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

Write the Word June 2020

Hello people of God,

It’s time to begin a new month of Writing the Word.   Let me encourage you as you launch or re-launch upon this spiritual discipline. Writing the Word helps us to interact with the Word of God.  God’s Word is unlike other writings; God’s Word is living!  We come to the Word of God to receive life (Psalm 119:50).

Writing the Word helps us to develop deeper understandings, and relate what we read to our own personal experiences.  As you write this month, I challenge you to approach the text as a living organism.  As you read, write, and meditate on God’s Word, breathe in Life!

This month we are writing through part 1 of 2 Corinthians. This is another beautiful letter written by Paul the Apostle to the church at Corinth. One of the chief messages in 2 Corinthians is the relationship between suffering and the power of the Spirit. Paul defends his apostleship and argues that suffering has a role in the life of the believer, and reveals the glory of God.

Key verses in 2 Corinthians:

  • Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.   2 Corinthians 5:17
  • He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.   2 Corinthians 5:21
  • And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  2 Corinthians 12:9
  • But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Corinthians 4:7
  • We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
  • But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.                            2 Corinthians 2:14
  • While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18

(If you would like to continue Writing the Word with themes, check out June 2019’s guide below.)

Remember, The Word W.O.R.K.S.–Living out Wholeness,Obedience, Righteousness, and Kingdom Success.

In service to the KING,

Erica

A79D1AD2-6526-414A-81A0-42E459068D30

E10303DA-F9A6-42C5-BF65-FE468CF82FD5

I WILL Wednesday 5/28/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

“I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your Wings.” Psalm 61:4

In today’s I WILL Wednesday, we are able to, again, see into the life of David while he is on the run from King Saul. Psalm 61 finds David tired, exhausted, and in need of some sort of relief. He says earlier in this same Psalm that his heart was overwhelmed as if he was desperate for something to happen that would give him peace and deliverance. As we’ve seen from David many times before, David knew where to go and Who to seek in the difficult times he was in.

In the fourth verse, David makes a declaration to the Lord from the place of pain. He says “I WILL abide in Your tabernacle forever”. He was saying that he wanted to stay in the presence of God forever. He understood that the presence of God was the only place he could, would, and should go to receive peace and deliverance while he was dealing with the hostilities of his life. David also put a time stamp on how long he wanted to dwell in God’s presence– FOREVER.

David’s desire was to stay permanently in the presence of God. This is where we should desire to dwell also. It is in the presence of God that we find peace and stability when everything around us seems hectic and rocky. It is in the presence of God where we find joy when everything around us says we should be in tears. It is in the presence of God where we find hope when everything around us says there is no hope. This is the place where David desired to be and this is the place that is available for us as well.

David also says that I WILL “trust in the shelter of Your Wings”! This is likened to the wings of a mother bird protecting her young. When it rains they use these wings to cover their children. When danger arises they use their wings to hide their children from the enemy. The mother bird will also use their wings to hold her children close to her. David was using the bird and the relation to her young to how he saw his relationship with God. It is in the arms of God where he would be sheltered from the attacks of the enemy, hidden in His love, and be drawn close to Him. This is a relationship we can enjoy, too!
Protected by Him.

Comforted by Him.

Sheltered by Him.

Oh how wonderful it is to know we have Someone we can abide in, take refuge in, and trust to be there us.

During this season and everyday, let’s be like David and say, “I WILL abide in His Tabernacle, and I WILL Trust in the shelter of His Wings!”

4AAB32D2-6FA3-4EA9-B78E-16B99F4030B7

Standing on the Word 4/6/2020

A85F14CD-40C4-4BF8-8F19-6BE8E3E6E156This prophecy of our suffering Savior brings to light more than just the events that took place at Calvary, but also the reason Jesus chose the cross. He bore OUR grief and carried OUR sorrow. Wounded for OUR sins, punished for OUR peace. He suffered because of US, choosing the pain and the shame so the WE might be made free. Take that in this week. Calvary wasn’t just something that happened but it is the greatest gift of love you will ever receive. A personalized gift, just for you and just for me. We will never find a greater love or a truer friend. Thank You Jesus!

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

I WILL Wednesday 4/1/2020


It’s I WILL Wednesday!

I will praise You forever, Because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.  Psalm 52:9

In today’s passage, David ends Psalm 52 with a beautiful, yet powerful statement of praise and faith to God. It comes after God delivers David from Doeg, the Edomite who was chief herdsman to King Saul and responsible for the deaths of a large number of priests (1 Samuel 21, 22). When David realizes that deliverance had come, he says to God, “I will praise you forever, because you have done it; and in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.” In those few words, David said so much concerning his faith in God, his dedication to God, and his trust that God can and will bring forth deliverance. Let’s look deeper at the parts of this verse.

