"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!'"
November 19, 2008
It is amazing how one moment of time can be totally life changing. I am sometimes astonished at how circumstances or health can seemingly change from one minute to the next. Things can be one way, then in one split second, be completely different. At times it may be something small that occurs, but catches you totally off-guard. It doesn't necessarily always have to be a monumental happening that brings change, but can be something insignificant that we're not expecting.
I had a busy weekend, and when I went to bed on Sunday evening I was tired, but overall felt good. I woke up around 2:45 with a lot of drainage and my throat really sore and dry. I had no indication when I went to bed that this was going to attack my body and make me feel bad. I've often been surprised how I can feel good one minute, and seemingly the next be sneezing or coughing or have a sore throat or sick to my stomach, etc. Many times, it seems like I have no warning that these things are going to happen, so I end up being unprepared.
When my mom was sick with cancer, we had time to prepare ourselves somewhat for her death. We knew that without a miracle, she was not going to get well. But even then, we had no way of knowing the exact second that it would occur. Before she actually passed away, there were a few times when we thought, "Okay, this is it," but then she would begin breathing regularly again. No one could tell us the precise moment that she was going to breathe her last breath.
Then with Daddy, it was completely different. I went to bed that Monday evening, having no idea that I would get a phone call early the next morning that would change my life. I had no indication that I should call and talk to him one last time before going to sleep, or any warning that he wouldn't be there the next time that I decided to call or go visit. I'm sure when Daddy was getting the chicken house ready that evening for Tyson to come pick the chickens up, he had no idea that that would be the last time he would be doing that. He didn't know when he went through his day and evening that they would be his last upon this earth. When he was walking out to the car to go to the emergency room, he may not have known that he wasn't going to make it to the hospital, and that God would call him home before getting into the car. One moment he was walking out to the car, and the next he was in heaven. That one moment in time was the beginning of eternity for him.
We can make plans and dream dreams, and a lot of those things may come to pass. We can set the date and time for special events, and many of those things may happen just as we expect.
When Jon and I were planning our wedding, we set the date, time and place that it was going to take place. We (I) planned out all the details, from the colors, to what kind of flowers, to what kind of cake for the reception, and on and on. And on June 18, 2005 at 2:00 p.m., everything happened just as we had planned. There were no surprises or big catastrophes, but it all went exactly as we had dreamed it would. If anything, it was even more special and beautiful than we had anticipated.
Throughout our marriage, we've had things come up that we didn't anticipate; both good and bad. And I believe that how we chose to deal with those things showed our true character.
It's sometimes easy to try to put blame on someone, when the unexpected occurs. We want to find a reason for why it happened, or point a finger of accusation at someone. And sometimes grief can cause us to do or say things that we normally wouldn't. But if we're not careful, we can allow the situation to cause hatred and bitterness to eat at us.
Although there are many circumstances in life that perhaps we can't prepare ourselves for ahead of time, we can each individually be ready at all times to meet God. We have no way of knowing ahead of time when that will take place, but we can keep our hearts prepared to meet Him, when it does happen.
Matthew 24:42-44 says, "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will."
One of my sisters and her husband pastored a church in Helena, AR many years ago. The church was not situated in a very good part of town. The church and pastor's parsonage were built together in an "L" shape with a walkway separating them. Two or three different times when my sister and brother-in-law lived there, their house was broken into. It never happened when they were home, but always when they were gone. But coming into their house and finding cushions off the chairs, the mattress off the bed, dresser drawers opened with the clothing articles dumped into the floor, cabinet doors left standing open, etc., made them feel violated. The chief of police attended their church, and if they had of known ahead of time when it was going to occur, they would have either stayed home to deter it, or had the chief of police watching their house in order to catch the culprit(s). But the thieves didn't call ahead to warn them. They had no way of knowing ahead of time that it was going to happen.
Jesus is speaking in the above scriptures, and gives the example of a thief breaking into a house. If the head of the household had of known what time the thief was coming, then he would have been alert and not allowed his house to be broken into. That is how it's going to be when Jesus comes again. No one, but God, knows the day nor the hour when this will take place. Therefore, we need to be alert and watching at all times.
Throughout history, there have been those who have tried to figure out when this could occur. Many thought in the year 2000, during the big Y2K scare, that the world was going to come to an end. But the Bible clearly says that no one knows, except God. Just as my family had no way of pinpointing the exact moment that Mama would draw her last breath, mankind has no way of pinpointing the exact moment that God will send Jesus back to earth to rapture the believers, to meet Him in the clouds.
Regarding my mom, there were signs that indicated when the end was near, but we still had no way of knowing which day or minute would be her last. Jesus gives us signs of what to look for to indicate that the end is near, but even then, His coming will come as a surprise.
Luke 17:34, 35 says, "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."
Only those who have repented of their sins and asked for forgiveness will be caught away to meet Jesus in the air. There will be spouses, where one is ready to meet God and the other isn't. Suddenly, the one will disappear from the bed or car or wherever they may be. There will be people working together on the job, and without any indication or warning, those whose hearts are prepared to meet God will be taken to heaven, and the other co-workers will be left behind.
It will be a time of utter chaos and extreme fear. Cars will suddenly be left without occupants, causing wrecks. People will suddenly be gone from homes and the workplace. Babies will disappear from their mother's arms. The news media will go crazy, trying to figure out this strange phenomenon that took place.
Luke 17:26-30 says, "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered into the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed."
In Genesis 6, begins the story of Noah. Verses 5 and 6 says "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain."
