This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

What is maturity?  It is being able to carry money without spending it; being able to bear an injustice without retaliation; being able to do one’s duty even when one is not watched; being able to keep on the job until it’s finished; being able to accept criticism without letting it whip you.

Alfred Armand Montapert


This Day's Verse

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Galatians 6:8
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

Treat your friends like family and your family like friends.

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Oh, God, we go through life so lonely, needing what other people can give us, yet ashamed to show that need.  And other people go through life so lonely, hungering for what it would be such a joy for us to give.  Dear God, please bring us together, the people who need each other, who can help each other, and would so enjoy each other.

Marjorie Holmes


This Day's Verse

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor.  This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

It is a fundamental principle in the life and walk of faith that we must always be prepared for the unexpected when we are dealing with God.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones


This Day's Verse

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.

Proverbs 24:17-18
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

A signpost, like a peer, only warns you about the road ahead.  But a map, like a mentor, can show you how to get where you want to go.

Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Conversations With God


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD
Introduction to Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

I love talking to God. It’s often the highlight of my day.

For some, like my friend Dan Mountney, waking up and talking with God brings focus to everything else that happens in his day. “It centers me,” Dan says.

For some, like Adrian Rogers, talking to God brings clarity to what God wants him to do. When asked by a reporter if God had spoken to Adrian like the reporter had just spoken to him, Adrian replied, “Oh, no! It was much louder than that.”

For some, like Billy Graham, talking with God is like talking with a best friend. “How do you know God exists?” Billy was once asked. “Because I spoke with Him this morning,” he replied.

What about you? How would you rate your conversations with God? As much as I love talking with God, I still feel in many ways that I am just scratching the surface of what my conversations with Him could be like.

Five years ago, my wife Lana and I were talking about prayer. Lana said, “I’d like to learn more about prayer.”

I was stunned. Lana’s prayer life was already deep and rich and full. She prayed continually, in private and out loud, for me, for our family, for our friends, for missionaries, for entire countries. She prayed for breakthroughs and healings and restorations. She prayed for forgiveness and for a greater love for others. Yet with all she had learned about prayer over the years, she still wanted more.

For me, that was Lesson #1 in going deeper in my own prayer life, to simply know that there’s always more.

At that same time, I was wanting to take a closer look at the book of Psalms. What was it about this book that made it one of the most beloved books in the Bible? What secrets did it hold that made publishers often publish it by itself, or pair it as the one Old Testament book to go along with the entire New Testament? Why do people seem to quote so often from the Psalms, as Jesus did, more than any other book in the Bible?

By combining my curiosity about the Psalms with Lana’s desire to learn more about prayer, we took a deeper dive together into this book to see what we could discover in its depths. We learned that the book of Psalms is really a book of prayers; in fact, it’s the oldest prayer book in the world. The word “psalm” means “song” in Hebrew, the language in which the psalms were originally written. And since they are all songs to God, they are often considered prayers as much as anything else–conversations with Him that came from deep in the author’s heart.

We learned that over half of those “conversations with God” were voiced by King David, as specifically noted in the text, with many of the others alluding to his authorship based on the situations described in the psalms. I was personally looking forward to learning all I could from this man whom God described as “a man after My own heart” (see Acts 13:22).

What I wasn’t expecting was that the next year of our lives would take such an unexpected twist: soon after we began this deeper dive into the book of Psalms and the topic of prayer, Lana was diagnosed with cancer. Ten days later, we were told it was terminal. And nine months after that, Lana was gone, having passed from this life to the next.

It crushed me, and it crushed a part of my heart at the same time. If I had known this would happen when we first decided we wanted to have a deeper, richer and fuller prayer life, I’m not sure we would have done it.

But I was reminded of this thought again when a friend was telling me how he had recently made a decision to go deeper in his relationship with God. He began by waking up ten minutes earlier each day to read his Bible and pray. The following week, he woke up ten minutes earlier still. And the week after that, he woke up ten minutes earlier still, continuing this pattern until he was now waking up an hour or more earlier than usual so he could have as much time with God as possible.

He then told me about several things that had gotten increasingly harder in his life during this time: his work situation, family’s heath and his finances.

It reminded me of the difficulties Lana and I had faced soon after we made our decision to go deeper with God. I was tempted to say something to this effect when my friend said something that stopped me:

“I am so glad I decided to do this with God,” he said, “because if I hadn’t, I don’t know how I could have gotten through this time in any other way.” 

My friend was right. He was absolutely right. If Lana and I had not committed ourselves to a deeper walk with God, I don’t know how we could have gotten through what we had to go through, either. And how much better it is to be on the path of going deeper with God before life throws its worst at you, rather than waiting till it hits you full on? The time I’ve spent grounding myself in God, and in my relationship with Him, is the one thing above all else that has helped me through some of the most difficult challenges in my life.

So here it is, five years since Lana and I decided to take that deeper dive into the topic of prayer as seen through the lens of the Psalms, and now I’d like to share with you some of the lessons that I’ve learned. Along the way, I’ll also tell you about some of the miraculous answers to prayer I’ve seen and some of the amazing conversations with God I’ve had, many of which are no less miraculous or amazing to me than those I read about in the book of Psalms. The same God who walked with David through his highs and lows is the same God who has walked with me through mine–and who will walk with you through yours.

I pray God will speak to you in a special way during your time with Him, both while we’re doing this study together, and on your own for the rest of your days. I can think of nothing more incredible than to be able to talk personally with the God who created you, who knows you better than you know yourself, and who loves you like no one else on earth ever could.

I’m looking forward to our time together. I hope you are, too. I’ll share the details of how we’ll work through the book of Psalms in the P.S. below. But first, will you pray with me?

Dear Jesus, I am so thankful that we can come to you each and every day, all day, at any time during the day, and have a conversation with You. You are so loving and gracious, so kind and helpful, so wise and so knowledgable about all things, including me. Help me as I go through this day. Walk me through every situation I face. Help me to learn all that You want me to learn as we walk through this study of the book of Psalms. In Your name we pray, Amen.

