Thankful for God’s Generosity

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It’s been awhile since I shared one of my devotionals that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleSince Thanksgiving is this week, I think this one is particularly appropriate. It is included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

I have so much to be JOYFUL and THANKFUL for. Each day God provides me with exactly enough of everything I need. This year is special to me because He is using a new-to-me medication to keep my migraines away. Since mid-August, I have not had one migraine, and that in itself is cause for much celebration and thanksgiving. 

Beloved, what blessings from God are you especially thankful for today?

When I want to thank God
for His generosity . . .

To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask
or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church.
—Ephesians 3:20-21

Generous to a fault,
you [God] lavish your favor on all creatures.
—Psalm 145:16 MSG

All sunshine and sovereign is GOD,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
—Psalm 84:11 MSG

Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial.
 
—Psalm 111:3-4 MSG

. . . I will pray.

Bountiful God,

How can I look at my life and not be thankful for everything You have given me? I’m not referring to material possessions, although I am grateful for all those blessings. I’m thinking of the magnificent ways You help me get through each day.

When I need patience, I reach out to You—and You’re there. When I need courage—I reach out and You’re there. When I need hope, joy, faith—You’re there. You’re always there with all I need to face each day with dignity.

Some people would say that You are generous to a fault! I know You don’t have any faults, Lord, but it’s partly true. You give me so much more than I could ever even imagine, far more than I could ever ask for.

Thank You, Lord, for opening Your generous arms and bestowing on me so many blessings. Thanks for meeting my every need. Show me ways to be generous with others in return. I want to be like You in every way, but especially in this way—I want to be called “generous to a fault” in honor of my heavenly Father.

Amen.

Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought
that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity,
and an intimacy that surpasses all your dreams.
—Abbe Henri de Tourville


[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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When I’m struggling with depression . . .

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Beloved, are your energy and spirit dragging? It happens to all of us at times, making it difficult to think clearly or feel any interest in daily life. Here’s a devotional I wrote awhile back that was published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleI hope and pray it speaks to your heart.

This particular devotional was in the section titled “Prayers of Supplication.” 

When I’m struggling with depression . . .

Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer.
—Psalm 143:7-8 NLT
…..

My soul melts from heaviness;
strengthen me according to Your word.
—Psalm 119:28 NKJV
…..

God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers
the depressed and the sinking,
comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us.
—2 Corinthians 7:6 AMP
…..

When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
 
—Psalm 94:19 NLT

…..

. . . I will pray.

Father God,

There is so much in my life today that makes me want to give up. I have no energy to do even the basic things such as getting dressed or taking a shower. Nothing seems right. I despise my job. Food no longer appeals to me. My family and friends want to help me, but the thought of being with anyone is so exhausting.

I just want to be left alone. Why must I feel this way? How could I wake up one day with such despair in my heart? It’s not that I haven’t struggled to shake off this gloomy cloud. I truly have, but nothing has helped. And then I remember how You died on that cross for me and how alone and abandoned You must have felt.

Thank You for showering me with Your life-giving comfort and the reassurance of knowing that You truly understand my suffering. Lord, I turn to You now in hope and faith because even if everyone else in my life gives up on me, I know You’ll hold tight to me with a love that won’t let go.

Thank You for always being my Anchor.

Amen.

When you come to the bottom, you find God. —Nevill Talbot


[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

#Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Holding a small mustard seed in the palm of a hand.

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus,
falling on his knees before Him and saying,

15 
“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill;
for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

16 
I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

17 
And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation,
how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?
Bring him here to Me.”

18 
And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him,
and the boy was cured at once.

19 
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”

20 
And He said to them,
“Because of the littleness of your faith;
for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move;
and nothing will be impossible to you.

—Matthew 17:14-20

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

John MacArthur: Contemplative Prayer

Today I’d like to share with you something I saw and read a couple of months ago on John MacArthur’s  Grace to You site. The portion of the video and interview below are about contemplative prayer, a phenomenon that is not new but is steadily growing. 

Contemplative prayer presupposes that the Christian must seek outside of Scripture to hear all that God is saying, thus Scripture loses its position as the final, authoritative Word from God.¹

Below is the portion of the interview video where John MacArthur addresses the subject of contemplative prayer.

This is the section of the interview transcript for that video:

PHIL JOHNSON: What are your thoughts about contemplative prayer and the whole spiritual development movement, you know the Dallas…?

JOHN MacARTHUR: That’s just a lot of bunk.

PHIL: All right, so

JOHN: You know, it is. It’s just…look, it’s sort of a contemplating your navel, intuitive spirituality, digging deep into find your spiritual core and your spiritual center which is nonsense, but they throw Bible words at it, words like Jesus, God, Holy Spirit.

