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!'"
March 19, 2008
Have a very blessed Easter!
Enjoy the new spring season.
This next week represents a time of beginnings and endings, with the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring. Then on Sunday we will be celebrating Easter, which represents the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” The following verses go on to give various illustrations of what that means. A few of these are: There is a time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to harvest. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to keep silent, and a time to speak. A time of war, and a time of peace.
Verse 11 goes on to say, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
In the past week, my nephew and his wife became parents for the first time. They welcomed a healthy baby girl, Abigail, into their home. My sister, Janie, has become a grandmother for the first time. This has been a time of celebrating the birth of this precious life. There is a purpose that Abigail was sent here to fulfill on this earth, and her time has just begun.
On the other hand, a good friend and co-worker from my banking days in Missouri, departed this life this past Saturday evening. She was just a year younger than me, and died from lung cancer. For her family and friends, this is a time of mourning and weeping. Dawn's purpose was fulfilled, and her time on earth is now over.
At times, it's hard to understand how God works. Why is there so much sickness, disease, and suffering in this world? That question is easier to answer when it's not us personally or a loved one who is being affected. Why are good people murdered, robbed, abducted, or any number of horrible tragedies that occur? Again, that's easier to answer if none of those things have ever happened to us or our family.
There is so much sin and wickedness in this world, and it effects both those who are good and the evil; the Christian and the non-believer. So what's the use of trusting God and committing our hearts to Him? For me personally, it's knowing that He is always there with me, regardless of what may happen. And having the continuous peace of knowing that however short or long my life may be upon earth, I have the promise and hope of eternal life in Heaven with Jesus, when my life here ends.
verse 11 said, “...no one can fathom what God has done from
beginning to end.” There are other verses in Isaiah 55:8,9
that says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your
ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thought than your
What God does, and the ways in which He works, far surpasses our understanding and perception. Most times, we try to bring God down to our level so we can understand what He's doing or why He's doing it, and then become frustrated when we can't figure Him out.
Just in the last week, I looked around our yard and neighborhood, and can hardly believe the changes that are taking place. Not long ago, the grass was all brown and dead; the trees were leafless and bare; the shrubbery and bushes were dormant; and there were no signs of flowers. Now when I look outside I see the brownness leaving the yard and the grass is turning green; there are daffodils blooming in the neighbors' yards; some of the bushes are turning bright red with flowers; trees are starting to leaf out once again and some trees are even flowering. How do all these trees and plants of nature know that it's time to come out of dormancy and begin to flourish once again? Because it's the right time and season, and that is how God created them! I don't have to understand the science of it all, I just have to know that this is how God made them, and that's good enough for me.
How easy it is to accept something such as the changing seasons, the cycle of nature, and God's creative skills. Yet, how difficult it is for us to accept and trust God with other issues that we don't comprehend or understand. One of those things is how God could love us so much, that He was willing to give His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
This Easter Sunday, we will be reminded once again of the reason why Jesus came to this earth two thousand years ago. Humans are born into sin, and are in need of a Saviour. We could never be good enough, do enough works, or make enough sacrifices to redeem ourselves. It was God's deepest desire for man to be reconciled to Him, so out of His great love for a sinful, wicked mankind, He sent Jesus to earth in the form of man to live and dwell with us, to teach and preach; but most importantly, to suffer and die in our place.
I recently read a good illustration of a father loving his child so much, that he was willing to take his punishment. In the story, a father loved his adopted son and watched over and cared for him. But the boy was unwilling to accept the fact that the father truly loved him or wanted him. He lived in rebellion for many years, and disobeyed the father. He intentionally would do things that he knew would hurt the father, and was constantly putting that love to the test. He had stolen things on several occasions, and been in a lot of trouble. On one occasion, he stole a statue of an idol, brought it into his fathers home, and hid it under his bed. He had been caught in the act and had run away; but later that evening, the elders from their village and officials from the town where he had stolen the idol, came to the fathers house. The boy lay in his room, hearing his father defend him and stand up for him. He was determined to try and embarrass and humiliate the father, so came out and admitted that he had stolen the idol. The father and son were asked to meet the elders in the town square in an hour, where punishment would be meted out. The punishment for stealing was to have your hand cut off, but the father pleaded on behalf of his son and the elders and officials decided to have him flogged instead. The father had to stand in the town square, where everyone could see and know what his son had done. Yet when the men started to grab his son, he begged and pleaded with them that he be able to take the punishment in his son's place. He couldn't bear the thought of his son being stripped and beaten, and desired to take the pain and humiliation and punishment for him.
That's what Jesus did for us. Some come to Jesus at an early age and find it easy to accept His gift of salvation. But others openly rebel against God, they resist His overtures of love, and even put that love to the test over and over again. Or perhaps they have a hard time accepting that God truly does love them and want them as His child. Yet Jesus willingly came to this earth and said, “Here let me take the beatings, torture, mocking, and crucifixion (that we each deserve). I'll take your place.” Perhaps He couldn't bear the thought of us having to endure those things ourselves and desired to come and take it in our place. It's one thing to suffer punishment for your own actions, but to take it for someone else that deserved it; that is true love!
In recent weeks I have read some articles that I find very disturbing. It seems as if many in our nation are wanting to move in a new way that diminishes God. They are looking for a new, improved way of life; a way that disregards all the rules and allows them to do what they want.
