DAY 11 - GIVING THANKS FOR HIS PRESENCED
“You don’t have to pray out loud; He’s nearer than you can imagine… Is there any reason not to begin? He may be waiting for us to take the first step.” These words of Brother Lawrence, a 17th century follower of Jesus, capture an aspect of the goodness and presence of God that is wrapped up in His name Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Immanuel is a name of our Lord which memorializes both His humility, and His great love for His people. Not only has He humbled Himself to be connected to and identified with us, He actually wants to an intimate relationship with us (John 17:24)! In 2020, in a pandemic, and yes, in the middle of any and every situation, “God with us” is relentlessly present and has made Himself heartily available to us.
But our awareness of His presence is not automatic. Experiencing our glorious God in daily life is optional and not forced upon His beloved. God is with us, and He now invites us to turn and to be with Him. Our God who is face-like-flint present with us is inviting you and I to be present in His presence.
Brother Lawrence spent his life in pursuit of God’s presence, answering this call by seeking to practice His presence every waking moment. His descriptions of his experience during this divine experiment glimpse our God who is better than we know:
“This King, who is full of goodness and mercy, doesn’t punish me. Rather, He embraces me lovingly and invites me to eat at His table. He serves me Himself and gives me the keys to His treasury, treating me as His favorite. He converses with me without mentioning either my sins or His forgiveness. My former habits are seemingly forgotten. Although I beg Him to do whatever He wishes with me, He does nothing but caress me. This is what being in His holy presence is like.”
God is with us, even at this very moment. And now the question comes to us, in the midst of everything happening around us, will we turn and be present with Him? Or as Brother Lawrence’s words echo to our ears today:
“Is there any reason not to begin? He may be waiting for us to take the first step.”
(Quotes are from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, 1982, Whitaker House)
- Mitch Luse
DAY 10 - INEXPRESSIBLE GIFT
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
By the time this devotional is finished, we will be in the thick of the holiday season. For every person who sees this as a time of gathering, family, feasting and joy, there will be someone who simply doesn’t. Those who have lost loved ones or are separated from their family and friends due to distance, social or otherwise, may find their joy dulled in these few months. I would entreat you, Beloved, to set your heart on Christ’s and ask Him how He would have you love them. It is our duty and privilege as the prize of Christ to partner with Him to bind up the brokenhearted and celebrate the prodigal’s arrival home. While that sounds beautiful in theory, it is messy in practice.
As we love people in this season, I would ask you to cheerfully give of yourself so that Christ may be glorified. Give your time cheerfully. Give your wealth cheerfully. Give of whatever He asks without reluctance, for He has already given much on your behalf.
- David Hazzard
DAY 9 - GRATITUDE IS THE ENTRYWAY
A while back, I found myself in a powerful worship encounter with some of my closest friends. Worship began like normal, but somewhere along the way, we all found ourselves completely lost in the presence of Jesus. Gratitude for him poured out of us like oil before his feet. The more we thanked, adored, and honored him, the more our hearts and minds filled with things to thank and honor Him for. We couldn’t say thank you enough. We couldn’t express our love enough. It was a beautiful exchange of communion and affection.
At the end, we shared things that were highlighted to us during worship. One friend saw a picture of a door, resembling a gate. In the midst of our utterances of gratitude for Jesus, the door opened and we were all ushered into the presence of our King. What a powerful image!
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”
-Psalm 100:4, NKJV
Over the years, I’ve learned that the more I express gratitude to God in my daily life, the more I enter into a place of true joy-the type that only comes from living in His abiding presence. Psalm 16:11 says that “in his presence there is fullness of joy,” and I believe that gratitude is the glue that keeps us there.
I want to challenge you today to think of gratitude as the entryway into His gates. As you go before the Lord in your time of worship, know that you have unlimited access to His courts with your praise. May your gratitude for Jesus overflow and increase as you draw near to the Father today!
“Lift up a great shout of joy to the Lord!
Go ahead and do it—everyone, everywhere!
As you serve him, be glad and worship him.
Sing your way into his presence with joy!
And realize what this really means--
we have the privilege of worshiping the Lord our God.
For he is our Creator and we belong to him.
We are the people of his pleasure.
You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise.
Come right into his presence with thanksgiving.
Come bring your thank offering to him
and affectionately bless his beautiful name!
For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you.
He’s so loving that it will amaze you--
so kind that it will astound you!
And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all.
Everyone knows our God can be trusted,
for he keeps his promises to every generation!”
Psalm 100, TPT
1. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Grab a pen & paper, and write out a song of gratitude to the Lord.
