The AMI QT devotionals from Feb. 6-12 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, recently completed her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary. She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Practicing God’s Presence through Thanksgiving
1 Corinthians 1:4-9: I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Practice of the Presence of God is a collection of the writings and philosophies of Brother Lawrence (a 17th century monk) that teaches Christ-followers how to be constantly aware of God’s presence. I recently revisited this volume, hungering for a greater sense of the presence of God in my own life. David Santistevan, a Christian blogger, summarizes what he learned from the book as follows, “Practicing the presence of God is about turning all of your life experience into a prayer. Nothing you face in life is exempt from surrender to Jesus. Every victory, every trial, every annoyance, every disagreement. Turn it around. Bring it into the presence of God.”
One of the practical ways to do this is to actively and intentionally praise the Lord throughout the day. Santistevan integrated the practice of praise into his day by intentionally adding to every complaint (stated or unstated) one word of thanksgiving. Why? Because on this side of heaven, in our fallen world, there is always going to be something to complain about (something is always going wrong). But – as a familiar placard in my parents’ home often reminds me – in Christ, “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” When we spend our time complaining we find ourselves turning inward – to our unmet needs, unmet desires, unfair treatment, etc. But when we begin to thank God (and to do so sincerely – not half-heartedly saying thank you for things we’re not really thankful for) we turn our hearts to the Lord and find ourselves more aware of Him and just what He’s up to in His redemptive work in the brokenness around us.
Paul reminds us that, as members of Christian community, one thing for which we can almost always thank God is one another. Read the passage above again – Paul is pretty specific about why He’s thankful for his friends. What about you? What relationships in your life fill you with thanksgiving? Friends supporting you through tough times, sharing inside jokes, and building memories are precious treasures and gifts from God for which we can always give thanks.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of friendship and partnership in the Gospel. I am particularly thankful for [name your friends] today for these reasons [be specific]. Help me to see you at work in all the brokenness around me and help me to be more aware of You throughout my day today – to the glory of Your name and furtherance of Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Judges 17
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read Psalm 100:1-5: Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Questions to Consider
- What are some reasons the psalmist give for praising and thanking God? How does he encourage us to do this?
- What are some specific things you’re thankful to God for today? Spend sometime articulating your thanks to Him.
- We praise God and give Him thanks because of who He is (He is God and He is good), because He made us, because has called us His own people and cares for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep, and because He is steadfast in His love and faithfulness to us. We do this by making a joyful noise and singing, by coming into His presence (spending time before Him), by knowing who He is (intentionally remembering and allowing ourselves to forget) and verbally declaring the thanksgiving in our hearts.
- Spend sometime in personal reflection.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:26)
There are countless verses in Scripture that remind us to praise the Lord. Find one of your own and spend a few moments meditating on it this evening (allow the significance of every word to hit your heart). Then write it down and stick somewhere you’ll see it everyday (e.g. your bathroom mirror or car visor) to help you cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Our God is great and worthy of praise!