This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Peace does not mean the end of all our striving,
Joy does not mean the drying of our tears.
Peace is the power that comes to souls arriving
Up to the light where God Himself appears.

G. A. Studdert Kennedy


This Day's Verse

When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord–and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!

Proverbs 19:17
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Every man prays in his own language and there is no language that God does not understand.

Duke Ellington


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

We don’t have to worry about how wise or clever we are–God chose the foolish.  We don’t have to worry about how powerful we are–God chose the weak.  We don’t have to worry about how popular we are, or even whether we’ll amount to anything much–God chose the despised and the ones who were nothing.  None of those human measurements counts when it comes to performing great acts in life–great acts as defined by God, acts of humility, obedience, and love.

Jimmy Carter


This Day's Verse

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways.

Proverbs 22:24-25
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

I live in the spirit of prayer; I pray as I walk, when I lie down, and when I rise.  And, the answers are always coming.

George Mueller


This Day's Verse

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

More than a house, a love-built home is where the heart dwells when warmed by the steadfast presence of God.

Christine A. Dallman


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Earnest Prayers- Psalm 63


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

EARNEST PRAYERS – PSALM 63
Lesson 13 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 63, read by Lana Elder, with Petzold/Bach’s “Minuet in G Minor,” played by Eric Elder

In the play The Importance of Being Earnest, a man named Jack pretends to be a man named Earnest–a name he has chosen for himself whenever he wants to hide his real identity. Ironically, a woman falls in love with him and, believing his name to be Earnest, tells him that she loves his name so much she can’t imagine marrying a man who wasn’t named Earnest.

And so begins a journey of discovery for the man who is pretending to be Earnest, on his way to learning the importance of being Earnest (in more ways than one).

In our prayer lives, it seems that God is wanting us to do the same: not just pretending to be earnest, but truly being earnest, truly seeking Him from our hearts.

As I look through Psalm 63, I see David doing just that: earnestly seeking God from his heart:

“God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (v. 1).

In the heading for this psalm, it says that David wrote it when he was in the desert of Judah. For many of us, we speak of being in a desert figuratively, when times are tough or circumstances are dry. For David, he was literally thirsty and his body was literally longing for refreshment, for he was truly in a dry and weary land where there was no water.

How amazing then, that David came to God with his thirst and his longing, intentionally remembering from where his help would come. David lifted up his hands to God and sang:

“I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands” (vv. 2-4).

Here’s a man who knows the importance of being earnest. He lifts his hands to God, knowing that God is the one who can answer the prayers on his heart.

God wants us to do the same. He wants us to lift up our hands to God, intentionally remembering that He is the one who can answer the prayers on our hearts. He is the one to whom we can express our thoughts and desires, our hopes and our dreams, and our belief that He will answer us when we call to Him.

It takes great faith to come to God in this way, to pour out our hearts to Him. Yet great faith is what pleases God the most, when we come to Him believing that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. As it says in the book of Hebrews:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

What about you? Do you believe that God exists? Do you believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him? It’s okay if you can’t answer those questions right away. It’s okay if it takes some time to think them through and come to your own conclusions. But in the end, know that it is your earnest prayers that God wants the most, your earnest seeking of Him, and your honest belief in Him.

I was reminded yesterday morning of God’s actual presence once again–not His far-off, distant, presence somewhere “out there,” but His manifest presence, right here with me in the very room where I’m writing this message.

I had been pondering a thought yesterday morning that I wanted to send to a friend. So I wrote it out and included a quote that was given to me by another friend 25 years ago. I sent it off.

When my friend wrote back, I had to get down on my knees and praise God. Why? Because my friend had been reading a book at that very moment which included the quote that I had just sent… a quote I had only heard in passing 25 years ago and have never seen in print before or since! To me, it was a sign of God’s manifest presence, a sign that He was right there, right then, right with me in my room. My only response was to drop down on my knees and say, “Thank You, Lord. Thank You for being right here with me, right now. Thank You for speaking to me, speaking through me, and speaking to yet another believer in the process.”

When David came to God, he came earnestly. He came full of faith. He came knowing that God was there, and that He was the Only one who could truly quench his deep thirst, truly satisfy the longings on his heart. David said:

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You. On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me” (vv. 5-8).

David held on tight to God, and God held on tight to him. What a rich picture of a very rich relationship! I long for that kind of relationship with God, too!

I was thinking of this idea again earlier this week, about the importance of being earnest, as I watched one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies with my kids. There’s a point in the third movie where, in order to make something happen, someone must speak these words to a woman named Calypso: “Calypso, I release you from your human bonds.”

When one of the characters does so, nothing happens. Another character says, “He didn’t say it right. You have to say it right.” So this second character leans over to Calypso and whispers in her ear as if to a lover: “Calypso, I release you from your human bonds.” He used the same words, but with an entirely different tone. And when he did, all kinds of things began to happen!

I’m not saying that you have to say just the right thing in the just the right way to move the heart of God. But I am saying that God wants you to come to Him full of faith, truly believing that He’s there, that He cares, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Because He is there. He does care. And He does reward those who earnestly seek Him.

How do I know? Not only because the Bible tells me so, but because God Himself has confirmed it’s so–over and over and over again–as I’ve come to Him with my own earnest prayers.

