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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Multiple Good Gifts from God

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Cor. 4:7

Dear heavenly Father, I take way too much for granted, still indulge an occasional bout with an attitude of entitlement, live with an assumed right to things the poor of the world would consider luxuries, and live at a pace of life which makes it easy to keep on going without saying, “Thank You”.

I repent, this morning, and want to express heart-felt gratitude for a wide array of things I would never have if you weren’t so generous. I praise you for giving me a wide array of gifts—each of which you intend for me to greatly enjoy and freely share.

Father, I praise you for a full and complete salvation in Jesus. By your sovereign goodness, you revealed the depth of my need, and then lavished the riches of your grace on me. I’m forgiven of everything and have been declared righteous in your sight. I’m an object of your constant affection and a subject in your unshakeable kingdom.

I’m a beloved child of yours and a called servant in your story. I a roof over my head and the new heaven and new earth as my permanent home. These things, alone, mock any whining and pining I can muster on any given day. But there’s more, much

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Resting in the God-ness of God

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. 1 Chron. 29:11-12 (NLT)

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning from ancient times, what is still to come I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isa. 46:9-10 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, forgive me. There are days when I, the clay, try to instruct you, the Potter; when I the subject, presume to direct you, my loving and sovereign King; why I, the child, complain about you—the most wonderful and wise Father ever.

As these Scripture sink into my heart, all I can say is I’m SO thankful that you are God, and that I am not. I am SO thankful that you are the Alpha and the Omega, and everything other Greek letter in between. I am SO thankful you know the beginning and the ending, and every other moment as well. I am SO thankful that you don’t answer all my prayers with a resounding “Yes!” I am SO thankful that you don’t cater to …

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Freshly Fueled Gratitude

     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)

Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be more like the healed Samaritan leper that came back to you shouting, “Praise God!” Indeed, I want my whole being to yell “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 galore; fish to catch and bread to share… and the list goes on and on.

As my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus, I adore you for living in my place and dying in my place; for sins forgiven and righteousness given; for victory over death and grace for life; for your steadfast love and daily mercies; for citizenship in heaven and a 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 …

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We Always Have Ample Reasons to Be Grateful

      [The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”  Luke 15:28-31

Dear heavenly Father, though I’d never boast about my “many years of serving you,” nor am I tempted to trust in my works for your favor, nevertheless, there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother, recorded in these verses.

But I do my best repenting, not by beating myself up and groveling, but by preaching the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.

Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace—to enjoy the music of reconciliation, to sing the songs of redemption, to make merry to the glory of God.

You are constantly saying to my grumbling, complaining, discontented, self-righteous face, “My son, you’re always with me because I’m always with you. Nothing will ever separate you from the everlasting love I have for you, and all my children. I greatly delight in you. I rejoice over you with singing. Everything I have is yours.”

All your sins …

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Rejoicing in the Main Thing

     The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 (ESV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I’d do well to read this Scripture every day. You’ve given us so many reasons to be a people of gratitude and joy—even in those seasons of life when brokenness seems more apparent than beauty. Here are a few things for which I give thanks as this day begins.

     You’ve blessed us with many creature comforts—things we either take for granted, or assume we have them because we deserve them or earned them. Things like our jobs and homes, clothing and food, the wonders of creation and the privilege of vacations. Thank you for your persistent and pervasive generosity.

     And like your first disciples, you give us the joy of being used in your service—no small thing, indeed. Thank you for the privilege of sharing the gospel, serving in your church, laboring in your kingdom. Thank you for the honor of loving our neighbors, working for justice, and caring for the poor. Every one of us has been given a place in your story of redemption and restoration.

     But as this Scripture reminds us, …

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