P.S. Here’s my plan for going through the book of Psalms:

There are 150 psalms in the book of Psalms, each containing its own particular thought or theme. For this study, I’m going to share some thoughts with you from 30 of those 150 psalms. If you’d like to read all 150 on your own, I’d suggest reading one psalm a day for five days, starting with Psalms 1-5 this week. I’ll be highlighting one of those five psalms every week in my weekly Sunday message. By reading just five psalms a week, you’ll have two extra days per week to take a break or catch up on your reading as we go along. I also plan on taking a break for a week or two every six or seven weeks, which will give you a break and still more time to catch up if you need it. If you follow along with this plan as we go through the study, you’ll have read through the entire book of Psalms by the end of it. For those who like charts and check marks, I’ve typed up my weekly plan for this series, which you can view or print to put in your Bible. Here’s the link to the 2017 Reading Plan For Psalms.

Thanks for reading along with me! Enjoy!

Eric Elder


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The gospel is good news only if it arrives in time.

Carl F. H. Henry


This Day's Verse

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:8
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.

Rachel Naomi Remen


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday

New Sunday Series! Starting this Sunday, February 19th, I’ll be sharing a new series of messages each week on how you can have a more effective prayer life. We’ll be looking through the book of Psalms at various ways to have richer, deeper and fuller conversations with God.

You  don’t need to do anything special to receive these weekly messages. Just look for the Sunday message each week, starting this Sunday, which you already receive as part of your subscription to “This Day’s Thought from The Ranch.”

What you can do, however, is to invite someone else to go through this new series with you!  Maybe you know someone who would like to learn more about talking with God, or someone who already loves to pray, but wants to go deeper. Either way, just forward this email to them and ask if they’d like to sign up for our free daily emails as well. Your friends will get our daily inspirational quotes, just like you do, including this new series on prayer on Sundays. Just invite them to sign up for “This Day’s Thought from The Ranch” on the home page of our website at this link: http://theranch.org.

We’ll start this Sunday, February 19th!

Sincerely,
Eric Elder


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

George Macdonald


This Day's Verse

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.

John 3:36
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

C. S. Lewis


This Day's Verse

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

When you think you’ve acquired every tool
And graduated from life’s hard school,
Someone with infinite resources
Thinks up several brand-new courses.

Ruth Boorstin


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The Blind Girl

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind.  She hated everyone, except her living boyfriend.  He was always there for her.  She told her boyfriend, “If I could only see the world, I will marry you.”  One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her.  When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.  He asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”  The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind.  The sign of his closed eyelids shocked her.  She hadn’t expected that .  The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.  Her boyfriend left her in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: “Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.”

Unknown


This Day's Verse

Give your burdens to the Lord.  He will carry them.  He will not permit the godly to slip or fall.

Psalm 55:22
The Living Bible


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Next to faith this is the highest art–to be content with the calling in which God has placed you.  I have not learned it yet.

Martin Luther


This Day's Verse

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

Proverbs 6:23
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself–an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.

Antisthenes


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon and New Series Coming!

Note from Eric: Would you like to read through the Psalms with me this year? It’ll be easy… we’ll just read one Psalm a day for five days each week. Then once a week, in our regular Sunday messages on “This Day’s Though from The Ranch,” I’ll share with you something I’ve learned from one of the five Psalms from that week.

As we’re reading through the Psalms, I’ll be looking particularly at how to have a more effective prayer life. Psalms is one of the most beloved books of the Bible and one of the most quoted books in the world. Why? That’s what we’re going to find out!

You don’t need to do anything special to receive these weekly messages. Just look for the Sunday message each week, which you already receive as part of your subscription to “This Day’s Thought from The Ranch.”

What you can do, however, is invite someone else to read through the Psalms with you this year! Just forward this email to them and ask if they’d like to sign up for our free daily emails as well. Your friends will get our inspirational quotes each day, just like you do, including this new series on the Psalms on Sundays. Just invite them to sign up for “This Day’s Thought from The Ranch” on the home page of our website at this link: http://theranch.org.

We’ll start with Psalm 1 next Sunday, February 19th. I’m looking forward to this new series. I hope you are, too!

Sincerely,
Eric Elder


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Receiving God’s Guidance

by Christian Cheong

 
This is the story of how God guided Abraham’s servant to find the wife for his son Isaac. We’re going to learn some principles in receiving God’s guidance.

Our God is a God who guides, and who wants to guide.

• He did that for Abraham – bringing him out from his homeland to Israel.

• He did that for Moses and the people – from Egypt to Canaan.

• He did that for the wise men who wanted to see baby Jesus – so He showed them the way through a star in the sky.

Today, God wants to guide you in your choices – if you allow Him.

2 Chron 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Rom 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

It is not that God do not want to guide us, it is more often the case that we do not want to listen to His advice. We ignore His guidance.

RETURN TO THE CABIN

A flight attendant spent a week’s vacation in the Rockies. She was captivated by the mountain peaks, the clear blue skies, and the beautiful forest. She also was charmed by a very eligible bachelor who owned and operated a cattle ranch and lived in a log cabin.

At the end of this week, after a wonderful time with this bachelor, she has to return home to her job. While on board the place, she was pondering, “Should I go back to the city or return to the woods and stay with this man in the cabin for the rest of her life?” She was struggling but believes that God will give her an answer.

To refresh herself, she went into the rest room and splashed some water on her face. Just then, there was some turbulence, a ‘ding’ sound went off and then a sign in the rest room lit up: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CABIN.

She did – to the cabin back in the mountains.

…Modified from Reader’s Digest [1/81], p. 118.

I hope this is not the way you make decisions in life.

• Making the right choice is a dilemma for many people, including Christians.

• How can you and I be certain that we are in God’s will and that the decisions we are making are the right ones?

• This is an important subject for all of us since we all must make important decisions.

This passage in Genesis 24 deals with this subject and problem.

• In this chapter we not only see God providing guidance to His people in an important matter but we also see the conditions under which that guidance was provided.

• These conditions, which could also be referred to as principles, are what I will discuss today.

There are 4 key principles that can help us.

