Standing on the Word 7/6/2020

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.  Psalm 37:23-24

This beautiful passage gave me so much hope as I was reading this morning.

In context, Psalm 37 begins by admonishing us not to worry about the ungodly, who may seem to be prospering around us.  The wicked plot evil, are violent, and lack honesty.  However, they will reap the harvest of their actions. The enemy aims to get our eyes focused on the wicked and what they do.  We cannot be distracted by the wicked. The ungodly choose their fate when they refuse to change their ways.  There is a contrasting view of the righteous in these verses.  These are the things that characterize the righteous; the righteous: 

Trust in the Lord

Delight in Him

Commit our ways to Him

Wait on the Lord

Refrain from anger   

When we do these things, we don’t have to be distracted by what the ungodly do.  Instead, we can be comforted that the course of our life is divinely ordered.  The Lord is with us in the journey of life.  We should be encouraged knowing that even if we fall, we will not be cast away.   Our failures will not be permanent.  The Lord restores!  He lifts us up and places us back on our divine journey with Him.  We cannot fail!

How To Resist the Pull of Temptation (Being Dragged!) The James Series

Last week, we looked at the entire first chapter of James and how James identified 8 characteristics that are developed by enduring trials.  These characteristics are necessary in the life of every believer.  One, in particular, is of the utmost importance. When we endure trials, with the right mindset, we become people who endure temptation.   

James 1:13-16 says  When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  

Remember, God tempts no one! He is for you.  He does not want you to fall or fail.  So temptation does not come from God.  

We often blame the devil. And let me tell you, we have a real enemy whose only objectives are to steal, kill, and to destroy.  But when we read this passage closely, the devil is not the immediate culprit here (oh, but he is definitely lurking behind the scenes). 

When we are tempted, we are dragged (some translations say drawn, or lured) away. We are dragged away from the course we are on to a broad way that only leads to destruction.  What’s dragging us away? Our own evil desires! Whoa. Now take a moment and let that sink in. We quickly blame things on the outside, but we are dragged away by temptations that come from the inside of us.  

Now, before you beat yourself up, don’t.  Everyone faces temptations.  It is what you do when tempted that makes all the difference. The old hymn Yield Not to Temptation says “yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.”  The temptation is not the sinful part. Temptation leads to desire, and desire leads to sin.  It’s when we give in to ungodly desires that sin is born. Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Sin leads to one place and one place only—death.  

Temptation > Desire > Sin > Death 

BUT THERE IS HOPE!  

Be Honest. We do not have to yield to ungodly desires! We can overcome the desires that lead to sin.  But the first step is to be honest about them. It’s okay! Be honest with yourself. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you those desires that you should not have. The sweet conviction of the Holy Spirit will let you know when you’re being dragged in the wrong direction. Then be honest with God. He is on your side. He wants nothing but victory for you!! Go ahead. Tell Him.  He already knows and still loves you greatly.    

Ask for Help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.  God will help you resist the enemy and all ungodly desires you may have. In prayer, be real and be authentic, this is the only way to be with God. Don’t be ashamed to ask others for help, too. Somebody has been though what you have been through—successfully and unsuccessfully. Both experiences can help you in your challenges. **Allow the Lord to lead you to someone whom you can trust.  

Make Changes. Make changes as necessary. The Holy Spirit will lead you to make changes in your life. Maybe it’s what you watch, maybe it’s what you read, maybe it’s certain associations. Whatever it is, be willing to make those changes immediately.  

Remember Past Victories. Remember your past victories and let them propel you forward.  When you overcome in one challenge, it will lead to more and greater victories.  Another line in that same hymn says, “each victory will help you, some others to win.”  When you win, remember how God helped you come through and know that He will be with you through every trial—He will never leave you.  

Dear friends, Be sober and be diligent, temptation will come.  When ungodly desires attempt to drag you, give those desires to the Lord. He can handle whatever you submit to Him.  Ask the Lord for help!  Ask others for help, as the Lord leads.  When the Lord leads you to make changes, make them.  Praise God for each victory and remember them! They will become a collection of triumphs that will inspire you to keep believing.  

As the chorus of that same beautiful hymn says,  “Ask the Savior to help you, comfort, strengthen, and keep you.  He is willing to help you.  He will carry you through.”

What advice can you give someone who may be struggling with temptation?  

