Bible Verses and a Prayer for Thanksgiving

  • 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
        his love endures forever.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:13 NASB
     Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.
  • Psalm 7:17 NIVI will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
        I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
  • Psalm 9:1 NASB
    I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;thanks1
    I will tell of all Your wonders.
  • Psalm 28:7 NASB
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
    Therefore my heart exults,
    And with my song I shall thank Him.
  • Psalm 30:12 NASB
    That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
  • Psalm 69:30 NASB
    I will praise the name of God with song
    And magnify Him with thanksgiving.
  • Psalm 75:1 NASB
    We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
    For Your name is near;
    Men declare Your wondrous works.
  • Psalm 86:12 NASB
    I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
    And will glorify Your name forever
  • Psalm 95:2-3 (NIV)
    Let us come before him with thanksgivingthanks2

        and extol him with music and song.
    For the Lord is the great God,
        the great King above all gods.
  • Psalm 100:4 NIV
    Enter his gates with thanksgiving
        and his courts with praise;
        give thanks to him and praise his name.
  • Psalm 105:1 NASB
    Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
    Make known His deeds among the peoples.
  • Psalm 106:1 NIV
    Praise the Lord.
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
        his love endures forever.
  • Psalm 107:1 NASB
    Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
    For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
  • Isaiah 12:4 ESV
    And you will say in that day:thanks4
    “Give thanks to the Lord,
        call upon his name,
    make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.
  • Jeremiah 33:11 ESV
    the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,   for the Lord is good,
        for his steadfast love endures forever!’
    For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NIV
    I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—
  • 2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV
    All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11-12 NIV
    You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:15 NASBthanks8
     Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
  • Ephesians 1:15-16 NIV
    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 5:20 NASB
    always giving thanks for all thingsin the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
  • Philippians 4:6 NASB
    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
     Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
  • Colossians 3:15-17 NASB
     Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanksthrough Him to God the Father.
  • Colossians 4:2 NASB
    Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB
     in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Timothy 4:4-5 NIV
    For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.thanks7
  • Philemon 1:4 NASB
    thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers
  • Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV
     Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.

 

 

thanksgiving-prayer

Time for Operation Christmas Child!

Operation Christmas Child

Earlier this year, I asked for your help.  My kids and I wanted to recycle broken, worn out, paperless crayons and use our new creations to help pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child this November.

You all responded!  Many of our local friends brought us bags and bags and bags of crayons.  Thank you so much!IMG_2947

Because of your donations, we made approximately 400 new crayons and bagged them up in groups of two, meaning that we should be able to place that gift into 200 shoeboxes this year.

 

IMG_3033

 Every year, the organization Samaritan’s Purse collects shoeboxes stuffed full of goodies that they then deliver to needy children all over the globe for Christmas.

Oh how easy to forget, though, that the gift isn’t just the items we pack into a small box and ship out.

The gift is the testimony of God’s love–that our God sees them and loves them.

National Collection Week is in November each year.  This year, the collection dates are November 16-23.  

That means it’s the perfect time to gather supplies and pack those boxes!

We’ve been packing shoeboxes as a family for several years and it’s by far one of my favorite Thanksgiving/Christmas traditions because it’s a reminder to be grateful.  It’s a way to shift our focus off of getting and onto giving.

For the past two years, we’ve been trying something new as a family.  Every single time I went into the Wal-Mart to pile up on groceries, I bought a few items for shoeboxes.  It only added about $5 to $6 to my weekly grocery budget and I could do less or more as I needed to or was able to.

Last year, I chose a different two ‘theme’ items to focus on each month.

In 2015, we decided to spend all year buying toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap, with some occasional stuffed toys, pencils, notebooks and flip-flops thrown in.
002

Then, every two months or so, I loaded up a bag of the supplies we had collected and dropped them off at our church where we have a room set aside for OCC supplies.

Next week, our church will host a packing party.  In addition to the individual boxes we can pack at home, we’ll use the bulk supplies we’ve collected as a church family and pack as many shoeboxes as we possibly can by working together.

My husband and some of the families at church even made a fun video about how packing parties are different from packing individual boxes.  Please check it out here:

If your church has a packing party, would you consider picking one or two items to buy at the store each time you go?

I hope that you’ve packed a shoebox before and are making one again this year!  If not, here’s everything you need to know to get involved in Operation Christmas Child as an individual even if your church is not hosting a packing party.
You can begin by learning more about the organization here, like:

If you make a $7 donation online to cover the shipping for your box, you can even print off a label that lets you track it here!!  A few weeks after delivery, they’ll send you an email telling you what country your box was delivered to and some general information about the needs in that area.

