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    Praising God’s Goodness

    Someone in our Bible-study group suggested, “Let’s write our own psalms!” Initially, some protested that they didn’t have the flair for writing, but after some encouragement everyone wrote a moving poetic song narrating how God had been working in their lives. Out of trials, protection, provision, and even pain and tears came enduring messages that gave our psalms fascinating themes. Like Psalm 136, each psalm revealed the truth that God’s love endures forever. 

    We all have a story to tell about God’s love—whether we write or sing or tell it. For some, our experiences may be dramatic or intense—like the writer…

    Praising God’s Goodness

    Someone in our Bible-study group suggested, “Let’s write our own psalms!” Initially, some protested that they didn’t have the flair for writing, but after some encouragement everyone wrote a moving poetic song narrating how God had been working in their lives. Out of trials, protection, provision, and even pain and tears came enduring messages that gave our psalms fascinating themes. Like Psalm 136, each psalm revealed the truth that God’s love endures forever. 

    We all have a story to tell about God’s love—whether we write or sing or tell it. For some, our experiences may be dramatic or intense—like the writer…

    Silence Isn’t Always Golden

    Samaria, the capital of Israel, was being besieged by the Aramean army. Food was soon depleted, and many died of hunger while some resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:24-31). The prophet Elisha told the unbelieving king that God would rescue them and provide food for them (2 Kings 7:1). Soon, the divine army that Elisha’s servant had seen earlier scattered the enemy (2 Kings 6:14-17, 2 Kings 7:6-7).

    The Gratitude Cycle

    During a lengthy battle with cancer, I’ve learned many helpful lessons, and my life has been enriched in countless ways. By God’s grace, one thing I’ve encountered is something I call “The Gratitude Cycle.” The cycle involves: Facing a challenge (like a disease); growing in faith through the experience (drawing closer to God); and possessing a heart of gratefulness to God (looking daily for things you can give thanks for). And when you face your next trial, a deepened faith and focused spirit of gratitude can provide greater hope and resiliency.

    The Art of a Grateful Heart

    On our wedding day, Martie and I gladly vowed to be faithful “in good times as well as in bad, in sickness as well as in health, for richer or for poorer.” In a way it may seem strange to include vows about the bleak reality of bad times, sickness, and poverty on a cheerful wedding day. But it underscores the fact that life often has “bad” times.

    So what are we to do when we face life’s inevitable difficulties? Paul urges us on behalf of Christ to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As difficult as that may…

    A Blessing Bowl

    The familiar bing of an arriving email caught my attention while I wrote at my computer. Usually I try to resist the temptation to check every email but the subject line was too enticing: “You are a blessing.”

    Eagerly, I opened it to discover a faraway friend telling me she was praying for my family. Each week, she displays one Christmas card photo in her kitchen table “Blessing Bowl” and prays for that family. She wrote, “I thank God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3) and then highlighted our efforts to share God’s love with others—our “partnership” in the gospel.

    Through…

    Growing Gratitude

    Would you like to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude? George Herbert, 17th-century British poet, encourages readers toward that goal in his poem, Gratefulness: “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more: a grateful heart.” 

    Herbert recognizes the only thing he needs in order to be thankful is simply an awareness of the blessings God has already given him.

    The Bible declares Christ Jesus as the source of all blessing in Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and for him are all things.” “All things” encompasses both the extravagant but also the mundane, everyday gifts in…

    Thank You!

    Those who were with Dallas Willard—philosopher, speaker, writer—when he died from pancreatic cancer in 2013, tell of the beauty and grace he demonstrated as he faced death. One of Dallas’ friends recalls that he said, “I taught on the Great Cloud of Witnesses and now I’m experiencing it. I am in heaven’s hallway and there is a large community coming for me. They are the most loving persons I’ve ever been around.” His last words before entering eternal life were simply, “Thank you.”

    Times of Completion

    At the end of the year, the burden of tasks uncompleted can weigh us down. Responsibilities at home and work may seem never-ending, and those unfinished today roll into tomorrow. But there are times in our journey of faith when we should pause and celebrate God’s faithfulness and the tasks completed.

    After the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, “they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed” (Acts 14:26). While much work remained in sharing the message of Jesus with others, they took time to give…

    Thanks Journal

    When I was a new believer in Jesus, a spiritual mentor encouraged me to keep a thanksgiving journal. It was a little booklet I carried with me everywhere I went. Sometimes I would record a thanksgiving right away. Other times, I would pen it at the end of the week during a time of reflection.

    Taking note of praise items is a good habit—one I’m considering re-establishing in my life. It would help me to be mindful of God’s presence and grateful for His provision and care.

    In the shortest of all the psalms, Psalm 117, the writer encourages everyone to praise…

    Traditions and Christmas

    As you savor a candy cane this Christmas, say “Danka Schoen” to the Germans, for that confectionary treat was first created in Cologne. As you admire your poinsettia, say “gracias” to Mexico, where the plant originated. Say “merci beaucoup” to the French for the term noel, and give a “cheers” to the English for your mistletoe.

    But as we enjoy our traditions and festivities of the Christmas season—customs that have been collected from around the world—let’s save our most sincere and heartfelt “thank you” for our good, merciful, and loving God. From Him came the reason for our Christmas celebration: the…

    “My Rainbow in the Cloud”

    I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. —Genesis 9:13

    It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why…

    5 Things I Dislike But I’m Thankful For

    If I asked you to name right now five things you are grateful for, I’m sure you can rattle off more than that—family, friends, food, a home, a car, a job, sunshine, snow, coffee, and so on.

    Harvest and Thanksgiving

    Several thousand years ago, God spoke directly to Moses and instituted a new festival for His people. In Exodus 23:16, according to Moses’s record, God said, “Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.”

    Today countries around the world do something similar by celebrating the land’s bounty. In Ghana, the people celebrate the Yam Festival as a harvest event. In Brazil, Dia de Acao de Gracas is a time to be grateful for the crops that yielded their food. In China, there is the Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival. In the United States and Canada: Thanksgiving.

    To…

    I Was Wrong About Thanksgiving

    I used to think Thanksgiving was cute, like little handprint turkey art projects from third graders. Thanksgiving was mildly entertaining, like whatever football game is on TV when you fall asleep after too much turkey.