Happy Belated Father's Day!

Happy Belated Father's Day! 

I'm so thankful for my faithful Father, and for the many years of tremendous sacrifices he has made for his family. I've learned a lot from him over the years, and I'm so grateful for his leadership, and love for me. Thank you Dad! 

"And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:11-12 

Gratitude Challenge Conclusion!

How did you do in your gratefulness challenge? I know I got off for about 2 weeks and I'm just now getting back on schedule with the daily blog posts. I've told myself I'm not going to attempt to write daily blog posts anymore unless I get them all scheduled and written before I post them.

 But how about you? Have you learned anything from this gratefulness challenge? Have the daily (while, not exactly daily;) posts encouraged you at all? If so, Please leave me a comment and tell me how you've been impacted from this series. I'd like to do more encouraging posts on this blog, but only if you're being encouraged as a result.

So please leave me a note and tell me what you think about this series!  This blog wouldn't be here without your support and encouragement! Thank you SO much for taking the time to read my posts! May God richly bless you all as you press on in gratitude! Keep looking up to Christ!

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Day 30~ Pressing on in Gratitude!

Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:16–24

As you launch out on a new lifestyle of gratitude, use today to set some goals for what you want God to accomplish in your heart, being specific about the ways you intend to practice ongoing thankfulness. For example, if you want to become more deliberate about writing thank-you notes, how many would you like send in a typical week or month? What Scriptures do you plan to memorize and meditate on in relation to thankfulness? Whom will you ask to hold you accountable for specific areas where you need to grow in the grace of gratitude?
Whatever mechanics it requires to get it up and running will soon fall away to the freedom of pursuing it with passion. Are you ready to experience the life-changing power of Christian gratitude? Then let the Lord help you decide what your next steps should be.
Write a simple prayer, expressing to the Lord your desire to develop a radically grateful lifestyle. Thank Him for His supernatural grace that will enable you to “abound in thanksgiving.” 

Life Application:

As I look back on this journey of gratitude I can see how much God has used this challenge to work in my heart and to help me to see areas where I have been ungrateful. I can't say that I've learned what it means to be grateful for everything, but I can say I've learned what it means to be grateful for a few things, and that will hopefully spread on to the rest of my life, and heart. I don't ever want to be satisfied with an areal view of who Christ is and what He has done for me. I want a up close and personal view of God that forces me to be grateful for everything He has done. I want to press on in gratitude until I can't press on any more. I want my life to be so overflowing with gratitude for God that everyone around me can see that the life I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Let's take up this challenge together, and press on to know what it truly means to have a heart of gratefulness!

"Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." Hosea 6:1-3

Day 29~ Growing Grateful Children!

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1–12

If you’ve been blessed with children, you know that gratitude doesn’t come naturally for them. But few things are more remarkable (and unusual) in children today than when they’re known for their thankful, contented spirit.

While teaching and instruction have their place in growing gratitude in our kids, the best teacher of all is our example. Do your children hear you thank your husband when he tackles a home repair job? Do they hear you express gratitude to the Lord and to others for both little and big things throughout the day?

Conversely, do they hear you grumble when your husband delays dinner by needing to see one extra client or when you get a flat tire or the sun doesn’t come out for a week?
Gratitude is more effectively caught than taught. How contagious are you, especially at home?

Sit down and talk with your children about the high value God places on gratitude. Tell them how they’re going to start seeing some “gratitudinal” changes in you. If you don’t have children of your own, think about who God has placed in your sphere of influence. What are you teaching them about gratitude by your lifestyle?

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Father God, I want my heart attitude to honor You and draw others closer to Jesus. When I begin to grumble or give in to pride, remind me that my attitude is contagious. Please work in me to make it worth catching. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Ok, so most of this day, (actually all of it;) didn't apply to me. I'm not married, and I don't have kids, so I can just skip this day right?.....wrong. Even though I don't have my own kids, I have influence in the lives of other people. I can use the same principles (if I had kids) to interact with my siblings, and my friends, and anyone I interact with. 

I've noticed the connection between my attitude, and the attitudes of those around me. When I'm upset, the people around me seem to get upset and grumble as well. And when I grumble, I give the enemies of Christ occasion to blaspheme. (2 Sam 12:14) I have the potential to give the people around me reason to grateful or be upset. I can be the example of gratefulness, or I can be the source of grumbling for those around me. It's a choice I have to make every day, and it's a choice that will change the future of my life, and the lives of those around me!

