Alpha and Omega
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks! Tell the Lord how thankful you are for His goodness! Don’t start with focusing on the things He has done for you, start with simply Who He is! He is worthy of all of your praise! He is a great and glorious God. He is the Creator of all things. He is life. He is light. He is the way. Before He takes even the slightest action to intervene in your life, He is!
Everything in scripture, everything you see God do in your own life, has one purpose; to allow you to know the goodness of God. His goodness and His love are beyond compare, beyond a measure of value, and beyond what we can thank Him for. Think about this, the Levites, an entire tribe of the nation of Israel, were designated to serve, worship, and thank God. If it were possible for every one of us to do nothing else in our lives but stand at the altar and thank God for who He is, we would not be “over-doing it.”
Then, to take you even beyond the intensity of the worship due Him in Old Testament times, Christ came and ransomed your life! Paul put a right perspective on our worship when he told us to do everything as unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23) You may not be able to physically stand at the altar all day, every day, but your heart can be there as you do everything as unto Him!
There are two hundred and fifty-six names in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ. No single name could express all that He is! He is Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8), Author of Life (Acts 3:15), Bright and Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), Christ (Matt. 1:16), Good Shepherd (John 10:14), Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14), I Am (John 8:58), King of Kings (Rev. 19:16), Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16), Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), Rabbi (John 1:38), True Vine (John 15:1), Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6), Word of God (Rev. 19:13).
If you don’t see reasons in your life to be thankful, set your eyes on Him. Refocus the lens of your heart. He is worthy!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are infinite, limitless. Your holiness is beyond what I can fathom. When Isaiah had a clear vision of You, he saw the stark contrast between his own uncleanliness and Your unapproachable greatness. He could only cry out, “Woe is me!” All of creation, from vast landscapes to the tiniest details of life, speaks of Your majesty. There is no end to Your beauty, no end to the reasons for my heart to love You. I stand with the Psalmist and say, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Further Reading: Psalms 100:4-5, Psalms 30:4, Psalms 107:1, Colossians 3:15-17, Isaiah 6, Psalm 19
A God Who Sees
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Psalms 31:7–8 (ESV)
We have all, and will all, face adversity in life. Some of you have seen God’s hand act swiftly to deliver you. Some of you have had to endure. Some of you are enduring now! Endure with faithfulness! Watch God show Himself faithful! He will never leave you, He hasn’t abandoned you!
Missionary John Paton went to the New Hebrides Islands. One night, hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on killing the Patons. Paton and his wife prayed for God’s deliverance. When daylight came, they watched their attackers leave. The tribal Chief was later converted to Christianity and, when asked why the attack had been called off, reported that hundreds of armored men had protected the building.
God’s deliverance is perfectly appropriate for the situation. As you watch for His deliverance to play out, you must walk in integrity, and stand firm in your faith. He will forever be faithful to His Word and His promises. His promises often come with requirements for us first though; Seek ye first the kingdom of God…, The fervent effectual prayers of a righteous man…, Be strong and very courageous… A man of faith expects God to act, expects God to deliver him and walks in that expectation!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are the God Who Sees! You see the difficulties that I face, and You have provided a way through them. I pray that my faith will grow as I discipline myself to keep my thoughts on You and Your goodness. Open my eyes to recognize Your intervention in my life. Let me walk through troubles in such a way as to inspire faith in others who are watching me. Thank You for Your faithfulness in every stage and facet of my life! In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Jesus Prays for You!
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (ESV)
Have you ever met a grumpy Christian? This is such a contradiction in terms. A grumpy person is an ungrateful person and, as a Christian, you have so much to be grateful for! We all have different personalities and I’m not asking you to be the bubbliest person on your block, but take an attitude check. I accompanied Dr. Linfield Crowder on many tours of Israel and throughout each tour he would lead the group in “attitude checks.” When he called out, “Attitude check!” the response was always, “Praise the Lord!” Your salvation is something to celebrate!
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
1 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV)
He not only saves us for eternity and has a place prepared for us in heaven, He ransoms each and every day of our life! Stop and think about that for a minute! Every single day of your life is paid for by Christ’s sacrifice. Every single day of your life is covered by His prayers. The Bible teaches us that Christ is at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us! You may be encouraged knowing a friend prays for you, but think about what you can walk through in Christ’s strength, what salvation you can walk into, knowing that He is praying for you every day! I love this fact about Jesus! He prays for me!! Think of how you pray for your loved ones. It humbles me to think that Jesus prays for me!
