Standing on the Word 3/30/2020

I heard a song this morning that reminded me of this beautiful passage (another one of my life verses). Grief, mourning, and heaviness are weights that we can carry, but there is a beautiful exchange our Savior offers to us all. In exchange for the ashes of life, He gives us a crown of beauty. For mourning and grief, He gives us His joy. For our sorrow, heaviness, and sadness He wraps us in a garment of praise (oh that garment of praise!). And then we will be like trees that stand firm in a storm. And not just stand firm, but stand for righteousness because we have been planted by the Lord and we stand in His glory. Are you standing in what seems to be the ashes of a life gone up in flames? Are you consumed by grief? Is depression pulling you down into a bottomless pit? Well, there is a Savior who offers us a great exchange. Our broken, useless, shattered pieces for His wholeness, love, and beauty.

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

 

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The Fear Factor

In the old show, Fear Factor, contestants would come face to face with extreme and bizarre challenges. In the end the contestant that successfully faced their fears and overcame the challenges emerged as the winner and the host would say, “fear is not a factor for you!” Exciting stuff!

But, truthfully, fear is a factor for us all. It is one of the enemy’s most used tactics. It keeps us from truly walking in the things of God. It can stop us cold in our tracks and keep us right where we are with no hope of moving forward. We’ve heard all of these things before. But what HOPE can we give someone who is truly afraid? David shares His heart in Psalm 56. This beautiful song, filled with transparency, can bring hope to anyone who feels fearful.

Psalm 56 was written during a time when David was running from Saul. He ran to the Philistines. He fled from one enemy to escape another! David found himself in an overwhelming crisis! This account is found in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

David fled from Saul because he was afraid. David acted like a madman to escape the Philistine king because he was afraid.

David was afraid.

And sometimes, so are we.

In the Bible study Trustworthy, author Lysa Terkeusrt makes this profound statement, “I can sometimes feel afraid, but I don’t have to live afraid.” Yes! Fear is something we all feel at times. We can’t, however, allow fear to consume us. Before we allow fear to paralyze us, we can reach to Our Father.

Psalm 56:3-4 shows two coexisting realities for David, fear and trust. Yes, coexisting. David says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” David couples two thoughts to combat the fear he felt.

The two thoughts could read like this:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Because I trust in You I will not be afraid.

David doesn’t deny that fear exists. Instead he tells us what to do when we feel fear—trust. That trust in the middle of a storm leads a courageous life—because I trust You, I will not be afraid.

Let’s read Psalms 56:3-4 again, in The Voice Translation
When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone.
In God I place my trust, I shall not let fear come in.

Courageous living is not the result of the absence of fear, but it is the result of confident trust in God even when we ARE afraid. Leaning and depending on the only One who calms my fears blocks out the fears that attempt to destroy my security.

Is fear a factor for you? If so trust God!
Pour out your heart to God! Tell Him what you are feeling. Run to Him, trust Him and then fear will no longer be a factor for you.

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Standing on the Word 3/23/20. (The Word W.O.R.K.S)

I’m standing on this entire Psalm that begins with one of my favorite passages: “God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The psalmist goes on to tell how he thwarts fear by trusting in God who is our refuge.  The 10th verse, however, is a departure from the psalmist writing in the third person to God Himself giving us a directive. He says “be still.” In this passage be still literally means “to sink”, “to relax, or drop”.  It is a wake up call to stop striving in your own efforts to fix a problem you cannot fix. He also says “know that I am God.” In the face of your problem, acknowledge who your God is!  He is the Conqueror who is mighty to save!  He is the Great Physician who is able to heal.  He is the Strong Deliverer who can set us free. He is the One we run to; the only refuge that is sure and constant.  This call was to the nations, and it is still for us today.  Plan ahead, be careful, use precautions, please.  But in the inward man, that place where you struggle with fear, anxiety, and unrest, be still. Sink! And acknowledge your God.  He is your refuge and strength.  