 "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:15-23

Day 28~ Gratitude Accounts!

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:3–11

If expressing gratitude is to become a way of life for us, we can’t treat it as an optional exercise. If it never gets beyond our wish list, if it nestles down with all the other nice things we hope to get around to someday, the “someday” of gratitude will never roll around on our calendars.

So I want to encourage you to think of gratitude as being a debt you owe, the same way you’re called upon to pay your monthly bills. Start a list designated as “Gratitude Accounts,” specific listings of individuals to whom you owe a debt of thanks. By doing this, you can make it a point today to make a phone call just to thank a friend for the way she’s shown her concern for you during a difficult time. When the Lord opens a window of opportunity for you to jot a quick thank-you note this evening, you’ll have a ready-made list of people to choose from.

We all have gratitude accounts. There just aren’t many of us who keep them paid up. Make sure you’re becoming the type of person who stays current on your bill.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, teach me how to express thanks to You and others regularly so that my Gratitude Account doesn’t become overdue. I want to give what’s due to others, to encourage them and to remember that I am blessed by Your hand. Thank You! 

Life Application:

How many things we have to be thankful for that we don't even notice. I've noticed recently that the gratefulness I've given is only a fraction of the gratefulness I owe to others. I'm always reminded of this verse and song when I think about my need to express gratefulness. As I think about giving thanks, I see that it's more than just an outward expression of thanksgiving, it's a heart attitude of gratefulness, and trust in the Lord. It's a firm belief in the sovereignty of God, and the knowledge that no matter what happens in the future, I can be grateful, because I have a heart of gratefulness. God is so good that we cannot even begin to fathom the effects of His mercy. How can we help but thank Him when we realize how much he has spared us from?

 "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33


Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Look beyond ourselves
There's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say
I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
It's so long overdue

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And every day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Even with our differences
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each other's light

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more

There's so much to be thankful for

Day 27~ Progress Report!

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 4:11–16

As we near the end of this gratitude challenge, take a little quiz today to see where you’re growing and where you still need work.

Try answering these questions candidly—not just yes or no, but with supporting details that come to mind:
  1. (1)  Do I often complain about my circumstances, feeling like I deserve better?
  2. (2)  Do others hear me voice more complaints and negative comments than words of gratitude
    about the typical events of daily life?
  3. (3)  Would others describe me as a thankful person?
  4. (4)  What evidence is there that I have a grateful or an ungrateful spirit?
  5. (5)  How often do I begin statements with these words: “I am so thankful that . . .”?
  6. (6)  Do I more frequently display a pessimistic, negative outlook or a positive, grateful
  7. (7)  Am I reserved or eager when it comes to expressing appreciation to others?
  8. (8)  My most recent expression of gratitude was ...
If you haven’t done so already, consider taking this gratitude challenge into an accountability setting, letting others help you stay true to your commitment, while being there to offer your support to them as well.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, how I long to keep growing in gratitude and in Your likeness. Show me where I need to walk in greater obedience and how I can take steps of faithful obedience. Please continue on with me, cultivating a heart of gratitude that reflects Your goodness in my life. Thank You! 

Life Application:

How are you doing in your gratefulness challenge? I know I got off for about 2 weeks and I'm just now getting back on schedule with the daily blog posts. I've told myself I'm not going to attempt to write daily blog posts anymore unless I get them all scheduled and written before I post them. But how about you? Have you learned anything from this gratefulness challenge? Have the daily (while, not exactly daily;) posts encouraged you at all? If so, Please leave me a comment and tell me how you've been impacted from this series. I'd like to do more encouraging posts on this blog, but only if you're being encouraged as a result. So please leave me a note and tell me what you think about this series! Thank you SO much for taking the time to read my posts. This blog wouldn't be here without your support and encouragement. 

Day 26~ A Call to Gratitude!

Scripture Reading: Ezra 3:8–13

On October 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, calling the nation to observe a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” This proclamation eventually led to the establishing of our national day of Thanksgiving.

The document began by listing multiple blessings the nation had experienced through the course of the year, even in the midst of a severe conflict. It called the American people to recognize the Source of those blessings and to respond collectively to the Giver in gratitude, repentance, and intercession.