2. Once your timer goes off, set another timer for 5 minutes. Spend the next 5 minutes singing your song to the Lord and blessing His name!
- Nicki Tindal
DAY 8 - GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS FOR GOOD
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28
Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day to reflect on that which we are grateful for.
Many families, including my own, have the tradition of asking each family member to share what they are most thankful for from the year. You tend to hear things like the birth of a child, family, friends, and successful events. What you don’t normally hear people say is an estrangement from a family member, job loss or the death of a loved one.
Why not? Now bear with me.
I know you might be thinking why would I want to look at the darkest times in my year when I am speaking of gratitude and thanksgiving? Yet, if we believe what we are told in Roman 8:28, that God is working all things for our good, then we know that there is goodness to be found in those times. If we find the goodness of God in those moments, then light will shine through the darkness.
I know that if I want a full and complete understanding of gratitude in my relationship with my heavenly Father, then I need to find that which I am grateful for in my most difficult struggles.
The community that rallies around you after a job loss, the stranger at the gas stations that comforted you on the day you lost a loved one or a friend who simply sits with you when you are in pain.
I encourage you to go on a treasure hunt with the Lord through the difficulties you faced this past year so his light can transform you.
DAY 7 - GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
For about 20 years a dear friend of mine and I studied God’s Word together every week. We walked through life together, supporting each other through all of life’s ups and downs, joys and sorrows. We each had life verses to guide us. Mine involved trusting in God and hers involved doing everything without murmuring and complaining. One thing she instituted in her life was called “Thankful Thursdays.” She made it a practice to review all the things she was thankful for each week. When times were good, it was easy, but when times were difficult, it was challenging. It is funny – when you walk with someone for that long, their life lessons become yours. She grew in faith and I grew in thankfulness. We both learned to look for the silver linings in every dark cloud.
There is always something good that God is doing in our lives. In difficult circumstances, we must train ourselves to notice them. Learning to practice thankfulness and count my blessings has gotten me through some of my toughest challenges: divorce, sickness, death, difficult pregnancies, rejection, financial stress, relationship stress, and even a pandemic.
For me, finding the silver lining in all circumstances means that I need to change my focus and see things from God’s perspective. Some of the questions I ask Him are: “God, what are You after in this situation? What are You trying to teach me? What do You want me to notice?” I have been amazed by His answers. He has shown me that even though He loves to bless me, He loves to bless everyone. He also shows me that His solutions are much wiser, sweeter, and more effective than anything I could imagine apart from Him. As I take a step back and see things from His perspective, I am filled with praise, joy, and thanksgiving for the goodness of God.
What challenges are you facing today? Begin the search for the silver linings that are there but hidden by your discouragement or pain. Ask God to show you what He is doing for you and others amid these challenges. Practice thankfulness.
Notice your internal shift of perspective, and praise God!
- Kathy Pratt
DAY 6 - THANKFUL FOR JESUS
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers was silent, so He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah 53)
As I sit here this morning reflecting on what I am most thankful for, I find myself welling up with gratitude for Jesus Himself. Jesus, the King of the Universe, stepped out of eternity, crossed into time, and paid the ultimate price to redeem and atone for those He loves. What a mystery! What a wild reality!
Take a moment to let that really sink in…
It is through His Atoning Blood that we have access to our Creator. Every moment you feel His presence in your life, every revelation you are given from Heaven, absolutely everything related to His presence and access to His person are a direct result of the price that Jesus paid on the Cross for You. Jesus’ Blood covered and cancelled all of our sins and with it all of the penalties and consequences of sin. Oh that we would be given revelation of the reality of the Blood of Jesus!
My family, I want to remind you today that we have so much to be thankful for! All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus and you are hidden in Him. Thank You Jesus!
1) Take a deep breath and cause your heart to focus on Jesus and the mysteries that are the cross and His precious blood.
2) Thank Jesus for His presence in your life.
3) Thank Jesus for all of the benefits of the application of His Blood in your life.
- Joseph Tindal
DAY 5 - GOOD FATHER
Here is what I know and believe; -God is a good Father.
Everything we do should flow from that place. Nothing is a must. Very little is a need. But one thing is for sure. We have an amazing and powerful Father that delights in us. We are His beloved sons and daughters in whom He is well pleased. Not by our actions, but by the actions that were given to us as a free gift.
"Once we were lost, but now we are found." He restored us to Himself. We are everything that He is and nothing that He is not. He is our hearts' desire. Our one and only true love. What else can we desire when we have Him? Only Jesus, only Him. He is the way, the truth, the life. Only in Him do we walk.
