Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 14: November 14

Psalm 56

Psalm 56 is a hymn of praise and trust, of confidence and strength, of worship and gratitude. This particular one was written in far less than ideal circumstances, however. David was on the run from King Saul, and when spotted and seized by the Philistines in the city of Gath, he faked insanity to avoid being detained. Yet in the midst of intense, frightening hardship, he submitted himself to the Lord’s protection, and found within this relationship the ability to say, “When I am afraid, I trust in you…. What can flesh do to me?” (vv. 3–4). He didn’t deny the reality of what was happening to him, but he found reason to be grateful even for his sorrows, . Perhaps it’s hard for you to find much to be thankful for today. Look above your circumstances, beyond your fears, and ask God to show you what He’s doing in the midst of them. Then look back through your list of blessings and benefits, adding any new ones that come to mind. Focus on the ones that give you the most comfort in crisis.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: 
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 13: November 13

Psalm 43:1–5

The Psalms are a good place to camp out if your heart’s desire is to be grateful—though not because they’re filled with nothing but happy, upbeat sentiments. They vibrate with every emotion known to man. They speak of back-breaking pressures, deep valleys of depression, and times when life barely seems worth living. And yet the Psalms reveal that the only ultimate answer to trouble, grief, pain, and loss is a constant returning to God in worship and gratitude. Even in the darkest night, you can still experience His peace and rest, knowing that the joy of morning is ahead. Resolve not to let your joy level be determined by the presence or absence of storms, but by the presence of God. Choose to be joyful in Him today. Choose a few psalms to read throughout the day (aloud if possible). See if they don’t cause praise and thanks to well up in your heart.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: 
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 12: November 12

3 John 1–4

Numerous secular studies and research projects attest to the health benefits of the attitude of gratitude. From better sleep to fewer medical symptoms, gratitude just seems to satisfy. The apostle John says to his beloved sons and brothers in Christ, “I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (v. 2). He’s right— there’s something physically strengthening and sustaining about being joyful in the Lord and grateful for His blessings. While living a godly life does not guarantee physical health, a healthy (spiritual) heart can do much to enhance our physical and emotional well-being. What are some reasons you think that might be the case? We’ve been on this gratitude journey for more than ten days now. What differences have you noticed in your overall wellness and outlook?

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: 
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 11: November 11

Romans 5:1–11

If you’re a Christian, the best thing that’s ever happened to you is being saved from sure destruction for your sins and ushered into the family of God, beginning now and continuing for all eternity. Sadly, time tends to dull our appreciation of the magnificent, sacrificial work of Christ on our behalf. Life gets so busy and complicated; we can go for weeks—or longer— without being swept away by the magnitude of our salvation. One of my friends paraphrases Romans 5:8 this way: “God demonstrated His love toward us in this: while we were in open, hostile rebellion toward Him, having no interest in Him—not only that but actively despising Him and all that He stands for—Christ died for us.” How can we not be inexpressibly thankful? But, praise God, gratitude can reopen the wonder to us, throwing back the dingy curtains of complacency until the full light of His grace and glory come streaming through. The salvation we have in Christ is a “many-splendored thing,” a diamond with countless brilliant facets. What spiritual blessings in today’s Scripture reading need to be added to your list of “Gifts from God”?

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: 
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 10: November 10

1 Corinthians 2:6–11

There are blessings in your life and mine that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard” (v. 9)—blessings that only show themselves by not showing up. Today, try listing as many of these things to be grateful for as you can think of. For example, think of the miles you’ve driven without getting a flat tire. Think of the big tree out front that’s never dropped a damaging limb on your house. Think of a destructive sin or habit the Lord has kept you from being tempted by. Perhaps you’re hobbled by a medical problem or two, but think of a dozen you’ve never experienced. Look at all the benefits on your growing list of gratitude inducers, and by backing them into reverse like this, you’ll find your blessings multiplying at an amazing rate. Gratitude can (and should) lead us to intercession. A good prayer starter is to ask God to remind you of those who do suffer from some of the things He’s spared you from. Lift these people up to Him today.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: 
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 9: November 9

