Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength. Hab. 3:17-19a (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, on this Thanksgiving Day, we praise you for being the only God from whom all blessings flow; our loving Father, who does all things well, even when you don’t do all things easy; and the sovereign Lord, who enthrones and dethrones rulers at your bidding.
King David and the Prophet Habakkuk voice the declaration of our hearts and the cry of our souls. With our whole being, we want to thank you for the multiplied blessings you have lavished upon us in Jesus. You have forgiven all of our sins—the ones which bear the most shame, and the ones we’ll never know about. You now count us righteous in …
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10 (ESV)
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. Rom. 8:28 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, there are some days when it’s good (and important) to remember that you call us to offer thanks in, not for, all circumstances. The gospel isn’t about magic thinking or make-believe-living, spiritual anesthesia or circumstantial amnesia. In fact, the gospel is the only place in the universe where we don’t have to pretend about anything. That’s one of the many reasons we love you, and ARE grateful to be your children.
Father, strengthen, help, and uphold us with your righteous right hand, in stories that are recipes for dismay.
For those of us for whom Thanksgiving Day will highlight the brokenness of our family system—grant us grace and freedom to love well in the chaos.
For those of us bearing the weight of health concerns for ourselves, or those we love—grant us grace, peace, and the assurance of your nearness.
For those of us weighed down by some combination of the 6 o’clock news, financial pressures, vocational …
Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 (NIV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)
Do all things without grumbling. Phil 2:14 (ESV)
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Ps. 37:4-5 (NLT)
Dear heavenly Father, I assume that until the Day you either take me home, or send Jesus back to finish making all things new, I’m going to be both a whiner and a worshiper. Some days, nothing feels like it’s enough—people, places, or things. Other days, your love, grace, and presence are more real and satisfying than anything else, and all things combined.
I want more of those days, Father—more of the days when your love is better than life, your grace is more than sufficient, and your presence is sweeter than honey. But until the Day of nor more whining, discontent, and grumbling, free me, Father, to more fully delight myself in you. Not to get the desires of my heart, but that you may be the primary delight of my heart. I cannot imagine a freer posture in life.
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 …