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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Thank you Lord that you are a refuge, a fortress in times of distress. Thank you for the peace you provide in the midst of stressful situations. Take time today to give thanks to the Lord God for the blessings he has given you. If you are so inclined, make a comment on something you are thankful for this week.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” – Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV)

Thanksgiving Day is everyday. Take time today to give thanks to the Lord God for the blessings he has given you. If you are so inclined, make a comment on something you are thankful for this week.

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”

⁃ Psalm 95:2-5 (NIV)

Take time today to give thanks to the Lord God for the blessings he has given you. If you are so inclined, make a comment on something you are thankful for this week.

I was surprised last week to see Thanksgiving items in the store discounted 50-80 percent for clearance before Thanksgiving Day. It gave me a feeling that they were discounting the need to be thankful. Here in the States it seems the minute Halloween is over Christmas displays appear with holiday ads. Thanksgiving seems to get squeezed between two major holidays that generate major income for retailers.

It’s easy for me to grumble that our society isn’t taking time to give thanks. Yet I have to admit this time of year I tend to want to jump into the Christmas season before Thanksgiving Day. I need to remind myself to stop, slow down and take time for Thanksgiving; to thank God each day for the love and grace he has showered on me this year.

As the Christmas ads inundate us each day, urging us to “hurry” to get those great Black Friday deals, I encourage you to hit pause. Take time this Thursday to give thanks to God for his never ending faithfulness over the last year. Thanksgiving is a day to orient us toward thanking God for giving us salvation through his son Jesus.

I am thankful for all of you who take time to stop by this blog and read the posts. I appreciate the insight and encouragement you offer in your comments. As a reminder to continue to give thanks to God each week, now until the end of the year I will do a Thanksgiving Thursday scripture post. I encourage you to read the verse and take a moment to offer praise and thanksgiving to the God we serve.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” – Ephesians 1:15-16 (NIV)

One verse I like to read in the morning is Psalm 92:2, “proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night (NIV).” I like how it recognizes God’s love as the day begins, a love that will not fail no matter what the day brings. It is a recognition of his care and the need to rely on him.

Equally important is the second part of verse 2, “proclaiming… your faithfulness at night.” At the end of the day we should take time to reflect on how God’s love helped us through the day; how he carried us through good and bad events. Verse 4-5 tell us God’s deeds make us glad; that we should “sing for joy at what your hands have done;” that we should recognize his great works and profound thoughts.

Without this proper orientation toward God at the beginning of the day, we are likely to not see his hand at work in our lives during the day. We are more likely to focus on the bad things that occur and miss opportunities to join God in his work. The danger is that we will become like the senseless people who “do not know” in verse 6, the fools who “do not understand.”

Take time this morning to proclaim God’s love for you. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High (verse 1).” Each day we start by seeking God is a day we equip ourselves to serve him and not our own agenda.

“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” ⁃ Psalm 92:14-15 (NIV)

On a recent tour of a factory, I watched with interest a robot painting automotive parts. Without fail, it painted the entire part with a flawless performance that resulted in a perfect coating of color. Once it finished that part, it moved on to the next one, going through the exact same motions without missing beat.

It struck me as I watched the giant robot swaying back and forth that sometimes I act like a robot in my Christian walk. If I am not careful, I can get so caught up in the routine of reading the Bible, praying or even the act of worship that I find myself just going through the motions. On the surface it appears I am following Jesus, but my heart is not in it.

Psalm 51:16 in The Message tells us, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you; a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” It’s a good reminder that in the midst of our brokenness, when we humble ourselves before God, we find ourselves ready to worship from deep within our heart.

God doesn’t want our mass-produced worship that merely goes through the motions of devotion to him. He wants humble worship that comes from our sincere love for him.  In Joshua 1:1, God tells Joshua as he takes over leadership of Israel following the death of Moses, “Give it everything you have, heart and soul.” (The Message) It’s the same way we should approach God with our worship — not with a programmed approach, but from deep within our heart and soul.

#ThrowbackThursday — This post originally published Jan. 27, 2011.

This past week I was once again shown how much I take for granted the little things in life. A week ago I had surgery on my right hand — the hand I use to write and type. Subsequently I was unable to use my right hand for several days for even the simplest of tasks such buttoning a shirt or opening a jar. I quickly discovered how much I depend on my right hand for many tasks throughout the day. Blogging had to wait until I could get enough movement back in my hand to cradle my phone and type on the touchpad with my thumbs.

It gave me pause as I contemplated the many things in my life that I take for granted each day — the many things I owe to God. Even the simplest movement of my hand is because God gave me that ability. The fact that a surgeon had the ability to operate and fix my hand — the fact that it is now healing — I owe to my Creator God. He knows every fiber of my being because he “knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).”

God is evident in the smallest of details in my life. Yet too often I get distracted by struggles and suffering instead of being in awe of God’s miraculous work, his love and grace. Today I only need to look at my hand and see my fingers moving to remind me of his marvelous deeds; to remind me of the healing I have experienced in the past week. I should “declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people (Psalm 96:3).”

The very breath that gives us life should call us to vocalize our gratefulness to God. The movement of my fingers should remind me type praises to our Lord.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being (Rev. 4:11).”

As I read through the hundred-plus verses of Psalm 119 in sections over several days, one verse in particular stood out for me. Verse 164 reads, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.” I immediately wondered if that was possible. It sounds simple, but to take time out my hectic day to praise God and his law seven times each day suddenly sounded difficult to accomplish. As it was, i could barely manage a set devotion time each day.

So the question remained in my head. Could I actually make it work? That’s when I came up with a strategy. I divided the roughly 18 hours I’m awake each day by seven and came up with about two and a half-hour intervals between the seven praises in a day. Then I created seven alarm settings on my phone with that interval between them. The goal was to praise God and his “righteous laws” each time I heard and/or felt my phone vibrate.

I started this approach on a Monday morning. I programmed the alarm on my phone for 6 am, 8:30, 11, 1:30 pm, 4, 6:30 and 9 pm. I used a praise song as the alarm sound to set the mood. This was an intentional way to move toward daily giving praise to God. An effort to, as Hebrews 13:15 tells us, “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, to “openly profess his name.” I would like to say this approach worked, but I soon found it became more forced with each passing day. While the interruption reminded how distracted from God I would get during the day, it tended to become just another routine — another “to-do” to check off the list.

What I learned from this experiment is that our worship and praise of God and his laws needs to come from an outflowing of our heart. Our love for God should overwhelm us to the point that it is a natural outpouring into our lives each day — a frequent praise of God as we experience him in the moments of each day. Disciplining our lives to align with God and his laws is good, but we must be careful not to force it to the point where it loses its meaning and purpose. 1 John 5:2-3 reminds us that God’s commands should not be a burden: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”

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