2 Corinthians 9:6–15

Where gratitude grows, you’ll generally find generosity flourishing as well. Yet, generosity is a most unnatural quality. I mean, here we stand today, in an age as risky, volatile, and dangerous as any other in memory, where conventional wisdom declares this is no time to be loose with our money and other resources. Yet Paul expressed a surprising lack of concern for economic indicators when he advised the Corinthian church to let generosity be among the most notable expressions of their gratitude. His trust in God’s supply was so strong, he treated as a “given” the fact that the church would “be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (v. 11). “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (v. 8). In all things. At all times. Even these times. Grateful people are generous people. What act(s) of generosity might gratitude be motivating you toward today? Ask God for wisdom and faith, and then follow through on the promptings of His Spirit in relation to your giving.


 

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge


Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge


Retrieved from: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 7: November 7

Luke 17:11–15

As you read today’s passage, notice some things about the leper who returned to thank Jesus. First, he came loudly. He couldn’t contain his gratitude. This occasion called for an unrestrained, extreme, public display of thanks. Second, he came close. The ten lepers “stood at a distance” (v. 12) from Jesus—lepers were ceremonially defiled and weren’t allowed to come close to those who were “clean.” The healed leper who “fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks” (v. 16) was the only one of the ten who ever got close to Jesus. Gratitude places us in close proximity to Christ, where we experience the fullness of His redeeming power and enjoy the blessing of His presence. Third, he came from a distance. “He was a Samaritan” (v. 16). This man had never known the true God until Jesus came into his world and transformed his life. After being separated from Jesus by a religious, cultural, and physical gulf, he loved what he saw in Jesus. Gratitude will draw you close to Jesus. Look for an opportunity today to thank the Lord for what He has done in your life—aloud, and in the presence of others.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
 Retrieved

from: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 6: November 6

Romans 11:33–36

Robertson McQuilkin, former president of Columbia International University, tells of a time when, following his wife’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s and the death of his eldest son, he retreated alone to a mountain hideaway, trying to reorient his heart and recapture a love for God that had slowly evaporated in the heat of personal, tragic loss. After a day devoted to prayer and fasting, he began writing God a love letter, enumerating the gifts he had received from the Lord’s hand. He identified ten particular blessings from God that just absolutely exceeded his imagination, things he could hardly find words to express how invaluable they were, how impossible life would be without them. I encourage you to flip back through the lists you’ve been making and choose a top ten— spiritual blessings that are so big, you could never generate enough gratitude to express what they mean to you and what they tell you about your Savior. The next time your mind is troubled by sad or worrisome thoughts, pull out your top ten and consciously transfer your focus from whatever is weighing you down, and start giving thanks for the things on your list.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge


Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge


Retrieved from: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 5: November 5

Ephesians 5:15–21

I hope you’re becoming more alert to the many reasons you have to be grateful. I remember hearing a friend tell how, while brushing his teeth and meditating on one of the verses in today’s reading (Ephesians 5:20), he was struck by the word “everything.” He was reminded of the importance of thanking God for even those “little things” that we often overlook. It made him pause and be thankful for, well … his toothbrush. And his toothpaste. And, while he was at it, he thanked God for his teeth, for probably the first time in his life. This may require another separate list from the ones you made yesterday, but it’s definitely a category worth considering. Since everything is a gift from God (James 1:17), “everything” is something to be thankful for. My friend told me he also asked himself: “If tomorrow’s supply depended on today’s thanksgiving, how much would I have tomorrow?” What “little things” can you add to the gratitude lists you’ve started? Some of the items on your “everything” list will make you realize you’ve taken certain people in your life for granted. Say thank you today in some way.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge


Retrieved from: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 4: November 4

Psalm 103:1–5

As we recognize and identify the specific blessings we have received from God and from others, we discover countless reasons for expressing gratitude. The psalmist took time to bless the Lord for specific benefits—he didn’t want to forget even one of them! As you open your heart to Him in prayer today, ask God to reveal to you just how great your “benefits package” really is. Make two lists under these headings: “Gifts from God” and “Gifts from Others.” Then put down everything that comes to mind. Don’t try forcing this into a one-time, ten-minute exercise—stop and start as it seems natural. Keep adding to these lists as additional gifts come to mind over the next thirty days (and beyond). After you’ve written out a list of your blessings, take some time to walk through your list line by line, thanking God for each of these “benefits.” Then, read Psalm 103 aloud. Try memorizing and meditating on at least the first five verses over the next week or so.

