Thanksgiving Prayer

This is part of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789—

George Washington at prayer“…May we also unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him—

To pardon our national and other transgressions,

To enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually,

To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed,

To protect and guide all nations and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord,

To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science,

And generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

Amen!

11 Quotes From “God’s Favorite Place On Earth”

God's Favorite Place On EarthI loved this book! Please read my full book review of God’s Favorite Place On Earth by Frank Viola by clicking here, but my one-word review is: Wow!

Here are a few quotes that especially caught my attention—

“Jesus talked a lot about losing, taking up our cross, denying ourselves, and laying down our lives. These are the fruits of brokenness before God. It’s not hard to spot a Christian in ministry who isn’t broken. Unbroken people don’t know how to lay their lives down and lose. They only know how to try to win. If they’re criticized they retaliate. If they’re attacked, they return fire. If misunderstood, they defend in anger. They are capable of doing all sorts of damage to others in order to save their own ministries and keep their reputations. 

“On the contrary, people who have been broken by the hand of God know how to turn the other cheek. They know how to go the second mile. They know how to give their coats when asked for their shirts. They know how to speak well of those who misrepresent them. They know how to return good for evil. They know how to lose. And in so doing, they exhibit the Spirit of the Lamb and allow God to win.” 

“All service must flow out of a razor-sharp desire to please God rather than a desire to get noticed by others. If it does not, it will lead to either complaint or criticism.”

“As high as God is going to elevate you is as deep as He digs to lay the foundation. Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest places. And what doesn’t destroy you ends up defining you in some significant way.”

“Suffering is worldwide and neck deep. But for the Christian, suffering has a special purpose. It’s the chiseling of God designed to transform you into the image of His Son.”

“A Spirit-led man or woman is someone who has faced tragedy, faced loss, looked unbearable and exquisite pain in the face … and has stood his or her ground. With their garments still smoking, these men and women have said before God, mortals, and angels: ‘It is well with my soul. God’s enemy has thrown his best at me, and I’m still here. I’m still on the Rock. I’ve not sunk. I’m still standing. I’ve not been destroyed, and I’ve not gone under. I will continue to follow my Lord, come hell or high water, He is still on the throne!’”

“Christ saves as the Son of God, but He feels as the Son of man.”

“Faith often takes a nosedive when we are on the brink of tragedy. At such times, we forget the Lord’s words. Sometimes confessions and creeds, as important as they are, are not enough to move God to act. Only falling at His feel and weeping will suffice.

“Every crisis in our lives is an opportunity to broaden, deepen, and heighten our revelation of Christ.”

“Basing your faith on God’s performance—what you think He should do according to what you’ve been taught about His promises—is a profound mistake. … Thus the only solid basis for unwavering faith and an unshakable devotion is to believe that God is … and that He does ‘all things well,’ no matter what takes place.”

“Christians aren’t saved from troubles or delivered from problems. We have been given an ascendant life to rise above them.”

“Sharing what one has with others is what keeps our hearts detached from earthly treasures.”

God’s Favorite Place On Earth (book review)

God's Favorite Place On EarthGod’s Favorite Place On Earth by Frank Viola is one of those rare books that I could hardly put down! This is easily one of the most interesting looks at the earthly life of Jesus Christ that I have read in quite awhile.

This book focuses on the visits that Jesus made to the village of Bethany, and the family that lived there with whom Jesus spent considerable time. In fact, some of the most loved stories from Christ’s public ministry took place in Bethany; specifically, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the pre-crucifixion anointing of Jesus by Mary.

God’s Favorite Place On Earth doesn’t fit neatly into one literary genre. Each visit Jesus made to Bethany is told in first-person narrative form through the eyes of Lazarus. Although none of his words are recorded in Scripture, the way he “speaks” in this book makes the scriptural text come alive in a very tangible way.

After Lazarus tells his story, Frank Viola then steps in to help us apply that visit of Jesus to our lives. He makes the connection between the historical village of Bethany, and our hearts becoming a modern-day, present-tense Bethany for Jesus to visit and to minister.

