Joyful Thankfulness

In the United States, today is set aside for thankfulness. It was first celebrated at the conclusion of the first harvest the Pilgrims gathered. The feasting lasted three days and settlers and Native Americans both contributed and enjoyed the festivities.

But the idea of celebrating the harvest was not new. God commanded the Israelites to set aside seven days for this purpose:

Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. (Deuteronomy 16:13-15, NIV)

When we collect the harvest at the end of the growing season, we are reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness. What a perfect time to stop and thank Him for His provision! We recognize far more life when we remember to stop and thank God. It changes our outlook on our situation and gives us hope for the future. The verse below offers a recipe for giving thanks:

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1, NIV)

Praise the Lord. Tell God which of His attributes are honorable, excellent, and worthy of praise. It is good to acknowledge God’s character and His noble purposes. We can do this anytime of the day or night. There is no special language required, just tell God what you notice and appreciate about Him, out loud or in your mind, whenever you think of it.

Give thanks to the Lord. Thank God for what He has done. This can be in the moment or later; He is always ready and willing to listen. Tell how you have experienced His blessing and provision. When my children were young, they would regularly thank God for air, trees, the sun, people, possessions, and other things they could see around them. Those simple prayers reminded me that each aspect of creation plays a role in making earth the perfect habitat for us. Whether large or small, common or rare, we can thank God for anything and everything. Far more life adopts an attitude of thankfulness for things we would otherwise take for granted.

For He is good. One reason we praise and thank God is because everything about Him is good. He deserves more thanks and praise than anyone else. Only He is perfect in motive, character, and behavior. Tell Him how you have witnessed His goodness. Recall what it looks like in action and how it positively impacted you. Focus on what that reveals about Him. Far more life embraces and proclaims God’s goodness.

His love endures forever. Although our day of thanksgiving will end, God’s love for us will not. Far more life offers thanks and praise every day because God demonstrates His love to His children every day. In fact, God is the essence of love every day. We can be confident that His love will carry us to our eternal home and provide for us there, too. Thankfully, we will never be separated from His love.

Try out joyful thankfulness today. You may decide to give thanks — and enjoy far more life — every day!

Sisters,
Why is the end of harvest a good time to stop and give thanks?
For what qualities will you praise God today?
For what blessings and experiences will you thank God today?
How have you witnessed and received God’s goodness?
How has His enduring love impacted you?
Walk in joyful thanksgiving today — walk in far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Hopeful Waiting

I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope. (Psalm 130:5, NASB1995)

The past few months have been a roller coaster for my family. We have experienced some wonderful highs and some sobering lows. Celebration and difficulty have alternated throughout the year, and each episode has brought change. But through it all, we have turned to the Word of the Lord, the Bible, for hope. He and His Word have not disappointed us! We have rested in Him, waited for Him, trusted Him, and placed our hope in Him. He has filled us with far more life, providing the peace, joy, perspective, and support that we needed.

My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. (Psalm 130:6, NASB1995)

Can you think of a time when you have been eager for something to happen? Watchmen stood on guard duty through the night, protecting the city and its inhabitants as they slept. The darkness made it challenging to see potential threats, whether they were wild animals or attacking enemy troops. The morning brought not only safety, but clarity. The arrival of morning indicated they had successfully survived another night. But it also gave them time to assess danger, strengthen defenses, and rest. The darker the night, the more eager watchmen awaited the morning. During our time on earth we are surrounded by spiritual darkness. As we connect with God, our souls long for the “morning”, the time when His Son will return when His spiritual light will shine bright. The Psalmist urges us to long for the return of Jesus Christ with great anticipation, more than the night watchmen felt. Far more life does not revel in the darkness but eagerly awaits the time when God’s glory and purpose will be revealed.

O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption. (Psalm 130: 7, NASB1995)

We hope in the Lord because He is powerful. We hope in the Lord because He is all-knowing. We hope in the Lord because He is never-changing. We hope in the Lord because He is loving and kind. We hope in the Lord because He offers redemption, even abundant redemption. His grace covers all of our sin. He does not hold the cost — the life of His Son — over our heads. Instead, He showers us with far more life. He offers more than we deserve. He provides more than we expect. He is trustworthy and faithful and we praise Him for all these traits!

And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities. (Psalm 130:8, NASB1995)

Redemption involves paying a price to gain or regain something. God created us to have a relationship with Him. We chose to sin against Him, but He paid the price to regain that relationship. He redeemed not only the nation of Israel, but people from every tribe, language, people, and nation. The blood of Christ covered all of our sins so He could present us to God as His holy and blameless children. What a privilege! What a joyous moment it will be when we stand before Him! And we will never be separated from Him again! We have a taste of far more life now, but it will get better in Heaven and last for eternity.

