One-a-Day Wednesday, 12/4/13

number 1Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise up on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.  (Psalm 139:7-10)

There is simply no place that God is not.  I love this image.  Overwhelmed by God’s presence, I try to flee from him—but there is nowhere to go. Wherever I run, he is already there, waiting to guide and protect me.

Question for today: Where, and why, do you try to hide from God?

One-a-Day Tuesday, 12/3/13

number 1You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  (Psalm 139:5-6).

Continuing on yesterday’s theme, there are really two ways to see this passage.  If your heart isn’t right before God, you probably picture a prisoner, bound and chained, surrounded by guards.

Been there.  Felt that. No Bueno.

If your heart is right with God, you picture something like a squad of elite soldiers surrounding you, protecting you from whatever may attack.

Been there, too.  It’s better.

That’s where David was when he wrote this psalm.  He felt God’s hand upon him, not to hold David down, but to lift him up.  The whole idea was, “Too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”  Think about that for a minute.  You serve a God who loves you more than you can even fathom.

His angels surround you.

His hand is upon you.

He’s got your back.

Walk in that today.

One-a-Day Monday, 12/2/13

number 1O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. (Psalm 139:1-4)

Every once in a while you need to give yourself a spiritual systems check.  You know, make sure that everything is in working order, and that nothing is slipping in between you and God.  Psalm 139 is a great passage of Scripture for that.  I find that most people have one of the following three reactions when they read the above passage.  Which is yours?

1. These lines give great comfort.  You love the idea that God knows everything about you, that he even knows your thoughts.

You, my friend, are in a great place with God.  Proceed to praise.

2. These lines creep you out.  There’s something Orwellian about God searching your inmost being.

Guess what?  You’re not right with God, Beloved of Christ.  May I suggest that you spend some time dealing with whatever it is you don’t want God to see in you?

3. These lines have no effect on you whatsoever.

Wow.  You may be in spiritual heart failure.  Just so you know, I’m praying for you today, that God would ravage your heart with his all-consuming love.

He’s searched you.  He knows you.  Oh, and one more thing–he loves you.

Happy Monday

Give Thanks

Cajun TurkeyThis week, I hope you’ll enjoy some excerpts from my book Thanksgiving for the Dad-Man.  It’s a book aimed specifically at—as you might guess—dads.  Still, it’s for everybody.  In it, you’ll find a week’s worth of devotions that take you up to and through the holiday.  There are also some great recipes and ideas to make family memories at Thanksgiving.

If you find that, after reading the excerpts, you simply must have the full book, click here and knock your socks off.

One-a-Day Saturday, 11/30/13

number 1Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:19-25).

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln permanently established Thanksgiving as a national holiday.  As you read, can you imagine any modern president getting away with this admonition to the American people?

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America. 

A Proclamation. 

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. 

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. 

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. 

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Think about this: Lincoln referred to slavery as, “Our national perverseness and disobedience.”  He felt that the Civil War was, in part, a punishment for the sin of slavery.   Is there sin you need to confess, here and now, so that you can move forward with true thanksgiving for the grace of God?

Thanks for reading the Extend-O-Rama Thanksgiving version of the One-a-Days.  I hope you found them edifying and as useful as leftover turkey.

One-a-Day Friday, 11/29/13

number 1All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations (Psalms 22:27-28).

In the years following 1621, the colonists offered up their thanks on a variety of occasions.  On October 3, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the first national day of thanksgiving in the United States.  Read his proclamation to these United States…go on, it’s not that difficult!

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. 

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then 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 Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) 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 among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Chew on this:  How does a proclamation like the one above fit the concept of a “Separation of Church and State?”

One-a-Day Thursday, 11/28/13 Thanksgiving Day!!

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips that openly profess his name (Colossians 2: 6-7).

The coming of spring brought, at long last, relief to the Pilgrims.  They met Squanto, a member of a local tribe who was fluent in English.

Squanto befriended the Pilgrims, teaching them how to plant corn, how and where to fish, and basically how to survive in their new land.  Squanto would stay with them, helping and guiding, for the rest of his life.

That year, 1621, there was food.  Between hunting, fishing, and the crops they were able to raise, The Pilgrims had enough to make it through the winter.  After the harvest, they set aside a day to give thanks to God for allowing them to make it through the brutal times.  They invited their new friends and allies, the Wampanoag, to join in the festivities.  The hard work was just beginning, and there were plenty of difficulties in the days ahead, but God had shown himself capable of surmounting any challenge on behalf of his people.

Ponderations: When you first received Christ as your Savior, you were probably “overflowing with thanksgiving,” as Paul encouraged.  Are you still? If not, what is keeping you from that? Are you willing to change what needs to be changed so you can overflow with thanksgiving again?

 

One-a-Day Wednesday, 11/27/13

number 1We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death itself. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

Having arrived in America, the Pilgrims found that their troubles were over.  They stopped at McDonald’s, then checked into the Hilton for showers and a good long nap…

Ah, would that it were.

Perhaps if there had been some enterprising Wampanoag children waiting for them, with a lemonade stand and deep fried clams on a stick…but no.  In fact, the hard times were just beginning.  The Pilgrims found themselves at the start of a hard, cold winter.  They had little left on the ship in the way of provisions, no crops to harvest, and no homes waiting for them to move into.  Sickness and starvation began to claim passengers and crew alike.

The women and children stayed on board ship through the long, bitter winter.  The men went back and forth, building their new homes.  They wouldn’t need as many as they had planned; by spring, nearly half of those who had boarded the Mayflower had perished.

Ask yourself:  What is God’s top priority for His people? How does allowing suffering in our lives (even promising it), help to accomplish that? What is your top priority in life? Does it line up with God’s priority for us?

One-a-Day Tuesday, 11/26/13

number 1

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

Heading off across the ocean to a new world falls cleanly into the category, “Easier said than done.”  It takes money, experience, and business savvy to put together a venture of this kind—tools which our Separatist friends did not have.  They formed partnerships, found investors, and got cheated.  They learned about bureaucracies and red tape and silly little bean counters who have no sense of adventure and no thirst for freedom and–

Well, they finally got settled on their ships, and—

Yeah, ships—plural.  You do know that they started with two ships, right?  Sure, they had the Mayflower, but they also had the Speedwell, a beautiful, sleek little ship that kept trying to sink.  Twice they left for America; twice they had to return because the Speedwell was leaking.  Finally, they decided to ditch the little ship, cram everyone they could aboard the Mayflower, and get while the getting was good.

They headed out for good in September of 1620—about six weeks behind schedule.  This was just late enough in the year to put the little ship, her 102 passengers, and her twenty-six crew members into storm season.  Battling storm after storm, Mayflower averaged less than two miles per hour.  Her destination was the Hudson River, in modern-day New York, but the weather pushed her well north of that, to a place we call Cape Cod.  There, in November of 1620, the little ship found shelter.

Question:  What can God do to “determine our steps” when our plans are different from His?