Thanksgiving (Psalm 50:4)

What is giving to God? Think about it, you cannot give anything to him because he already owns everything. Giving isn’t a yielding, because he can take it anytime that he wants. So what is giving to God.

Giving stems from a desire and that desire should be to express how you feel towards someone. When we give to God, we express how we feel towards him. The Psalmist writes that the emotion behind his giving is thankfulness.

Offer unto God thanksgiving… ( Psalm 50:14)

A thankful heart is what God wants. Gifts to God result from thankfulness. These gifts aren’t given out of coercion, responsibility or even guilt. They come from hearts that recognize what God has done for them and are mere expressions of that thankfulness.

As I look back, I can see many occasions when my gift to God was nothing more than the relinquishing of my possessions to him. I guess I’ll see those items as wood, hay and stubble at the bema seat, but there were many times when along with the possession, I gave to God a heart overflowing with thankfulness.

To correct my errors, I have decided to check my heart before each offering to God and make sure that I am expressing gratitude instead of obedience or any other attitude. Secondly, I will guard my heart for complaining and instead ask God to help me recognize his plan so that I can be yielded and thankful for his sovereignty and provision.

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It Is All in the Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)


What would it take to make you happy? People may give various answers to this question, but what each answer reveals is the longing that people have in their hearts. If you could sum up for all people as to what would make them happy, it would be that their hearts would be full and without want. For some people, it may be to be out of debt. For another person, it may be to have a spouse. If you asked a person living in an impoverished situation, their answer may be to have enough food to eat each day.

King David said it wisely, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” This statement is insightful in that David recognized the shepherd was everything that he needed and that because he had the shepherd, he did not have any needs. This does not mean that he was in possession of everything that he ever would need. He recognized that it is the shepherd who would supply his needs and that because he had the supplier of his needs, he really had everything he would ever need.

Have you recognized this for your life? You have everything you will ever need in the shepherd: everything for your marriage, child raising, work, ministry and personal happiness. When you are abiding in the shepherd, your heart will be satisfied and lack nothing. However, if you find your heart becoming barren and longing for something that you just cannot identify, it is because you ceased abiding in the shepherd. You begin to want because you wandered from the shepherd.

If you want to be like David and in your heart experience the joy of being without want, consider the following.

1. Recognize your need for a shepherd.  

2. Decide to trust the shepherd. For some, it may mean them accepting his payment on the cross for their sin as what they need in order to be saved and accepted by God. For others, it may mean that they will cease from trying to create their own security in life and will now trust him to provide for them.

3. Follow the leading of the shepherd. Life is not a brightly lit way down a path of lovely flowers. It is filled with darkness, evil and heart ache. When you follow him, he will lead you in the path that is best for you.

4. Feed on what the shepherd provides. Spend time with him in prayer and reading his word. From it, you will gain strength, nourishment and guidance.

5. Sit at the feet of the shepherd. I am reminded of a German Shepherd that I once had. She would lie down at my feet and look up at me in adoration. I was strong and she loved strength; I am loving and she loved my attention. She would look at me and wait to be noticed. When I would reach out to touch her, she would soak up the attention. Did you know, that God wants that with us. He wants us to sit at his feet and look to him. He wants to pour out his blessing of fellowship and love and when we experience this, we will recognize that everything we would ever want or need is found in him.

6. Rejoice in what the shepherd has provided to you. When you do, this rejoicing will be revealed in every aspect of your life. The lost and the saved will see it, but best of all, your heart will be drawn even closer to the shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Really?

Oh yeah. Really!

Wonderful Works (Psalm 40:5)

God works many wonders in our lives.  However many of the blessings we seem to forget and merely focus on current circumstances.  I decided to list 100 of God’s workings in my life.  I know that I probably have missed more blessings than I have counted.  I encourage you to do the same and then share them.

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalms 40:5)

Many of these are very personal.  I ask that you be quick to read and slow to judge.  God bless.

