I remember with regret some of the misdeeds of my childhood. I recount one incident where I “borrowed” one of my dad’s steel traps from the garage. I carefully opened the jaws of the trap and put a piece of bread on the
trigger. I placed the trap in the back yard and hid behind a wall and watched as some birds flew down attracted to the bread. I then heard a vicious snap and ran to see what happened. It was then I discovered the results of my sinful behavior. In my trembling hands lay a dead sparrow. I still remember the pangs of regret and conviction I felt on that day when my sinful stupidity resulted in the death of a sparrow.
I was sure no one was watching that day. But later I did discover someone was. It was God. The Bible tells us in Matt. 10:29: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will”. God takes notice of every sparrow who falls. I found something interesting in comparing the verse in Matthew with a similar verse in Luke 12. Matthew tells us that 2 sparrows are sold for a single copper coin. But Luke tells us that if you spend 2 copper coins you can buy 5 sparrows. That 5th sparrow was worthless to the seller, it was just thrown in to make weight or to seal the deal.
Have you ever caught yourself feeling worthless? You look around and no one seems to care or notice you. You look at yourself as a 5th wheel or maybe like that 5th sparrow. If that is how you have been considering yourself, God has something to tell you in verse 30 and 31 of Matthew 10. It says there that God has numbered the very hairs that are on your head and that you are of more value than many sparrows. Since He gave His very Son for us, He takes notice when we fall. He then offers His love and grace to get us flying again. You are much more than a 5th sparrow.
Hoarders is a television show that depicts people who have a compulsion to save certain objects with sentimental value. Oftentimes this obsession becomes so overwhelming that they need someone to intervene and help them to clean up what they have accumulated. Often their obsession to hoard progresses to the point of debilitation.
The Bible tells the story of Israel’s first king: Saul. He led the nation in humility and effectiveness for a while but soon his disobedience caused the Lord to reject him. God had chosen a new king to lead his people: David. David was to be the next king because he was a man described as being, “after the Lord’s own heart”. However King Saul was not about to step aside and let David take the throne even though he knew that God’s favor had departed from him. Saul was obsessed with killing David. Several times he tried to throw a spear at David. He even ordered Jonathan, his son to kill him. He pursued David in the woods, in the school of the prophets, and in the home of Samuel. Saul was so enmeshed in the grip of his perilous pursuit of David he had the priests of the Lord killed and a whole city annihilated because of his jealous rage. Saul had let this obsession to kill
David rule his life so much that he ignored his kingly responsibilities. He was on one of these mad pursuits when a messenger came to him and said: “…Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!” (1 Samuel 23:27). In his perilous pursuit of David, Saul had ignored his job of ruling the nation and protecting the people.
Do you have an obsession that is overcoming your life to the point that you are ignoring your main responsibilities? Is it renting space in your head and sapping your physical and emotional energies? Does it steal away your passion for what really is important? Perhaps a sinful addiction, an obsessive habit or even a time-consuming hobby has become a perilous pursuit in your life. Don’t you think it is time to stop pursuing David and turn around and look at what really needs to be done? The Philistines may be invading the land.
I have been watching the creation of a bicycle/walking path that has been under construction right across the canal from our church. It is part of the Punta Gorda Pathways system that seeks to establish a healthy and enjoyable way to explore the city. It seems that the pathway has been calling out to me to put on my walking shoes and take advantage of its availability. As the construction came to a conclusion I listened to that call and recently took a walk on the new path.
God has a pathway that He has constructed for you and me to walk. It is the pathway of following His Son Jesus Christ. The path is not easy and is described as being rather narrow (Matt. 7:14). There are not many who choose to walk on the path of following Jesus. But those who walk it find that it is invigorating to their spiritual health.
There are also indescribable joys and such pleasant delights on this path (1 Peter 1:8). Our walk on this path may often lead us through difficult experiences but we are never alone because we have the presence of the Lord who told us in Hebrews 13:5: “…I will never leave you nor forsake you”. We also have a map that makes the directions clear as we wind our way through this life. The map is the Word of God and helps us to more carefully follow Jesus. One of the greatest things about this path is the finish. The pathway of following Jesus leads to a place called The Father’s House or heaven.
This path is calling out to you. It invites you to step away from your current wanderings and choose the adventure of the narrow road. Jesus invites us all to follow Him. Repent of your sinful misdirection and take that step of trusting Him. There are other roads and other pathways that people take through this earthly life. But no other pathway leads us to God (John 14:6). Take a new path, follow Jesus.
David had just returned from a tremendous victory. He killed the giant Goliath and led the troops of Israel’s army in routing the Philistines. Saul promoted David for his courageous exploits. David then became close friends with the king’s son, Jonathan. Jonathan was heir to the throne. Yet something happens in the beginning verses of 1 Samuel 18. It says in v3,4: “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own
soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt”. The prince of Israel takes his own robe off and puts it upon David. He also makes a covenant with David and gives him his armor and sword. Jonathan later risks his own life to protect David from the raging lunacy of his father Saul.
That incident of David with his new robe, new armor, and a new promise reminds me of what Jesus Christ our Lord does for those who have placed their faith in Him. He is the King of all Kings yet He died in our place. By His grace He gives us the promise that we will never perish and will live with Him for all eternity. He gives us the robe of His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). The redeemed are described in the book of Revelation as wearing robes that have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. The filthy rags of our own works will not do, we take upon us the spotless robe of righteousness from our King, the Lord Jesus. I am so glad that our Lord gives us armor and a sword as well. In Ephesians 6 we are equipped for the battles we face in our spiritual warfare with the armor of God. That body armor also contains an offensive weapon that we are to use in our battles. The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
David had a close friend in Jonathan, but you and I have a greater friend in Jesus. He gives us His robe, His promise, and His armor. Praise Him daily and serve Him earnestly.
My wife and I were delighted by a recent visit to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a step back into time as we viewed the various homes of famous people that were brought to the village by Henry Ford. As we stepped through the decades we witnessed how people worked and provided for their basic needs in an earlier time. I was impressed by how much time and effort they had to expend just to survive. We also witnessed the ingenious inventions that were introduced through the ages. I found it fascinating how quickly a new technology would be replaced by a newer technology. No matter how great an invention, someone would come along with a better idea, making the previous one obsolete. A memorable slogan for the company Henry Ford started has been: “Ford has a better idea”.
Better ideas are always needed and welcome. However, when it comes to living a successful spiritual life and finding our way to heaven, God has the better idea. The Bible is a divine book that never needs updating. It never goes out of style and never needs to be retrofitted to a new generation. Man hasn’t changed through the ages. He is still a sinner in need of a Savior. He still needs wisdom to navigate through his earthly existence.
The Bible contains the unchanging wisdom of God. 1 Peter 1:24,25 says: “…all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever…”
Man has a way of thinking that he has a more exciting way, a wiser path, or a better idea of how to do life and enjoy eternity. He often scoffs at the Bible as being one of those obsolete inventions collecting dust in some museum. But he is wrong. God’s Word is settled forever and will never become obsolete. Listen carefully to the Bible; you will find that God always has a better idea.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation