Monday, September 30, 2013

Not Even the Sparrow Falls

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28–31, NASB95)

On a hot summer day in 2003 a little white bird showed up in our back yard, exhausted and dancing back and forth on the hot metal of the swing set. A friend of one of our sons did not know what kind of bird she was, so we went outside to help this poor pigeon that they told us about. I climbed up and carefully grabbed her, and of course she grabbed me right back and she was not shy about how hard she bit me. We brought her into the house and found a wire box we used in the kids’ rooms and put her under it, giving her some water and some wild bird seed. Not knowing this little cockatiel’s gender we named her “Bob’s your uncle” which became Bob and stayed Bob even after Bob laid an egg. Bob soon moved to a nicer cage and remained with us for ten years. Without fail, she would dance around and sing when I came into the room and then she would also hiss at Robin who lovingly cared for her (what was that phrase about biting the hand that feeds you?). Recently Bob had a seizure and we brought the kids into the kitchen and talked with them about life and death, and how God was in charge of both, and then we prayed for Bob. Over the next couple of days she regained her strength. But this morning she fell to the bottom of her cage in death under the sovereign hand of our loving God, and this afternoon we will bury her under the swing set on which we found her.

In Matthew 10 Jesus was speaking to His disciples about a time of coming persecution when they would speak boldly of the things which He had told them. Because of their love for Him and their service to Him, there would be those who sought to take their lives. Jesus told them that they were to find their hope in their Heavenly Father who held their lives firmly in His hands and who values them even more than the little sparrows (and cockatiels) who do not fall to the ground apart from Him.

As I thought of the joy Bob brought to our home and the greeting she always had for me, I also stopped to think about how great God’s love is for us. It is so great that He gave His only Son to suffer death on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He saved us when we were so desperate and could do nothing for ourselves. He rescued us knowing that apart from Him we would surely perish. And then He continually watches over us, even knowing every single hair on our head. In Psalm 139 we read,

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Psalm 139:1–6, NASB95)

Our God’s eyes are always on us, and His strong hands will never let go. He has called us to rest in His presence and to enjoy Him forever. His Son willingly fell for us and took His life back up again, giving us the most precious gift of eternal life which begins at the point of salvation and is fully realized when we eventually step into His presence in glory.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25–33, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (9/30)

I am perpetually with you, taking care of you. That is the most important fact of your existence. I am not limited by time or space; My Presence with you is a forever-promise. You need not fear the future, for I am already there. When you make that quantum leap into eternity, you will find Me awaiting you in heaven. Your future is in My hands; I release it to you day by day, moment by moment. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow.

I want you to live this day abundantly, seeing all there is to see, doing all there is to do. Don’t be distracted by future concerns. Leave them to me! Each day of life is a glorious gift, but so few people know how to live within the current confines of today. Much of their energy for abundant living spills over the timeline into tomorrow’s worries or past regrets. Their remaining energy is sufficient only for limping through the day, not for living it to the full. I am training you to keep your focus on My Presence in the present. This is how to receive abundant Life, which flows freely from My throne of grace.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NASB95)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, NASB95)

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”” (James 4:13–15, NASB95)

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