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge
Retrieved from: 
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/30DayGratitude.pdf

Day 2: November 2

Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15-17; 4:2

The central theme of Colossians is Christ. He is exalted and worshiped for His divine nature, being the Creator and Sustainer of all things, His preeminence over all creation and over all cosmic rulers and powers, His redemptive, reconciling work on the cross, defeating the powers of darkness, being the Head of the church which is His body, being the fulfillment and substance of Old Testament types and figures, being the believer’s life and our hope of glory, and so much more! As those who have “died” with Christ, “been buried with him in baptism,” and “raised with him through faith,” our joy and hope do not emanate from any earthly source or from our religious practices, but from Him. Within the four chapters of this short epistle, Paul calls us to be: sexually pure, compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, obedient, just, wise, gracious, and thankful! Read through one or more of the following passages from Colossians, meditating on them, praying them back to God, and using them as a basis for giving thanks to Him: • 1:12–14 • 1:15–22 • 2:9–15 • 3:1–11


 

Growing in Gratitude: A 30-Day Challenge

Colossians 3:12-17

I’ve often said that “gratitude is learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others.” This means constantly being on the lookout for blessings, making each day a treasure hunt. It means being intentional about thanking God and others for the blessings that come our way. Overall, how would you rate your “Gratitude Quotient”? • I look at the world through grateful eyes and consistently express my gratitude to God and others. • I know I’ve been greatly blessed, but I don’t often stop to actually express my gratitude to God and others. • To be honest, I had not thought a lot about gratitude until starting this challenge. I’ve got a long way to go to develop a lifestyle of gratitude. • I’m a whiner! I tend to focus on my problems and I frequently express them to others. Ask the Lord to cultivate in you a more grateful heart over these next thirty days. If you have realized that your “Gratitude Quotient” is not what it should be, confess your ungrateful spirit to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you and to transform you into a truly thankful person.

 

“How to Acquire Wisdom” – In Touch Ministries

“How to Acquire Wisdom” – In Touch Ministries

Proverbs 2:1-15

 

No one wants to be a fool in God’s eyes, but when we ignore what He says and live the way we want, we are playing a fool’s game. Self-reliance will never make us wise. While our intelligence, education, and abilities may be useful to some degree, they are not substitutes for godly judgment. If we want God’s wisdom, we must follow His instructions.

 

Ask for wisdom. We are to reach out for discernment and understanding (Prov. 2:3). God provides spiritual insight to those who ask, but that means we must be willing to wait for His answer. In our moment of need, we may want immediate insight, but growing in wisdom is not a fast process.

 

Seek it. Wisdom is like a hidden treasure. If we really want to find it, we’ll dig deep into God’s Word because He is the source of knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:4-6). As we devote our attention to learning to know God, we’ll understand what He desires and what He hates. 

 

Obey God. He stores up wisdom for the upright (Prov. 2:7). If we know scriptural principles but fail to apply them, we won’t grow in wisdom. But when we diligently obey God’s Word, wisdom will enter our hearts, guard our ways, and protect us from evil and deception.

 

We all claim to want wisdom, but are we willing to do what is required to receive it? We must intentionally feed on God’s Word, or the cares of this life and the pursuit of success will distract us. Acquiring wisdom takes commitment, time, diligence, and a single-minded pursuit, but it is worth every sacrifice and effort.

“How to Cry Out to God” – In Touch Ministries

“How to Cry Out to God” – In Touch Ministries

Matthew 14:29-30

 

The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel paralyzed by anguish. What do you do?

 

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to seek assistance. As believers, we lean on the almighty God, who is more than able to help, no matter what has befallen us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

 

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

 

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, we also lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

 

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.” When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

 

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.

