Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV
Most of us long to experience God’s presence and power. We just don’t usually choose the path required to get there.
What is that path?
Psalm 100:4 reveals it plainly. We enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. If we want close proximity to God, we need gratitude. Sincere thanksgiving and praise for His provision must regularly erupt from our hearts and echo from our lips.
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. Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
Our lives are supposed to overflow with thanksgiving. Not once a year, but every day. Beloved, gratitude marks a life rooted in Christ. Built in Him. Strengthened in Him. Lived in Him.
What we choose to offer Him, however, usually resembles grumbling. Not gratitude.
Let’s face it. We aren’t naturally grateful people.
We have to teach our children to say, “Thank you.” They come out of the womb believing they have a right to everything. You’ll hear one word rising above a scuffle of angry toddlers. “Mine.”
If it isn’t theirs, they think it ought to be.
Yes, dear one. Appreciation must be taught. And some of us still struggle to learn it.
We’re self-centered, after all. And that inclination fixes our eyes firmly on blessings we desire instead of praising God for the ones He’s already provided.
Then we end up feeling like Job.
“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” […]
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.. Psalm 139:11-12 ESV
Monsters lurk in the dark.
They like the shadows. Deception. Speculation and fear.
Only recently, some of those monsters decided to emerge from the shadows. Their evil in Paris exposed what they seek.
Hatred. Murder. Terror.
They aim to breed fear.
They reflect the heart of the god they serve, “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).
Did you know that’s one of his names, dear one? Deceiver of the whole world.
Yes, beloved. Satan deceives. Everyone. Always.
He’s probably deceiving you. If you’re afraid, it’s working.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
Look at what Jesus said about the deceiver and his children in John 8:44.
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Satan lies to get what he wants. And his most deceived followers act just like him. He’s a murderer, and they murder. He deceives, and they deceive. They have set their will on carrying out their father’s desires, convinced the one who speaks to them is an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
If only the children of God lived as dedicated to His cause.
But we haven’t set our wills […]
You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 ESV
For some reason, people love to throw stones. And, apparently, red coffee cups.
We picture ourselves like David, standing against a godless giant who blasphemes the name of the Lord. We imagine God Himself at our backs, ensuring that our carefully aimed pebbles will hit their mark.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But I fear our reality looks a bit different. We actually more closely resemble the religious leaders in Jesus’ day who gathered to accuse an adulterous woman.
They intended to kill her with stones.
Instead, Jesus saved her.
I wonder, dear one, if some of the stones we throw in Jesus’ name are stones He wouldn’t throw.
Are the fights we’re engaged in really His fights? Or are we, perhaps, casting judgment when Jesus would extend grace?
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
Maybe Jesus’ words offer a great suggestion for us as well. Before we hurl those stones we should consider our motives and the condition of our own hearts.
We live in a world ruled by an accuser. He loves discord, judgment, hatred. And he loves to convince people who bear Jesus’ name to act just like him.
Beloved, when people look at us they’re supposed to see Jesus.
What if the reason the world is so ready to remove God from everything is that they don’t like what they see in us? Are we showing the world who Jesus really is? Do we love like He loves? Are we living as true witnesses of His character?
There are six […]
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
We had plans.
After a 12:30 appointment with his surgeon, Steve and I were going to take the afternoon to explore San Francisco. We had one day before his knee surgery to get in a little sight seeing. It seemed silly to waste this trip across the country without getting in a little fun.
We parked outside the doctor’s office all smiles. Warm sun embraced us through blue skies. The Golden Gate Bridge loomed large in the distance just beyond a sign that read “scenic route.” It seemed a fitting direction to head once we finished with the surgeon.
Only our quick visit with the doctor turned into 4 ½ hours. We never made it to the Golden Gate.
Do you ever have days when frustration tries to rob your joy? Things just don’t happen the way you thought they would—or should—and the temptation to let irritation run free knocks hard at the door of your heart.
Thankfully our prayer cover equipped us to remain smiling. And then we discovered why God had allowed this doctor to thwart our plans.
Something about our conversation caused him to revisit the MRI. And he saw something he hadn’t seen. A tear had revealed itself in my husband’s meniscus on the inner part of his knee that hadn’t been scheduled for surgery.
So he called us over to show us the pictures and change his diagnosis. He wanted to add another surgery to address the damage on the other side that wouldn’t be reached with the original procedure.
The next morning my husband and I arrived […]
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16 ESV
“There is no one on this planet more blessed than you.”
Beth Moore spoke those words last year during a taping of “Wednesdays in the Word” for Life Today TV. At the time, I joked with a friend who attended with me. “I’ve been telling you this for months. Will you believe it now that you’ve heard it from Beth Moore?”
Somehow it seems impossible to believe, doesn’t it? Most days we don’t feel extravagantly blessed.
If that’s you, you’re not alone. I presented Beth’s statement to the ladies in my Sunday school class shortly afterward and asked if they believed it. You should’ve seen the eyes darting from my gaze, heads shaking in disagreement around the room.
I think we believe in a God of blessing. We just have trouble believing those blessings belong to us.
We easily assure others that God loves them desperately and has great things in store. But that same truth doesn’t seem to apply when we look in the mirror. We carefully guard our list of reasons that prove what our thoughts convey: most of God’s blessings aren’t meant for me.
The Apostle Paul begs to differ with you, dear one. So does the God who inspired his words.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3
Whether or not you feel blessed at this particular moment, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God’s Word says that you are. According to Ephesians 1:3, you have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing available to you in […]
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:42 ESV
Our enemy loves hidden things.
His realm is darkness, and he loves to cloud our vision with deceptive veils. He knows that while we remain in darkness, he controls us. We find our power when we walk in the light.
And that’s why Peter heard Jesus speak some disconcerting words to him before His arrest.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
It might interest you to know that the you in Jesus’ opening sentence is plural. Jesus said, “Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat”. But then Jesus addresses only Peter with a singular you.
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”
I have wept over those words, dear one. You see, like Peter, I’ve had a sifting.
God allowed the enemy access to me so I could acknowledge some hidden things in my heart I couldn’t see. And afterward, when I had overcome, Jesus led me to those verses and whispered them into my heart. “I have prayed for you, Kelley, that your faith would not fail. Now that you have come back, strengthen your brothers and sisters.”
I don’t know what those words mean to you, beloved, but they brought me to my knees. An image of my Savior kneeling before the Father on my behalf overwhelmed me.
And I realized how I had overcome. Not by anything I had done, but because […]
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Psalm 32:1
Last week we watched King David make some very poor choices. The man after God’s own heart distanced himself from God’s presence by neglecting his kingdom purpose. Then he took another man’s wife for himself and committed murder to cover it up.
Beloved. Anointed. Warrior. King.
Thief. Adulterer. Murderer.
So many titles, such differing fruit. How can a man so favored by God fall so far?
When our focus shifts from our kingdom purpose to our own self-interest, we set ourselves up to fall. For a moment, David lost sight of whose he was and why he was here. God anointed him king to bring glory to His name. The moment David forgot that, sin took over.
Thank God for forgiveness. David himself penned the words of our opening scripture. If anyone understood the value of forgiveness, David did. But what does forgiveness really offer you and me?
We have a tendency to believe that the forgiveness Jesus poured out through the cross exempts us from experiencing any negative results.
Beloved, forgiveness doesn’t mean you won’t suffer consequences for poor choices. God’s forgiveness enables life to emerge in spite of them.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8
Every choice driven by our flesh plants a corrupted seed.
The truth is, dear one, even when we’ve been forgiven, our choice to sin will leave its mark. Once sin has been sown, it always reaps a harvest. And it always […]