Are not five sparrows sold two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Luke 12: 6

 

The details matter. Just ask an airplane pilot or a surgeon, and they will confirm this fact. The details of life matter to God, too. Some of these details are formed out of attitudes and from intentions; while others are defined by the way that people live out their days in pursuit of God or in attempted escape from Him. Still, without regard to what we do, where we go, or even what masters we serve, God knows it all and Christ seeks to enter into every aspect of each day of our existence with us. You see, the point that Jesus was making when He brought up sparrows was that they were truly the poor person’s sacrifice. They were so cheap as to be completely disposable; yet, to God, their Creator, each of those throw away birds was known and considered as a valuable part of this world’s beauty and balance of nature. They all had a purpose in God’s plan for this world.

 

So, if that was true about humble birds, how much more so does this same Creator God care about and fully comprehend each of the people that He has set out in this same world? We matter to God; so, we matter to Jesus Christ. God’s intent and desire for us is to be in close relationship with us; thus, Christ comes into our lives in order to redeem us from the separation of sin and to restore us to the glory of God that is our greatest and truest potential. We can fight against God’s intent and His desire. In fact, to various degrees most people do struggle with and against God for parts of our lives and throughout all of our days to some extent. However, these times of departure, rebellion, and disaffection with our Lord are futile. Those sparrows have more power to set their own direction and destiny than we do, for in the end, we all face the reality of our lives as our days on this earth end, and we go before Christ as the purveyor of truth and final justice.

 

There is no escaping this day of reckoning, and we should not be living in fear of it, either. God’s desire is that He would be greatly pleased to welcome each person on this earth home into His eternal presence. Jesus literally poured out His blood in order to buy each of us that outcome to the life that we have been given by God. This is a good day and this hour is the perfect time to consider my life in light of God’s view of those precious sparrows. Although the world may have viewed them as throw aways with no real usefulness or value, God sees the unique design and infinite depth of quality in every feather on their bodies. So, it is with each of us. God sees us as vitally important to Him, and He grants to each of us the talents, skills, and gifts that we will need in order to follow His will and to live out our days in service to our Godly calling. Our lives are filled with those details that matter so greatly to our Lord, and He will not overlook or forget anything that truly matters as we live out lives of service to Him.

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Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10: 23

 

A promise is exactly that, when it comes from God. The Lord says what He thinks, and His mind is focused only on that which is holy, just, loving, and righteous. In fact, if there is one thing that I know can be counted on in this world, it is the clarity of God on what sorts of living will lead to a life that is rich and full of the grace of His presence. God’s Word provides us with a highly practical narrative of God’s will and desire for us and a telling of the way that the Lord has continually engaged with His creation in working out that will on the earth. Although there is great mystery surrounding the full nature of God, the Lord, Himself, works to reveal His nature, character, and truth to us.

 

Christ is the answer to this revelation. When we confess our surrender to Him, we enter into the hope of redemption that God has promised to all of His creation in and through Jesus. As Jesus is our Lord, He is our Savior; thus, as He is our Savior, He is also our Redeemer. A significant aspect of this redemption is found in knowledge, understanding, and the wisdom that flows out of this deeply connected relationship with God. In Christ the Spirit indwells us, and the Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see through the fog and the haze of sin into the glory of eternity that is now ours. This grants to us an appreciation for the valid hope that overcomes all of life’s challenges and trials and illuminates the sure path that we can travel in order to stay upright and true to God’s holy calling for our lives.

 

God promised His redemption to His people, and He delivered on that promise in Christ. God committed to open up the mysteries of His will to us; so, He gave His Spirit to His people. The Lord declared that He would never leave us, and He has sealed that covenant with the blood of Jesus. We enter into a relationship with our Lord by walking on the shaky feet of sinful people; then, in Christ’s strength and wisdom, we travel forth in the full confidence of being God’s beloved and chosen people. This world will throw the full weight of its confusion and chaos at us, but we can stay true to Christ and dwell in the hope of our redemption, for He will never depart from our side. This is God’s faithful and true promise to His people.

