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Why We Should Be Perpetually Grateful

     One of them (one of the lepers), when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:15-15 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, I have every reason to be like the healed Samaritan leper that came back to you shouting, “Praise God!” Thank you, for all the blessings and benefits I have in you.

As my Creator and Sustainer, Jesus, I bless you for every good thing you’ve given (and give) me: Food and clothing, shelter and a bed; lungs and breath, a vocation and vacations; medical care and money to spend, a family to love and friends for life; fish to catch and bread to share… and the list goes on.

As my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus, I praise you for fulfilling the law and dying in my place; for forgiving my sins and giving me your righteousness; for victory over death and grace for life; for your steadfast love and daily mercies; for citizenship in heaven and a servant-place in your kingdom; for the hope of glory and the glory of the gospel… just to name a few.

As my Lord and King, Jesus, I worship you working in all things all the time for my good. You have my hairs numbered and my days ordered; you are the author …

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Overflowing with Gratitude

     Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Cor. 9:15

     Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Col. 2:6-7

Heavenly Father, I’ve come to realize that gratitude is a discipline before it’s a feeling. Indeed, the best way to wage war against whining and murmuring is to remember and rehearse the opulent riches you’ve given us in Christ, and the many good things you’ve given us as a loving Father. So here I go, as this day begins.

I want to express thanks for the inexpressible gift of the gospel. Even as my fingers fly across my Mac’s keyboard as I pray this prayer, not just my fingers, but also my whole being is hidden in Christ. You’ve forgiven all my sins and robed me in Jesus’ righteousness; you’ve rooted me in your love and I now stand in your grace.

Nothing will separate me from your love or keep me out of heaven. Jesus is always praying for me and the Holy Spirit is constantly telling my heart how much you love me. Why would I EVER complain about anything? But there’s more!

Father thanks for clothing and a home, a comfortable bed and plenty of food. May I never assume the right to such things, or think I have them simply because I worked for them. Thank …

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Staying Grateful When Life Is Messy

     Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV)

     Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10 (ESV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, as these Scriptures remind us, you call us to offer thanks in, not for, all circumstances. The gospel isn’t about magic thinking or make-believe-living, spiritual anesthesia or circumstantial amnesia. In fact, the gospel is the only place in the universe where we don’t have to pretend about anything. That’s one of the many reasons we love you, and are grateful to be your children.

Father, strengthen, help, and uphold us with your righteous right hand, in stories that are recipes for discouragement, if not dismay.

For those of hearing the condemning whispers of Satan louder than the consoling voice of Jesus—grant us grace, and fresh assurance that nothing can separate us from your love. Convince us, yet again, that Jesus plus nothing is our righteousness, period.

For those of us bearing the weight of health concerns, addictions, or betrayal—for those we love, or ourselves, grant us grace, peace, and the assurance of your nearness.

For those of us weighed down by some combination of the daily news and …

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The Freedom, Joy, and Power of Contentment

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

Do all things without grumblingPhil. 2:14 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, I wish, as soon as you made us alive in Jesus, you would have given each of your children a PhD in contentment. But, alas, I’m still leaning the secret of this wonderful expression of your grace.

Of course, the gospel doesn’t call us to kill desire, demonize ambition, or embrace denial; and yet, at the same time, I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent. Left unchecked, these deadly toxins infect hearts and homes, friendships and the work place.

So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Please supersize the grace of contentment in my heart. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s “beanie-weenies.”

Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or financial pressures out the wazoo. Whether my relationships are “rocking” or rocky; whether I have great health or chronic discomfort; job security or vocational uncertainty… Father, I want to be content—not passive, but truly grateful—not immune to pain, …

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Priming the Gratitude Pump for Thanksgiving Week

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7 

Lord Jesus, on this Sunday before Thanksgiving Day, we want to get an early start on giving you the thanks of which you alone are worthy. Not like a slow drip, babbling brook, or meandering stream; but joyfully overflowing the banks of our souls with gratitude.

The worship-worthy things in our lives exponentially outnumber the whine-worthy stories. The nanosecond you gave us faith to trust you as Savior; we were fully forgiven, robed in your righteousness, and rooted in your love. Just as we can’t add one iota to your righteousness, we can never be separated from your love.

You’ve already rescued us from the penalty of sin; you’re continually setting us free from the power of sin; and one Day you’ll deliver us from the very presence of sin. Hallelujah!

You liberated us from a life of “selfies” and self-ism, and have written us into your big Story of redeeming love and cosmic restoration. You’ve made us citizens of heaven, heirs of the new earth, and conduits of your mercy and grace. Hallelujah!

Your generosity is off the charts measureless, and your gospel is beyond-all-imagining magnificent. Absolutely nothing can alter, deter, or spoil your plan for our lives, and your purposes for the universe. You are that sovereign and that good.

Jesus, we’d love to be done, forever, with all carping and complaining, boohoo-ing and bellyaching—and with every other expression of ingratitude. But until that Day, cause a …

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Remembering to Be Thankful

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Psalm 119:28 ESV

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18 NLT

Heavenly Father, I want to begin (and continue) this day with a spirit of gratitude—for the glory of your name and the health of my heart. Though I can default as easily as anyone to whining and carping, comparing and coveting, you have given me copious reasons to overflow with thanksgiving.

