Thanking God

As followers of Jesus, I believe it’s important that we learn to cultivate a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving to and for the Lord. Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

When we come before God with a thankful heart, we acknowledge His sovereignty. We recognize His authority, His provision, and His loving care for each of us. This kind of gratitude towards God is an acknowledgment that every good and perfect thing comes from Him (James 1:17) and it positions us in a posture of humility and dependence on Him. 

When we learn to thank God in all circumstances (1Thessalonians 5:18), it helps us to cultivate a heart of joy. Gratitude has the power to transform our perspective and it enables us to see beyond our circumstances and find joy in every season of life.

Our thankfulness also serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Psalm 105:1-2 declares, Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” When we express gratitude, we share of God’s faithfulness, His mighty works, and the countless blessings He has bestowed upon us. This strengthens our faith and encourages others as they see God’s goodness in our lives.

Thanking God is a vital aspect of our relationship with Him. It magnifies His glory, it cultivates joy within us, and strengthens our faith. Let us develop a habit of thanksgiving, not only in our prayers but also in our daily lives. As we express our heartfelt gratitude, we will discover that the act of thanking God is not only pleasing to Him but it will also deeply impact our own heart and soul. May our lives overflow with gratitude, giving glory to the One who deserves all honor and praise.

Waiting On God

In our fast-paced world, waiting can be extremely difficult. We’re accustomed to instant gratification and immediate results. However, the concept of waiting on God is beautifully woven throughout the scriptures. And it’s in the waiting that we learn to trust and depend on God’s perfect timing and divine wisdom.

Waiting on God requires patience, perseverance, and unwavering faith. It is an act of surrendering our own desires, plans, and expectations, and aligning ourselves with God’s will. As we wait, we develop a deeper intimacy with our Heavenly Father and gain a renewed perspective on His faithfulness.

The Bible is full of individuals who had to wait on God. Abraham and Sarah waited for the promised son, Joseph waited in prison for his deliverance, and David had to wait to be king. Each of these stories teaches us valuable lessons about the blessings that come from patiently waiting on God.

Waiting on God molds our character: producing endurance, perseverance, and spiritual maturity. In Isaiah 40:31, we are reminded that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. When we wait on God, we acknowledge that His wisdom far surpasses our understanding. We’re reminded of this in Proverbs 3:5-6 when it tells us to trust in the Lord and lean not on our understanding. As we wait, God guides our steps, illuminating the path before us.

I’ve heard it said that God is never early and He’s never late, meaning His timing is always perfect. We may desire immediate answers, but God orchestrates circumstances and situations in our life to align us with His perfect plan. And according to Jeremiah 29:11 it’s a plan to prosper us and give us hope for the future.

One thing I’m learning lately is that waiting on God forces me to pray and seek Him more. This causes my relationship with God to deepen and allows me to experience His presence in profound, transformational ways.

My prayer is that we learn to embrace our times of waiting on God. He knows the perfect time to bring forth His blessings and fulfill His promises. So, may we find peace in His Word and strength in His presence as we wait upon Him.

Experiencing God’s Peace

In this broken world, we all experience hurt and pain at different times in our lives. Stacy and I have gone through some of this ourselves this past month as we’ve experienced the loss of someone we became very close with. In the midst of these times, it can feel as if peace is unattainable. However, as followers of Jesus, we’re invited to experience a peace that passes all understanding, a peace that can only come from God Himself.
In John 14:27, Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” The words of Jesus here offer us a profound promise. He offers us a peace that’s unlike the peace the world offers. The world’s peace is temporary, dependent on external circumstances, and is often superficial. But God’s peace transcends our circumstances—it settles deep within our souls, providing comfort, strength, and hope, even in the midst of our pain.
But how do we experience this kind of peace? I believe there are a few things we can do to help us experience this peace that Jesus promised:

1. Trust in God’s Sovereignty: When we encounter hurt and pain, it’s natural to question why God allows such things to happen. However, we must remember that God is sovereign and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). Trusting in His sovereignty allows us to find solace in the truth that He is still in control, even when we can’t see it and even in the midst of our pain. And as we surrender our hurt and pain to Him, we can experience a sense of peace because we know that He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

2. Seek God’s Presence: In times of pain, it is essential to draw near to God and seek His presence. Psalm 34:18 reminds us that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” When we intentionally seek God through prayer, worship, and meditating on His Word, we invite His comforting presence into our lives. In His presence, we find strength, restoration, and peace that can only come from Him.
3. Cast Our Cares on Him: God invites us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Holding onto our pain and hurt only prolongs our suffering and hinders us from experiencing God’s peace. We must give everyone and everything to Him. When we release our hurts and pains to Him, He replaces our heaviness with His peace, guiding us through the storm and providing us with the strength to endure.