I know He’d love to confirm it to you, too. Come to Him with your earnest prayers, and discover for yourself the importance of being Earnest.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for letting us come to You, anytime day or night, with those things that are our on hearts. I pray that You would hear our prayers today, answering them as You see fit, giving us a strong sense of Your presence as we do. Lord, we come to You today in faith, truly believing that You exist and that You reward those who earnestly seek You. And Lord, we  pray now that You would satisfy those longings on our heart, longings which perhaps only You truly know are deep within us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

Here’s the link again to today’s psalm if you’d like to listen:
Psalm 63, read by Lana Elder, with Petzold/Bach’s “Minuet in G Minor,” played by Eric Elder

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


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

My number one responsibility is to evangelize my children.

James Dobson


This Day's Verse

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions.

Romans 14:1
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

The best use of life is love.
The best expression of love is time.
The best time to love is now.

Rick Warren


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Nothing is more wondrous than faith–the one great moving force which we can neither weigh in the balance nor test in the crucible.

William Osler


This Day's Verse

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.  He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

3 John 1:11
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Every man’s life is a plan of God.

Horace Bushnell


This Day's Verse

From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth.

Acts 17:26
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

The most overlooked peacemaker is kindness.

Mother Teresa


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Love cannot be put under a system of rules and regulations.  It issues absolute commands.  Each of us must decide for himself how far he can go towards carrying out the boundless commandment of love.

Albert Schweitzer


This Day's Verse

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

James 1:26
The English Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

He who waits on God never waits too long.

Chuck Wagner


This Day's Verse

When I pray, you answer me, and encourage me by giving me the strength I need.

Psalm 138:3
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Life is but a bridge we build…
To link before and after.
And wise the man who builds his span
With faith and love and laughter.

Unknown


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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

(Eric will return next week as he continues his special series.)

The Superhero in You
The Truth about Your “Secret” Identity

by Nate Barbour

There was a man who owned a Great Dane. Now this Great Dane was an extremely large and ferocious dog–definitely not the kind of dog you want jumping up in your lap. One day, as the man was walking his Great Dane down the street, he saw another man across the street who was also walking his dog–a little bitty dog with short legs no tail and no hair. It was an ugly dog and, frankly, it looked terribly sick.

Suddenly the Great Dane saw the little ugly dog across the street and decided he hated that dog. He broke free from his owner’s leash and dashed across the street on the attack. The owner of the Great Dane yelled to the man, “Look out! My dog is on the loose and he’s liable to kill you and that dog of yours! You had better run!”

But the little ugly dog turned around, bared its teeth, and when the Great Dane attacked, that little dog proceeded to grab hold of the Great Dane at the foreleg and began to eat that big dog up. It ate right up the leg, right up the throat, ate its head, right down through its body, right across the tail, right down the back legs, spit out the bones, and smacked its lips-and that was the end of the Great Dane, just like that.

Well, the owner of the Great Dane was absolutely astonished by what he had just witnessed. “Man, what kind of dog is that?” the man exclaimed. “I’ve never in my life seen a little dog that could do something like that!”

“Dog? Dog?” the other man said. “Before he got his nose run over by a truck and his tail cut off by a train, this used to be an alligator!”

You may feel like a puppy dog on the outside, but inside, you’re an alligator. You have the power of God at your disposal to do mighty things. And tonight we’re going to talk about your superpowers and the Superhero in You, the truth about your secret identity. Can you leap tall buildings in a single bound? Are you faster than a speeding bullet? Are you more powerful than a locomotive? You may not have the abilities of Superman, but you possess the power above all powers, the power of God.

II. Your Secret Identity

1 John 4: 4 “4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

You’re a world overcomer. I love this. You’ve got something inside of you that makes you greater than any evil henchman or villain. You’ve got something inside of you that makes you stronger and more powerful. You have a “secret” identity. On one hand, you’re a mild mannered person, on the other, you’re Super So & So, with the capacity and power to defeat anything that comes your way.

Who is it that’s in you that gives you these super powers? What is your “secret” identity? The reality is that if you’ve made Christ your Lord, then He lives on the inside of you. Jesus Christ is the one pumping the power through your veins.

Before you accepted Him as Savior, you were just an ordinary Clark Kent, a regular Joe, and you got your nature from Adam, the first man, but when Jesus came inside of you, you were changed from being in Adam to the In-Christ man. So that’s your “secret” identity. The secret is that when Christ died on the cross, your old identity, the Adam man, died there, too. The only you that lives is the In Christ you. You are found in Christ and Christ is found in you.

The Distilled Bible says in Galatians 2:20 “I consider myself as having died and now I’m enjoying a new existence, which is simply Jesus using my body.”

Christ is your “secret” identity. He’s the one on the inside of you, giving you the power you need to face the day. What kind of powers are you talking about, Pastor Nate? You really do have SUPER POWERS. Let’s look at a few of them.

III. Your “Super” Powers

We’ve established that Jesus is on the inside of you providing the power. Well, wouldn’t it be true that you have the same power that He did? Yes. Let’s look at His power, that is now YOUR power.

Matthew 10:1 “1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”

You have the POWER to cast out demons.