Most important of all, pray for the child who will receive your shoebox!  Prayer is so powerful.  Don’t just send stuff, send gifts along with time spent on your knees.

Here are some of my favorite OCC videos.

Pack a shoebox with Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty

Matthew West shows the Great Lengths OCC goes to bring shoeboxes to kids around the world.

Scotty McCreery shows how to pack a shoebox.

TobyMac’s Christmas This Year OCC Video

Check out how excited this boy from Angola is to receive his shoebox!  This is my most favorite OCC video!

There are so many opportunities to give every holiday season, but this is my very favorite.  I hope you’ll make Operation Christmas Child a part of your holiday traditions, as well!

Do you have any great ideas or stories about Operation Christmas Child to share with us?

 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

 

Thanksgiving Devotions: Bitter Ingredients and Pumpkin Pie

Almost all of my favorite Thanksgiving memories aren’t really of the feast itself, even though I still say it’s my favorite holiday.  Mostly I grow nostalgic for Thanksgiving Eve and the Wednesday night family baking sessions we had as a kid.

Some of our craziest family legends involve making the traditional chocolate meringue pie the night before the big day.

There’s something deeply relational about baking, whether it’s for someone or with someone.  I find myself even now telling stories as my daughters stir and imparting generational wisdom like: why the butter and sugar get creamed together first and how you have to pack down brown sugar when you measure it out.

Hugely important life lessons like that.

And maybe I learn something, too.

The last time we crowded around the table to make pumpkin pie, my oldest asked, “Mom, what does pumpkin taste like by itself?”

She thought it would be sweet heavenly golden goodness.  After all, this daughter and I share a passion for all things pumpkin—pies, breads, cookies and cupcakes.

But I knew the dark secret about pumpkin and I tried to warn her, “You can try it if you like, but just a small taste.  It’s bitter.”

She licked a tiny bit off her finger and made the appropriate “nasty” face.

How can something so incredibly delicious in everything we bake be so horrible on its own?

I pulled out the vanilla and she bravely tasted the tiniest droplet of that also, despite the grimace over the pumpkin.

Yup, vanilla doesn’t fair any better on its own.

She even smelled each of the spices before we measured them into the bowl.  It turns out that cloves, nutmeg and ginger are more potent than sweet and more pungent than enticing.

Photo courtesy of Viktor Janacek, picjumbo

Photo courtesy of Viktor Janacek, picjumbo

The eggs were runny, sticky and gross.

The salt was…well, salty.

All in all, it was utterly mystifying when we finished stirring and I handed her the spoon to lick, which she popped into her mouth with a muffled, “Yummmmm.”

The truth about baking is the truth about life.  We have a reason to be thankful for every ingredient, even the ones that seem too bitter or salty or potent to turn into anything mouth-watering and delicious.

As Christians, most of us have not only heard Romans 8:28 a million times, we’ve probably quoted it a few thousand times ourselves:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28 NKJV).

You may have even just skimmed through that verse just now because you’ve heard it so often and know it so well.

And yet, we tend to emphasize the “for good” part of this verse, which means we could be expecting instant pumpkin pie when life hands us a can of Libby’s pumpkin.

That job you lost, how can that be for good?

That time of sadness, that mourning, that separation and grief, the broken relationship and the conflict…..tastes so bitter.  It doesn’t seem possible for any of it to be “for good.”

Philosophically, we know the deal.  We’ve heard the sermons.  Maybe one day we’ll see how God turned these times of sadness and stress into blessing.  Maybe it won’t be until heaven, but at least then we’ll be able to see the good that came from the ugly.

It’s a long, hard lesson, realizing that “for good” doesn’t necessarily mean “right now” or “without pain.”

But it’s true, of course.  There are eternal perspectives and long-term visions that we just can’t see from our limited, finite looking glass on circumstances so up-close and personal.

There’s something about this verse that we often overlook, though.  God isn’t just working “for good,” He’s doing it so that “all things work together.” The good comes from the mixing of ingredients, the pooling together of the circumstances into one beautiful wholeness—His plan and will for Your life.

Rick Warren says it this way:

“The events in your life work together in God’s plan.  They are not isolated acts, but interdependent parts of the process to make you like Christ….If you will give God all your distasteful, unpleasant experiences, he will blend them together for good” (The Purpose Driven Life, p. 195).

