Think on These Things

Who’s that singing?

I peered through the glass of the storm door and discovered a little sparrow belting out an aria on the deck.

The sight beyond the sparrow quickly turned my smile into a frown. Thin-stemmed, summer plants drooped over the edges of pots and cried for replacements. The grass, drained of summer’s lush green, imitated a worn, beige carpet.  

The typical mid-autumn scene looked drab and colorless—much like how the uptick predictions of coronavirus cases and recent political controversy make me feel.   

As I concentrated on the bleak picture, the little feathered songster hopped onto a deck table where a flat of pansies waited to be planted. She cocked her head toward me and chirped loudly as if trying to get my attention. Then she perched on the edge of the plastic plant tray and thrust her beak in and out of the pansies several times.

“You’re not a hummingbird seeking nectar. Why are you poking your beak into the flowers?” I asked her as if she could understand.

The sparrow may be hunting for bugs, but she seems to be pointing to the pansies. Is she directing my attention away from withering drabness to a prettier sight?

Ahh—the pansies. How beautiful they are with dramatic yellow and purple petals and center markings that look like tiny faces.

These fall flowers are so friendly, just like my little visitor.

I’m thankful God used His floral and feathered creations to divert my attention from a negative view to a positive one.  

In this world, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong or scary or frustrating and forget what is right and hopeful and beautiful. This current season is the perfect time to follow the teaching of Philippians 4:8:  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

I can choose to lament over the wilting plants and brown grass scenarios around me or I can plant my purple and yellow pansies and enjoy the song of the sparrow, knowing each season has a beauty of its own.

I cannot, however, live with my head in the clouds and a permanent grin on my face. Simply employing the tactic of “positive thinking” or looking at the world with a Pollyanna perspective is not what the verse means.

We should keep abreast of the news, take care of our responsibilities, and address life’s challenges. However, when our thought patterns stay riveted on the negative, we drift toward despondency, fear, and anxiety.

How are we to direct our focus?

When we read, study, and share biblical truths with others, we can maintain a perspective of life that pleases God. All of the adjectives in the verse are illustrated in the Bible. The more we study His Word, the easier it is to view the world—the good and the bad—through the lens of Scripture.

How can we take care of daily responsibilities while concentrating on “these things” mentioned in Philippians 4:8? Here are a few suggestions.

Five Ways to “Think on What is Lovely” As We Acknowledge Life’s Realities

  1. After watching the news, why not pray for our leaders as you take a brisk walk to look for bright red berries or golden leaves.
  2. When you’re walking to your car, notice the way an oak leaf twirls to the ground or the way a squirrel hides treasured acorns. Thank God for His provisions during all seasons and ask for His wisdom to manage concerns.
  3. List the adjectives in Philippians 4:8 and note examples of each during the week. Find Bible verses that align with each one.
  4. Cut small branches from a pine or cedar tree and put them in a vase of water. Inhale the woodland scent and thank God for His strength and His creation that surround us.
  5. Notice different varieties and colors of pansies. List the unique ways God gifts His people to serve others throughout the seasons. Ask Him to guide you to His plans for your gifts.

Let’s allow the sparrows of life to point us to the pansies and allow God’s Word to guide our thinking and our choices as we thank Him for our blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader friends. How do you maintain a biblical perspective on life in this season?

Please feel free to share this post!

39 thoughts on “Think on These Things

  1. Thank you, Jeannie, for this timely and much-needed reminder!

  2. What lovely reminders! I hope you and your family have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you, Cathy. I love the way God sends messages when I need them. May you and your family enjoy rich blessings.

  3. Thank you for a refocus moment, Jeannie. Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Jana, your comments always encourage me. I appreciate you following my posts. Thanksgiving blessings to your family.

  4. Thank you sweet friend! You paint such a beautiful, hopeful picture in this special time of Thanksgiving. God bless you and yours throughout the holidays and beyond. Love you!!!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Sandy, thank you for letting me know. I’m glad the post was a blessing to you. I get talking to sparrows from my mom ;). Blessings to you.

  5. God gives us little gifts throughput each day if we only stop to pay attention. It’s the little things that mean the most if we value the right things.

