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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

 

Dear Friends of “This Day’s Thought,”

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to make online donation online

OR

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

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


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

C. H. Spurgeon


This Day's Verse

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

Luke 6:37
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

R. A. Torrey


This Day's Verse

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

1 Corinthians 6:11
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Nothing is really ours until we share it.

C. S. Lewis


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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As long as you have breath, praise the Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The prayer is simply this: “Halal Yah!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you pray with me?

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

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

Eric Elder

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

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


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Teresa of Avila


This Day's Verse

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

Proverbs 11:28
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

How many people have you made homesick for God?

Oswald Chambers


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Max Lucado


This Day's Verse

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

Jeremiah 31:13
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- November Blessings


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

 

Dear Ministry Members,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Sincerely,
Greg Potzer

Click here to make online donation online

OR

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

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


This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

John Calvin


This Day's Verse

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

John 14:1
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

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

Vance Havner


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Unknown


This Day's Verse

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

Psalm 92:12-14
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Alexander Maclaren


This Day's Verse

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

James 5:13
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

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

Soren Kierkegaard


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

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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Light Balance” with my daughter and me

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mid-week service in Beverly Hills

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

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

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

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

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

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


A walk on the beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you pray with me?

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

Eric Elder

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

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


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Andrea Garney


This Day's Verse

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

1 John 4:16
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

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

John Bunyan


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Abraham Wright


This Day's Verse

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

Matthew 23:12
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

John Baillie


This Day's Verse

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

Isaiah 41:10
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

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

Amy Carmichael


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

George MacDonald


This Day's Verse

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

Romans 12:6
The New Living Translation


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Charles Swindoll


This Day's Verse

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

Psalm 33:20
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Whoever loves much, does much.

Thomas a Kempis


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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Open it to where?” I thought.

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

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

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

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways” (vv. 1-3).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.

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

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

Will you pray with me?

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

Eric Elder

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

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


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Thomas Goodwin


This Day's Verse

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

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


This Day's Smile

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

Richard J. Foster


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Max Lucado


This Day's Verse

We live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7
The New International Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

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

Thomas Aquinas


This Day's Verse

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

John 6:54
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

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

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

In this crazy world, there’s an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy.  But in the eyes of God, they’re never separated.  Where there is pain, there is healing.  Where there is mourning, there is dancing.  Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom.

Henri Nouwen


This Day's Verse

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Ephesians 1:7-8
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Faith and obedience are inescapably related.  There is no saving faith in God apart from obedience to God, and there can be no godly obedience without godly faith.

John MacArthur


This Day's Verse

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:23-24
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Reach boldly for the miracle.  God knows your gifts, your hindrances, and the condition you’re in at every moment.

Bruce Wilkinson


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Quieting Prayers- Psalm 131


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

QUIETING PRAYERS – PSALM 131
Lesson 27 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 131, read by Lana Elder, with Frederic Chopin’s “Prelude in A,” played by Josiah Elder

Susanna Wesley had 19 children, two of whom went on to found the Methodist church. How did she ever find a place to spend quiet time with God?

Easy! She sat in a chair and threw her apron over her head! Her children knew not to disturb her during her prayer time.

My  late wife Lana and I had six children. Lana was so encouraged when she heard that story about Susanna Wesley that she decided she could make a quiet place in our home to meet with God, too (she didn’t have an apron). She cleaned out a 2-1/2 by 2-1/2 square foot space in our closet and laid some blankets on the floor to make it soft. She added a box of tissues, some worship music, and a bag of Nestle Caramel Treasures.

Whenever she needed some quiet time, she would go into her prayer closet, close the door, and put on her music. She read her Bible, sang, prayed, laughed, cried and even danced in that little space. She found it quieted her soul and gave her strength to go on with the day. If you’d like to hear a message she recorded on why she created this special space and how it helped her in her walk with God, click here: My Prayer Closet.

Today’s Psalm contains a similar theme. In Psalm 131, David says that he “stilled and quieted his soul.” Listen to his words in this, one of the shortest psalms in the Bible:

“My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore” (Psalm 131:1-3).

Although this is a short psalm, it packs a lot of wisdom into those three short verses about quieting your soul.

David begins by saying, “my heart is not proud” and “my eyes are not haughty.” It’s amazing how pride can cause our souls to become stressed or distressed.

When we worry about how we’ll look in the eyes of others, we can quickly lose our peace. Our minds become preoccupied with how to avoid being thought of as “less than” or “a failure” or “dumb.” We spend money we don’t have or eat more than we should to either impress others or make ourselves feel better. We often end up on losing more than we gain, digging ourselves into even deeper difficulties.

If we can take a cue from David instead, we would pray that our hearts would not be proud and our eyes would not be haughty. With nothing to lose in terms of trying to impress others, we can save ourselves from a great deal of grief. By embracing who we are, and not who we aren’t, we can find peace and contentment that can’t be found in any other way.