Today, try crafting your own declaration of thanksgiving. Use some of the insights the Lord has been growing in you these last few weeks. Incorporate some of the Scriptures that have particularly touched you. And dedicate your life to what these words of yours are saying. Then share what you’ve written with your family or a close friend. Be an igniter of gratitude by encouraging those you love and care about to cultivate a thankful heart.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, You are the Giver and Source of all I have and all I am. I want my life, my heart, and my attitude to exude gratitude for Your provision each and every day. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Recently I experienced a call to gratitude. It had only been a few days since I had gotten 21 chicks from the hatchery. I was very excited since this was our first time having animals (other than bees, and fish) for over 7 years. The first day with my chicks seemed to go well, and I was beginning to think I really raising animals. Then, the third day we went to a dance at a friend's house. The chicks all seemed well before we left, and I felt confident that my techniques for raising animals were really working. But then when we arrived home from the dance, I was shocked to find one of the chicks dead. 

This was certainly an unexpectedly hard blow for me to bear. And on top of that, I noticed that one of the other chicks was very lethargic, and wasn't eating or drinking. In a fit of desperation, I tried to help the little chick eat and drink, but it was a futile effort. (it died the next morning.) That night as I sat in our garage with the remaining chicks, I couldn't help but be sad and upset. It didn't help that it was past 2am, and I was overly tired. But there I sat, watching the chicks go about the cage, and trying to find any information I could online to help me see what was wrong. And then I realized something I hadn't thought of before, when my Father said, " You know, you have to be grateful that the chick died, because it gives you a greater appreciation for the ones that are alive." 

And isn't that so true in our lives. We have to be grateful for what has been taken from us so that we can be grateful for what we have. The next day, I talked with a lady from the hatchery who was very kind to return the money for the two chicks that died. And then my Father was so kind to buy me two more chicks from the feed store to replace the others. As I look back on this experience, I see that God was teaching me to be grateful for the challenges He gives me, and to trust Him to take care of His possessions. I know that I'm not in control of the life or death of any living thing, but it all rests in the hands of my loving heavenly Father who calls me through simple challenges to give Him thanks!

Day 25~ Thanksgiving Day!

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 8:1–10

Historians have differing perspectives in relation to the first Thanksgiving celebrations in America, but we know some details are true. We know the Pilgrims’ journey from Holland to England to the New World was frightfully difficult, with sickness and storms on the arduous, weeks-long voyage. We know once they arrived, the task of carving dwellings out of the forest quick enough to hold back the advancing effects of winter was a losing race against time. Nearly half of those who made the trip didn’t survive the stay.

And yet with sheer survival the order of each day, and with fears for their families an all- consuming worry, their writings and recorded history are filled with demonstrations and attitudes of thanksgiving.

Each Sunday—in lean times as well as relatively plentiful—they gathered for prayer, meditation, the singing of hymns, and a sermon. It was their regular practice to stop and give thanks to God at the outset of each week.
Use your prayer time today to think back over the history of God’s faithfulness in your life, your family, and your church. Make a list of desperate situations or seasons when you have witnessed His providential protection and provision.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Father God, You have been so very faithful to me over the course of my life, showing Your care and provision time and again. I’m so grateful for the way You have walked with me, sustained me, encouraged me, strengthened me, comforted me, and loved me in every season. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Thanksgiving day symbolizes so much joy and memories for me. Over the years, we have spent the Holiday with precious friends and family, and each year at Thanksgiving I'm reminded of God's faithfulness. My Father has always had a tradition of passing around five kernels of corn to each person after the feast has been shared, and our stomachs are full. Each person is invited to partake in a Thanksgiving celebration as we share what we are grateful for from the past year. It's always a treat to see how many times people share things that have impacted them, and changed their lives. And often those things are the things that at first glance we wouldn't be grateful for. 

I'm reminded of one particular Thanksgiving a few years ago, when I took the kernels of corn in my hand and began to think about how to express my gratefulness. The past year had been very hard for our family, with challenges that we never expected to face. As I began to think over the events of the past year, I couldn't think of anything I was more grateful for than the trials I had experienced. It felt very strange to say that the thing I was most grateful for were the trials that had come to our family. But it was the truth, because through those trials I had come closer to God than ever before. I had learned so much about God's faithfulness, and I had seen that God is with us no matter what happens or where we go. He gives us hope in spite of everything, He gives us joy even through so much pain. And He wants us to take this life and live like we were given another chance after a certain death. And when I looked at the trials I had faced this way, I knew I had nothing to more grateful for that Thanksgiving Day!

Day 24~ A Woman after God's Own Heart!

