Pray steadfastly and be watchful for God’s answers.

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2 (MSG)
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.
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“Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.” -AMPLIFIED

In Paul’s final words to the Colossians he advocates the need to devoting oneself to prayer. He also encourages them to be diligently looking for the answers to those very same prayers expectantly with an attitude of gratitude and words of thanks.

To be devoted to something is to be: steadfast, strong, persistent, or attentive. It conveys the idea that one should keep at it until and answer comes through. The Living Bible brings it out in this way; “Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come.”

Make prayer a habit. Prayer is our Lifeline between this Earth and Heaven; making connection into the very presence of God Almighty. Prayer is so important and such a necessity that we find example of it throughout Scripture. In fact, Jesus, Himself, took time to get alone and pray often; that is how important it is to have in our lives.

Paul reminds the Philippians of the need to pray more and worry less in life. “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” -Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

Pray steadfastly and be watchful, with eyes wide open looking for God’s answers. It may not come exactly as we are expecting, but God will always answer. Hence why it is important to not dictate what we expect God to do for us, but to place our requests at the feet of the Father and have the attitude of Christ, “…yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Be watchful also for the fact that our Enemy is on the hunt, looking for ways to cause us to stumble and fall. Peter tells us, “Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.]” -1 Peter 5:8-9 (AMP)

Paul tells us to have an attitude of thanksgiving; be watchful and thankful. Or as the Message tells us to do have our eyes wide open in gratitude. Once again we are instructed to have an attitude of gratitude. Spurgeon makes not of something; “See how he (Paul) keeps putting that in—“Be ye thankful”—“with thanksgiving.” Why, that is the oil that makes the machinery go around without its causing obstruction. May we have much of that thanksgiving.”

The question we may consider asking ourselves is have we been diligent in our prayers? Have we been watching expectantly; looking for God’s answer? Are we always living in an attitude of thanks, even if things do not turn out exactly as we were expecting? Something that we need to remember is, God knows us even better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need and when we need it. Trust Him; He will work all things out for His glory!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to be steadfast and diligent in my prayer life. I do not want to be one who gives up easily. Help me to trust that you are working all things out for good; no matter what things may appear to be. Give me eyes wide open, expectantly looking for your answers, eyes focused in on the opportunities you are sending my way. Most of all I desire to have a thankful heart in every situation. Lord, you are my Lifeline; thank you for always being available. I am so grateful for your ever faithfulness. You are always exactly what I need in every situation. I will keep my focus on you, Lord.

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Let us sacrifice thank offerings to honor God.

Psalm 50:23 (NIV)
“Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation.”

Psalm 50:23 (MSG)
“It’s the praising life that honors me. As soon as you set your foot on the Way, I’ll show you my salvation.”
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“He who offers a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way rightly [who follows the way that I show him], I shall show the salvation of God.” -AMPLIFIED

If there was any doubt in our minds of the importance of praise and thanksgiving, it should be laid to rest after reading this passage. God leaves us no room for misgivings or uncertainty’s on what His expectations are. This is what He desires; thank offerings and a praising life.

In fact, in verses 14-15 we find this command, “Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.” This was not a mere suggestion that this might be a good idea; this is a directive, a responsibility. Offer up thanks and praise, honoring and glorifying God.

“Praise is the best sacrifice; true, hearty, gracious thanksgiving from a renewed mind. Not the lowing of bullocks bound to the altar, but the songs of redeemed men are the music which the ear of Jehovah delights in. Sacrifice your loving gratitude, and God is honoured thereby.” -Charles Spurgeon (Treasury of David)

Notice, the writer, Asaph, encourages us to “sacrifice” thank offerings. A sacrifice will cost us something precious. It will mean that we need to put “self” and our desires aside in order to lift up God and His desires. Considering all that God has done for each of us this truly should not be much of a sacrifice.

Sadly though, too often we tend to have an attitude of ingratitude; just as the children of Israel had. It is so much easier to whine and complain about our situation than it is to offer up praise and thanks for what God is doing and for who He is. Yet, that is exactly what we are not to do; for when we do our focus is on “self” and not on God.