David goes on to say, “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” This may sound anathema in today’s culture, but sometimes we need to lay down our striving for “great things,” in order to gain something even greater: our peace. With so much to do and so much to accomplish, we sometimes miss the joy of doing those things along the way. I’m all for trying to make the most out of life, but that also means stopping from time to time and asking God what His agenda is for you each day.

I’ve sometimes been stunned, when praying through my list of things to do, that God will highlight only one of them for me to work on for that particular day. “Just do this one thing,” God seems to be saying, “and you can have the rest of the day to do whatever else you want.” I’ve found it incredibly freeing, both mentally and physically, to let God set my agenda for the day.

Then David says those words I love the most in this psalm: “But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

One of the most peaceful things I’ve ever witnessed in my life is my wife nursing our children. She would often nurse them for months and even years until they no longer felt the need to nurse. They knew they could come to their mother any time for the peace and comfort of being held in her arms, even after they had been weaned. That calm and peaceful feeling they had while resting in their mother’s arms was available to them long after the nursing was over. There is, perhaps, no picture in my mind that is more peaceful.

How can we have that kind of peace with God? By saying “quieting” prayers. By coming to Him not only when we have a great need, but even at those times when we simply want to rest in His arms, to let Him hold onto us, to let Him pull us in close. Even as I write this, I’m encouraging myself to just let God hold onto me, calming me with His peace. I encourage you to do the same, just like David encouraged his fellow Israelites to do with God in the last words of this psalm:

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”

Where are you putting your hope today? If you’re putting it in yourself, and your ambitions, and your appearance or accomplishments or achievements, you’ll find your peace will be elusive and can falter as quickly as any of those things can falter. But if you’ll put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore, you can find peace, no matter what else happens to you in life.

Like Susanna Wesley, who found peace in the midst of a houseful of children by simply putting her apron over her head, you and I can find peace by coming to God anytime in prayer.

Ask God to quiet your soul today. Ask Him to give you His peace. Keep putting your hope in Him, both now and forevermore.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for David’s example of quieting his soul in the midst of his building, ruling, and defending a great nation. Lord, thank You for the examples of people like Susanna Wesley and my wife Lana who were able to carve out spaces and places to find peace in the midst of their own busy lives. Help each one of us to do the same, starting today. Quiet our souls and help us find peace even now as we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

Again, here’s the link to Lana’s message: My Prayer Closet.

And here’s a link to her reading of today’s psalm, set to music this week by our son, Josiah:
Psalm 131, read by Lana Elder, with Frederic Chopin’s “Prelude in A,” played by Josiah Elder

You can follow along with our reading plan for the remainder of the book of psalms here:
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 lives will always be full if our hearts are always giving.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as we did when we first became Christians, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Hebrews 3:14
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Once in an age, God sends to some of us a friend who loves in us…not the man that we are, but the angel we may be.

Harriet Beecher Stowe


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

If a person repents out of love for God, he needs no cure. If from fear, she much be healed.

Babylonian Talmud


This Day's Verse

Be on guard.  Stand firm in the faith.  Be courageous.  Be strong.  And do everything with love.

1 Corinthians 16:13
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

Fifteen words that can change a marriage:

I love you.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I need you.
I was wrong.

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Giving is not an economic decision–it’s a spiritual one!  The need to give out of our substance rather than our surplus–from our hearts and not our heads.

Unknown


This Day's Verse

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23
The English Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

How soon a smile of God can change the world.

Robert Browning


This Day's Verse

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

Friends are angels who lift our feet when our own wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

Unknown


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- Building Prayers- Psalm 127


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

BUILDING PRAYERS – PSALM 127
Lesson 26 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer

by Eric Elder
The Ranch

You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 127, read by Lana Elder, with Kirnberger’s “Lullaby,” played by Kaleo Elder

I am a futurist. By that, I mean I spend a good deal of time thinking about the future. In fact, I was employed by a Fortune 10 corporation for about 10 years with the specific purpose of advising them on the future of various computer technologies and how those technologies would impact their corporation.

I worked with researchers at Apple and IBM, MIT and NASA. I read papers, went to conferences, and subscribed to dozens of magazines and mailing lists devoted to the study of the future. In many ways, I am now living in the world that I foresaw 30 years ago when I first began doing this type of research.

The funny thing about the future, though, is that we can only predict so much. We’re not omniscient–or all knowing–like God is. Without Him, our predictions about the future are only best guesses based on what we can see and the trends that are taking shape.

If we’re going to have any success at predicting the future–and making the most of those predictions–we need God to guide us. There’s nothing sadder, as others have wisely said, than to spend your whole life climbing the ladder of success only to find, once you reach the top, that your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

King Solomon put it like this in Psalm 127:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat…” (Psalm 127:1-2a).

