This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.

G. K. Chesterton


This Day's Verse

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:9
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Blessings hemmed with praise will not unravel.

Unknown


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Don’t pray when you feel like it.  Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.  A man is powerful on his knees.

Corrie Ten Boom


This Day's Verse

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:9
The New King James Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice.  I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment.  It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.

Henri Nouwen


This Day's Verse

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Hebrews 9:28
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

When you can’t put your prayers into words, God hears your heart.

Unknown


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- November Blessings- Update


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

November Blessings update: We’re so thankful that we have received $3,282 so far from 53 subscribers around the world, ranging from $5 to $1,000! Our goal for this year is $15,000, with a stretch goal of an additional $10,000.

You have heard us in past years share, we need so very little but we need that little so very much in order to serve all of you, our loyal and dedicated ministry members.

Here are some sample thank you notes we’ve received from subscribers this month:

“Thank you very much for all your daily thoughts & prayers.” Carol

“Bless you, bless you for all you to do share the Word of God – the only word that brings True Life – across the world. We appreciate you so very much!”  Ann and Nicholas

“Thank you for your ministry – it’s been a real blessing to me.” Jennifer

“God bless.” Debbie

“Please use this donation as you see fit to benefit the ministry, in forever loving memory of our son, Daniel.” Dan

“The email is a daily blessing to me and others. Keep up the good work!”  Lee

“Bless you for all you do! This ministry makes more of a difference than you will ever know!” Michele

“Dear Eric and Greg – thank you so much for your ministry. My wife and I get so much out of it. Keep up the good work!” Bernie and Chris

“I look forward to your messages everyday. Thank you!” Kristin

“So thankful for your daily inspirations! Your ministry is a great blessing. God bless you!” Linda

“I enjoy and appreciate your daily messages. Thank you.” Greg

“I use the “thoughts” a lot in jail ministry & in various Bible teaching opportunities I have. You are such a blessing to me. Thanks.” Ed

Thank you for your continued support and for enabling this ministry to serve, and to grow, and to reach so many people all over the world with these “Christian seeds for the day!”

If you would like to make a donation as we prepare for our next year together, we’d so appreciate it.

Click here to make online donation online

OR

Use this address to send cash or checks:
The Ranch Fellowship
25615 E 3000 North Road
Chenoa, IL 61726 USA

The Ranch Fellowship is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry, organized for the purpose of sharing the blessing of Jesus Christ throughout the world. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.  It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.  It is not even thy faith in Christ, though that be the instrument; it is Christ’s blood and merit.

C. H. Spurgeon


This Day's Verse

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

Mark 5:36
The King James Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.

Billy Graham


This Day's Verse

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

1 Peter 3:3-4
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

As hard as it is, when life starts growing wildly in every direction, get out those shears and skillfully snip away the excess that robs your spirit of essential growth.

Vivian Elisabeth Glyck


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Amber Shellac


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

AMBER SHELLAC
The Conclusion of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to an excerpt from Psalm 119 here:
Psalm 119, read by Lana Elder, with Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero,” played by Marilyn Elder Byrnes

 

Some stories take time to tell. I don’t mean they’re long stories. I mean they’re stories that take a long time before you can tell them.

Today, I’d like to tell you one of those stories, a story that started five years ago this month. And through this story, I hope to encourage you to keep talking to God in prayer every day for the rest of your life. God loves hearing what’s on your heart, and He has so much He wants to say to you.

I’ve come to really love my conversations with God, every day, all through the day. I feel like I could have written this verse from Psalm 119 that says:

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Even His words that are as simple as “Amber Shellac.”

One of the reasons I’ve waited to tell this story is because it involves my wife Lana’s casket. It’s not something I could talk about right then, as there were too many other important things going on. But I’d like to share it now as a way to show how intimacy with God can be achieved over time.

As the final days of Lana’s life here on earth drew near, it became clear to us that apart from a miraculous intervention from God, Lana was about to experience what we all will experience at some point in our lives: the passing from this life to the next.

Lana and I talked about many things in those final days, some of which involved her wishes for her funeral, including her casket. She didn’t want anything elaborate–just a plain wooden box.

She remembered seeing Pope John Paul II’s funeral on TV about 10 years earlier, and could still see the image in her mind of the plain wooden casket in which he was carried through the streets.