When you really have a firm vision of your salvation, when you let that impact your attitude every day, you come a step closer to living how Christ wants you to live. He came to give you life and joy and peace! He told you not to be troubled because He has overcome the world! He promised that you would have troubles and trials in life, and that you would even be persecuted for following Him. Don’t be misled here. But you have a right to walk through those troubles with your focus on Him and the salvation He gives to You on a daily basis. That is cause for joy!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you. Those words seem so inadequate to express my gratefulness to You, but I know You hear the cry of my heart, the worship of my soul for Your amazing grace, for Your willingness to save me. I was created to be with You, and You have freed me from the just wages of my sin. Thank you for redeeming me, for “buying” me back for You! Thank You, Jesus, for praying for me. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Further Reading: Romans 8:34
His Blessings Are So Great
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.
Psalm 147:7–9 (ESV)
Missionaries on foreign soil, and the Christians they serve, may see the Lord’s provision more clearly than most American Christians. It isn’t that He doesn’t supply our needs, it is simply that we often forget that the blessings that are overwhelmingly common in our society, come from God. Our nation was founded on the precepts of Christ and for people who wanted to worship Him. In response, He has blessed us beyond measure.
Yet, somehow, because His blessings are so great, we often forget that they are His blessings. We let those blessings distract us from Him. Once, a member of my congregation told their friend they weren’t going to make it to church for an evening service because they were too busy moving into their new house. The response they got was a simple question, “So now that God has blessed you with a new house, you can’t take an hour to come worship Him?” They came to church.
Be careful to recognize God’s provision in your life and be grateful for it! A dentist in town who works at a reduced cost for the needy tells them exactly how they can show their gratefulness; by taking care of their teeth. Likewise, God has shown us exactly how we can show our gratefulness to Him. Enter His gates with thanksgiving! Enter His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him, and praise His name!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You provide for me! You are the Lord of heaven and earth. You engineered creation to provide for our physical needs. You have created us to constantly learn and discover, changing how we interact with nature itself. I pray that You will open my eyes to see Your hand at work in all areas of my life, from the most basic needs to the most complicated situations. Your provision is as infinite as You are. As I live, blessed by You, let me be a blessing to others and share Your message of salvation at every opportunity. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
A Two-Way Conversation
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
Psalms 66:16–20 (ESV)
Throughout history, people have debated the effectiveness of prayer. Christ engaged in lengthy sessions of prayer and was clearly disappointed when His disciples could not stay awake through His time of prayer in the Garden (Matthew 26:40). Those who pray persistently, know, and persistently prove, the power of prayer. William Temple, who served as the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s, told doubtful men, ‘When I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t, they don’t.”
God chooses to engage you through prayer. He shows you how to pray and promises to hear your prayers. He is different from everything else you value. He shows that He is alive and loves you by answering your prayers of faith! This is a two-way conversation! It is a holy conversation, set apart from all other communication. James tells us, in chapter 4, that we don’t have because we don’t ask and that we must ask with right motives, not just for our pleasure.
Our Lord’s disciples’ request is undoubtedly our most needed prayer: “Lord, teach us to pray.” Prayer is simply your heart talking to God. Start, as Christ did, with praising Him for Who He is. Show Him the praise that is due Him! Then pray about what is on your heart. You will find that the more you focus on Who He is, the more time You spend praising Him, the more the desires of your heart will match the desires of His heart. Remember, above all, God is not willing that any should perish! Pray for the lost souls around you, and watch Him move! As you walk in righteousness, He will answer your prayers!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to pray more and more in line with Your will! I open my heart to You, I open myself to change. Lord, I am forever thankful for answered prayer, and I ask that You place an urgency in my spirit to pray to You daily. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Opportunities to Develop Faith
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
We all face trials in life, some more than others, and how you respond to them shows the true condition of your heart. Job got it right when he said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” No matter what your circumstances are, God is worthy of your trust. Even if the mess you are in is completely due to your own bad decisions, He stands beside you, as you push through it. Keep pushing!
There is a challenge beyond simply maintaining one’s faith and positive attitude during tough times. I’m not meaning to minimize that, because even that is virtually impossible, if we try without the power of God in our lives. But scripture tells us to count it as joy when troubles of any sort come our way. We are not endure it or tolerate it, but count it as joy! Why is it joy? Because it leads to the perfecting of our faith!
How many of us look back on our life and see that our faith grew by leaps and bounds during the easy times of life? Not you? Not me, either. I appreciate times of rest, but they are not particularly times of intense growth. It is the times of trouble that lead to growth. After James tells us to count trouble as joy, he tells us to ask God for wisdom. There is nothing like trouble to show us where we need an increase in wisdom!
If you asked James, it appears he would tell you that trouble isn’t really trouble. It is an opportunity to develop your faith, to develop your endurance and to seek the wisdom of God! That actually does sound like something worth counting as joy!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask often to see the lost through Your eyes, to see the world as You see it. Today, I’m making that more personal. Help me see my life as You see it. Let me experience genuine joy at the troubles I face. For Your Word tells me it will build my endurance, and You will make me complete. Lord, grant me wisdom, for You know I need it! Thank You for Your faithfulness through all. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Further Reading: Job 1:21