I’ve had Thanksgivings where gratitude came easy, practically gushing out of me in response to blessing.

And there were years where thankfulness was a discipline of the soul, a determined trusting in God, a sacrifice of praise.

Regardless of whether this year is easy or harder for you, remember that the pumpkin, the eggs, the salt, the vanilla, the spices aren’t delicious on their own.  But trust–and give thanks–that God will bring everything together and it will be sweet and for your blessing and beyond what you could imagine.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 03/03/2012

Hiding the Word:

Family Picture Day.

That was on our agenda today thanks to a friend of ours from church who runs a photography studio.

As you can imagine, picture day is always filled with highly stressful preparation in a family with three daughters.  Yet, we successfully arrived at the studio, posed, smiled, and laughed at the stuffed animals who periodically jumped out of their box.  It turned out to be fun!

There was a moment this morning in between reminding each of my children to “put your hand down,” “smile,” and “sit up straight,” that I stood back and just watched these girls.

The night before I had been tired out and stressed out, worn out and pooped out.  I had been feeling a little sorry for myself after a difficult week or two.

Yet, today there sat these three absolutely gorgeous little girls, drinking imaginary tea and holding silk flowers and smiling for the camera.

How could I be anything but thankful?

For some of you, life is stressful, crazy, exhausting, challenging, confusing, or downright yucky.   Some of you, like me, might just be feeling the effects of too little sleep, too many loads of laundry, and too many filled-in squares on the calendar.

Today, though, let’s be thankful.  Let’s look at the blessings God has given us and just spend a few moments in gratitude to the God who gives us such grace.

This week, I am choosing to meditate on a verse full of thanksgiving because God has loved us and invited us to be part of His family.  It’s just one verse for me to think through and pray over this week, to post over my stove and to memorize.  I hope you’ll join me in learning this verse for the week:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” (1 John 3:1a, NIV).

Weekend Rerun:

Say, “Cheese!”
Originally posted 10/12/2011—-My devotional about school picture day in the fall!!

“Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”
(1 Peter 3:4)

Today is picture day at school and I may need a vacation to recover.

The aftermath of this morning’s preparation is like an explosion in a boutique.  I returned to the house after waving goodbye to my daughters on the school bus and surveyed the damage.

Headbands, combs, clips and ribbon left a trail from the bedroom to the kitchen and the living room.

Pajama bottoms and tops and rejected dresses were strewn across every piece of furniture in sight.

A pile of not-good-enough shoes sat beside one dresser and a stack of pink and white stockings next to the other.

The morning’s activities had tired me out.  Even though we had planned their outfits for a week and carefully laid out their chosen wardrobe the night before, the morning had still been crazy with changed minds, fresh inspiration, and forgotten items.

And then there was the meltdown over the headband.  It involved many tears, angst, stubbornness, threats of punishment and varying opinions about the definition of “matching.”

I imagine my house this morning looks a little like King Xerxes’ court appeared as he searched for a second wife.  It was the biggest beauty pageant of all time and after 12 months of preparation (“six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women”), it all came down to one night (Esther 2:12).  One chance to knock the socks off the king and be chosen as his bride.

Yet, Esther was not dependent on beauty treatments, over-the-top jewelry, and exotic perfumes.  Hers was the beauty of consistent character and long-term loveliness of the heart and so she found favor with the king and became queen of the Persian empire.

Like the other women in this great Persian beauty pageant, we Christians sometimes focus too much on dressing up and dousing ourselves with perfume.  Our emphasis is often on the “picture days” of the Christian walk, on the posing, the practiced smile, the activity, the special occasions.

But our faith isn’t about snapshots.

We don’t prep ourselves for five minutes in front of a camera.  Did we greet everyone with joy on Sunday morning?  Did we say the right things in Sunday school?  Did we wear the right clothes?  Did we know the words to the songs and nod our heads at appropriate points in the sermon?

Our heavenly king isn’t making judgments about our beauty based on one night’s impression. That means mistakes don’t determine the rest of our lives.  If you’ve blown it this morning with your kids, made some bad choices, or messed up how you handled that situation, God’s grace provides you with restoration, renewed mercy and the fresh start of a new day. 

That’s why Moses is about more than his disobedience when bringing water from a rock (Numbers 20).  It’s why David’s ministry didn’t end with adultery and murder or why Peter wasn’t cast off forever after denying Christ.