The 1st principle for receiving God’s guidance: Knowing God’s Word.

[See verses 3-4]

We must know God’s will and purposes to help direct our actions and decisions.

• And that knowledge comes first and foremost from God’s Word.

• God’s Word reveals God’s plan, principles and purposes.

• We need to start with that. Without this knowledge, you might as well do whatever you want.

Abraham knew right at the start what he was looking for.

• He gave very clear instruction to the servant where to find a wife for Isaac – not among the daughters of the Canaanites.

• Boundaries have been set because Abraham knew what was right in God’s sight.

Knowledge of God’s Word is the first step in the right direction.

We see Abraham taking steps to see that God’s plan is fulfilled.

• God promised to make him a great nation.

• Isaac must marry and have children for the covenant blessings to be received.

• Abraham understands this, so he doesn’t sit idly and wait for God’s plan to be fulfilled.

• He does his part and takes appropriate action; in this case he begins to look for a wife for Isaac.

Sometimes we think that if God guides us, it means we do not have to do anything.

• Like people who are out of work and yet refuse to go look for a job because they are waiting for God to provide a job.

• Such thinking is unbiblical. God wants us to do our part, but to do it while being guided by the knowledge of God’s Word.

This was what Abraham did!

• His search for a wife wasn’t based on human standards or desires but guided by his knowledge of God’s will.

• Why did he insist that Isaac’s wife be from his own relatives and not from the local people of Canaan? Why did he insist on this condition?

• Because he knew enough of God’s will to know that God wouldn’t bless a marriage to a Canaanite woman.

God did not tell him specifically, “You cannot take a Canaanite woman for Isaac.”

• Although no specific command, God did reveal to Abraham the wicked character of the people of Canaan.

• And he knew that to marry one of them would not be pleasing to God.

• Although no clear command from God, he did have enough information to make reasonable inferences.

In other words, we apply biblical principles to the situation.

• There are many situations in life that we do not have a specific command in the Bible, but we are to apply the principles we come to know from the Scriptures.

• And make a decision that is in line with the character of God.

So, the first principle for receiving God’s guidance is: Knowing God’s Word.

• Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

NO LIGHT ON THE RUNWAY

Consider the experience of a friend of mine, who was a recreational pilot when he was younger. On one occasion, he flew his single-engine plane toward his home base at a small country airport.

Unfortunately, he waited too long to start back and arrived in the vicinity of the field as the sun dropped behind a mountain. By the time he maneuvered his plane into position to land, he could not see the hazy runway below.

There were no lights to guide him and no one on duty at the airport. He circled the field for another attempt to land, but by then the darkness had become even more impenetrable. For 2 desperate hours, he flew his plane around and around in the blackness of the night, knowing that probably death awaited him when he ran out of fuel.

Then as greater panic gripped him, a miracle occurred. Someone on the ground heard the continuing drone of his engine and realized his predicament. That merciful man drove his car back and forth on the runway to show my friend the location of the airstrip. Then he let his lights cast their beam from the far end while the plane landed.

…James Dobson shared this about his friend in The New Strong-Willed Child, p. xi.

It is very critical that we know the will of God.

• Jewish proverb: “It is better to ask the way ten times than to take the wrong road once.”

• “For a painter, he cannot do without a brush. For a carpenter, he cannot do without a hammer. For us, our life can do without God’s Word.”

The 2nd principle for receiving God’s guidance: Be Committed to God’s Will.

[See verses 5-6]

We have to DECIDE, right at the start, to keep to God’s plan.

• Abraham was serious about doing it right. It is one thing to know, it is quite another to be completely committed to it.

• It would not be easy to get a wife who is willing to follow the servant back, but he was committed to staying within the boundary lines.

• And it was a success. This story shows us that God guides us when we are committed to His will and not our own.

“If no woman is willing to come to this land (so far), can we just take Isaac back home and settle there?”

• The servant is basically asking: Can we change plan if it doesn’t work?

• Abraham said NO! God has already revealed to him that He is going to give him and his descendants this land.

• So Isaac is not going to leave this ‘promised land’.

Abraham makes it clear that he is totally committed to following God’s plan.

• It makes the servant’s job very difficult, but Abraham is committed to doing it God’s way.

• You see, he is determined to align himself to God’s plan, not the other way around. We don’t change plan and fit ourselves.

King Solomon, the wisest man of all times, wrote Proverb 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

• NLT translates as “Seek His will in all you do, and (then) He (The Lord) will direct your paths.”

• For a person with great wisdom to say this is special. He is so wise, and yet needs to consult God in all ways.

God eventually worked supernaturally to fulfil His plan.

• God will work supernaturally in your life to bring about His plans, but only when you are committed to doing His will.

The 1st principle for receiving God’s guidance: Knowing God’s Word.

The 2nd principle for receiving God’s guidance: Committing to God’s Will.

The 3rd principle for receiving God’s guidance: Trusting in God’s Ways.

[See verses 7-8]

Faith is crucial. You must trust God.

• Without that, you won’t keep to His plan. You don’t believe that it will happen as God promised.

In verse 7 Abraham recounts that God had made promises that included his offspring staying in this land.

Since God made that promise, Abraham expects Him to keep it by supplying a wife for Isaac.
• His confidence is based on God’s promise, not on personal desire.

• God honours those who trust in His Word!

In verse 8 Abraham acknowledges that it may not happen as he expects.

• This isn’t a lack of trust in God – just an acknowledgment that God may provide in a different manner that he expects.

• Whatever it is, “only do not take my son back there.” We are not going to change God’s plan. We must have this determination to stay the course!

• One way or the other God will provide for His will to be done without His people compromising on His Word!

Many people express a trust in God but their trust is that God will provide what they want and desire, according to their own plans

• Abraham really believes that God will provide on this trip, even though it looks extremely remote.

• What are the chances that his servant can travel 800km, meet a qualified woman from Abraham’s own family, and convince her and her family to let her travel to a distant land and marry a man she or the family has never met?

• Human insight or understanding would say, “No chance!”

