“ThanksLIVING: Grateful for what I Don’t Deserve”

ThanksLIVING: Making gratitude my lifestyle
Week 3: Grateful for What I Don’t Deserve!
 
Key Points:
ThanksLIVING is seeing the gift but focusing on the giver.
ThanksLIVING is liking to receive but loving to give.
ThanksLIVING is knowing my place but marveling at God’s grace.
 
Justice – getting the good or bad that I deserve
Mercy – not getting the bad I deserve
Grace – getting the good that I do not deserve

Bottom Line: Real healing happens to the degree that I don’t deserve but I’m blown away that I get it
 
Further Conversation
1. What is something you’ve worked really hard to gain? What is different about something you earn vs. a gift you’ve been given?
2. Read Luke 17:11-19. What made the one lepor turn come back to Jesus? What do you think happened to the other nine lepors?
3. How can what we think we deserve impact our thankfulness?
4. Read Luke 17:6-10 Why might it be hard for church people today to see themselves as “unworthy servants” simply doing our duty?
5. Read John 15:12-17 Compare this passage to Luke 17:6-10. How can we be unworthy servants and friends of Jesus?
6. How might you understand the difference between Justice, Mercy & Grace? When or how have you experienced each?
7. I know grace to the degree it blows me away. What do you think of this statement? In what ways has God’s grace impacted you? How could you grow to be more impacted by God’s Grace?

Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Mark 8:31-33
Spoiler Alert! Has anyone ever ruined a movie by telling you then end before you’ve had your opportunity to experience it? Knowing the end can remove us from appreciating the struggle of those in the midst of the story. Likewise, our familiarity with the resurrection can numb us to the fear and confusion the disciples experienced. Jesus’ followers simply couldn’t make sense of God’s plans. They were realistically afraid to hope in light of crucifixion. Are you in the midst of struggle, afraid to hope? Remember these disciples. Yes, they too feared and were confused. How can the resurrection give you hope now?
Pray: LORD Jesus, I know you rose from the dead. I believe I have hope in you. May fear not distract me or hold me back.
 
Tuesday – Genesis 50:19-21
Joseph couldn’t catch a break. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, unjustly prisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and left behind for two years. Yet in every circumstance he hoped and stayed obedient to God. How? These last words in Genesis reveal his motivation. Joseph trusted God. Hope is trust. Trust can be scary in the midst of great disappointment. However, trust in God will always lead us to peace and joy. How are you responding to difficulty? Can you say, “Yes, but I know God will use it for good.”?
Pray: Holy LORD, I so often lament my circumstances. Help me trust in you and believe you will use all things for good!
 
Wednesday – Romans 8:31-39
Like Joseph, Paul reminds us how to trust. “If God is for us, who can stand against us?” That’s a great question. Not meant to cause us to be aggressive against others, but instead, this statement encourages us to remain faithful and obedient no matter what others do against us. What stands against you? Where has it been hard to believe that God is for you? How can these words in Romans encourage you?
Pray: My God and Savior, may I trust and rely on you. You conquered the grave and defeated death. You are my LORD!
 
Thursday – Proverbs 3:1-6
Have you ever tied a string around your finger to remind you of something? Today, we put reminders on our phones, write post-it notes and stick them around the house, or ask someone to remind us of important info. We can forget how God calls us to live. We need reminders. It is only when we trust in God, following Jesus, that our lives will be secure and true. What distractions often cause you to miss Jesus? What reminders can you set up to keep you close to Jesus?
Pray: Holy Spirit, it is so easy to forget. I get distracted by so many people and circumstances. Help me remember. Remind me of your love and calling on my life.
 
Friday – Psalm 147:7-11
God gives us reminders every moment of every day, if only we will see them. The beauty of God’s creation speaks to God’s glory and power. The grace and love between people remind us, if only dimly of God’s love and grace for us. We sing songs, study God’s word, and praise God’s name all to remind us who we worship. Fearing God is not to cower and run, but to marvel and praise. How can you increase your hope by praising God?
Pray: Heavenly Father, you have made yourself visible and known in so many ways. Help me see the beauty of your creation and marvel at your power. Help me praise your name today.
 
Saturday – 1 Peter 1:3-7
What if its all true? Stop and think about that a moment. What if God, the God of the Universe that spoke all things into being, really did become human, walk on the earth, die on the cross, and raise from the dead. What if faith in Jesus really meant joy in the midst of struggle and peace in chaos? What if heaven is for real? If its true, it changes everything! Reread these words from Peter. Hope boldly in Jesus today.
Pray: LORD of Heaven and Earth, you are God, my God, maker of Heaven and Earth. And through your son Jesus, I am saved and made new! I believe. I will trust. I am all yours.

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“ThanksLIVING: This Can’t be Right”

ThanksLIVING: Making gratitude my lifestyle
Week 2: This Can’t Be Right…
 
Key Points:
– ThanksLIVING sees the gift but focuses on the giver.
– ThanksLIVING likes to receive but loves to give.
– Gratitude is proportional to Generosity.
– Generosity in the bible is giving above & beyond the tithe.
 