It also means the moments of triumph don’t set us up on permanent religious pedestals.  God isn’t deceived by the external beauty treatments we apply.  Peter wrote, “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4).

The beauty of our faith isn’t determined by those extraordinary seasons of spiritual victory, crisis or sin.  God is far more interested in the daily wardrobe of our soul and what happens when the cameras aren’t turned in our direction.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four house of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.  It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not.  We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people.”

My oldest daughter’s goal for picture day was to look just like a real princess.  My middle girl wanted to be “as cute as can be.”  And they succeeded. This one picture, though, won’t make them beautiful or ugly, cute or goofy.  They are always lovely and always loved.

It’s the same with us.  What’s far more important than how we look in a posed portrait is the ordinary, unnoticed, unexceptional holiness that we live out day after daily day. 

It’s the praying in the prayer closet, the doing dishes and washing clothes for your family.  It’s the ministry to a friend and your faithful, hard work at your job.  It’s responding with kindness and having patience with your spouse.  It’s putting the mistakes of the past behind you and it’s obeying God today with a cheerful heart.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

A Week of Thanks: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up
Originally Published 08/19/2011

“Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10)

Bam!
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle.
Mom!  Mom mom!!

With my genes, my girls didn’t have much of a chance at grace and my baby girl is no different. So these are the sounds heard in my home multiple times any given day.

It’s the immediate reaction of any child to trouble, the crying out to mom and the running to her side to tell her all about the tragedy and pain.

There’s little I can do most of the time to fix the problem.  My baby’s fallen and hurt (maybe even angry) and while I can’t change the fact of her fall and no Band-Aid is going to alleviate the temporary soreness, I can kiss her, cuddle her close and tell her I love her. And so I do.

Then I fall down, tripping over my own sin, or another person who invaded my space, or an obstacle I didn’t foresee, or an unexpected pit in my road.

To whom do I run?  What is my immediate response, my instantaneous reaction to pain?  What is yours?

For some, it’s to hold our bruises close for a while and to snap at any bystanders who offer to help us stand back to our feet.  Maybe even hide our heads in embarrassment for the spectacle of the fall in the first place.

For some, it’s to call out for help from those nearby, asking them to both hoist us up and even bear the burden of our weight for a while as we wobble around on a weakened leg.

For some, it’s to haul out our own first aid kit and apply ice and bandages to our own wounds and refuse the expert care so readily available.

For some, it’s to sit without moving, paralyzed by fear.  What if our leg is broken?  What if we never walk again?  What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . ?

In Beth Moore’s study, Daniel, she notes how his immediate response to the king’s edict prohibiting prayer was to go “to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).

He didn’t worry first and then pray.  He didn’t try to fix the situation through his political abilities and then pray. He didn’t even concede defeat and stop his public prayer habits, choosing instead to silently petition God at night while others slept.

Daniel prayed.  It was his initial reaction; it was his only solution.

Then there’s the matter of what he prayed.  Sure, some of us have indeed trained ourselves to “take it to the Lord in prayer” without hesitation.  We run to his side and bury our noses in the hem of His robe, sniffling out our requests to Him.  But are we giving thanks amidst those tears?

Daniel was.  Scripture says he “got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God” (Daniel 6:10).  When I’m smarting from an injury, I’m more likely to complain about the pain than sing hymns of thankful praise.

Not Daniel. Political enemies, a manipulated king, a dangerous edict, his faith attacked, his life on the line—still Daniel gave thanks.

Paul made the same connection when he wrote,

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 4:6-7).

Peace in the midst of pain is there for the taking sometimes, and yet we choose anxiety instead.  We opt for fear by trying to control our own problems rather than running to God’s side and dumping them at His feet.  We allow worry to reign in our hearts and minds by refusing to pray with thanksgiving at all times and in every situation.

I confess I’m a rebel at times.  Even though I know I should shove aside my grumbling and choose to be thankful—even when it takes struggling and squinting to see that sparkle of light in a dark place– still I decline.

I dusted off my thankfulness journal this morning after two weeks of shoving it aside. I didn’t want to be thankful.  I wanted to feel wronged.  I didn’t want some secret formula to maintaining joy in trials; I wanted no more trials!  I wanted God to feel pity for me and feel sorry for letting me be hurt.  Perhaps what I wanted was an apology from Him.

It’s like emotional manipulation of the Almighty God.  “I’m not going to praise You or worship You or give You thanks or hand over my fears to You until You rescue me in the way I desire.”