Scripture Reading: Ruth 2:1–13

Ruth was a woman with a humble heart—a trait that’s a companion virtue of gratitude. She didn’t claim her rights. She didn’t insist that Boaz provide her a living by letting her glean in his fields. And because she relinquished her demands for certain expectations, she was able to be genuinely thankful when she actually did receive the blessing of his generosity.
Too many of us live with a chip on our shoulder, as if the world owes us something. “You ought to do this for me. You ought to serve me. You ought to meet my needs.” But the humble heart—the grateful heart—says, “I don’t deserve this, and it’s an amazing act of grace that you should minister to my needs.”

Ruth just went out to serve with a humble, thankful heart. And as a result, God made sure her needs were met. He’ll do the same for you.

Who do you know who consistently exhibits a grateful spirit? What is it about them that makes them so remarkable? What can you learn from their example?

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, I desperately want to live like You did—as a Servant who came to give Your life as a ransom for others. Show me how to serve others and lay down my demands so that others would be blessed. Cultivate in me a heart of humility and gratitude that looks to give instead of get. Thank You!

Life Application:

Recently, I've been doing a Bible Study book on the book of Ruth and it has been very encouraging to me. It has helped me see that the circumstances of our lives don't need to rule our actions. Ruth had the same trials and afflictions as Naomi. She dwelt in the land of Moab, during the time of the famine. She lost her husband, her father in law, and brother in law to the famine, and then her sister in law left her as well. There she was, all alone, with her Mother in law. She had no knowledge of the future. She couldn't read the next chapter of her life and see what she was supposed to do next. All she knew was that she trusted God, and that He was faithful to provide for her in the past, and that He would be faithful in the future. 

Gratefulness is not the natural response to these kind of trials. Naomi experienced the same things Ruth did, and yet we see her reaction to be very different from Ruth's. "So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?" Ruth 1:19-21 Naomi became bitter with God when she was faced with trials. She choose to blame God instead of trust Him. And this is the natural response to afflictions. We look for someone else to blame. 

But let's get back to Ruth. What she did not only changed her life, and Naomi's life, but it changed the course of history forever. She choose to be grateful for God's mercy in sparing her life, and she choose to move ahead in life with bold confidence, all the while yielding every step to God in obedience. She knew that as C.H. Spurgeon said, “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

Day 23~ Gratitude is Enough!

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6–10

All of us, in some way, possess some sense of entitlement toward God. So often our expectation or demand for “more” towers over the plenty we already possess. That’s because we forget that God doesn’t owe us anything. We are debtors. We are the ones who owe. We think we deserve more (or different or better) than we have, and therefore we forget or minimize the blessings God has already given and continues to give.

Not content with food, clothing, and a roof over our heads, we whine if we don’t have a certain kind of house, a certain kind of car, a certain kind of job, a certain kind of marriage, and certain kinds of friends living in a certain kind of neighborhood and income bracket. It’s time we let gratitude be our ticket to freedom.

What kinds of “wants” are you defining as “needs”? Ask God to show you any ways you may have become blinded to His grace. Highlight them. Confess them. And trade them in on the bounty God promises to the grateful.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, remind me of Your high call to seek Your Kingdom above earthly things. Show me where I have confused my wants with my needs, and teach me to be grateful for all I already have. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Sometimes I find myself dreaming about all the things the future could hold. I get all excited as I think about the future possibilites of my life. In just a few short years I could be a wife, and then a mother, and then I could be a teacher, and a writer, maybe even a public speaker or musician.....but then I stop myself, and remember that no matter what happens in the future, it's not going to happen unless I'm grateful for what I have, and who I am today. If I'm always looking for the next big event, or conversation, or possibility, then I'll miss the joy of being who I am right now. I'll miss watching my brother build a chicken coop, and helping my Mother make dinner, and listening to my brother's newest piano composition, and hearing my Father's lessons from our morning devotions, and so many other little opportunities.....all because I'm too busy worrying about who I'm going to become to make the most of who I am right now. I'll never become anything unless I learn that gratitude for what's happening right now is enough to make me satisfied!

Day 22~ Glad for What We Have!

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 30:7–9

You may have heard some preachers and teachers leave the impression that God intends for every Christian to be materially rich. Others go too far the other way, proudly wearing poverty like a cloak of self-righteous sainthood. Today’s proverb puts a proper perspective on the whole thing. The Word is teaching us to focus more on being grateful for where we are—not only because to do otherwise would be sinful and proud, but also because we don’t know what the Lord may be saving us from by not giving us everything we might want.

Even if we possess much less than others have, if our hearts are full of gratitude, neither money nor the lack of it can shake our contented dependence on God.