“An Anchor Full of Promises” – In Touch Ministries

“An Anchor Full of Promises” – In Touch Ministries

Psalm 57:1-3

 

Yesterday we looked at the anchor as a symbol of God’s unchanging Word. We know that sailors use this device to keep a vessel from drifting and also to protect it during storms. So how does the Bible help us in stormy times?

 

The Word of God ...

 

Comforts us. It tells us that our Father will give us peace and rest when we go through trouble and carry heavy burdens. Many of the psalms were written out of David’s own experiences of receiving comfort and strength from God during storms in his life, and they are a great place to start.

 

Reminds us that God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Not only does the Lord know exactly where we are in our storm and what we’re going through, but He’s also with us in the middle of it. In fact, He has the ability to calm the storm, though He most often uses His power to bring us safely through it.

 

Guides us. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The psalmist assures us that the Bible shines a light as we walk, enabling us to safely move forward, step-by-step, in the right direction.

 

We must remember it’s not enough for a boat to simply have an anchor; in order to do any good, the anchor must be utilized. Similarly, it’s not enough to own a Bible and know, in theory, that it is full of promises. God’s Word can be effective in our life only if we read, meditate, believe, apply, and obey it. Then the anchor works every single time. We may be shaken—even a little beaten up at times—but we will ride out the storm and sail on!

“Our Anchor in Stormy Times” – In Touch Ministries

“Our Anchor in Stormy Times” – In Touch Ministries

Hebrews 6:17-20

 

One thing common to everyone is the experience of going through storms. Whether these are literal weather events, personal trauma, or the turmoil caused by war and social unrest, we all face circumstances over which we have little control. Some storms are over quickly, whereas others seem unending. Some tempests cause little damage, but others leave great devastation in their wake.

 

• Where do these storms come from? At times we bring them into our own life through choices we make, but other times they’re caused by someone else’s actions. It may even be that the devil has stirred up some adversity to distract or hinder us. And there are occasions when God’s work in our life requires a storm to fulfill a special purpose.

 

• Why does the Lord allow storms in our life? Difficulties tend to turn our focus toward God. We either start questioning Him or go to Him for help and strength. He may want our attention because there’s a sin we need to deal with. Or perhaps He wants us to let go of something we need to surrender to Him. It could be that He wants to conform us to His image (Rom. 8:29) or equip us to serve Him.

 

• How do we respond to storms? When we struggle against God because we don’t like the hardship we’re going through, that’s an indication we don’t trust Him. Instead of trusting that He is working good in our life, we may wrongly believe He’s trying to hurt us. At such times knowing Scripture is crucial for the believer. His Word is the immovable anchor in our storm. We can trust the Bible because, like God, it never changes!

 

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” – In Touch Ministries

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” – In Touch Ministries

Daniel 2:20-22

 

How many of us have listened to the global or national news and wondered, What in the world is going on? Without a firm foundation of biblical truth, we can easily be overcome with fear and despair. Despite the upheaval in political and financial realms, Christians can find peace in the knowledge that our God is sovereign over every nation and ruler on earth.

 

Though the future of a nation appears to be in the hands of its rulers and lawmakers, an omnipotent hand is orchestrating a good and glorious plan: The Lord is the one who “removes kings and establishes kings” (Dan. 2:21). Ultimately, every governmental leader is put into office, not by voters, political campaigns, or personal abilities, but by the hand of God.

 

Nothing that the Lord does is carried out in isolation. He’s working all things according to His divine plan. We tend to think that a ruler has to be righteous for God to use Him, but Proverbs 21:1 tells us the Lord can direct the heart of any national leader wherever He wishes. In fact, He describes two pagan kings—Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus—as “My servant” (Jer. 25:9) and “My shepherd” (Isa. 44:28). Unbeknownst to them, God guided their paths to fulfill His purposes for Israel.

 

When the news threatens to dislodge your peace or cause despair, remember who holds the nations and rulers in His hand. The Lord’s plans for this world are moving along according to His divine purposes, and no unrighteous ruler can thwart Him. Just keep singing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

“God Uses Our Suffering” – In Touch Ministries

“God Uses Our Suffering” – In Touch Ministries

Hebrews 12:10-11

 

Joseph’s life involved much suffering. The young man was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten. But when God’s plan was revealed, Joseph declared that it was good (Gen. 45:7-8).

