Girlfriends in God Daily Devotional for Women

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Girlfriends in God - Aug. 22, 2007


August 22, 2007

The Power of a Grateful Heart

Mary Southerland



Today’s truth

“No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)


Friend to Friend

It is said that in Africa there is a fruit called the “taste berry”. This amazing fruit alters human taste buds to the point that everything eaten after the taste berry seems good and sweet. Gratitude is the “taste berry” of the Christian’s life, producing contentment and a sweetness in life that flows from a grateful heart. Gratitude is not a feeling but rather a choice of our will and leaves little room for discouragement or discontent.


I once read the legend of a man who discovered the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart. The man noticed that Satan had more seeds of discouragement than any other kind. When questioned, Satan reluctantly admitted that those seeds would grow everywhere except for one place. “And where is that?” asked the man. Satan replied sadly, “In the heart of a grateful man.”


One of the greatest enemies of the believer is a lack of contentment that is often the result of discouragement. We fall into the trap of relying on outward circumstances for satisfaction. The reality is that there is no source of contentment in this bankrupt world. It offers nothing that will fill the void and emptiness in man’s soul. Contentment is an inside job. I invite you to join me in examining the apostle Paul, a man whose very life defines contentment.


Paul had every human right to be angry with God. He had been faithful, living a life marked by sacrifice and persecution for the sake of Christ. Yet, the undercurrent of his message in Philippians is one of gratitude. Pay close attention to the fact that it is an attitude chosen by Paul, a learned perspective. In the key verse, “learned” means “educated by experience”. In other words, Paul is saying that all of the experiences of his life – good and bad –became his tutor in contentment. The word “content” means, “contained”. Paul had trained himself to focus and rely upon inner resources rather than outward circumstances for contentment. Those inner resources were continually replenished in Paul’s life as he constantly depended upon God and grew strong in faith. He chose to be grateful, to praise God - no matter what! Paul knew that He could trust God and count on Him to come through because God had always come through for Paul.


We need to grab hold of the life-changing truth that there is a money-back guarantee on every single promise of God! With the Psalmist we can sing, “I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness because your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.” Psalm 138:2 (NLT)


Gratitude not only brings contentment; it produces perseverance and strength as well. God entrusts trials to us, giving us the opportunity to choose gratitude! I once saw a refrigerator magnet that said, “I know that God promises to never give me more than I can handle. But sometimes, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” When trials come and life seems hard, we plead with God to deliver us from the problem when many times His plan is to deliver us in the problem. It is so easy to practice gratitude when the seas are calm, the sun is shining and the nets are full of fish! The real test of gratitude is in the midst of the greatest storms of life when suffocating darkness descends and the strong winds wreak havoc.


Trust grows from the choice to practice gratitude, even in the storms, and thrives in a heart atmosphere of acceptance. God is sovereign and in control! His ways are not our ways. We won’t always be able to understand His process but we can always trust His heart. Choose to practice gratitude!


Let’s pray

Father, thank You for the strength and power You promise when I step out in faith, choosing to trust You even when I cannot see Your hand at work. I choose to praise You even when I cannot trace the work of Your hand. Would You please dispel the darkness of doubt and fear and in its place bring contentment. Today, I choose to rejoice in You! Amen!


Now it’s your turn

Understand that contentment is a choice. Identify the sources of discouragement in your life as an important step of obedience. Then choose to trust God with a heart of gratitude.


More from the girlfriends

This is a tough one…choosing to be contented and even praise God when there seems to be absolutely no reason to do so! If you are like me, I often tend to grumble and complain and finally eek out a totally bogus prayer of thanks when there is no feeling of thanksgiving. I have discovered that while I can’t trust my emotions, I can choose to praise God by praying Scripture. I encourage you to memorize the following verses and use them every day to turn your focus away from the circumstances and toward the Lord of those circumstances! Blessings, girlfriends, as we do life together…with thankful hearts! And if you want some encouragement along the way, my CD, “Getting Good at Being You”, offers practical steps that will lead you to discover and live out your life plan.


Psalm 100:4-5 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. (NLT)


Psalm 105:1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. (NIV)


Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. (NCV)



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