Giving Thanks — November 19

Giving Thanks — November 19

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.

Psalm 97:1 (NIV)

Today I am thankful for a God who reigns with an intent to bring gladness to mankind.  It is comforting to know that God’s rule is from everlasting to everlasting regardless of who may think they happen to be the real authority.  I am thankful for a God who reigns with mercy, grace, and love.  Yes, there will be a day of final judgment; but now is a time when “the Lord is patient, not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance.”  I am thankful for the Lord’s patience as He reigns and I am thankful that He gives cause for all peoples to rejoice,

It seems that with each passing year our culture becomes more and more angry.  I believe one of the reasons for this is that we think we are in charge and tend to become very upset when we don’t get our way.  Our society, and even the Christian culture in America, has succumbed to mob rule — whoever gathers the greatest number of people, and becomes the loudest in their demands, gets to have their way in everything.  We are a nation of spoiled children who have learned that holding our breath, throwing a tantrum, and/or screaming bloody murder will eventually wear mom or dad down to the point that they will give us whatever we want.  In fact, our culture reminds me a lot of the scene on Mount Carmel where the prophets of Baal thought that their theatrics would somehow get the attention of their god.  When it didn’t work, they became louder and more bizarre in their actions in a vain attempt to prove their superiority to Elijah and his God.

I am thankful that I can go to a God who reigns and I can boldly lay out everything that is within me with a confidence He will work in ways that brings gladness and rejoicing.  I am thankful that “the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.”  I am thankful that I have a relationship with the One who has all authority and power — even over those who think they are in charge. 

I pray that you and I would believe in the One who reigns with such conviction that He is the one we go to when seeking justice, help, and understanding.  I pray that we would always look to God and His Word as the authority we are most accountable to.  I pray that we would truly believe, and pray as if, there is nothing more powerful in bringing about right and needed changes than praying to the One who reigns over all.  I pray that God reigning in and over our lives would result not just in gladness and joy for us, but in rejoicing by all who get to see God in us.  And I pray that we would not give in to the temptation to join the “mob of the day” in an attempt to get what we want.

In prayer,
Tom  

Giving Thanks — November 18

Giving Thanks — November 18

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
John 9 4 (NIV)

As I get back in the routine of a “normal” week, I am thankful for the work God has given me that brings glory to Him.  Yesterday was kind of a dreary day — it was a long day of driving with all of it under an overcast sky and most of it in rainy conditions.  Definitely not weather that tends to uplift my spirit, so I was thankful to find several encouraging messages when I got home from people who wanted to thank me for sharing prayer-based resources at ICOM.  The recurring theme in each of them was to praise God for His work in the midst of our conversations and interaction.  That is the part I found most encouraging because it served to remind me who I am working for and who will complete the work He began in me.

I find it interesting that the above verse comes in the middle of the response given by Jesus to the disciples who were asking about the cause of a man born blind.  Jesus made it clear that the blindness was not a result of sin by this man or his parents, but rather an opportunity for the glory of God to be displayed.  It also seems clear to me that the opportunity to do the work of God is not something that should be put off as not only could it be a time-sensitive opportunity, but if we don’t do the work now there may not be a tomorrow to do it in.

As I pray this week about purpose, I am thankful for a God who gives purpose to the work I do.  I am thankful that He doesn’t limit the type of work that has purpose to specific “noble” callings, but gives purpose and value to all work that is done in a faithfulness to Him that brings Him glory.  I am thankful for reminders of the good work He does through people like you and I.  I am thankful for the good work of people who make it possible for me to share at conferences.  Their work has as much purpose and value as mine — perhaps even more. 

I pray that you and I would grow in both our thankfulness and our awareness of the opportunities to do the work of God.  I pray that we would do good works for the purpose of bringing glory to our Father in heaven.  I pray that we would make the most of every opportunity as we live with an awareness that those opportunities may cease to exist at any time.

In prayer,
Tom  

Giving Thanks — November 17

Giving Thanks — November 17

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.  How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
Psalm 47:1-2 (NIV)

Today I am thankful for a glimpse of the nations praising God.  As I finish up some time at the International Conference on Missions, it has been a fun few days worshiping God together and talking with people from all around the world.  I am thankful for those who have responded to God’s calling to take the good news of Jesus to the far off lands and to the nearby neighborhoods.  I am thankful to be given a small part in encouraging and equipping others through the prayer ministry.