You have the POWER to heal.

Jesus did. If he didn’t have the power to do it himself, he couldn’t have given it to the disciples. Look at Mark 5:1-8.

1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”

8 For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”

If you’ll read on, you’ll see that the spirit obeyed Jesus and went out of the man into a herd of pigs. Why did the spirit obey? Because he had the power to cast out demons. You’ve got the power to do that, too. That doesn’t mean you have to carry around your crucifix and bottle of holy water, looking for little girls who puke all over the place and spin their heads around. No, it means that should a demon or devil torment you or someone you know, you have the power to get rid of it. I’ve never had to do this, but I know that I can. I’ve heard stories upon stories of ministers meeting up with demon-possessed people, some are scary because the minister didn’t know what to do. Others define the Power to cast out demons because the minister knew about his power and used it.

You also have the POWER to heal.

Mark 1:40-42 “40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.”

Jesus had this power as was evident in His ministry. Everywhere He went, He was teaching, preaching and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Everywhere He went, He was healing people. And everywhere you go, you can do the same thing. You have the POWER to heal. We’re not talking about the power of Wolverine. We’re talking about the Power of Jesus, the power that’s IN you!

We saw the power of God in demonstration last Tuesday when Dr. Dufresne was here. We saw person after person healed instantly because of Dr. Dufresne’s “super” powers. We can see that very same thing when you use your “super” powers.

Mark 16:17, 18 “And these signs will follow those who believe: they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

You have the power to heal.

A friend of mine had kidney stones about two years ago. I don’t know if you know what kidney stones are, but a kidney stone can develop when certain chemicals in your urine form crystals that stick together. The crystals can grow into a stone ranging in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Small stones can pass through the urinary system without causing problems. However, larger stones might block the flow of urine or irritate the lining of the urinary tract.

Well, my friend had stones that were about the size of a dime, and he had to wait for them to pass through his urinary system. Needless to say, it was extremely painful for him. He had these stones for well over three weeks. Well, during one of our band practices, I asked for prayer requests and his problem was one of them. We would split up the prayer request so each band member could pray and I asked my bro to pray for this particular deal. So when it was Gregg’s turn, he and another one of the band members got up and laid hands him. Within a matter of days, my friend had passed all of his kidney stones and had completely recovered. You have the power to heal.

You also have the POWER to create.

If you look at Genesis 1, you’ll see that God formed the earth with the Words He spoke. God is in you, right? If He has the power to create things with His words, don’t you have that same power? Yes.

Proverbs 18:21 “Life and death are in the POWER of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

You have the power to create. You create your world, you frame your world with the words that come out of your mouth.

If you talk power, you’ll have power. If you talk healing, you’ll be healthy. If you talk prosperity, you’ll never lack. If you talk love, you won’t be hating. If you can say it, you can have it.

Around this time last year, I was waiting on a job. It had a few days since I graduated from college and I had been looking for a job for about 3 weeks. The school I went to was a Baptist college so I would go the Baptist Student Union office and look through their lists of churches that were looking for youth pastors. I wrote a few down that I thought were interesting, but I kept saying I don’t want a job at a Baptist church and I would continually say out of my mouth, “I’m getting a job at a non-denominational church like Grace Christian Church,” which is the church I was a member at, and where I had interned the summer before.

Well, I didn’t know where to start. I decided to talk to our Pastor, Pastor Wyatt Brown, and see if he had any connections anywhere. I didn’t get the chance to talk to him, but the next week, Rev. Steve Morin, who is one of their Associate Pastors came up to me and asked me what I was doing after graduation. I told him my intentions of becoming a youth pastor and he said I know a church, and one thing led to another and I ended up at the right place, here at Good News Church, pastoring you guys.

The reason I got this job was because of the words of my mouth. If I would have said, “I’m never getting a job at a good church.” Well, I wouldn’t have. But I didn’t say that. I said what I wanted and I got it. You have that same power. The power to create. So create what you want with that power, not a world that’s full of depression and lack. Say what you want and use your power for good.

You also have the POWER to increase.

Luke 9:10-17 “10  And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11 But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. 12 When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”

13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men.

Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” 15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.

16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17 So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.”

Jesus took 5 pieces of bread and two fish and fed more than five thousand people. He didn’t break these pieces of bread and fish into five thousand itty bitty pieces so that each person could have just a nibble. No, he fed these people SO much that they had 12 baskets of leftovers. Jesus took the little bit that the disciples had and multiplied it. He increased it from a little to a lot just like that. And you know what? He lives in you. He’s using your body. He has the Power to increase. YOU have the power to increase.

There is power on the inside of you to take the little that you have and turn it into a lot. A couple of years ago, Kristen and I were a car accident with a friend of ours. Kristen had some minor neck and back pain, but I was banged up pretty bad. I was knocked unconscious and had to be taken to the Emergency Room because I had taken a pretty good hit to the head. After all was said and done, I had about $2,000 worth of hospital bills and I was violently sick for about 3 days. Well, a few days go by and I get a call from this insurance guy. He was from our friend’s insurance company and he wanted to meet up with us and give us some paperwork. So we met him and he said that our medical bills would be taken care of and that we could be compensated for our pain and suffering. I never thought I could get paid for being in a car accident, but after negotiating with this insurance company for 5 or 6 months, they wrote me a check for $10,000. I had never seen so much money in my life. I wrote my tithe. I paid the medical bills. And I put half of it in a Savings account, which eventually paid for the down payment on our house. You see, God wants to increase you. He put the power to increase on the inside of you. You have faith that when you give, God will give back to you pressed down, shaken together, and running over, so that you’ll have MORE THAN ENOUGH. You have the power to increase.