His casket was made of simple wood in a trapezoidal shape. I found a picture of it online and showed it to Lana. She said: “That’s it. That’s exactly what I want.”



John Paul II’s Simple Casket

I called around locally to see if I could find one, but couldn’t. So I searched online and found a man in Provo, Utah, who makes simple wooden caskets just like Lana was wanting.

When I called to talk about our situation, he said he could get one to us within a few days if need be, adding that some people order them years ahead of time just to make it easier for others so there’s one less decision they have to make later. Lana thought that was a good idea–and if she didn’t have to use it for years, all the better!

With a resolve of strength that only God can give for a moment like that, I placed the order, not sure if we’d be using it within days or, if a miracle occurred, getting to save it away for years. Sadly, it was only a matter of days. Lana passed away on November 15, 2012, and her casket arrived the following day.

I had called a friend when I placed the order, a friend who refinishes furniture, to ask if, when the casket arrived, he could refinish it in a style that matched the pope’s casket, as it was shipping to us unfinished. He agreed. So when the casket arrived, he picked it up for me at the shipping office and took it back to his shop.


Unfinished Casket

Now under a deadline to get it ready in time for the funeral, my friend went to the hardware store to buy some stain and finish. But as he looked at all of the options, none of them seemed quite right. He considered all kinds of stains, from cherry to walnut to pine, but each one seemed off for some reason. He walked out of the hardware store with one of the options in his hand, but feeling it just wasn’t right. Then it came to him, as if out of the blue: “Amber Shellac!”

He had used it for projects in the past, and he KNEW that this was the answer to the riddle he couldn’t solve. Amber Shellac would be the perfect finish! He walked back into the store, found the shellac, and left again knowing he had found the solution. He coated the casket in several thin layers of Amber Shellac, and got it done just in time for the funeral.


Lana’s Casket with Amber Shellac

Lana’s casket was perfect. It was just what she wanted, and just what seemed perfectly fitting for her life: simple, pure, and beautiful. It became the centerpiece of those difficult hours as my family and I stood next to it during the visitation and funeral. From time to time during the visitation, as people came through to talk and pray and offer their condolences, I would reach out and stroke the soft, smooth wood of Lana’s casket. It was the closest I could get to caressing Lana herself.

I loved Lana’s casket, and I know Lana would have loved it, too. We both loved creating and refinishing furniture ourselves. I have built many things from scratch, including the crib that each of our children slept in as infants and a triple bunk bed each of them used at various times as they got older. Lana refinished everything from desks and tables and rocking chairs to all the wooden trim in nearly every room of our house.

How does this relate to my intimacy with God? That brings us to this week, five years later.

I’ve been trying to finish a special project this week, creating a prayer room in our house that Lana had envisioned in our then-unfinished attic. We began work on it before she got sick, with family and friends helping us to begin the conversion.

But when Lana got sick, we had to stop our work. When she passed away, I simply lost heart and could hardly bear to think about finishing the room she had envisioned. I would start, then have to stop again. Then start, then stop again.

This year, however, one of the goals I set for myself was to finish the work on the attic that we had started all those years ago. With the help again of some encouraging family and friends, I was able to make progress and see it take final shape before my eyes. I recently added what for me was the pièce de résistance, the pinnacle of this special space: a beautiful fireplace, something which I’ve always wanted in this home, but have never had.

As I lit the fireplace for the first time a few weeks ago, I praised God that this project which has been so many years in the making was nearly finished. All I needed now was to build a wooden frame and mantel over the fireplace to finish it off.

Loving woodworking and all the options that are available to me, I would normally relish thinking through what kind of wood I would choose and the finish that would go on it. But like a woman in labor, I was also at the point where I just wanted to deliver this baby! I said, “God, help me!” as much out of desperation as out of a true prayer that I believed He would answer.

But as soon as I said, “God, help me!” He did!

I remembered Lana’s casket, and the answer God had given my friend five years earlier as he was walking out of the hardware store feeling overwhelmed with options, none of which seemed quite right. And just as God’s answer came to my friend as if out of the blue, it came to me the same way, and I knew it was right! The perfect answer to my prayer for help: “Amber Shellac!”

Just last night, after days of designing and cutting and sanding the woodwork around the fireplace, I brushed on my first coat of several to come of Amber Shellac–a beautiful and perfect finishing touch to this project that began so many years ago. I am SO looking forward to sitting in this new space soon, with the fireplace going on a cold winter day and seeking God still more with all of my heart.