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:105D3FB252-3F0E-4423-BB80-2A33FE635354

Write the Word 2020-Week 4

Welcome to week 4! The finish line is so close in the Write The Word Challenge. But it doesn’t have to be YOUR finish line. Hopefully we’ve all come to fall in love with God’s Word more and more.

Just learned about the challenge? It’s still a great time to get started. You can start your journey today! And share your journey with us! In times like these, we need the sweet reminders of God’s love for us that are found in His Word. We need hope like never before, and the Word of God is our source of hope because the Word lets us know that God is still in control!
This is just one passage that brings me hope; Yes, it is one that I stand on.  
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
-Isaiah 41:10
This and many other truths can wash over you in this time and help you stand, so you will not fall.
Share your journey with us in the Sparrow’s Song Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!  As you write this week, take time to focus on the value of the Word of God, more importantly, its value to you! 2 Timothy 3:15 says All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. God, through the Holy Spirit, breathed His Word into human authors to give us a gift like no other. It is the perfect gift! A love letter, personally addressed to us. Yet it is also practical and functional. The Word teaches us; it rebukes while bringing correction. We are trained in right living through the Word. As a result, we become worthy vessels of honor who are ready and able to do the work and will of God. What a gift!

Tips for this week:
1. Include your Family. My entire family is involved in this challenge and it is such a blessing to us all. I challenge you to invite your spouse, children, and siblings to be a part of the challenge with you.
2. Memorize scripture. You can memorize verse by verse, or chapters. Some have even ventured to memorize whole books of the Bible. Don’t be intimidated. Start where you are. There are lots of ways to do it. Sticky notes, index cards, put it at the top of your to-do list where you’ll see it often, or use an app like Bible Memory or FighterVerse for guided practice.
3. Don’t give up on yourself. Where ever you are, keep going!

Let’s pray: Father, We thank you for Your Words. They are the lifeline we need in every area of our lives. Help us to make the necessary application that will lead us to Your peace. I believe every promise in Your Word and I receive them now.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For those who are interested, below is the Word W.O.R.K.S. from March 2019.

I WILL Wednesday 3/18/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me.” Psalm 44:6

Today’s I WILL passage is more of an I WILL NOT.  Like many other Psalms, this one was written by David. David was a highly skilled warrior and experienced many victories in battle even as a teenager. In fact, his big introduction to the world was on a battlefield when he defeated Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones ( 1 Samuel 17).  Here we see David speaking opposite of what a warrior would say when he says “I will not trust my bow, neither shall my sword save me”.

Wait a minute, David was a highly trained and skilled warrior! When opposing kings heard that David and his army were on the hill or in the valley waiting to come in and wage war, knees trembled, fear rose, and people fled for their lives. Just the thought of David’s anger being turned in their direction caused people to retreat and rethink their actions.

You would think this would produce an arrogance in David, but instead, this great warrior humbly admits that his many victories are not gained through physical warfare. David could boldly say this was because he knew his victory was not in the sword or the bow. His victories did not come from having the best strategic plan in the battle.  People greatly admired David and would wonder “how was he so successful in battle?” David gives this answer in Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Even though David was a warrior among warriors, he knew that he could do nothing without God. It didn’t matter the size of the enemy, the victory would only come from God.  It didn’t matter how much planning he did, the victory would only come from God.  It didn’t even matter if it looked like the win was “guaranteed” the victory would only come from God.

We should say the same thing in our lives today.  No, we don’t go around with a bow and sword (except for the Word of God). However, we are tempted to place our trust in the things we have or the things we’ve obtained. Nothing we have, be it education, skills, knowledge, or financial prosperity—NOTHING can secure our victory apart from Christ. Therefore we should not place our trust in these things. I’m not saying don’t use these things, because we should. David would never go out into battle without his sword or bow, but he didn’t put his trust into those things, he put his trust in God alone. The only one who can save us and secure our victory.

1 Corinthians 15:57 says “But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, as you face situations in your life, especially amid this COVID-19 pandemic or any other thing that may be plaguing your lives, confess like David, I WILL NOT put my trust in my bow.  I WILL NOT put my trust in my sword!  But I WILL trust God!

