Each day there are gatherings of sparrows over all the earth.
No exaggeration. Sparrows are found in every climate from snowy plains to deep jungles to desert wastelands to mountain peaks. The experts at Wikipedia say,

“Sparrows may be the most familiar of all wild birds worldwide.”

They are social little birds who love to gather together.  The Lord chose these little brown birds to illustrate the extraordinary care He provides to those who follow Him.

Like sparrows, God’s people are everywhere: from snowy plains to deep jungles—even those of steel and concrete—to wilderness wastelands to mountain villages. The church is everywhere and each worshiper is like a sparrow in the eyes of the Lord—cared for tenderly, faithfully by a Covenant Keeping God.

Wild Birds in the Church House
In Psalm 84, the poet reported that sparrows and a swallow had built nests next to the altars in the House of God. This sounds like a scandal to me—some maintenance man was sure to get in trouble for neglecting the altars! I am sure the poet, not King David but a member of a group called the Sons of Korah, is just caught up in the irony of the beauty of the carefully planned Temple and the rustic improvisation of the feral birds. He didn’t mean to get anyone in trouble!

The point is the birds found a home in the house of God and so should we! This lovely Temple was the House of God where all were welcomed if they were in the covenant and they came to worship.

It was also the house where altars were not be neglected.
They had to carefully tended. They had to be ready at any time for the penitent sinner or the troubled soul or the earnest seeker of the face of God. Neglect was not only a failure of the one charged with maintenance, it was a lost opportunity for the advancement of someone’s spiritual life.

On this Lord’s Day, we can each, like a healthy little sparrow and the enterprising swallow, find a home in the House of God—if we are in the covenant and if we have come to seek the face of God.

Our time will come to tend the altar—to pray and seek the Lord. When the praise music starts, let’s tend the altar. When the shift is made to worship music, let’s tend the altar. When it is time to pray let’s tend the altar.

He cares for us more than He loves the sparrows. Let us be faithful to His house and to His altars of grace today.

Psalm 84
How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are they who dwell in your house! they will always be praising you. Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way. Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, for the early rains have covered it with pools of water. They will climb from height to height, and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion. Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; hearken, O God of Jacob. Behold our defender, O God; and look upon the face of your Anointed. For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory; No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity. O Lord of hosts, happy are they who put their trust in you!

Matthew 6:26-27 NIV
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Luke 12:6-7 NIV
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Before Worship
BCP (adapted SRP)
O Almighty God, who pours out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and of supplication: Deliver me as I draw near to You, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections I may worship You in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Songs of the Father’s Care:
His Eye Is on the Sparrow
Words and Music: Civilla D. Martin 1905

1. Why should I feel discouraged and why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion, a constant Friend is He,
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free;
His eye is on the sparrow And I know He watches me.

2. Let not your heart be troubled; these tender words I hear;
And resting on his goodness I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.


3. Whenever I am tempted; whenever clouds arise;
When songs give place to sighing; when hope within me dies;
I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.


The Sparrow Song
Words and Music by J.D. Phifer

1. When you are sad downhearted and blue,
Think of how He cares for you.
When things look bad your courage you lose,
Think of how He cares for you.

Think of the sparrow He feeds with such care,
The flower He waters with dew.
Dwell on the things He’s promised to do;
Think of how He cares for you.

2. When you are lost in realms of despair,
Think of how He cares for you.
When there’s a cross you know you must bear,
Think of how He cares for you.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

See also: “A Prayer for the Sanctuary”

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