In numerous verses, God’s word tells us that we should be thankful and that we should give Him thanks and praise. We are to give thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20) and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we come before the presence of our God, we should do so with thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2).
Today is Thanksgiving Day in our nation. All across the United States, we gather with our families and celebrate with a wonderful Thanksgiving feast, following the example set by the Pilgrims in 1621. But, what are we celebrating? What are we thankful for? And, better yet, to whom are we thankful?
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals today, my prayer is that all Americans will take the time to remember who has provided for us, who has blessed us with all that we have. Thanksgiving is a day set apart to thank God and to give Him praise.
In 1863, in the midst of a great civil war, it was President Abraham Lincoln who first proclaimed that the last Thursday of November should be set apart as a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” In his proclamation, Lincoln talked about the strife our nation was in, but also about the great things about our nation. He followed that by saying, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” Lincoln went on to say that we should “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of our nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
Those words sound as pertinent today as they did when Lincoln wrote them!
May we all take the time, not just on this Thanksgiving Day but every day, to seek the face of the One who has provided all that we have and to give Him thanks and praise. His love for us endures forever and for that we should be truly thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and God bless you!
How do we respond to the works of God? As we look at His creation–the beauty of nature, the complexity of the life He has created, the miracle of life–are we filled with awe? When we see a life changed by His word, by His presence, are we amazed at what He has done? And, when we think about the sacrifice He made, giving His Son, Jesus, as a ransom for our sins, are we filled with wonder that a God so powerful, so holy, and so righteous could really love us that much? All these things should (and do!) stir up awe, amazement, wonder, and fear of the One who has done them. But, what is the appropriate response to God’s mighty works?
I believe that the answer to that question is praise. After the initial feelings of awe and wonder–after the “wow!”–should come an outpouring of praise. As I thought about this, I went to His word and found some verses that confirmed it to me.
In Matthew 9:1-8, a paralyzed man was brought to Jesus. When Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat and go home, the man is immediately healed and gets up and walks. The crowd reacts in awe and amazement, but what stood out to me was that their response was to praise God. In Luke 7:11-17, Jesus encounters a large crowd carrying the body of a dead man, the son of a widow. Jesus’ heart goes out to the woman and he touches the dead man, who sits up and begins to talk. Again, the crowd of people is filled with awe and amazement and again, their response was to praise God.
I found another example of this in Revelation 15. Here, after the anti-Christ has been defeated, those who have been victorious over him marvel over God’s mighty works. Their response? They give Him praise! As I read that passage of Scripture, I also saw another confirmation of the importance of music to God. Before the people begin to praise Him, God gives them instruments–harps. Then they begin to sing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb as they praise God.
Lord, Your creation is amazing. When I sit and look at all You have made, I am awed. When I see Your mighty works and reflect on Your sacrifice for us, I am amazed. Let my response always be to give You the praise You deserve. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
“Worship the Lord with your life and praise Him with your mouth. A heart surrendered to the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit becomes like a fountain, pouring out praise.”
Those are the words I heard the Lord speak to my heart one morning. God’s word clearly tells us that our lives should be our living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1). He has shown us incredible love, grace, and mercy, and our response should be to offer Him our lives–not just part of them, but all of them–as a sacrifice of praise. By doing so, we are presenting our worship to God, worship that is not just true and proper but holy and pleasing to Him. We are being obedient to His word. Our hearts should be filled with worship. When they are, our mouths cannot help but speak (or sing!) His praise.
As I thought about this, I was reminded of the story of Zechariah in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel. Zechariah was told by the angel Gabriel that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son, whom he was to name John. Because Elizabeth, like Zechariah, was advanced in age, Zechariah doubted what Gabriel told him. As a result, his mouth was shut up and he was unable to speak. When Elizabeth did give birth, in obedience to the Lord, Zechariah confirmed that the child’s name would be John. Immediately, his voice was restored by God. And what was the first thing he did when his voice was restored? He opened his mouth in praise to God. His heart was so full of worship that it just bubbled up from his mouth in the form of praise.
Lord, in obedience to You, I give my life to You as a sacrifice because of Your great love and mercy. May that sacrifice be pleasing in Your sight. Let my heart be so full of love, fear, and awe of you that praise will always be on my lips. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
As I read a devotion about the love of God, two thoughts came to my mind. One was of the Energizer battery commercials. I kept hearing the phrase, “It just keeps going and going…” The second thought was similar. It was of the old Timex watch commercials where we heard the phrase, “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” (I’m dating myself now!)
