Ministry, leadership, discipleship, the local church and the deep riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Convince my doubting heart that Your decrees are the most wonderful path for me (129). Mature my naive perspective by Your Word (130). I want to be out of breath from chasing after obedience to Your Word (131). Only in holiness are my steps firmly planted (133). Cause my heart to break when others don't follow You and use me to lead them in Your way (136).
Thank You for dealing with with me based on Your love, and not based on what I deserve (124). When I am hurting, I long for Your promised salvation of heaven, but when life is easy and good, I find myself thinking of heaven less. Thank You for increasing my expectancy for heaven by sending hardship and for showing Yourself to me so that I can't wait to be with You (123). Today, help me rightly value gold as temporary, and Your Word as everlasting. Help me hate EVERY false way and be careful to obey You.
Today's time learning from God's Truth is in Psalm 119:113-120.
Teach me to hate having an affection for both You AND things of the world. Give me a single-minded affection for Your Word (113). You are my security and protection (114). Reduce my reliance on those who may pull me away from You, Father (115). Show me that hoping in You never brings regret (116). You are a purifying fire, judging the wicked (118-119). Teach me to fear You rightly, and to "shudder in awe of You" (120).
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Psalm 119:105-112.
When I am walking through life, thank You for Your Word which lights up my next step and which path I am on (105). Make me bold enough to follow Jesus' footsteps on the path of daily holiness and spiritual fruitfulness. If I am not, let Your Word reveal my errant steps and paths. I want to follow You to the end (112) because there is no other path that gives joy to my heart like Your path (111). Whether the terrain is smooth or rocky, help me walk worthy of Jesus today (107,109,110).
Today's time aligning our minds with God's thinking is in Psalm 119:97-104.
Do not stop teaching me new things about You (97). Thank You that I can always fall back onto the security of Your commands when others attack me (98). When my thinking is shaped by Your instructions, I am wiser than my teachers (99). True wisdom is obeying Your Word, not just knowing it (100). Help me obey (101) and not stray from Your lessons (102). Make me develop a taste for the sweetness of Your Word so that I will always want more (103). Help me recognize and hate/reject ways that are opposed to Your way (104).
There is an autumn nip in the air today. The morning frost
is giving way to a bright sunshiny day. A perfect Thanksgiving day. But there
are those for whom today’s sunshine and the smell of turkey can do nothing to quell
the sorrow over difficulty in their life. Some will spend today recovering from
their latest chemo treatment—or sitting with a loved one who is. Some have
endured the recent loss of a spouse, or parent, or sibling—or child. Some are
still reeling from news they have been laid off and have no idea where their
children’s Christmas presents will come from. Even with sunshine and turkey,
today isn’t so perfect for some of us. So how can each of us experience a
joyful Thanksgiving, in spite of the circumstances of our lives?
You could try being a counterfeit. You know, just fake it. Plenty
of people try. The dread builds as they prepare to gather around the table with
friends and family. As others prepare food, they prepare by pasting on their
best smile and forced laughter. But a pasted-on smile is fake—not joy. It’s
certainly not thankful. So if you want to experience a joyful Thanksgiving in
spite of your circumstances, faking it won’t work.
You could try being a comparer. As the wife of a McDowell
County coal miner, my grandmother knew hard times. She didn’t complain and
didn’t put up with people who did—especially grandsons. If I felt the need to
talk about a pain in my foot, she would remind me how blessed I was to have a
foot in the first place. After all, there are plenty of people in the world who
wish they had a foot to hurt. She was right. But it didn’t make my foot feel
any better. As a matter of fact, rather than give me a feeling of joy and
thanksgiving, it gave me a feeling of pity. Pity isn’t always a bad emotion to
have—it just isn’t joyful thanksgiving. There is always somebody who has it
worse than you. But pitying them isn’t going to cause you to experience a
joyful Thanksgiving in spite of your circumstances.
Since neither being a counterfeit nor a comparer will work,
the psalmist gives a simple five-part formula for having true joy and
thankfulness this Thanksgiving and beyond:
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the
LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he
is God! It is he who 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. (Psalm 100:1–5)
1.Make some noise—Anyone with children knows
activity is noisy. Complacency, boredom and lack of purpose are not. God
created you as His child with a distinct purpose in mind. Actively seek ways He
would have you fulfill that purpose. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do
everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
2.Serve with gladness—Did you know that the words
“service” and “worship” are closely related? That’s because the Lord doesn’t
just want us singing songs to Him. He wants our service. How? Serve Him by
serving others. God is on mission. He came and lived among us, getting His
hands dirty. He expects us to do the same. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be
with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’” (John 20:21)
3.Sing!—Even when you sing as poorly as I do, it’s
hard to grumble and sing at the same time. My singing might lead to others
complaining, but it’s impossible for me to sing and complain at the same time.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one
another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with
thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
4.Know—Learn who God is and know who He created
you to be. Seek Him in His Word. Be curious. Be a learner. But understand the
only real way for sheep to know their shepherd is to be with him and be led by
him. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all
things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
5.Enter—Because of God’s goodness, love and mercy,
He invites each of us to enter places that we can’t enter on our own. Places of
thankfulness in the midst of trial. Places of praise in the midst of difficulty.