1. He saved me and all the work that brought it to pass.

2. He removed me from ungodly influences.

3. Gave me my son as a direct answer to prayer.

4. After salvation, he led me away from paganism and settled my feet into Christianity.

5. He gave me my first house.

6. He gave me work in the midst of the extreme recession in the early 80’s.

7. He delivered me from a being killed in a steel mill accident involving a locomotive. 

8. He relieved the financial burden as the recession increased and everything in my life began to crumble.

9. He provided housing in a very desperate time.

10. He comforted my wounded heart.

11. He empowered me to minister to hurting people.

12. He blessed my ministry involvement.

13. I grew in grace.

14. He brought friends into my life to support and help me.

15. He led me to advance my education.

16. He provided transportation.

17. He provided a car.

18. He answered prayers for food and finances.

19. Unemployment was extended.

20. He blessed with me getting called back to work after 20 months of being laid off.

21. He enabled me to by my truck.

22. He guided me through some legal turmoil and enabled me to escape the attack.

23. I moved to my new apartment in Spring City.

24. God blessed my work, ministry service and life.

25. Anthony memorized Psalm 23 before he turned 4 years old.

26. God continued to comfort my wounded heart.

27. He strengthened me to stand strong and live for God.

28. He helped me pass my Greek classes.

29. Helped me through a terrible sickness.

30. Found a better place to live.

31. He caused a person to fall into the pit that they prepared for me

32. Was able to leave the steel mill and be off work on Sundays.

33. Found a new job.

34. Learned maintenance skills that I would later use in God’s work.

35. Received a great promise from God.

36. Graduated from college.

37. Received another great promise from God that would come true seven years later.

38. Married Beth.

39. Signed a lease for an apartment two days before the wedding. (That was close)

40. Lost my job.

41. Found a deer that had recently been hit.

42. Able to sell my truck to pay the rent.

43. Picked up extra electrical side work.

44. Exhaust on car fixed for free.

45. Transmission went, got many rides to work while hitch hiking and had to walk much less.

46. Somebody gave us a station wagon.

47. Found a place to live closer to church

48. Refrigerator broke and someone bought another one.

49. Did not get to adopt my niece and then Beth found out she was expecting just several weeks later.

50. Marybeth Princess was born.

51. Strength as we faced uncertainty with Marybeth’s heart condition.  God gave strength.

52. Somebody gave us a car after the engine seized in the wagon.

53. Anthony enrolled in Christian school

54. Moved to Font.

55. Great ministry days with hundreds of kids attending church

56. Marybeth’s open heart surgery was successful.

57. Injured ankle and out of work for months.  Secured a new job.

58. Promoted at work

59. Went full time into the ministry

60. Able to get away with the wife for a three day vacation

61. Honey bucket of blessings dumped over on us at Christmas

62. Became principal of Landmark Christian school

63. School enrollment increased the next year

64. Bought a house with $1down and 120% financing.  Yep, $1 down and extra cash for renovations.

65. New roof, bathroom, carpet and tons of paint along with residency inspection in 30 days.

66. School enrollment increased by 150% from my first year.

67. Able to buy my first computer

68. Bought a car instead of having one given to us.

69. School increased by another 40%.

70. Moved the school to a larger location and added a library.

71. School maxed out at 257% larger than the first year I became principal.

72. Many learning disabled children helped at LCS.

73. Able to visit the Dominican Republic

74. Able to visit the DR again.

75. Senior class trip to the DR.

76. Able to return to Northeast.

77. Mentored by Dr. Bish…what a guy.

78. Permitted to create the special education curriculum for Northeast

79. Invited to speak on special education issues at Ocean City, MD for the Delmarva Christian school association

80. Big personal setback, but the Lord gave much grace

81. God’s hand of blessing on me

82. Everything began to crumble around me, but God continued to bless my life.

83. Strength to work two full-time jobs

84. Expose to the mental health industry

85. Relief from financial setbacks and back to one job

86. Wisdom, patience and guidance were given

87. Able to go back to school again

88. Leadership to leave Northeast

89. Comfort through disappointment

90. Three meetings on the calendar. No job or money.  God filled up the calendar and met our needs.

91. God blessed to help countless people through speaking engagements as I traveled around the country

92. My wife and daughter were not killed in the auto accident

93. Grace through the painful months

94. Medical insurance obtained

95. Secured work at Devereux

96. Promoted to Treatment Manager (thank you for the financial trouble which exposed me to the mental health industry)

97. Promoted to Learning Specialist

98. Promoted to Learning Manager

99. Promoted to Operations Manager

100. I have great health

Wisdom (Proverbs 9:12)