As has become a typical experience for me at these conventions, I once again had a number of the convention center workers ask if it was okay for them to take some of the prayer-based devotional books that I was giving away.  I am thankful God has given me eyes that often notice the forgotten people.  I often pray that God would make me even more observant so that I would see each person I encounter as a person.  I am thankful that God has given me something to share that can help encourage people who want to seek after God’s heart.

While there are those ministries that seem to be highlighted every year at the conference, I am thankful for the many more who faithfully do the work God has called them to while receiving little to no recognition.  They do it because of God’s faithfulness to them and in obedience to His calling.  I am thankful for young people I talked with who want to live with an awareness of God’s presence in whatever career path they may follow.  I am thankful for the great diversity in God’s gifting to people so that His light and love can be spread into the diverse areas of darkness in this world.

I pray that you and I would daily realize we are not alone when we praise and worship God.  I pray that we would live with open eyes and obedient minds as we walk faithfully with our Lord.

In prayer,
Tom  

Giving Thanks — November 16

Giving Thanks — November 16

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Psalm 127:1 (NIV)

Today I am thankful for a God that takes notice and works for my good.  It can be very easy to think I have to build my life and a fruitful ministry on my own.  In fact, many voices in today’s Christian culture shout quite loudly about the secrets to church and ministry growth that can be found in self-promotion and catering to a specific group that can best further your growth goals.  It is in that world in which I often feel invisible that I am thankful for a God who watches over my work and provides direction that will honor Him and bear much fruit.

I am thankful today for conversations I will have that will be an encouragement to me and to those with whom I speak.  I am thankful that while I struggle to understand what the next step for the prayer ministry is, God continues to remind me that it is in His hands and His timing.  I am thankful for what God has been building and for the fruit that already exists.  I am thankful for the tears of those who are so overwhelmed with the goodness of God as He uses me to provide a spoken word and a printed resource that meets them exactly where they are.  I am thankful for those who look for me at conventions so that they can be encouraged, and that they can encourage me.  I am thankful for those God has touched through my writings in such a way that they can’t help but share.

As the sun rose over the city this morning, my room is facing in such a way that I didn’t have a view of the sunrise.  However, it wasn’t long before the glow of color spread around the buildings and filled the sky in all directions so that I could at least get a glimpse of what God was doing.  We may not always have a front row seat when it comes to observing the work of God, but His work is so incredible that it can’t be hidden from those who are looking for it. 

I pray that you and I would always look to God as the One to build our house, establish our work, and watch over our city.  I pray that we would reject the wisdom of man that gives preferential treatment to any group, and instead we would build our life and work on the wisdom of God who cares equally for each person.  I pray that our work would not be done in vain as we look to God as the source and director for all we do.

In prayer,
Tom  

Giving Thanks — November 15

Giving Thanks — November 15

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:16-17 (NIV)

As I write this morning, I am thankful for the good gifts of God.  As I walked to lunch yesterday, I passed several little flower gardens that had been planted in the concrete and asphalt jungle of the downtown city.  To see a flowering kale doing its thing as it was tucked into a small patch of soil surrounded by sidewalk was a beautiful thing.  While it took someone’s effort to put it there, for me it was a “good and perfect gift” from God.  When quoting the above passage, it seems the leading verse that tells us not to be deceived often gets left off.  I am thankful that I can see the gifts of God regardless of the source or who He used to deliver the gift. 

As I am spending a few days specifically talking with people about the prayer ministry and the devotional books I have written, I am very deliberate in giving God the credit for the gifts He has given me to share.  I am thankful that God’s gifts are not trickery or some sleight of hand, but He is constant in His intention and ability to do what is good and right.  I am thankful that the good gifts God has given others have been used to instruct and equip me for a more faithful walk with Christ.  I am thankful for the truth of God’s Word that guides me in right paths so I need not live as one who is deceived.  I am thankful for pleasant surprises that only God could orchestrate.