Tithing thankfully is a gift I give myself.
Tithing thankfully frees me from the tyranny of scarcity.
Tithing thankfully helps me see how much I receive.

I can’t force gratitude, but I can practice tithing.

Bottom Line: I’ll only be truly grateful if I’m tithing thankfully.
 
Further Conversation
1. Share about a favorite Christmas gift you gave to someone else?
2. Read Acts 4:32-37. What do you think it was like being a part of this early church? Why is generosity so inspiring?
3. What is your reaction to generosity being defined in the bible as giving that is above & beyond a tithe?
4. Read Psalm 50:10-12 What does God need? Why then, do you think God commands tithing thankfully?
5. What are some natural fears we might have about giving 10% off the top (first)? What do you think is the source of these fears?
6. I can’t force gratitude, but I can practice tithing. What does this statement mean to you? Have you seen tithing create gratitude?
7. How would you describe your degree of generosity? Do you tithe “off the top” or give from what’s left over? How do you think this effects your gratefulness? How might it reflect your faith?

Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
How would you describe your attitude towards financial giving? Many people don’t trust a church that talks money. A famous televangelist recently tried to convince people he needed enough money to buy a private jet. I guess we’ve earned people’s distrust. Yet Paul talks money in a different tone. Through giving, great opportunities for sharing God’s love become available. The biggest blessing comes for the giver. The people of Macedonia were poor, but gave abundantly. What is your attitude towards giving? Do you give your first or the left-overs?
Pray: Heavenly Father, help me trust you more and know your joy better through my eagerness to give!
 
Tuesday – 1 Timothy 5:1-16
Can our love for people hurt them? Paul’s instruction to Timothy challenges the notion of a free handout…even for the elderly among us. Instead, the elderly are called to mentor and teach, serve and help. All people are instructed to work together to accomplish the goal of Christ. Helping people requires guiding them to not only serve themselves, but become servants to others. How are you helping? Who are you loving?
Pray: Holy God, guide me to those I can help, love, and lead. Help me love rightly.
 
Wednesday – Acts 5:1-11
Okay, this is down right scary. Can you imagine if this took place in our churches today? How many funerals would we be hosting? The issue of this story isn’t money, but honesty. We all want to look good and be pleasing. These two persons wanted others to be impressed with their love of God. But in lying, they show their lack of love for God. How is your honesty? Do you put on a “church smile?” Are you honest with yourself?
Pray: Holy Spirit, help me love you and others by being honest with you, myself, and them.
 
Thursday – Romans 12:1-13
Be different! We value individuality today. We customize our cars, homes, phones, etc all to emphasize our unique taste. As the Burger King slogan used to say, “Have it your way!” Paul urges the Romans to be different than the culture around them. He still emphasizes their unique gifts. Yet, our uniqueness should come from our reflection of Christ, how we love, and how we serve. How is your difference showing the love of Jesus?
Pray: LORD Jesus, may all my life worship you as my uniqueness in you shares you with our world.
 
Friday – Luke 19:11-28
What has God entrusted to you? Every moment of time, every cent of our net worth, every relationship we share is a valuable gift entrusted to us by God. We don’t own anything. Instead, we are given the responsibility to manage these gifts so that they honor the owner. Looking at this passage, what are your “talents”? How are you investing them to benefit Jesus? How can you take a next step in trust, faith, and responsibility today?
Pray: Almighty God, everything I have is from you and for you. Help me manage your possessions well.
 
Saturday – Matthew 5:13-16
Light and salt are hard to deny. Light always shines in the darkness. Salt always produces saltiness. The only way to avoid the taste of salt is to not use it. The only way to avoid light is to cover it. We are called to be light and salt. Is your light shining brightly, and are people noticing? Is you salt affecting the taste of life for others? Its scary to stand out and have people take notice of you. Yet, if we are following Jesus, it is Jesus they will sense. May you shine brightly!
Pray: Loving God, for loves sake you made me and saved me. For loves sake, I will partner with you!

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“ThanksLIVING: Awe-struck”

ThanksLIVING: Making gratitude my lifestyle
Week 1: Awe-stuck
 
Have you every witnessed a truly thankful person down on life? What if we lived every day grateful? ThanksLIVING, the art of making gratitude our lifestyle, could revolutionize our relationships, our work habits, our entire outlook on life…all for the better. Go from Thanksgiving to daily ThankLIVING. You’ll be glad you did!
 
Key Points:
-We can quickly forget the who if our attention is only on the what.
-Vital we develop our eyes to see the gift but focus on the giver.
 
Awe-Stuck – (1) Show (2) Share (3) Seek
(1) Show – We eventually will lose what we don’t use.
(2) Share – Count your blessings less, count on the one who blesses more.
(3) Seek – Focus on the “WOW!” over the “how?”
 