It’s handing God a sheet and pillow and pointing to the couch.
It’s ignoring His phone calls and giving Him the silent treatment at the dinner table.
It’s holding my breath until he gives me what I want.

And it’s just about as effective as all those tactics.  So when my tantrum is done, I pray and I give thanks.  Reluctantly at first, perhaps, and yet I try.  Maybe the next time I trip and fall, I pray with thanksgiving immediately because I have learned that gratitude shifts my focus off my need and onto the face of my Deliverer.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

A Week of Thanks: God’s Indescribable Gift

Thanksgiving week has arrived and I’m so excited about the holiday itself plus a week with my kids while they have a break from school!  In the spirit of that, I’m going to take a few days off from writing new posts and share some of my posts from the past on thankfulness all week long.

Looking back through these months of devotionals blessed me and reminded me of what God has done.  I hope this does the same for you!

God’s Indescribable Gift
Originally published 04/11/2011

“He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”
Psalm 107:9, NIV

There’s that moment on every Antiques Roadshow when the appraiser pushes his glasses back on his nose and leans in with excitement.  “So, as to value . . .” he starts.  And the item’s owner looks up with humble and cautious anticipation.

This expert, who has spent all day telling people their precious items aren’t really rare or one-of-a-kind, that their genuine treasures are copies and fakes, that grandmother’s fascinating brush with fame never really happened—this expert places a breathtaking value on an object.

A thing.

A material substance made a treasure because it is unique, somehow special because of the famous person who owned it, or so wrapped up in story and history that the ordinary, everyday is transformed into a retirement fund.

I’ve seen rugs on that show worth more than my house.

At times, I watch that “thing” now deemed priceless and I wonder—what is hidden in my garage and stuffed in my closets?  What bookshelf conceals my children’s college education?  In what closet could I discover my dream home?

But, I’ve been through all my stuff and it is actually just stuff, perhaps priceless to me and valuable in my life for its utility or the way it connects me to the past, but nothing an appraiser would lose his breath over or call his buddies about.

So then I wonder, how is it that we human creatures can look at tangible objects formed of wood or stone or cloth and so arbitrarily place on them a price tag?  This one picture costs as much as feeding a village of people in Africa.  The cost of this antique toy could build a well in a village with no clean water.

Seems like something’s wrong here.  Seems like the way we assign value is a little off.

That’s one of our problems, really.  We don’t really know value when we see it most of the time.

And so when God pours Himself out for us and blesses us with good gifts, we sometimes mistake them for not enough and seek out everything that is “other” to fill us up instead.  We keep telling Him we are empty and hold our hands out to Him for more, more, more.  He offers us all that is good and true wrapped up in His presence, but it seems so simple and plain.  Not enough.  Meanwhile, we gorge ourselves on everything we believe will satisfy the deep yearnings and cravings in our hearts.

We pour into our hearts:
success
possessions
romance
position
friendships
successful kids
knowledge
food
entertainment

And it just seeps out of our souls, flowing out as quickly as we can dump it in.  We don’t value what God offers as much as this worldly buffet of good eats around us.  It’s ingratitude.  It’s sin.

Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts:

Satan, he wanted more.  More power, more glory.  Ultimately, in essence, Satan is an ingrate.  And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden.  Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity – the sin of ingratitude.  Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave . . . Our fall was, has always been, and always will  be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives.  We hunger for something more, something other.

It’s like the Israelites trekking through the desert.  God rained down on them wafers of honey they named manna,  miraculously, faithfully and abundantly every night as they sleep.  It’s tasty and satisfying, nutritionally able to sustain them through long desert marches for 40 years.  He graciously provides all they need and more and all while they rest.  No toil involved.  No effort on their part.  All part of God’s generous provision for His people.

And yet, they complained.  “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted” (Numbers 11:5, NIV).

Nothing they owned, used or ate in Egypt was free.  Everything came at high cost to them–they exchanged hard labor and 370+ years of bondage in slavery for fish and a salad bar.

Seems like something’s wrong here.  Seems like the way they assigned value was a little off.

Adam and Eve were not satisfied with the fruit God had given them for food.  The Israelites were not satisfied with the manna God miraculously laid at their feet every day.  We aren’t always satisfied with God’s Word, with His promises to us, with His provision, with His direction.

Yet, Scripture assures us that God is fully satisfying.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”  (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV).

“These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.  When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things” (Psalm 104:27-28, NIV).

He “satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5, NIV).

