Power in thankfulness

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will always be in my mouth. ~Psalms 34:1 (NRSV)

I love to read the Psalms. The range of emotions expressed in Psalms helps me to find words for my own feelings. “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. (Ps 55:6 NRSV) “With the Lord on my side I do not fear” (Ps 118:6a NSRV) But I also find good instruction for daily life there as well. I know that there is so much for me to be grateful for, and I need to focus on it, every single day. In Psalm 50:23 the psalmist says that when we bring thanksgiving as our sacrifice we honor God. The psalmist in Psalm 69:31 says our thank offerings bring him pleasure.

There is power in thankfulness. Not only does it help set us free, but when we pause to give thanks to God for the blessings that we have in all our moments, we actually begin to find more blessings, even more to be thankful for. Psalm 100 puts this all in perspective: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is He that made us, and we are His; we are his people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Heavenly father, I thank You for the freedom I can find in thankfulness and praise. I know that I can always count on Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness. I know without You, I have nothing. I thank You for the goodness that You show to me every day. Amen.

A little goes a long way

So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. ~1 Thessalonians 5:11 (CEB)

The power of thankfulness doesn’t just stop with thanking God for the things in our lives it also applies to thanking each other. Sometimes it feels to me that people don’t notice each other anymore. There was a time when we passed people on the street we would say hello. People held doors for each other. Thanked each other for small courtesies like coffee being refilled at a restaurant.

I know that there have been times when I have been guilty of passing people as if I didn’t notice them. Especially if they were strangers to me. I forget how much God has made us for relationships. I forget how much we need each other and those passing moments are important for my well-being as much as the person with whom I have walked right by not noticing.

At a retreat that I attended the speaker told us how important hugs were to our well-being. We need 27 hugs a day for our mental and physical health. I think we need to take that a step further to glances toward strangers with a smile and a good morning, to thank yous for small tasks done. Who knows who we might touch in a way that betters their day. Who knows how much it can better our day. A little encouragement goes a long way in adjusting attitudes. That can be some mighty power!

Heavenly Father, I can be so guilty of forgetting the importance of relationships. Please give me courage this day to lift my head and notice the people I come in contact with today.  Help me to make someone else’s day better with my hello or my thank you. May I remember Lord that I am to be your hands and feet to the world even in the smallest of deeds. Amen.

To walk with the Lord

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. ~John 15:4-5 (CEB)

As a young girl, growing up in church, I heard things like “walk continually in the presence of the Lord” and “pray constantly”. I struggled with what these meant knowing too I didn’t want to do it as the Pharisees did… for show. So how was I to do this with a true heart?

Henri J. M. Nouwen has addressed this in his book The Living Reminder ~ “To walk in the presence of the Lord means to move forward in life in such a way that all our desires, thoughts, and actions are constantly guided by Him. When we walk in the Lord’s presence, everything we see, hear, touch, or taste reminds us of Him. This is what is meant by a prayerful life. It is not a life in which we say many prayers, but a

life in which nothing, absolutely nothing, is done, said, or understood independently of him who is the origin and purpose of our existence.”

I do think to thank God for the flowers, the decorated trees, bird songs, beautiful sky scapes… but some of the ordinary things slip by me unnoticed. A roof over my head, food on my plate… a bed to sleep in. May I remember this day to be thankful for EVERYTHING. Not just the things that make me gasp in wonder but also the simple reliable things of life.

Dear God, Thank You for the gentle reminders You put in my life of Your Presence. Help me tune in to those reminders so that I may feel Your Presence go with me this day. May all I do and say be a reflections of Your love. Amen.

Truth in love

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. ~Proverbs 27:17 (MSG)

Only someone who loves you, or someone who is angry with you will tell you the truth about yourself. God uses both opportunities for us to learn about ourselves, especially the honesty of friends and loved ones.

Joyce Myer in a devotional says “When someone can, in love, honestly show you how you can improve, the results will be so much more valuable than empty, ego-stroking compliments. It’s this kind of relationship that the Bible describes as ‘iron sharpening iron.’”