• Nevertheless, in verse 7, Abraham clearly expects God to do just this by sending an angel to guide and provide.

• He is not trusting in his own understanding or insight but is rather trusting in God’s ways.

King Solomon says (Prov 3:5): “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Whether the issue is marriage, career, studies, ministry, or some other life issue, we must trust God to supernaturally arrange the circumstances at the right time and in the right way.

That’s the 3th principle for receiving God’s guidance: Trusting in God’s Ways.

The 4th principle for receiving God’s guidance is to pray for God’s Wisdom.

The servant did not assume that he would recognize the woman God had prepared.

[See verse 12] He prayed.

• Notice something – after travelling a 800km journey on camel, the servant arrived at the perfect place to meet a young, unmarried woman at the very time the women would be coming to the well to draw water.

• What a coincidence. No, it’s what providence!

• God had arranged the circumstances perfectly for His will to be fulfilled in this situation.

Abraham’s knowledge, commitment, and trust were not in vain.

• God was working behind the scene.

• God will direct our circumstances so that His will is successfully fulfilled in our lives if we do our part to KNOW His Word, be COMMITTED to His Will, TRUST in His ways, and then PRAY for wisdom.

• I believe many of you can look back on your life and see evidence of God working and guiding your circumstances in remarkable ways!

• It is reassuring to see how powerful and wise our God is in directing our lives.

The servant realizes that this is a divine opportunity, so he prays for success and guidance.

• James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

• We miss God’s guidance and divine opportunities because they do not pray.

Often we go through life just making decisions based on our own wisdom.
• We need to recognize that we do not have the wisdom to direct our own paths or to make right choices; we need to pray for God’s wisdom if we are to receive His guidance.

Continuing, James 1:6-8 “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

These biblical stories are recorded for our practical application today.

We can receive God’s guidance if we have the knowledge of God’s Word, are committed to His will, trust in His ways, and pray for His wisdom.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Friendships are fragile things, and require as much care in handling as any other fragile and precious thing.

Randolph S. Bourne


This Day's Verse

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure.  But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Titus 1:15
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of, and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, there have I coveted to put mine also.

John Bunyan


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

It is great wisdom not to be rash in our sayings nor to maintain too obstinately our own opinions.

Thomas a Kempis


This Day's Verse

Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip.

Psalm 17:5
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.

Francis de Sales


This Day's Verse

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife; but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 15:18
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Rare is the person who can weigh the faults of others without putting his thumb on the scales.

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

How many Christians look upon it as a burden and a duty and a difficulty to get alone with God!  That is the great hindrance to our Christian life everywhere.

Andrew Murray


This Day's Verse

For God did not spare even the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell, chained in gloomy caves and darkness until the judgment day.

2 Peter 2:4
The Living Bible


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Grace–getting what you don’t deserve.
Mercy–not getting what you deserve.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.  Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”

Luke 6:24-26
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

May God bless you with a clear dawning, a cool morning, a warm noonday, a golden sunset, a gentle twilight, a starlit night…

Robert H. Schuller 


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

But, God

by Richard Deem

 
There are a number of powerful 2-word phrases found in the Word of God. Phrases such as: Healed all; gathered in; cast out; raised up; pulled down. Each of these phrases are used in context with the power of God. However, there is one phrase used 43 times in Scripture that causes my spirit to leap for joy. That phrase is: BUT, GOD!

This small two word phrase communicates a tremendous message to all who will hear. It is God’s response to Satan’s challenge. It is the bottom line. It is the last word. It is all over but the shouting. “But God”, when viewed in relation to the challenges of life, is what up is to down; life is to death; in is to out. “But God” stand diametrically opposed to the negative roar of the world. The world says no – “but God” says yes. The world says can’t – “but God” says can. The world says won’t — :but God” says will. The world says stop – “but God” says go. The world says don’t – “but God” says do. The world says defeat – “but God” says victory!

“But God” climbs the highest mountain; traverses the darkest valley; and sings songs of victory in the midnight hour. “But God” exclaims “I’m going to the enemy’s camp and I’ll take back what he stole from me!” “But God is courageous, confident and conclusive!”

I’m speaking to you this morning from God’s perspective. I’m encouraging you to put on your Kingdom glasses and see things as God sees them. I want you to know it’s not over until God has His say. I’ve come to exhort you to stay for the entire game – wait until the last seconds tick off the clock; until the “home team” has had its chance. Wait until the last out is made! If you quit too soon, you’ll leave before victory is seen. I want to tell you this morning that the jury may still be out in your situation – all the votes are not in — the fat lady has not sung – God hasn’t had His final say. I’m speaking to you this morning on the subject “But, God . . .”

May I tell you this morning that in that book of miracles you hold in your hand, there are many instances where our adversary [Satan] is confounded and confused. There are stories of his elaborate schemes going awry, because he failed to realize that God would have the final say. Poor devil! He had worked so hard to get everything just right, yet just when he thinks he is victorious, he hears “But God!” Let’s look at a few of his defeats this morning.

  1. He Thought He Could Stop the Plan of God . . . BUT GOD [Acts 7:9; Gen 38-44]

And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: BUT GOD was with him,

  1. Pit [Gen 37:22-24]

B. Potifer [Gen 39:1-6a]

C. Prison [Gen 39:7-20]

Echoes of his brothers: “. . .now let’s see what happens to your dreams.”

D. Palace [Gen 41:25-32]

  1. Notice Gen 39:21 & Acts 7:29 “But God was with Joseph!”

II. He Thought He Could Stop the People of God . . . BUT GOD [Eph 2:3-6]

All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God’s anger just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much 5 that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead–only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved– 6 and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms–all because of what Christ Jesus did. [TLB]

A. Perfect [Gen 1:26]

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

B. Putrefied [Eph 2:3]

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Created to be kings, they now find themselves as paupers. Once were friends with God – now are enemies. Mind once filled with thoughts of God, now has become breeding ground for lust and evil. Once were rulers – now are slaves. History’s greatest tragedy.

