Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thankful Heart: Remembering God's Goodness

Happy Thanksgiving—a day of gratitude! 

I blogged last Thursday about how my heart is full of gratitude, and that theme continues to run through my mind. 

At Holiday Happening last week, I bought this sign to hang in our living room:

I love putting reminders in front of me to be grateful, to find joy, to have a thankful heart. In Psalm 84, it says that God withholds no good thing from us, and in James, we’re told that He gives good gifts. He recently told me that He actually delights in our asking Him for gifts—for the desires of our heart. 

What good Father doesn’t love to lavish His children with gifts—with unexpected surprises that bring squeals of joy? 

The hard lesson—at least for me—has been the process of asking for gifts, believing God for answered prayers, but not putting expectations on Him.  

If your expectations are in the thing you’re asking for rather than in Him, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. 

If you feel disappointed in God—that He’s holding out on you or that He has not delivered on His word, then your expectations are in the thing you’ve asked Him for rather than in Him. 

In February of this year, I heard Danny Silk preach in Amarillo, and his sermon topic was Expectation versus Expectancy. He called God’s goodness, His blessings, “The River of Expectancy.” We should flow in this river, operate in this river—and anticipate, always, that God has good things in store for us. 

Again—He is a good Father. He withholds No. Good. Thing. And He delights in our asking. 

But expectations are like a box that we put God in when we tell Him to perform or else. When we put demands on Him, when we restrain how or what He can do in our lives, when we put restrictions on the miracle—that it must look like this and not that—we have created expectations. 

We’ve moved out of the river of expectancy and into the quicksand of disappointment. 

Howell and I have several areas in our life where we are believing God will move. If you’ve read Mark Batterson’s The Prayer Circle, he calls it circling your prayers—your specific requests. My favorite quote from Mark’s book is that the things we’re circling must not become ‘to do’ lists. (Again—that’s like a box of expectations.) Instead, he says, we have to pray for God’s will, God’s way. I love that! 

Putting expectancy versus expectations into practice is harder than it sounds—or maybe, for some, it's as hard as it sounds. :) Last May, I asked God, “How do I pray into these areas of our life, how do I continue asking and believing to see You move, to see a miracle, without putting You in a box or putting my hope and expectation in the thing?”

His answer to me? 

God’s goodness is inherent in His nature—He is a GOOD GOD. And when we remember His goodness, we remain grateful. We remember the blessings. We remember His faithfulness, His answers, His gifts.

Remembering God's goodness is the antidote to hopelessness.  A grateful heart overcomes feelings of disappointment.

What are you believing God for today? Have you put Him in a box with expectations—a timeline or a set of parameters in which He is supposed to perform?  Or is your faith—the foundation of your belief—rooted in gratitude and in the inherent goodness of God? 

I encourage you, friend, on this day of Thanksgiving—and every day, have a thankful heart.

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