"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 14, 2014
When we first got our dog, Sammie, he was a tiny puppy. For the first few weeks when we had to go somewhere and leave him alone, we would put him in our downstairs bathroom and close the door. We kept him confined to a small space because he wasn't yet housebroken. Also, he could fit underneath our recliners and chairs and we didn't want to come home and have to try and find where he had hidden. After some time, we bought baby gates that we put across the bottom of the stairs and also blocked off the living room; keeping him confined to the kitchen and dining room. After several months of that, Sammie became potty trained and we weren't finding any messes when we came home. So when I had to be gone for short periods of time, I would still block off the stairs but would allow him to stay in the living room. At first, I would come home to find him lying underneath our kitchen table, which is where he generally laid when we were gone. Then he grew and finally learned how to jump up onto our chairs, so began lying on a chair where he could look out our front window. He's a non-shedder, so yes, we do allow him on our furniture! After Sammie proved himself to be trustworthy, we finally stopped using the gates at all. Now, regardless of how long we have to be gone, we give him free reign in our house. He doesn't chew things up or get into things or make messes, and he hasn't had an accident inside the house in over a year. Usually when we come home, he's either upstairs laying on the pillows on our bed or occasionally downstairs on one of the chairs. We no longer worry about leaving him alone for several hours at a time and allow him freedom to choose whichever room he wants to stay in.
For those first few months, he didn't know what he was allowed to do or not to do. We didn't want him to chew through a wire and shock himself or short something out (we have lots of electronics). The only thing he's ever chewed is a lamp cord upstairs. We heard him howling and crying afterwards, and he's not done that since. Lesson learned! We didn't want him chewing on things or getting into something that might possibly make him sick. The reason for us confining him was not to be mean to him or in no way to mistreat him, but it was for his own safety and protection.
It's the same with children. That's why when they become mobile and start getting curious and touching everything, parents tell them, "No-no!" Children have to learn what is safe and what's not. Parents don't set rules to be tyrants and dictators, but do so, in order to protect their children and teach them right from wrong. Then in turn, kids can grow up to become responsible adults and one day teach their children.
Some seem to feel as if christianity is nothing more than a bunch of rules and laws and regulations and shall and shall nots and do's and don'ts. They view God as a strict dictator who tries to make life as difficult and joyless for people as possible. What they fail to realize is that God wants us to live our lives in freedom, but to be protected from the enemy (Satan) while doing so. The guidelines He gives us in His word are not to try and oppress us, but are to keep us secure and safe. But He not only wants us to be safe, God also wants us to be free.
In John 8:31-36 (NLT), Jesus is teaching a crowd of people and tells them, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." "But we are descendants of Abraham," they said. "We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, 'You will be set free?'" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.'"
Slaves, living in a household working for their master, were relatively safe; as long as they were obedient and served a purpose. Most had a place to sleep and food to eat. But they were at the beck and call of those who owned them, and had to do whatever they were told. But they also could be sold, should the one who held their papers, decide to get rid of them. It didn't matter if they had other family who were also slaves within that same household. They had no freedom. Overall, they really had no rights.
But a son or daughter in that same household had bloodline connections to the master, so were entitled to benefits that the slaves didn't have. They were not only safe, but they were free. No matter how many times they messed up or made mistakes, they had birthright privileges and nothing could take away their rights. The same man who was the master over the slaves was their father. The difference was, they were a permanent member of the household and never had to worry about being bought or sold. Although their father may have made rules to keep them protected, they enjoyed life with complete freedom.
It's the same with us and our relationship with God. We are not His slaves whom He orders about. God will never get rid of us if we mess up or disobey. But God is our Father! If we will remain faithful to Him and live in obedience to those things that He tells us to do, then we can live our life as His sons and daughters. We can know the truth of God's word, and that truth will allow us to live life, having total liberty. As God's children, we can live in both safety and freedom. That doesn't give us the freedom to sin and do what we want to do; but the freedom to obey God and experience the complete peace and joy that comes with that benefit.
My sister recently visited a communist country. While there, the group had to have a national guide with them at all times. Their hotel rooms were bugged. There was always someone watching them and listening in on their conversations, and they didn't always know who it was; sometimes they may have been dressed in uniform and at other times were dressed in plain clothes. Before leaving the country, the guides looked through all the pictures that were taken and deleted any that they thought made their country look poor or unfavorable. The memory cards in the cameras had to be blank when coming into the country -- they didn't want the tourist to bring in pictures of other places to show the local citizens. The main job of the guides, that were with them at all times, was to make sure they obeyed all the rules and regulations in order to be safe.
An observation my sister made after returning home was this: We never feared for our safety while there. They want tourist to come and visit their country. We were always completely safe, but we were never free.
There is a big difference between being safe and being free; not only physically, but spiritually. Sometimes we want God to tell us what to do, when to do it, where and how..... We like being safe. We like staying in our comfortable little shelter where nothing can ever hurt us. But in life, we can't stay sheltered away from the world. It's not feasible and not realistic. We can't live in an underground bunker so that we are never tempted to sin or do wrong and never get hurt. But sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone in order to be free. Safety can sometimes bind us so much that we miss out on the blessings that God has in store for us.
May we choose to live in the freedom and liberty that God desires for us. Read the word of God, listen to solid teaching, pray, and God will reveal His truth to you. And as we live in that truth, we will truly be free.
Just like we changed the rules for Sammie, God sometimes changes the rules for us. Our Sammie doesn't shed, so we let him get on the furniture. If we had a dog that did shed, it wouldn't be allowed to. Sometimes, God adjusts some rules for different people, too. I know I should never go to a bar, but for others it is okay, and others He might even send to bars as a witness. No dog is allowed to 'mark' our furniture, chew up furniture, gnaw on cables, fight, bite us, etc. God also has laws for us all that won't change. We are all commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are all commanded to put God first.
I've heard people criticize belief in God because they see Him as inconsistent. And the Bible says that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. They are both true. But He has the wisdom (the same wisdom yesterday, today, and forever) to see that we are inconsistent, and to treat each of us as we are at each moment.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup water
1 cup Crisco
pinch of salt
Mix flour and salt together. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Stir in water until moistened. Roll out one crust at a time. Makes 2 crust.
My 5-year old great-nephew was eating Fruit Loop cereal for breakfast recently and remarked, "It's like a Christmas pie!" Sounded like a marketing genius idea to his daddy!! (If you are unfamiliar with Fruit Loop cereal, it is brightly multi-colored cereal.)
We must learn that, like farmers, we can't sow and reap the same day. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon