But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:4-10)Looking into Jesus . . . THE Author AND Finisher of my faith and yours? Thank GOD I AM saved!!!! There is no need to fear . . .
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
"God, Am I really saved?" This is not simply a scary thought, but a scary reality to many, especially our young people! There are various doctrines floating around contending that cause doubt in the minds of many, especially our youth. Jesus' blood sacrifice, a PERFECT and ETERNAL sacrifice, indeed removes sin from the believer's heart. (1 Peter 1:18) No "prayer" saves anyone, but the confessed FAITH in Christ. (Galatians 3:26) Hopefully these verses give us all assurance:
Monday, October 30, 2017
Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’(Matthew 21:34-36)There is a difference in serving people / meeting their needs and serving to meet spiritual needs as well as the physical. This is not a burden, but a PRIVILEGE! Blessing folks is this life is great. To bring a disaster victim a supply of food, to provide housing for one who is homeless, even to simply stop and talk to a senior at the local McDonald's is surely commendable and appreciated. But all of these gestures last only for a moment, or a day, perhaps even a week. Serving with the Gospel in mind saves lives for eternity! This is exactly the call the Lord has put upon my wife and me and The Sparrows' Nest Ministries! All we do is to point others to the Savior. Please pray that we do all we are able to do not simply to meet a physical or emotional need, but to reach hearts and souls with the love and grace of the Gospel.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.(John 4:34)
Friday, October 27, 2017
Religious people . . . Know any? I do and I can't stomach them! Most anyone would help someone if they saw them in need. If we saw a child crying we would reach out to console them. If we witnessed an accident we would stop and give assistance. If an elderly person was struggling with a package we would offer to carry it for them. It is simply common courtesy. Ephesians 2:10 says we're "created in Christ Jesus to to good works". James 2:15-17 reminds the believer that faith without is DEAD!. So when we hear on the news and see in pictures the dire needs of our fellow man, even our own citizens in desperate conditions, how can we simply offer a kind word or prayer? Why are we NOT motivated to sacrifice what we already have and can easily replace for their needs? We are caught up the religious activities of the world. We are part of religion, not a genuine relationship with the One Who sacrificed His all for our sakes. Are we that DESENSITIZED?
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.(James 1:22-27)
Thursday, October 26, 2017
If Jesus came to seek and save those that were lost, than what does that tell us who have been made in His image . . . "like Him"? Should our priority not be to seek out those in need of grace, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation rather than seeking our own gain to the detriment of others? Read the following account of Jesus and a sinner (like. You and me):
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”Just a few Thursday thoughts . . .
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
We are all alike.....every one of us. Made in the image of God. Why can we not see one another as worthy of respect, love and grace? We all want God to care for us, yet we do not always care for others like God cares for us! I am no more special than the homeless man, the prostitute, the unborn, or the elderly. Like I demand respect for myself, I should demand it and give it to everyone else! How can I consider myself worthy of God's love yet someone else different than me in some way or another is less deserving?
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply;(Genesis 1:26-28)Special . . . Not Special . . .HUH?????
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
God IS good. God IS love. ALWAYS . . . . He does not waiver based upon my actions. He always loves me and even His discipline and correction is always done in love and for my good. Knowing this gives me a certain peace that this world just cannot give. As the world turns and thus turns its people upside down and backwards based upon the circumstances, it is comforting to know my Daddy still loves me just the same. I need to show others this love too!
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:13-15)
Monday, October 23, 2017
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.(John 14:12-14)Wait a minute . . . greater works than Jesus? Huh? How can that be? Jesus did some miraculous things as He was engaging people on this earth. Yet He was on this earth for a short time. It was a small world as well. We now have both the Old and New Testament as background. We have eyewitness testimonies throughout of the goodness of God. Yet we also have our very own testimony and a vast world of which to influence! With travel the way it is today and access to the entire world via social media, we can reach more people in one hour than Jesus could meet in his entire lifetime here on earth. With the aid of His Holy Spirit living inside, we have the ability to impact millions for His sake. Our very testimony of what and Who Christ is can give freedom to those imprisoned by sin and offer a home to the lost and orphaned. What are we doing with Jesus today? Don't keep Him to yourself!
Friday, October 20, 2017
Whose side are you on anyway? Right, left or Christ's? Us, them, or God's?
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.(Galatians 5:1-6)To really be "free" in Christ means to full "trust" Christ. In order to please Him we need to trust Him. Trying to fit in this world puts a "yoke" upon us. Keeping the "whole law" of man causes us to choose where to fit in and whom to please next. Being accepted into this group or that organization only serves to bind us up and "estrange" us from Christ and the freedom He offers. Later Paul would say a "little leaven leavens the whole lump"(Galatians 5:9). We cannot please man and God. Be careful. We are called to freedom and to love, not to choose sides! Walk in this Spirit of freedom!(Galatians 5:16-21)
Thursday, October 19, 2017
What does TRUST really mean? I have tried trusting on my own power, but I go back to doubt. I go back to my own plan to succeed and my own plan of how to prepare for the future. "I" can do this and that if "I" will just adhere to this plan or that program. Yet deep down I know "I" cannot do anything but only by HIS grace! I am learning . . . ever so slowly . . . to trust God and HIS grace. Jesus has already entered into the middle of our struggles and storms and is eager to help. He wants us whole and healthy. He will walk with us and complete us if we just unball our fists and hold on to HIS hand! Can we only learn to get off the tiring treadmill of "MY" life and crawl into the lap of Jesus and allow HIS life to reign in ours? Here's a familiar verse we use when sharing the Gospel. How about using it for ourselves to heal our own heartache? TRUST God with HIS grace today . . .