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak anymore in his name,”

There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones,

And I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Jeremiah 20: 9

 

If anyone had a right to question the personal value and even the sanity of God’s calling in his life it was Jeremiah. He was the perfect example of a prophet who received no respect in his own time and among his native people. He was mocked and humiliated, thrown out of his church, dropped into a well to die, his writings were not only banned but they were burned, and he was locked into stocks and beaten in public. Jeremiah suffered through a very large number of bad days as a result of doing what he believed that God had called him to do. That calling was simple and direct. Jeremiah was to go where God sent him and to say what God told Him to say. Jeremiah was called to be the voice of God’s righteous truth and a spokesperson for holy justice.

 

The nation, its leaders, and the people of the land had a very great need to be confronted by God’s truth. They were set on a disastrous path that could only lead to destruction if they continued along their self-determined course. They had stopped caring for the weak, they had little use for justice, life was valued only as a commodity, and God had become an ornament, a mere symbol, rather than the ruler of their souls. They were lost and adrift with a great storm rising up on the horizon when their salvation was already available to be grasped. It was Jeremiah’s task to present that saving knowledge, to confront the sin that separated the people from their God, and to implore them to repent and to return to their Lord and Savior. Doing all of this was exhausting, and it was literally depressing. No one listened. It seemed that everyone openly and personally rejected Jeremiah. He wanted to give it up, and just fade into the background. He wanted to take a very long vacation from the prophet business. But that is not how God works, and it is not the way that a relationship with Christ plays out in our lives, either.

 

Jeremiah found out that he was simply not able to stop doing what God had called him to do. God’s truth was too big and far too powerful to remain held quietly inside. Also, I think that as a man who knew God well, Jeremiah’s heart ached for the lostness of his land. He had a vision for the restorative redemption that was possible for all who follow God, and although he was battered and bruised from the effort, Jeremiah could not hold his tongue or cease in the pursuit of righteousness in the land. The very core of his being was burning with a fire that the Spirit of God placed within him. It seems that our times need a Jeremiah. Perhaps this should be our own personal desire and prayer as we seek to hear God’s voice and respond to His calling for us, “Lord, let Your truth fill every cell of my being, fill my heart with a drive to serve You that burns like an unquenchable fire, guide me to speak out continually in loving boldness, and strengthen me with Your unfailing courage. Amen.”

Why do you boast of evil. O mighty man?

the steadfast love of God endures all the day.

Psalm 52: 1

 

David was well acquainted with opposition that came from very close to his home. These words were written about one of those times when his life was literally in jeopardy as a result of that opposition. In this opening line of the psalm David is speaking about King Saul; then, he responds to Saul with words of faith and trust in God. There is something to look at for myself in this approach to putting the antagonism and opposition that I might encounter into perspective. Although David speaks words of destruction and warns that God’s anger will be poured out onto those who turn away from Him, I do see aspects of redemption in these words.

 

If we are engaged disciples of Christ, we all will face trials and even opposition in this world. This is a promise that comes from God. Followers of Christ are warned in numerous places and ways in God’s word that this will be true for us. This world is not a friendly environment for people who think and act as Christ calls upon us to do. Christ calls upon us to be people who live in the full expression of God’s righteousness and love. There is no room for compromise or for culturally driven redesign of truth in this calling. Instead, there is God’s Word, there is Christ revealed in and through it, there is the community of faith that is the true church, and there is the unending and never failing love that God pours out as the oil of redemption on all of His creation.

 

This is what followers of Christ can boast in. We listen to Christ’s voice as He speaks truth, grace, and mercy to drown out the painful din of the world’s angry passions. We know where life is found, and we are alive because of the life that Jesus poured out for us. We recognize truth as its heartbeat is now ours as the Spirit of Christ dwells within us. Not only do we live in the center of God’s love, but we also are called upon by Christ to bear that same love into all of the places that we travel to during our days. The greatest answer to our culture’s angry boasting and to the opposition that we face in our world is the love of Christ that transforms people, for when opponents know Christ, they become our loving family.

 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5: 16

 

Jesus is talking about a couple of important things here. Firstly, He is discussing the fact that God’s people are the enlightened members of humanity. People who have come to Christ have, in fact, come to the Father. It is this light of heaven that God gives to each of His people that provides the love, wisdom, grace, mercy, and holiness that is the essence of God’s true enlightenment. This is the light that Christ pours out through His followers in order to bring the illumination of loving truth to a world that is shrouded and infused with the darkness of sin and its death.