Whatever you’re facing today, know that God sees your pain and He longs to grant you His peace. Trust in His sovereignty, seek His presence, and cast your cares on Him. And as you do so, may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Search My Heart

As followers of Jesus who seek to live our lives for the Lord, I believe it’s important that we all take time to reflect on the condition of our hearts. In Psalm 139:23, David opens his heart to the Lord when he says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” 

David’s words here serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of self-examination as we seek deeper intimacy with our heavenly Father. I believe David understood the significance of inviting God to search his heart, to examine the innermost corners of his being. 

Looking inward and assessing our lives can be a difficult task. It requires humility, vulnerability, and a willingness to confront our weaknesses, sins, and shortcomings. However, when we approach this process with sincere hearts, we open ourselves to the transformative power of God’s grace.

In the presence of God, there’s no place for us to hide. He sees us as we truly are: flawed and broken individuals in need of His mercy. Yet, His love for us does not waver. He longs to refine us, to mold us into vessels that reflect His glory. By inviting Him to search our hearts, we allow Him to reveal areas that require His healing touch and redeeming grace.

When we pause to assess our relationship with the Lord, I believe it’s essential to not only examine our actions but our motivations as well. Are we serving God out of a genuine love and devotion, or have we become complacent or driven by selfish ambition? Are there areas of our lives where we’ve allowed worldly influences to overshadow our pursuit of holiness? Do our thoughts, desires, and dreams align with God’s good and perfect will?

May we learn to embrace the invitation of Psalm 139:23 as a divine opportunity for growth and renewal. May we seek God’s truth with humility and gratitude, remembering that His love for us surpasses our own understanding. 

Heavenly Father, search me and know my heart. Help me to examine my life honestly and transparently. Reveal areas in need of Your touch and transform me according to Your will. I surrender my fears, worries, and selfish desires to You. Help me to grow in You and empower me to walk in Your righteousness. Amen.

What’s Our Narrative?

For the month of May, my wife and I have been going through something called “30 Days to Resilient”. It’s part of the One Minute Pause app that was developed and made available by author John Eldridge. And one of the things it talks about is our narrative. What is the narrative that we believe about our lives? What are the things that we believe to be true?

Do we believe that God is the creator of all things? Do we believe that He loves us? Do we believe that He has a good plan for our lives? We talk about it at church and we read it in the Bible, but when we step back and look at our lives, do we live life in a way that says, “Yes, I believe these things to be true!”?

Our narrative—the story that we believe—will drive the way we think and live. So it’s important to take time to stop and process what we actually believe. And I think it’s important to then acknowledge what we believe and even speak it out loud as a statement. 

One of the exercises in “30 Days to Resilient” is to write out and declare what you know to be true about God and about yourself. These are some of the things that I wrote:

Lord, You are Love and You love me unconditionally.

Lord, You are compassionate and you care for me deeply.

Lord, You are all-knowing and you know me personally and intimately.

Lord, You are the provider and You faithfully provide for me.

Lord, You are gracious and your grace covers my sin and failures.

You are God and in You I am made complete.

What do you know to be true about the Lord and your relationship with Him? What is your narrative? I encourage you to take some time to process these questions and maybe even write them out. Then declare them to the Lord and let His truth wash over you.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” -John 14:6

Overcoming the World

As followers of Jesus, we’re called to a life of obedience and commitment, even in the face of difficulties and challenges. In fact, it’s during these difficult times that our faith is tested and strengthened. The Bible encourages us to trust in the Lord and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

In John 16:33, Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This verse reminds us that we are not immune to difficulties, but we have a Savior who has overcome the world and has promised to help us on this journey.

Our job is to simply seek the Lord and to walk in obedience, to listen to His voice and allow Him to guide our path. As we do this, it’s important to remember that His ways are not our ways. God often calls us to things that are bigger than us. He leads us on paths that defy human reality.

As I type these words, I’m reminded of the Israelites as they fled Egypt. In front of them was the Red Sea, a huge road block. Behind them was Pharaoh and his army, an enemy out to destroy. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place, but God had a plan. He split the sea so they could walk right through it.

