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

November 6, 2019

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

This past Saturday Jon and I were going to nap; so he took the recliner and I laid down on the couch. I was covered with a lightweight quilt, but my feet were cold and weren't warming up. I hate sleeping in socks, but have a hard time falling asleep with cold feet. We had music playing, and I was laying there trying to relax so that I would fall asleep.... but kept thinking about how cold my feet were.

Finally, it dawned on me that we have blankets and lap quilts stacked up behind the couch that I was lying on. All I had to do was get up and get another one to put over me; or at least one to wrap around my feet to warm them up. But I had just gotten comfortable and didn't want to get up. I had to make the choice; either lay there and be miserable, or get up and reach behind the couch to get an additional blanket to cover my feet up with. I chose to leave my comfortable position and reach behind the couch for a fuzzy blanket to cover my cold feet up with. It didn't take long for them to warm up and I was able to comfortably nap.

Many times we have things within our reach, but neglect to take advantage of them. Perhaps it's because we're contented where we're at and don't want to leave our comfort zone. Other times it may be due to forgetfulness or negligence.

I remember a few years ago I was driving from Missouri back to Tulsa by myself. At some point during the trip I became thirsty. The more I thought about it, the thirstier I became. But there wasn't anywhere to stop along that section of the trip to drive through and get a drink. It was also nighttime and I didn't want to take the time to stop, nor did I want to get out of the car and go into a store alone; but was in a hurry to get home as soon as possible. After several miles of driving and thinking about how thirsty I was, I happened to look down and there in the cup holder was a bottle of water. I had been with some friends and as I was leaving to head home, one of the guys had handed me a bottle of water to take with me. My initial thought at that moment had been, "I don't want to drink anything on the way home, because I don't want to have to stop and use the restroom!" I had set the bottle beside me with no intention of drinking it, then had forgotten that it was there. But honestly, there had been no need for me to be thirsty as long as I had, for I had something to quench that thirst right beside me.

Jesus has everything that we could ever possibly need. Yet there are times when we fail to take advantage of what He has placed within our reach.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to , "Don't worry (or be anxious) about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

These verses tell us to not worry about anything! Instead, we are to pray about everything.... tell God what you need... and thank Him for all He has done. The result of doing that is to experience God's peace, which surpasses all understanding. Not just any peace; but peace that will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Yet, how many times do we worry and fret and concern ourselves over issues and problems and relationships and finances and burdens and fears? We try to figure out what we can do, or how we can fix things. We can spend hours considering all of the "what ifs". We can even have mental conversations or arguments with other people in our minds: "Well, if they say this......, then I'm going to tell them, 'this.......'" We can even become upset with other people by doing this.

We may even pray about the situation, then when we don't see an immediate answer or solution, we once again begin contemplating what we can do, if God doesn't answer soon. We surrender it to the Lord during our moments of prayer, then pick the burden back up and carry it with us when we get up. Then we wonder why we have no peace.

If peace was not within our reach, then it would not have been promised. We have to make the choice to accept it. We have to pray, give thanks, then leave the situation in God's capable hands. We don't worry about the outcome, but trust God explicitly and without question.

A few mornings ago I was driving to go babysit for the day. I was praying and the Holy Spirit dropped this into my heart: There is nowhere in the universe that the Spirit of God isn't present. His Spirit is in space and God knows every single detail about every planet and every star. His Spirit is in the ocean and there is not one single plant or sea creature or fish, even those that have never been seen by mankind, that God doesn't know about and see. God knows about every single tree, every single plant, every blade of grass, every leaf, every type of moss and everything that there is to know about the nature that He created; and He knows up-to-date details on them all. God knows every animal that is upon the earth at any given moment. God intimately knows every single detail of every human every second of every day; so detailed that He knows how many hairs are upon each of their heads. He knows every birthmark, every hair upon their body, every scar, every wrinkle, every minute detail. God knew each person before they were even formed in their mother's womb, so has known each person before their conception! While they are in the womb, He is there. After birth and throughout every second of their life, He is there. That is crazy amazing!!