PHIL: There’s also even a dangerous aspect of mysticism there…

JOHN: Oh it is mysticism. The assumption is that spiritual truth is somewhere inside of you and that is not true. Spiritual truth is outside of you, it is external to you. It is in a book, outside of you. It is not in you. You can contemplate yourself all you want, you can go sit on a rock in the middle of nowhere and think and you will find in you no source of divine revelation whatsoever because divine revelation is external to you, it’s external to every human being, it’s in a book that God wrote. And when you put the book down and start looking into your own brain, all you’re going to do is be led down a black hole.

So…but everybody’s into spiritual formation. I was looking at a church website the other day and it proclaims itself to be an evangelistic church and an orthodox church, happened to be a Presbyterian church. And the whole website was about spiritual formation. And one of the things that they were offering was dance class in order that you can learn to get in the rhythm of the Holy Spirit. I mean, that’s just…that’s what J.I. Packer called zany. I mean, that’s just crazy stuff. But that’s what happens when you start trying to poke around inside of yourself for spiritual truth when it’s all contained in one book and that book is external to you, and the spiritual truth resides in that book, if you never lived, or if you never had a thought…it’s the external truth that we must understand because there’s nothing inside until that truth gets in our minds. And then you can go into your mind and draw out biblical truth. But if you’re trying to look deeper than what’s in your brain, which is what this is about. I don’t get it, you know me, I’m about as mystical as a rock. But I don’t even know what they’re doing and I don’t know what they come up with but all of that mystic stuff, Dallas Willard and others like him, confuse people because they use the name of Jesus and they talk about God and they use Bible verses.

Go here for the video and transcript of the entire “Practical Concerns in the Local Church: An Interview with John MacArthur.”

¹Christian Research Network: Contemplative Prayer

Related links:

 

Good Morning, Lord: A Commentary on Psalm 19

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

Good Morning, Lord: A Commentary on Psalm 19

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Psalm 19 is one of the best daily prayers I’ve ever found. Commit it to memory and use it in your prayers each morning. Just like your daily bath or shower makes you physically clean, praying Psalm 19 makes you spiritually clean.  It’s a great way to fulfill 1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Let’s go through Psalm 19 and I’ll show you why I believe it’s such a good one to know by heart.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 
(Psalm 19:1-4)

Read the rest here.

The Prophet, The Priest, And The King

The Prophet, The Priest, And The King

From GraceThruFaith

Commentary by Jack Kelley

I think you’ll agree that this is a fascinating account of how God used Daniel the Prophet, Jeduah the High Priest, and Alexander, King of Greece  to prepare the world to receive the Gospel, beginning over 500 years before the fact.

Alexander The Great was born in 356 BC to Philip, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, his wife. As a boy he saw how his Macedonian countrymen, a loose knit group of autonomous tribes, experienced impossible difficulties trying to unite themselves into a strong cohesive force. Because of this the Persians, rulers of the known world, kept them under subjugation. Alexander was particularly incensed when the Persians defeated and humiliated his father, treating his people cruelly.

He determined that their problems were due primarily to an inability to communicate clearly with one another because of the many individual dialects they had developed. This caused misunderstanding and distrust which resulted in a reluctance to fully commit to each other.

With the help of his father Phillip, Alexander crafted a new language, later called common Greek or Koinonia, taught it to the tribal chieftains, and convinced them to use it for inter-tribal communications.  Soon their disagreements were resolved and their mutual trust restored. What had been a rag-tag mob of self-interested tribal factions was on the road to becoming a powerful  army.

Read the rest here.

Sovereign Encounter

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Sovereign Encounter

By Patricia Knight

It was a clear, cool, moonlit evening as I walked the pine needle strewn path toward the cabin in the woods. With each step I could detect the crunchy snap of exploding dry pine cones beneath my feet, the only distraction that pierced the quiet serenity of the evening. A full moon provided the illumination necessary to reveal the tranquil fresh water lake, a picturesque scene poking through the black silhouetted pine branches at twilight.

A thick plume of smoke emanated from the massive fieldstone chimney. Without a breeze on this calm evening, the smoke lingered in a vertical spiral, suspended high above the cabin roof, producing a pungent wood smoke permeating the surroundings.

I climbed the few steps to enter the screened-in porch, speckled with casual rocking chairs. In the silence I could nearly hear the relaxed conversations that had occurred in that intimate space over the span of many decades. A simple welcome sign replaced a lock on the front door. My tentative knocks resounded raucous in the silence of the night.

