Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18
Dear heavenly Father, I awoke today a grateful man, and I want to live that way all day long. Now, I’m sure that attitude will be challenged by life in this broken world and by the heart that beats in this broken man. But as someone who has every reason to overflow with thanksgiving, here’s a few of your gifts for which I give you praise this morning.
First and foremost, I praise you for being, as James writes, the “changeless Father of heavenly lights,” as opposed to being the impetuous god of shifting shadows. We cannot predict, control, or presume on the outworking of your will; but we can completely trust you to be impassible (without mood swings), and passionately good and faithful.
And I adore you for the gospel of your grace—the gift of Jesus, who lived and died in our place to make us yours. Speaking of which, I bless you for giving life to me twice—the first time I breathed in oxygen, the second time you breathed the life of Jesus into my spirit. Both were sheer acts of your outrageous generosity.
And I’m also thankful for the multiplicity of …
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 1 Cor. 9:16
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that “to woe” is to express dread, distress, and despair—an orientation toward life with which I’m quite familiar, for I’ve certainly done my share of “woe-ing.” That’s why this small portion of the Word is so convicting and refreshing. Paul turns the image of woe upside down. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
Jesus, make us the kind of people, like Paul, who are so taken and captured with the gospel that all of life is impacted by the gospel—who you are, and what you’ve accomplished for us by your life death and resurrection.
Teach us more and more of the lyrics of the gospel—its rich theology permeating the entire Bible. Fill our hearts with the music of the gospel—its radical sweetness, generating peace, worship, and gratitude. Release our feet for the dance of the gospel—a missional lifestyle of giving and serving.
May our joys be defined by the incalculable riches of the gospel. May our thinking be shaped by the liberating truths of the gospel. May our dreams be fueled with the wondrous future of the gospel. May our hopes be bound up with the guaranteed advancing of the gospel. May our peace be strengthened by the resurrection power of the gospel.
May our choices be regulated by the kingdom priorities of the gospel. May our satisfaction be intensified by the fruit-bearing …
[The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:28-31
Dear heavenly Father, though I’d never boast about my “many years of serving you,” nor am I tempted to trust in my works for your favor, nevertheless, there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother, recorded in these verses.
This has become obvious to me lately, and I want to repent before it gets any worse. But I do my best repenting, not by beating myself up and groveling, but by preaching the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.
Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace, to enjoy the music of reconciliation, to sing the songs of redemption, to make merry to the glory of God.
You are constantly saying to my grumbling, complaining, discontented, self-righteous face, “My son, you’re always with me because I’m always with you. Nothing will ever separate you from the …
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:18). Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136:1). Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Col. 3:15).
Dear heavenly Father, I woke up today thankful, and I simply want to acknowledge it, for what do I have that I haven’t received from you heart and hand? You’re the God from whom all blessings flow (not trickle). By your grace, continue to open my eyes to see every good thing you’ve given us in and through Christ. “Supersize” my gratitude. May a grateful heart beat loudly in my breast.
Father, I praise you that though believers in heaven are more joyful than we are, they aren’t more secure or beloved. I say these words way to easily: Because the gospel is true, all our sins are forgiven and you’ve already declared us to be righteous in your sight. All over again, make this doctrine my irrepressible delight—this bit of profound theology my knee-buckling doxology.
Father, I praise you for your commitment to complete the work you began in us, and in your creation. Quite often, I get tired and weary of me—of how little of the beauty of …
Do all things without grumbling or bickering. Phil 2:14
Do not grumble against one another. James 5:9
Show hospitality without grumbling. 1 Pet. 4:9
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18
Dear heavenly Father, ouch. I’d forgotten how many times in the Scriptures you confront our default-mode attitude of grumbling. You tell us to do all things without grumbling, because we can always find something in everything about which to grumble.
We grumble about the weather. It’s too hot or too cold; too wet or too dry; too windy or too still. We grumble about politics—often more agitated by who’s sitting in the White House than consoled by Who’s sitting on heaven’s throne. We grumble about money. We’ve got too little and taxes take too much. We grumble about people who grumble.
We grumble about worship. It’s too loud, or too quiet; too “hymn-y”, or not “hymn-y” enough. We grumble about our ungrateful children, disconnected spouses and nosy parents; our loud neighbors, irritating co-workers and complete strangers.
We grumble about bad traffic, long lines, and slow waiters. We grumble about our not-with-it churches, long-winded pastors, and we even grumble about You—wondering why in the world you haven’t answered our prayer, by now, to send Jesus back!
