Thanksgiving (4)


Have you ever seen a medieval castle? Have you noticed the broken lines at the tops of the walls? A rook or castle on a Chessboard has the same cuts.

I suspect you could guess what those were if you didn't already know. They were essential to the defense of a castle. Those slots were the lookouts for soldiers on watch.

On several occasions Scripture tells us to watch and pray. Have you thought about what God is saying to you in those passages? Let's look at those Scriptures and allow God to speak to our hearts through them. The first of them that comes to my mind is when Jesus was praying with His disciples in the garden before the cross. He prayed earnestly that that cup might pass from Him. And yet He surrendered His heart to the will of God. Then He looked and saw that Peter, James, and John were asleep. He was amazed that they could not watch with Him for one hour. And in Matthew 26:41 Jesus commands us.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The word translated, “watch” here is also used for soldiers, or possibly shepherds, keeping the watches of the night. On that very night while they were in the garden soldiers would come to arrest Jesus. This would be the most severe trial that the disciples would ever face. Earlier Jesus had told them they would all abandon Him. Peter and the rest swore they would never leave Him even if they had to die with Him. Their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak.

You might say they should have known this trial was coming. Jesus had told them over and over again. And it didn't take any great genius to see that the High Priests had determined to kill Him.

And it it should not surprise you that you are going to face trials and temptations. Peter himself warns us that we are going to be tried. In 1 Peter 4:12 he wrote,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Like soldiers on guard duty we are told to watch and pray for spiritual strength and protection.

The next place we are told to watch and pray is in Luke 21 where Jesus warns us about the trials that will come in the last days. In Luke 21:36 Jesus gives us this same command.

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

It seems to me that many of these things are already coming upon us. I am crying out to God for a great prayer movement. We need to be on guard, and pray as we have never prayed before. These things could be seen to begin when the Roman General, Titus, led his army to destroy the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus predicted, not one stone of the beautiful temple was left upon another. 2 Timothy 3:1 and other Scriptures warn us that there will be terrible times in these last days. Will we be on guard as these things come about? How seriously will we watch and pray?

We are also to watch for our hope in God during difficult times. He has made very great and precious promises to us even for the worst of times.

Another place where we are called to watch and pray is much more positive. Colossians 4:2 says,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

We not only need to watch for spiritual attack that will come. But I am afraid we are not alert enough to see God at work around us. There is great encouragement and joy in seeing the hand of God and thanking Him for working in our lives.

Finally, we need to watch and pray for others in our families and in the church where God has stationed us. Ephesians 6:18 commands us.

“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.”

In 1 Samuel 12:23 Samuel said he would be sinning against the Lord if he failed to pray for the people of Israel. Are you alert to pray for those God has commissioned you to pray for?

We need to see watching as motivation and preparation for prayer. But all four of these passages see watching as integral to prayer. As we spend extended time in prayer God shows us more and more of what we will face and what He is doing and preparing to do all around us.



Read more…


“Gratitude is from the same root word as grace, signifying the free and boundless mercy of God. Thanksgiving is from the same root word as think, so to think is to thank.” (Willis P. King)


Thanksgiving is more than a holiday on the calendar; it is an attitude of heart that praises our Creator and Savior every day we live.


Surely our greatest blessing is the mercy of God—preserving our lives, forgiving our sins, restoring our hope. If we would only think more, we would thank more.


God’s goodness and mercy pursue us all the days of our life (Psalm 23:6). Even when we’re having “one of those days”—when nothing seems to go right, and everything nailed down is coming loose—God’s unfailing love enables us to declare, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).


We may not always live on Easy Street; but whatever our address, God is with us so we can find a reason to be thankful. No situation, however desperate, is God-forsaken. So bellyaching is inexcusable. Being humbly grateful is better than being grumbly hateful.  


If we concern ourselves with God’s kingdom, He promises to concern Himself with our needs. There’s no need to fret about tomorrow’s grocery shopping—we can just push our cart down the aisle of our current circumstances and our Father will see to it that it is filled with whatever we need.


Faith’s dusk dinners and hope’s dawn breakfasts are hors d’oeuvres to whet our appetite for the heavenly banquet of love. Realizing who set our table, we bow our head and say grace.  


We should do more than give thanks—we should live thanks.


“In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” (Exodus 16:12 NLT).


Johnny R. Almond

Christian preacher and writer

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

[This devotion based on Day 47 of Gentle Whispers from Eternity]

Read blog at http://GentleWhispersFromEternity-ScripturePersonalized

Read more…

Why it is "Good" to Give Thanks!