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You Can’t Miss God’s Appointment (Vision 2020)

You can’t miss God’s appointment.  1 Samuel 16:1-13

Samuel was sent to anoint a king. God led him to the house of Jesse. Jesse had several sons. I’m sure they varied in height, skill, and gifting, but they were all Jesse’s sons.  One by one, they came before Samuel and each time Samuel said “no, that’s not the one.”  Samuel didn’t make this determination based on what he saw, but based on the leading of the Lord.  At the end of the procession of sons, Samuel had to ask, “Is this all? I know that I’ve come to this house for a purpose, so there has to be more!”

So Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Then Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest. He is tending the sheep.”

Now, here is where I have heard it said that David’s father excluded him from the gathering purposely because he thought, “surely, this one can not be the King.” While others believe that it was just the custom that the youngest not be present at the gathering.  Either way, David was not invited to dinner.

Samuel was so sure that he was at the right house that he said “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”  Whether or not they intended for David to be excluded, nothing would continue until he was present.

So Jesse sent for him and had him brought in. . .Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

This very familiar story spoke clearly in my spirit today, and I hope that it will encourage you too.

There are somethings that you will be excluded from.  It may be intentionally, or inadvertently.  Either way, you will not miss your divine appointments!

The enemy tries to discourage us with rejection and exclusion.  Sometimes it may feel like others are holding you back from walking into the vision God gave you. Dear friends, you’ve gotta keep on pressing.  It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been looked over. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been passed over.   When God says, “you are the one” nothing can stop you.

What David did was key.  He continued to walk in obedience.  Earlier in this chapter, it says when Samuel came into the town the elders trembled, asking if he had come in peace.  Surely, word had spread through the town of the priest coming to offer sacrifice.  David had to know what was going on at the house. His brothers, most likely, spoke of this gathering.  David, however, didn’t demand to be present or barge his way in.  He continued to  faithfully care for the sheep placed under his care.

There was no way David was going to miss this divine appointment!  And you shouldn’t miss yours.  Stay in the will of God and be faithful in all that He has entrusted into your hands.  That God appointed assignment will not evade you.  In His timing, those that ignored you, neglected you, or simply overlooked you, will see God shine through you!

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Write the Word 2020 Week 2

Hello Sparrow’s Song Family!

Welcome to week 2! No matter how week one was, week 2 is here!

Feeling refreshed? Me too. Feeling frustrated? Take heart! This week is a new beginning. Don’t allow discouragement to set as you attempt new things for God.

Feeling alone? Join our Sparrow’s Song group to share in the journey here Sparrow’s Song Facebook group.

Tips for this week:
 1. Remember why you started = so that the Word of God may come alive in you. 
The value of the Word cannot be overstated. It is life for us. It is a well you can draw from when you need to. Nancy Leigh Moss said “As you read, pause frequently to meditate on the meaning of what you are reading. Absorb the Word into your system by dwelling on it, pondering it, going over it again and again in your mind, considering it from many different angles, until it becomes part of you.”(Christianqoutes.com)

We want the Word to become a part of us. It changes how we think, how we speak and how we see the world around us.

2. Consistency is a key to breakthrough! 
Don’t approach this aimlessly, but rather intentionally. Set a time to pray, read and write. Then do your best to stick to it. Each day brings something new, so adjust as necessary.

3. Extend grace, even to yourself! 
Life is real and can be really challenging! Give your self room to grow. Hold yourself, accountable, but give grace when you don’t meet your expectations.

If you are following the suggested scriptures, this week’s focus is combating fear and anxiety. Feel free, however, to continue on the path that you’ve begun. Let the Holy Spirit lead you. I’m here to support you with prayer, encouragement, and resources. If you need help, reach out.

Dear Father, I pray for all my dear friends who have decided to dive deeper into Your Word. Thank You for giving us such powerful Words that will guide us, heal us, and change us. As we yield to Your will, pour into us afresh. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings,

~ Erica

Below is the very first Write the Word Challenge.