. . . . even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . (Romans 3:22-23)
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Hoping in something or someone we cannot see or fully understand. When God has placed a calling upon a life, a marriage, a specific group of people, than it must be believed and action must take place. God delights in such decisive action and Satan hates it. When one risks the comfort of everyday life and what others may say makes no sense. the Kingdom of God grows and His work multiplies. The peaks and valleys of life cause many to doubt. Caught between hope and despair, many get off the rollercoaster ride rather than strapping in and holding on tight. Our flesh desires comfort and security over anxiety, uneasiness, and chaos. God will S T R E T C H us, allow us to feel crushed and pressed, and refine us through challenges to accomplish His plans and make us into fine wine, precious gold, and shining stars for Him! God is right with us through it all!
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Ever notice that as we grow in faith, the physical life grows in direct contrast to our spiritual life? Faith truly becomes the things we do not and cannot see! The more the world seems to focus upon the visible, the more the growing CHRISTian turns to faith . . .the INVISIBLE TRUTHS! Not knowing exactly what God has in store, yet trusting Him with it, becomes surprising and exciting. God is ALWAYS good and has the best of plans for each of His children.
Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.(Psalm 37:1-8)Even in the center of the storm . . . in the eye of the hurricane . . . in the midst of the greatest challenge and most severe pain . . . God surrounds His children with love, protection, guidance, and peace!
Monday, October 16, 2017
The following verses remind me of a time we took our teen ministry on a dolphin watch on the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coasts of North and South Carolina.
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.(James 1:4-8)There we were on a drizzly day and no dolphins in sight. The boat captain wanted to give the passengers some excitement anyway so he began doing "donuts" on the water and as he did the ocean spray came at us in every angle! Now while some enjoyed it, I, not being an avid nor Olympic-skilled skilled swimmer, was praying for life not to end on the Atlantic Ocean! I was not patient nor calm. I lacked wisdom for sure. I was being tossed and driven in the waves! Yes . . . UNSTABLE! To say the least, I was glad when the captain stopped "having fun" and calmly headed the boat back to the docks. I got a feeling for what it was like to be out of control, tossed around, and praying for direction! Reading these verses in James this morning, reminded me to not allow Satan, or simply the everyday occurrences in life, to get me spun around and lacking direction. Lord, help me to stay focused upon You and Your wisdom, not the "intelligence" of so many today. While education, degrees, and life experience can offer suggestions, it is only the wisdom from God that can really overcome this world and all the troubles it offers! Indeed, His PEACE goes beyond all human understanding!
Friday, October 13, 2017
I got Spirit, yes I do. I got Spirit, how 'bout you?
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.(Acts 4:31)Peter and John had been arrested for preaching the resurrection of Jesus. Even that could not contain their excitement for the Lord. In fact, they even witnessed to the rulers when they stood before them. Yet having been threatened to not preach Jesus and released, they were excited even more so! As we read above, the place was "SHAKEN"! What if we were so FILLED with His Spirit that the places we went and the people we encountered were SHAKEN about and turned upside down for Christ!
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.(Romans 8:9-11)His Spirit, if He truly is alive within us, can SHAKE UP and TRANSFORM where we go and whom we engage. is that Spirit alive and working within you and me today? Let's SHAKE THINGS UP A BIT!!!!
Thursday, October 12, 2017
It's class color day at Spirit Week this week . . . Guess what color my class will be wearing? Purple . . . Representing royalty and kings. . . . in Hebrew "argaman", was to be used in material for the Tabernacle and the Temple.
Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them. (Exodus 26:1)The Greek "porphyria" refers to purple and the purple fish (species of mussel) from whereby purple dye is derived.
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.(Acts 16:14)Finally, purple represents royalty throughout the Bible.
So Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.(Esther 8:15)Our suffering Savior would be clothed in royal purple garments as well . . .