I WILL Wednesday 7/1/2020

As for me, I will always have hope;Iwill praise You more and more.My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,of Your saving acts all day longthough I know not how to relate them all.  I will come and proclaim Your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;I will proclaim Your righteous deeds, Yours alone. Psalms 71:14-16

It’s I WILL Wednesday! Where we are changing our words, our thinking, and our lives by declaring the Word of God.

Today’s I WILL declaration is found in Psalms 71.  This is a psalm of King David, written in his old age.  As he began to consider his life, he remembered the goodness of the Lord.  He remembered that the Lord had been a deliverer and a protector.  He remembered that the Lord had been his rock and fortress.  King David declared that even from birth, God kept him.

Now that David was older, his request was simple, “Lord, please don’t forsake me now! In my old age, Lord, don’t forsake me.  Stay with me Lord and be quick to help me.”

David was well aware of God’s promise to always be with him.  So he responded in a way that we are very familiar with—he responded in praise, declaring the goodness of the Lord.  David said:

“I WILL always have hope”-As long as the Lord is with you, you can remain hopeful even in the worse circumstances.

“I WILL praise You more and more”-When you consider all that God has done down through the years, praise doesn’t stop, it intensifies.

“I WILL come and proclaim Your mighty acts”- You may not know how, and you may not know why,  but you can testify that God has delivered you. He is a strong deliverer.

“I WILL proclaim Your righteous deeds”- With your words and with your life, show forth the righteousness of God.  He alone is just, blameless, and right.

David declared that even in this state of his life, God is still a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).   No matter what, hope was still alive, so praise would abound much more.

You may be full of youth and far from old age, but this request and declaration is appropriate for whatever situation you find yourself in.  “Lord, don’t forsake me now!”

Be assured, be fearless, be courageous, “for the Lord is with you—for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

In sickness, He is with you.

In danger, He is with you.

In a worldwide pandemic, He is with you.

In the midst of depression, He is with you.

In financial crisis, He is with you.

In every situation, hope is still alive, because God is still on the throne.   He loves us relentlessly and will never leave us.

So we can join in on David’s declaration and say:

I WILL always have hope!

I WILL praise Him more and more!

I WILL testify of HIs mighty acts!

I WILL proclaim that our God is perfect in His righteousness!

DB02F8A5-8311-4B9E-AB17-325E4151E6E6

Write the Word-July 2020

Hello Sparrow’s Song Family,

How are you?  I am so glad that you are still on this journey to go deeper in the Word of God. Wherever you are in your journey, you are in the right place and I am here with you!

July is coming in just as June did, full of uncertainties and unknowns.  We are bombarded with opinions from all sides and sometimes struggle with what we hear. In times like these, people are hungry for truth.  Believers know that in these times we need to turn to God to be anchored in the truth. God’s Word is a source of truth that we can look to time and time again, especially in times like these.

As we encounter God’s Word this month, let’s lean into the truth presented there.  Let’s also share the truth of God’s Word with those around us.  So many people are searching for hope right now, and we know that real hope can only be found in Jesus.

This month we are writing through part 2 of 2 Corinthians—chapters 9-13.  Paul continues this letter to the Corinthian church, encouraging them to live generous lives, and give cheerfully. Paul encourages believers to know and believe that God’s grace is enough to carry us through every trial and that our weaknesses are an opportunity for God’s strength to be seen in us.

Key verses in 2 Corinthians, chapters 9-13:

-The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

-He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10

-But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

-For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Remember, the scripture writing guide is just that, a guide. You may choose to use whatever passages you want (let the Lord lead you).  If you would like to continue Writing the Word with themes, check out July 2019’s guide below.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

In service to the KING,

Erica

The Word W.O.R.K.S.                                                           Living out WholenessObedienceRighteousness, and Kingdom Success.

A2CB4D4F-4AD9-429C-8283-B369CC4B6303

A15CD617-80BA-4D44-B61C-89505A93A7C7

Standing on the Word 6/29/2020

Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Listen, there is a war going on! At any given moment, a full-fledged battle is ensuing in our minds. There’s no need to gear up with natural weaponry or make sure you are in physical shape to fight. Nor do we need to hurl insults in a mud slinging combat, because we don’t wage war the same way the world does. This is not a natural fight! It’s a spiritual fight that must be fought with spiritual weapons. Take heart! We have a whole arsenal of weapons that are divinely powerful. Prayer, praise, worship, the Word of God, and many other spiritual weapons are at our disposal. These weapons help us destroy, demolish, tear down, and over throw every thing that presents itself against God. Wrong thoughts, warped philosophies, and vain imaginations are destroyed when we obediently employ our spiritual weapons. We capture wayward, fearful, and anxious thoughts, and make those thoughts obedient to Christ. The mind is indeed a battlefield, but we have just what we need to win the war. Don’t sit idly by, pick up your weapons and fight! Fight friends, fight.

