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Step Forward in Rest & Gratitude

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Let’s face it, 2020 was a year that made everyone hit pause – either to our daily pace or to the way we chose to live. It was a year that made us think and rethink.

Many of us were forced to slow down and we rediscovered rest. Most of us stopped in our tracks, appreciating that life is fleeting and we need to take time to be thankful for every moment.

The question is, will we continue to step forward into 2021 with the same posture of rest and gratitude? Or will we regress into a life filled busyness and hurried moments?

In God’s kingdom, rest and gratitude go hand in hand. When our heart is filled with gratitude for God’s goodness, we enter into a state of rest because we become conscious of God’s faithfulness.

In the same way, when we rest in God because we trust in His unfailing lead and love, we begin to nurture a grateful heart. Resting, causes us to stop striving and dwell on the One we lean on.

God understood the importance of rest for man and it is why He commanded us to take one day off each week to observe Sabbath. God himself rested on the 7th day of creation – surely it wasn’t because He was tired.

Isaiah 40:28 tells us, “The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary.”

When God rested, He ceased working after six days of creating. “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:2-3).

In fact, that’s what Shabbat actually means – ‘to cease or stop’ – God deliberately stopped working.

He was setting an example for us to follow – a day of rest designed for the good of mankind to stop and appreciate the good in life. He even deliberately blessed that day and made it holy, so that we will understand the importance of ceasing to work and enjoy a day of divine blessings!

Later, in Exodus 16:29, He even provided a double portion of Manna so the Israelites can observe the Sabbath and rest in His providence.

When we stop to rest and enjoy all the blessings in our life, we are actually stopping to show our gratitude to the God who provided those blessings. We are acknowledging thankfulness for His presence that never leaves us.

In Exodus 20:8-10, God promised, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” It is from this place of rest that we should live our lives in gratitude for every single moment – nestled deep within His Presence.

How? Through seeking Him daily in His Word and intentionally setting aside time to worship and pray. Essentially, it is to communicate with God and seek Him daily in all that we do!

It is Jesus alone who can give our souls complete rest.

The most beautiful thing about God’s rest is that it touches every area of your life. When you become at rest in just one aspect of your life, you will find that your response to even the biggest challenge will be significantly different than before.

suzane christie

You will respond from a place of peace and rest. God’s peace permeates the deepest corners of our soul when we are rested in His Presence.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus is offering us an everlasting and perfect exchange so we can live each day secured in His rest. Why then would we choose anything else over His offer? How then can we live even a single moment without unceasing gratitude for Him?

When gratitude enters our hearts, discontent takes leave; it is simply impossible to be dissatisfied and thankful at the same time.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This means a grateful heart leads to a life nestled in God’s will for us. Can you think of a better way to live? Rest is inevitable when we are the centre of God’s will.

But how often are we truly thankful for ALL that God has given us? How often do we say it out loud or better yet, testify to others about every good thing in our life?

How often do we curb our complaining when things don’t go our way and instead give gratitude to the One who is leading our way?

suzane christie

To maintain a mindset thanksgiving, we must intentionally cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude. Gratitude is a muscle we need to exercise every day – we must pause daily to give thanks.

Even in this very moment, think about what God has done and what He is doing now in your life, and then, write it down if you have to.

Confess what you are grateful for because it will make you more mindful of the presence of God in you. A grateful heart causes you to lean in closer to your Saviour.

Gratitude helps us shift the atmosphere of our hearts whenever we are discouraged or disheartened. It gives us inner clarity and focus, and it puts things into perspective.

Being thankful encourages us because it opens our eyes to all that we are blessed with – even when we think we don’t have enough.

Gratitude is the vehicle that helps us move out from a space of negative complaining and into a place of positive appreciation.

suzane christie

Being thankful teaches us to always remember all that God has done in the past and helps us position ourselves to see what God is doing at this moment, which leads to a place of resting peace.

Gratitude has the power to change our attitude because it locks our gaze on all that we do have and not on what is missing. This in itself, makes us even more thankful for the One who provides and the One who leads us to rest.

Let’s face it, we can only step forward into 2021 in rest and gratitude, if we step into this new year with our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus and safely nestled in the presence of our Saviour.

May His Shalom continue to cushion your every step in the days to come.

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