Every Sunday morning for over 20 years, with very few exceptions, I've been privileged to gather with a group of prayer partners to read a Psalm then spend an hour in worship-based prayer. The worship in the word is sweet and the Spirit always guides us as we take time to specifically focus on prayers for the Sunday services of the church and all God wants to do through them.

Recently, we enjoyed an hour of prayer from Psalm 92. The first verse of the Psalm is very familiar but, as often happens, struck me in a fresh way. It reads:

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1-2

Maybe it is just me, but I am noticing that during these ever-difficult days in our nation, people are either responding with a deeper gratitude for the simple blessings of life or they are lapsing into grumbling about how tough things are. One thing is clear; it is still GOOD to give thanks to the Lord, even in 2010 – especially in these very challenging times.

But why?

I have considered the reasons it is good to give thanks to the Lord. I see a HEAVENWARD reason, an INWARD reason, a BACKWARD reason and a FORWARD reason.

A Heavenward Adoration

With a HEAVENWARD view, it is truly good to give thanks to the Lord – because in our gratitude we again recognize the priority and power of God’s glorious and unchanging character. Our financial security, family situation and personal health may be uncertain – but He never changes. When we give thanks, our hearts and minds are “renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created” us.

In gratitude we remember that while life may feel bad, God is still good – all the time. When thankful, we can rejoice in the name of the Most High God who is sovereign, just, gracious, merciful and true - -in spite of the earthly forecast. As Psalm 92:2 says, “To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Gratitude makes our theology real and practical every day.

An Inward Transformation

From an INWARD standpoint, it is good to give thanks to the Lord because it changes us. Isaiah 26:3 reminds us, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Gratitude promotes peace in the midst of the storm. “Whatever my lot – Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well’ with my soul.” We are able to count our blessings rather than complain about our burdens. Anticipation can replace anxiety and worship can replace worry when we realize how good it is to give thanks.

Psalm 107:22 declares, “Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing. “ Just as Old Testament sacrifices were accompanied by thanksgiving, so we sometimes have to sacrifice in order to give thanks. We sacrifice our self-trust, human reason, personal expectations, disappointments and even our very real pain in the midst of trials. We come to our Living God and say “thank you” in faith. The result is that we are able to declare His works with joy. Joy is an abiding well-being that transcends circumstances because is it rooted in spiritual reality. Truly, gratitude rearranges the interior of my troubled and doubting heart.

A Backward Recognition

From a BACKWARD angle, it is good to give thanks for the Lord because we recognize the pattern of His wonderful works in our life. Christians can be very forgetful, just like nine of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 who never came back to thank Jesus for healing their bodies. One returned to receive a healing of soul in his worshipful gratitude.

Psalm 107 repeats the call five times, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! “ (vv. 1, 8, 15, 21 & 31). Reflect on His wonderful works in the story of your life. What has He done for you? Can you see the pattern of His faithfulness and care? Don’t forget all He has done. His past works will change the way you look at your present situation and your future path.

A Forward Anticipation

Finally, it is good to give thanks to the Lord from a FORWARD standpoint. We learn that some things in this life simply cannot be trusted. The Stock Market. Politicians. Big business. Media. People. Ourselves. But, when we give thanks we are reminded in the One in whom we can trust for the next chapter of life. “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, then life is worth the living just because He lives.” If the living God is good, has been good – the He will be good with every step I take into the future.

God’s Good Will

Hebrews 13:15 gives this command to our hearts, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Also, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is clear, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So, God’s good will for your life is to give thanks – and there are many reasons to do it. Let the fruit of your lips give thanks to His name today. By Jesus Christ, and through His life in you, it can happen – and it will be good. He has promised.

© Daniel Henderson -

Read more…

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Perhaps you are facing a difficult circumstance - financially, relationally or with your health. During challenging times it is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nations.

Thanksgiving breaks the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of hardship, you bring pleasure to God's heart and breakthrough begins. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate a person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Are you thankful?

Are you thankful for your present circumstances?

Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job?

Thankfulness is a key to a victorious prayer life. We enter His courts with praise. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart. Thanksgiving brings contentment. An attitude of thanksgiving accepts and embraces God’s will.

Begin to thank God for all the blessings he has given instead of dwelling on the negative. Discontent dries up the soul. Look at what Elizabeth Elliot - who lost her husband on the mission field and has faced multitudes of hardships - says about loving God's will and being content. In her book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms, she says:

"To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured by one who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise apportionment. It is to follow in the steps of the Master, as did Paul, who was able to say that he had learned contentment no matter what the circumstances. His circumstances when he wrote that? Prison. No easy lesson, but great gain which is the sum of godliness plus contentment (1 Timothy 6:6)."