At first, I thought that my mind was just being distracted, but the next thought that entered my mind was from Hebrews 13:8, which tells us that Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and as He will be forever. I wondered why the Lord was bringing all these thoughts to my mind. I thought, “What do Energizer batteries and Timex watches have to do with God?” As I sat and thought about that, this is what the Lord spoke to my heart:
We are always searching for things that last. We long for relationships that last a lifetime. We buy products that we have been told are built to last, that come with a “lifetime” guarantee. But do these things last? Some relationships do, but not all. Watches may last a long time, but they will one day stop ticking. And while some batteries might last longer than others, they do eventually die. But God never dies! He cannot and will not die. As the Scripture says, He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. That promise is clear in His word.
When we are searching for something that lasts, what we are really searching for is God. He is the King eternal (1 Timothy 1:17). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). His love and faithfulness never fail (Psalm 89:2). They keep going and going…
Thank You, Lord, for this promise.
“Have no fear!” This phrase appeared in my thoughts as I sat quietly before the Lord this morning. I thought about that for a while. Fear is something we hear a lot about lately. People fear many things–terrorism, threats of nuclear weapons, even the future leaders of our country. But, if we put our trust in God, there is no need for us to fear. We see this promise in many places in God’s word. In Psalm 56:3-4, for example, David says that when he experiences fear, he will put his trust in the Lord. He realizes that, if his trust is in God, there is no reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tell us that when we give our fears and anxiety to God, we receive His peace and He guards our hearts and minds.
A well-known pop singer/songwriter said, “There is no fear when you choose love.” As believers, we know this to be true because God is love. When we choose to live in love, we live in God and He lives in us. His love is made perfect in us. That means that we don’t need to fear because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:16-18).
The key to overcoming fear is to put your trust in the Lord. But, we also need to keep our hearts and our minds focused on Him. Matthew 14:25-32 gives us a good example of why this is important. The disciples were in a boat at night and saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. The disciples were filled with fear because they thought it was a ghost. Jesus assured them that it was He and they had no need to fear. Peter needed more proof, though. He said, “Okay, Lord, if that really is You, then tell me to come to You on the water. When Jesus told him to come, Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk. He took one step, then another, then…
Peter took his eyes off Jesus and turned his focus to the wind and the waves around him, fear took over. The result? Peter began to sink.
In the midst of the storms and cares of life, we need to put our trust in the Lord and keep our focus on Him. If we focus on what is going on around us, we allow fear to creep back in and overcome us. So, what the Lord was telling me today is “Have no fear! Put your trust in Me and receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Lord, help us to remember always to keep our eyes focused on You. I put my trust in You, Lord, and I choose to abide in Your love. Thank You for Your promise that, when I put my trust in You and live in Your love, there is nothing I need to fear. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
As I sat doing my devotions today, I read Psalm 1, which speaks of how the person who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night will prosper in anything he does, just as a tree planted by a river does. As I read this, the Holy Spirit put this thought in my head: “Don’t settle for fast food.” I stopped and thought about that for a minute. “What does that mean, Lord? What are You trying to tell me?” I knew that there is nothing in the Bible about fast food, but I searched His word for an answer and came up with several passages of Scripture dealing with food. As I read those passages and meditated on them, I believe that this is what the Lord was speaking to my heart.
In Deuteronomy 8:3, I read that God caused the people of Israel to hunger and then fed them with manna. He did this so that they would learn that they could not live on bread alone. They needed to live on His word, as well. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He quoted from that very passage in Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:4), so it must be an important thing–not just for the Israelites, but for all of us–to remember. The manna that God sent to the Israelites was not food of the world, but rather food of heaven, food from God. What I believe the Lord was telling me is that bread–the food made by man–is like the ways of the world. Manna, on the other hand, represents God’s ways. Bread is worldly knowledge and wisdom; manna is the knowledge and wisdom that come from God and His word. We do need the bread, but we need His word–the manna–even more.
So, where does “fast food” come in? God’s answer to that question came to me as I read Isaiah 55:2, where He asks why we spend money on food that does us no good. Instead, we should read His word–His food–which is the finest of food. Given the option of eating at a fast food restaurant or at the finest restaurant in town, which would you choose? I know what I would choose–the finest restaurant in town! Fast food, like the ways and the wisdom of the world, does us no good. It can even do us harm. Food at a fine restaurant, on the other hand, is like the ways and wisdom of God–much more satisfying and nourishing.