IV. A Hero or a Villain?

Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Use your “super” powers and go save your world. Go cast out demons. Go heal people. Go create your world. Go increase yourself and others.

You see, in you, is also the power to hurt, the power to tear down, the power to kill, the power to steal, the power to destroy, and the power to decrease. The choice is yours, will you use your powers for good or evil, will you be a hero or a villain?


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Your chief task in life is the care of your soul.  You should care for your soul and work to improve it, and you can improve it only with love.

Leo Tolstoy


This Day's Verse

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.

Thomas Merton


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Patience with others is Love,
Patience with self is Hope,
Patience with God is Faith.

Adel Bestavros


This Day's Verse

“Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked him.  “Don’t you see that anything you eat passes through the digestive tract and out again?  But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the man who says them.  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying, and slander.  These are what defile; but there is no spiritual defilement from eating without first going through the ritual of ceremonial handwashing!”

Matthew 15:16-20
The Living Bible


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Passions are evil if love is evil and good if it is good.

Augustine


This Day's Verse

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious, toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:2
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Enjoy one another and take the time to enjoy family life together.  Quality time is no substitute for quantity time.  Quantity time is quality time.

Billy Graham


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

15+ Ways to Enhance Your Day

Get up early.
Look around outside before going to work.
Relax and enjoy your meals.
Spend time with friends.
Pace yourself.
Find a quiet place to go to.
Praise yourself and others.
Develop positive relationships.
See your mistakes as stepping stones.
Keep track of your own moods so you can watch out for them.
Say “No” without feeling guilty.
Learn effective time management.
Pay attention to health, diet and sleep.
Exercise regularly.
Keep from comparing yourself to others.
And most importantly, spend time daily in the Lord’s Word and prayer.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.

Proverbs 15:21
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Someone has said that all living is just learning the meaning of words.  That does not mean the long ten syllable words we have to look up in the dictionary.  The really great words to master are short ones–work, love, hope, joy, pain, home, child, life, death.

Halford E. Luccock


This Day's Verse

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 9:10
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Superior to a kind thought is a kind word, better than both is a kind deed.

Unknown


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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

(Eric will continue with his series in two weeks)

Perseverance And Prayer

by Alan Perkins

God values perseverance very highly. Why?

 You and I live in an era of unprecedented speed. Technologically, the pace of change is almost beyond comprehension. A rule of thumb called “Moore’s Law” states that the speed of computer chips doubles every 18-24 months. My first PC, which I purchased in 1985 to write papers for seminary, was rated at six megahertz [never mind what a “megahertz” is]. The PC’s sold today operate at over a hundred times that speed. [Unfortunately, my mind still operates at the same speed as it did in 1985.] And the incredible speeds of those little semiconductors make possible all kinds of exotic applications, such as biometrics. For example, the police can now use video cameras to scan the faces of people walking through an airport, or sitting in the stands at a football game, and instantly compare those digitized images against thousands of photos of known terrorists. Or a computer can compare a fingerprint from a crime scene against the millions of fingerprints in the FBI database in a matter of seconds.

Not only that, but everyday activities which used to take days or weeks, we now expect to happen instantly. Federal Express delivers packages overnight. LensCrafters makes eyeglasses in an hour. At Walgreens, you can get film developed in an hour. Applying for a loan used to take several days; now banks are advertising loan approvals in thirty minutes or less. In fact, it’s difficult to identify any area of daily life that hasn’t been accelerated. Think about it. Microwaves. ATM machines. E-mail. On-line stock trading. America’s involvement in World War II lasted almost four years. Yet only a few days after we started bombing in Afghanistan, journalists were already referring to it as a “quagmire” and asking “how much longer is this war going to drag on?”

My point is that we’ve gotten used to having all our desires instantly gratified, and as a result we’ve become impatient. We’ve grown intolerant of any kind of delay. We expect to get what we want, when we want it. Now. Now. Now. Faster, faster, faster. Have you tried to use a rotary-dial phone lately? It’s torture! You’re waiting for that little dial to spin back around, and you want to yell, “hurry up, hurry up, hurry UP!” Or how about this one — what’s the smallest interval of time scientists have so far identified? No, it’s not a millisecond or a nanosecond. It’s a “honkisecond”. That’s the amount of time between when the light turns green and the driver behind you honks his horn. We have the attention span of a gnat. Have you ever noticed, when you watch an old movie, that they used to put the credits at the beginning? Not any more. These days, no one would sit through five minutes of credits before the movie. And have you ever noticed how much time the people in those old movies spent talking? Not doing anything, just talking? Not any more. We don’t have the patience for it.