My Fireplace after the first coat of Amber Shellac

It’s taken many years–and many prayers–to get to this place. But none of those years and none of those prayers have been wasted, even when I felt like giving up so many times along the way. Those years and those prayers have, in fact, been building an intimacy between God and me that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

As John Ortberg says in his latest book on the topic of intimacy (and which is subtitled Getting Real about Getting Close):

“Intimacy isn’t built on grand, elaborate gestures. It doesn’t have to be something deep or dramatic–an elaborate, romantic getaway, a dramatic self-disclosure, or sentimental words. Rather, it’s made up of a thousand, everyday moments of interaction” (p. 7).

The same applies to our intimacy with God. Sometimes we think we need to get away for a “special” time of prayer with God to really get close to Him. And there is value and purpose in doing that from time to time. But our intimacy with God isn’t built on just those “special” times. It’s built, rather, on a thousand, everyday moments of interaction with Him–like calling out for help with a woodworking decision and hearing the words: “Amber Shellac!”

I want to encourage you today, and every day, to take time in prayer with God. Take time to talk to Him. Take time to interact with Him, building your intimacy with Him, moment by precious  moment.

I want to encourage you to keep “showing up.” Keep walking forward. Keep getting up, again and again. For there’s great value in even those little things that you do to keep your faith on track. As my daughter, Karis, said this week in a talk she gave to a group of people at our church who are going through a difficult season in their lives:

“I was telling a friend recently how proud I was of him for staying steadfast when it would be easy to walk away, for declaring that God will always provide, even when situations aren’t easy. I want to start celebrating people for staying planted, for staying steadfast in the midst of storms. We usually celebrate people when they do these great things for the Lord but we don’t always celebrate when people stay, when they show up when it’d be easy to walk away, and I want to start doing that more often because I believe that staying is just as valuable. And I want to tell you that tonight, I’m so proud of you for staying. For coming and hearing this message, for choosing to stay in the house of God, and for placing yourself in a position to hear from Him.” (If you need some encouragement for a difficult season you’re going through in life, you can watch the rest of Karis’s 12-minute message at this link.)

Today, I want to tell you the same. I’m proud of you for reading this message. I’m proud of you for coming back to God again and again. I’m proud of you for sticking it out with Him, no matter what, and returning to Him over and over, even when it might have been easier to walk away.

I hope and pray that this study of the Book of Psalms has sparked your interest in going further with God–further than you’ve ever gone before–so that you can truly enjoy fuller, deeper and richer conversations with Him. May these words be true about your conversations with Him from now on and forevermore:

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for speaking to us in little ways and little words, like “Amber Shellac,” words which may not mean much to others, but mean so much to us. Lord, thank You for wanting to have a conversation with us, as much as, and even more than, we sometimes want to have one with You. I pray today that You would spark in our hearts a love for You and Your Word that will carry us through every day ahead, for the rest of our lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

Here’s the link again if you’d like to listen to an excerpt from Psalm 119:
Psalm 119:9-16, read by Lana Elder, with Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero,” played by Marilyn Elder Byrnes


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Faith is an activity; it is something that has to be applied.

Corrie Ten Boom


This Day's Verse

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Strength, rest, guidance, grace, help, sympathy, love–all from God to us!  What a list of blessings!

E. Stenbock


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

As base a thing as money often is, yet it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure.  It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor.  Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth.  Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.

A. W. Tozer


This Day's Verse

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29
The New King James Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

People, places, and things were never meant to give us life.  God alone is the author of a fulfilling life.

Gary Smalley


This Day's Verse

The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me?  Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me.  I will look in triumph at those who hate me.

Psalm 118:6-7
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.

John Bunyan


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- November Blessings- Update


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

 

Dear Friends of “This Day’s Thought,”

Greg and I (Eric Elder) are so grateful for the donations which are already coming in this month to help us offset the costs of this ministry.

So far, we’ve received $2,075 towards our goal of $15,000 (and our stretch goal of an additional $10,000). We’d love your help to reach our goal!

If you’ve enjoyed these daily thoughts and weekend messages, and would like to help us keep this resource free for years to come, would you consider adding to our total this month and help us reach our goal? Whether your gift is $10, $100, $1,000 or $10,000, know that it will be a big help to us and to those we’re able to minister to every day.

