Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I got up very early that morning so that I could be at the gate to the loop road at Cades Cove when the sun came up. I knew exactly where I wanted to go to get the sun shining through the fall leaves, the Missionary Baptist Church. I drove through the dark and sat at the gate and waited for it to open. But as the sun rose what I saw was fog, heavy fog. There was not going to be a beautiful sunrise that made the gold of the autumn leaves shine even brighter against the white of the church. So instead I got this image of the trees made more beautiful by the fog, their branches and leaves becoming an intricate gate over the lane softened by the fog. The circumstances we face are not always the circumstances we want. It is hard to always rejoice and give thanks. I do believe that when we do face difficult circumstances if we pray without ceasing that God is faithful and will give us a new way of seeing. It may not be the image we wanted to see but it will be the image we need to see. And we will see what Jesus has made especially for us to see.
We rejoice in your greatness. We give thanks for the circumstances we face right now. Show us your will.
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
To take an interesting picture you always have to consider the background. Sometimes you want the background to fade away and sometimes the background is the focus of the image. For example, without the mountains in the background this image would just be a picture of a dilapidated old gate. As with images, we need to think about what is in the background of our lives. For what is in that background impacts our own growth and our relationship with others. Timothy Keller in his book, The Prodigal Prophet, encourages us to make God’s grace the background music of our lives.
“Grace becomes, as it were, the background music of your life. If that is the song your heart sings much of the time, it changes you.”
In this season of Thanksgiving, sing praise to God for his grace with all your heart and let that grace change your heart and fill your relationships with others.
Remind me today to be thankful for your grace. Make my background music always be a song of thanksgiving.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Gates mark protected areas. When you enter a gate you enter into that protected place. To enter the gates of the Lord is to be surrounded and protected by his steadfast love. Enter his gates today with gratitude not for good things we have that may come and go. Enter his gates with gratitude for a good Lord whose steadfast love will endure every circumstance we face, good or bad.
Good Lord and King
Today we thank you for your great love. We praise your name.
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Deep lakes surrounded by tall and imposing mountains tell of the greatness of our Creator, God, for he holds these massive mountains in his hands. And if he can hold these mountains in his hands then he can and will hold us in his hands. May your heart be filled with joy and praise to our great God.
O Great King
We bow in awe and wonder at your greatness. We praise your name.
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
I love mornings in the campground. Usually I get up earlier than most campers and I sit and watch the sun gradually rise above the trees in quietness. The darkness of night moves into the brightness of day, most of the time. Sometimes there are cloudy days, the sun still rises, we just can’t see it for the clouds.
There are days of bright sunshine in our lives but also days that are filled with clouds. During those cloudy days it is easy to focus on our own problems and let a feeling of gloom fall over us.I have found in times of gloominess that when I find ways to help others I began to quite focusing on my own problems and I move from darkness into the light of day.
On those days when we get lost only looking at our own problems, remind us of this promise of light that comes when we make the effort to help those in need around us.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
There is something so special about the golden light of morning. In morning light things that we don’t even notice in the harsh light of day are made beautiful. There is a special kind of quiet in the mornings, too, especially if you are in nature. It is a good thing to make the effort to get up early and watch the night gradually turn to day. God has kept us safe through another night and the golden light of morning reveals his wonderful world. Now is the time to give praise, to begin our day with gratitude for the steadfast love of our Lord, to see the joy in his works.
O Most High,
We humbly bow in gratitude for your steadfast love. We rejoice at the beauty of the works of your hands. Help us walk through this day remembering your steadfast love and to share the joy of the morning with all we meet.
Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
About This Image:
My grandparents and their grandparents before them lived in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While they weren't members of this church (the Methodist church in Cades Cove) they were part of other mountain churches like this one. This is my heritage. I am grateful for the inheritance of a family on both my mother and father's sides that loved and served Jesus. But the greater inheritance is the one provided to all "his people in the kingdom of light," by Jesus Christ who purchased our redemption.
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.
About This Image:
At one time many families made their home in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, like the Tipton family. The Tipton Cabin is one of the few cabins that the park kept when this land became part of the park. When I see these cabins I try imagine what they looked like when people lived in them full of furniture and household goods instead of the empty the way they stand now. I think that the bible can be empty like this room in the Tipton cabin to us if we just occasionally read the words. Paul admonished the Colossians to do more than just listen to the words but to let the message of Christ dwell among them richly. When something dwells with us we spend lots of time with it; we get to know it. Dwelling is more than visiting a place, more than just reading words from a book. For when we do let the message of Christ dwell richly within us then we can help one another and develop real gratitude in our hearts.
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