2A2BF4C2-C400-4FC5-9BC1-FB2209BD7480

8 Characteristics that Develop by Enduring Trials (The James Series)

0AD0AE01-9D2D-48D1-9638-CECC03CA5B51This is the first entry as I write through the book of James.  

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  James 1:2-4

If you’ve spent anytime around church or the Bible, you’ve probably heard this phrase—“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials . . .” This advice from James can seem challenging, especially when you feel like you have trials on every side, or when you are laden with the severity of those trials.  Still James admonishes the readers to count it all joy when you experience trials—don’t run from them, but find joy in them. Why, James?  How can we find joy in the midst of trials?

The reason for joy is because, every trial comes with purpose.  The purpose of trials in our lives is to mold us and shape us; to reveal areas of weakness and opportunities for growth.  This is why James admonished the early Christian community to embrace trials with joy. No, we aren’t joyful about going through, but we should respond joyfully because every trial has a heavenly purpose–to move us closer to our Savior as we are being conformed to His image.

James outlines eight characteristics in his first chapter, which are developed when we patiently endure trials.  These are all “being” traits and not “doing” traits, indicating what we should become.

When we patiently endure testing and trials, we become:

  1. People who, through patience and endurance, grow and mature into worthy vessels. (James 1:4)

James encourages us to let patience have its perfect work.  When you are patient as you endure these trials, your faith will bloom under pressure and you will be equipped, mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.

  1. People filled with the wisdom of God. (James 1:5)

The key to being filled with wisdom is not being chock-full of knowledge and employing study aids until you know what you need to know.  The key is to ask God for wisdom, because He gives it freely and fully.  He generously gives you the wisdom you need for your journey.

  1. People who ask in faith without doubting. (James 1:6-8)

Don’t doubt God’s willingness to give you everything you need!  Doubt comes in when you are moved by more than one opinion.  Instead of trusting God alone, we lean on others and even on ourselves, which creates instability.  This type of doubter should not expect to receive anything from God.

  1. People who can endure in times of temptation. (James 1:12-16)

Everyone faces temptations.  Know that God is not tempting you! Temptations come when we are lured by our lustful desires.  YOU CAN OVERCOME TEMPTATION! And when you do, you will receive the crown of life. However, if you yield to temptation, sin is produced and sin ultimately leads to death.

  1. People who show God’s message of truth to the world. (James 1:17-18)

James reminds his readers that every good and perfect gift is from God.  And just as God is consistent, we must be consistent, because this group of listeners (the early Christian believers) were the first to share God’s message of truth and love to the rest of the world. WE are now apart of this group, sharing this mission.  We have been given good gifts that should be used to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

  1. People who listen and respond well. (James 1:19-21)

James gives us practical advice.  Be quick to hear!  Take time—make time—to listen. This way, we will respond instead of react.  Be slow to speak! Give yourselves time to respond reasonably and in a godly manner.  Be slow to respond in anger.  It’s okay to be angry, but reacting in anger is dangerous, because human anger will never produce God’s righteousness.

  1. People who practically apply God’s Word, not just hear it. (James 1:22-25)

God’s people “do” the Word.  Don’t be tricked into thinking that hearing the Word is enough.  Read, understand, and apply what you’ve received.  When we receive instruction through the Word, move on to application.  As we look into the Word, God’s perfect truth, we strive to live it.  As we do, we will be blessed in all that we do.

  1. People moved to pure religion, living compassionate and clean lives. (James 1:26-27)

James gives three signs of maturity in a believer. First is the ability to “bridle” our tongues. (He emphasizes this point in chapter 3 and I will write about that soon.) The second thing James points out is valuing and showing compassion towards those who are marginalized or forgotten in society.  Jesus gave us so many examples of this. Not just giving to them or meeting their immediate needs, but actually appreciating them as fellow image bearers of God.  Third, we must keep ourselves from being polluted by worldliness.  Do not just say you live for God, but truly live full out, in obedience to God.