Did you know that we send these daily thoughts to nearly 30,000 subscribers by email each day? And to over 10,000 additional subscribers through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our app “This Day’s Thought from The Ranch? That’s a total of nearly 40,000 subscribers we’re able to reach each day in 160 countries!

It’s been a wonderful, cost-effective way to encourage people in their faith in Christ. If you’d like to help us in this work, you can make a donation instantly at the link or address below. Thanks so much for your help! You’re the best subscribers in the world!

Click here to make online donation online

OR

Use this address to send cash or checks:
The Ranch Fellowship
25615 E 3000 North Road
Chenoa, IL 61726 USA

The Ranch Fellowship is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry, organized for the purpose of sharing the blessing of Jesus Christ throughout the world. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

When we bless God for mercies, we usually prolong them.  When we bless God for miseries, we usually end them.  Praise is the honey of life which a devout heart extracts from every bloom of providence and grace.

C. H. Spurgeon


This Day's Verse

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Luke 6:37
The New King James Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Do not let Satan deceive you into being afraid of God’s plans for your life.

R. A. Torrey


This Day's Verse

There was a time when some of you were just like that but now your sins are washed away, and you are set apart for God, and he has accepted you because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.

1 Corinthians 6:11
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Nothing is really ours until we share it.

C. S. Lewis


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Lifelong Prayers- Psalm 150


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

LIFELONG PRAYERS – PSALM 150
Lesson 30 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 150, read by Lana Elder, with George Frideric Handel’s “Gigue,” played by Bo Elder

 

Maybe you’ve heard about the wife who told her husband: “You haven’t told me you love me in years!”

To which her husband replied: “I told you I love you on our wedding day, and if that ever changes I’ll let you know.”

Some people approach their relationship with God the same way. Maybe they got saved one day many years ago, but they rarely, if ever, tell Him how much they love Him anymore.

Or maybe they’ve put off talking to God their entire lives, hoping to do all the living they can before coming to Him. They think “I’m going to live the way I want to live until the last moment, then I’ll put my faith in God.”

What they don’t realize is that waiting like this would be like waiting to fall in love until the last moment of life. They’d be missing out on so much “life” that they could have had all along the way.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to make a lifelong commitment to prayer with God. As long as you still have breath, I hope you’ll still be praising the Lord.

As the final line of Psalm 150–the final psalm in the book of Psalms–says:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

As long as you have breath, praise the Lord.

Praise Him wherever you go. Praise Him for His acts of power. Praise Him for His surpassing greatness. Praise Him with instruments and dancing. Just say it, even now: Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150 is an exuberant psalm, filled with praises to God from the first word to the last. Listen to the joy that is expressed in this psalm:

“Praise the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”
Psalm 150:1-6

The beauty of making a commitment to lifelong prayer with God is that your conversations with Him will never end–not even when you take your last breath here on earth.

My wife was interviewed just a few weeks before her imminent passing into heaven.  The interviewer said: “Lana, you don’t seem fearful of death. Why is that?”

Lana said: “I’m actually not fearful of death, and the only thing I can attribute it to is just having followed God for so long, waking up and talking to Him each day, throughout the day, He’s helped me through many things. And since I am talking to Him all day long, death will be just like meeting Him and talking to Him all day long.”

Lana’s conversations with God didn’t end when she took her last breath, and they have continued ever since–now face-to-face.

What a glorious thing to have a lifelong conversation with God here on earth that lasts into eternity.

I have some friends who, after years of knowing them, I still feel like I’m only now really getting to know them. I suppose that’s one of the reasons God promises to give us an eternity with Him–it will simply take that long for us to even come close to knowing Him the way we’d want to know Him.

After 30 years of following God with all of my heart, soul and mind, I’m still discovering new things about Him nearly every day–when reading His Word, when interacting with His people, when experiencing a nuance about His grace or forgiveness or love that I’ve never experienced before. I’m continually surprised that there’s still more to learn, more to know, and more to understand about Him and this amazing life He’s given us.

As I close today, I’d like to remind you of one of my favorite “breathy” prayers, a prayer that is little more than a breath. I mentioned this back in Lesson 15, half-way through this study, and it’s worth mentioning again as we talk about about “letting everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

The prayer is simply this: “Halal Yah!”