Remember Paul’s admonition to the Romans in chapter 12 verses 1-2; “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (MSG)

John Calvin reminds us of this fact; “In the first place, there is nothing with which we are more frequently chargeable than forgetfulness of the benefits of the Lord. Scarcely one out of a thousand attracts our notice; and if it does, it is only slightly, and, as it were, in passing. And, secondly, we do not assign that importance to the duty of praise which it deserves. We are apt to neglect it as something trivial, and altogether commonplace; whereas it constitutes the chief exercise of godliness, in which God would have us to be engaged during the whole of our life. In the words before us, the sacrifice of praise is asserted to form the true and proper worship of God.” -(Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible)

Friend, a thankful heart is where it is at. A grateful heart is pleasing to the Lord and He will indeed bless those who come willingly with a sacrifice of praise and thanks. May we have the mindset that David had in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (AMP)

My Prayer:
Lord, I come before you with words of praise and a heart of thanksgiving. I am grateful for all that you have done in my life and all you continue to do. Where would I be without you? Every part of my life has been touched and changed by you. Nothing has been left to chance; you have ordered my ways. You go before me to make straight my path. Lord, thank you for everything that you do, the very breath in my body is possible because of you. In everything I will give You thanks; for you are my all in all.

Have an attitude of gratitude.

A daily devotion by Tonia Slimm.

Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:15-17 (MSG)
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
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Part 2:

“Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being] as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” -AMPLIFIED

We continue today with Colossians 3:15-17; having left off with Paul’s directive to be thankful. We now move on to his exhortation to “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly” or as the Message Version says, “Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house.” How do we do that? We do it by encouraging one another in the word, but also with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We are to give the Jesus and His Message plenty of room to grow in our lives.

Notice that little word “let”; let the Word, let the Message, let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being]. God never forces Himself upon us. He is the perfect gentleman; always waiting for an invitation. Each individual will have to make the choice to allow entrance to the Almighty. My suggestion to you is; open wide the door of your heart and allow Jesus to have complete control.

This new attitude, this new way of thinking cultivates gratitude in our lives. By focusing on the Almighty and doing everything in the Name of Jesus it gives us a new purpose, a new hope, and a new goal. Paul encourages us to, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus.” Self is no longer a part of the equation; we are now focusing on being pleasing to God.

In whatever you do, do it in the Name of Jesus and give thanks to God through Him. In other words, make no exceptions; always give thanks in the Name of Jesus. Without Jesus where would we be? Being a Christian does not relax the ties of relationship that we have with one another. In fact, we are called to a higher level of responsibility and respect for one another and God. This would include, but is not limited to having a gracious and thankful heart.

This brings us back to the need for us to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. God does not owe us anything, but we certainly owe Him our very lives. At the very least we can say thank you and live our lives in service and gratitude to the One who has made the fullness of our life possible. Our personal relationship with the Almighty has all been made possible through the perfect, freely given gift of His Son, Jesus. Give thanks!

My Prayer:
Father, thank you for all you have done for me in my life. Thank you for the gift of your Son. Thank you for caring so much that if I were the only one who needed saving you still would have sent Jesus to die for me. That is indeed amazing, overwhelming, perfect love personified. I will live my life in service to the King, because of what He has done for me. I want to have an attitude of gratitude. Help me to focus on the good that you have done in my life and not on the affects that sin have left behind. You are a good God and I will give thanks and praise your Name!

In every circumstance give thanks!

Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:20 (MSG)
Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
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“…. always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;…” -AMPLIFIED

Paul instructs the Ephesians to have a thankful heart. This directive comes at the tail end of a message that they should, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:16-16 (NIV)

Always give thanks; for everything. That is a very hard pill to swallow at times. When things are going wonderful it is easy to give thanks. When the sun is shining, the skies are blue, the flowers are blooming, there is enough food on the table and the bills are paid it is easy to give thanks. When we are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death though thanks tends to be the last thing on our minds.

Give thanks always for all things; even if they are not what we desire them to be. There are no restrictions placed on what we should and should not give thanks for; we should give thanks in all things. Do not think for one moment that Paul had misspoke; for he told the Thessalonians the same thing. “Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (GW)

Consider this thought, “The grumbling spirit is not compatible with the Holy Spirit. Grumbling was one of the besetting sins of the people of Israel; they were always ‘murmuring’ against the Lord and against Moses. But the Spirit-filled believer is full not of complaining, but of thanksgiving.” -John Stott (God’s New Society : The Message of Ephesians)

You may wonder how you could possibly give thanks in those difficult situations. But the question truly should be; how could you possibly “not” give thanks. In order to make it through those challenging times you must lean into your Lord and Savior. He is the One who will carry you through. Imagine what that situation would be like if you did not have Jesus to shoulder your burdens and sustain you!

