Good morning! If you are here to read these words, then you have much for which to be thankful. I read a quote from Max Lucado this morning I want to share with you: “Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover His heart. To discover His heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.”

Yesterday I began two different gratitude journeys. Why? I’ve never really participated in one and I’m not certain which one I want to continue. They both are blessing me! November seems to usher in a month of gratitude and blessing and thankfulness for all the many gifts God gives. But it’s not always easy to feel grateful, especially when we are in the middle of a storm. I don’t know about you, but my feelings rarely equate to truth. My feelings lie to me. The enemy lies to me. The enemy wants me to believe I am alone in my struggle. The enemy wants me to believe I am a victim and that I have nothing going for me.

Gratitude is learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others. This means constantly being on the lookout for blessings, making each day a treasure hunt. It means being intentional about thanking God and others for the blessings that come our way.

Gratitude changes the way we start the day, spend the day, and look back on the day. It defines us as people who value our relationship with God and with those He’s placed around us. By thanking Him and others throughout the day, we are expressing humility, realizing these “benefits” are all undeserved.

As I talked about a couple of weeks ago, Joseph could have certainly felt that way. His life was not golden, and yet the Lord meticulously worked out the details for His glory. He was able to use Joseph for His purpose. Am I where I want to be in my life? Not necessarily, but I believe I am where I am because this is where the Lord wants me. I am grateful for where I live, with a husband that I love and trust, and who loves and trusts me. I am grateful that the Lord has provided me with the means to have a vehicle that safely maneuvers me to the job that I am blessed to have with people that I enjoy, and even the traffic He places me in. It is on my drive to work that I rejoice in song to the Lord. It starts my day off right, even with people who drive too slow in the fast lane. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

If you have been given breath today, you are here for a purpose. I’m joining both of these journeys because I want to be intentional and change my focus, my mindset, my heart by changing what I put in my mind. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:4-9)

I am particularly drawn to the last verse in this passage, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (v 9) Paul experienced being blinded, stoned, beat, and imprisoned; and yet he lived his life rejoicing in the Lord, and the Lord was with him–just like he was with Joseph. Just like I know He is with you and me. Paul’s joy had little to do with his circumstances; his joy was because he followed Jesus, who is OVER our circumstances. I am embarking on this journey to cultivate a joyful heart through gratitude and thanksgiving, and put that into practice. What are you thankful for today?

Lord, may I learn to be thankful in all things for this is Your will for us. Amen!