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

August 8, 2018

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

The devotional this week is the product of a comment that was made by my sister... that led to conversations with her and Jon... that led me to thinking this all through.... and then the spiritual application that was applicable.

Janie was recently talking about birthdays and she said something along the lines of, "Our family has birthdays every month except for September." My reply was, "Shirley (our sister) has a birthday in September;" to which Janie laughed and said, "No! I mean MY family... my kids and their spouses and my grandkids."

When Janie spoke of family, in her mind it meant her and her kids and their families. When I heard the word family, my mind immediately thought of my sisters and their families.

Here is why! The word family means: a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household; a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage; all the descendants of a common ancestor.

Jon and I are not a family, because we do not have children; we are a couple. No one ever refers to the two of us as a family, because a husband and wife do not constitute a family. We are both members of our blood family, so we have family; but we are a married couple, not a family.

When a woman is pregnant, a term that has often been used is "she is in the family way". She is carrying a child that is on his or her way to becoming family. My nephew and his wife, Jared and Audrey, were a couple until the moment that their daughter, Poppy, was born; then in that very instant they became a family. When a couple has that first child, they become a family; and as more children are born, the family grows and expands.

So.... most of us grew up in a household with dad, mom, and siblings. That was our family. Then when we got married, we left that home to create our new household. We became a married couple the moment that the preacher pronounced us as being man and wife at the end of our wedding. We are still blood related to our parents and siblings; but as scripture tells us to do, we are to leave our father and mother and become one flesh with our spouse. Then most couples, at some point, have a baby and they then become a family.

Do you understand what I am saying... is this making sense to you??

When Jon's mother speaks of "my family", she is speaking of herself and her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. She is not talking of her siblings and their families. But then when she talks about her daughter and her husband and kids, she will say, "Gayla's family"; or when she talks of her oldest son and his kids and grandkids, she will say, "Ken's family". But then when she speaks of Jon, she never says, "His family", but will say, "Jon and Loretta", because we don't have children and it is only the two of us.

So when my sister, Janie, speaks of "my family" her thoughts go to her kids and grandkids, because that is who her immediate family is. But since Jon and I don't have kids, so when I hear the words "my family", my mind automatically goes to siblings and nieces and nephews. That is who "my family" is to Jon and myself; parents, siblings, and their children.

Children can become part of a family both through birth or through adoption. One of my nieces and her husband have two birth children and two adopted children; and all four are equally loved and equally family. There is absolutely no difference between the ones who were birthed and the ones who were chosen through adoption.

The truth is, Jon and I have both been blessed with wonderful families and we cherish Jon's mom, all of our siblings and their children. We both have extended family.... aunts, uncles, and cousins.... that we adore and love deeply. We have awesome memories of parents, grandparents, and ancestors who have already passed away. One of my sisters, that lives nearby us, includes us in their holiday and family get-togethers; and she has given me the honor of sharing her grandkids with me, so I kind of feel like a grandma. So we are not without family, so please don't misunderstand my point or feel sorry for us!

As awesome as it is to have earthly family, it is an even bigger blessing to be part of God's family! It's amazing to think that God is our Father and we are members of His household. We are His sons and daughters, so we aren't extended family but are part of His immediate family.

Ephesians 2:19 (NLT) says, "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family." Some versions read that we are "members of the household of God."

A question often asked on tax forms or other important paperwork is how many dependents live in the home. Any child whom the parent is supporting and caring for is considered a dependent.

All children of God are His dependents, regardless of age. There never comes a time when they leave the Father's household and become independent, making their own way. Our Daddy, our Heavenly Father, will always support and care for us. We never reach a point where we have to leave His home and go out on our own. We never get kicked out of the nest, but always have a room in His household. He never leaves or forsakes us, but is always watching over us, protecting us, providing for us, loving us, meeting our needs, and being a good Father to His children.

John 1:12 says, "But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God."

1 John 3:1 says, "See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children, because they don't know Him."

We see so many in our world today who are seeking for a place to belong, and they wandering around as orphans who are without a home; without a family to call their own. They search for happiness and for peace, and may find it fleetingly, but it will never last and they will never feel safe and secure until they come home to God, their Father. As long as they live in rebellion against Him, refuse to fully commit their life to Him, trying to do things their own way and not attaching themselves to God and His family, they will never find what they are searching for and never feel that sense of belonging. There will always be a void inside, that only God can fill.

Children without parents and a family home experience trauma, have a difficult time trusting, have an "I can take care of myself and don't need anyone" mentality, and have detachment issues. It's the same with those who don't have God as their Father. They always feel unsettled and will consistently try to fill their lives with things to make them happy, but it will never happen until they ask Jesus into their heart and become a part of God's family.

There is an old song written by Lanny Wolfe entitled 'God's Family'. Here are some of the lyrics:

"We're part of the family, that's been born again. Part of the family, whose love knows no end. For Jesus has saved us, and made us His own. Now we're part of the family, that's on its way home. Sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry. Sometimes we share together heartache and sighs. Sometimes we dream together of how it will be; when we all get to Heaven, God's family."

Let's cherish being part of God's family! Let's love our brothers and sisters who are members of God's household. We never have to be alone, but should always have a sense of belonging. Our family has more members than we can count, and we are all equally loved by our Father! We have plenty of brothers and sisters to lean on, so always have someone whom we can call upon and count on. That's amazing!! Family was created by God, because He wanted a household of children; and His quiver is definitely full!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

At church Sunday, then at a Bible study after, we were focusing on Luke 18:17, "[Jesus said,] 'Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'"

Loretta mentioned that God becomes our Daddy, or Heavenly Father. Jesus called Him, "Abba, Father", in Mark 14:36. "Abba" is often translated as "Daddy", but I read that it has a little more meaning than that in the context. "Daddy" is close enough.

It seems unnatural and silly for an adult to call God "Daddy". It seems juvenile. It seems disrespectful. But in truth, it's very appropriate. It requires humility on our part, which is very appropriate. And we come to the Father as a child, which is also appropriate.

ON THE MENEWE:

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 packet taco seasoning

1 16-ounce jar salsa

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Juice from two limes

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over the top, then cover with salsa, lime juice, and cilantro. Place lid on top and cook for 4 hours on high, or 6-7 hours on low. Remove chicken from crockpot to a separate bowl and shred with two forks. Place the shredded chicken back into the juice in the crockpot and stir.

Serve in taco shells or tortillas, adding your favorite toppings. Suggested toppings are shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, shredded cheese, and/or sour cream.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

I grew up with two wonderful parents and four older sisters, whom I adored -- and still do. My mom's family was large and were very close. There were ten siblings in my mom's family and all of them and their families, except for the oldest sister, lived within 20 miles or so from one another most of the time. They all loved to spend time together and visit. My uncles would often stop by our house during the day to visit mama. We either went visiting or had uncles and aunts and their families come visiting at least twice a week, sometimes more. Many of us attended the same church. Almost every Sunday or Wednesday night after church, we would either go visiting my mom's sister and her family or would have family come down to our house. The adults would drink coffee and visit, and the kids would play outside or sit and listen in on their parents' conversations. I cherish the memories of all those times spent with family! My mom and all of her siblings are now gone, but we cousins love the rare occasions when we get to see one another and catch up. Family is very precious!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

When God allows you to go through a storm, it's not to destroy you.

It's to show you who He really is! - Jentezen Franklin

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org