An extremely popular talk show hostess is advocating and encouraging others to read and follow a book that diminishes Jesus. It is a false doctrine that many are listening to and accepting, due to wanting to be like this woman and believing as she does.
I have read some articles lately that compare someone who is prominent in the political realm as the new “messiah” and “savior”. They are comparing his rallies to a tent revival where people are “passing out and getting chill bumps” due to his charisma.
Our nation and world today do not need new improved doctrines; they need to read and follow the Word of God. We don't need a new messiah or savior, but need to worship and follow the One and Only True Messiah and Savior, which is Jesus Christ. God's word does not change, and the price that was paid for our sins does not have an expiration date.
Ecclesiastes 3:14 says, “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.”
During this Easter and new springtime season, let it be a time of new beginnings. Remember the gift of true love that Jesus gave us when He died on the cross so we could have forgiveness of our sins. Acknowledge Jesus as the only true Messiah and Savior. Hide His Word in your heart, that you will know truth and not be deceived by false teachings. Rejoice! For Jesus is alive today and is sitting by the Father, making intercession for us.
Last spring, we had a peach tree that sprang out too early. We had an unusually warm week or two. To the tree, it looked like spring, and it bloomed out. It looked beautiful with all its delicate pink flowers. About a week later, we had a freeze.
It was pretty sad. The tree hung on nicely for quite a while. It even looked like some of the peaches might survive. But a few weeks later, it was gone. The tree was dead.
There are a several accounts in the Old Testament when people were given promises that would come someday. But Abraham, for one, got too anxious to wait for the promise. They tried to take timing into their own hands. And like our peach tree, things went badly. They still received their promise, just like spring really did come. But because they didn't wait and simply trust God, they diminished the perfect promise.
If only the tree had waited for the real spring. If only Abraham had waited. If only Jacob had waited. If only the nation of Israel had been patient heading for the promised land. We'll receive what God has promised, but we have to be patient.
“God give me patience, and give it to me NOW!”
2 cup sifted self-rising flour (*see note below)
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cup finely grated carrots
1 ½ cup oil
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans, if desired
Heat oven to 325. Grease thoroughly and lightly dust with flour 2 (9 inch) square pans or 3 (8 inch) round pans. Sift flour and cinnamon together. Combine oil, sugar and eggs in a large mixer bowl and beat thoroughly. Add flour mixture and beat to blend ingredients. Fold in carrots, pineapple and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan (about 1 hour). Cool 15 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely before frosting.
** Note: If using plain flour, add ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons soda, and 1 teaspoon salt to your flour.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 lb. powdered sugar
½ cup margarine – softened
2 tsp. vanilla
(I have not personally ever baked this cake, but have eaten it at dinners at the church I attended in Missouri. It is very moist and good.)
When I was growing up, our church would always have an Easter egg hunt for all the kids following the Sunday morning service. We always had our own chickens, so eggs were plentiful for our family. On Saturday night, Mama would boil some eggs and help me dye them. We girls would always have a new dress and shoes for Easter Sunday. And Mama would buy me a new Easter basket with the fake grass in it (or I'd use one of my sister's old baskets). That afternoon at home, one of my sisters or parents would hide the eggs I had gotten from the church egg hunt, out in our front yard so I could hunt them again.
One year when I was supervisor at a bank in Missouri, I was telling the ladies in my department how much I used to enjoy hunting Easter eggs when I was a little girl. They got together and decided to have an Easter egg hunt for me. They used plastic eggs, and hid them all over our bookkeeping department. They even gave me a basket with the fake grass to put the found eggs in. I think they even had the “golden egg”, that had candy in it. I had no idea they had this all planned until they handed me the basket and told me to find the eggs. I'm not sure who had the most fun – them or me!
At that particular bank, we always had a potluck or something special for the employees on Good Friday. One year we all decorated hats/bonnets and displayed them in the lobby and had customers vote of them and gave out prizes for different categories. Another year, we decorated hats and wore them all day. The bank president even had a decorated ball cap that he wore. We were a fun group of people always coming up with something crazy to do! We also didn't realize how good we had it and what a great work place we had at that time, until later when things changed.
The popular Christmas phrase that “Jesus is the reason for the season” can also be applied to Easter.
Without Jesus, we would not be celebrating Christmas or Easter.
We would like to congratulate my nephew and his wife, Jordan and Shelby, on the birth of their first child. Abigail Fay was born on March 12th. This is the first grandchild for my sister, Janie. Jordan is in the Army and stationed in South Korea, so Grandma Janie hasn't been able to see the baby yet. Everyone is very excited and doing fine.
My heart is also saddened to hear of the loss of a good friend and co-worker from my Missouri banking days. Dawn was almost the same age as me, and passed away this past Saturday from a long battle with lung cancer.
My mind goes back to the scripture I quoted in this weeks devotional from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven.” As you continue reading that passage of scripture it goes on to say that there is a time to be born and a time to die. We are not all in the same season at once, but each of us encounter changes at different times in our life. While Jordan and Shelby are welcoming their new daughter, Dawn's family are saying goodbye. Abigail has just started serving her purpose on this earth, while Dawn's has ended. Saying goodbye is never easy, but may it remind us that we each have a purpose in our own lives to fulfill during our time upon earth, however long or short that may be.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon