Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

Well, we are three weeks into 2020! The New Year’s excitement is waning and many are settling into their “normal.” Some are still grinding away at their goals, but, for some, discouragement and even disappointment is starting to set in. It’s not for lack of effort, or lack of motivation, but lack of results. Three weeks of advertising and promoting and only a few sales. Three weeks of praying, fasting, and dedication to a reading plan and no apparent breakthrough. Three weeks of diet and exercise and only a few pounds lost. Or worse, only three short weeks and already messed up, or, even worse, given up!

Last week we saw, in Zechariah 4, that Zerubbabel received encouragement to continue the work of rebuilding the temple.  (The Limits of Your Best) Discouragement had set in, and the Lord’s messenger reminded him, that it’s not by his power or might, but only by the Spirit of the Lord would the work be completed  (Zechariah 4:6 ).

A second part of this message speaks volumes to us. The Messenger goes on to pose the question, “Who dares despise the day of small things . . . ?” (Zechariah 4:10). Sadly, I’m guilty. I sometimes look at my meager results and wish things would move along a little—no a lot faster. And because it is not, I feel defeated and deflated. This is a hard one for me. I know that starting small is par for the course, but slow growth can be discouraging and frustrating. It is at these times, that I need this reminder not to despise small beginnings. The passage goes on to tell us why. “. . . for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). He lovingly looks on to see us start the work He’s assigned to us. Our faithful Father’s eyes watch over the work and sees to it’s completion. Philippians 1:6 admonishes us to be “confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Don’t resent small beginnings! If God has given you the vision, resist discouragement. It may start out small but hold on.  He may give you a glimpse of the end result.  You may feel ready for that end right now, but you have to walk through each season of growth, preparation, and refining.  Starting small allows you to GROW through the process.

If your heart has been stirred with expectancy, don’t let your expectation dwindle. Don’t let small beginnings hinder you.  If God gave it to you, trust Him to bless it, grow it, and cause it to prosper and bear fruit.

Blessing,

EB

**read the other posts in this series Write the Vision (2020)  and The Limits of Your Best.

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I WILL Wednesday 1/15/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at His sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.  Psalm 27:4-6

Sometimes we just feel generally happy. Needs are met, family is well, doggy is wagging his tail. All seems right in your world. We just feel good. This was not the case for David. Yes this Psalm begins with David confessing faith over fear, but he still had enemies! Vicious enemies who desired to utterly destroy him. Wickedness came against him, armies surrounded him, threats of war rose against him. Everything was not good!

In this period in David’s life, he could have asked for anything. Protection, peace, an end to all this turmoil. Instead, the one thing David desired was the presence of God. He names several blessings that he found in God’s presence.

1. In the Lord’s dwelling, David was safe. (Vs. 5). This was not just a position, but also a posture—the presence of the Lord is a safe place. Though danger looms, my heart can rest in the safety of my Savior.

2. In the shelter of the Lord, David was hidden. Concealed from all the noise around him. He was very conscious to the reality of his situation. However, David’s security, as our security, is found in the Lord.

3. David was set high upon a rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock, our foundation that we should build upon. If I am on the Rock, the storms may come but I will not be moved.

4. David was able to lift his head above his enemies. Yes his enemies were still present, but David did not set his focus on them. He set his eyes on the Lord so that he might gaze in His beauty.

With all these blessings that stem from God’s presence, it’s no wonder why David responded, I WILL sing! We should respond that way too! Singing praises to our Lord, for He is worthy, He is faithful, He is constant, and He loves us. It is in Him where we can truly rest in the midst of danger, in the midst of the rain, in it the midst of our enemies. We can rest in Him. He is my safe place. He is my hiding place. He is my rock. So I will shout and offer sacrifices of joy, and I WILL sing a song of praise to My God.

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I Will Wednesday 01/08/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  Psalm 27:1-3      

Happy New Year!

For many of us, the new year brings renewed focus. We look at our dreams and aspirations and we set out to put practices in place that help us reach those goals. If you are anything like me, you do this year after year. Some years we do well, but most often, by February, we’re adjusting our plan or even resigning to defeat. So many times obstacles appear and deter us from our goals. One main deterrent is fear.

Fear can stop us in our tracks and make us succumb to doubt.

King David thwarted fear with his confession found in Psalm 27. Though enemies threatened him and uncertainties loomed, David said “in this I WILL be confident.” “In this” refers to the truths declared at the beginning of the passage. Two beautiful truths that we can rest in.

The first truth, “the Lord is my light and salvation.” Darkness cannot cause me to fear, because The Lord is my light, He illuminates my path. No darkness can exist in the presence of His brilliance. Enemies cannot cause me to fear because the Lord is my salvation, He rescues and He saves. No enemy is a match for the power of God.

The second truth, “the Lord is the strength of my life”. King David was a skilled warrior. He was victorious in battle many times, but He never attributed his success to his own skills or abilities. He knew that, only in the Lord’s strength, could he win. The word strength here can be translated “Stronghold”-a fortified place of protection. In God’s strength I can only prevail.