The path that God had for the Israelites seemed like a dead end, it seemed hopeless. But the thing we have to remember is that there is no such thing as a dead end with God. He can move mountains, split seas, and wipe out enemies. In other words, “If God is for us, who can be against us.?” -Romans 8:31

We are called to follow Jesus and walk obedience. If we’re faithful to do this, whatever we come up against doesn’t matter, because we know God is with us and for us. So, let’s trust in the Lord and keep our eyes fixed on Him, knowing that He is with us always and that He has overcome the world.

Encouraging One Another

Every week before our meet and greet time at church, I talk about the fact that we were created for relationship: Relationship with God and relationship with others. And I believe a big part of our relationship with one another has to do with supporting and encouraging each other.

In Ephesians 4:29 it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This verse reminds us of the importance of our words and the impact they can have on others.

As followers of Christ, we are called to encourage and lift one another up. This means speaking words of kindness, love, and truth, even in difficult situations. It also means being mindful of how our words may affect others and striving to use them to build up and edify rather than tear down.

Encouraging and lifting one another up is not always easy, but it is a crucial part of living in community with one another. When we speak words of encouragement, we help others to see their worth and value in Christ. We also strengthen our relationships and build a sense of unity and support within the body of Christ.

Lord, help us strive to be people who speak words of encouragement and lift one another up, especially during difficult times. May we use our words to build one another up and to bring glory to you God.

Choosing His Ways

Every day we’re faced with choices that affect our lives. These choices are often between the things of Jesus and the things of the world. It can be tempting to choose the things of the world, because often times they seem more appealing or easier, but we must remember that the things of Jesus have a value that goes beyond our understanding.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This verse reminds us that when we choose the ways of Jesus and seek His kingdom above all else, He will provide for us and ultimately bless us.

When we choose the ways of Jesus over the ways of the world, we experience His blessings. Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

This passage reminds us that when we choose to delight in the ways of Jesus and meditate on His Word, we will experience His wonderful blessings and grow in Him. Now the reality is, choosing the ways of Jesus over the ways of the world is not easy, but I’ve discovered that it’s worth it. 

Lord, help us to choose Your ways, to obey Your commands, and let us experience the fullness of joy that comes from following You.

God is Good

At our church we have a well known phrase that we say frequently, “God is good, all the time…And all the time God is good.” The problem is, often times we get so caught up in the busyness and chaos of life that we forget just how good our God truly is. His goodness is always present, and it’s something that we can rely on in every season of life.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” This verse reminds us that God’s goodness is not just something we talk about or read about, it’s something we can experience for ourselves. When we turn to Him, we find that He is good, and that His goodness is a source of blessing and hope in our lives.

Another verse that speaks to God’s goodness is Romans 8:28. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This verse reminds us that even in the midst of difficult situations, God is working for our good. His goodness is not just limited to the good times, but it extends to every aspect of our lives. The good, the bad, and even the ugly.

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” This verse reminds us that everything good in our lives comes from God. He is the source of all goodness, and His gifts to us are good and perfect.

Today, let’s take a moment to reflect on the goodness of God. Let’s remember that He is always with us, working for our good and blessing us with His perfect gifts. Let’s take refuge in Him and experience His goodness for ourselves. And let’s give thanks to Him for His unwavering goodness and love.

The Power of the Cross

This Sunday we celebrate Easter: the day that Jesus rose from the grave and opened the door for us to experience His redemptive power in our lives. We love to celebrate His amazing resurrection, but we can’t forget that in order for Him to rise from the dead, He first had to die.

Today is Good Friday and on this day I think it’s important that we remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us. He willingly gave His life on the cross to pay for our sins. The weight of our transgressions was more than any of us could bear. And He bore them all, taking upon Himself the punishment that we all deserved.

As we reflect on what He went through for us, we can’t help but be overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for us. He chose to allow His Son to be sacrificed for each of us, so that we could have eternal life through faith in Him.

It’s humbling when we realize that we were the reason for His suffering, and yet, He didn’t come to condemn us, but to save us from our sins. In the midst of our brokenness and rebellion, He chose to show us His amazing grace. 

On this Good Friday, we’re reminded of the power of the cross, and the hope that it brings. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been reconciled with God, and we have the assurance of eternal life. We can now approach the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that we have been made righteous through His blood.

As we prepare to celebrate His resurrection this Easter, may we take some time today, on this Good Friday, to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and the price He paid for our redemption. And may we recognize that we must deny ourselves—essentially DIE to ourselves and surrender our own way—in order to receive the LIFE He offers. In a very real way, may we participate with Jesus in both His death and His resurrection. There is not one without the other.

Thank you, Lord, for your unfailing love and mercy. Help us to surrender our lives to You and live in a way that honors and glorifies You!