It’s Hebrew for “Praise Yahweh,” or “Praise the Lord.” I call it a “breathy” prayer because there are no hard consonants in the phrase. When you say it out loud, you’re just using your breath to say a prayer of praise to God. “Halal Yah!” There are no harsh sounds, no guttural stops in the middle, just a gentle glide of your tongue to the front of your mouth to form the “l” sounds. Otherwise, it’s just pure breath.

If you have breath today, try praying this simple breathy prayer yourself: “Halal Yah!”

Say it a few times, over and over. Breathe in deeply of the breath of this life that God has given you today, then breathe out a prayer of praise by saying: “Halal Yah!”

Let this prayer serve as an exclamation point at the end of everything else you have to say to Him, just as the last words of Psalm 150 serve as an exclamation point at the end of everything else that’s been said in the book of Psalms:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Take a deep breath, then say it with me: “Halal Yah! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for letting us come to You today and every day with praises on our lips to You. Thank You for the breath You’ve given us today, whether it’s easy to take those breaths or, for some, perhaps a little harder today than on other days. Yet every day we have breath is a day more that we can still praise You. So we praise You today while we still have breath. Hallal Yah! And Lord, when that finally day comes when we take our last breath here on earth, let us step into eternity with You with praises on our lips, then let us breathe deeply of that Your heavenly air so we can keep on praising You forever. Thank You, Lord, for inviting us into a conversation that will never end.  Halal Yah! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S. Next week, we’ll conclude this series with a special look at one of the most intimate (and longest) passages in the whole Bible, Psalm 119. Don’t miss it!

Eric Elder

Here’s a link to listen to today’s psalm again:
Psalm 150, read by Lana Elder, with George Frideric Handel’s “Gigue,” played by Bo Elder

And here’s a link to our reading plan for the book of psalms:
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.

Teresa of Avila


This Day's Verse

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall:  but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

Proverbs 11:28
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

How many people have you made homesick for God?

Oswald Chambers


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

I choose joy.  I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.  I will refuse the temptation to be cynical, the tool of the lazy thinker.  I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God.  I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

Max Lucado


This Day's Verse

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”

Jeremiah 31:13
The New International Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- November Blessings


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

 

Dear Ministry Members,

We are pleased to join you as we begin to close upon another year.  This Day’s Thought at The Ranch (the combined efforts of both The Ranch and This Day’s Thought ministries) have reached the thresholds of 22 years and 19 years respectively, in joyfully serving you, our wonderful ministry participants.

As many of you are now familiar with, each November we choose to share the opportunity to help enable our efforts in operating and growing our ministry by way of your gifts/donations and monthly pledges.

Eric and I have always sought to administer our ministry efforts in the most financially frugal and secure manner, seeking to remain good stewards with all the resources with which we are blessed.  Thus, we remain carefully diligent in our decisions and managing of all ministry resources and expenses.

Over these 20 some years, we have been humbled by the fact that we are now reaching readers in over 160 countries.  We personally start each day feeling this call to “touch” so many fellow brothers and sisters with our daily devotionals and Sunday sermons, as well as making available our growing library of Christian books, music and other resources, all intended to bring us closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We, therefore, are now hoping to share our needs as a ministry, so that we may continue to meet our monthly expenses and then grow beyond our current reach.  We are praying this year for a total of $15,000 in donations for our ongoing operating expenses, with a stretch goal of an additional $10,000 to help us grow into the future. (You can also make your donation a monthly one by checking the box on our donation page which says, “Make this a monthly donation.”)

We have come far, but we pray to reach and touch so many others in order to offer comfort and encouragement to so many in need.

Thank you for your prayers and considerations in helping us with your one-time gifts and donations or with your pledges for monthly support.

We thank you for allowing us to serve you these last 20 some years, and look forward to our future together, as we join in praise and worship and prayers and love, all in His Name.

Most Sincerely,
Greg Potzer

Click here to make online donation online

OR

Use this address to send cash or checks:
The Ranch Fellowship
25615 E 3000 North Road
Chenoa, IL 61726 USA

The Ranch Fellowship is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry, organized for the purpose of sharing the blessing of Jesus Christ throughout the world. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite and the most abundant furnishings.  Everything in it tells us of God.