Which explains why the Biblical virtue of perseverance is so rare today. Because perseverance runs directly counter to this mindset. Perseverance takes a long-term perspective. It focuses on the future, rather than the immediate present. Perseverance is patient. It keeps waiting, and believing and trusting, even when things take longer than expected. It keeps working, and seeking and striving, even when things turn out to be more difficult than anticipated. It remains faithful, even when there are ample opportunities to throw in the towel, to give up and move on. Perseverance means sticking with something for as long as God calls you to do so, no matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult or painful it becomes, no matter how many discouragements and disappointments and obstacles you encounter along the way.

Why is perseverance so important? Because it takes time to discover the true nature of things. As the old proverb states, “truth is the daughter of time.” For example, it takes time to know if a project or enterprise is going to succeed. Appearances can be deceiving. In fact, as we search the Scriptures, and study the history of God’s dealings with His people, we see that He has often been pleased to bring success and victory out of apparent failure and defeat. He likes to demonstrate his power and might by turning around seemingly hopeless situations. And so if we give up too soon, we may miss the blessing. The supreme example of this is the crucifixion of Christ. By all appearances, his mission had failed miserably. What could be more hopeless than a dead savior, a lifeless leader? But three days later came the resurrection. And that changed everything.

By the same token, it takes time and testing to reveal a person’s true character. Many people begin well, but relatively few finish well. In fact, when it comes to the issue of faith in Christ, perseverance is so important that only the one who finishes well, only the one who continues to the end, will be saved, because perseverance is of the essence of faith. John the apostle, referring to those in his day who had left the church and denied the gospel, writes,

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” — 1 John 2:19

In other words, these people had never been genuine believers, although for a while it must have seemed that they were. During the time they had been a part of the fellowship, they likely gave every evidence of possessing genuine faith in Christ. They were baptized. They knew all the religious terminology. They could give a convincing testimony of their “salvation” experience. But when they left, the truth was finally revealed. Their leaving showed, not that they had lost their faith, but that they never had true faith to begin with. Their failure to persevere revealed the emptiness of their profession. Listen to the words of Christ: “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

And listen to what the author of Hebrews teaches: “But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. . .We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (Hebrews 3:6, 14) Notice that He doesn’t say, “We will share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end.” He says, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end.” In other words, if we hold on to the end, if we persevere in faith, it will prove that what we have now is real and genuine. Our remaining in the faith demonstrates the authenticity of our faith. And likewise, if a person abandons the faith, it shows that they never truly had it to begin with.

Not only does perseverance reveal the truth about situations and people, it also reveals the truth about God. It’s through perseverance that we come to know Him as He is. So if we abandon hope when trials come, we will never experience God’s power to sustain and strengthen us in the midst of suffering. If we yield to sin, we won’t experience God’s grace as sufficient for us to resist temptation. The only way to know God’s grace is to persevere in a situation in which we need his grace. If we flee, we may avoid the pain, but we will also be avoiding the chance to know God. If we give up on Christ too soon, then we will only see the tragedy of the crucifixion, and never the victory of the resurrection.

You may remember Joseph in the Old Testament. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, he was unjustly accused by his master’s wife and thrown into jail, he was betrayed and forgotten by one of his fellow inmates, Pharaoh’s cupbearer. Finally, through a series of unlikely events, he was made ruler over all Egypt; and he saved the whole nation from starvation, as well as his own family. But it was only by persevering in faith that he came to know God’s as good. In fact, God was good to Joseph all along; God was working out his good, and wise plan from the beginning. But if Joseph had given up, he would have never known that. He never would have seen how all his trials were working together for good. Joseph had to persevere in faith through years of what appeared to be God’s indifference and even hostility, before he could finally see that everything he had come through was a part of God’s good plan, for him and his people.

As Paul tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) If we continue in following Christ, we will reap a harvest. We will find his grace and mercy to be sufficient. We will find his rewards to be worth all the suffering, and sacrifice, and labor, and tears. But we must not become weary and turn aside from following Him, or else we will never know God as He truly is. Perseverance in the midst of trial reveals who we truly are. It also reveals to us who God really is.

Let’s take another example. Marriage. God insists that marriage is a lifetime commitment; that with a few exceptions, once a man and woman take their vows, they are obligated to persevere with one another. Why? Well, obviously God knew that there would be many difficulties, many disappointments, many reasons to quit, many opportunities for both the husband and wife to persuade themselves that a mistake had been made, and they would be better off starting over with someone else. He knew that without that lifetime commitment, we sinful people would be very unlikely to stick it out, very unlikely to voluntarily weather the storms and persevere through the pain. He knew that sometimes the vow is all that keeps people from taking the next bus out of town.

But I think there’s something else going on. I think God wants us to persevere with one another because that’s the only way to get past the garbage to the glory. You have to be willing to stay together through the revelation of your sin, through the process of learning to forgive and ask forgiveness, learning to repent, learning to serve instead of being served, learning to bear with one another’s weaknesses — you usually have to go through a lot of difficult, painful, unpleasant stuff in order to get to the really good stuff. To get to the place where you and your husband or wife, are loving one another as God intended, and serving Christ together, where you can truly appreciate one another, instead of just tolerating one another. As with most things in life, it’s only by persevering through the trials and troubles that you can enjoy the deepest blessings and pleasures of marriage.

