Archives for February 2012

Behind the Scenes

“. . . your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3b

Work. Labor. Endurance. What images do these words bring to mind? We’re not talking marshmallows and kitties here. We’re talking rolled-up sleeves, sweat, and long-distance runs. We’re talking effort and strength.

Tasks and qualities like these that take strength and determination won’t happen by accident, will they? Behind the scenes forces such as planning, preparation, and prayer all play a role in carrying out our tasks, achieving our goals, or running the race life has placed before us.

In considering the scripture above, let’s look at the Thessalonian believers to whom the apostle Paul was writing. In spite of the severe suffering they faced (1 Thes. 1:6), they were at work serving God.

Notice the behind-the-scenes activity that Paul mentioned was present in their lives. How was their work produced? By faith. What prompted their labor? Love. What inspired their endurance? Hope. Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider for a moment the behind-the-scenes forces present in our own lives. Among the many influences at work in us personally, is faith playing a key role in the work we do—whether our day-to-day work or our service to God? Is love the motive, the impetus behind our labor? Is hope spurring us on, helping us to endure so we can finish strong?

Let’s learn from the Thessalonian believers and make certain that faith, love, and hope are playing vital behind-the-scenes roles in our work and in our lives. Remember, it won’t happen by accident.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16

*What can we do today to strengthen one or more of these qualities in our lives?

*Flickr photo by Matt Trostle, Creative Commons License

Shot of Joy

4463360814_88d558d123_zCould anyone use a shot of joy? A fresh infusion of lighthearted spirits and smiles? If so, get in line behind me! :)

Between duties, deadlines, and disappointments, life has a way of bogging us down in seriousness. Even the winter days of the past few months can add to the down feelings we sometimes experience. We need some happy moments each day to help keep us looking up—and to keep us fit to live with, right? :)

Sometimes all it takes is a silly commercial or a clever cartoon to strike our funny bones. Other times we get a needed boost from a sweet card in the mail or an unexpected phone call from a loved one. A day that had been a downer takes a welcome turn all because of one little shot of joy.

Are we doing our parts to be that infusion of joy for someone else? If we ourselves need happy moments each day, are we faithfully dispensing joyful moments to other as well? Maybe it’s time to write that email, bake that special treat, or surprise someone with a little gift. We can even brighten a complete stranger’s day with a kind word or helping hand.

What about our hearts’ deepest needs for refreshment? Are we looking to the ultimate Source of joy to fill that need? Things that we do for one another certainly bring sunshine into our days, but there is a deeper thirst for joy and renewal that only our Creator and Savior can fill.

Let’s meet with God in His Word, in the great outdoors, or in the sanctuary of our hearts and let Him infuse us with His deep and abiding joy. The shot of joy He will give is like no other. It can rise amid tears. It can sustain during drought. It lives in winter. His is the shot of joy that will keep us looking up.

“. . . the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

*What will you do to share joy with someone this week?

*Flickr photo by Pink Sherbet Photography, Creative Commons License

Hungry For More

Maybe just another bite. That’s what I often think as I’m standing at my kitchen counter eating ice cream straight out of the carton. I usually limit myself to three bites (or one if I’m trying to drop a pound or two), but sometimes it tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for just a little more. Just another bite to satisfy that craving.

Lately I’ve found myself feeling the same way as I close my Bible after some time in the Word each morning. As I start to put it away, I feel compelled to open it again for just another taste. I’m hungry for more. I need just another bite to satisfy my craving for God’s life-giving words.

Maybe it’s because right now I’m hopping around more than I usually do in my Bible reading as I look up verses for a Bible study I’m doing. Maybe I’m more of a read-an-entire-book-of-the-Bible kind of gal (in small portions, of course), letting an entire passage soak into my mind and spirit.

Whatever the reason, I’m following the impulse to read a little more. I turn to the Psalms and fill my spirit there, keeping a bookmark where I’m reading so I’ll know where to return the next time.

I’m so glad I don’t have to limit myself to three bites of the Word like I do with my ice cream indulgences. In fact, the more I indulge in the Word, the better. And you know what? When I’m hungry for more, God always serves up a heaping portion of satisfaction. And I must say, it tastes awfully good!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

*What part of the Bible have you been reading lately?

*If you’re hungry for more of the Word, check out Nancy Douglas’s site. She is offering free podcasts of her Bible study Draw Me Nearer. I’ve read Nancy’s blog long enough to know that her study will surely hold blessings for all.

*Flickr photo by Mark Bonica, Creative Commons License

Worthy of Pursuit

“. . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11b

When you hear the word “pursue” what comes to mind? I think of going after something or someone—striving to capture or attain a deeply desired object, person, quality, or state of being. When we have to pursue something, it doesn’t just fall into our laps or happen naturally. “Pursue” speaks of action, involvement, effort.

From our earliest days, the world around us teaches us to pursue certain things. Money, education, good jobs, status, relationships, possessions, health, beauty, success—in other words, the American dream.

None of these things are wrong and can, in fact, be used for great good. But if we’re focused on what the world holds up as worthy of pursuit, chances are we’ll neglect things far more important.

In the scripture above, look at what Paul instructs Timothy to pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. In using the word pursue, Paul must have known that these things would not come automatically to Timothy. He knew Timothy would have to go after them. He knew he would have to take action, that he would have to make an effort.

Take a closer look at Paul’s list. It’s filled with some biggies, isn’t it? And if these qualities are not easily manifested in my life, it shouldn’t surprise me—they take effort. I have to go after them. (Personally, I struggle with gentleness in certain situations so I’m encouraged to know that it does indeed take work. And isn’t it interesting that gentleness is keeping company with major spiritual pursuits like godliness and love? Wow.)

So what are we pursuing in our lives right now? Do we need to make some adjustments or additions to our lists? Let’s not reach the end of our days and discover we’ve spent all our efforts going after things that won’t matter in eternity. May all of our pursuits be worthy, may they all be guided by God.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 1. It’s still not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Astragony

9 Things I Love About You

Before this week of all things “love” gets away from us (and by the way, hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day!), I’d like to say that I love you guys—you, the readers of this little ole blog of mine :)

I’m so happy that you drop by and share life with me. Whether you just pop in and read the latest or take time to join the conversation through comments, I want you to know how much I appreciate you. There are a lot of voices out there clamoring for a piece of your time, and I don’t take lightly the fact that you choose to join me here.

So in honor of all-things love this week, here are 9 Things I Love about You :)

1. You visit me! I love that you drop by and see what I’m up to, in writing and in life.

2. You keep visiting me! Yes, you come back time and again, and I love that! :)

3. You let me visit you! You welcome me and share life with me on your blog or on Facebook. So much fun that some of you are my Facebook friends, too.

4. You encourage me with sweet comments, both here and on Facebook. My post Ring On! told you how much your encouragement means to me. It’s priceless.

5. You share insight and wisdom with the comments you leave on my posts. You never know how what you say may impact me or another reader.

6. You show support for me by subscribing to Life Notes, my free inspirational newsletter. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

7. You pray for me and my loved ones as I share needs. What a precious, life-giving gift.

8. You are kind and gracious and fun to be around. Some bloggers have to worry about mean-spirited comments, but you all have such sweet spirits.

9. And finally, somehow I get the feeling that you love me, too! And that warms my heart and makes this week of love even more special.

So there you have it. Hope you leave feeling more loved than when you arrived. Have a great rest of the week!

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

*If you’d like, connect with me on Facebook. If I might not recognize your name, include a note about being one of my blog readers.

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 1. It’s still not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Pink Sherbet Photography