“Oh, but,” you say, “there are some things I cannot give thanks for, there are some things so hard, so difficult to bear, there are some things that lacerate my very soul.” Wait a moment. Have you ever undergone a serious physical operation as a result of which you have been delivered from something that was just wearing out your very life? When you had to undergo it, it seemed very hard, but as you look back upon it, can you not give thanks for the surgeon’s knife, can you not give thanks for the very sufferings you had to endure because of the blessed after-result? Very well, Christian, some day, we shall see as we cannot now just why all the hard things were permitted, and how God our Father was seeking to set us free from hindrances and from encumbrances, by pruning the branches from which He wished to get fruit for Himself. In that day we will thank Him for all the sorrow as well as for all the joy. In faith let us do it now.” -Harry Ironside (Ironside’s Notes)

Give thanks, sing praises, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; for God the Father has called us to do so. Let us be sure that in every situation and in everything that we are giving praise where praise is due. In everything give thanks!

My Prayer:
Lord, sometimes it is difficult to give praise; especially when I am facing a troublesome situation. Let me not focus on the problem though, but on what you can do through it. Let me praise you in the midst of the storms. Help me to have the correct attitude in facing every aspect in life; in the good times and in the bad. You are with me always and I never have to face any step alone; that alone is reason to rejoice. Thank you for your steadfast love and ever-present presence. In gratitude I humbly acknowledge without you I would be lost.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul!

Psalm 103:1-2 (NIV)
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)
O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!
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“Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, And all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits;”
-AMPLIFIED

David stood in the presence of the Lord meditating on the good things that God had done for him and celebrated each one. In fact, he reminds himself to not forget all God’s benefits; imploring his very soul to praise, give thanks and bless the Lord.

David calls for himself to rise to the occasion of praise to the Almighty. Putting aside “self” his concentration is solely on the Lord; exactly where it needs to be. An eruption of praise pours out of David as he contemplates all the blessings and benefits that God has filled his life with. How Awesome is our God!

Spurgeon shares a few thoughts on this passage: “Bless the Lord O my soul. Soul music is the very soul of music. The Psalmist strikes the best keynote when he begins with stirring up his inmost self to magnify the Lord. He soliloquizes (speaks to himself), holds self-communion and exhorts himself, as though he felt that dullness would all too soon steal over his faculties, as, indeed, it will over us all, unless we are diligently on the watch. Jehovah is worthy to be praised by us in that highest style of adoration… Our very life and essential self should be engrossed with this delightful service, and each one of us should arouse his own heart to the engagement. Let others forbear if they can: “Bless the Lord, O MY soul.” Let others murmur, but do thou bless. Let others bless themselves and their idols, but do thou bless the LORD. Let others use only their tongues, but as for me I will cry, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” (Treasury of David)

Lest we become complacent in our relationship with God it is important to take time to meditate on the blessings that He fills our lives with on a daily and moment-by-moment basis. We, as humans tend to be forgetful creatures, sadly. Let us consider where we would be without the Hand of God on our lives. Hence why David prompts himself to forget not all his benefits”!

David reminds himself throughout Psalm 103 of the Divine benefits that have poured into his life; from forgiveness, to healing, to God’s love and compassion, to even the renewal of strength within his life. David realizes that without God’s hand on and in his life he would indeed be lost. He demands that his very being give praise to where praise is due. With all that was within him, he would praise God.

This reminds of another time where David “danced with great abandon before God”. Unintimidated, no holds barred, giving 100%, David pours forth his praise and admiration to his God. That my friend is what true worship is all about.

“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which “comes upon you,” but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Graham Kendrick

Will we choose to praise and worship the Almighty today; with everything that is within us? Can we give thanks in all things, as we have been commanded to do? Let us take the time today to give praise to the One whom praise is due. Without the Almighty One where would we be?

My Prayer:
Lord, I give you thanks and praise for who you are.; for you are GREAT and greatly to be praised. I thank you for your hand that is continuously on my life. I thank you for all the wonderful people and all the good things that you have placed in my life. I thank you for your gift of salvation; which changed my life forever. I thank you for your forgiveness, given freely, so that I did not have to live under a shadow of guilt. I thank you for your overwhelming love that touches every part of my life. God, there is so much to be thankful for; my heart and soul are overflowing with all the blessings that you have poured into my life. Thank you!

He is God alone!

Psalm 86:10 (NIV)
For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

Psalm 86:10 (MSG)
…parading your greatness, and the great things you do – God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!
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“For You are great and do wondrous works! You alone are God.”
-AMPLIFIED

Our God alone is great and greatly to be praised! He is the Almighty One; full of infinite power, understanding and love. Guess what? He uses all His abilities to do marvelous and great things for His children. How wonderful is He? We could not thank Him or praise Him enough!

John Gill, a Baptist minister and theologian from the 1700’s shared his thoughts on the greatness of God. “For thou art great:
In his nature, and the perfections of it; in his power, wisdom, truth, faithfulness, love, grace, and mercy; and in all his persons; the Father is great, greater than all; the Son is the great God, and our Savior; and the Spirit, which is in his people, is greater than he that is in the world.”

