Archives for September 2011

The Divine Lookout

Are you on the lookout for a certain item at all times? Some of us are always quick to notice a good recipe while others gravitate toward a great coupon, a super bargain, or maybe a giveaway or an e-book temporarily offered for free.

Some of us also stay alert for less tangible things like a recommendation for an amazing book or tips on a particular area of interest. Since I’ve started blogging, I’m always on the lookout for new material for blog posts. In fact, my family and friends now live with the reality that some of their interactions with me might just make their way to the blog :)

But we’re not the only ones on the lookout. God is on the lookout, too. He’s on the lookout for people. He is our Divine Lookout.

Consider these scriptures to see who He searches for:

“‘. . . who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 30:21b

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” Isaiah 6:8a

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

And we must not forget the parables in Luke 15 about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son—all of which illustrate God’s continual efforts to go after and save the lost or to scan the horizon, waiting with open arms to welcome a returning child.

Where do each of us fall in the sights of the Divine Lookout? Are we among those who are lost, who have never given our hearts to Him in faith, or is He watching for us because we have strayed away? Maybe He’s seen that we are fully committed to Him, and He stands ready to imbue us with His strength. Or possibly we’re the ones who will answer His call for devotion or go in His name to the place where He sends us.

Let’s never hide from the Divine Lookout. Let’s always be ready to be found or answer His call. There’s no better place to be than with Him.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

*Flickr photo by Dave Morrow’s Custom Creations, Creative Commons License

A Beautiful Entry

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

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 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?

And 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

*Flickr photo by mkreyness, Creative Commons License

Looking At the Pros

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I’ve had to put this principle to work lately concerning our neighborhood. If I’m not careful, I can let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it’s nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I try to remember the positive things—the pros. If I step outside at the right time in the morning, I can hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also have some nice neighbors, and we’re in a convenient location for the most part. As I look at the pros, I’m reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros—a situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe it’s time I come up with a new list. Maybe it’s time I start looking at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b

*Flickr photo by Wiertz Sebastien, Creative Commons License

Gift of Love

Don’t you just love getting gifts when you least expect them? With my birthday being in mid-August, I thought all my birthday surprises were well behind me, but I was wrong. One of my dearest friends dropped by this past week and gave me the gorgeous quilted table runner pictured above. A late birthday gift. A beautiful gift of love.

The colors and quality of this handcrafted gift make it beautiful all on its own, but it’s especially beautiful to me because I know what a labor of love it was. You see, my friend now has some health problems that make it difficult for her to work on projects like this. Things that she could do lickety-split in past years require much more time and effort on her part now. This gift required sacrifice.

So for me, this quilted gift is not just beautiful. It’s BEAUTIFUL. It’s not just a gift. It’s a GIFT OF LOVE. It speaks volumes to me about our friendship, and it humbled me and gave me great joy to know that she worked so hard on something and then gave it to me. What a blessing. I will cherish it always.

The question for us today is how can we touch other lives with this kind of sacrificial love? What gifts can we give that show the recipients the depth of our feelings for them?

We may not all be able to quilt or make other beautiful handmade gifts (heaven knows I can’t), but we can all give of ourselves in effort and time. Let’s be ready to bless others — maybe even when they least expect it — with beautiful gifts of love. You can bet they will cherish them always.

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement . . .” Philemon 1:7a

*Guess what? As of this weekend, I have been blogging for four years now! Wow, has that gone fast! Appreciate you all!

*My photo

Standing By Our Sides


“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength . . . ” 2 Timothy 4:17a

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to need someone by his side. He suffered for the sake of the gospel — for the sake of Christ — unlike anything we’ve ever known.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he lists some of the trials he experienced. He spent much time in prison and also faced beatings and floggings and was even stoned. He faced danger from shipwrecks and bandits, danger from the Jews as well as the Gentiles, and also endured hunger and thirst. On top of all this, he carried a burden of concern for all the churches. Yes, I’d say Paul needed support.

Sometimes Paul received the needed support from friends and co-laborers, but sometimes he didn’t. When he wrote the above words to Timothy (in bold print), it was late in his ministry, and he was once again in prison. He told Timothy, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” (2 Timothy 4:16a)

Thank goodness that’s not the end of the story. Thank goodness for verse 17 — for the love and faithfulness of our Lord: “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength . . .”

Even though Paul had been deserted by those around him, the Lord stood by his side. And that was all he needed. In the last half of verse 17, he goes on to tell Timothy that he was delivered from the lion’s mouth and that he continued to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles. The Lord’s support was enough for Paul.

And isn’t the Lord’s support enough for us as well? Whatever we’re going through, whether anything from desertion to deprivation to depression, our God is enough. He will stand by us and give us strength. He will enable us to go on.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

*Anyone have a testimony of how the Lord has stood by you? We’d all love to hear about it!

*Flickr photo by Gruenewiese86, Creative Commons License