"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!'"
January 15, 2020
I read a quote recently that said, "How cool is it that the same God who created the mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too."
What an incredible thought, that God put each of us into this world because this world needs us. Each of us has a purpose and reason for our existence. We all have something to offer that is necessary and needed. We have something of value to offer to fulfill God's purpose in making a difference in the world around us.
Really, the way that we can best find our place in the world is by having a close relationship with our Father. The better we come to know God, the better we can hear His heart and voice and know what He is leading us to know. He will direct us in knowing what our talents and abilities are. He will show us people who we can pray for, encourage, and bless. And He will show us how to best love others. The deeper we fall in love with Jesus, the easier it will be to love others.
At times we can become so busy with life and focused on everything going on around us that we become distracted from taking time to listen to God. We may even feel as if He isn't speaking to us or nudging us to do anything; but perhaps the problem is that we haven't taken the time to practice listening.
I have "played" piano ever since I can remember. Growing up, we always had a piano in our home. Neither of my parents played, but all of my sisters knew how to play on various levels. My two oldest sisters only play by reading notes. The rest of us play by ear.
One of my sisters told me that she remembers me listening to songs on the radio or record player, then I'd try to duplicate playing it. I would sometimes try to play along as the song was playing. I spent hour upon hour doing this. The thing is, no one ever told me that I didn't sound good or to stop playing. I hit lots of wrong notes, but I kept practicing and playing. Honestly, it never felt like practice and wasn't difficult. I'm sure it didn't sound too good for many years, but I didn't know any difference and just kept playing. When I was 12-13 years old, I started playing at church. Thankfully, there were lots of musicians and we all covered each others mistakes. It was great fun to play with so many others! And I improved more and more the longer I kept playing piano.
Something else happened by me learning by listening to music and playing along. I picked up an ear for hearing what key a song was in. Nowadays, when I hear a song playing I can't name the key, but when I sit down at the piano there is something that happens naturally and almost always I can almost immediately begin playing that song in whichever key it is playing in. I wouldn't want to be tested in it or have someone challenge me on it, because I think it is just something that happens from years of practice and not something to show off. Occasionally, I may initially hit the wrong notes the first time, but can then generally hear where I'm supposed to be.
When I mess up, I don't get embarrassed or feel like a failure or think, "I'm never playing piano again!" I just shrug it off, find the right key, and begin playing. If someone hears me hit a wrong note and don't like it, it doesn't bother me. I like doing well and am quite skilled at playing, but I'm not going to stop just because I mess up from time to time.
That's a lot like it is on hearing God. Some may think, "God never talks to me! He never impresses me to do anything. I never know if I'm doing the right thing or not; I just plug along and hope for the best!" But that's not true. God is not a mute Father who is silent and doesn't speak to His sons and daughters. He wants to have conversations with us, wants to speak to us through His Word, wants to give us dreams and visions, wants us to pray for others, wants us to walk in obedience to whatever He speaks to our spirit. And speak He does! But sometimes we may need to stop asking so many questions when He does, and just respond.
Humans are so guilty of dissecting anything God says or urges us to do. "Is it really God? What if it's not God and I mess us? What will people think? What if I try to help someone or pray for them and they don't want me to? What if I'm just doing this in the flesh and it's not what God is urging me to do? God, let me know if it's really you!" God will speak to us again and we will feel or hear Him in our spirit, but then we cycle back through those same endless questions, and end up not responding and obeying. God gives us a dream and we think, "Oh that probably wasn't from God. It was probably because I ate too late last night and it just gave me a weird dream."
Hearing God's whispers, Him speaking to our spirits, speaking through His Word, nudging and urging us to do something or step out in faith takes practice. The more we practice, the more skilled we will become at recognizing Him. The more we obey and respond, the more clearly we will hear our Father.
When I was just beginning to really learn the piano had I only sat and listened to music without doing anything, I would never have became a skilled pianist. I would never have become any better and wouldn't be still playing today. Had I laid on the couch and thought, "I really wish I could play piano! Maybe if I lay here long enough and listen to enough songs, it will soak into my brain and I'll be able to learn how to play." That doesn't work! I had to get up and practice and actually play.... and play... and play... and not give up if I hit a wrong note or messed up. By doing so, my skills increased and I gained confidence and became an accomplished pianist.
We can apply those same principles to our relationship with God. We don't stop listening or obeying or trying. We don't stop trying should we make a mistake. The more we grow in our love for Jesus, the more we grow in learning to love others.
Let's make this a year of becoming more skilled in listening to God and responding in quick obedience. Let's keep our spirit in tune to our Father so that we hear each time He speaks.
I have a lot of younger co-workers. In fact, I'm definitely in the top 1/3 of our office for age. A few of them have commented repeatedly about how I'm able to answer almost any technical question they have, whether it is directly related to my current job or not. I usually simply respond that they'll be able to answer similar questions when they have 35 years of work experience, too.
But it isn't just having 35 years of experience. My dad was a mechanical engineer, and hired me to work in his shop when I was about 10 years old. At first, I mostly just cleaned up, and sorted out boxes full of screws and nuts. But I also got to see some amazing projects getting created and assembled. I learned about lathes and mills, strengths of materials, structures, pneumatics, and lots of other mechanics and control systems. Even though I work in a different industry, a surprisingly large part of what I learned back then still helps me.
I also worked in other industries that are barely related. But a lot of what I learned in those jobs still helps me today.
God had been orchestrating my training and learning long ago. And now, I'm reaping the benefits of it. We may tend to think that God has not created us with a skill for hearing His voice. But He tends to speak to us in different ways, and trains us up into a way to hear that voice.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
1 stick butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup Hershey's special dark cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter; stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating so spreading consistency. Add vanilla and stir to mix.
Last Friday afternoon Jon and I, as well as other relatives, were traveling back to our homes from my stepmother's funeral. There were four vehicles traveling towards the Tulsa area, one to Fort Smith, AR, and three towards the Little Rock, AR area. Those of us traveling to Oklahoma were not traveling together, but were all within minutes of one another. Jon and I stopped in Siloam Springs, AR to fill the car up with gas and use the restroom. It was lightly raining when we stopped, but had started raining harder when we left. By the time we got about halfway through town, there were tornado sirens going off. We found out that one of my nephews and his wife decided to stop at a Loves station and went to their shelter. The rest of us all decided to keep driving, while keeping an eye on the sky and listening to weather reports on the radio. Thankfully, within just a few miles outside of town we drove out from under the heavy storm clouds. It was rainy really, really heavy! It was a tad frightening for a while!!
One of my nephews who was traveling to Oklahoma was following a truck pulling a boat and something flew out of the back and his his windshield and cracked it. About the same time that that happened, a nephew who was driving through Little Rock had a car in front of him hit something that was in the road and it flew up and his his windshield, cracking it and spidering out. Another nephew had a semi that didn't see his vehicle and almost hit him. Thank God for His protection over all of my family, and we all arrived home safely!! Windshields can be replaced, although it's a nuisance at the time. But I am so grateful that all of my family were kept safe and sound. To God be the glory!!
Take inventory of the gifts God has given you, not only the material things, but the spiritual things;
and ask Him to how you how to share them with others. - Elisabeth Elliot
We love you!
Loretta & Jon