Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Luke 12:6 ESV
Still in the grip of a pandemic after two years it is time to decide what matters most. We cannot continue as if all will return to normal. We must choose what is valuable enough to live for in spite of a risk that will never go away. Jesus tells us that, while 5 sparrows had almost no value to people, every one mattered to God. In the same way, the spiritual life of those in long term care has been undervalued during the pandemic. While their basic physical needs of food, medicine and clean clothes are filled, their hunger for the presence of family, friends and neighbors has been denied. Spiritual needs of someone to pray with or receiving communion are forgotten, though their room is still mopped and lunch is served. Of course we volunteers should be held to the same standards as those who are paid to care for physical needs of residents, but we must not give up on seeking ways to serve. Remember that when God gives us green pastures and still waters it is not without a cost. Is what we do for others worth giving our lives as well? The love of Jesus at Calvary gave value to our lives far above sparrows. How can we not do the same for our precious brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends in long term care?
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. Psalm 146:8-9
Maybe in the midst of the Corona Virus crisis we have lost hope as a nation because we have looked in all the wrong places. People joke about binge watching Netflix and YouTube; but when was the last time you heard anyone say, “Let’s binge read the Bible this week”? Or “Last night we binged on prayer till midnight.”? We are waiting on checks in the mail from the government, wishing the cruise ships could sail again and cheering on our favorite sports team. But our empty ships and stadiums; and empty public treasury, have yet to turn us as a nation to God who alone is the only true source of hope.
This is the first Sunday of the New Year and the first week of 2021. Why not turn off Netflix, football and the cooking channel and dedicate it as a kind of first fruits offering to binging on Jesus? He is our best hope and our helper forever!
God the Lord is my strength, He makes my feet like the deer’s, He makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:19 ESV
Maybe you’ve never read the book of Habakkuk or know only this final verse from a wall plaque you saw somewhere. But when life seems stressed and uncertain facing the Corona virus stalking our streets and violence threatening our society then the previous 3 chapters of this prophecy start to make sense.
In Habakkuk’s day his nation had fallen so far away from God that many were even sacrificing their children to the God Moloch in hopes of personal prosperity. There was political corruption, widespread looting and religious hypocrisy at the highest level. But these were the least of the problems that the prophet faced. On top of everything else God had allowed the merciless armies of Babylon victory after victory as they were battling against the final remnants of his nation’s defenses. A quick look at the previous 3 chapters is like the darkness of a horror film. There seemed no hope in Habakkuk’s mind as he begins writing his lament. But as Habakkuk cries out in prayer detailing his fears confusion and frustration, God answers. The Lord assures the prophet and us that no matter how bleak things appear that God has not forgotten His people or His promises. He lets us know that one day the wicked rulers of Babylon will themselves be overthrown. One day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. But just as the situation is with us today; that victory might be a long time coming. So what about now? What about the mountain we have to climb right in front of us?
We can be encouraged that even in our darkest most dangerous situation God will be with us. Jesus not only promises to walk by our side in our suffering, He knows the depth of our fears because He faced them Himself on the cross. He suffered willing, innocently and was forsaken on His high place called Calvary. There He purchased not only our salvation but also our victory so we would not face our own high places alone!
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