His heart is such a beautiful place -we dwell there in Him and In that place of joy, set before us is a path- a beautiful walk with my Father. He has hidden beautiful things along the way that we uncover together as we walk along. His voice is beautiful and soothing. His words are like fire. We walk along with Him in peace and in gratitude for everything He has done.
He is my all and I want to challenge you, Let Jesus be your all too. Spend time meditating and thinking about His goodness today.
“Christ is all, and is in all." Colossians 3:11
- Akseli Palmer
DAY 4 - REJOICE OVER HIM 44
Rejoice over Him with thanksgiving –
Let me adjust our focus for a few moments to a short passage from the book of Hebrews. This is from chapter 7, where the author has been building a strong case for the supremacy of Jesus as our high priest, the perfect mediator, removing any and barriers which might otherwise keep us from intimacy with our loving Father. In verses 24 and 25 we encounter this life changing promise, “because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”
In just those few words we can experience the WONDER and MAJESTY of what our Lord Jesus has worked on our behalf and how that process continues to unfold.
First, we are told His office as our priest is unchanging, His role on our behalf forever. Because of that, the rescue operation He has worked at the cross is all encompassing, touching every aspect of our lives.
We are fully forgiven, fully restored, fully renewed, fully healed as He works this newness of life into the very depths of spirit, soul, and body. It is totally comprehensive and fully efficacious. It is complete but also a process, which He supplements by praying on our behalf all the time.
Picture Him standing before the Father, commending us before Him and letting the Holy Spirit know the sort of help we need.
Jesus our Savior forever and faithful to bring us to perfection as He walks us into the fullness of eternal life. Hallelujah, THANK YOU, Lord!
- Phill Olson
DAY 3 - SACRIFICE OF PRAISE
Probably the biggest desire of my heart is to be like Jesus Christ.
The term Christian was used to describe the early believers because their actions and attitudes so closely emulated His. I don’t want to just bear that title because I have accepted Jesus into my life. I want to really be like Him. I believe the promise that says that when I see Him I will be like Him. (1 John 3:2) The impact of a face to face encounter with Jesus is transformational. With each glimpse through the veil I become more like Him.
If seeing is so important, is it possible to see more of Him? Do the choices that I make impact how much of Him I see? I have found one key to that kind of access in Psalm 100. We can actually pass through His gates and enter His presence through praise and thanksgiving. As we focus on the blessings of His goodness, the veil is lifted and we encounter Him.
There is, however, another aspect of praise that I believe draws us even closer to His presence. That is when we offer a SACRIFICE OF PRAISE. Often the circumstances of our lives are so difficult that we want to withdraw. When we choose to give thanks, we will feel His hand come under us and lift us even closer to His heart.
I believe that it is in this place of intimacy where we experience one of the ways He works all things for good and conforms us into His image. (Romans 8:28-29)
Our act of obedient praise allows Him to lift us above the situation and into His heart. There we are transformed into an even greater re-presentation of Him.
Do you want to be like Jesus?
Therefore I say, thank you Lord for the gift of thankfulness!
DAY 2 - EVERYTHING HAS A PURPOSE
Today’s devotional is about bugs.
On pretty much a weekly basis, my husband and I argue about bugs in our house. See, my husband, Josh, is a nature lover. He is one of those people who literally wouldn’t kill a fly even if it’s been flying around in our house for a week! He would go out of his way to capture it and get it back outside safely and without harm. I, on the other hand, do not like bugs. I prefer that the spider on the counter be sprayed with cleaner, doused in syrup, and smashed with a frying pan (yes, this has actually happened-it was a BIG spider) so there is no chance of it coming back inside. But from living with my nature loving husband, I have learned that spiders take care of the other bugs that find their way into the house. So, in a weird way, I am thankful for bugs because though I don’t enjoy them in my home or the bites they leave on my legs, they all have a job and a reason that they’re alive. Without them, the circle of life & the food chain wouldn’t be complete.
Similarly, in life, sometimes there are people or things that feel annoying and maybe a little life sucking (I’m sure we can all think of one!), but everyone and everything has a purpose. It may take a change of perspective to see it (like it did for me with the spiders) but we know that God has a reason for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and that He works everything together for our good (Romans 8:28).
So, next time you come face to face with something or someone in your life that feels like a pest, find a reason to be thankful for them. Search for the beauty, life, and goodness that lies within them. Ask God to show you them like He sees them and be grateful for the place they have in your life.
Challenge for the day: Be like Josh, save a bug. Be like Jesus, be thankful even through the challenges of life.
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
(1 Timothy 4:4)
- Cassidy Meservey