This is our God; wonderful beyond description. That does not mean that we should not try to extol His virtues and lift Him up in praise. For He is great and greatly to be praised! All the World should hear of His wondrous deeds. Every one of us has had a time in our life where God has moved in such a way that we were overwhelmed and completely floored by what He did for us. Our response should have been exactly as the response in Isaiah 25:9-10. “Also at that time, people will say, “Look at what’s happened! This is our God! We waited for him and he showed up and saved us! This God, the one we waited for! Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation. God’s hand rests on this mountain!”-(MSG)

The Sons of Korah got it right when they said, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” -Psalm 48:14 (NIV) Jehovah, our God, is one of those forever friends that sticks closer than a brother. He will always be with us even to the bitter end. Whatever we face in this life we can always count on our God to be there with us; leading, guiding and strengthening us every step of the way. He is kind of amazing like that!

In the book of Jeremiah we have this gentle reminder; “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” -Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV) Nothing is too difficult or impossible for our God to handle.

“Jeremiah recognized that God is the ultimate muscle-man–he can easily out-flex your greatest problem and arm wrestle your biggest need. If God made the heavens and the earth, then surely nothing in this world is impossible for him to do. What need or problem are you facing today? Who can content with your God? There is no difficulty the Lord cannot surmount. Whenever and wherever human might and skill fall short, God is able to master every opposition.” -Mary Fairchild (Nothing is too Hard for God)

Our God is great. Our God is marvelous. Our God is wonderful beyond description, but take the time today to tell Him how wonderful He truly is. Take the time to be with Him; stand in His presence and applaud all the excellent things that He has done in your life. Glorify His Name and who He is. Celebrate that fact that He alone is God and there is no one in this World who is quite like Him.

My Prayer:
You, oh Lord, are God; You alone. There is no one else quite like you, nor will there ever be. You love your children overwhelmingly and you shower them with blessings. Even in those times of difficulty, pain and frustration in life I know that you are and always will be exactly who you are; God, Almighty, full of strength and wisdom, leading and guiding. Wow, I am humbled in your presence, but overwhelmingly thankful for who you are and what you do. Thank you; I can always count on and rely on you; no matter what. I praise and glorify your Name; for You are God alone!

Our Lord reigns forever! He is the Everlasting God!

Revelation 19:6-8 (NIV)
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Revelation 19:6-8 (MSG)
Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder: Hallelujah! The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong! Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen. The linen is the righteousness of the saints.
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“Then I heard something like the shout of a vast multitude, and like the boom of many pounding waves, and like the roar of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all] reigns. “Let us rejoice and shout for joy! Let us give Him glory and honor, for the marriage of the Lamb has come [at last] and His bride (the redeemed) has prepared herself.” She has been permitted to dress in fine linen, dazzling white and clean—for the fine linen signifies the righteous acts of the saints [the ethical conduct, personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character of believers].” -AMPLIFIED

Hallelujah, for the Lord our God reigns! Let us rejoice in this fact! Let us celebrate and be glad that we serve the Sovereign-Strong! Way back in the book of Exodus we find Moses telling the people something that remains true even today, “The Lord reigns for ever and ever.” -Exodus 15:18 (NIV)

He is forever the same! His love for us never changes; thankfully! In fact, the writer of Psalm 136 reminds us that God’s love for us remains forever; steady and constant. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” It has so impressed the Psalmist that it is the refrain throughout his song.

John the Apostle sees in his vision of Heaven a massive crowd; so large that when they worship their voices sound like rushing waters and peals of thunder crying out to God. All the people surround the throne of God; in unison they shout out “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” Forever and ever; God reigns. Nothing has changed from the beginning of time. God is still God and He forever will be!

God says to us, “I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed.” Malachi 3:6 a (MSG)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice….” Psalm 97:1 (NIV)

The Lord reigns, friends; let us rejoice! We will spend all of
Eternity surrounding His throne worshiping our King of kings and Lord of lords; let us lift up His Name even now. Let us celebrate our Sovereign Lord who regains forever!

My Prayer:

Lord God, you and you alone are my Everlasting God. You have and will reign forever and ever; from the beginning of time until time is no more. Your love for me and for all of your children is unchanging. You are the one constant in this life that we can count on. Help me to be a bride ready and waiting for you, my bridegroom. Help me to keep my robes white; living a holy life that will bring glory to you. I look forward to that day when I will stand with the multitude around you throne to worship and praise you forever more. God, You reign forever!