Have you felt empty, thirsty, hungry, plagued with holes that never allow you to be filled—not with joy, not with peace, not with hope?  We are offered the Bread of Life and buckets of Living Water drawn up from a well that will quench our thirst eternally.

We are offered Christ.  Christ abundantly sufficient for our needs.  Christ the once-for-all sacrifice to cover all our sins.  Christ our Peace.   “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).

************************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

“Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10)

Bam!
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle.
Mom!  Mom mom!!

With my genes, my girls didn’t have much of a chance at grace and my baby girl is no different. So these are the sounds heard in my home multiple times any given day.

It’s the immediate reaction of any child to trouble, the crying out to mom and the running to her side to tell her all about the tragedy and pain.

There’s little I can do most of the time to fix the problem.  My baby’s fallen and hurt (maybe even angry) and while I can’t change the fact of her fall and no Band-Aid is going to alleviate the temporary soreness, I can kiss her, cuddle her close and tell her I love her. And so I do.

Then I fall down, tripping over my own sin, or another person who invaded my space, or an obstacle I didn’t foresee, or an unexpected pit in my road.

To whom do I run?  What is my immediate response, my instantaneous reaction to pain?  What is yours?

For some, it’s to hold our bruises close for a while and to snap at any bystanders who offer to help us stand back to our feet.  Maybe even hide our heads in embarrassment for the spectacle of the fall in the first place.

For some, it’s to call out for help from those nearby, asking them to both hoist us up and even bear the burden of our weight for a while as we wobble around on a weakened leg.

For some, it’s to haul out our own first aid kit and apply ice and bandages to our own wounds and refuse the expert care so readily available.

For some, it’s to sit without moving, paralyzed by fear.  What if our leg is broken?  What if we never walk again?  What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . ?

In Beth Moore’s study, Daniel, she notes how his immediate response to the king’s edict prohibiting prayer was to go “to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).

He didn’t worry first and then pray.  He didn’t try to fix the situation through his political abilities and then pray. He didn’t even concede defeat and stop his public prayer habits, choosing instead to silently petition God at night while others slept.

Daniel prayed.  It was his initial reaction; it was his only solution.

Then there’s the matter of what he prayed.  Sure, some of us have indeed trained ourselves to “take it to the Lord in prayer” without hesitation.  We run to his side and bury our noses in the hem of His robe, sniffling out our requests to Him.  But are we giving thanks amidst those tears?

Daniel was.  Scripture says he “got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God” (Daniel 6:10).  When I’m smarting from an injury, I’m more likely to complain about the pain than sing hymns of thankful praise.

Not Daniel. Political enemies, a manipulated king, a dangerous edict, his faith attacked, his life on the line—still Daniel gave thanks.

Paul made the same connection when he wrote,

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 4:6-7).

Peace in the midst of pain is there for the taking sometimes, and yet we choose anxiety instead.  We opt for fear by trying to control our own problems rather than running to God’s side and dumping them at His feet.  We allow worry to reign in our hearts and minds by refusing to pray with thanksgiving at all times and in every situation.

I confess I’m a rebel at times.  Even though I know I should shove aside my grumbling and choose to be thankful—even when it takes struggling and squinting to see that sparkle of light in a dark place– still I decline.

I dusted off my thankfulness journal this morning after two weeks of shoving it aside. I didn’t want to be thankful.  I wanted to feel wronged.  I didn’t want some secret formula to maintaining joy in trials; I wanted no more trials!  I wanted God to feel pity for me and feel sorry for letting me be hurt.  Perhaps what I wanted was an apology from Him.

It’s like emotional manipulation of the Almighty God.  “I’m not going to praise You or worship You or give You thanks or hand over my fears to You until You rescue me in the way I desire.”

It’s handing God a sheet and pillow and pointing to the couch.
It’s ignoring His phone calls and giving Him the silent treatment at the dinner table.
It’s holding my breath until he gives me what I want.