 

Scripture tells us that the Lord has many purposes for the pain we experience. One is to develop personal righteousness in us. Desiring that we walk in holiness before Him, God utilizes discipline to direct us away from ungodliness and to increase our fruitfulness. He will use difficult people and circumstances to prune away any “deadwood”—attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that do not fit a child of God (Eph. 4:25; Eph. 4:29, Eph. 4:31). While such pruning is not a pleasant experience, it can effectively train us to lead a godly life.

 

God also uses suffering to manifest the life of Christ in us. For that to happen, we must learn to depend on Him for both our work and our words. If circumstances did not press in upon us, we would probably go our own way. But we are to be like Jesus, who relied on His Father no matter how easy or hard the situation became. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to be living examples of His character. This may mean forgiving our enemies, bearing our burdens with patience, or finding joy in the midst of sorrow, just as He did. Our witness will not be a perfect one, but we should display a growing “family resemblance” to the Lord.

 

Life is full of trouble. But in the hands of a loving God, our suffering is being used for eternal purposes.

“Effective Prayer” – In Touch Ministries

“Effective Prayer” – In Touch Ministries

John 15:7-11

 

I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t want an effective prayer life. We all long to see the Lord answering our prayers and actively intervening in the concerns and needs we bring before Him, but are we willing to do what’s required? Jesus’ promise of answered prayer is linked with two prerequisites, both found in verse 7 of today’s reading.

 

“If you abide in Me.” To abide means to remain, dwell, or continue, and according to 1 John 3:24, abiding in Christ is characterized by keeping His commands. Therefore, if we want to pray effectively, we must be committed to obey God in every area of our life. Any rebellion robs us of the wisdom we need in order to pray rightly. It also hinders our fellowship with the Father and keeps Him from hearing and answering our requests.

 

“And [If] My words abide in you.” We must ask ourselves these questions: Does God’s Word remain, dwell, and continue in me? Am I more preoccupied with talking to God in prayer than with listening to what He’s said in His Word? Scripture is the basis for effective prayer. As we read and meditate upon God’s Word, it convicts us of sin so we can repent and be cleansed. Scripture adjusts our focus from earthly priorities to heavenly ones. It also shapes our thoughts to align with God’s so we’ll know how to pray according to His will instead of ours.

 

There are no fast and easy shortcuts to a fruitful prayer life. It was meant to develop through a lifestyle of obedience and dedication to the Word. These are cultivated over a lifetime and glorify God by bearing much lasting fruit.

“Turning the Other Cheek” – In Touch Ministries

“Turning the Other Cheek” – In Touch Ministries

Matthew 5:38-42

 

The Bible passage that says to turn the other cheek may confuse us. Are we to stand still while someone beats us up physically or emotionally? That’s not the message Jesus was delivering. When He gave the Sermon on the Mount, He was expanding outward obedience to the Law to include attitudes and motives.

 

The familiar expression “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” comes from Exodus 21:23-25, an Old Testament law describing appropriate penalties for injury. Some interpreted this as allowing retaliation by civil government. But Jesus was showing a better option—the way of love.

 

Pride will certainly trigger a desire for revenge if a coworker takes credit for our work or a family member repeatedly says unkind words. Yet we are not to “repay evil with evil or insult with insult” but should instead give a blessing (1 Peter 3:9 NIV).

 

In daily practice, the form a righteous response takes depends on the situation. We may need to ignore the other person’s actions, walk away from the abuse, or confront our enemy. Instead of trying to get even, we should seek to understand that person and the reason for any animosity toward us.

 

God has lessons for us to learn in these difficult situations. When we endure unjust treatment, we are following in Christ’s footsteps. No one was more unjustly treated than the sinless Son of God. Yet He “did not revile in return” and “uttered no threats” but kept entrusting Himself to His Father, knowing that He judges righteously (1 Peter 2:20-23). Surely God can also handle our grievances if we’ll respond as Christ did.