Ask the Lord to show you if there is any root of discontentment or “love of money” in your heart. Ask Him to provide just what He knows you need—enough to keep you from being tempted to sin to get your needs met, but not so much that you no longer need to rely on Him as your Provider. Take some time to thank Him for His practical, material provision in your life.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, today I acknowledge You as Provider for all I need in this life. I choose to trust You for what You’ve given as well as for what You’ve withheld. Make my heart learn contentment in plenty and in want so that I might praise You in all circumstances. Thank You!

Life Application:

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" Philippians 4:11-13

I was thinking about this verse the other day, and noticing how many things Paul had gone through and he still had a heart of contentment. How many of us have the knowledge of what it means to be truly abase and what it means to abound? How many of us have been very hungry, or very needy? Not many of us, I presume. And yet even in spite of our comfortable living, our plentiful nutritious food, our warm clothes, our loving families, and so much more that we have been given, we still find it hard to be content and happy where we are. Why? I wonder if it could be our hearts? I wonder if it could be that we don't truly believe that God can do all things through us?

This week let's try to not think about ourselves. Every time we find ourselves wanting a little more of something, let's thank God for what He has given us, and then use that desire to show His love to another person. Let's cultivate that heart of contentement right now, and not wait until it's too late. And let's remember that the secret of contentment is found in a heart of genuine gratefulness to God!

Day 21~ Family Matters!

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 21:2–9

When you read the above passage, you could probably guess which verse I wanted to highlight: “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (v. 9). And, yes, I am serious about the dangers posed by tongues that are contentious, combative, and discontented.

But while heeding this as a warning, let’s also turn it into a positive. If one of the blessings of gratitude is that it makes us generally happier people, it follows that gratitude makes those who live with us happier too.

The restorative power of a grateful heart and tongue is more potent than we can imagine, as is the destructive potential of being bitter and difficult to live with. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24). Let’s make sure our words have that kind of effect.

Ask God to guard your heart—and your tongue—today. Anytime you hear yourself saying words that are contentious, complaining, or critical, rather than gracious, gentle, and godly ... stop. Ask Him to forgive you. And seek forgiveness from those to whom—or in whose presence—you spoke.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, I want to be the kind of person others seek out—not the sort of person that others avoid. Cultivate in me a heart of gratitude that overflows with gracious, gentle, and godly speech so that my family is blessed by my presence. Thank You! 

Life Application:

As I read over the lesson for today, I was convicted in my heart about how many times I have spoken hurtful words to my family. How many times I have thought "Oh well, there "just" my family, so they'll understand." But what a lie this is! Our families should be the place where we can feel the most love and give the most love. We shouldn't wish for a better freind if we aren't willing to be one ourselves. Over the years, I've realized more and more that the person we are at home is the person we truly are. When we can treat our family like they matter most, and forgive them when they hurt us, then we will be able to get along with anyone else in life. But if we treat our family with disdain, and grumble about the opportunities we have to invest in their lives, well, how can we expect anything different when we have our own families? We must choose now, to treat our family like they matter, and live each moment with a heart of gratefulness, and humility.

Day 20~ Gratitude at Home!

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Timothy 1:3–5; 3:14–15

Godly character in every area of our lives will show up within the four walls of our homes. We can’t say we love God if we don’t manifest His love to our family members or if we allow bitterness to fester in our hearts toward them. For the most part, we don’t get to choose our family members, as we do our “friends.” Yet we are called to love and care for those in our families, in spite of their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, or their character flaws. And that’s not always easy!

Today, focus on expressing gratitude for and to your family members. Make a list of each member of your immediate family. Next to each name, write one quality about their life for which you are particularly grateful.

Take time to thank God for each member of the family He has given you. Then pick one or two individuals from your list to whom you can express gratitude today, in person, by phone, or with a note or email. (Note: You may want to express gratitude to a family member who has been especially difficult to love.)

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, I choose to thank You for each member of my family and for how they enrich my life. Help me to express thanks to them and grow in patience toward them. Cultivate in me a heart of praise and grace for those who know me best and see me most. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Have you ever wondered why we don't choose our family members? Have you ever wished you could have? Well, I'm sure we have all thought about it at some point. Sometimes it's easy to complain and wish we had different family members than we do. We think that only if the people around us would change we could too. But, in reality, the only thing that needs to change is our hearts and how we look at the gifts God has given us in our family members. 