I believe that sometimes we try to confine God to the size of a man, which limits His capabilities of being all-seeing and all-knowing. That type of thinking limits Him to be like us. Jesus came to earth as a man, but that's now how He stayed. Yet, often that's how we view Him. The Spirit of God and His Son and the Holy Spirit is everywhere at all times. They know no boundaries! They fill every space of heaven and earth; and everything between the two.

So when scripture says that nothing is too difficult for God; it means that there is nothing impossible for Him to do. If God can create the universe with His words, if His Spirit can fill the universe, if He knows every tiny detail about everything in heaven and earth and in the skies and seas and space, and if He is continuously keeping track of the number of hairs on our head and knows details about us that we don't even know..... then why would we think that He can't meet our needs or answer our prayers?

I need to remember this for myself! But I also want to encourage you to enlarge how you view God. He is near to you whether you recognize it or not. Take advantage of the promises of God. Don't just let them be something you know about or that is within reach, but you fail to take advantage of all that He has for you because you're in your comfort zone and don't want to be moved. Reach out and grasp hold of all that God has for you!!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

The book of Job makes for pretty depressing reading until you get to the very end. I've read it a few times, but don't usually enjoy it. But this week, I saw a video and had some discussion about Job. The incredibly short version is: Satan claimed no one really liked God except because of what God gave them, so God allowed Satan to take everything from a prime example, Job. But Job didn't curse God. He stayed faithful, even if a bit angry and bitter. God restored everything to Job, and more.

One of the points that came up was that God never told Job about why he had suffered and lost everything he had. God did go to Job and speak with him. God told him to stop being so prideful, and showed Job all the amazing details in the world and universe, and asked Job if he was wise enough to run it all correctly. Then it skipped ahead, and God restored all that Job had lost, but much more.

When we experience loss, we tend to demand an explanation from God. If He doesn't give us an adequate answer, we resent it. But we don't understand all those amazing details, or how all our lives mingle, or how all the events we don't understand work together. And He isn't likely to tell us all that, because quite frankly, it would probably overwhelm us completely.

He says if we lack wisdom, to pray for it, and He will give it to us. One bit of wisdom He keeps trying to get me to understand is that He is wise enough to take care of all those details, and I am not.

ON THE MENEWE:

Creamy Tuscan Ravioli Soup

2 pounds ground sausage (regular or Italian)

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon basil, dried or fresh

2 (28-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes

3 cups chicken stock

1 (20-oz.) package fresh cheese ravioli

5-6 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 cups half-and-half

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a large stock pot, brown sausage until fully cooked; drain. Put the sausage back into the stockpot. Add chopped onion and minced garlic and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes. Stir in basil.

Add crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add cheese ravioli and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in chopped spinach and cook for a few minutes more, until spinach is wilted.

Slowly stir in half-and-half. Return soup to a simmer and add the Parmesan cheese; stir.

If desired, garnish additional Parmesan cheese before serving.

***Notes: you can add other seasonings, if desired; oregano, thyme, Italian seasoning.

This makes quite a bit. You can freeze the leftovers, if you would like it for later.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Growing up in the country, we pretty much knew everybody who lived in the area. We spent our days playing outside or taking walks; and parents didn't fear for our safety if we walked to the store or to a friends house.

Giving directions was also much different there, than it is in the city. We don't go by north, south, east, west or by highway numbers; but we went by (and still do much of the time) landmarks. "Go to the end of this dirt road, turn left, go maybe 4-5 miles and you'll see a big white house with a red barn and you'll turn into the driveway right passed there."

One of my cousins recently told me that he and some of his friends used to walk up and down the highway from their house to the local gas station/general store. Occasionally, people who weren't from the area would stop and ask them directions to Eureka Springs. He said that they had no idea, but would make up directions. They would tell them to go past a certain man's house, turn left, then follow that road and it would take you right into Eureka Springs. No telling where those people ended up at!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

When you let go of things that aren't good for you,

you make space for things that are. - TobyMac

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org