Monday, August 15, 2011
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. Psalm 100:4 HCSB
When I was a young child, it was hard for me to distinguish the concepts of having thanksgiving in my heart and having thanksgiving dinner with my family. Whenever I heard that I was supposed to enter His gates with thanksgiving, I pictured my entire family carrying turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie through the front gate of the Lord’s house, and then sitting down with Him, Pilgrims, and Indians for a giant feast at an enormous table. Then, before we ate, instead of bowing our heads, we simply turned to the Lord and thanked Him face to face. In my mind, He always nodded graciously in a noble and righteous way. Even now as I remember it, tears come to my eyes.
Even though I misunderstood the meaning of thanksgiving as a child, I think I had a big part of it right. When we come before the Lord, we are to thank Him for His many blessings. We should never forget to thank Him and to praise Him in response to all He has given us.
God, may we always come before You with thanksgiving.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Above all, fear the Lord and worship Him faithfully with all your heart, considering the great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24 HCSB
Sometimes it’s just hard to get excited about worshiping the Lord. I get so consumed with everything that’s going on around me that it’s hard for me to shift my mind to the goodness of the Lord. I know that I need to lift Him up regardless of my circumstances, but often I just don’t feel like it.
One thing that has helped me overcome this is remembering everything that the Lord has done for me. Sometimes, I even have to run through them verbally or mentally.
1. He died for me.
2. He is always there to offer me counsel.
3. He loves me more than I could ever imagine.
4. He’s provided for me time and time again.
5. He’s given me an awesome wife.
6. He’s given me a home.
7. He allows me to serve Him.
Somehow, counting my blessings reminds me of how faithful He’s been to me. That, in turn, helps me to worship Him faithfully.
Thank You, Lord, for all that You’ve done for me.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…
Being the son of a career Marine, many of my formative years were spent on or around military bases. Even as a child, I was always impressed by the meticulous upkeep of military cemeteries. The seemingly endless rows of neatly manicured identical graves made an imprint on my memory. The men and women buried in those places served our country well. They deserve to be remembered as heroes.
As Christians, we should have an even greater tenacity in remembering the faithfulness of those who have gone before us. We should never forget how we could not be where we are today if they had not remained loyal to Jesus. These Christian leaders, pastors and laymen alike, deserve to be remembered as heroes.
Lord, thank You for the faithfulness of Your people over the years. Help us to remember them and to allow them to serve as a never-ending example to us.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up. Daniel 3:17-18 HCSB
When I was a child, I played the part of Nebuchadnezzar in a musical, which told the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I enjoyed getting to rant and rave in church because these three men would not worship my gods.
Several years later, I made Jesus my Lord. Suddenly, I realized that the Bible stories I had learned growing up in church were true and that there really were three men who stood before a hateful king who ordered them executed because they refused to worship his idols.
Now, as I remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I see three men so full of faith in God that they were willing to give up their lives. In their refusal to worship the gods of the king, they truly worshiped the one true God.
Lord, help us to always faithfully worship You.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I will reflect on all You have done and meditate on Your actions. Psalm 77:12 HCSB
This is my Father’s world; O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. Mark Babcock*
Often, when I come to God in worship, my mind is filled with thoughts of horrible things that are happening around the world. I think of terrorists wreaking havoc, financial institutions crumbling, devastating natural disasters, orphans crying out, and people living in hunger. When this happens, I can’t help but echo the words of Asaph: Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He is anger withheld His compassion? (Psalm 77:9 HCSB)
However, as I begin to worship, God reminds me of how often He has provided for others and for me. He reminds me of how it’s only by His mercy that the world is not consumed. He reminds me of how He offered His Son as a sacrifice to pay the price for our sins. Then, I remember the further words of Asaph: I will reflect on all You have done and meditate on Your actions. (Psalm 77:12 HCSB)
Lord, when we remember Your faithfulness, help us to worship You?
*This Is My Father’s World
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man? Proverbs 20:6 HCSB
Many years ago, I learned a song about faithfully praising God during difficult times. I sang it whenever I had the opportunity. I wanted it known that I was extremely loyal to Jesus.
But then, life happened. My car was stolen, twice. Bills and taxes became a reality. My metabolism slowed. I gained weight. Church business meetings wounded my heart. I lost my ministry position. And then came the miscarriage. It took me lower than I ever thought I could go. I considered leaving the ministry and abandoning my faith.
But then, I remembered all that the Lord had done for me. I remembered how He had always provided for me. I remembered the love that He had for me. And then, I remembered that He died for me. How could I turn away from Him when He had been so faithful to me?
I still want to praise the Lord, no matter what happens. But now, I understand that it’s more reflected in the way I live my life through difficult times than in the songs that I sing about them.
Lord, help us to be faithful to You, always.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Genesis 22:5 HCSB
Abraham never thought that he would be a father, but there he stood, on a mission of faith, with his son Isaac beside him. The Lord had told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as an act of worship. Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt upon hearing God’s request? As an old man, he had finally seen the beginnings of everything that he had been promised by the Lord and now he was being asked to willingly offer it all back to God in worship. Talk about a crisis of belief! What was God thinking? Didn’t He remember His promise to Abraham? Didn’t the Lord know how much Abraham loved Isaac? Surely something inside Abraham encouraged him to disobey the Lord and spare the life of his son. But, that didn’t happen. Abraham obeyed God, but he also had faith that somehow he would return from worshiping with a live Isaac beside safely beside him.
Lord, help us to have the faith of Abraham as we worship You.