, a leather bound journal, a spiral notebook or your smart phone. You can do it first thing in the morning, before your go to sleep or all throughout the day. Just start counting things to be grateful for.

Nothing is too small to record and you can list the same things over and over – things like waking up in the morning and seeing someone you love, eating your favorite meal, watching the sunset or completing a challenging project.

Soon you’ll begin to notice everything, like a good parking spot, rain for our lakes, a kind word and a friendly smile as an expression of God’s love for you.

In making a conscious effort to express gratitude you’ll find what you appreciate appreciates – things you take note of and give thanks for will grow in value.

Developing a habit of gratitude will require learning to be grateful for flawed people and imperfect gifts. Nothing is ever perfect, give thanks anyway. Write those things down too!

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18 AMP

For a wonderful read and more inspiration to record your own daily gratitude list, pick up a copy of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp in the Blue Room after any service.

Increase your joy by developing the disciple of gratitude.

 

This is the third part in a series
Click here for the second part Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
Click here for the first part The Year of Gratitude

Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers

Philosophers, psychologists and the Bible agree on the connection between joy and gratitude. When a truth is that universally accepted, you’ve got to pay attention.

To sum up all the research – grateful people are happy people. It’s just that simple.

Last week we talked about the rhythm of finding joy:

  • Embrace life as a gift
  • Express gratitude
  • Experience joy

Developing at attitude of gratitude will absolutely increase the joy level in your life. But that’s not all. It does more than produce joy. Gratitude destroys joy killers.

Maybe you’ve experienced some of these joy killers in your life:

Anger –Why do we think complaining, frustration and exasperation will get us where we need to be?  We choose anger because we seek control.

Fear –Fear keeps us looking at the circumstances around us with foreboding, waiting for the next thing to go wrong.  We are overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear.  We give up.

Resentment – When we are easily offended, life becomes a melancholy done-me-wrong song. Resentment festers in our heart and bitterness grows.

Perfectionism – One of the biggest misconceptions in life is that joy comes from perfect circumstances. But it’s impossible to reach perfection because the bar keeps moving just beyond our reach.

Envy – Envy is an ugly green monster that destroys everything in its path – the ultimate dissatisfaction with life and everything in it.

Kinda makes you grumpy just reading about these joy killers doesn’t it?

Stop! News flash: Gratitude destroys joy-killers like these.

We can’t just dismiss negative feelings, but we can replace them with a positive feeling. Gratitude reaches in, sweeps away the junk and makes room for joy to move in. Gratitude recognizes that God is in control and we can trust him with our lives. It causes us to look up and reminds us of the things in our lives that do work.  Gratitude helps us to let go of bitterness and hold on to our faithful God. Gratitude displaces the fantasy of perfection and souring envy.  It opens our eyes to the good, good life around us.

We discover joy when we watch for God’s gifts of grace. Joy is maintained as we continue to express gratitude in everyday moments.

Gratitude produces joy AND it diminishes the dysfunctional attitudes that rob us of our joy.

What are you grateful for?

 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

This is the second part in a series
Click here for the first part The Year of Gratitude

The Year of Gratitude

We are declaring 2015 as the Year of Gratitude at Shoreline Church.  We believe gratitude is the secret to living a full life and that ingratitude is at the core of all sin.

It goes all the way back before mankind to the fall of Lucifer. The bible describes him as a spectacular, creative being.  (Ezekiel 28:12-15) All God gifted him with was not enough and his ungratefulness got him cast down to Hell. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

In the Garden of Eden, Satan sank his venom into the hearts of Adam and Eve. They had beauty, provision and companionship but gave in to temptation, taking a bite of the apple in search of something other than what God had given.  Ingratitude got them kicked out of paradise.

The consequences of ingratitude were cataclysmic.

All the pain and suffering inflicted on our world has its roots in ingratitude. Greed, lust, lying and addiction are an attempt to fill the emptiness of dissatisfaction. In this futile quest for more we lose sight of the good, good life around us.

If paradise is lost with ingratitude, there is a way to regain the joy and fulfillment we long for – GRATITUDE!

Becoming a grateful person is one of the most emotionally satisfying, spiritually energizing things you can do.

We discover a new way of living in the words Jesus spoke at the last meal he shared with his followers:

He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them… Luke 22:19

In the original language the word for “gave thanks” is the Greek word “eucharisteo.” It comes from two other Greek words, “charis” which means grace or gift and “chara” which means deep satisfying joy.

So, in the original language that small phrase would sound more like this: He took the bread and knew it to be a gift from God and he gave thanks and it produced deep satisfying joy.

Gratitude produces joy!

There is a rhythm in “eucharisteo” that can transform our lives:

  • See the gifts of God’s grace.
  • Give thanks.
  • Experience deep, soul satisfying joy.

If you want 2015 to be fulfilling and joy-filled please join us in making it the year of gratitude in your home. We invite you to host or join a Gratitude small group. You can search for a group by clicking HERE. You can pick up materials (a DVD and workbooks) in the lobby and have a gratitude group with your family.

We can’t wait to see what lies ahead as we live out this Year of Gratitude.