    Great post!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Candyce, what a perfect point you make. I agree. Thank you so much for your comments.

      • Jeannie, such wonderful words of hope and Thanksgiving. You always give us things to ponder. I am thankful for you and your Godly messages. Blessings to you and your family. Love you, Wanda

  6. Great, practical advice. Pansies always cheer me up.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Susan, I think pansies are cheery, too. I’m thankful you found the ideas practical. Thank you so much for telling me.

  7. Beautiful reminders, Jeannie. Thank you! Oh, how easy to focus on the harsh things, when our Lord whispers of how He is working all around us. Wonderful post.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving! Pausing and remembering His love and mercies help bring me peace and calm.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, Melissa. Yes, concentrating on who God is and His qualities calms our heart. Well-said.

  9. Every season does give us much to be thankful for. Like the little sparrow pointed you toward the pansies, we can see something from God’s creation in every season. The drabness of winter still produces a bright blue sky or snowy crystals on the ground. And those evergreens we can cut to bring that fragrance into our house. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Barbara, you are right that each season brings beauty from God. Thank you for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  10. Amen Ms. Jeannie! Where we place our focus shows where our hearts are at in that moment. What a wonderful reminder ma’am. Much needed today.

  11. You’re right, J.D. that our hearts follow our focus. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Diane.

  12. Great quote – “Knowing each season has a beauty of its own” Thank you Jeannie. I love your insights. God’s eye was on the sparrow when he encouraged you to sing!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Dawn, I appreciate your comment so much. He teaches me as I write, and I love that. Then I’m honored to share His message with readers. Thank you for stopping by.

  13. Jeannie, what a timely reminder that God grants us infinite blessings and those are where our focus should be. Your ideas of how we can re-direct our anxious thoughts are wonderful. I try to walk everyday and I always receive the gift of rejuvenation when out in God’s marvelous creation. Your suggestions to pray for our leaders and look for those small blessings in nature every day are actions that can make difference. Thank you!

  14. Katherine, I need to follow your example of walking each day. Looking at the blue and green of God’s creation is calming. Thank you for sharing comments.

  15. What a wonderful reminder to notice the small and beautiful things around us that point us to God. And your practical ways to get outside our anxious thoughts and trust God are very helpful and insightful.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Kathy, that’s so encouraging. I tend to be a clock watcher and list maker. I need reminders to slow down, enjoy the world around me, and listen to God. You are so kind to stop by and comment. Enjoy your day!

  16. I’m so glad you found the suggestions helpful, Kathy. I need these reminders, too. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  17. Jeannie,
    Thank you for the timely reminder to pay attention to God’s creation and also to take the time to share the blessings. I am encouraged.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I’m glad you were encouraged by the post. I needed this reminder, too. Sometimes we get too busy to notice and to share, but God is kind to remind us. I appreciate your commnent so much.

  18. Thank you, Jeannie, for this beautiful post of where to put our focus. I like how the pansies bob in the wind. I was afraid the winds here would be too much for mine as they sat on the grass before I planted them. But they made it. We will too with God’s help.

    Thank you for sharing this story and for the verse and practical ways to focus on what’s good. I want to do them all.

  19. You’re right that “we’ll make it, too” with God’s strength and mercy. I also want to remember all of God’s counsel about our focus. Thank you, Katy.

  20. Love this! We must guard our hearts. The wicked might plot evil, but as Christians we don’t generally do that. Our thoughts are where the devil might get us.
    “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually before God” (Genesis 6:5).

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Dannielle, yes, it is wise to obey all Scripture, including guarding our hearts. Thank you for including this verse.

  21. Thank you Jeannie for these small reminders of how to lift up when these time are pushing our focus elsewhere.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      You’re so right that our focus can be pulled into so many different directions. I’m thankful God is a faithful Anchor for us. I appreciate your comments so much.

  22. Thank you for the reminder of the importance of everyday things like birds, pansies, and walks among God’s beautiful creation.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      You’re welcome, Evelyn. I’m sure you agree that seeing His handiwork reminds us of His power and His love for us. Thank you so much for commenting.

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