Upon entering the log cabin, I was greeted by rustic ambiance. A lively crackling fire filled the imposing fieldstone fireplace on the opposite wall. Fingers of heat reached out to entwine my cool body with penetrating warmth. Comfortable furniture encircled the fireplace, pieces obviously constructed of native materials, perhaps obtained from a nearby cedar swamp. Other furniture pieces were upholstered leather, a bulky style that engulfed a person who sat therein. Abundant blanket throws and casual decorative pillows scattered around the living space produced an emphasis of pleasant repose; the interior effused cheer and relaxation.

Once my eyes adjusted to the soft glowing lights, I viewed the form of someone snuggled into a high backed chair. As I spoke softly to avoid shattering the precious silence, perforated only by the sizzling of the fireplace logs, He arose to greet me. Though I had never met Him in the flesh, once we established eye contact, I readily identified the mysterious host as Jesus Christ, my sovereign Savior. Our glances locked in mutual acknowledgement. When I responded to His gesture to collapse in a chair close to Him, we conversed effortlessly, the manner in which best friends banter. Jesus had never been far away, for His main residence is my heart. This rare, personal encounter in a remote location afforded us an occasion of undisturbed fellowship.

There were no uncomfortable introductions or interludes communicated in our dialogue, only the magnetic affection of my Lord’s true character. I was in the presence of the Creator and sustainer of the universe, the Prince of Peace, and the Savior of my soul. Generously, Jesus was also my friend.

“You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). Jesus takes His friends into His confidence, just as He unconditionally welcomed my presence this evening. Interacting with Jesus in the tranquil atmosphere reinforced His authority and adoration; purity and perfection; glory and grace.

The minute Jesus uttered my name, my inner soul responded with excitement. Joy coursed through my thoughts and words. As He grasped my hands in His, I could easily detect the still-prominent scars on His palms, created from His heinous crucifixion two millenniums ago, a poignant reminder of His love and sacrifice willingly offered me, opening the way to boldly and confidently communicate with Him at any time.

Jesus was splendid and majestic, the King of kings who fully understood my human weaknesses. He verbally lavished me with love and grace, instructing me to continually grow in faith. Jesus reassured me of His intense interest in my development as His ardent follower, urging me to keep all of His commandments, and explaining that the more I love Him, the more my love will overflow for others.

He reminded me to share my interests and goals with Him, obediently depending upon His perfect plans and precise timing for answers to my prayers. He assured me that with every morsel of trust I place in Him, my Savior, I shall grow closer to Him.

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“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8, KJV).

As I evolve closer to Jesus in fellowship, He challenges me to remember, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17). I didn’t want our visit to end in the idyllic environment engulfed by peace and shared affection. Exuberance and hope produced from being in Christ’s immediate presence renewed my body and soul.

I chose the remote cabin in the woods as the perfect retreat from the stresses of daily life. Psychologists agree about the simple act of projecting one’s thoughts into a familiar, peaceful scene in order to lessen mental burdens.

At first consideration, it would seem my vivid imagination had clicked into overdrive. The truth is, God mentally transported me to the cabin in response to my earnest request: for weeks I’d attempted Scripture memorization, but the meaning of one particular verse eluded my full understanding. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Repeatedly I had asked God to reveal the meaning of what seemed to be an odd expression in that verse.

As a result of my recent sovereign encounter, I now have a much greater understanding of the teachings in the verse I was struggling to comprehend. Once I physically dwelled in the presence of Jesus’ shelter, rest resulted from the overwhelmingly serene shadow that He cast across my life, reinforcing my trust in Him as the rock foundation of my life.

God desires that we seek knowledge of every teaching in His Word. Granted, His method of revealing truths to me for memorization purposes were unusual, but I must not limit my heavenly Father’s communication to my earthly expectations. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

It is impossible to literally worship Jesus at His side until we live with Him in heaven permanently one day. On earth He graciously permits us the mechanism of prayer. As we talk comfortably with our Lord, we are mentally and spiritually transferred to any number of beautiful, tranquil vicinities that appeal to us individually. The cabin scene is one of unsurpassed luxury for me. Where will you go for shelter and rest to meet with your Lord? It could be as familiar as your back yard or as reminiscent as a childhood memory. The most important factors in abiding with Jesus remain our willingness and obedience to pray, connecting us to our Lord anytime, anywhere.

“Jesus told his disciples … that they should pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). As we constantly share details of our lives with Jesus, we need withhold nothing from our trustworthy Lord and Friend. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

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Declare His glory, as you attribute to Him the splendor and majesty He deserves. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (2 Chronicles 16:11).

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