I pray that you and I would live in such a way that we are not deceived.  I pray that we would not only notice the good and perfect gifts which come from God, but that we would freely give Him the credit and glory for them.  I pray that we would also be thankful for the people God may choose to use to deliver His good and perfect gifts.  I pray that our paying attention to even the seemingly little things that come from God would lead us to be even more thankful each day.

May God be praised abundantly, both now and forevermore, for His very good and perfect gifts with the greatest of them being the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

In prayer,
Tom  

Giving Thanks — November 14

Giving Thanks — November 14

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 (NIV)

As I sit down to write this next post in my Giving Thanks series, I am thankful for being called out of darkness and into the light of Jesus — and thankful that I accepted that call.  As I put the final finishing touches on the prayer ministry display this morning, I am thankful for the fellowship I will have over the next few days with thousands and thousands of believers who will join together as those who also walk in the light.  I am thankful that my choosing to walk in the light of Jesus is made possible by His blood cleansing me from all unrighteousness.

Last night as I was walking the “well-lit” underground walkways connecting the convention center to the hotel I am in, I realized that well-lit must mean different things to different people.  While I did not feel unsafe, my senses were always on high alert because of all the areas of darkness and shadows.  I suspect that is how my walk with Christ should be each day I live on this earth.  While His light does dispel the darkness and His word is the lamp by which I ought to walk, there are still those around me who have chosen to live in the darkness and shadows of this world.  While the perfect love of Christ dispels all fear, the wise still walk with their senses on high alert as our enemy seeks to catch us off guard and draw us into his shadowy presence.

I am thankful that I have good people to walk this journey of life with.  As much as walking in the light created a sense of safety, walking with others who had chosen the light gave me an even greater confidence.  Whether walking the dark streets of a strange city with hundreds of others who are walking in fellowship with the Light, or walking through the valley of the shadow of death with one faithful friend, the fellowship we have with Christ builds and enhances our fellowship with one another. 

I pray that you and I would daily choose to walk in the light of Christ in a way that enhances our fellowship with one another.  I pray that we would reject the arrogance of this world that continually insists that our way is a better light in the darkness than the Word of God. 

In prayer,
Tom  

Giving Thanks — November 13

Giving Thanks — November 13

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 108:5 (NIV)

As I adjust to some winter-like weather, the day begins with an abundance of sunshine.  Whenever I have opportunity to travel, whether it is representing the prayer ministry or with my family, I am thankful for the glory God has spread out over the earth.  I am learning to slow down and pay attention to the glory of God.  I am thankful for the gift of photography which has caused me to not just notice a beautiful sunset, but to spend time enjoying it as I take it all in and try to capture some of its essence to share with others.

I am thankful that God is exalted by His very nature and that He has exalted the name of His Son, Jesus, to the highest place so that all people can call upon Him and be saved.  I am thankful that God also has called all of mankind, including me, to exalt and lift up His glory as we represent Jesus wherever we go.  The more I look for and notice the glory of God throughout creation, the less satisfied I am with just observing it.  No, I see it and I want to take in its fullness, to seek out the hidden and unseen parts of it, to dwell within its very presence.  While the sunrises, sunsets, crisp snowfalls, and other glimpses of God’s glory come and go, they serve as reminders of that sacred calling to join in proclaiming His majesty.

There is something about seeing the work of God that prompts me to point it out to others.  Whether the majesty of a sunset or the simple beauty of a cow and calf grazing along a mountain stream, I am thankful that God allows me to see His glory within it and to point others to Him through it.  As I prepare to represent Impact Prayer Ministry over the next few days, I am reminded of an article I wrote some years ago that I titled, “Tell Your Story and Give God the Credit”.  There are parts of my story that I don’t like and parts that are still painful to remember, let alone tell; but it is when I tell the story with the truth of God working in the midst of all the details, I find the story is much less about me and so much more about Him.  When He is exalted not just throughout creation, but throughout my life’s story, His glory is spread over all the earth.

I pray that you and I would be mindful of the glory of God He continues to reveal to us.  I pray that we would be humbled by the calling of God to share in that glory as we lift Him up to the highest place in our life.

In prayer,
Tom