Daily Rhythms of Gratitude

Since today’s lesson is a little shorter than the others, you get to hear from both of us. Even with the busy holiday weekend ahead, I hope you can find time to work through the questions at the end of the lesson and leave a comment to share. We’d love to hear from all of you too!

bread1

“Give us each day our daily bread” Luke 11:3

(Shereen’s input)

Bread was a staple of every meal of every life in the 1st century. Freshly milled grain, freshly mixed dough, freshly baked bread was routine in every corner of their world. There was really nothing more DAILY than bread.

The Jewish people had a history with God and bread. You may recall that God had even provided them with heavenly bread in the wilderness.

God had delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, and they needed to cross a desert to reach their promised land. A problem became clear soon after leaving the settled land of Egypt; these children of Abraham were not nomadic as their forefather had been. They were used to having food provided from the storehouses of Pharoah. They didn’t know how to forage for themselves. God heard their complaining voices and growling stomachs and offered to bring birds for them to eat at night and bread to eat in the morning.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” Exodus 16:11-15

The bread, manna, appeared as dew receded on the ground each morning.  They were to gather no more than 1 omar (2 quarts) for each member of the family each day. And they had to gather it before the heat of the day melted it away.

I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate what it means to live knees to the earth.

  • Daily
  • Humble (they gathered the manna on their knees)
  • Grateful for each provision.

(Kathy’s input)

To ask God to supply our daily needs is to understand with gratitude and humility that he already does. Later in the same sermon in which He introduces the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has this to say about those needs:

 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matthew 6:25-35 (The Message paraphrase)

The key here is not to be so focused on what we need that we forget to be grateful for all He has provided. One of my favorite quotes by Elisabeth Elliot is this, “It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life.”

It’s so easy to grumble, isn’t it? Even the Israelites began to complain about God’s daily provision of manna—food fit for heaven.

Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.  “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6 (NLT)

For some of us, the grumbling habit is so engrained we may not even notice. And often, the more daily . . . the more mundane . . . the gift, the more likely we are to complain. I know I’m guilty. God has given me a beautiful home, yet all I see are the messes. He’s blessed me with a wonderful family, yet often I only focus on their flaws.

What if we turned those complaints around? What if instead of finding a reason to grumble, we looked for ways to praise? Gratitude is essential for an effective prayer life. Let it find a daily rhythm in your life.

GOING DEEPER (for personal study)

Spend some time studying these two examples of gratitude from the New Testament: Luke 7:36-50, Luke 17: 11-17. What do these stories tell us about the hearts of the people involved? What can they tell us about our own hearts?

If you haven’t done so already, start a Thankfulness journal. Each morning for the next week list at least 5 things for which you are grateful. How does this daily practice affect your attitude for the day?

FOR DISCUSSION  (please share your answer with all of us by leaving a reply we all can read.)

Can you think of something in your life that is very daily that you can either choose to be grateful for or grumble about? What practical thing can you do to change your attitude about the “dailies”?

 

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