Places of joy and peace and rest in the midst of turmoil and confusion.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness
be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your
requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This Thanksgiving, my prayer is that your joy would not be
counterfeit or by comparison. My prayer is that, despite your circumstances, your
joy would be in the Lord. Happy Thanksgiving!
Today's time conforming our thinking to Christ's is in Psalm 119:89-96.
Thank You that Your Word and faithfulness never change (89-90). I don't have to wonder what mood You are in or if You have changed Your mind about giving me life (91-93). I will rely on You to save me today. I will depend on nothing else because I belong to You (94). When my holiness is lacking, it is because of my own rebellious heart, not because Your Word is anything less than perfect (96). For Your Word is always sufficient to perfect me into the creation You made me to be.
Today's time bring shaped by the Word is in Psalm 119:81-88.
My only sure hope is the salvation promised in Your Word (81-82). Even when life beats me up and leaves me weak and wounded, I will only hope more for what Your Word has promised (83). I long for all wrongs to be made right (84). Many attack me and lie about me, but Your Word is trustworthy (84-85). Help me obey You with all the days You give me (88).
Today's time being reminded of THE truth is in Psalm 119:73-80.
Since You made me, You know best how to help me understand Your Truth. Help me trust whatever ways You choose to use (73). If you must use affliction, thank You for doing it as an act of faithfulness to me (75). Create a hunger in me for Your Word so that Your people will rejoice when they see me, because they will see You in me (74). Show Your comfort and compassion toward me in my struggles (76-77). When falsely accused, help me obsess on Your truth, not the accusations (78). Let me have no regrets. Do this by keeping the motives of my obedience pure, living to please you alone and to display You clearly (80).
Today's time listening to God in His Word is in Psalm 119:65-72.
You are so good to me. How could I doubt the truth of what You say to me in Your Word (65). Help me walk wisely according to Your knowledge (66). Teach me to cherish affliction because You use it to teach me obedience. Convince me that obedience is worth suffering and is the most loving thing You could give me (67-68). Give me a heart that is sensitive to Your Words, not one that is "fat" (insensitive) covered with sin and distractions (69-70). Help me value Your truth more than any riches (72). Help me look for Your instruction to me in what I may suffer today (71).
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Psalm 119:57-64.
You are my portion, and I long to see You face to face. Help me keep my promise to keep Your Word (57). Help me want to please You above all else (58). Help me be quick to evaluate my steps today, and turn to walk in Your footprints (59-60). If I face painful circumstances today, let me not forget Your truth (61). Don't let me ever stop cherishing Your estimation of my situation (62). Make me a friend to those who fear You and be my teacher today (63-64.
Today's time letting the Word shape us is in Psalm 119:49-56.
Let my hope be based on Your promise to give me real life rather than whatever else I hear today that may foster temporary hope in temporary things (49-50). Keep me from turning from Your best (51). Because the truth of Your Word never changes, my heart rests securely without fear (52). Let only what angers You, anger me. Help me reject unholiness today (53). Let today's verse of my life-song be filled with Your Words instead of mine (54). Remind me of Your power when life gets difficult (55). Make obedience my norm today (56).
Today's time being reminded of God's Truth is in Psalm 119:41-48.
Remind me of Your promise to show me faithful love and to save me (41) so that I can endure any difficulty today (42). Cause all that I say today be filled with Your Word because only Your truth is worth putting hope in (43). Let there be no end to my obedience (44). Thank You that walking in Your ways frees me from all sorts of harmful entanglements (45). Give me boldness to speak Your truth today, even to the most intimidating person (46). Set my thoughts on loving You and those You put in my path today because that is the source of my joy (47).
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Psalm 119:33-40.
Give me understanding of Your Word and enable me to keep it always (33-35). Give me a heart that delights in following You instead of chasing after material stuff (36). Show me REAL life by directing my focus toward Your ways of thinking, wanting, and working today (37). Increase my faith in You by bearing fruit from Your Word planted in me (38). Protect me from the shame of not keeping Your good commands (39). Make me long to learn from You all that I can't afford to be ignorant of (40). Be my Teacher today.