Psalm 68:6 says, "God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land." Here we can see that God has a purpose for each member of our family, and that He puts us in our families for a reason, and when we wish to change or leave the family he has given us, we are really rebelling against Him. Notice what Psalm 107:41-42 says, "Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth." You see, God's purpose for the family is so we can learn to be grateful in every circumstance of life. So that He can get the glory from our lives. He wants our lives to be an example of what He can do when we yield ourselves to His control.

So next time you get upset about something one of your family members does, try stopping and thanking God for His mercy in helping you to grow into a vessel for His glory. Thank Him that He loves you enough to correct you through the people who love you most. God is faithful to give us such joy through our family members, and yet we sometimes don't see it. We think that if we were anywhere else but home with our family, life would be so much better. But it's not until we choose to be grateful, and choose to treat our family members the way we would treat our friends that we will begin to see the joy that comes from a heart of gratitude at home.

Day 19~ People Matter!

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:81 Corinthians 1:4Ephesians 1:15–16Philippians 1:3–4Colossians 1:3–41 Thessalonians 1:2–32 Thessalonians 1:3 

When you read Paul’s New Testament letters, you can’t help but notice he was thankful for others. Paul didn’t just leave it at generalized expressions of gratitude—he often took time to identify specific individuals for whom he was grateful and to let them know how much he appreciated their contribution to his life and ministry. 

People matter to God. And they should matter to us. It’s important to take time to recognize and express appreciation for the contributions that even little-known people make to His kingdom and to our lives. Today, make a list of individuals who have blessed or touched your life in some way. Ask yourself, “Have I ever thanked this person for the way God has used him/her in my life?” Put a checkmark next to each individual to whom you have expressed gratitude.

Then begin the process of catching up on your “gratitude accounts.” Don’t try to tackle the whole list at once. Pick one for starters. In the next twenty-four hours, find a way to express your gratitude for that person’s influence and impact in your life. Then move to the next one ... and the next.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, I want to love people the way You showed us. Help me to express my gratitude to others for specific ways they have invested in me and enriched my life. Thank You for giving me people who love me and care for me. Open my eyes to every person who needs encouragement from me for how they have loved me. You Thank You! 

Life Application:

I've recently been thinking about all the people God has used in my life to bless me, and teach me in the ways of righteousness. My Mother and Father have sacrificed SO much for me each and every day of my life. They have taught me, corrected me, and modeled an example of living for Christ. I'm so grateful for their selfless sacrifice.

But somedays, in the hard times, I forget how much they've done for me, and I loose sight of the debt of gratitude I owe them. I get frustrated and upset with them, disrespect them, and then treat them like they haven't made any sacrifices for me. In those times, (and I'm sure we all have had them) it is easy to be selfish, and ungrateful. Our future seems bleak, and we want nothing other than to go into our rooms and pout. And that's exactly what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to give up on the people that matter most, and despise authority, because He knows that the first step in us straying away from God is ungratefulness, and dishonoring authorities. 

To counteract this, we must choose gratefulness. Especially in the times where it seems like we have reason to believe that we are unloved, unwanted, and have no friends. We must look beyond what we can see, and realize the vast number of people that have impacted us  in ways which we can't even imagine. We must choose to be grateful for all the people that have made a difference in our lives. Whether it be our parents, and siblings, our music teachers, our friends, or whoever else God has used to help us to grow. And we must remember that growth can come from pain. Sometimes our biggest challenges in relationships with people turn into our biggest asests. It's all about our perspective, and how we're going to choose to be grateful for the people that really matter!

Day 18~ The High Cost of Grumbling!

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1–13

In today’s reading, Paul reflects back on the children of Israel in the wilderness and identifies four specific sins they committed, all of which had dire consequences. It’s sobering to realize that He includes the sin of “grumbling” with these other sins and takes them all seriously!
Grumbling is the opposite of thankfulness. Like gratitude, it starts in the heart and expresses itself in our words. It grows out of the sin of discontentment—not being satisfied with what God has provided. Philippians 2:14–15 says we are to “do all things without grumbling,” and that when we are obedient in this matter, our lives shine the light of Christ into our dark world.

Are you guilty of the sin of grumbling? If so, confess that to the Lord; ask Him to forgive you and to grant you true repentance. Purpose in your heart to “put off” all complaining and to “put on” a heart of thankfulness.

