Negative attitudes have a way of creeping up on all of us at times. Good advice for turning them around is keeping a gratitude journal—a list of the things you’re thankful for each day.

When we put our focus on the positive aspects of our lives, the impact of the negatives begins to shrink.

Psalm 100 can be viewed as a prescription for keeping a gratitude journal about God—for learning to thank Him and praise Him for who He is and what He does.

Coming before God to worship with thanksgiving and praise is easy when we’re keenly aware of His nature.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4 NIV).

Some of the things the book of Psalms encourages us to thank God for are:

  • His creation
  • His provision and care
  • His compassion
  • His salvation
  • His guidance
  • His power

What else can you add to this list?

God is good, and He is good to us. Why not start your own gratitude journal about God today? Use it often to help you praise and worship Him. He is worthy.

Diane Stortz is a multi-published author whose goal is making God’s wonders known to the next generation. This devotion is adapted from her new book, Encountering God’s Heart for You: 365 Devotions from Genesis Through Revelation (Bethany House).

 

 

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As I played with my two-year-old grandson in the backyard, a noise caught his attention, and he turned toward the street.

“Get back here,” I called. “You are naughty and going immediately into time out for the rest of your life. Now, think about what you’ve done, and how you will fix it!”

Are you scandalized by my response? Understandable.

But how often do we think God responds to our choices and messes in this angry fashion?  

Of course, I didn’t speak those soul-wounding words. I came alongside as he toddled in an unsafe direction. “Hey, buddy. Let’s go back where you’re safe.” He turned into my arms, I scooped him up, and in that instant, he was safe. I carried him to the protected yard where we laughed and played.

When my child explores beyond safe boundaries, makes unwise choices, and disobeys, I don’t demand she grovel, do penance, or humiliate herself to satisfy my displeasure. But I am overjoyed when she hears my voice and turns into my embrace. Then I carry her to safety.

Somehow, I believed asking God to forgive included groveling and muscling myself into alignment with God’s perfect will. I thought I had to prove authentic sorrow and sincere desire for forgiveness.

But forgiveness is something so free and inviting, I can’t wait to repent.

Like me, have you ever wandered, stomped off in anger, drifted away in heartbreak, and become lost from relationship with God? When I’ve made a mess of my choices, my life, my relationships, and with God, there is no way I can fix or polish my problems. I can’t find my way back on track to God.

Knowing I am incapable of securing salvation, God is near with arms open in invitation and welcome.

Like my grandson, who simply turned into my hug, I repent by turning into God’s embrace. In that instant, I am safe where I belong.

PeggySue Wells, history buff and island votary, is the best-selling author of 29 books including Chasing Sunrise and Homeless for the Holidays.

 

 

 

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Commitment can be a good thing…when we’re committed to the right thing. But how often do we make a decision without fully weighing the cost? How often do we say “yes,” when we want to say “no”?

I’ve been guilty of it myself.

When I sat down to write my latest novel, Deadly Commitment, I wanted to write about how we sometimes make decisions without thinking them through. Maybe it’s a monetary commitment. Or a spur-of-the-moment decision to leave our job or drop out of school. It could even be the decision to marry the wrong person. We may think, “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll get a divorce…” “Or, sell the house…” “Or, go back to school.”

Sometimes, a hastily made decision works out. But many times, it leads to regret. And there are even times it can be deadly. I wanted to explore that idea, taken to the extreme, in my book. And, when I did, a suspense plot was born.

Fortunately for most of us, one bad decision—or several in a row—doesn’t mean we can’t start over. Jesus tells us that we should forgive each other seventy times seven, just as our Heavenly Father forgives us.

Thank God for second chances. That theme has played an important role in my life, and in my writing. No matter what mistakes we’ve made, it’s never too late to change courses. Our past doesn’t have to hold us captive. We are given daily, moment-by-moment opportunities to turn around, turn in a new direction, and recommit—to the right thing.

Kathy Harris is an author by way of a “divine detour” into the Nashville entertainment business where she works as a marketing director. For several years, she freelanced entertainer biographies and wrote, as well as ghost-wrote, news stories and columns for various music publications. She sold her first Christian nonfiction story in 2007. Her debut novel released in 2012. And her new novel, Deadly Commitment, releases today.

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Recently, I was bummed out by some in the church who seemed to imply writing fiction is not a holy calling. They as much as said that if we aren’t engaged in outright evangelism, then we aren’t fulfilling the Great Commission.

I did some soul-searching. Told God, “I quit. I’m done (writing).” He immediately began sending me encouragement, reminding me that I write because He called me to it, and it is no less legitimate a calling than my call as a wife, mother, or friend.

But a reader’s note to me the very next day capped it and encouraged my heart with the words, “I think it’s important you know the good impact you are making (for) the body of Christ.” She said, “What you do is subtly draw a picture of what holy (clean, righteous, moral) living looks like in contrast to unrighteous living…This underlying message is clear in every one of your novels.”

And, “Finally, it is always such a joy to be able to be entertained and feel clean afterward! Your books are like a daffodil pushing up through a crevice in the rock and snow—beauty in this moral wilderness. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The timing of her words couldn’t have been better. The Lord is so kind. We all must fulfill the calling God gives us, and not the particular vision of other Christians who happen to be in our lives at any given time.

Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., “Three French Hens”). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots. Sign up for Linore’s newsletter to be automatically entered in monthly book drawings. You’ll also receive a free novella, Coach and Four: Allisandra’s Tale, set in the days of King Charles II! Enter your email to join here: http://www.LinoreBurkard.com

 

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In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 

1 Samuel 1:10 (NIV)

Hannah wept as she prayed for her heart’s desire to be a mom and to give birth to a son. Her fervent prayer was heart-felt, honest, tenacious, and bold—generated by a deep longing. In her anguish, she poured out her soul to the LORD (1 Samuel 1:15).

Prior to talking with the LORD all Hannah could do was to cry. She was hurting, unable to eat, consumed with the desire to bear a child (1Samuel 1:8, 18). But, after she spoke her concerns to God, her face was no longer downcast and she regained her appetite. Hannah began to live again.

Hannah’s outlook was altered prior to a change in her circumstances. She left the cry of her heart at the altar as she trusted the Lord. Hannah moved forward in the waiting.

Hannah’s example reminds me to pray for my heart’s desires but not be immobilized by them.  Even before the cry of my heart is realized, I must move forward, continue to live, and trust God in the waiting.

So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him” (1 Samuel 1:20).

Lori Wildenberg

The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections, by Lori Wildenberg

Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. A licensed family and parent educator and parent coach, Lori is the author of five books. The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connection is her most recent book. Lori and her husband Tom have four young-adult children. Their family is having a growth spurt that includes sons- and daughters-in-love, and a grandbaby! For more information go to www.loriwildenberg.com

 

 

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