In June of 1942, an 18 year old young man said goodbye to his beautiful, pregnant bride in Iaeger, WV. He began a journey that, two years later, would take him to Normandy, France, as an anti-aircraft gunner.
The story is sketchy and vague to me because, like most heroes, he didn’t like to talk about himself or his role in the War. An anecdote here, a story there—but no comprehensive first-person account was passed on.
Maybe the memories were too dark and painful to recall and recount. Or maybe it was simply because personal tales of heroism and gallantry are out of character for hard working, humble, West Virginia coal miners.
I read the history books. I know what anti-aircraft crews went through on D-Day. I know that, without the efforts of men like him, the Normandy Invasion would have been lost. And I know that if the Normandy Invasion would have failed, the war would likely have been lost.
Some historians might be able to argue that point—but what no one can argue is that those men were and are heroes. Simple, humble heroes. The kind that built and preserved a nation.
On the beach at Normandy, that man was called Private. Later, he was called Corporal. I only knew him as Pawpaw. Earnest Stanley died ten days after Veteran’s Day in 2004. I have a cased American flag in my office that commemorates his service, but in reality, his service and the service of every veteran is commemorated every time we enjoy the freedoms he quietly and anonymously fought to protect.
God bless our quiet heroes and happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served.
Today's time in the life-giving Word is in Psalm 119:25-32. Life apart from You is all temporary. Only by living in light of Your truth is there real life with enduring joy, satisfaction, and peace (25). Thank You that You, the Creator of all, listen to me (26). Let Your Word determine what I consider to be wonderful (27). Let Your Word remind me of the sufficiency of Your strength when I am broken in sorrow (28). Let Your Word keep me from being deceived (29). Your Word leads me in THE way of truth (30). Let Your Word be that to which I cling instead of the American dream. Let others see the value of my clinginess to Your Word (31). Give me a huge heart to chase after doing Your will today (32).
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Psalm 119:9-16.
Apply Your Word to my life so I can be pure (9). Help me to make choices today that lead me closer to You instead of away from You (10). Convince my sinful heart of the invaluable treasure of Your Word, that it shapes me to display Your glory (11-12). Help my speech communicate Your perspective clearly today (13). Persuade my heart that walking in Your will gives as much joy having ALL the toys, conveniences, and comforts I could ever possibly want (14). So consume my thoughts with Your thoughts, values, wants, and priorities today (15-16).
Today's time aligning our thinking with God's truth is in Psalm 119:1-8.
Help me know the joy of loving You and my neighbor today without blame (1). Show me where my heart seeks things other than You and what You seek (2-3). As King, You rightly demand my obedience today. I have no right to rebel (4). Cause me to have a heart to obey so I won't have to feel shame when I remember Your holy expectations (5-6). As You help me to judge my actions, thoughts, and desires the way You do, I will understand more and more how praiseworthy You are (7). Thank You for promising never to leave me or forsake me. Enable me to keep my commitment to follow You (8).
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Psalm 118.
Let all Your people know deeply that Your love lasts, and make our love last like Yours (1-4). Help me live to please You, my victorious King, unafraid of what people might think or do against me (6-7). I trust in You today for my security, not in people or government (8-9). Be my "strength and song" today (14). Remind me of the life You give me so I will tell others about it (17). Thank You for Your severe discipline that aligns the way I live with the righteousness You have given me in Christ (18-21). Even when the world deems me as worthless, You treat me as important (a cornerstone), saving me from the rubble pile. Chisel me today into the shape of Jesus, THE Cornerstone. (22). I don't deserve it, but I thank You for it. Your faithful love is wonderful (23).
I thank You for drawing me to the point of realizing that I needed You to save me (4), not because I deserve it (1), but because I was dead without it (3). Help my soul rest in You today (7). Help me walk with You today, trusting You even when I am hurting and feel like I can't trust anyone else (9-10). Although I can't repay You for all You have done, I will worship You alone (12). I will do what I tell You I will do (14) and present my body thankfully as a living sacrifice (17), praising You with Your people (19).
Today's time conforming our perspective to that of the Word is in Psalm 115.
Reveal to me the things that I do for my own glory and show me how to do them for Your glory today (1). Let my life be proof to the world that You exist (2). Convince my heart of the futility of being controlled by things I idolize instead of by You (7). It is true that I become like what I worship, so let You be what I worship (8). Be my "help and shield" today (10-11). Thank You for the confidence that I will get to worship You forever (18).