C. Promoted [2:6] — BUT GOD!

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

III. He Thought He Could Stop The Power of God … BUT GOD [Acts 13:28-20]

And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30 BUT GOD raised him from the dead:

  1. Pierced [Isa 53]

B. Planted [John 19:38]

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

For something to bloom, it must first be planted!

C. Powerful [Matt 28:18] – BUT GOD!

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Born in a stable, His mother a virgin, raised in a carpenter shop.  His parents were poor His people were slaves, His friends were a lowly lot.  His chances in life seemed so very slim, He’s expected to be a slave.  But people in darkness saw great light in Him And hope of freedom He gave.  All of the power of heaven and earth God had invested in Him.

He’s to die on the cross, descend into hell, Meet the devil, take the keys from Him.  He yielded Himself to the death on the cross, Cried it’s finished and slumped to die, in the regions of hell the devils celebrated, We’ve destroyed the king they cried!

In the midst of the celebration footsteps were heard Walking through the corridors of hell.  Then the shouting stopped as a voice rang out A voice rang out, a voice that rang like a bell.  Satan then trembled as he recognized Him Who had come to deliver His own.  “Shut and lock the gates”, he cried “Don’t let Him ascend to His throne!”

Don’t listen to the lies and disparaging words of our enemy. Realize that God has the final word! See things from the Father’s perspective. Incline your ear and hear “But God!”  Satan says defeat, but God says victory.  Satan says disease, but God says healing.  Etc.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Father, when I consider Your power, the ultimate power, the only power…and when I see Your power focused on my concern…I can only watch expectantly for how You will do Your work in Your way in Your time.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean


This Day's Verse

A man who loves pleasure becomes poor; wine and luxury are not the way to riches!

Proverbs 21:17
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

We can live longer if we behave ourselves–if we just practice self-discipline.  Most of what ails us is self-inflicted.

Paul Harvey


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Dear God, I find it so easy to try to be the one in charge.  I find it so painful to realize that I am not the one in control.  Help me know when saying, “I just work here” that it is a confession and not just a way of evading responsibility.

Dick Rasanen


This Day's Verse

Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you!  I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Isaiah 46:4
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our problem is not needing to know the truth about tomorrow; it’s needing to live the truth we know today.

Charles R. Swindoll


This Day's Verse

Shun immorality.  Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body.

1 Corinthians 6:18
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

A laugh, to be joyous, must flow from a joyous heart, for without kindness, there can be no true joy.

Thomas Carlyle


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

One who makes it a rule to be content in every part and accident of life because it comes from God praises God in a much higher manner than one who has some set time for the singing of psalms.

William Law


This Day's Verse

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Psalm 119:36-37
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Dear God, There are places in me where I am broken.  Please touch my heart and heal me.  Thank you, God.  Amen.

Marianne Williamson


This Day's Verse

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.  We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.  Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.  But–“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Titus 3:3-7
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

Away with those who want an entirely pure church!  That is plainly the same thing as wanting no church at all.

Martin Luther


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Fill Your Pastor’s Joy to the Brim

by Dana Chau

 
This morning, we look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 1-4.

Someone has said, “Leaders are not grabbed; they are grown.” In most cases, when you see a terrific wife, husband or young adult, chances are she or he didn’t start out that way. The husband of that wonderful wife has a great deal to do with her inner beauty; the wife of that wonderful husband has a great deal to do with his inner beauty; and the parents of the wonderful young adult have a great deal to do with that young adult’s inner beauty. This is not always the case, but nurture does have its impact on nature.

We have a great impact and a great responsibility in shaping the people God entrusts into our lives, especially those we have regular contact with, our co-workers, our clients, our family and even our church family.

A pastor’s conference spoke of how the congregation begins to take on the likeness of its pastor over the years, so the pastor has no one to blame but himself, if he does not like the congregation after a number of years. I would make another claim, that I believe is true: The pastor that the congregation has after a number of years is not the same pastor who signed the contract many years before, but a person shaped by the congregation.

This morning, we will look at the “why” and the “how” to fill your pastor’s joy to the brim. The “why to fill your pastor’s joy to the brim” actually doesn’t come from this passage, but the “how” does. The “why” comes from Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” So what we will talk about this morning also applies to the Elders of the church. At each of our Elders meeting, we spend a portion of the time asking about and praying for your spiritual well-being.

How many of us would do everything possible to be pleasant with our mechanic or at least avoid arguing with him when we leave him our car for repair? I would want my mechanic to be in a great mood, because an unhappy mechanic can lead to a poor repair job, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Again, how many of us would do everything possible to be pleasant with our surgeon, or at least avoid arguing with her before we go under the knife? Again, I would. An unhappy surgeon can lead to my death, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

But few people think about the importance of having happy or joyful pastor and Elders. Our business is the well-being of your souls. We work to make many opportunities for you and your friends to get to know God, and if you already know God, we work to provide many opportunities for you to mature in your relationship with God. We also work to protect your souls and relationships from being damaged by sin and ignorance.

The next time you go into surgery, pray that God will give your surgeon a joyful spirit. He will do a better job on your body. Furthermore, the next time you meet with your pastor or Elder, pray that they would have a joyful spirit. They will do a better job on your soul.

Paul, the church planter and founding pastor of the Philippi Community Christian Church tells us this morning about three areas of progress in which the Philippians can grow to make their pastor’s joy complete. We saw in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians that he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the Philippians to have the same joy. Now he tells the Philippians how they can be involved in filling his joy to the brim!

If you want the best care for your soul, stay awake and learn how you can get involved.

The first area of progress in which you can grow to make your pastor and Elders’ joy complete is the area of reliance upon God. (We read this in chapter 2, verse 1.)

A pastor who truly is concerned about your soul will not find joy in a bigger paycheck. He will not find joy in a plush house. He will not find joy in the compliments he receives from his sermons. A pastor who is truly concerned about the souls of those he shepherds will find joy when the people he shepherds grow to rely on God as their source of strength enough for them to become a giver and not simply a taker.

Paul’s joy begins to be filled to the brim as he assumed the Philippians have encouragement from being united with Christ, that they have comfort from the love of God, that they have fellowship with the Spirit of God, and that all these enable them to express tenderness and compassion toward Paul.