Bottom Line: ThanksLIVING sees the gift but focuses on the giver
 
Further Conversation
1. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving memories?
2. What do you think is different between being thankful and living a lifestyle of gratitude? Why is maintaining gratitude difficult?
3. Read Acts 2:42-47. How did ‘awe’ impact the early church?
4. Gratitude can be defined as thankfulness multiplied by awe. How would you define “awe”? Why is it vital to gratitude?
5. When have you been truly amazed (in ‘awe’) of a gift? How did you act about the gift? How did you act toward others? How did you act and interact with the giver?
6. What is something for which you are very thankful? How could you move to gratitude through Show, Share & Seek?
7. See the gift but focus on the giver. Where have you ignored to missed focusing the giver? How can you shift your focus this week? How can Christ Church help you take this next step?

Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Luke 19:1-10
As kids, we hated being picked last. This doesn’t change with age. We want to be wanted. The religious leaders wanted Jesus to value them. Jesus didn’t ignore them. The Gospels show several times Jesus meeting with religious leaders. But Jesus had a heart and desire for the lost, those who felt like the least. Jesus wanted to help them know that God desires them. Those who felt far from God, who because of their actions might believe God would reject them, instead Jesus chose to seek. Zacchaeus was such a person. Rejected by the community because of his sin, he hoped to only catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus chooses him. What does it mean to you that Jesus “came to seek and save” the lost? How are you following Jesus’ example by choosing to be friends with the lost?
Pray: LORD Jesus, I was lost and you choose me. Help me see the lost in my midst, that I may go to be with them, sharing your grace.
 
Tuesday – 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
Pain always has a purpose. If I touch something hot, it hurts. But I learn to be more careful. Suffering and shame can also serve a purpose. Though God doesn’t create our crisis, many times God will use those difficulties to speak love, grace, and truth. Many people trace their greatest spiritual awakenings to their most difficult experiences. Have you experienced struggle, fear, or a crisis? Are you in the middle of one now? How might God be speaking to you, calling you with grace and truth, that in difficulty you find new life?
Pray: Almighty God, when we listen you can take our brokenness and make it beautiful. Help me to hear you, see you, and find hope.
 
Wednesday – John 8:12
When I walk into a dark room, I turn on a light. Its practically reflex. Most of us only like to sleep in the dark. Jesus’ claim to be the light is incredible Good News for all people. We walk around in such darkness today. Wars, disease, hate, and death bombard us on the nightly news. This world is a scary place of darkness. Yet Jesus comes to shine His light. Following Jesus lets us really see. Yes, seeing is sometimes painful. Jesus is perfect, and a know I am not. Looking straight into the light lets me feel and know the darkness I’m so accustomed to. Yet, imagine a life lived in the full light and warmth of the Son. Do you crave light, do you yearn for hope? Come to Jesus. Repent and follow Him and you will know light!
Pray: Light of the World, you stepped down into my darkness that I might see. Open my eyes, restore me to life, fill me with your light.
 
Thursday – Proverbs 20:29-30
“Youth is wasted on the young!” When I was a kid my grandpa used to say this a lot. Now that I’m older, I’m beginning to understand. What I’d give to know then what I know now. Wisdom is knowledge matched to experience. It can’t be taught, it must be lived. But really, what is experience? Aren’t our greatest learning experiences often our biggest struggles seen from the other side. In the midst of struggle, we have tunnel vision. All we know is the moment. But on the other side, we have wisdom. These two proverbs remind us that our pain, our struggle, is our opportunity to gain wisdom. Don’t lament, but look and learn. What is God trying to teach you today?
Pray: Heavenly Father, I often want cured of pain and removed from struggle. Instead, help me begin to learn and grow from it.
 
Friday – Psalm 34:17-18
Many of us hate to ask for help. We want to try to see if we can do it. We don’t want to appear needy. We don’t want to seem incapable. No, we want to show our power and worth. This is the core problem of pride. Pride keeps us from what we truly need. We need God’s help. We can not do life on our own. Calling out to God requires real humility. It means admitting our brokenness. It means acknowledging our real need. The Good News is God loves answering the call of the broken-hearted and the humble. God seeks to save the lost! Are you trying to prove your worth to God or are you calling our to God in humility today?
Pray: Holy Spirit, I need your help. I can not do this on my own. Help me humble myself that I might learn from you and be saved.
 
Saturday – Luke 15:1-10
Why should you go to church? Its a fair question that many ask today. We can find great preaching on the radio, TV, or internet. We can sing along to any song any where with modern technology. We can read our bibles. We can find community in small groups. If church is about what I can get from it, we don’t need the church like we used to. But what if we took Jesus’s words in these two stories seriously. What if a church worship service wasn’t about what I got, but instead about who I brought. Imagine the celebration in your soul and in heaven if you brought an unchurched, lost, friend to church, and they chose to repent and be saved by Jesus. What if they got found because you brought them. Now thats something!
Pray: Loving God, you love to seek and save the lost. So often I make it about me. Help me know the joy of seeing someone found!

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