Don’t settle for fast food. Seek His ways and His wisdom by “dining” on His word day and night.
The Lord has been speaking to me about worship and praise. I know that He is worthy of our praise because He is God. All that we have comes from Him, so we should praise Him with all that we have–our finances, our time, our lives–our very beings. We must praise Him and worship Him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength. We can praise Him and worship Him by how we live our lives. We can worship Him by our service to Him. And, of course, we can praise Him and worship Him with our mouths. God has given us music for that reason. Music was created by God. It is His gift to us, so it is right that we should use that gift to lift Him up, to glorify His name, to praise Him for all that He is and all that He has done, and to worship Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Lord God is our strength and our song. He has created us with the ability to use our mouths, our hands, and our hearts to make a joyful noise by using music played and sung for His glory. We must lift our voices and shout and sing His praises. If we don’t, if we remain quiet, Jesus tells us that the rocks will cry out His praise. I, for one, don’t want to be upstaged by rocks!
Lord, thank You for creating music. Help us to use it always to glorify Your name. May our voices be lifted in Your praise every day of our lives. You are Lord of our lives and deserving of all of our praise. Let our hearts be filled with songs of praise so that our mouths will be filled with sounds that will worship and glorify You and be pleasing to Your ears. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Recently, as I spent time with the Lord, a phrase came to my mind: “Worship through it.” At first, I just pushed the thought aside, but I kept hearing those same three words – “worship through it” – repeating in my mind. I sat for a few minutes, just letting that thought turn through my mind and my heart, then picked up my guitar and started playing. As I played, I thought about the book of Psalms and how, in a number of them, David is crying out to the Lord and complaining about his circumstances. But, he always ends up speaking words of praise. I grabbed my Bible and started searching for examples.
In Psalm 13, David lists his complaints, even asking God if He will forget him forever. Then, in verse 5, he begins with a very small but important word – but! The psalm then goes from complaints to praise. David says, in effect, “Lord, have You forgotten me? I’m really struggling right now and my enemy has the upper hand. Without Your help, I will fall and my enemy will celebrate, BUT I trust in You, Lord. Your love never fails and You have come through for me in the past, so I am going to sing to You because You are so good to me.”
In Psalm 42, we again see David discouraged and depressed. But twice he asks himself why – “Why am I so discouraged? Why am I depressed? After all, I have hope that comes from God. So, here’s what I will do–I will praise Him!”
As I read through these psalms, I was reminded of Paul and Silas in Acts, chapter 16. They had been beaten badly and thrown into prison where they were placed in chains. They could easily have sat there in despair, complaining about their circumstances, but (there’s that word again!) instead they chose to pray and worship the Lord. We know what happened next – not only did their chains fall of and the doors to the prison open, but the jailer and his family gave their hearts to the Lord!
God was reminding me that, when things look bleak, when we are discouraged or depressed, when life seems to be just one trial after another, we need to “worship through it.” When we do, our hearts are lifted to him, our eyes focus on Him rather than our circumstances, and our chains – those things that are weighing us down – are broken.
Psalm 145 is the first of the praise psalms that conclude the book of Psalms and is titled as a “praise” or “tehillah” of David. As I read this psalm today, I could sense the awe, the joy, the excitement of David as he wrote it. It must have been sung with great enthusiasm and I can see where there would have been a lot of emotion expressed in singing and dancing before the Lord. In this Psalm, David praises a number of God’s deeds and attributes. He talks of God’s mighty acts, His greatness and power. He reminds us that God is righteous, merciful, compassionate, and faithful. He protects all who love Him. David ends the psalm with praise and a prayer that everyone on the earth will bless the Lord’s name forever.
As I reflect on this psalm, I am reminded that we have so many reasons to be thankful to and praise the Lord. First and foremost, He has freed us from the bondage of our sin through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. When we come to Jesus and put our trust in Him, when we repent of our sins, God’s great gift to us is the promise of eternal life with Him. That is a reason to give Him praise!
But God is such a loving and giving God that our reasons for praising Him don’t stop there. We can praise Him for sicknesses healed, for marriages restored, for timely words of encouragement, and provision in time of need. Because of His grace, love, and mercy, He gives us all of these things and more. He is a great God and most worthy to be praised!
Lord, we thank You and praise You for all that You are and for all that You have done. We thank You and praise You for Your Son, Jesus, who died so that we may have eternal life with You. We praise You, Lord, for You are worthy to be praised! In Jesus’ name. Amen!