Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Demonstrated Love

Through the years, I’ve happily taken hundreds (perhaps thousands) of photos of birds of all sizes and species in their natural habitats. Even so, I’m not as “smitten” with birds as birders are. For example, avid bird watchers have extensive knowledge of birds and can identify them by sight and/or by sound—and can even mimic their vocalizations.

Bluebird in my neighbor's yard

But Mr. Al Larson, whom I’d very much like to meet, takes his love of birds, particularly bluebirds, a giant step beyond that of avid birders and photographers. He DOES something to help the birds survive and thrive! In the video* I watched on YouTube, Mr. Larson, age 97, was still building nesting houses for the bluebirds. At the time the video was made, he’d built and placed over 350 nest boxes, many of which he continues to monitor. He estimates he's helped over 40,000 nestlings. Thus, he’s affectionately and widely known as “The Birdman of Idaho.”

As I watched the video again and again, I realized that many of us who profess to “love” birds actually do very little to help them. Mr. Larson, on the other hand, demonstrates his love for them by quietly and faithfully taking actions to benefit them. 

As I thought about that, I remembered that the Bible says that when we love someone, we are to do more than just talk about how much we love them. Like Mr. Larson, we are to do something that demonstrates our love. That's what God did when He sent His Son to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. You see, we’re all sinners, even the best of us, and no matter how good we try to be, we can never, by our own efforts, be good enough to be invited into the presence of the Holy God. Thankfully, God saw our plight and then demonstrated His great love for us by making a way for us to live in His presence for all eternity. God sent Jesus, His Beloved Son, to earth to die in our place, to undergo the punishment (death) we deserved. Once we accept God’s gracious gift (Jesus’ payment of our sin debt), then God not only forgives our sins but He also adopts us into His family! As His holy and deeply-loved children, we get to love Him and enjoy Him—now and throughout all eternity.

Amazingly, God did all this for us even when we weren’t seeking for Him any more than the bluebirds are seeking for Mr. Larson. But God, like Mr. Larson, looked through the lens of love and found a way to save us. Oh, how grateful we should be!

Sadly, not everyone accepts God’s gracious gift. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t, can you? Why, even the bluebirds are wise enough to accept Mr. Larson’s gift. They just happily settle into the safe home he lovingly provides for them. Shouldn’t we receive God’s gift to us?

*Click here to watch the video about Mr. Larson:

Scriptures referred to in this post:
John 3:16
Romans 3:10
Romans 5:8
Romans 6:23
Romans 10:9, 20
Ephesians 1:4
Ephesians 2:8-10
1 John 1:9
1 John 3:18
1 John 4:19

Sunday, March 7, 2021

A Blessing and a Response

A sweet friend writes this Scripture reference* on every card she sends to me: Numbers 6:24-26.

I'm thankful that that blessing, originally spoken centuries ago, has been preserved and remains one we can use to let our loved ones know that we are asking the LORD to bless them with His protection, His light, His favor, and His peace. 

This is the kind of prayer the LORD loves to answer. Verses abound that say, "The LORD longs to be gracious to you." Since He is eager to be gracious to us, shouldn't we be even more eager to receive the blessings He wants to bestow on those of us who love Him?  

Perhaps we should respond with words similar to these:

O LORD, I thank You that You bless me and keep me. I gratefully acknowledge that every good gift I've received has come from You. I thank You for keeping careful watch over me, guarding me, sustaining me, even while I sleep, even when I wander away from You, even when I need to mend my ways…

Like a child seeking to please a parent, I'm overjoyed when I sense that You, in essence, are smiling upon me even though You and I know I’m far from perfect. As You cast Your light upon me, it illumines my mind and heart and brightens my world.

So, yes, LORD, continue to bless me and keep me.

*To hear a contemporary song based on those ancient words, click here.