Beautiful Entry to Worship

“Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful. . .” Acts 3:2 NIV

Certain words or phrases from the Word of God can really resonate with our spirits, can’t they? That’s how I feel when I read the phrase “the temple gate called Beautiful.” As I read it, my spirit says yes.

This scripture, of course, refers to the entry to the temple in Jerusalem not long after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. My NIV text note tells me that this gate was, in fact, the favorite entrance to the temple court. How fitting that it should be known as Beautiful. What better name could there be for a gate that gave entry to the house of God, that people passed through on their way to worship?

Today our entry—our privilege of entering the Lord’s presence—is still Beautiful. What’s more, we don’t have to go to the temple (or our local church) to do it. With a simple turning of our thoughts . . . or lifting of our eyes . . . or falling to our knees . . . or bowing of our heads . . . or whisper of his name, we can enter into worship wherever we are. All we need to do is turn to him.

Turning to him—a beautiful entry indeed.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;” Psalm 95:6 NIV

*If you had the chance to name an entry into the Lord’s presence, what would you call it?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mkreynessCreative Commons License

Walk Worthy of the Lord—Whatever Happens

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27 NIV

A friend’s quick status update on Facebook a few years ago reminded me of her family’s need for prayer that morning. They were dealing with some folks who had not only waged a legal war against them but had lied about them as well. As I began praying for my friends, the Lord brought the above verse to mind, and I immediately prayed it for them.

“Lord, no matter what happens, no matter what they face, help my friends conduct themselves in a manner worthy of you. Help them react to all that happens with calmness and grace.”

As I continued to pray, I felt led to share this wisdom from the Word with them. I went back to the status update and left a comment, assuring them of my prayers and then shared the scripture with them. A few minutes later, I saw a reply—they were trying their best to do the very thing the verse exhorts us to do.

And yes, this verse is for all of us. Whatever happens, we are to walk worthy. Worthy of our Lord and Savior.

When times are good and we are rejoicing, we need to walk worthy. In other words, when good things happen or we succeed, who gets the praise? And are we careful not to lose our heads and do something unwise in the thrill of an exciting moment? Do we follow the admonition in 2 Timothy 4:5 (NIV)—“But you, keep your head in all situations . . .”

Of course, the more difficult times to walk worthy are when times are bad. When a friend or loved one betrays us . . . when someone hurts our kids . . . when our husbands or wives lose their tempers with us . . . when someone gossips about us . . . and yes, even when a devastating crisis knocks us to our knees. What do we do then? Do we walk worthy?

How are we able to do this? How can we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel no matter what happens? Only by his grace. Only by his power.

 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

*When do you find it most challenging to walk worthy?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*I hope this slightly revised post from Sept. 2011 blessed you today!

*Flickr photo by peasapCreative Commons License

Prayer to Pray for Unbelievers and for Those Sharing Christ With Them

The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Acts 16:14 NIV

We followers of Christ long for those who don’t know him to place their faith in him and let God give them his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. What hope, what joy, what peace we find when we ask God to forgive our sins and be our Lord and Savior. We want all people to experience the same. We want all to come into God’s family. 

One of the most important things we can do to help unbelievers come to faith is to pray for them. And not only them, but also those who are sharing Christ with them. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, pastors, group leaders, mission team members, and missionaries. The first group needs their hearts prepared to hear the good news, and those sharing with them need the right words to say, sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading, and boldness to share as God leads.

As inferred above in the verse from Acts, one way to pray specifically is to ask God to open unbelievers’ hearts to respond to the message of those sharing Christ with them. God is the one who can bring about changes in a person’s heart so we need to pray accordingly. We need to ask him to open hearts.

If we know the names of the ones who are reaching out to them with the good news, we can pray even more specifically. We can mention their names in our prayers and ask God to help the unbelievers respond to their message. For example, “Lord, open Diana’s heart to respond to Phil’s message.”

Such a brief prayer but what a life-changing result it can bring. Let’s be faithful to pray for unbelievers. Let’s ask God to open hearts.

Be joyful in hope . . . faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV

*What are some other ways to pray for unbelievers?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Angela-xujing, Creative Commons License

9 Scriptures You Can Feature in Wedding Celebrations

Mother of the Bride, do you think your daughter and her beloved might like to use a scripture or two in special ways on their big day? If so, I have several to offer as suggestions.

First, though, consider the variety of ways that scripture might be incorporated. The minister will already have some scriptures he or she is planning to share during the ceremony, but if your sweet couple has a special verse or two they’d like included, I’m sure the minister would be happy to oblige.

Other ways to feature a scripture include using it on the printed program, on signs or plaques in the welcome area, on the cake and gift tables, or even used in some way in the centerpieces on the guest tables. Certain wedding favors even lend themselves to including a short message so a brief portion of scripture could be a possibility there as well. These are just a few ideas and others may come to mind when you all start thinking about it.

If the bride and groom need some ideas for specific verses, here are 9 scriptures they might want to consider (brief portions of them can be used instead of the entire verse if they so choose):

“‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’” Ruth 1:16 NIV

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 HCSB

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3 NIV

“. . . love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22 NIV

“Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 NIV

“. . . a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will be one.” Ephesians 5:31 GW

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NIV

Whether your daughter and her groom use these scriptures in their celebration or not, MOB, may they bless you and yours as you read them!

*You might also like to read Wisdom and Encouragement for the Mother of the Bride, Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride, and New Year’s Blessings for the Mother of the Bride.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by charamelody, Creative Commons License

God Stands Near and Gives Courage

“. . . the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage!’” Acts 23:11 NIV

We’ve all been there—in situations where the stakes are immense and our courage has all but vanished. The life of a loved one may hang in the balance, a disaster may threaten to crush us, or a dream may be crumbling before our eyes. Fear grabs us by the throat and leaves us shaken in every way. We need courage and strength beyond our own.

We find in the Bible that the apostle Paul was no stranger to desperate and dangerous circumstances of his own. The instance from the passage above happened one time when Paul was in Jerusalem. A great uproar had broken out amongst the Jews over Paul and his teachings. He faced deadly mob violence until Roman soldiers took him prisoner. Then when the commander had Paul speak to the Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish court—the circumstances turned violent again. And again, the Romans intervened and took Paul prisoner.

Just when Paul must have been wondering if he’d make it out of Jerusalem alive, the Lord came and imparted courage to him. Scripture tells us he stood near Paul and told him to take courage, that he had further work for him to do. Whether the Lord stood there physically or in spirit, he came to encourage Paul—in fact, to give him courage. And he drew near to do it.

Will not the Lord also come to us when we are in dire circumstances? Will he not also stand near us and speak courage and peace to our hearts when we desperately need it? Indeed he will. We can count on it. We can count on him. 

“say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . he will come to save you.’” Isaiah 35:4 NIV

*When has the Lord drawn close and imparted courage, peace, or strength to you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Curtis Simmons, Creative Commons License