Welcome to the Bible Cafe™ for a study about gratitude. We’ll be using the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. For this online Bible study, we are reading and discussing two chapters a week. The first week is an introduction to meet your small group leaders and the students who are joining you in the online study.

As we begin the study I tend to feel thankful hourly. I live in a state of constant gratitude. But, I am not tracking my gratitudes and they are all in my head. I look forward to writing them down so they plant in my heart… and become hidden treasures.

As you read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, the author changes her feelings and writing style. Chapter by chapter, she transforms and this is a beautiful piece of art.

Similar to Ann Voskamp, I did not wake up one Sunday morning and have an attitude of gratitude, I cultivated it and it grew with intentionality.

Doing this with friends at the Bible Cafe™ keeps me motivated. I have several blank journals. I started and stopped other journals. I complain I am too busy (to count blessings) or I do not need to do this. What excites me about our journey together is the love, fellowship, and mutual encouragement.

Think about how much time you spend watching/reading the news. Can you take 10 minutes AWAY from that… and focus on giving thanks?

Think about how much time you spend on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter. Can you take 10 minutes AWAY from that… and focus on giving thanks?

When we stop focusing on our “idols” we turn our eyes to God. We give thanks. Let’s do this!!

What might happen if we give thanks for “smaller things” rather than only giving thanks for big things? For me, it removes self-focus and I become more God-focused. I like to think of that beautiful Garden in Eden. What if we have a “garden of blessings” right before our eyes When I focus on the small things I remember I am blessed by the presence of God. His gifts may not appear large. His gifts may be right in front of my face.. when I look and SEE.

In this study, we are learning to count blessings. Learning to count is keeping track of things. Some of you are counting offenses! Not your offenses…rather those who offend you. Let it go and allow God to teach you mercy, forgiveness, and peace. Offenses are not yours to count so do not take ownership of them!! (speaking with love)

For the last 10 years, I was counting WW points, Keto carbs, or all things diet-related. But it seems that I was counting how many times I felt GUILTY. Ugh. This is changing now that I am aware of it.

I was also counting things on my “to-do” list which I never did. My beautiful friend Tricia Mcwilliams called me out on this and taught me to count the things I finished. She turned it into a positive.

There is transformative power in gratitude as our mind shifts from the negative to the positive. I think the mindset shift is so important for this year. We have been bombarded with a “spirit of offense” and shifting from that will live the heavy burdens I see online.

Did it take a long time to cultivate a negative mindset? Probably. So let’s not unravel that with one Sunday morning sermon! Give it time… Bible study cannot be microwaved

Put your eyes on your Bible and look at 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in different Bible versions.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (ESV)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (MSG-paraphrased)

According to this verse, it is God’s will for me to be thankful. Not my will, but His. Let’s dig deeper.

When my will says to be offended, His will says to give thanks.

When my will says to seek revenge, His will says to give thanks.

When my will says I am entitled, His will says to give thanks.

When my will says she has more than me, His will says give thanks.

Your turn… When my will says ________ His will says give thanks.

Write that down and pray about your answer today.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.