THE NEW EWE

"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!'"

Luke 15:4-6

September 13, 2017

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

When my sister, Janie, was about six years old she was playing on back of Daddy's big flat-bed truck. Daddy was standing beside it visiting with an uncle. She suddenly got this bright idea that she should run as fast as she could across the back of the truck and jump off, letting Daddy catch her. Daddy was busy talking and she didn't tell him what she planned to do; but it never even entered her mind that he wouldn't catch her. Thankfully, he happened to get a glimpse of her, realized what she was going to do, and was able to reach out and grab onto her before she fell to the ground. He scolded her for jumping without telling him, but she didn't really understand why he was upset, because there was no doubt in her mind that he would reach up with his strong arms and she'd be safe. She fully trusted that when she jumped, Daddy would not let her fall or get hurt, but would reach out to catch her.

Babies are born with the ability to fully trust that their parents will love them, care for them, protect them, provide for them, and make sure that their every need is taken care of. As they learn to sit up, crawl, and then walk, their daddy and mommy are there to encourage and cheer for them and pick them up when they fall or bump into something. When that child begins to try and form words, the parents work with the child to try and get them to say mommy and daddy. Then comes potty training; then it moves into counting and saying ABC's and singing songs, as well as many other things to help the child develop. Each accomplishment is met with praise: "Good job!" "Yay! I knew you could do it!" "Woo-hoo! You are amazing!" "You are so smart!" After each achievement, the child will keep trying to do more and more and grow bolder and more confident. They don't question whether or not they have the ability to do something; if mama or daddy says they can, they keep trying until they learn how. They have unlimited faith and trust.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all write about a particular incident. Mark and Luke wrote that the disciples were arguing about which of them were the greatest. After they got settled in a house in Capernaum, Jesus asked, "So what were you all discussing out there on the road?" The disciples were silent and didn't want to tell Him. Jesus called them over and sat down with them and said, "Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant to everyone else."

That was probably the very last thing that any of them wanted to hear at that moment. They were probably thinking, "Really Jesus?!? To be the greatest I have to be last and serve these other guys?! You didn't hear what they were just saying.... they're arrogant and proud and loud-mouthed and think they're better than me. Now you're saying that I need to serve them?"

Then Jesus called a little child over among them. Taking the child in His arms, He said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me." (Matthew 18:1-4 Mark 9:33-37 Luke 9:46-48)

Later in Matthew 19:14, "Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

Children have the ability to completely trust; without question or worry or fear. They have the ability to believe that whatever their parents tell them is completely true, so have faith to believe that what daddy or mama says is trustworthy and right. They don't try and figure out how something is going to be done or why or if it's possible or not; but they believe that whatever they are told will happen. Period! They don't question if it seems probable or impossible; but believe that if they are told something can be done or is going to happen, then that is how it will be.

I believe that is what Jesus was talking about when we says that we must be like children. He wants us to have that same level of trust, faith, and confidence in His word and believe that whatever He tells us is possible. When He makes us a promise, to believe that it's going to happen and trust that it will come to pass. When He asks us to do something that seems impossible, to trust that He will make a way. When we have a financial need that seems overwhelming, to believe that He is our provider. When we're sick, to have faith that He is our healer. Jesus wants us to have that same sense of innocence that a child has when we come to Him; believing whatever He says, without fear or question or worry. Always having the attitude that if Jesus says it will happen, then it will happen.... and leave it there, without trying to fix it ourself or trying to figure out how it could possibly happen, or worrying about all the what-ifs.

Can you imagine how amazing our spiritual life would be if we had the same level of trust and faith and confidence in our Heavenly Father that a little child does in their earthly father?!

It's only as a child ages and matures that they lose their wide-eyed wonder and innocence. They learn that life holds disappointments and hardships and that people will let them down and lie to them and hurt them. They become cynical and learn to not trust people and to depend on themselves and to expect the worst and allow fear and worry and skepticism become a big part of their thought process. That, in turn, carries over to how they view God and their relationship with Him. They have faith in God, as long as things are going well and all their needs are met and everyone is happy and healthy.

I do understand that not every child has model parents who fulfill their duties and responsibilities as God intends. There are babies and toddlers who are abused or neglected, which causes emotional and mental trauma. But even then, in their innocence, those little ones still trust whomever is in charge of their care. They aren't able to fend for themselves and are dependent on others. Even though the parent or guardian or whoever they are living with may not be fulfilling their role appropriately, that child still is very trusting and haven't yet become tarnished in seeing how cruel or harsh their life really is.

Even when our life may seem unfair or harsh, we can still have a child-like faith and trust in the Father. He is a good, good Father and will never be cruel or impatient or negligent. He will never abuse us or cause us harm; never cause us trauma; nor will He ever do anything that is not for our benefit. He is the ultimate example of what a father should be like!

1 John 3:1 says, "See, what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him."

We are children of God, and our Heavenly Father has lavished His great love on us. He doesn't just love us, but He loves us lavishly. That means generously, bountifully, extravagantly, unsparingly.

Matthew 7:11 tells us, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."

God not only lavishes His love on His children, but also enjoys giving us good gifts; not because He has to or is obligated, but just because He wants to.

I know that I have often had a very skewed, distorted viewpoint of God's promises and lacked a deep understanding of just how much He truly loves me. Oh, I believed that God promises good things to His children, which included me, but I also tended to have faith tainted with unbelief, worry, fear of disappointment, independently trying to figure things out by myself (just in case!); or feeling as if I'm unworthy or not good enough or don't deserve God's favor or that I messed up and needed to pay the consequences. I trusted, but with reservations (doubts, misgivings, skepticism, hesitation).