Since the beginning of time, mankind has had a tendency towards wickedness and sin. When I read about the days of Noah, it reminds me of our world today. The hearts of men are evil and bent towards doing what is wicked. They have total disregard for God.
Verses 7 and 8 continue, "So the Lord said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth -- men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air -- for I am grieved that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."
In the next verses it continues that God saw how corrupt the earth had become, and that it was full of violence, and that the people had corrupted their ways. But because of Noah's righteousness, God decides to spare him and his family. During the years that it took Noah to build the ark, he preached to the people and urged them to turn to God and repent. But they scoffed at him and mocked him. They labeled Noah as a fanatic, and continued on living as they desired. It had never rained upon the earth, so they had no idea what rain or flooding really were.
But the day came when God shut the door of the ark and the rain and floods occurred. I'm sure that after the fact, when it was too late, men and women were banging on the wood of the ark, begging Noah to let them inside, and promising to turn from their sin. They saw that what Noah had been preaching was indeed truth. But God had already closed the doors to the ark, and it was too late for them to be saved.
The same principle applies today. Men and women are proclaiming the truth of God's Word, and trying to warn individuals of the consequences of remaining in their sin and not accepting God's gift of salvation. But man continues living as they wish, giving no heed to the warnings and choosing to live as they choose. They scoff at the Word of God, desiring to believe whatever they desire. Just as the people in Noah's day had never heard of rain nor flooding, people today have no concept of what the rapture is going to be like, where the Christians suddenly disappear and are caught away to be with the Lord. But not being able to conceive or comprehend it, doesn't mean that it's not going to happen or make it any less factual.
For that day will come, and then it will be too late. The door to the ark of safety will be closed, so to speak. The believers will be raptured [or caught away] to be with God. Those who refused to listen or respond to the message of the need for repentance, will be crying out and begging God for one more opportunity. They will plead for just one more chance, but that door of opportunity will be closed.
That's why we are told that today is the day of salvation. We need to be on the alert at all times, looking for Christ to return again for those who believe. This is too important to push to the side; thinking that you can wait until later in life to make a decision for Christ. The risk is much too great.
Whether or not the second coming occurs during my lifetime, I have no way of knowing. But I choose to be on the alert, my heart prepared to meet God at all times. I'm not willing to risk missing heaven. But even if it does not occur during my lifetime, then I will one day face death. I have no promise of living a long life. I have no promise of tomorrow. I need to keep my heart pure before God and free from sin each and every day, because it could be my last. And those times when I do sin, I need to repent and ask for God's forgiveness.
May each of you be prepared to meet God; whether it be through the rapture or through death. I desire that each of my family and friend spend eternity in heaven with me. May we each be alert and diligent in our walk with God.
I've heard many times that, "Everybody knows that water conducts electricity." I've also heard a lot of "Everybody knows...". "Everybody knows that people evolved from apes." "Everybody knows that it's wrong for women to wear jeans." I've even heard a lot of unbelievers try to convince me that God isn't real by using their magical incantation, "Everybody knows...".
The truth, however, is that not everyone knows. In fact, pure water doesn't conduct electricity at all. Most water isn't pure, and the impurities usually do conduct electricity. Power companies even use purified water to power-wash their high voltage equipment while it's still on! But, "everybody knows...".
I've gotten where I enjoy looking straight at someone who uses "everybody knows..." on me, and responding, "I don't." It usually shocks whoever was using this incantation as proof. A few people have thought that I must be pretty dim if I was the only person in the world who didn't know whatever they were trying to prove. But most stop, and try to figure out how it was that they "knew" what they thought they knew.
Creamy Crab and Red Pepper Spread
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 (8 oz.) Cream Cheese - softened
1 can (6 oz.) lump crabmeat, drained
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup finely chopped red peppers
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Mix all ingredients; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with Ritz crackers.
I wrote a couple weeks ago about perseverance. An example I used was me recently trying to learn how to use a weighted hula hoop. I've been working at this for over a month, and still struggle with it and am definitely not proficient. It wouldn't matter if it was weighted or not, I'd still have trouble keeping it up. And actually, the weighted ones are supposed to stay up and work much better than the light weight ones... or so they say!
A few nights ago, for lack of anything better to watch on TV, Jon and I were watching a re-run of America's Funniest Home Videos. One particular video absolutely floored me. When I saw it, I was astounded and kept saying, "No way!!" Jon was amazed, but couldn't help but laugh because of it being so ironic. This particular video was of a tiny little girl, still in diapers, and maybe two years old. There was a big regular sized, light weight plastic hula hoop (probably 4 feet wide) lying in the floor. This petite little pampered toddler walked over, picked up the hula hoop, and started using it. Round and round it went. There she stood, totally oblivious to anything going on around her, hula hooping like a pro. I could not believe that this little bitty girl could get the hula hoop to swing round and round her waist. It stayed up for a long time, before she got bored with it and let it drop and walked away. I'm still flabbergasted every time I think about it. The next day, I thought, "If that baby can hula hoop, surely I can do it." I wasn't quite so proficient, nor was I anything to be amazed about. Oh well, gotta keep trying!
Putting everything off until tomorrow is pretty risky.
It will either make tomorrow an exceptionally busy day; or tomorrow will be too late.
We do enjoy hearing from readers, when you have a chance to email. It lets us know that we actually do have readers each week, and that there really are people out there still reading our newsletter.
We hope everyone is enjoying this fall season.
We love you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.
Loretta & Jon