We will wait for You, Lord. Our hope is in You. Thank You for redeeming us. Thank You for blessing us with Your goodness. Thank You for far more life!

Sisters,
Are you good or bad at waiting?
Where do you place your hope as you wait?
What makes you eager for Christ to return?
Which of God’s character qualities inspires you to hope in Him?
Thank God for redemption and the gift of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Every Morning

At the start of a new year most people evaluate where they are in life and where they want to be. Many set new goals, make new plans, and use the new year to make a new start. But we never have to wait: God offers His daughters a new start every morning!

It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, AMP)

These verses proclaim that a new, unlimited supply of His compassion is available to us each day. This is a gift as well as a demonstration of His character. Understanding and embracing this is a key to far more life, so let’s explore it.

Compassion literally means “to suffer together”. It involves noticing another’s suffering, desiring relief for them, and acting to alleviate it. Compassion is both emotionally connecting with others and actively caring for them. God is emotionally connected to you and actively cares about your struggles every day.

This point is so important that the writer of Lamentations states it multiple ways to make sure we catch it:

  • God’s lovingkindness keeps us alive.
  • His tender compassions toward us never fail.
  • His compassions are new every morning.
  • God’s faithfulness (guarantee He will do what He promises) is great and beyond measure.

This sparks peace and joy in my heart. God loves me. His love keeps me alive. He is with me. He is for me. He sees my struggles, my hurts, my burdens. They hurt Him as much as they hurt me. Every day He acts to help alleviate them. He never gets tired of helping me. He never gives up on me. He reaches out day after day to connect with me and ease my burdens. He is my God, my Daddy, my Best Friend, my Today, my Tomorrow, my Eternity! Accepting His connection and care is where I find far more life.

I can understand why the writer continues:

“The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul;
“Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.”
(Lamentations 3:24, AMP)

We grow impatient in our struggles. We want them to be resolved now. And we are tempted to think that God is not acting if we do not find immediate relief. We want Him to rescue us, but He has a better plan: to join us in our struggle, to strengthen us, and to rescue our hearts from despair and discouragement even when our situation remains unchanged. We find far more life by expectantly looking for His compassion in action.

This reminds me of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath in I Kings 17. There was a severe drought that lasted 3 years, yet every morning she had enough oil and flour to make that day’s bread for her household. God literally showed His compassion every morning. He did not dole it out a week at a time and ask her to ration it carefully. He provided exactly what she needed for each day. He proved Himself faithful — and reminded her of His connection and care — day after day after day. Although the drought was long, her confidence in God must have grown each day. She had opportunity to stop worrying about running out of food and instead enjoy peace of mind. She had reason to place her hope in God and waited expectantly for Him to meet her need each morning. What a wonderful picture of far more life in action!

The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him,
To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word]. (Lamentations 3:25, AMP)

Goodness is one of God’s character qualities, so He is always good. But I think this verse is saying that we notice His goodness when we seek Him and expectantly wait for Him. I wonder how often I have missed an opportunity to thank and praise God because I failed to realize it was HIM who met my need. In the midst of a struggle when I am praying for His help, I am on the lookout for it and quickly acknowledge His actions. But too often, I am focused on getting myself through the day and forget about His connection and care. Or I fail to realize the depth of His actions on my behalf.

A friend was driving down the interstate when a tire and axle broke off a semi heading the other direction, rolled across the median, bounced onto the hood of her car, hit her windshield, and flew to the shoulder. She pulled off the road and stopped the car, thankful that God protected her being hurt or crashing. But her understanding of God’s goodness and active care was heightened when a police officer who witnessed the whole thing (and told her what had actually happened) said he had never seen anyone walk away from that kind of accident alive, let alone uninjured!

We have all faced situations where we were blind to God’s compassion. Sometimes we are even angry with Him and question why He allowed something bad to happen. While we cannot see what would have happened — how much worse it would have been — without God’s compassion, we can be confident that He is emotionally connected and actively caring for us every single day. This confidence in His love and involvement brings far more life.

Whatever comes your way today, God’s compassion is active and sufficient to give you far more life.

Sisters,
Are there any barriers that make it hard for you to believe that God’s compassion is new every morning? If so, share those with Him and seek out His truth so you are free to embrace His compassion.
What challenges you in waiting expectantly for Him?
How have you experienced His emotional connection and active caring? Has He ever used people as His messengers?
Pray that you will see God’s goodness today and find far more life.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jennifer Davis