Sometimes I don’t want to hear the truth. Often the truth hurts. But I have learned to be thankful in this journey for friends who love me enough to not let me stay in places I don’t need to be. If I want to be on a road moving toward perfection I need all the direction that I can get, even when I don’t want to hear the truth. Part of living in relationships is that give and take of honesty and truth. I need to be willing to hear it. I need to be willing to give it.

Father in Heaven, help me remember the responsibilities of relationships. Sometimes it means hearing the truth when I rather not hear. Sometimes it is telling the truth when I would rather not see. Open my eyes and my ears. May I live in truth this day. Amen.

A new life

Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” John 11:40 (NIV)

Have you ever felt that part of your life was dead? I know I have, stuck in my troubles forgetting that God has power that I do not have to turn things around. I, like Martha have cried out, Lord, if  You had been with me I would not be sitting here in pain now! There have been times that I have felt that Jesus seemed to be taking his sweet time getting around to my problem. That He would come too late.

In John 11:21-24 we find Martha in a state of despair. She had sent a message to Jesus to come quickly because Lazarus was gravely ill. Now here Jesus finally arrives and from Martha’s viewpoint He is too late. “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother shall rise again.’ Martha replied, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day'” (vv. 23-24). I don’t think she really understood what Jesus was saying. She was looking toward a future possibility, not a present reality. She didn’t really expect things to change. Martha was seeing things from her viewpoint, not from God’s viewpoint.

I may be presently hurting, but I need to hold on to the hope that God can  bring a new beginning out of the pain. I need to believe that He can create a Lazarus moment in my life. There is more here than just the part I can see. He can show me glory in my present circumstances and he can use my pain for something great.

Lord, Help me to find the glory in my circumstances. I need to hold onto the fact that I may not be seeing the possibilities that exist from my vantage point. Help me have faith in you, the one who lives above life’s storms. Help me to trust your viewpoint on my present circumstances and that all will come together for my good. Amen.

The gift of ourselves

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. ~John 10:11 (MSG)

Part of being a Christian is following Jesus’ example. Even to lay down our life for other people. We are called to be Christ to others and here we see in this passage that Jesus is willing to put his life on the line for those He is in relationship with. When we are willing to share with others our sorrows and joys, our despair and hope, our loneliness and experience of intimacy it makes our lives available to others as a source of new life.

It can be easy to be overwhelmed with all the pain and suffering I see around me. I have to remind myself not to put on blinders of protection. I am not here to solve the problems of the whole world, but I am here to be a helping hand to those God has put me in relationship with.

In his book Bread for the Journey, Henri J.M. Nouwen says, “One of the greatest gifts we can give others is ourselves.  We offer consolation and comfort, especially in moments of crisis, when we say:  ‘Do not be afraid, I know what you are living and I am living it with you.  You are not alone.’  Thus we become Christ-like shepherds.”

Father in heaven,  may I not be so busy in my life to notice the pain and suffering of those I have been called to be in relationship with. Help me to be willing to share out of my life in order that someone else might be able to fine hope in You. Help me to be a light pointing to Your love. Amen.

Taking life as it comes

Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (CEB)

Sometimes I think I hold the market on worry. I get so pulled into all the possibilities all the” what ifs” that I sometimes just wear myself out. As a child, I would almost make it a game. If I could think of all the “what ifs” then maybe I could keep them from happening. Even though I know the odds of really being able to control things in that way I still find myself in my old habit of worry. Maybe that is part of the key to the problem. I have let worry become a habit. I do it without even thinking. It has become part of a thought process that I need to unlearn.

Just before verse 34 in Chapter 6 of Matthew we are told that God knows what we need. He dresses the earth in splendor, He feeds the sparrows, He knows the number of hairs on my head. Can’t I trust Him to know what I need as well? How I can learn to set aside my worry is to just deal with things as they come. God has equipped me to do this which is why He tells us to focus only on today. Worry only brings frustration and frustration is the first clue that God isn’t in my situation.