Look at the example of Jesus. He followed the will of His Father to the very end. He obeyed without complaint. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul says that we should have that same attitude. Jesus made himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death. We also are to have this same attitude with a humble and thankful acceptance of God’s will for our lives. Elizabeth emphasizes the fact that Jesus embraced hardship without a complaint:

"Jesus loved the will of His Father. He embraced the limitations, the necessities, the conditions, the very chains of His humanity as He walked and worked here on earth, fulfilling moment by moment His divine commission and the stern demands of His incarnation. Never was there a word or even a look of complaint."

The Duke of Wellington was the Great British military leader who regretted that he had not learned the secret of praise during his lifetime. He had many great accomplishments and even defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. He was a brilliant and demanding man and when he was older, he realized that there were areas in his life that needed to change. In his old age a women asked him this question,

“What would you do differently if you had your life to live over again?”

He thought carefully and said, “I would give more praise.”

This is a lesson for all of us. That we would learn to be people of praise and thanksgiving to God all the days of our lives would be a great accomplishment. William Law, who wrote the book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, stresses the greatness and the happiness of thanksgiving. He says:

“Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it… Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it… Turns all that it touches into happiness.”

David writes in Psalm 116:17, "I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.”

Did you know that thanking God for a difficulty is actually an offering that He highly values? You are bringing a gift of thanks to Him. It makes Him smile. It’s so easy to complain and point the finger and find fault. But to come in the opposite attitude and gives thanks brings breakthrough and joyful contentment. Let each of us seek to have an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving during this Thanksgiving season, and rise to a new level of holiness. Here are some ways to practice this attitude in everyday life:

*Thank and praise God for everything in your life - Thank Him for even the difficulties. It is a sacrifice to do this, but He can turn troubles to triumph. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

*Don’t allow yourself to complain about anything - During the difficult times, be very careful to watch your tongue. Instead of complaining, think of ways you can verbally offer God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 1:14-15).

*Don’t compare yourself with others - Don’t wish your life were different. God knows what is best for you. The Bible says having a thankful heart is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. When we begin to thank God for what we have rather than comparing ourselves with others, it opens the door for God’s blessings. “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else” (Galatians 6:4).

The Apostle Paul was a wonderful example of one who practiced thanksgiving in prayer. He didn’t complain about anything even when facing imprisonment. He didn’t fall into self-pity or compare himself with others. That would be hard for most of us. Instead, Paul thanked God in every circumstance, even the difficult ones. He was thankful in his prayers for others even when they were having trouble spiritually. See 1 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:3, Colossians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3, and Philemon 4.

Most of us are in need of breakthroughs in prayer. The enemy is fighting hard with fiery darts of discouragement and lies. The way we will begin to deal with the lies in our lives and the vicious ways he tries to destroy our joy is through cultivating a thankful heart.

As we cultivate a lifestyle of worship and praise, we will be able to break through the strategies of the enemy. A worshipful and thankful life permeates the atmosphere with the presence of God because worship is the atmosphere where God’s truth dwells. Thanksgiving turns all that it touches into happiness.

A Prayer for a Thankful Heart

“Lord, teach me to offer you a heart of thanksgiving in all my daily experiences of life. Teach me to be joyful always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all my circumstances. I accept them as Your will for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I long to bring pleasure to Your heart. Break the power of the enemy in my life. Defeat Him through my sacrifice of praise. Change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment with my present circumstance. Help me not to dwell on the negatives because discontent dries up my soul. I thank You for… (Name a difficult circumstance in your life presently and thank God for it). I offer this to You as my thank offering (Psalm 116:17).

Jesus, I want to be like You who obeyed the Father without complaint. You embraced the chains of humanity when you walked this earth. Convict me whenever I complain or compare myself with others. Give me Your attitude of humility and thankful acceptance. I want to be like the Apostle Paul who learned contentment in every circumstance. I choose to continually offer you a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that give praise to Your name (Hebrews 13:15). I want to give You enjoyment through a life of thanksgiving. I long to bring a smile to Your face. Teach me the power of a thankful heart. I know that Your truth dwells in a thankful heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

"God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually. Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it, too… An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy." Rick Warren

Debbie Przybylski

Intercessors Arise International

To subscribe to Intercessors Arise, click

Read more…