And it’s just about as effective as all those tactics.  So when my tantrum is done, I pray and I give thanks.  Reluctantly at first, perhaps, and yet I try.  Maybe the next time I trip and fall, I pray with thanksgiving immediately because I have learned that gratitude shifts my focus off my need and onto the face of my Deliverer.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Run to the Throne

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”
Ephesians 6:18

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I’ve been thinking about one of my favorite “mom” songs, Sacred by Caedmon’s Call.  That song says, “Teach me to run to you like they run to me for every little thing.”  Yes, that’s true in my house.  I button buttons and zip zippers, diffuse arguments and mediate disputes, kiss bumps and supply Band-Aids for nearly invisible scratches, refill juice cups and find lost toys, help with homework and hard-to-sound-out words.  Even at this moment I am twisting open an Oreo cookie because my baby girl only likes the filling inside.  I answer to “Mom” all day, every day.  And, while at times I would like to sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time, I love that they turn to me for help.  I suppose that at some point these little people in my care will feel too grown up to bring all their problems to me.  Or maybe they’ll come to me, but their problems will be so big that my supply of Band-Aids and apple juice won’t fix them anymore.

Truly God must love when we turn to Him for help with all of the hopeful innocence that I see in my daughters’ eyes.  We could struggle to solve our troubles in our own strength or we could offer them up to Him—both the life crises and the daily concerns—-giving them over to a God both big enough to handle them and compassionate enough to care about them.  When we pray out our requests, when we turn to Him instead of relying on ourselves, we confess belief.  We say, “God I believe that You are Lord over all things, that no situation is too much for Your strength and might or too small for Your boundless compassion.  I believe that You have saved me and will continue to save me.  I believe that You are Love.”

Years ago in a Bible Study group, one of the ladies said  we should “run to the throne before we run to the phone.”  What a challenge to us!  Before we call on our friends and our own mommas with a problem, we should bring it to the God who can actually solve the problem we’re facing.

Another lady in that same group leaned over to me one week and said, “you’ll pray about anything, won’t you?”  I took it as a compliment really because I surely do.  If it crosses my mind, if it happens in my life, if I see it while I’m driving down the road or walking through Wal-Mart, I will pray about it.

And God tells us to do this.  Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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” and Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

We are to pray “in everything,” and “on all occasions.”  I’ll drop to my knees over a health concern or a family in crisis and I’ll bow my head with my daughter when she loses a toy.  It’s all just too much for me anyway.

That’s what some of the great prayer warriors in the Bible did.  Men like Daniel and Nehemiah who took every circumstance they faced to God in prayer.  King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream no one could interpret, Daniel and his friends plead “for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery” (Daniel 2:18).  When the decree was signed saying no one could pray to any god by the king, Daniel “went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.  Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).

Nehemiah prayed when he heard about the horrible state of the walls surrounding Jerusalem. When the king asked him what he wanted, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven” before giving an answer.  Enemies threatened the work of Nehemiah and his crew, “but we prayed to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9) and when the enemies tried to frighten the Israelite construction team into quitting, Nehemiah prayed to God, “now strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).

They went to God with every annoyance, every difficult, every burden, every sadness, every disaster, every enemy, every worry.

Truthfully though, there are moments when I’m overwhelmed by the weight of the requests I’m carrying to the throne.  I’ve been duped by impossible-appearing circumstances into thinking that it’s fruitless for me to pray any longer.  That there is no hope.  That the marriage is truly dead.  That the housing situation will not be solved.  That the cancer statistics are too certain.  That the job market is too sparse.  That I’ve prayed for so long with no answer, nothing could possibly change now.

I listened to a friend share this week about a request that we have carried to the throne together for so long and she admitted with all the honesty a person can muster, “I’m just tired of praying about it.”  I knew exactly what she meant.  Fighting and fighting to have faith for so long, to pray and pray with no evident answer, no release, no deliverance, it makes a body tired.

But we are to “always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  And God, who is so gracious and compassionate, knows the exact moment when we need to see a glimmer of His light in the dark places.  We need the smallest reminder that He is active and alive where we only see death.

He did that for me this week.  For days stretching into months I have prayed and prayed for women with problems no earthly “Mom” could handle.  No one but God could be big enough.  I’ve been running to the throne so often with these requests, I’ve worn a path from me to God’s feet.  And then on Sunday I came home and told my husband I had personally seen with my eyes five ways that God had moved in these situations.  Not full answers to prayer, perhaps.  Not the complete deliverance yet.  But, just enough for me to say, “I saw God.  I saw Him!  He is here in this situation.  He’s heard the prayers I’ve cried out.  He sees these women and all the hurts that are burying them.  He has not abandoned them.”

I was excited.  That’s what seeing God does really.  It renews our passion and reminds us to persevere.  Now that I have seen Him, I’m praying even harder for each of these situations and many others because I’ve been reminded that He hears me and that He’s at work on our behalf.