The first chapter of James challenges us to embrace trials in an unexpected way, with joy. When our faith is tested by trials we should respond with patience and endurance. The result will be a faith that stands tall and shines with the character of God.   So when trials come, and they will come, seize the opportunity to grow and become more like Jesus.  That is a reason for joy!

Standing on the Word 6/22/20

I received some news today that troubled my spirit.  It was news about yet another shake up.  More changes to what was a stable situation. I cried and moaned and wanted to complain, but that wouldn’t help anything.  So I dried my tears and looked to the Word for encouragement.  This passage dropped in my spirit:  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 

Jesus is the stability that we need.  He is the rock that we stand on when the winds of uncertainty looms.  He is the anchor that holds sure when the waves crash against us.  He is constant in a constantly changing world.  This is why we can trust Him with our whole heart.  This is why we can stand on every promise.  Our trustworthy Savior never changes.  What a refreshing relief!  

5F67508B-CE33-4A9A-9DEF-9D0ED792E359

I WILL Wednesday 6/17/20

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul. Psalm 66:16

Psalm 66 takes place during the Feast of the Passover, when the Israelites remembered and celebrated how God delivered them from the Egyptians generations earlier.

This psalm gives us a beautiful picture of praise.  First, the whole earth is urged to praise (v. 1-4). The psalmist invites all to be active with their praise and adoration to God by admonishing those who are present to “make a joyful shout,” “sing to the honor of His name,” and “make His praise glorious.” Next, the people of God are admonished to remember God’s mighty acts and worship Him (v. 5-12).  The psalmist urges the people to recall God’s great deliverance and His mighty providence.

Now something happens when we get to the 13th verse.  The psalmist goes from urging others to come, see, hear and join in, to his own personal praise. On this day of celebration, in the middle of this corporate praise, the psalmist proclaims a string of I WILLS—

I WILL go into Your houses with burnt offering.

I WILL pay You my vow.

I WILL offer sacrifices

and lastly, I WILL declare what He has done for my soul.”

Then the psalmist says I WILL offer praise and worship that honors God. No matter what the world does, I WILL praise.  No matter what the other saints do, I WILL worship.

The psalmist uses this opportunity as an open door to tell of the goodness of God.  There in the midst of the crowd where people have gathered for a celebration of the collective deliverance of a nation, one stands and proclaims the personal victory God gave them.  There is always room for celebrating God.  Whether it be in a crowd or by yourself.  Our God is worthy of our visual and verbal praise.

Let nothing stop you from giving worthy praise to a worthy God.  Yes, invite others to join you—Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Corporate praise is a beautiful thing.

But if you find yourself by yourself, remember God is still worthy! Take the time to reflect on where God has brought you from, and what He has done for you.  When you think of His goodness, don’t hold back, but say, like the psalmist, “I WILL declare what He has done for my soul!”

 

D9A41C67-A4A0-4021-B3C4-0768162342F6

Standing on the Word 6/15/20

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Present troubles can sway our focus and have us veer off course. That’s why we have to live by faith! Living by sight, we see what’s before us and we give the things we see the permission to inform the way we live. When we live by sight, we are presented with natural realities that may seem like road blocks. Living by faith, we see what’s before us, but we place confident trust in God to lead and guide us to the paths that are good and right for us. By faith, we live in a spiritual reality that is much more real than the things we see. Our faith in God helps us navigate life’s rough terrain. Don’t be shaken by what you see, instead, live by faith.

6B55C797-1C04-4C84-9E39-8EE29A51A5CD

Standing On the Word 6/8/2020

James starts his writing with this advise to the early church:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

He challenges his readers to allow their trials to produce Godly character in them. How? It starts with trials. They come, no matter who you are, where you live, how much you make. You will experience trials. The key is to not allow what you go through to break you, but let it make you. Trials can only make you when you let patience do its work in you. Lessons emerge from the trials we endure. Learn those lessons; embrace them, knowing that the outcome will be well formed maturity, lacking nothing!

When you know the purpose of trials in your life, you can consider your trials as a source of joy because when they come—and they will come—you will know that God is doing a work in you.

38F728BD-A8CE-4115-AFDD-82A7971B56FE