By Pat Russell
Sermon by Mike Banta, “Gratitude in Adversity” – I Thessalonians 5:12-24
We can all increase our gratitude. These are questions that might encourage you to think about how God wants to speak to you through Mike’s sermon. Take one or two of the suggestions and spend time thinking and praying. Don’t hurry. You may want to write out your thoughts.
Pick one of these suggestions for growing in gratitude and practice it this week. Then take time to reflect on how you were impacted.
Read Psalm 136 every day.
Turn your prayers of request into prayers of gratitude.
Write a letter of thanks to someone who has touched your life in the past
year, the past month, the past week.
Get a current hardship firmly in your mind. How do you feel about this hardship? Tell the truth to God. Where is there evidence of God’s presence in this hardship? Is there anything you can be thankful for? If you cannot find God in your hardship, spend some time with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. What does he want to tell you?*
“God is Good” is what Mike said he was going to tell us. Then he told us that “God is Good.” And then he told us that “God is Good” was what he just told us. Did you believe and feel the truth of the message? Here’s a way to take that message more deeply into your heart: Repeat the phrase three times. Pause after each time you say it thinking about the meaning. The first time say, “GOD is good.” Then say, “God IS good.” Then say, “God is GOOD.” Repeat as needed!
Here are some of Mike’s Scripture references. All of these were written to Christian communities as advice. Take one of them, write it on a piece of paper, put it on your mirror that you use in the morning. Address yourself and then read your instructions for the day using the scripture.
I Thessalonians 5:15-18.
Philippians 4:6 & 7
Here are some of Mike’s quotes. What word or phrase stands out to you in one of these quotes? Spend some time thinking about why it has meaning for you.
“Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. In normal life we
hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich
without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own
achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” Anne Frank
“Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and not
legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having
limbs, or I can be grateful that I. have a purpose. I chose gratitude.”
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Anne Voscamp beckons you to leave the parched ground of pride, fear, and white-knuckle control and abandon yourself to the God who overflows your cup. As Ann Voscamp invites you into her own moments of grace, she gently teaches you how to biblically lament loss, turning pain into poetry; intentionally embrace
a lifestyle of radical gratitude; and slow down and catch God in the moment.”
Here and Now, by Henri Nouwen. “The spiritual life is not a life then and there, but a life here and now. It is a life in which the spirit of God is revealed in the ordinary encounters of every day. In this book of meditations Henri Nouwen shows in a personal and insightful way that God is much closer to us than we usually realize.”
*Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.