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

************************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Shelter in the Storm, Part I

In my small group last week, a beautifully wise lady reminded us that we can’t always see God at work.  He saves us in so many hidden ways, doing things we may never appreciate until we look through our life with a heavenly view.  It’s like the times we were running late and a car accident happened right where we would have been had we been on time.  It’s an invisible hand of grace.

Certainly sometimes God protects us even when we do not know we are in danger.  So it was for many of us in my small town this week.  The day after a tornado hit, a friend posted on her blog, “What tornado?”  Her power had gone out and she hadn’t even known the cause until a friend called to see if she was safe.

It was the same for us.  A split-second loss of power was our only impact from a whirlwind that wreaked havoc on homes, churches and a school just a few miles away.  Others we knew had been watching constant broadcasts on the local news channel and still others huddled under doorways and in bathrooms with laptops and cell phones, trying to stay safe and informed.  We, on the other hand, went about our Saturday night business, eating dinner, giving the girls baths, reading, relaxing and preparing for church the next day.  We were oblivious to even the possibility of a storm, and so we didn’t even know at first that God was keeping us safe.

So often, we miss seeing how God is at work in our lives because we aren’t bothering to look.  The storm demanded our attention, though.  Suddenly, we heard story after story of protection and deliverance.  A car that usually is parked where a tree crashed down, but for some reason people decided at the last minute to drive the car instead of the truck.  A former home totally destroyed down to its foundation.  Trees crashing through the roofs of houses in just the right spot, narrowly missing the people sitting just a few feet away—unharmed and untouched.  A school destroyed on a Saturday night, thankfully empty of the students and teachers there five other days of the week.  Churches similarly empty of people when their roofs were peeled off by the wind, empty because the storm didn’t happen on a Sunday.

We tell the stories and shake our heads as we are astonished by grace and overwhelmed by mercy.

We notice His grace and mercy because of the storm, but God is at work in our lives every day and we’re just generally too busy to stop and see. In her book One in a Million, Prisiclla Shirer reminds us to “practice watchfulness” and to take deliberate pauses in the midst of our daily and our everyday so that we can look for God’s activity.  If we want to see God, really and truly see Him at work, we need to be on the look-out for what He is doing in the quiet and mundane days just as much as in the storm.

God called the Israelites to this stance of watchfulness in Exodus 14:13 in the midst of a storm of their own.  The Hebrews were terrified of the Egyptian chariots barreling through the wilderness in their direction while the Israelites stood trapped–Pharaoh’s army on one side, Red Sea on the other. “Moses spoke to the people: ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again'” (Exodus 14:13, MSG).  The people were told to watch, just watch.  Be on the lookout for what God is going to do.  Keep your eyes open to how He’s going to save you.  Don’t turn your head or avert your gaze or you’ll miss out on a God-sighting and the chance to see Him at work.

So, I wonder—how can I be watchful for God’s activity not just when I’m trapped at the Red Sea or in the middle of a storm and crying out to God for help?  In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp determines not to miss out on God in the smallest pieces of her busy days.  She takes on a challenge, to list one thousand things she’s thankful for.  Without paragraphs of description or pages of explanation, she simply writes one-line prayers of gratitude to God.  It changes her life.  Her whole way of viewing the world is now new, passed through a filter that specifically seeks out the invisible hand of God, now made visible simply because she took the time to see it.

A friend and I read this book together.  I gulped it down, reading it in two days.  Most of the time, I found I was holding my breath as I read because I was so focused on the challenge to my heart too often cluttered with whining and complaining.   And then at the end, my friend and I decided we would make a list.  We would go to one thousand, too.

My list sits beside me now. On it, I have written “shelter in the storm even when we didn’t know we needed it.”  It’s thankfulness in the big things of life, in the the evident deliverance—like Israel crossing the Red Sea to safety while the Egyptian army drowned in the waves.

Also on my list, though:

  • Hugs from a baby in footy pajamas.
  • Fresh journals with clean, unwritten pages.
  • Homemade bread with butter all melted on top.
  • Mornings with nowhere to rush off to.

Some days I forget to deliberately pause and be watchful for God.  My list remains untouched on my table or in my bag from morning to night, but I am trying and learning to stop moving for just a brief moment a few times a day and look around, really look.  Because God isn’t just present in the storms—that’s only where we most often search for Him and that’s when His activity is most noticeable.  But He’s also in the mundane and everyday moments in my life and I will see Him there if I only take the time to quiet my heart and open my eyes in watchful anticipation.

******************************************************************************************************

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King