John Calvin


This Day's Verse

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

John 14:1
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

You and I are human post offices.  We are daily giving out messages of some sort to the world.  They do not come from us, but through us; we do not create, we convey.

Vance Havner


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life–all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God–depend upon the practice of secret prayer.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

Psalm 92:12-14
The King James Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.

Alexander Maclaren


This Day's Verse

Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise.

James 5:13
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

The Bible is a letter from God with our personal address on it.

Soren Kierkegaard


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Guiding Prayers- Psalm 143

(Sorry for the delay in this week’s message. But as you’ll read in the three stories below, I pray that it comes to you at just the right place and at just the right time. Eric)


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

GUIDING PRAYERS – PSALM 143
Lesson 29 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 143, read by Lana Elder, with C.P.E. Bach’s “Solfeggietto,” played by Eric Elder

 

If you need guidance in your life, wondering which way you should go, let me encourage you to pray a prayer that David prayed in Psalm 143:

“Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul….
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God;
may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (vv. 8b, 10).

I was asking God to do this very thing a few weeks ago–to show me the way I should go. (I seem to be asking God to do this nearly every day! But for today, I want to tell you three ways God answered my prayers recently.)

I was on a trip out west with my youngest daughter, as we were visiting my middle daughter for a few days in California. There were several things we planned to do on our trip, but there were a few things we really dreamed we could do, but they seemed nearly impossible.

As a backdrop for Story #1, my youngest daughter is a huge fan of America’s Got Talent. She’s been watching the show all season, and when she found out we were going to be in LA the same week as the filming of the final episode of the show, she wondered if she might be able to see the show and some of the performers she had been watching all year.

I checked into the idea, but the show was already sold out. A few days into our trip, however, I was praying that God would do something special for her–and He did! Even though we couldn’t see the finals of the show, we decided to go down to Hollywood the day afterward to see some of the sites.

We parked at a friend’s house near downtown Hollywood and started walking towards the area we wanted to see. About five minutes into our 15-minute walk to our destination, my daughter noticed a group of guys walking towards us on the other side of the street. She looked at me and said, “Dad, that’s Light Balance, the dance group I’ve been watching on TV!”

I looked closer at the guys across the street and saw they were all wearing matching T-shirts with the letters “LB” printed on them. And just as we were looking at them, they looked as us! There was no one else on either side of the street, and no cars coming in either direction. It was just us and them!

I told my daughter to wave and say “Hi” since they were already looking at us, and she did. They all stopped and waved back!

We crossed the street, said hello in person, and were able to tell them how much we liked watching their performances all season. We asked if we could take a picture with them, which they were very happy to do.

One of them took a picture of us all, we said goodbye, and went on our way–my heart rejoicing! Not because I got to meet Light Balance, although I was very happy to meet them! My heart was rejoicing because God had answered my prayer to do something special for my daughter. It was one of the highlights of our trip, and it felt like God had specifically guided us to that very spot at that very point in time.


“Light Balance” with my daughter and me

You might think this story is just coincidental, and I might, too, except for story #2.

My middle daughter, who lives in LA, really loves a famous singer–and she has for most of her life. One of her hopes has been to meet him someday, to truly hang out and be genuine friends. During our time with her, I had been praying that God would fulfill some of the special desires that she’s had on her heart as an encouragement to her that she’s at the right place at the right time.

She often attends a mid-week service at a church in LA, so we all went together for the night. The church was meeting that week in a hotel ballroom in Beverly Hills because their normal venue was being used for something else that night.

Just before the service started, the singer she has loved for so long happened to walk in and sit down less than 30 feet away from us!

I told her that God had truly put her in the right place at the right time, and that He would continue to do so as she just kept staying close to Him. Who knew, I said, what God might bring about?

Two weeks later, she happened to be at an event for the church, and not only was this singer there, too, but they had a chance to chat and even share a laugh together about something they both thought was hysterical! It was a brief encounter, but I pray it is the first of many such encounters that will continue to fulfill one of the desires that has been on her heart for many, many years.


Mid-week service in Beverly Hills

You might consider this a chance encounter, too, but the evidence in my mind that it was God who was leading our steps just kept mounting with story #3.

I had a desire on my heart that week in LA, too. I wanted to visit a particular place I had never visited before: a beach about an hour away from where my daughter lived. I didn’t think we’d have time to go there, so I didn’t mention it. I just asked God that if there were a way, that He would make it possible.