Father thank you for registering my name in heaven (Luke 10:20)—for writing me into the book of life, with the indelible ink of your grace (Rev. 3:5). Nothing can separate me from your love; or cause you to love me more or love me less.

Your steadfast love endures forever, because of the once-and-for-all work of Jesus on my behalf. Because you have hidden my life in Christ, I live in your permanent favor, constant delight, and unbreakable providence. Hallelujah!

Though I don’t always understand your ways, see your hand at work, or like your sense of timing, the gospel of your grace has freed me to trust you in the storms and dark places of life. Speaking of which…

Father, thank you for being sovereign over our joys and our tears—over our rejoicings and our sufferings; in the days when we declare, “Great is thy faithfulness!” and in the days when we cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

Father, thank you for …

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Giving God Due and Overdue Thanks

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me (Psalm 50:23 ESV).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

Heavenly Father, obeying these Scriptures is pretty easy in this moment, for my heart is filled with thanksgiving. Thank you for being such an incomparably kind and relentlessly generous God. Though the weakness of my flesh and the whisperings of the devil will try to sabotage my gratitude as the day unfolds, I want to tell you what is presently fresh and real in my heart.

First of all, thank you for the “indescribable gift” of the gospel. Because of Jesus, no condemnation is left for my sin; perfect righteousness is declared to be mine; and I cannot, and will not, ever experience separation from your love. O, the knee-buckling wonder of it all!

Thank you for your commitment to finish your work of salvation in me. I so want to be like Jesus, and I’m so not like him in many ways. But I praise you that you love me right now to the degree I’m in Christ, not to the degree I’m like Christ. I’m 100% in, so I’m good, and thank you!

Father, thank you for being steadfastly at work for my good in all things (Rom. 8:28)—in the things that thrill me and the things that annoy me; in in the wounds that still hurt me and the failures that still haunt me; in the “unanswered” prayers and in unexpected gifts; in delayed flights and in countless delights.

In the …

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Worship Trumping Whining: Praying Psalm 103:1-4

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Heavenly Father, King David captures the desire of our hearts, which is to love, praise, and bless you, with everything we have and are. If you never gave us anything, you would still be worthy of my whole-soul worship. But in fact, you have been outrageously generous. Here are a few of your grace-gifts we remember today.
who forgives all your sins

Through the finished work of Jesus, you’ve forgiven all our sins—not just the 4% we’re aware of, the other 96% as well. Though we will be more like Jesus one Day, we’ll never be more forgiven than today.

and heals all your diseases,

     Though you don’t always heal on our timetable, nonetheless, by the gospel, you have secured for us perfect health forever. One Day, every expression of our brokenness will give way to the fullness of Jesus’ beauty, joy, and life. All the ways sin and death have impacted our bodies, emotions, and thinking—it’s all going to be healed and made new. No more gunk, only glory. Hallelujah!

who redeems your life from the pit

Not only have you redeemed us from the ultimate pit of death and judgment, you also rescue us out of other kinds of pits—pits we naively fall into; pits we get pushed into; and pits into which we foolishly jump.

Waterless pits like self-pity and self-righteousness; dark holes of seething bitterness and soul-sucking resentment; caverns of toxic shame and vain regrets; the bottomless craters of hopelessness and the dark dry prison of unbelief. Continue your rescue pit-rescuing mission …

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Learning, Again and Again, to Be Content

     I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13 NLT

     But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Tim. 6:8 NIV

Jesus, when I begin to indulge a spirit of discontent and complaining, comparison and envy, I’d love to blame it on the barrage of ads, seizing screen-time through the internet; alluring billboards lining the highways; and sensual commercials trying to sell me stuff I didn’t know I need. But the problem isn’t “out there,” it’s in here—in my heart.

So I’m back in school, Jesus—the school of gratitude, contentment, and waiting. I can do all things through you, for you promise all the strength we need to do anything you commend and command.

Therefore, give me strength, Jesus, to accept the body you made for me, the story you’re writing for me, and the things you entrusted to me. Help me to compare less, and rest more; stress less, and rejoice more; grasp less, and enjoy more.

Jesus, help me spend less time wondering why you haven’t answered certain prayers the way I want you to; help me spend less time pondering why you haven’t taken my counsel, when I make so much sense (wink, wink); and help …

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Good Gifts from Our Uber-Good Father

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he createdJames 1:17-18

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7

     Heavenly Father, I awoke today a grateful man, keenly aware of the number and variety of good gifts you have poured into my life. Life isn’t easy, painless, or simple, but I have multiple reasons to overflow with thanksgiving.

     First and foremost, I praise you for the immeasurable, inexhaustible riches you lavish on us in Jesus. Forgive me when I think I need more than the gospel, and never let me settle for less. I’m rooted in your love and standing in your grace; forgiven, righteous, and hidden in Christ; sealed, indwelt, and being changed by your Spirit. Why would I ever whine, fret, or pout?

     Father, I’m also thankful for these things today: My wife’s spontaneous, room-filling laugh and my grandsons’ spunk, kindness and creativity; the peace I have knowing you are sovereign over my tears and wounds, joys and longings; Beach Music, and the 60’s and 70’s soundtrack I listen to while I bike.

     The assurance you will finish making me like Jesus one …

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