 

Then Jesus proceeds to embellish upon what He has said just before the verse above. The enlightenment that comes from God through Christ is not something that we hold onto and use for our own sakes. God intends for His people to be active and engaged sources of illumination as we go through our days. We are to openly and continually love others and to love God’s creation in a manner that speaks truth, grace, mercy, and comfort to all that we can reach. God does not grant us vacations from this calling, and He continually reminds us that all that He has given to us is to be used for the sake of others.

 

So, the work that we do has absolutely nothing to do with our acceptance, status, or position in God’s eyes or in the world where we live. When we respond to Christ and accept His Lordship over our lives, each of us enters into God’s calling for our life. Within that calling is this mandate to be workers whose labor is directed, empowered, and enriched by Christ so that all that we do and every aspect of who we are shines the light of glory onto God, the Father. Nothing that we do or say is for our ourselves, everything that we are is to be for the sake of others in order that they would come to know Christ and enter into the eternal light of His salvation.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.

1 John 5: 4

 

When faced with some form of obstacle, challenge, or difficult situation most of us take it on by relying upon our knowledge and our strength. After all, that is why we have put in the hours and years of hard work that developed those skills. Whether we are wired to enjoy, to tolerate, or to detest these times of conflict, people tend to respond to all that comes our way in much the same manner. Yet, none of this wins a true victory. Everything that we do on our own will fall short, and far too often the price of these victories is devastating on ourselves and on others.

 

Certainty of winning is found only in following the Supreme Victor, Jesus Christ. Although Christ has shared with us images of the great struggles, battles, and wars that are coming during these times of His final returning, all of this turmoil is nothing more than the mopping-up action that comes after the Lord has already claimed His victory over Satan and the world. So, as we are in Christ, we too are literally victors. Yet, we are not just invited to join in the celebration or added on to the tail end of a victory parade. What happens to us is much greater than any of that, for the fight is still going on and the conflict is fierce. Although we can rejoice in the reality of Christ in our lives and worship our God with all of our being, we are simultaneously engaged in battle. It is here, on the battlefield, that Christ makes the greatest difference in our lives.

 

Christ’s presence changes the essential character of the way that we engage with our enemy. In Him we gain the capacity to see the true nature of the attack, and we are prepared to counter its force and fury with tools and weapons that are effective. Although we may perceive that we are faced off against flesh and blood opponents, we are, in fact, engaged in a conflict that exists in the realm of the mystical. The forces that are aligned in opposition to us are quite visible to God, but they are thoroughly concealed from our view. We must rely upon God to reveal them, their true intent, and His plan for engaging with them. In order to do this one primary thing is required of us, we must have faith. The strength that will sustain us and the wisdom that we will require to stay true to God’s calling will be provided by Christ as we stay faithful to His Word, His Spirit’s leading, and the fellowship of His Body.

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Mark 5: 36

 

When it comes to matters of faith, we hear a lot of chatter in our world. People and organizations readily share what they think is right, and they often seek to impose their views on these matters on others. It would seem that faith in something is very important. For many it is also important to be right about these things. After all, we are talking about the sorts of beliefs that hold our world together and that frame the way that we view it and engage with it.

 

What we have faith in and how that belief is lived out can get to be very complicated. It often involves rituals and sacred practices. There is special knowledge to be obtained that comes only from wizened masters and long-term practitioners of the faith. For many there is the very powerful faith in the non-existence of any form of god or creator. This is faith in self and belief in systems and structures that we can observe fully in all of their brokenness and failure. Yet, Jesus says that faith is actually very simple. No secret handshakes or elaborate rituals are needed.

 

He tells the grieving parent, “Do not fear, only believe.” This is a story about the way that faith heals, but it is not about the restoration of our bodies. Jesus does restore life to this twelve-year old girl, but that fact is not what matters. The faith that heals is the one in which we are able to surrender ourselves to Christ totally and fully. It is a simple and unadorned belief in Jesus as God, Savior, Lord of my life, and King of all Creation. Belief in Jesus is what heals us of all that is diseased and dying in our souls. This faith tosses off the fears that disable us, and it provides us with the strength and the vitality to live out God’s calling for our lives.