Is perseverance easy? Of course not. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be perseverance. No one talks about “persevering” through a hot fudge Sundae. Sports fans don’t need “perseverance” to make it through Monday Night Football. We don’t need God’s grace to “persevere” in the things we enjoy. The Bible exhorts us to persevere because God knows there will be times we want to quit. Perseverance implies difficulty. But it’s difficulty with a purpose, and that purpose is godly character, and hope, and joy.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” — Romans 5:3-4

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:2-4

What’s the end result of persevering in faith? What’s the goal of continuing to follow and obey Christ? Spiritual maturity. Christlikeness.

I don’t want to give the impression that perseverance is a matter of grim determination; that following Christ means a lifetime of joyless toil and drudgery; that we get up every day and grit our teeth and clench our fists, trying somehow to brace ourselves for the misery and pain the day is certain to bring. If you’re approaching perseverance in that way, you will fail. You won’t be able to continue, because that’s not what God intended. We need to understand, first of all, that perseverance isn’t a matter of self-reliance. The power to persevere doesn’t come from ourselves, it comes from God.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” — Philippians 2:12-13

And second, remember that God intends the life of faith to be a life of joy and contentment. This is true even in the midst of difficult circumstances, even when we are struggling and suffering; because our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. It comes from the Holy Spirit. What did Jesus say?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30

And Paul also reminds us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

For the Christian, perseverance is not an unbearable burden. It’s not a matter of just trudging along, day after day, bowed down by grief and sorrow. On the contrary, by faith, our hearts can always be lifted up, because we’re not bearing our burdens alone; Christ is bearing them with us and for us. As Paul prays for the Roman Christians, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Now, I’d like to talk a bit about how these general observations on perseverance apply to prayer. I said that perseverance is important because it reveals the truth, about us and about God. And this is certainly true in prayer, because our perseverance, or lack of it, will reveal how much faith we have that God will answer. If we pray about something a few times, and then give up, it shows that we never really thought God would answer in the first place. It was worth giving prayer a shot — why not, after all? What’s the harm? But after a while, when we don’t receive what we’re seeking, if we have little or no faith, we abandon the effort as a waste of time. And God doesn’t answer that kind of half-hearted, faithless praying. As James tells us,

“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.” — James 1:6-8

God answers the prayer of faith. And perseverance in prayer is a sign of faith. Perseverance says, “Lord, I know you can do this. And I’m going to keep asking until you do.” But when we give up praying, we’re saying, in effect, “Lord, I never thought you would do it anyway.” In fact, if you don’t have faith, I predict that you won’t be able to persist in prayer. Over time, you just won’t be able to discipline yourself to do something that, deep down, you think is useless.

By the same token, persistence in prayer reveals the truth about God. It reveals him to be a powerful, loving, wise, and good heavenly Father who hears and answers our prayers. But we can only know and experience him as a prayer-answering God if we persevere in faith and persevere in prayer.

“Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You parents–if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” — Matthew 7:7-11, NLT

Perseverance in prayer also shows that we value the things we’re asking for. God wants to give us the things we really desire, the things we’re serious about. God isn’t likely to answer prayers that are nothing more than passing fancies, just the idle musings of our minds. If we pray about something once or twice and then forget all about it, it probably isn’t something we really care about. If God were to grant that prayer, we might not even remember having asked for it. On the other hand, if we persevere; if we come to God over and over again with our request, it shows that this is something that really matters to us. And that’s the kind of “good thing” that God delights in providing. And one more thing: if there’s something good that we know we should want — like humility, or patience, or holiness — then praying for it with perseverance will help increase our desire for it. In other words, the more we want something, the more we will ask for it. And the more we ask for something good, the more we will desire it.

In closing, let me encourage you to persevere in faith. Remember, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9). Persevere in prayer. Keep praying when you’re discouraged; keep praying when it seems God isn’t listening; keep praying when your faith is weak; keep praying when you want to give up; keep praying when it seems that there’s no hope. But whatever you do, don’t stop. Don’t stop believing and don’t stop praying. Remember that Joshua and the people of Israel had to walk around the walls of Jericho every day for seven days before the walls finally fell. And remember that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). The purchase price for all of God’s blessings has already been paid. All we have to do to receive them is to keep believing, and keep praying.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our lives are a manifestation of what we think about God.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

How To Handle An Offense

Don’t curse it.
Don’t nurse it.
Don’t rehearse it.
Dispense it–forgive, as God forgives.
Then God will reverse it–He will turn the offense to work on your behalf.

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The greatest thing a man can do for his heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.

Henry Drummond


This Day's Verse

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true; whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–mediate on these things.

Philippians 4:8
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Trouble, for the Christian, and the grace to bear it always come in the same package.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

2 Corinthians 1:9
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

We have fewer friends than we imagine, but more than we know.

Hugo Von Hofmannsthal


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

To live the life Christ would have us live may not always add years to our lives; but it will always add life to our years.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

He who belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.  He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing hidden.

Proverbs 11:12-13
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

We are silent at the beginning of the day because God should have the first word, and we are silent before going to sleep because the last word also belongs to God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


This Day's Verse

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

James 1:12
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

The more selective you are about seeds, the more delighted you will be with the crop.