As the days passed, although it looked like it probably wouldn’t work out, I just kept it close to my heart, trusting Him with whatever happened.

And then it happened! I had planned to see another friend who lived there in LA, but his schedule was tight as he was headed out for the weekend. He said he could get together, but it would really help him out if I could give him a ride afterward to a boat dock where he was going to be taking an express boat to his next destination. I looked on the map to see where he needed me to take him, and it was 2 miles from the very place I had been wanting to visit!

I hadn’t mentioned it to him. I hadn’t mentioned it to my daughters. I had only mentioned it to God in my prayers–a prayer that I thought would be nearly impossible to answer!

I was able to visit my friend, drop him off at the dock, then spend a few precious hours in the spot I only dreamed might possible just a few days earlier! God had done it again, guiding and directing to the right place at the right time.


A walk on the beach

Individually, any of these stories might seem random or coincidental. But collectively, the fact that each story represented each of the different desires on our hearts and different answers to our prayers–any one of which seemed fairly unlikely and nearly impossible–these stories encouraged me that God really does answer our prayers for guidance and direction. He really can put us in the right place at the right time to fulfill His will as well as our desires.

Maybe you feel dismayed today that God hasn’t been answering YOUR prayers. If so, you’re not alone. Even David felt this way as he began his prayers for guidance to God:

“O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;
in Your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief…
my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed…
I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails.
Do not hide Your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You”  (vv. 1, 4, 6-8a).

If that’s you, today, let me encourage you to keep praying the rest of David’s prayer, too, for God’s guidance and direction in your life.

“Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul….
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God;
may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (vv. 8, 10).

Just as God answered David’s prayers 3,000 years ago, and just as God answered my prayers a few weeks ago, I trust and pray that God will answer your prayers– even today.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for letting us come to You with our prayers for guidance and direction. Thank You for making a way where the way seems nearly impossible. Thank You for Your love, Your faithfulness, and Your encouragement to us to keep praying for guidance and direction, knowing that You care about even the smallest details of our lives. Show us the way to go. Lead us by Your Holy Spirit. Guide us into Your perfect will for our lives, today and forevermore. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

Here’s a link to listen to today’s psalm again:
Psalm 143, read by Lana Elder, with C.P.E. Bach’s “Solfeggietto,” played by Eric Elder

And here’s a link to our reading plan for the book of psalms for 2017:
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

When you put God first, you are establishing order for everything else in your life.

Andrea Garney


This Day's Verse

And so we know and reply on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.

John Bunyan


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness.

Abraham Wright


This Day's Verse

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12
The New King James Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

O Holy Spirit of God, abide with us; inspire all our thoughts; pervade our imaginations; suggest all our decisions; order all our doings.

John Baillie


This Day's Verse

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

A spiritual secret is to learn contentment with the things God doesn’t explain to us.

Amy Carmichael


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource!  We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go.  And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.

George MacDonald


This Day's Verse

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

Romans 12:6
The New Living Translation


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

There is only one you.  God wanted you to be you.  Don’t you dare change just because you’re out numbered!

Charles Swindoll


This Day's Verse

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 33:20
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Whoever loves much, does much.

Thomas a Kempis


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Searching Prayers- Psalm 139


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

SEARCHING PRAYERS – PSALM 139
Lesson 28 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 139, read by Lana Elder, with Felix Mendelssohn’s “Venetian Boat Song,” played by Eric Elder

 

One of the most intimate moments I’ve ever had in a conversation with God came while reading today’s psalm, Psalm 139.

I was on a ski trip with my family in northern Illinois. I had just quit my secular job to go into full-time ministry. I had quit my job by faith, knowing that God had called me to do it, but not because I had anything particular lined up ahead of time to do next. I only knew that God wanted me to seek Him, day by day, and to stay as close as possible to Him.

I had no special resources tucked away for this time without a job: only about 10 days’ worth of salary in the bank and three kids at home. Because we had planned this trip months in advance with another family and had already paid for it, we decided to go, but I was extra nervous about the idea of skiing as I had also given up my health insurance when I quit. If any of us had any kind of accident on the slopes, we would be completely on our own.