We, too, can look forward with confidence knowing that we walk in the Lord’s illuminating light, in His Divine protection, and in His unrivaled strength. Then, come what may, we can say I WILL be confident.

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I Will Wednesday 12/11/19

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.   Psalms 18:3

In today’s passage, King David declares, “I WILL call upon the Lord. . .” Remember, Psalm 18 is a psalm of praise to God for deliverance from enemy oppression. David acknowledges that it is God who delivered him from his enemies. Not his prowess, bravery or might, not his skillfulness or any other ability. Only the hand of God was strong and mighty enough to deliver him.

As we look back over 2019, every moment hasn’t been great. Many have been very difficult, and if you are like me, some moments seemed designed to destroy me. Oh, but when I called on the name of the Lord, He delivered me. He saved me from distress. He saved me from going under. He saved me from myself. He delivered me.

After this point, King David faces many more trials, disasters, and disappointments, as will we. We can, however, face them confidently knowing that we don’t face them alone. We call upon The Strong One, The Mighty One, The Faithful One, The Only One who is Worthy to be praised.

The ONLY One who is mighty to save us from our enemies, even the enemies of our soul. Enemies like depression, loneliness, anxiety, illness. So whatever may come and whatever may go, I WILL call upon the Lord, I WILL cry out to Him, and I WILL trust Him.

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I WILL Wednesday 12/4/19

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

I WILL love you, oh Lord. Psalm 18:1

In today’s I WILL passage, King David declares that he will love the Lord. This is very timely for the Advent season. This season is all about love. God loves us so much that He sent His Son. ( John 3:16) Jesus loves us so much that He came to earth to show us the way and became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (John 1:1; Romans 5:8 ).  With love on display in such a beautiful way, we are compelled to respond.

Sadly, such a beautiful love has been rejected by a sinful world. Instead of embracing this love, some turn to the pleasures of sin that only provide temporary gratification. Even still, God’s love pursues us, seeking to change our hearts by His grace, favor, mercy, goodness, and kindness. God took the initiative, He made the first move. Therefore, “we love because He first loved us”( 1 John 4:19 ).

We should love the Lord God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus says that it is the greatest commandment, and also to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Let’s make an intentional effort, this holiday season and every day, to love. First, love the Lord emphatically. Then love others, which should be a natural extension of our love for God. And not just with words! Intentionally demonstrate love! Love is the reason Jesus came. That’s why we can say, I WILL LOVE!

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I WILL Wednesday 11/27/19

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I WILL trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

This is another praise filled passage from the heart of King David. He ascribed to the Lord, the glory due unto His name (Psalm 29:2 ).  Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Strength, Shield, Horn of Salvation, and Stronghold are the attributes used to describe God. They are the reasons David could confidently say “My God . . . in whom I will trust.” Every beautiful truth about our Father proves that He is fully trustworthy.

Though this is true, many believers struggle in the area of trust. We believe, yes, truly believe, but when it comes to seeing the fruit in our own lives, we stop short of trusting with abandon. Even when we want to. Especially when we need to.

Some translations read “in whom I take refuge.”  To take refuge is to find a safe place. This reminds me of the old hymn “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” The hymn writer shares about a sweet, tender place in his relationship with the Lord—a place of trust. That is a place where we can lay our burdens down, cast our cares at His feet, and receive the comfort and strength we sometimes so desperately need. The hymn writer ends the chorus in the popular hymn with the line, “O, for grace to trust Him more.” The days that I need to trust the most, are usually the days that my faith fails.  That’s when I pray,  “Father, give me the grace to trust you more.”  He is faithful to give me the grace that I need to confidently trust.  That’s why I will confess daily, I WILL trust!

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I WILL Wednesday 11/20/19

It’s I WILL WEDNESDAY!

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

This week, we are looking, at King David’s declaration of victory, I WILL not be shaken!

Psalm 16 speaks of David’s place of contentment and even rejoicing in difficult times. It also speaks prophetically about our Savior, Jesus and the hope that He brings.

How did David have hope in trying times? How did he find a place of contentment? He kept his eyes on the Lord.

I’m reminded of Peter when he walked on water. Before he began to walk, it was dark, foggy, windy and wet. Yet at the bidding of Jesus—“come”—Peter walked on the water.  The scripture says “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”   Matthew 14:30.  Peter saw the wind and began to sink. The wind didn’t cause Peter to sink, it was his shifted focus. He took his eyes off Jesus and put his eyes on his surroundings. Remember, the wind was already boisterous, the darkness was pervasive, the fog was present and the water was still wet. But when Peter had his eyes on Jesus those things didn’t matter. With eyes trained on Jesus, he didn’t sink, he couldn’t be shaken.

Where’s your focus? Is it on the circumstances around you, or on the Savior who walks with you?  When your eyes are on Jesus, nothing can shake you. Focus on the Savior. Look to Him to be your comfort, your strength and your inspiring example. Keep your eyes on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith journey Hebrews 12:1-3.