His “if” statements are like that of the father who says to his son, “If you are a man, you would own up to your mistake.” This statement does not question whether his son is a man, but assumes that to be the truth. A mother who says to her daughter, “If you have a nice dress, why not wear the dress to the party?” This statement does not question whether the daughter has a nice dress, but assumes that to be the truth.

The job of the pastor is similar to that of the parents. The parents teach and model a healthy relationship between a man and a woman so that the child can grow up and have a healthy relationship with the opposite sex. That’s why one of the best things you can do for your child is to love your spouse. Similar to a parent, the pastor teaches and models a healthy relationship between a person and God so that the people he shepherds can grow up and have a healthy relationship with God.

When the people have a healthy reliance upon God for encouragement, for comfort and for fellowship, God becomes their source of strength enough to help them become givers and not simply takers.

Let me give you a few examples. When a person can give encouragement to another without expecting in return because she has encouragement from being unite with Christ, then she has found her source of strength in God. Or when a person can comfort someone who is hurting slightly while he himself is hurting badly, because he has his comfort from the love of God, and he has found his source of strength in God. Finally, when a person can offer friendship to those who reject her, because she has the fellowship with the Spirit of God, and she has found her source of strength in God.

We can only find our source of strength in God when we make our goal in life to know God more. Otherwise, we will seek our strength in the wrong places, in money, in prestige, in possession, or in power. These sources not only will not provide the needed strength in life, but they often produce greed and insecurity. Only one who has found his or her source of strength in God can become a giver and not just a taker in life. And the pastor and Elders who see such progress in the people they shepherd will overflow with joy.

The second area of progress in which you can grow to make your pastor and Elders’ joy complete is the area of resolving to be a loving team in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Resolve means to set your mind to doing. (We read this in chapter 2, verse 2 and chapter 4, verses 2-3.)

Paul calls us away from division, not by thinking alike, but by thinking on the same things, the same love, the same spirit and the same purpose. The church at Philippi was not without problems. In fact, Paul gets very specific and begins to name names when he calls other Christians in the church to help Euodia and Syntyche to resolve their conflicts.

The job of a pastor is similar to that of a coach. A coach leads the team by determining the characteristic, the unity and purpose of the team. I forget which baseball coach was quoted saying, “The secret to coaching successfully is to find out which team members like you, which team members hate you and which ones are undecided. Then the job of the coach is to keep those who hate him away from those who are undecided.”

If there is such division in the church, the pastor has to do more than preserve his job. He has to work with the team to possess a loving unity and purpose. While a baseball team might even win with members who hate each other and who hate the coach, the church cannot win when there is no love and no unity in the members and for the pastor and Elders.

Jesus Christ defined for the Christians what winning looks like, when love and unity characterize the resolve of Christians. Even sources outside of the Bible would affirm the power of having the same love and unity as Christ. From the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, we read, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.”

The purpose of the church is to make the good news of Jesus Christ known to the community, to the country and to the world. This purpose is why we have local ministries, home missions and overseas missions. The good news is that through Jesus Christ, love and unity is possible between one another, even love and unity with God. But unless we are living such a resolve in our own lives, in our own families, or in our relationships with each other, we speak of what we have not experienced. We become like the salespeople who have never used the product – the product of love and unity.

On the other hand, if we resolve, that is set our minds on the same love, unity and purpose as Christ, we not only have good news to tell others about, but we also have good news to show others about and to share with others our experience. And the pastor and Elders who see such progress in the people they shepherd will overflow with joy.

The third and final area of progress in which you can grow to make your pastor and Elders’ joy complete is the area of relating to one another in humility and not in competition. (We read this in verse 3 and 4.)

As the pastor of the church, I am tempted to pretend that I am closest to God, possessing the most important gifts of the church and knowing exactly what I need to do and what you need to do in your life at any given moment. By the grace of God, I sometimes come to my senses or God withdraws Himself from my awareness, and I discover that God is not in my pocket, that I’m not gifted and talented to do all things in the church, and that I sometimes don’t know what God is doing in my life or in your life until afterwards.

God has not called your pastor to model perfection, but humility. You are to see that if God can use someone like me, He can use anybody in this room. To pretend to be something I’m not, or to think that I am better than you are is not only dishonest but will intimidate you from being the person God is making you to become.

A pastor was given an award for humility. A week later, the congregation took the award back because the pastor displayed it in his office. Humility is not mean to be put on display. Humility is also not downplaying one’s strengths and gifts. Humility is not low self-worth. Humility does not think of oneself more highly than he ought to think. Humility is aware of the good and strengths in others.

Competition, on the other hand, sometimes comes from a need to prove oneself, while humility relies upon God. Competition desires to exalt me, myself and I, while humility desires to exalt Christ, the Father and the Spirit. Competition resolves to distinguish the strong from the weak, while humility resolves to direct one’s power for God’s purposes. Competition has many loves, many allegiances and many drives, while humility has one love, one spirit and one purpose, that is to please God. Competition looks to one’s own interests, while humility looks also to the interests of others.

The one who possesses humility possesses godliness. The example set for us is that God humbled Himself in Jesus Christ. The Infinite became limited in time and space to serve and be a sacrifice on our behalf. Christians must learn to descend into greatness, if love, unity and achievement of God’s purpose are to occur in and through the church. And the pastor and Elders who see such progress in the people they shepherd will overflow with joy

Someone tells the story about a boy scout summer camp where the director found an umbrella neatly rolled inside a sleeping bag. The director asked the boy to whom this bag belonged, “Is there a reason why you brought an umbrella? It was not one of the listed items.”

To which the boy replied, “Sir, have you ever had a mother?”

As your pastor and Elders, we don’t try to be your mother, but we are responsible to God for the health of your souls. This morning, the Elders and I have been reminded of our responsibilities. As God gives us the grace and wisdom to do our job, you would greatly benefit from making our joy complete by growing in your reliance upon God, in your resolve to have the same love, unity and purpose, and in relating to one another in humility.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

If we don’t accept Jesus in one another, we will not be able to give him to others.