Ask God to make you sensitive and alert to situations over the next twenty-four hours where your natural response would be to murmur or whine. Ask Him for grace to give thanks every time you’re tempted to grumble.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, forgive me today for grumbling over my life circumstances. Make me sensitive to my heart’s attitude and fill me with gratitude for all You are doing and promise to do in the future. Thank You! 

Life Application:

How easily I have fallen prey to grumbling. I'm reminded of a small book that my Mother read to us a while ago about the first sign of turning away from God. The book outlined the high cost of grumbling, and showed how a grumbling heart leads to discontentment, and that leads to bitterness, which leads to wrong choices, and us lashing out in anger, which leads to us despising all things good, and turning away from God and His people. But it all begins with a grumbling heart. 

It's so easy to think negative thoughts when we are asked to do a task that we don't want to do, or when someone says something that hurts our feelings. I know how easy this is to fall into. I've been there myself, and I'm presently battling with the desires to grumble, or think badly of things I don't like. I have realized that the only way to get victory over this, is to confess the sin of grumbling right after I realize I've done it, and to force myself to give thanks out loud for things my family does, and for circumstances that I don't really like. When I choose to have a good outlook on a bad situation the challenges seem to get easier, and I'm often surprised by the results. 

Besides, a grumbling heart doesn't do any good to me or anybody around me. When I complain, others do too! Relationships can be ruined, and possibilites for encouragement and success in the future can be destroyed, all because I refuse to give thanks for everything. The momentary self pity of grumbling is not worth the lasting consequences. I think the worst thing about grumbling is that it overlooks God's goodness and only focuses on ourselves. When we focus a storm that surrounds us, we fail to see the rainbow of God's love shining through the clouds. Let's look beyond the cloud, and choose gratefulness no matter what else is happening around us!

Day 17~ Happiness Is.......

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 3:13–18

When the writer of Proverbs outlines the benefits of wisdom, he is also advertising the benefits of every other habit and discipline inspired by the Scriptures. And since the practice of being thankful is a basic characteristic of God’s people, I believe these passages that call us to wise, godly living can appropriately be applied to the issue of gratitude as well. That’s why I really like what’s implied in today’s reading. It begins and ends with a word—“blessed”—that portrays the type of person God desires and enables us to be.

Some Bible translations use a slightly different word ... “happy.” For most people, happiness is tied to circumstances—to what is happening in their lives. For Christians, however, happiness or blessedness is not dependent on the weather, the stock market, or how our last haircut turned out. Real happiness—that unshakable sense of peace, contentment, and well-being— comes as we remind ourselves of the blessings we have in Christ and then respond with thankfulness.

We’ve talked about being “loud” with our thanksgiving, being vocal about what God is doing. Check to be sure your countenance is also expressing a joyful, thankful heart.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Father God, I ask that You might grant me a greater vision for my life than mere happiness. I want more than that—I want to be blessed, to have a joy and gratitude that doesn’t change with my life happenings. Let me look to Your blessings for my joy. Thank You! 

Life Application:

We just started the Kickstart program from Generations with Vision as a family. We've only listened to two sessions so far, but I've already been impressed with the emphasis on character as the most vital part of education. Proverbs is full of insights and wisdom for us to apply, and see the cause and effects of certain choices and desires. When we choose to have a standard of moral excellence, and happiness that is based not upon our circumstances or surroundings, but on the finished work of Christ on our behalf, that is when we are truly able to be grateful. Happiness is a gift! We can only have true happiness when we realize how much other people have done for us, and how much we don't deserve their kindness, and then all we can do is pass that joy and hope on to others through gratefulness! 

    Happiness is to know the Savior,
    Living a life within His favor,
    Having a change in my behavior,
    Happiness is the Lord.

    Happiness is a new creation,
    Jesus and me in close relation,
    Having a part in His salvation,
    Happiness is the Lord.

    Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start;
    I've found the secret, it's Jesus in my heart!

    Happiness is to be forgiven,
    Living a life that's worth the living,
    Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
    Happiness is the Lord,
    Happiness is the Lord,
    Happiness is the Lord!

    "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Day 16~ Sing and Give Thanks!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 30

The word “sing” occurs over one hundred times in the Bible—more than sixty of them in the book of Psalms alone. Verses 4 and 12 in today’s passage both tie singing and giving thanks together. There are a number of illustrations in Scripture of the powerful effect of praise through music.

