Remembering the great things the Lord has done
Hey Normandy! Hope Day 1 of our corporate fast yesterday was awesome for you… and if you’re reading this on Day 2 and realizing “Oh shoot, I forgot all about the fast”, today is the perfect day to start. Whether you’re doing an absolute fast (woah!), a juice fast, or even a social media fast, I pray that your time with the Lord this week is life-giving and that you’re connecting with him in new ways!
Our theme for Day 2 is Thankfulness – Remembering the great things the Lord has done.
Starting at the most basic level, (thanks to Wikipedia) gratitude and thankfulness come out of the Latin word gratus and are defined as: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation; and to be conscious of the benefit received.
As believers, I think we have a decent grasp on the concept of thankfulness, right? It’s constantly referenced throughout scripture starting with Israel in the Old Testament. Psalm 95:2 says “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song”. Jesus modeled giving thanks throughout his ministry, as seen when he fed the thousands or at the Last Supper, “Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it” (Matthew 26:26). And Paul continually encouraged the early church by beginning his letters with the theme of thankfulness, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).
But if we’re being honest with ourselves, despite being thumped over the head with thankfulness as we read the Bible (in a good way), it’s not always something that’s top of mind for us. The world around us is tough, and when we’re dealing with the weight of job stress, marital problems, infertility, sickness… (insert your trial here), thankfulness doesn’t always come naturally or easily.
So, if you fall into this category, or even if you are thankful 9 times out of 10, there is good news that we can ask the Lord for a heart change and mind shift centered around thankfulness - and He actually desires for us to change! 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Let’s press pause here and take a few seconds to ponder that verse. We’re supposed to rejoice (i.e. be joyful) and give thanks no matter the hand of cards we’re dealt. Not because we’re trying to muster it up, but because the Lord willed it… he intended it. And he willed it so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross and accomplish that for us. Thank you, God! After re-reading the definition of thankfulness, I think the last part ‘To be conscious of the benefit received’ really hit home for me. Once we accept Christ as our savior and fully realize that we actually have access to a relationship with the Father and eternal life with Him, we can’t help but be thankful for this incredible gift we don’t deserve.
The reason I’m probably writing on thankfulness this week is because I had one of these deep realization ‘Thank You’ moments at church only a few weeks back. On January 20th, Mark was preaching on Ephesians 3 about the purpose of the Church and our individual purposes. Go listen to it once it’s up on our website or podcast – and yes, we have a Normandy podcast! Paraphrasing from my notes, he reminded us that “People need to know Jesus is better than they think… that people are worth it” and encouraged us to reflect on our own history during ministry time. As I sat and thought about my own story, I couldn’t help but be so thankful for how the Lord pursued me in college, how he surrounded me by a group of dudes who cared for me, encouraged me, and reintroduced me to Christ. How I was worth the time and effort to them and how I’m still worth it to Jesus… and I just started crying. I was so overwhelmed, and I was so thankful for the Lord’s influence in my life that my only response was to be brought to tears.
So just like a few weeks ago, I encourage you to take those moments today where you’d normally be eating or checking your phone to be thankful and remember the things the Lord has done in your life. If it’s spending a few minutes worshiping God for how good He is, do that. Here’s a song about thankfulness by UPPERROOM to help you out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHhCZBarneQ. If you need to call up that person who discipled you for so many years when you needed it most and just thank them, come on! Or if it’s simply journaling things you’re thankful for on a list, I encourage you to do so.
I truly believe being thankful can change the atmosphere around us. When you practice thankfulness, you’re becoming more of who God created you to be, and people around you can’t help but notice. Praying this over all of us today!
Spencer Thames, a.k.a “Sweet Spence”, has been a Normandy member since 2016 and currently helps lead a Normandy Group at The Happy Lane House. He is a proud member of The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of ’15, graduating with a degree that primarily focused on Wakeboarding. He is engaged to his soon-to-be wife, Ali.