Mother Teresa


This Day's Verse

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Luke 6:46
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

If you want to be filled with glory…
Stand near the spout
Where the glory comes out.

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Dear Lord, it seems that you are so madly in love with your creatures that you could not live without us.  So you created us; and then, when we turned away from you, you redeemed us.  Yet you are God, and so have no need of us.  Your greatness is made no greater by our creation; your power is made no stronger by our redemption.  You have no duty to care for us, no debt to re-pay us.  It is love, and love alone, which moves you.

Catherine of Siena


This Day's Verse

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass, He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37:3-6
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our inner happiness depends not on what we experience but on the degree of our gratitude to God whatever the experience.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 6:14
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm on your face,
The rain fall softly on your fields;
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Irish prayer


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

We are ever being born, or dying, and the thrill of choosing which is ours.  Only once must we be born without our own consent.  Only once must we die without our own permission.

Calvin Miller


This Day's Verse

Plans go wrong with too few counselors; many counselors bring success.

Proverbs 15:22
The Living Bible


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Two things there are which man has no arithmetic to reckon, and no lie to measure.  One of these things is the extent of that man’s loss who loses his own soul.  The other is the extent of God’s gift when he gave Christ to sinners.

J. C. Ryle


This Day's Verse

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching?  With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”  And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Luke 4:36-37
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Which Disturbs You Most?
A soul lost in hell–or a scratch on your new car?
You’re missing the worship service–or missing a day’s work?
A sermon 10 minutes too long–or lunch a half hour late?
A church not growing–or your garden not growing?
Your Bible unopened–or your newspaper unread?
The church work being neglected–or housework neglected?
Missing a good Bible study–or your favorite TV program?
The millions who do not know Christ–or your inability to keep up with the neighbors?
Your contribution decreasing–or your income decreasing?
Your children late for Sunday school–or late for public school?

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- 3 Stories And A Conclusion


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

3 STORIES AND A CONCLUSION

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

 
About seven weeks ago, I saw God work in some remarkable ways. I’ve not shared them until today, because part of me wanted to do like Mary did when she saw God work in some remarkable ways. The Bible says that Mary, “… treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, ESV). 

But I’d like to share these three stories with you today to give you three encouragements: 1) that God is really here, 2) that He really does care about us, and 3) that sometimes He blows our minds with the way He works things out. All three stories took place the first weekend in December.

I had flown out to meet my daughter, Makari, in Vancouver, Canada, as a producer friend of mine had invited her to film a brief background scene for an upcoming episode of When Calls the Heart, a beautiful series on the Hallmark channel which is about to start its 4th season on Sunday, February 19th.

emmajean-mittelberg-erin-krakow-makari-elder

Makari (right), on set with Emma Jean Mittelberg (left) and Erin Krakow (center)

Makari and I had met the cast and crew last year on the set, but this time Makari was going to be in front of the cameras, not just watching from behind the scenes. We were excited and looking forward to whatever God had in mind.

To my surprise, my producer friend, Brian Bird, and his wife, Patty, invited us to sit with them and their family for various events over the weekend, giving us an amazing view of the events as they unfolded. I was hoping for just a few minutes with Brian sometime over the weekend, as I knew he would be extremely busy with other activities, and here we were able to spend several extended periods of time, not only with him, but also with his family and a few of their friends.

makari-elder-brian-bird-eric-elder

Eric (right) and Makari Elder (left) with Brian Bird (center) in front of his production trailer on the set

Still, with all of the time we spent together, there was a particular project I have been working on that I wanted to talk to him about. At one point during the weekend, I asked him if maybe we could talk for five minutes about it, so I could give him an update on where it stood. We talked right then, for just a minute or two, but it turned out to be just the minute or two that I needed: a shot in the arm to keep moving forward with my project in the direction I was heading.

I went to bed that night thankful that we had been able to talk about this project, even ever-so-briefly, and for all the other amazing opportunities we had had so far in the weekend. But God was just getting started. I haven’t even gotten to the three stories yet!

The next day, Makari and I ducked out of the activities in Vancouver and took a three-hour bus ride south to Seattle, where another friend had invited us to visit her and see a Seattle Seahawks game with her  the next time we were in the area. She has a special suite in the stadium where she and her family watch the home games, and Makari and I were excited to see her and to see the game from her suite, something neither of us had ever done before.

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Eric and Makari with Debbie Macomber (center) in her suite at a Seattle Seahawks game

When we got to the stadium, we were greeted graciously by my friend, Debbie Macomber, and her family. Although I had corresponded with Debbie various times over the past five years, this was the first time we were ever able to meet in person. She was as delightful in person as she was in her correspondence and on television interviews I had seen of her. (For those who may not recognize her name, Debbie Macomber is a New York Times bestselling novelist with over 200 million copies of her books in print. Her recent book, Sweet Tomorrows, is currently a #1 NYT bestseller, too! I normally wouldn’t point out these things, but it’s important to the story!)

As we were watching the game with Debbie and her family in the suite, a few of other people happened to come into the suite with us to say hello, including Steve Largent and Jim Zorn. (For those who may not recognize their names, Steve Largent was a receiver and Jim Zorn was a quarterback back in the early day of the Seattle Seahawks.)

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Eric and Makari with Steve Largent (center), watching the Seahawks play the Panthers

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Eric and Makari with Jim Zorn (center)

They, too, were gracious and kind to Makari and me, and Debbie asked if we’d like our pictures with them. I texted the pictures to a few of my family and friends back home, two of whom, independently, said, “They’re treating you like royalty,” and “It’s like you’re with royalty.” I felt that way, too, especially when I looked out into the stadium and saw, all around it, a “ring” of words marked “Ring of Honor,” which listed the names of ten Seahawks. The first two names on the ring were Steve Largent and Jim Zorn! And here we were watching the game with both of them on one side of us and  Debbie Macomber on the other!