When I talk with women who are struggling with chronic discouragement or depression, I often ask two questions: (1) Are you memorizing Scripture? and (2) Are you singing to the Lord? These aren’t magic “pills” that will make every emotional struggle go away, but I’ve found them to be extremely effective at recalibrating my heart and restoring inner peace. At times, when I am deeply distraught or discouraged, I’ll open my hymnal and just begin to sing. As I sing to the Lord, my heart and mind are re-tethered to His goodness and love, and invariably, the cloud begins to lift.

Whether it’s a cloudy or sunny day in your heart, sing! Right now, if possible. Put on a CD or your iPod and sing along with others, or just sing to Him on your own.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, today I choose to praise you in song, both in my heart and with my voice. You have promised to inhabit the praises of Your people, and I ask You to come near as I sing out to You. Draw near to me and grow gratitude in my heart today. Thank You! 

Life Application:

What better way to express gratefulness than to sing and give thanks? And it's exactly what we don't feel like doing in the midst of selfishness. Have you ever been upset, and then tried to act happy when a friend came over, or someone called on the phone? It doesn't work that well does it? Because the happiness isn't sincere. And in the same way,when we try to act grateful for things we aren't really grateful for, it doesn't work. Gratitude must come from the heart or it won't be sincere, and people will notice. It takes genuine gratefulness to break out in song in the midst of a trial!

For the past several years since a friend's wedding in 2006, I've appreciated the words to the song, "Testimony" that the bride and groom sang after their vows. It has stood out to me over the years as a goal to make my life be a testimony to God's grace. I think it is the essence of gratefulness in song. How many times I've thought of it when I am going through a trial, and I realize how each situation I am in is given for me to reflect Christ just a little bit more! 

Testimony:  by Adam and Lauren Bell

May my life be a testimony,
To who I am in you, to who you are in me.
Lord Jesus may the ones I touch, be touched by thee,
Oh may my life be, a testimony.

May my life be a tribute to your name,
May I seek first your smile not men's applause and fame.
Lord Jesus, if it means for you I suffer pain,
May I not fail to be a tribute to your name.

May our lives be a symphony of praise,
A song of hope and joy, that fills our nights and days.
Oh grant that we may never cease to always raise,
O Lord, to you a joyful symphony of praise.

May our lives be a mirror of your grace,
Reflecting love that goes beyond all time and space.
Lord Jesus may men see not us, but your dear face,
Oh may our lives be a mirror of your grace.

May our lives be a testimony,
To who we are in you, to who you are in us.
Lord Jesus may the ones we touch be touched by thee,
Oh may our lives be a mirror, Lord of thee.

Day 15~ Sacrifice of Thanksgiving!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 50:14–15, 23

Plenty of occasions exist in life where being thankful is the last thing you feel like doing, where nothing seems good or gratitude-worthy.

Today, I’d like you to make a list of all the difficult things in your life. Spell them out, as detailed as you want. Then use this list as a prompt for giving thanks. That may seem strange—or  impossible! We’re not expected to thank God “for” things that are sinful. But we can give thanks “in everything,” knowing that God is still God and He uses all things in this fallen world to accomplish His purposes.

Begin to track the ways that God is using these circumstances in your life. Perhaps they’re causing you to become more dependent on Him, or to call upon Him in prayer, or to exercise faith in His promises. When we call upon our Lord “in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15), with minds set on glorifying Him, He does marvelous things in the midst of our pain and sorrow. Thank Him by faith that He can use each of these situations as a means to display His glory.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, You are worthy of praise even in my day of trouble. I give back to you all that weighs upon me today, and I commit to trusting You with it all. Because You have promised to deliver me, I praise You and glorify Your name. Thank You! 

Life Application:

I've recently realized how gratefulness is a sacrifice. We have to take our eyes off ourselves in order to recognize the impact others have made in our lives. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I don't want to give up my own desires, and recognize that others have helped me. I have to force myself to be grateful for the people who have impacted my life. Especially when I don't feel like putting others above myself. On one occasion recently, I cleaned up my brothers room while he was working outside. I expected that he would probably thank me like he usually does when he noticed what I had done for him. But instead, He came in tired, and went to bed soon after. At first I thought about it for a while, and wonderwed why he hadn't said anything about what I had done. I contemplated pointing out ot him that I had cleaned his room, but then I realized that that would be selfish. Instead, I went to bed thankful for being able to sacrifice for others.  And I noticed that when I took the time to bless my brother, I was actually the one that got blessed. When we give to others with no hoep of a reward, that sacrifice becomes a sacrifice of thanksgiving that becomes a blessing to me. So next time you think about giving up yourself for someone else, do it! You won't regret that sacrifice of thanksgiving!