When it came time to ski, I sent my family with the other family to the hills, but I stayed back at the rental house to pray. Although I felt as close to God as I had ever been, my level of anxiety about the future was equally high.

As I began to pray, God showed me my next step–and it petrified me. He wanted me to take the 10 days’ worth of salary in the bank and invest it in a trip to Israel, a country I had never visited before, and a country I had never even considered visiting before. I felt stretched in my faith beyond anything I had ever known before, and I thought I would break. “This couldn’t really be what God is saying, is it?” I thought.

I laid down on the couch to take a break from praying when God spoke to my heart in a way that I can only describe as very personal. He knew my anxiety level was at an all-time high, and He wanted to reassure me that yes, He was with me in this, too. He said, very quietly, “Open your Bible, Eric, and read the third line down.”

“Open it to where?” I thought.

“Just open it,” He said, “and look at the third line down.”

“Are you serious, God? This is not a game! This is not Bible roulette!”

But not knowing what else to do, I did what I felt He was saying. I opened my Bible, still lying down on the couch, and looked at the passage on the page. It began with these words:

“O 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” (vv. 1-3).

There I was, lying down on the couch, and as I read the third line down, two words leapt out as if they were emblazoned with fire, supported by all the other words I had just read:

“You discern my going out and my LYING DOWN; You are familiar with all my ways.”

It wasn’t just “like” God was speaking to me, God WAS speaking to me! If you’ve ever had a moment where you know that you know that God is real, that He is right there with you, and that He has something very, very important to say to you, this was that kind of moment.

Immediately I was flooded with peace. With comfort. With full trust, knowing that as long as I stayed close to God, He would lead me and walk me through anything He ever called me to do.

As I read the rest of the psalm, I saw that God knew me better than I could ever know myself, that there was nothing hidden from Him, and that there was no where I could go where He would not come with me.

Over the following days and weeks, I followed God’s leading day by day, going to Israel, seeing Him work and walk with me in ways He had never done before, beginning the ministry that I am still doing today, 22 years later (but that’s a story that would take a whole ‘nother book).

I share this story with you before sharing the rest of Psalm 139 with you because I want you to know that God is with you just as much as He is with me. He knows your heart as well as He knows mine.

Although God highlighted two words for me that day in a way that made them leap off the page and into my heart, the experience served to underscore the truth of EVERY WORD in Psalm 139. EVERY WORD in the psalm is true, and EVERY WORD in it applies equally to you as it does to me.

With that in mind, if you’re anxious about today, if you’re unsure about what God is calling you to do next, or if you’re needing some encouragement that God is really with you–and will be with you no matter where you are or what you do–read the following words from Psalm 139 and let them sink deep into your Spirit. Invite God to search your heart and know your anxious thoughts, trusting that He can and will lead you in THE WAY everlasting, if you will stay as close to Him as possible:

“O 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.
You 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.

Where 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 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.

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24)

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for knowing us so deeply, so intimately. Thank You that there is nowhere on earth, or off the earth, that we could go and NOT have you with us. Lord, You know us better than anyone else knows us, better even than we know ourselves. Search us, O God, and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Reveal to us anything that we would ever need to know, anything that is not right and needs to be corrected, and lead us in the way everlasting, the way that leads to an abundant life in every possible area of our lives.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Eric Elder

Here’s a link to listen to today’s psalm again:
Psalm 139, read by Lana Elder, with Felix Mendelssohn’s “Venetian Boat Song,” played by Eric Elder

And here’s a link to our reading plan for the book of psalms for 2017:
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayers and worn with thanks.

Thomas Goodwin


This Day's Verse

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:3-5
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

Children do not find it difficult or complicated to talk to their parents, nor do they feel embarrassed to bring the simplest need to their attention.  Neither should we hesitate to bring the simplest requests confidently to the Father.

Richard J. Foster


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives.  But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, “I can clean that if you want.”  And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin.

Max Lucado


This Day's Verse

We live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7
The New International Version


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

An angel can illumine the thought and mind of man by strengthening the power of vision, and by bringing within its reach some truth which the angel himself contemplates.

Thomas Aquinas


This Day's Verse

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,

John 6:54
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Stay within whispering distance.  If you stray, you won’t hear His voice.

Unknown


Watch Here! | Listen Here! | Ask for Prayer | Contact Us | Visit Our Website | Subscribe | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bookstore