The wisdom that you gain is for yourself.  You will be the beneficiary of your wisdom an no one else.  You may strive to pass wisdom along to others, but in order for them to benefit from wisdom, they must accept it for themselves.

If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.  (Proverbs 9:12)

Just as spiritual growth is solitary, so likewise is wisdom. Seek daily for wisdom from God’s word.  Pray and ask God to provide you with wisdom.  If he corrects you in your life, yield to his correction and receive the instruction of wisdom.  If you do these, your inner life will feast on the goodness of the Lord.

How Can I Approach God?

As a kid, one of the greatest difficulties I faced was approaching my father and trying to get him to do something for me.  It seemed like I always faced some type of resistance and a troubling discussion.  Those childhood experiences affected my perspective of my Heavenly Father.  It wouldn’t take a counselor to recognize that as a believer in Christ, I would be convinced that my father in heaven would react the same way to my requests.

It took some time to overcome, but God eventually was able to get through to me and teach me about our relationship and how to approach him.  I finally recognized that he wants me to approach him and that there is a way to enter into his presence.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalms 100:4)

In this Psalm, the writer uses the analogy of entering a king’s castle to teach us how to approach God.  The first step in approaching God should be to express thanks for whatever he is doing in your lives.  This can be very difficult for some of us, because there are many things that God allows into our lives, which are part of his sovereign plan that we may see as very unpleasant.  In order for us to be thankful, we will need to submit our will to him.  That is part of the great commandment loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  When you express thanks to God, you enter through the gates and approach his presence.  You will not be as close as you could be, but you will be in his presence.  

After expressing thanks, you should praise God.  Praising God is done by declaring how wonderful God is and saying it to him in your own words and from your heart.  When you do this, you have entered into the court of his presence.  Once you enter this place, stay there, fellowship with him, make your petitions known to him and enjoy the splendor that you were created to experience.

Your Christian life was meant to be enjoyed.  It does not mean that all of life will be enjoyable, but regardless of what circumstances we face, we can enjoy God in the midst of them.

You Are Where You Are

You may not be where you want to be.  You may be looking for conditions or circumstance in your life to change.  Before you react or respond, you may need to ask yourself a few questions. What if the circumstances in my life are ordained by God?  What if he has a plan to use me and my circumstances as a way of demonstrating his grace so that others may come to Christ or some saved may be challenged to trust him? 

Instead of praying or looking for your circumstances to change, you may need to accept where you are and ask The Lord to help you to be content with it.  God has never promised you a great or easy life, but he has declared that he will provide the grace that you need to live his plan and that you can find contentment in it.

Consider the following passages.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:6)

Upholding Others (Psalm 54:4)

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God has promised that he will provide to us the help that we need to endure life in this fallen world and face all its perils. How he accomplishes this is different than what we expect. Our mind visions God reaching out from Heaven and miraculous zapping us with his divine strength. However, the Psalmist clearly reveals how his help comes. Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. (Psalms 54:4)

God’s help comes from other people. He moves upon the hearts of other believers to minister to us and uphold or prop up our soul. It is their words, actions and prayers that are the helping work that he provides.

As we journey through life, we must recognize that we are both receivers and providers of God’s help. He will be there for us when we need him and we should be there for him when he needs to use us. There are so many people struggling in life who just need somebody to uphold them. Will you be the person that God uses to provide the strength that they need?

A similar passage to consider is found in the New Testament and reveals that this type of living is an essential part of Christian living. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)