“I will praise You forever.” Not only was David making a declaration of his allegiance to God, but he was also speaking to his posture in difficult situations. He says, “I will praise You forever!” In the good times and the bad times; in the happy times and in the sad times I will praise You. David was making a commitment that his posture would not change. Just like David, our posture towards God should not change. No matter what the situation, we should have a posture of praise, and a posture of reverence to God at all times.

“You have done it.” When David proclaimed this message he was talking about his deliverance from Doeg, but we too can say the same thing, “God, You have done it!” You delivered me from my pain.You have delivered me from shame. You have delivered me from all types of trouble. When we take a look back on our lives whether it was years ago or even minutes ago, God has done it (His work of deliverance), in each of our lives. He has delivered us from things we had no idea how we were going to get out of. He provided for us when we had no idea where we would get our resources from. Just like David, we all can say, “You have done it!”

“And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.” David’s love and dedication to God was never hidden from the public eye. This is the same King who danced out of his kingly garb in the middle of the streets! He was not ashamed of Who he depended on, He was not ashamed of Who he belonged to. The last part of the verse says, “I will wait on Your name, for it is good.” This is so amazing! He was saying in every situation, he could wait on God, because God never let him down. I’m sure we all have people who said they would be there for us, but unfortunately they ended up letting us down. But not God! His is a name you can depend on. No matter the situation, hold fast to the trust and the faith that you have in Him. He will not let you down, He will be there right on time.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing, to know that God is faithful in deliverance, faithful in His love, and faithful to supply our needs. Oh yes! He is faithful indeed. So like David, make the declaration “I will praise You forever,” and no matter what “I will wait on Your name.”

287447B3-725E-4869-A8F6-BEA2920B6C51

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

 

44ABCCB9-EB65-494C-8E26-D5C0B718E7A5

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!

FF2C654E-7D4C-4333-9F8C-EAF216B5EC5D

Write the Word 2020

Hello Sparrow’s Song Family!

It has been one year since the launch of the Write the Word Challenge and we are celebrating how God has sustained us, revealed Himself to us, and has never failed us!

We have been blessed to become acquainted with some wonderful people who have become members of our Sparrow’s Song community from all over the world!  So to ALL of our newcomers, WELCOME!

Now let’s get down to the Word. This month we are kicking off Write the Word with a study of the major themes of Ephesians.  Ephesians is a foundational book that tells believers key truths about our position in Christ, our walk with Christ, and how to stand against spiritual attacks from the enemy.  I will also add last year’s guide so that you can choose from the two, or feel free to use your own.

Just like before we are just writing the word. This format is just a guide for you. If you wish to write different scriptures please don’t feel like that is not okay BECAUSE IT IS!

One last thing, if you are new to Sparrow’s Song Ministries, we invite you to join and follow the Sparrow’s Song Ministries Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/sparrowssongsong/#
Here you will be able to join an online community where people are striving for a closer relationship with God, receiving encouragement from others, and also encouraging others who are in their own personal journey in Christ.

So here we go… Let’s write The Word!

~ Erica

32CB1518-53F5-4546-87D7-E5A65D55BF6C

Write The Word Challenge 2020

 

Whoohoo!

It’s the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY for Sparrow’s Song Ministries/The Word W.O.R.K.S.’ Write the Word challenge.

For a year now we have been putting the Word of God above everything else. Through this year God has blessed us so much and there’s no going back now!So for those of you who are new to Sparrow’s Song, I challenge you to branch out with us and Write the Word. And for those who have been in the journey for some time now, let’s keep going!

The Word of God is so important in our lives. It’s more than words on pages, it’s living and life giving.

The Word of God is a wellspring to a dry and thirsty soul.

The Word will strengthen a weary heart.

The Word can redirect your focus towards purposeful things.

The Word brings comfort to wounded souls.

Yes friends, THE WORD (STILL) W.O.R.K.S.

Starting March 1st (for the second time), with one verse, or as much as you want, we’re going to journey into the Bible together. We’ll do it little by little, with no pressure! No study guide or workbook. Just the Word. How? By writing it. When you write the Word of God in your own handwriting, it helps you get a better understanding of what you’re reading, and it helps you to remember it. Studies have shown, writing makes it easier for our brains to store, retain, and recall information. What better content to store, retain, and recall than the Word of God.

Join me in our Write The Word Challenge. For the next 31 days make the Word of God a priority. The challenge will run from March 1-31, 2020.

I hope you decide to join us (or rejoin us) in this challenge! Invite your friends! We are excited to continue diving into God’s Holy word with you all.

It’s so easy to sign up, just enter your first name, email, and comment the words “I’m in 🙋‍♀️”, down below, OR comment on our Facebook Post, and we’ll send you suggested templates, and scriptures to get started, as well as other helpful resources and encouragement.

Also, like our Facebook page and follow us at http://sparrowssongministries.com

Don’t know what you’re going to write in? Try Sparrow’s Song’s Scripture Writing Journal. https://www.amazon.com/dp/108124285X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_

 

9E852887-6A61-4665-89E6-6D4EE6E74255