So the book was simultaneously enlightening, inspiring, and immediately applicable. To help further the conversation, there are some great discussion questions included at the back of the book.

For a unique look at the ministry of Christ both in historical Israel and in your life in present-day, I believe you too will thoroughly enjoy this book!

Note: I happily reviewed this book at the request of the author.

The God Of Luck

My goodness‘Tis the season we are supposed to be thankful. As Thanksgiving Day approaches, many people will gather around a dinner table and share what they are thankful for this year, and then quickly move on to the turkey and football. But we never quite finish the thought: Yes, we are thankful, but to whom are we thankful?

Consider some of these clichés we use:

  • The ball bounced my way.
  • I thank my lucky stars!
  • Wow, must be good clean living!
  • Whew, I caught a lucky break there.
  • It’s about time something went my way.

In all of these phrases we are saying, “I did something to get what I got. I did the right things, or I was in the right place at the right time.”

God says, “My people shall be satisfied with My goodness” (Jeremiah 31:14). Notice He says MY goodness.

Contrast this with what Moses warned in his farewell address. He said, when you have been blessed make sure you give the thanks to God, and don’t forget all He has done for you. If we forget to thank God, the inevitable result is pride in our own abilities, or in our own luck. YOU may then say to YOURSELF, “MY power and the strength of MY hand has made this lucky break for ME” (see Deuteronomy 8:10-20).

Notice the MY has been changed from God to me. I have made a god out of my luck. Or even worse, I have enthroned MYSELF and dethroned God.

The only guard against this is continual, uninterrupted gratitude to God for His goodness—Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Don’t make a god out of luck, but make sure the One True God is the center of your thankfulness this week, and all year long!

I’ll be wrapping our series A Grateful Heart Is A Strong Heart this coming Sunday, and I’d love to have you join me!

Forgetfulness Can Be Deadly

GratitudeSome folks asked me to share the quotes I used in my message today in our Grateful Heart series. Ask, and you shall receive!

“It is no wonder that the Lord’s people should be satisfied with the goodness of their Lord. Here is goodness without mixture, bounty without stint, mercy without chiding, love without change, favor without reserve. If God’s goodness does not satisfy us, what will? What! are we still groaning? Surely there is a wrong desire within if it be one which God’s goodness does not satisfy.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense out of our past, brings peace for today, and create a vision for tomorrow.” —John Maxwell

I’m looking forward to wrapping up this series next Sunday!

Simplicity

Simplicity does not mean watered-down, nor does it mean dumbed-down. Simplicity means as clear as possible.

Sometimes I get so grieved when I hear a pastor trying to “simplify” the gospel message for people. That definition usually means that they are removing any of the parts which might cause people to feel uncomfortable. That is not simplicity, but it’s a sell-out!

J.C. RyleHere’s how J.C. Ryle defined it—

“All the simplicity in the world can do no good, unless you preach the simple gospel of Jesus Christ so fully and clearly that everybody can understand it. If ‘Christ crucified’ has not His rightful place in your sermons, and sin is not exposed as it should be, and your people are not plainly told what they ought to believe, and be, and do—your preaching is of no use!” (emphasis added)

Pastor, by all means make the gospel clear, but make sure people do hear all of the gospel.

Thursdays With Oswald—Stir Me, Oh Lord

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Stir me, Oh Lord!

Stir me, oh! stir me, Lord, I care not how, 
   But stir my heart in passion for the world! 
Stir me to give, to go—but most to pray;
   Stir, till the blood-red banner is unfurled 
O’er lands that still in heathen darkness lie, 
O’er deserts where no Cross is lifted high. 
 
Stir me, oh! stir me, Lord, till prayer is pain—
   Till prayer is joy—till prayer turns into praise! 
Stir me, till heart and will and mind—yea, all
   Is wholly Thine to use through all the day. 
Stir, till I learn to pray “exceedingly:” 
Stir, till I learn to wait expectantly.

From Christian Disciplines

Yes, Lord, yes! Stir me!

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