God has been really working in my heart for the past few months and teaching me and showing me, not only my true character and areas that needed correction, but showing me His true character and how much He loves me and wants to give me good gifts. He's my Father... I'm His daughter, His child. He wants to lavish me with love, give me good gifts, and pour out His favor and blessings upon me. Not because I'm good and deserve it, but just because He's a good Father and wants to do so.

When Jesus was talking about becoming like little children, He wasn't saying we needed to be immature and whiny and cry babies when we don't get our own way. He was saying that if we want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven or enter the Kingdom of Heaven or that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like little children, then we have to come to Him with purity of heart. We have to fully trust Him, without question or wavering, and put all of our faith and confidence in Him as our Father; just as a little one does in their earthly father. God wants us to come to the place where nothing seems impossible and we don't question whether or not we can or can't do whatever He asks, but we just take His word as being true and honest and we trust, without reservation. Whatever He says that He can do, or that we can do, or whatever He says can happen, we believe it and don't question.

A baby has more faith when it's born than at any other time in its life, because it's never been sullied or disappointed or hurt. They don't have to work at trusting or having faith in their parent; it just comes naturally. As an adult we have to work at having child-like faith, because we have to learn how to forgive, and how to let go of things we really want to hold onto, and to surrender our dreams and plans to God, and to deal with grief and loss, and how to let go of offenses, and to trust when we have a need and lack of resources or finances, and to not become upset or frustrated when people give their opinions that differ from what we feel God is saying -- then not understanding when we don't follow their advice, and losing jobs, having health issues, being disappointed by people...... Then we are supposed to be servants to others, in order to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. That's difficult when they don't really deserve it or don't appreciate it.

A few days ago during prayer, God gave me this devotional and showed me that I need to stop being so independent and self-reliant and stop doubting and questioning, because that's not true faith and belief and trust. He wants me to have that child-like innocence when I come to Him; believing that everything He tells me is true and that I can whole-heartedly trust Him to protect me, care for me, love me, and meet my needs. To believe that the authority that He has given to me, as His child, needs to be used and not lie dormant. When I run, with total abandonment and exuberance, towards Him and jump into His arms, He will always be watching and will always catch me! If God tells me something that seems impossible or beyond reach, I don't have to try and figure it out, but can just have faith that He will take care of it and work it out.

That's the kind of faith and trust I really want to have in my Father!! I want to have that child-like ability to completely trust everything God says, without question or worry or fear or thinking it impossible. I want to have that purity of faith. I want to truly believe that whatever God says or asks is always in my best interest.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

This makes me feel a little guilty for convincing my nephew to quit jumping at people to catch him. He had gotten into a habit of hiding around a corner, and jumping off chairs or stairs into unsuspecting adults' arms. One of the times he tried that with me, I pretended not to catch on quickly. I let him bonk my chin with his head. It hurt me a lot more than it hurt him. I did catch him, but as clumsily as I could manage without risking dropping him. I scolded him, telling him to make sure we know he's about to jump, so we could be ready. I think he quit jumping at us entirely. Maybe he started to doubt us, or maybe the surprise was the fun part, and there wasn't much point without it.

It seemed like a practical thing to teach him. We seem to do a lot of things in the name of 'practical' that go against simple faith. I have faith that God will provide for me, but it's practical to keep my job, so He can. Not that I suggest anyone be slothful and quit their jobs. But sometimes we can over-do it.

ON THE MENEWE:

Roasted Potato Salad

4-6 red potatoes

2-3 Tablespoons mustard

Salt and Pepper

1/2 to 1 teaspoon paprika

Olive Oil

3-4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 to 1-1/2 cups Mayonnaise

2 boiled eggs, diced

Cut red potatoes into bite-sized cubed. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle olive oil over the top. Bake in oven at 350 for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool. In a small bowl mix mayonnaise, mustard (I like using half yellow mustard and half honey mustard), and paprika. Do a small taste test to see if ingredients are well-balanced to your liking. Add in crumbled bacon and mix. Put potatoes in a large bowl and add in mayo/mustard mixture. (I add in about half, stir, then keep adding the mixture until I get it to the right consistency that I like. You can always add in more of the mayo/mustard mixture but not take it out after it's mixed in.) Stir in the diced boiled eggs. Can be served warm (my preference) or cold. Store leftovers in fridge. You can always use more ingredients, according to how much potato salad you want to make.

**If you want you could also dice up onion and cook with the potatoes. You could also add in a little pickle relish to the mayo/mustard mixture, if you'd like (which I often do).

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

My great-niece, Jovie, started going to a church daycare called "Mother's Day Out" three days a week. In the days leading up to her going there she kept asking for things like a wallet like mommy, a driver's license like mommy, a purse like mommy, etc. The first day of her going to daycare she was up and ready, with her backpack on, by 7:15. She told Janee', her mom, "I'm so excited!! I get to be like mommy today!" My sister (the grandma) and Janee' put it together that Jovie thought her going to Mother's Day Out meant that she was going to get to be like mommy and do something like mommy; which explained why she had wanted all the "mommy" things prior to going. Now she probably thinks, "OH! When mommy goes out she gets to go play with other kids and do fun things!"; after all that's what Jovie gets to do on her Mother's Day Out!!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

If there's only one key to watching the walls in your life fall, to moving forward in freedom,

to seeing the promises of God at work, then this is it:

You must learn to believe the truth of God's Word over the facts of your circumstances. - Christine Caine

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org