King David knew this well. That’s why in the middle of the storms in his life, he could declare “my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope (v. 9 )”.  As he walked closely with the Lord, David could say from experience, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (v. 11 ).” The storms will rage, and hard times will come, but when you keep your eyes on Jesus you can say, I WILL not be shaken.

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I WILL Wednesday 11/13/19

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2

Today’s passage, begins with a burst of praise to God. David declares, I WILL give thanks, I WILL tell, I WILL be glad, and I WILL sing praises.

This psalm of David was written to celebrate all that God had done in his life. The psalm begins with a praise that burst forth from a grateful heart. Throughout this psalm, he rehearses the reasons he bursted forth in praise: The Lord had delivered him from his enemies, the Lord had given him victory, the Lord remembers His people and shows them mercy. David made a habit of keeping the goodness of God at the forefront of his mind. He both recounted God’s goodness to himself and shared it with others.

We, too, can burst forth in a praise in the same fashion, in our lives, the hand of the Lord has delivered us from the hand of the enemy! He has secured our victory! He is a faithful friend who does not forget us. (You are not forgotten!) Today, let’s follow this example. Speak to yourself and say, I WILL give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I won’t hold back my gratitude. Instead, I WILL give my whole heart in worship. I WILL tell others about what the Lord has done. I WILL share my testimonies of deliverance and restoration. I WILL be glad and have a joyful heart because He is faithful to us. His love and grace endures. I WILL sing His praises even if everything is not the way I think it should be, because I know that God is good. And in His goodness, I am remembered, I am cared for, and I am loved.

Be blessed!DD7BA46D-46C9-4314-8DBF-24B931769DEF

I WILL Wednesday 10/23/19

Happy I Will Wednesday!

For this ‘I Will Wednesday’, we will actually be focusing on an ‘I Will Not’. Found in Psalm 3:5-6, King
David makes a declaration. He says I WILL not fear . . .
During this time in David’s life, he was running from his own son, Absalom, who had started a rebellion against him. He was forsaken by many who claimed to be his friend. His own people began to defect and join Absalom’s ranks. Trouble on every side, so much so that on-lookers felt like even God would not help him (Psalm 3:2).

In spite of it all, David did not allow the storms in his life to shake his faith. With resolve, he affirms that God is his shield, glory and the lifter of his head  (Psalm 3:3).    In the middle of his storm, when he should’ve been greatly troubled, David slept well because he knew that he was kept by the Lord  (Psalm 3:5). 

Today, all may not be as you think it should be. Troubling thoughts may attempt to derail you. You may feel that the storm you are in is overwhelming or even devastating. Even if family and friends have betrayed you, make this your declaration, I WILL not fear! We can endure our present circumstances with eyes fixed on our future hope. Then, when fear tries to creep in, be comforted by this truth; Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Psalm 3:5-6  

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I Will . . .

A29BE5BF-6B9C-4212-80AB-2B9AD6BEA6C3I will. . .
This is the answer I received from this sweet little precocious girl who dropped by my classroom one morning. This little girl, so full of life, has been through so much at her young age, but these things have not defined her. Through all that has happened, she has continued to be ever-spirited and bubbly. And her bubbly nature is abundantly infectious. She had brightened my day multiple times when I was her teacher and now, as she walks her little brother to class, she is still like a ray of sunshine.

One particularly difficult morning, Sunshine came bouncing into my room. She greeted me with a smile and hug. We chatted for a minute before she said,“I gotta go.” I said, “Ok, sweet pea. Have a good day.” Now, the typically response would be “ok” or “thank you.” On those tougher days, you may even hear, “I’ll try” or even, a dismissive “hmmp.” But not this sweet one. She bounced out of my room after saying two simple words that flipped my mood, and started the wheels of my mind turning. She said, “I will.”

First, I began to think about how I respond when I’m told to “have a good day”. Do I just see it as a well wish that is largely dependent on the happenings of the day? Or do I realize that I can change the trajectory of my day with the words I speak? Next, I began to think about those I tell “have a good day.” Is it just something to say? Or am I consciously speaking over that person’s day?

Then I began to think about the Word of God. How many ‘I wills” are found there? Am I actively declaring these in my life? Psalms includes many.

Some notable ones are:

I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17

I will love You, O LORD, my strength. Psalm 18:1b

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You. Psalm 56:3

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

You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You. Psalm 118:28

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help? Psalm 121:1

What if I made the “I Wills” in scripture a part of my daily confession? What can I discover as I focus on changing my words and therefore changing my mindset? Like my darling little friend, I will challenge myself to take ownership over my days, my years, my life. I will submit to God’s sovereignty and to His divine authority. I will invite transformation through the Word of God by confessing the Word daily (because the Word Works). I will shape my day with Words of life so the next time I’m told to have good day, I can say with confidence, “I will!”

(Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring the I Wills found in scripture, in particularly in the Psalms. Join us on the Sparrows Song Facebook group each Wednesday for “I Will Wednesdays” to discover more truths from God’s Word.)