Max Lucado


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Strong Prayers- Psalm 62


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

STRONG PRAYERS – PSALM 62
Lesson 12 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 62, read by Lana Elder, with J.C.F Bach’s “Anglaise,” played by Kaleo and Karis Elder

Sometimes you just need to lean on God’s shoulder; you just need to feel the strength of His power; you just need to rest in the fact that no matter what comes your way, everything’s going to be okay, because you know that God is holding you close.

When I read Psalm 62, it helps me to do just that: It helps me to lean on God’s shoulder; it helps me to feel the strength of His power; it helps me to rest in the fact that no matter what comes my way, everything’s going to be okay, because I know that God is holding me close.

I love the way David begins this psalm:

“My soul finds rest in God alone;
My salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
(Psalm 62:1-2, NIV).

God’s so strong that when we lean on Him, we can truly find rest. He’s our rock. He’s our salvation. He’s our fortress. We will never be shaken.

As a man, I love being independent: making a way where there is no way, leading the charge through life and helping others whom God has entrusted to my care. That’s how I’m wired. Yet, I also realize that I have limits, that I can’t do everything on my own, and that there are times when I need–and I want–someone else on whom I can rely, someone else to whom I can turn, someone else in whom I can place my trust. And that “someone else” is often the God who created me–the God who built the rocks on which I stand.

As one man said to another on a TV show called When Calls the Heart: 

“You’re a self-made man, Mr. Coulter, and you should be proud of that. But no one does it alone. We all need help at times.”

We do all need help at times. David was strong. David was a leader. David took hold of life with a passion. Yet, David realized his limits, too. And when he did, he knew where to turn to find someone stronger than himself. He turned to the God who created the rocks on which he was standing.

I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases David’s opening words in Psalm 62 in The Message version of the Bible:

“God, the one and only–
I’ll wait as long as He says.
Everything I need comes from Him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul.”
(Psalm 62:1-2, MSG)

I was reading these words three years ago while sitting on a beach in Cancun–a rare treat for me. I was there for just 48 hours, but they were 48 hours in which I knew I was going to need God’s help. It was my 25th wedding anniversary–and I was taking the trip alone.

My wife had passed away just over a year earlier. I didn’t know how I would handle it, being all alone–being afraid I might capsize under yet another wave of grief.

But sitting there on the beach, all alone on my anniversary, I came upon Psalm 62. I read David’s words, written at a time when he could have easily capsized, too. I took heart when I read how, at such a tenuous time in his life, David leaned on God.

“God, the one and only–
I’ll wait as long as He says.
Everything I need comes from Him,
so why not?”

In that moment, I realized that everything really did come from God–even my dear wife whom I had lost and was missing so much. I realized that if  God was able to provide a wife for me all those years ago–not to mention every other blessing I had ever enjoyed in my life–that I could trust Him to provide anything I might need now or ever in the future.

I wrote in the margin of my Bible:

“Father, thank You for reconnecting me with this truth; that You are the one and only; that everything I need comes from You–even Lana came from You. You are my source and my strength.”

Instead of the wave of grief I had feared, I was overwhelmed by a wave of peace; a wave of love; a wave of rest in the fact that I knew that I knew that I could trust God with this, too.

It’s hard to wait on God, I know. It’s hard to wait when there are bills to pay, people depending on you, or a doctor’s report that hasn’t yet come in. It’s hard to wait when a baby’s on the way, a life mate hasn’t appeared, or a job offer hasn’t been forthcoming. It’s hard to wait in a checkout lane, at a traffic light, or for dinner to get done. It’s just plain hard to wait when there’s so much living to do!

But David knew he could trust God still–“in the waiting.”

“I’ll wait as long as He says.
Everything I need comes from Him,
so why not?”

If you’re facing something today that you’re afraid might overwhelm you, I’d like to encourage you to say some “strong prayers” of your own to God, prayers where you truly lean on His strength, rest confidently in His love, and know that He is with you, for you, and is solid as a rock. Take heart from the words of David, which continue in Psalm 62, that what God was able to do for him, He is able to do for you:

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
My hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your hearts to Him,
For God is our refuge.”
(Psalm 62:6-8, NIV).

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for having such strong shoulders upon which we can lean. Thank You for letting us come to You today and rest in Your arms once again. Thank You for being there for us when we come to the end of ourselves. Take over, Lord, and take us beyond where we could have taken ourselves on our own. Help us to trust in You, to wait on You, and to enjoy this time of waiting while we are with You. You are our rock, our fortress, and our salvation. Help us to never be afraid, knowing that You are for us and with us, now and until the end of the age. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

Here’s the link again to today’s psalm if you’d like to listen:
Psalm 62, read by Lana Elder, with J.C.F Bach’s “Anglaise,” played by Kaleo and Karis Elder

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


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Our safety lies in God and not in our feeling safe.

Hubert van Zeller


This Day's Verse

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

He who forgives ends the quarrel.

African proverb


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Broken Dreams

As children bring their dreams to parents
With tears for them to mend.
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
In ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How can you be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never did let go.”