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The “Ring of Honor,” as seen from the suite where we were watching the game

It was like being with royalty! As I tried to take it all in, I felt like everything around me began to fade away, and God spoke clearly to my heart:

“Eric, if you could see yourself the way I see you, you would know that I see you as royalty. You are my child, and I love you so very much.”

It’s one thing to be in awe of the people around you. It’s another to have the God of the universe single you out and say: “I see you as royalty, too.” But the truth is, that’s the way God sees every one of us. There is an aspect to being a child of His that lifts and elevates us in a way that goes beyond anything people could do to lift or elevate us. And if we can just take that in, that the God of the universe not only knows us, but loves us dearly, and thinks that we’re precious children of His–the King of kings and Lord of lords–it changes everything. It changes the way we see ourselves, our worth, our value–even if our only claim to fame is being one of His children. That alone is amazing enough to warrant being listed on God’s own “Ring of Honor.”

But the story picks up from there. The next morning was the day we were to be on the set back in Vancouver. So Makari and I took a late night bus back to Vancouver after the game, got a quick night’s sleep, and woke up early the next day to meet Brian and a few others to head out to the set where they would be filming When Calls the Heart.

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Eric on the set of When Calls the Heart with Janette Oke, author of the book by the same name which inspired the show

When I got to the lobby, I had a chance to sit with Janette Oke, who was also going out to the set with us. (For those who don’t recognize her name, Janette Oke is the author of over 70 books, including, Love Comes Softly and When Calls the Heart, the book on which the new television series is based which we were shooting. Again, I normally wouldn’t mention these things except that it is relevant to the story!)

I had met Janette a year ago, and at that time was so stunned to meet her in person that I asked her if she would pray for me and sign a notebook that I had with me, both of which she did so sweetly. I was astounded. This time around, I was able to sit with her on several occasions over the weekend, and we were able to talk about a wide range of topics. When I met her in the lobby, we sat down together again, and I told her about a project I was currently working on, pulling out a copy of the book I had written which was the basis of the project. As I was telling her about it, she asked several more questions and was keenly interested. I asked if she’d like to take a copy of the book with her, which she very much wanted to do! Awkwardly, I then asked if she would like me to sign it for her, which she also wanted me to do! As I sat there in the lobby of the hotel, I was stunned once again, this time not because I had met Janette Oke and she had signed a book for me, but because it felt like somehow she had met me! And now I was signing a copy of my book for her!  In that moment, I felt like God was speaking to me again, saying:

“Eric, I know you’re aware of the impact others have on you. But don’t underestimate the impact you have on others.”

And God was right. I often underestimate my own impact on others, even though I can so often see the impact others have on me. And it isn’t because I’m particularly special. My message for you with this story is to not underestimate the impact you can have on others, too.  We all have gifts and talents and a purpose on earth, and if we could only see ourselves as God sees us, we would see how He weaves and uses those gifts and talents and purposes for our benefit and for the benefit of others.

But the next story was the most surprising of all. As we went to get into our cars to go to the set, it was snowing heavily. We were trying to figure out who would ride with who, and it looked like there may not be room for me to ride with someone else, so I was about to look for a way to get to the set on my own, when my friend, Brian, who is one of the executive producers of the show, asked me to sit in the front seat of his car with him! (For those who don’t recognize his name, Brian has written and produced hundreds of episodes for television, including five seasons of Touched by an Angel, and has written and produced an upcoming movie for the same people who produced God’s Not Dead, this one based on the life of Lee Strobel, called The Case for Christ, which will be showing in theaters starting April 7th.)

As I stood there, just before getting into Brian’s car, Brian looked over the top of the car at me and said, “This is really unusual. It hardly ever snows on the coast.”

To anyone else, those words might have been just casual words about the weather. But to me, they were nearly identical to some words I had written a few months earlier and had put in the book I wanted to talk to Brian about, and the book I had just signed and given to Janette Oke! In my story, however, I had written about a snow scene that takes place half a world away from where we were standing. I had written: “It hardly ever snows on the coast. And if it did, that would be a very special day.” In my story, the snow scene that follows becomes one of the key climaxes of the story where the main character is desperately needing to know that God is still there, that He really cares, and that He has a purpose for this character’s life on earth. When Brian spoke those words, it was as if God were magnifying them in my heart, saying:

“Eric, it hardly ever snows on the coast. And that makes this a very special day for you.”

And a special day it turned out to be! I got in the car and began to talk to Brian, and, because of the snow, what should have been a 45-minute drive to the set turned out to be a three-hour drive! It was a delay that could have been problematic for all kinds of reasons, but because of the kind of day that it was, it turned out to be incredible–for me, at least! While I was hoping to get five minutes with my friend that weekend, and we suddenly got three hours–three hours in which we shared stories from each other’s lives, at some points laughing, at other points crying, and at many points noting to each other how God was working through each of them. Because of the weather, the scenes we were going to shoot for the show had to be altered, so our time on set wasn’t as long as we had expected. Afterward, we went out to lunch and I got to talk to Brian for another two hours. Then, because the snow was still falling, the drive back to the hotel took another two hours, instead of the expected 45 minutes. By the end of the day, I had spent seven full hours talking with Brian in the front seat of the car or at lunch, when I had been hoping to get just five minutes for the whole weekend, and just a few days earlier had actually been happy to get just one or two minutes with him! It was a special day indeed!

I felt like the woman in the Bible who told Jesus she would be happy with just a crumb off the table of a king, when Jesus went overboard and miraculously healed her daughter! I would have been happy with a crumb that weekend, when God had in mind a full-day feast! As it says in the Bible, God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV). I sometimes wonder how that can be, because I can ask or imagine quite a bit! But that day, and over the whole weekend, God certainly went way beyond what I was ever asking or imagining.

Let me close with this. You are like royalty to God. You have no idea the impact you have on those around you. And, if you’ll keep your eyes and ears open, God has some truly special days in mind for you, wherein He will do more for you than all you can ask or imagine. Let these truths sink deep into your heart. And let God speak to you again today. He has so much that He wants to say. 


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

Abraham Lincoln


This Day's Verse

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.”

Matthew 10:8
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not to envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.

William Arthur Ward


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