Father, have mercy on us; have mercy on me. It is your will for us to give thanks in all circumstances; it is your grace towards us that makes this calling “doable”; and it is your delight in us that …
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:46-50
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Eph. 5:19
Dear Lord Jesus, as I meditate on Mary’s song, it occurs to me I’m more likely to lose my inhibitions singing Christmas songs than any other genre, and for good reason. Every Advent hymn, carol, and chorus I treasure—from your Word, in my hymnal, or on my iPod—propels me into hope and gratitude, and more hope and more gratitude. And when my heart is fueled by these twin graces, I cannot keep from singing—at least in my heart.
Jesus, thank giving us multiple grace-induced, Spirit-ignited, hope-drenched reasons to sing your praise. And thank you for raising up songwriters who capture our feelings, and give us a vehicle for expressing what we long to say to you.
Though Mary’s story is singularly unique, yet I join her Advent refrain today. I can sing her song. I must sing her song, for you’ve been so mindful of my humble, broken, sinful state. I have nothing to boast in but you, Lord Jesus. You came to me when I wasn’t seeking you. You are being …
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. Col. 2:6-7
Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be a man who gives you the quality and quantity of thanks of which you are so absolutely worthy. Not like a slow drip, a babbling brook, or a meandering stream, but like a geyser—a gratitude geyser. I want to spew, spill over, leak thankfulness everywhere you place me—to the praise of your glory and grace!
I run to you today, like the healed Samaritan leper—who, with a heart of joy and irrepressible gratitude, returned to give you thanks (Luke 17:11-17). I return today, Jesus, and I want to return every day, to express my love and gratitude, for everything you have done for me.
From the first nanosecond I was given faith to receive you as Savior and Lord, I was fully and firmly rooted in your righteousness and love. Now, completely forgiven, I have no other righteousness than yours. Just as I cannot add one iota to your righteousness, I can never, ever be separated from your love—the only love that is better than life.
You have already set me free from the penalty of sin; you are continually setting me free from the power of sin; and one day you will set me free from the very presence of sin.
Jesus, as this Scripture implores…
I want to live …
Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Ps 106:1
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil. 4:6
And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph. 5:20
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18
Dear heavenly Father, it’s Monday of “Thanksgiving Week”—typically a week for gathering with friends and family; consuming copious amounts of favorite foods; the annual ramping up of “Christmas music”; decorating our homes with seasonal markers; and hitting the malls, or internet, to engage in the Olympics of bargains and retail deals. God have mercy on us all!
But before the intensified busyness and predictable chaos take over, we want to set our hearts for a week of gratitude. Indeed, as all these Scriptures affirm, thanksgiving is to be a way of life for us, as followers of Jesus.
Father, first and foremost, we praise you for the lavish, steadfast, and enduring love you have given us in Jesus. The riches of the gospel, and our standing in grace, are more than enough for us to live this week “palms up,”—overflowing with gratitude, compelled to worship you.
But also, Father, we want to give you praise “in all circumstances” and “for everything.” For some of us, this will be a week of anxiety-producing storylines. It’s …
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:3-6
Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture fuels my gratitude this morning—especially for the women and men you’ve used over the years to bring me into a greater understanding and experience of the gospel. For more gospel means more freedom and joy, sanity and peace.
Thank you for friends who help me understand the lyric of the gospel—its rich theology. As a young convert my simplistic mantra was, “Don’t give me theology; just give me Jesus”—sincere sentiment, shoddy sensibility. Thank you for patient teachers who have opened the Scriptures and have shown me the real Jesus—the Messiah who lived and died in my place; the second Adam, not my second chance—my perfect righteousness, not merely my moral model.
Thank you for friends who help me experience the music of the gospel—its life-giving liberty, its healing melody, and its soul-engaging joy. Now I know you to be the God who greatly delights in your people, who quiets us with his love, and who rejoices over us with singing; the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Theology has become doxology in my soul.
Thank you for friends who teach me the dance of the gospel—its …
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5
Dear heavenly Father, this is one of those days in which there’s nothing really grumble-worthy going on in my life. Though I’m sure I could muster up plenty of things to complain about, those things would quickly lose their size and impact, when held up along side of the riches of the gospel. My heart is filled with thanksgiving and praise-offering today, and I want to take time to tell you why, as I pray though King David’s grace-list.
Father, thank you for forgiving all of my sins, through the work of Jesus. May I never take that miracle of grace and generosity for granted. And may this rich standing in grace compel me to greater forbearance, patience and forgiveness towards others.
Father, thank you for healing all my diseases, brokenness, weaknesses. Though the fullness of my healing will require the 2nd coming of Jesus, nonetheless, you are presently healing me spiritually and emotionally, mentally and physically. One Day I, along with all your children, will be completely whole and free. I’ve never longed for that Day more!
Father, thank you for not only pulling me up out of all kinds of “pits”—those of my own choosing and other’s doing, but also for crowning me with your love and compassion. I’m no …