More than Sparrows

April 18, 2020

April 18, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

"What will you do after you graduate?"

If Ashlynn heard those words one more time...

She rubbed her forehead with tired fingertips. As the computer loaded yet another search for college options, Ashlynn groaned. If only she knew which way to choose.

“Ash!” The back door slammed, and a set of blond pigtails peeked around the corner.

“What do you want, Gwen?” Ashlynn said as she began clicking results.

“Come and swing,” Gwen said. “You’ve been on there all day.”

Ashlynn paused, her fingers hovering above the keyboard. The thought of researching another college made her want to gag. She relented. “Let’s go.” Both girls darted from the house, bursting out the door and into the warm sunshine.

Ashlynn followed Gwen to the big oak tree with the homemade swing. Fresh air filled her lungs and washed the heated flush from her cheeks as she gave her little sister a shove. Gwen soared into the air.

Just then, a flutter at the base of the tree caught Ashlynn’s eye. She glanced down to see a featherless baby bird huddled in the grass.

“Gwen, look at this,” she said, crouching to take the tiny bird into her palm.

“Oh.” Gwen stopped swinging. “Is it lost?”

Ashlynn spotted an empty nest in the branches above her. “Let’s get it home.” She slipped the baby bird into the pocket of her sweatshirt, then scrambled up the tree and placed the baby bird inside the nest.

“Right where it belongs,” said Ashlynn as they watched the mother bird arrive to care for her baby in a flutter of wings.

"If God cares for the birds," Ashlynn thought, "He cares about what happens to me too. I’m not alone in my college search. Jesus will place me right where I belong." • Anita Seavey

• Do you ever worry about your future? Have you asked God for wisdom (James 1:5)?

• What people in your life can give you Christ-centered wisdom about hard decisions?

Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Matthew 6:26 (CSB)

More from April 2020

All I Ever Did

April 30, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

There was something about His eyes, the way He looked at her. It was unsettling. She thought she knew all about men, understood how they thought. But this was different. “Go call your husband,” He said. She hesitated, eyes lowered. “I have no husband.” He nodded. “True. You’ve had five—and the man you live with isn’t one of them.” Her body tensed defiantly. “Since you know so much, prophet, tell me this. Is God’s chosen place of worship here, among my people, or in Jerusalem, where the Jews worship?” Her eyes flashed up to meet His, ready for the judgment and rejection surely waiting. What she saw took her breath away. An intense passion in His eyes matched by words washing over her in love. He said, “The Father is seeking worshipers in spirit and truth.” She heard, “The Father is seeking you.” Her battered heart leapt for joy. It didn’t matter—it never had! What she’d done, where she’d been—her fruitless search for God’s hiding place. He’d been there all along, pursuing her, waiting for her to see Him. Her water pot forgotten, she ran into the city. The words burst out, a testimony that wouldn’t be held back. “Come and see a Man who told me all I ever did!” He knew her past, and He still wanted to give her a future. Jesus gave Himself to save us. There is no greater love, no greater offering to be made. He went to the cross so we could have life with Him. This love, freely given, cannot be earned. But it must be accepted. Jesus knows all you’ve ever done... http://everything...and He loves you and wants you anyway. He loves you just as you are. • Remi Oyedele • Do you believe Jesus loves you just as you are? How did Jesus show His love for us (Romans 5:8)? • Is there anything preventing you from accepting His love? • To learn more about Jesus’ love for you, check out our "Know Jesus" page. Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? John 4:29 (CSB)

Dealing with Anxiety

April 29, 2020 • Emily Tenter

It seemed like every time Lauren got over one worry, another one quickly came to rest on her shoulders. She felt weighed down with fear. Some nights, she could hardly sleep because of it. And, some mornings, she didn’t want to get up to face them. It was a constant struggle, but Lauren knew what it was: anxiety. She was a Christian and she knew she could trust God, but as much a she told herself that, it wasn’t always an instant fix. “You just need to give your worries to God,” her friends would tell her. “You shouldn’t be so down. You’re a Christian.” “God tells us not to be anxious about anything.” Lauren knew all of this, but it was a daily struggle. So, she and her parents made an appointment for her with a Christian counselor. On the day of her first appointment, a friend tried to brush Lauren’s anxiety off as not relying on God. Lauren talked about it with her counselor. “I trust God. I love God. But every day I still feel anxiety. Every day I look to God for strength to get through it. Every day I have to learn to trust Him all over again. Does that mean I’m not a Christian?” “It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian,” her counselor said. “You trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and He has you. Anxiety doesn’t change that.” Her counselor continued. “We live in a broken world, and one way that shows up is through clinical anxiety, which is different from willfully worrying. Some people deal with clinical anxiety their whole lives. It’s a mental health issue. In the meantime, remember Jesus is always with you. When you’re feeling anxious, you can always come to Him, and you can always reach out for help from the people He has placed in your life.” Lauren nodded. She really appreciated the support she received from her counselor, as well as her parents and her pastor. “One last thing,” her counselor said. “Your anxiety isn’t the end of the story. As Christians, we look forward to the day when Jesus makes all things new. Clinical anxiety won’t be a part of that picture. Until then, know Jesus is with you every second of the day. Rest in who He is and what He has done and is doing in you. He loves you and empowers you by His Holy Spirit.” Lauren nodded. She would continue to rely on God—and the people He had placed in her life—for strength and peace, knowing she was never alone. • Bethany Acker • Do you struggle with anxiety? What helps you rest in God’s strength? • Anxiety is a complicated and often lifelong issue that sometimes requires counseling, medication, or other treatment. If you’re struggling with anxiety, who are people in your life you can reach out to? • Read Matthew 28:20, Romans 15:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, and Revelation 21:1-5. As Christians, what promises from these verses can we rest in? • If you need someone to talk to, you can set up an appointment for a one-time complimentary phone consultation with a Christian counselor through the Focus on the Family Counseling Service. In the United States, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) to set up an appointment. In Canada, book your appointment by calling 1-800-661-9800 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) and ask to speak with the care associate. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (CSB)

Nature Time

March 28, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

When I am really stressed out or confused by something happening in my life, I like to be by the water. I will often go somewhere by myself with my Bible and sit on the shore. I like to hear the splish-splash of the waves—the sound relaxes me. I also enjoy watching driftwood ride on the waves toward the shore. By the water is a good place for me to pray and sort out my problems. It helps me to redirect my focus onto Jesus. I feel closer to Him when I admire His creation. It also reminds me that He is in control. Others enjoy talking with God in the middle of the woods. The woods are filled with the sounds of nature—whether it be the sound of rustling trees in the wind, birds singing, or other animals scurrying about. I always count it a blessing when I get to see an animal I rarely see in nature. One time, I was blessed to cross paths with a fox, another time a bald eagle. When I see these special glimpses of God’s creation, it reminds me that God loves me and that He is present and in control. In Christ, I am never alone. He is with me through whatever problem I am facing (Matthew 28:20). • Melissa Yeagle • Read Matthew 6:25-34. God was powerful enough to create the world, and He cares about even the small details of our lives. As Christians, how can remembering these truths help us when we face tough times? How can knowing that Jesus is with us give us comfort? • Read Hebrews 4:14-16 and 1 John 4:9-10. How has Jesus made it possible for us to come to Him with any problems we are facing? Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; And let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” 1 Chronicles 16:31 (NKJV)