And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.(Mark 15:17-20)Ahhh yes . . . PURPLE! Get used to wearing it folks . . . 💜✝️💟🕺🏻
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”(Matthew 8:23-27)Sweet sleep, even in the midst of chaos and calamity! How can this man . . . How can you and I seem so calm with all hell breaking out around us? How can we possibly not get upset, angry or too excited today, when EVERYDAY something ridiculous occurs around us. Ever heard of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? Duh!!!!! The final characteristic Paul mentions for the CHRIST-follower is SELF-CONTROL! We tend to overreact from a sense of fear. We "fly off the handle" when we do not first think. James reminds us to be SLOW to speak or to become angry (James 1:19) but rather listen to all sides and think about our reaction before we say or do anything. Slow down a bit everyone. CALM down a bit. Allow the Holy Spirit to take hold . . . Get some SLEEP!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Quick . . . Someone to rescue . . . Superman? Batman? Hulk? We need help! There are so many hurting, injured, sick, dying . . . We need a real-life SUPERHERO!!!!! Oh, wait. There is One and He has done all this and more. In fact He has saved the entire world. Yet we must believe it and live it out!
Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.(Matthew 15:30)Oh yes, we indeed need a SUPERHERO today! We need a CAPTAIN to lead us in battle and save us from destruction. But it is not Captain America 🇺🇸 for sure! It is Captain Jesus 🥇, the Author and Finisher of our faith! He died in battle, yet He lives again and forever!
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the CAPTAIN of their salvation perfect through sufferings.(Hebrews 2:10)
Monday, October 9, 2017
Wearing two mis-matched gloves on a cold winter day will still keep the hands warm. A pair of non-matching socks will still serve to keep the feet covered and comfortable. A pair of shoes, though different in color, will still serve the feet well! I know the females will disagree, but the shoes don't even have to match the jacket or hat!👠👒👢🎩👡🎓👞👑👟⛑ As members of the Body of Jesus Christ, we all are mis-matched! No two of us are exactly alike, even twins have unlike DNA. However, as unlike as we all are, we can all serve our purpose by following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Older, younger, taller, different cultures, different talents, yet all "fitting" and functioning properly to serve God's purposes. Though we all may not "match" we can still fit like hand-in-glove!
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.(1 Corinthians 12:20-26)
Friday, October 6, 2017
“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.(Luke 12:29-34)Yes....really C O N V I C T E D!!!! So many in need around this world simply seeking the basics and I am worried about what I WANT to eat and where I would LIKE to go? Luke says to provide for ourselves "money bags that do not grow old"! I get that picture very clearly. This faith walk is indeed a challenging walk of faith. God, please change me to not be so greedy, so needy, so "feed me"! Help me to indeed walk by faith in You to provide. Will I ever REALLY get it!?!?
Thursday, October 5, 2017
In the Old Testament, folks "heard" from God. It was a still,small voice, a thunderous voice, even an inviting voice. Prophets spoke forth His words. Even a donkey was caused to speak! However, today many say we cannot hear from God anymore . . . Why?
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”(John 10:22-30)There is a reason we do not hear from God. It is not His fault. It lies with you and me. We don't seek Him. We do not recognize Him. We cannot sit still long enough to hear Him. There is too much noise around . . . too many voices to Hear from Him and Him alone. Or do we not even know His voice or even know Him at all? What is my reason to not hear from God today? What is your reason?
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.(Hebrews 5:12-14)A child goes from Mommy's Milk, to bottled Milk, to Meat. It's the same for the spiritual growth process of a CHRISTian. We first learn of Christ and repent of sin, accepting our state as a lost sinner and asking Jesus to forgive us and then cover our sin with His precious blood sacrifice upon the cross. We then receive the gift of His Holy Spirit to indwell us and equip us to GROW! Sadly, many stay on "Mommy's Milk" way too long spiritually! We do not seek a more mature diet of prayer, bible study, fellowship (real intense fellowship, not simply "hi, how 'ya doin'?"), fasting, and work in ministry. We remain comfortable in "Mommy's" arms much too long. Unfortunately the battle field seems too challenging. Where are we today? Paul (or the writer of Hebrews if you do not believe it to be Paul) states above that many (you and me?)should be teachers by now, yet we are still on the bottle! We should not only know biblical values and doctrines, but we should actively be teaching and discipling others. We all need to be engaged in the battle. Spiritual warfare is rampant within the homes, schools, churches, neighborhoods and the world! Let's increase the spiritual fiber in our diets and start to exercise our faith as mature believers and not mere babes!
How would you like your STEAK?
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Peace . . . Strong Tower . . . Help . . . Rock . . . Resting Place . . . Shield . . . Comforter . . . Friend . . . Redeemer . . .Deliverer . . . Savior!
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:(John 1:12)Would a child of a king not feel safe? Well, this King Is God and those who call upon Him in repentance have every right to be called His "child" and receive all rights and privileges granted by The King! Oh, how He loves us . . .
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.(1 John 3:1-3)God's Kingdom is not of this world! We must stop living like it is!!! While we may not know exactly what it will be like, we have His promises. When He returns, we shall find out. Hold on kids . . .
Monday, October 2, 2017
Everyone has fears . . . the dark, the unknown, the doctor, the future. Fear is natural, but we cannot allow it to grip us! The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the grave resides within every believer. His peace also is available to us as we go through fear. Fear is a human element, power is from God!
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:6-7)Acknowledge the fear, but then acknowledge the power of God the Holy Spirit within you. It's a choice we make concerning what and/or Whom controls us!
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