How can we know if our ladder is up against the right wall? How can we know if the Lord is in our building projects, or if we’re just spinning our wheels needlessly? As Stephen Covey says:

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to the wrong place faster! I don’t want to get to the top of the ladder only to realize my ladder is up against the wrong wall! I want every step I take to to move me forward, not backward.

But how can I know if the things I’m doing are really what God wants me to do?

That’s where “building” prayers come in: prayers to God to show me if the house I’m working on is the house God wants me to work on–or if it’s time to move on.

By staying in touch with the Father on a regular and consistent basis, He can guide our steps. He can show us if we’re headed down the right path, and He can turn us around if we find we’re on the wrong one.

I’ve worked on many houses over my lifetime–literal houses–cleaning, restoring, remodeling, and renovating them. None of them for pay. All of them for love. I’ve worked on houses for my own family, for my extended family, and for others to enjoy. Each and every time, I have to ask God, “Is this a project You really want me to take on?” Because it’s way too much work to spin my wheels endlessly.

And I can say that each time, I have reached various points where I have seriously questioned if God has really asked me to work on it or not. Each and every time, I’ve reached points where I’ve had to return to God, again and again, asking for His guidance, His wisdom, and His strength, because it takes way too much time, effort, and resources if He’s not in it.

I’d like to say I’ve never wasted one minute, never wasted one penny, never wasted one ounce of strength. I’d like to say those things, but I can’t. I’ve had to regroup and backtrack too many times for that to be the case.

But what I can say is this: there’s not one minute I’ve spent in prayer that hasn’t been well-invested. There’s not one penny for God’s thoughts that hasn’t made a return. There’s not one ounce of effort on my knees before God that hasn’t given me strength. Even though I’ve made mistakes along the way, and even though I’ve begun to climb some ladders God hasn’t wanted me to climb, He has always helped to redirect me to the ladders He has wanted me to climb.

Sometimes God redirects me in ways that are subtle and gentle, other times in ways that are abrupt and painful. But always, He redirects me in ways that keep moving me forward in the right direction for my life–His direction.

There are times when I’ve been tempted to think that I’ve just wasted months of energy–mental, physical, and spiritual energy. But at those times, God has reminded me of this:

Time spent seeking My will with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is never wasted. It’s always invested, and it will pay huge rewards for years to come.

What about you? What kinds of “houses” are you building where you need God’s guidance?  Are you building your job? Your career? Your house? Your health? Are you building a relationship? A friendship? A mentorship? A family? Are there some ladders you’re climbing where it would be helpful to know if they’re up against the right walls or not?

If so, let me encourage you to pray. Pray some “building” prayers of your own. Ask God for His wisdom, His strength, and His resources to either keep you moving forward or to show if it’s time to start climbing another ladder.

One of the most beautiful promises God offers in this psalm comes at the end of the verses I quoted from King Solomon earlier. Here are those verses again, this time with God’s promise included at the end of them:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for He grants sleep to those He loves” (Psalm 127:1-2).

There have been a few times, even this week, where I have been working on a project and God has simply said, “Now’s the time to rest.” I’ve protested: “But I’ve got so much more to do!” And God has said, “Sometimes the best next thing you can do is to get some rest.” And I’ve literally gone back to to bed for a while.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be building anything in vain. I don’t want to rise early and stay up late in vain. I want every moment to count. And sometimes that means getting some rest so you’ll be fresh to start “building” again.

God has reminded me this past week again that if I’ll keep bringing my projects to Him in prayer– keep putting my efforts into His hands–He’ll make the most of every one. He’ll guide me when I need guidance. He’ll redirect my steps when I need redirecting. And He will give me rest when I need rest, too.

Keep coming to God in prayer. Keep asking Him for His direction. And keep trusting that the time you spend seeking God’s will is never wasted. It’s always invested, and it will pay huge rewards for years to come.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for promising to never leave us alone. Thank You for walking with us every step of the way. We pray that You would guide us today as we move forward with the projects that are on on our hearts. Show us which ones are on Your heart, too, and help us to work on them, with You, together. Father, we look forward to the future, knowing that we won’t be alone there, either, knowing that You will be with us always, even to the end of the age. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Eric Elder

You can to listen to today’s psalm again at this link:
Psalm 127, read by Lana Elder, with Kirnberger’s “Lullaby,” played by Kaleo Elder

And you can see our 2017 reading plan for the book of psalms at this link:
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

You can count on this–the past ended one second ago.  From this point onward, you can be clean, filled with His Spirit, and used in many different ways for His honor.

Charles R. Swindoll


This Day's Verse

“If they listen and obey God, they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives.  All their years will be pleasant.”

Job 36:11
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.

Unknown


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