Lord help me to practice this day the art of taking life as it comes.  You know what I need and I am assured by your Word that you will meet my every need for this day. Amen.

A healthy hunger


“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full. ~Matthew 5:6 (CEB)

Healthy people get hungry. Appetite is a sign of life. Matthew chapter 5 verse 6 tells us that Christians should be defined as people who are hungry for God. In the “Disciplined Life”, Calvin Miller says that our souls should have an excessive appetite to please God. But most of us don’t hunger to this extent. We are perhaps a little hungry for Christ, but we are more consumed with ordinary pursuits for shelter, food, safety, power and sexual appetites. This is part of being human, but can become dangerous when we lose our mastery over them and allow them to take over our lives.

God places within us a hunger for Him. Often I forget that the restlessness that I feel inside of me is because I have strayed away again and I try to fill that hole with other things that will not fit. Those things are just temporary fixes and because it doesn’t come from the true source I will find myself back at the well again. I need to be filled in such a way that I no longer thirst or hunger. I can only find this satisfaction in Jesus. I can only fight the cravings if I try to fill myself up with Christ.

Heavenly Father when I find myself back at the well, fill me with you. Fill me up until I want no more. Satisfy this restless hunger inside of me with your righteousness. Amen.

The Bible tells me so…

We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 1 John 4:16 (CEB)

When my son was little and starting to say his bed time prayers on his own, he naturally began his prayers with no prompting from me, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so” and then he would move into blessing everyone he could think of, ask for good sleep and for safety through the night. Until I heard the words from my son’s mouth I never really thought about the fact that we know God’s love because the Bible tells us so.

It is so easy to go about our everyday life saying the words that God loves us without ever really knowing just what it is that we are saying.  The knowledge of God’s love should not be just some biblical fact which we adsorbed as a child but it should be a living reality in our lives. Look again at verse 16, God is love. He doesn’t just love me, He is love. The verse goes on to tell us that those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.

How do I remain in God’s love?  John 14:21 says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” What are the commandments to keep? Matthew 22:37-39 says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself”

It is not enough just to know that God loves me. I must live my life in such a way that I remain in God’s love. To remain in God’s love I should love my neighbor as myself. When I love others, I am in God’s love.

Gracious God, your commands are stated simple enough for a child to grasp but sometimes it slips right by us and we forget what you want of us. You want us to love each other in all we do and say. Lord help me this day to love those around me as the Bible tells me to love. Amen.

Chosen for a priesthood

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are Gods own possession. You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light. ~1 Peter 2:9 (CEB)

The first few words in this verse jump out at me and grab my heart. I am chosen. If you know a little Bible history you know that once it was the Jewish race that was chosen to carry God’s truth to the world. When Jesus came into the world He established a fulfillment of the law and all races are now the chosen. But what have I been chosen for?

I am part of a royal priesthood now. My character my behavior, everything I say and do should reflect the fact that I am part of Christ’s royal priesthood. I have to admit I sometimes don’t act very royal. I also forget that I am to share with others that I once was in darkness but that Jesus came into that darkness, brought me up out of that darkness into the light of his saving grace. I forget that I am to seek out the lost and share with them the truths that I have learned and stored in my heart. 2 Thes 3:5 says, “May the Lord lead your hearts to express God’s love and Christ’s endurance.”

Sometimes it seems strange to think that I have been “saved” so that I might go out and speak to others about God and what He has done for me. 1 Peter 2 is built around this verse 9 and calls us to a Holy Living. Our new birth is not a magical event that changes us instantly into the likeness of Christ but a daily journey. Part of that journey is seeing those along my way that need someone to reach out to them. In sharing my salvation story it not only could provide someone with a hope but also reminds me of where I have been. This reminder helps my personal journey and helps to keep me on the right path.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for what you have done in my life. I thank you that you sought me out in the darkness and walked with me until I was ready to come out into the light. May I in my thankfulness remember to see with your eyes those who may be stuck in darkness. May I help them to see there is a hope and that hope is You. Amen.

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