Unknown


This Day's Verse

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

1 Corinthians 4:20
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Most people are proud, not of those things which arouse respect, but of those which are unnecessary, or even harmful: fame, power, and wealth.

Leo Tolstoy


This Day's Verse

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Romans 8:12-14
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

If God had wanted to be a big secret, He would not have created babbling brooks and whispering pines.

Robert Brault


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Faith teaches a new math, which subtracts old ways and adds new thoughts, for sharing with God divides troubles and multiplies possibilities.

Christine A. Dallman


This Day's Verse

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45
The English Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Nothing fails quite so totally as success without God.

Vic Pentz


This Day's Verse

But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Amos 5:24
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

One does not surrender a life in an instant.  That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.

Jim Elliot


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Cleansing Prayers- Psalm 51


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

CLEANSING PRAYERS – PSALM 51
Lesson 11 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 51, read by Lana Elder, with J.S. Bach’s “Prelude In C,” played by Lucas Elder

Sometimes we think our sins are too big for God to forgive.  But Jesus didn’t die for only the sins that we feel are “petty.” He died for all our sins, even those which we feel are the most grievous. A sin that leads to death might seem too hard for God to forgive, but if Jesus didn’t die for those, He wouldn’t have had to die at all.

In Psalm 51, David pours out His heart to God in prayer over what are perhaps the most grievous sins he had ever committed–his adultery with Bathsheba, who was another man’s wife, and the subsequent cover-up and murder of her husband.

The consequences David had to face from his actions were real, as the child born to him and Bathsheba died. But the cleansing that God poured out on him was real, too, as David poured out his confession to God. Listen to David’s heart as he begins his prayer:

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge” (Psalm 51:1-4).

David pleads for God’s mercy. He acknowledges the evil of what he’s done. And he acknowledges God’s right to judge him accordingly. Yet he pleads for God’s mercy nonetheless.

One of the reasons I find the Bible to be so trustworthy is that it doesn’t gloss over or try to cover up the sins of some of the most heroic figures contained within it. If I think of some of my own sins that are most grievous to me, and if you think of some of your own sins that are most grievous to you, can you imagine having them recorded in a book for everyone to see? Yet I am so thankful that David’s sins were recorded in the pages of the Bible, giving me hope that the same God who forgave David can also forgive me. If I thought that God could only forgive sins that I thought were petty, or if the Bible only recorded sins that seemed trivial, I might think that I could somehow pay the price for my sins myself, doing a few more good deeds, or giving more generously, or in some other way. But David’s words remind me that this is not what God wants. He wants our hearts, broken and contrite:

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (vv. 16-17).

That is exactly what David offers to God. That is exactly what I offered to God on the night that I put my trust in Him for everything in my life. And that is exactly what every one of us can offer to God, whenever we sin, to whatever extent that we sin, even for those sins which we might feel are the most grievous.

As you pray to God, come to Him and ask for forgiveness for even your biggest of sins. Then let Him forgive you, since the price for those sins has already been paid when Jesus died on the cross in your place. To not accept God’s forgiveness–and the joy that is possible from that forgiveness–would be like leaving an Easter basket filled with candy on the counter at the store, a basket for which your father has already paid and which truly belongs to you.

But sometimes we leave our baskets of forgiveness sitting on the counter. We don’t pick them up and truly enjoy the healing that forgiveness can bring because we don’t feel like we deserve it. We don’t! But our Father didn’t buy it for us because we deserved it. He bought it for us because He loves us. He doesn’t want us to die. He knew we would need it one day, so we could once again feel loved and accepted, cleansed and forgiven– otherwise we might melt in a permanent puddle of shame and regret and guilt, never to rise up again.

None of us has a perfect moral scorecard. But God wants us to know that He will gladly forgive us of any and all of our sins if we will simply acknowledge those sins before Him; pour out our broken and contrite hearts to Him; and trust in Him, that He truly has bought our forgiveness at the price of His Son on the cross.

Don’t leave the basket of forgiveness and cleansing and true joy on the counter. That’s not why He bought it for you. He bought it because He loves you. He adores you. And He doesn’t want you to die. By faith, through prayer, God will give to you what He has already purchased for you: forgiveness, cleansing, and true joy.

When David came before God, he acknowledged God’s ability to forgive. David said:

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity” (vv. 7-9).

Then David called out to God to do a mighty work in his heart; a work that he knew he couldn’t do on his own; a work that only God, the creator of his heart, could do:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You” (vv. 10-13).

If you need a clean heart today, whether it’s the first time you’ve asked God to do this mighty work in your life or the hundredth time, I’d like to lead you in a prayer of cleansing–a prayer straight from the words King David prayed after committing some of the most grievous sins of his life.

Will you pray with me?

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge… You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You” (Psalm 51:1-4, 16-17, 7-13). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

Here’s the link again to listen to today’s psalm:
Psalm 51, read by Lana Elder, with J.S. Bach’s “Prelude In C,” played by Lucas Elder

And here’s the link to follow along with our reading plan to read through all of the psalms this year.
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power.  We have a great deal of activity but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results.

R. A. Torrey


This Day's Verse

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

I can’t be teaching kids how to keep the Lord’s Day holy while my cash registers are ringing.

S. Truett Cathy, Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain owner whose stores close on Sundays


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