"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!'"
May 27, 2009
I've heard the saying that, "In every life a little rain must fall." But I've also heard people comment that it often seems like when it rains, it pours. They can't just deal with one thing at a time, but it seems like they get bombarded with problems all at once.
I was sitting outside on my back porch contemplating that very thought. When I got inside, I was going to begin writing this devotional. But I first checked my email, and had an email from a good friend that spoke about that very thing. Right now it seems as if she's getting hit from all sides.
One of my sisters and her husband have recently started a remodeling project. They had saved up the funds to remodel their kitchen. They got estimates for the kitchen cabinets and countertops. Their kitchen has a drop ceiling, and they decided to go ahead and raise it up while they had their cabinets out. Their plan was to finish this project, then save up to replace the floors in their kitchen, dining room and living room.
My brother-in-law began taking out the kitchen cabinets. As he took them down, he was installing them in their garage to use for storage. Great plan! But after getting the cabinets taken down, they began running into one problem after another, and things began to snowball on them.
They had thought one of the bids for their kitchen included everything from beginning to end. After giving the go-ahead, they discovered that it was only for building the cabinets and didn't include staining or installation. Thankfully, they were able to cancel the order. But they were able to get someone else, who does beautiful work, to build their cabinets and install them.
They found out they had a crack in their living room floor that ran under their wall into their den and into their bedroom. They had to rip up the middle section of their living room carpet in order to have it analyzed.
During all this, my brother-in-law begin ripping out the kitchen ceiling. They found that some of the wiring was too short, and will need to be replaced or redone before they can replace the sheetrock to raise the ceiling.
What they thought was going to be one remodeling project in the kitchen has turned into much more.
At first it seemed very overwhelming; and still does at times. My sister was especially upset and frustrated. It's difficult to try and cook and care for a family when your house is torn apart. But slowly but surely they are beginning to get answers on how to fix the various issues. They still have the same problems, but now they are finding solutions and know that eventually everything will be repaired and replaced. Over the next few weeks work is going to be done on their house, and it will be very nice once it is all finished.
We've all had bad days, bad weeks, and bad months. There are times when it seems like you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and your day goes downhill from there. No matter what you do, things seem to continuously go wrong. You feel like going back to bed and starting your day all over again. Then there are those times when it seems like your problems just won't go away, and you have day after day after day of things going wrong. It feels like you just can't get a break.
It may be vehicles or appliances that seem to tear up, one right after another. It may be health issues that plague you, where as soon as you deal with one problem and seem to be feeling better, something else happens. It may be family situations, where someone gets into a mess or is being rebellious or any number of things; then about the time you think they're getting their life straightened out, it starts up with another family member. It may be difficulties at your job. Or there is either a whole lot of work at your job and you're having to work overtime to try and get it all done, then there's not enough to keep you busy; it's either feast or famine. Finances can really be stressful at times. You may feel like you're working as hard as you can and doing your best to keep up, but you keep getting bombarded by unexpected expenses and can barely keep your head above water. There are all kinds of life situations that we all have to deal with, and not all of them are pleasant.
I was recently reading about Lazarus. In John chapter 11, we read where Lazarus was sick. His sisters, Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come. But Jesus delayed His coming, and before He arrived, Lazarus died. He had been in the grave for four days before Jesus got there. But Jesus had a purpose in waiting that long to arrive in Bethany. He wanted the people to see and believe, so that the glory of God would be revealed.
Jesus had the men to take the stone away from the front of the grave. Then He called with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" Lazarus walked out of the grave, still wrapped in his grave clothes. Jesus told them to loose him and let him go.
Many people who were there that day and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in Him that day.
In chapter 12 we read where a few days before Passover, Jesus came back to Bethany. From what I can tell, not a whole lot of days had gone by between the time that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, until He came back to their house to eat with them.
Many of the Jews knew that Jesus was there, and came not only to see Him, but to see Lazarus, whom they knew had been raised from the grave.
Jesus had many who wanted to destroy and kill Him. Wherever He went, there seemed to always be someone there who wanted him dead.
In John 12:10, 11 we read, "But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus."
Now that's what I call a roller coaster ride in a man's life! Lazarus went from bad circumstances, to awesome, to bad again.
First of all, Lazarus was sick. The scripture doesn't say what type of illness he had or how long he was sick. But he was sick enough that he died from whatever was wrong with him. I don't know if Lazarus suffered or was in pain, but normally when a person is sick enough to die, they're not feeling very well and are very weak. His sickness finally ended when he died. Upon his death, Lazarus experience having a glorified body that was completely whole again.
His body was buried, but Lazarus was a follower of Jesus and believe in Him, therefore his spirit went to heaven. No longer was he sick or having to deal with life's problems. Ah, the glory and awesomeness of being in the presence of God!
Then all of a sudden, Jesus called out Lazarus' name, and his spirit returned to his body and he came back to life. He walked out of the grave and was once more alive on this earth. Since the sickness had left his body upon death, he would now be healthy and whole. If you're going to have to leave heaven to come back to earth, then that sounds great! He saw many come to believe in Jesus because he was resurrected from the dead.
But because many Jews believed in Jesus upon seeing the miracle of Lazarus' resurrection from the dead, the chief priests began plotting to kill Lazarus. I'm sure that Lazarus was aware of the fact that they wanted him dead. I cannot even imagine what he would be thinking at that point. "Okay, I was sick and died. Then I went to heaven where I was with God and made completely whole. Then Jesus called my name and I was brought back to life on earth; only to now be killed by the chief priests?!"
I cannot find in scripture where it records how Lazarus died the second, and final, time. I don't know if it was from old age, sickness, or if he was put to death by the chief priests. But by that time, Jesus was back in heaven, and Lazarus was eternally reunited with Him.
One guarantee in life is that our problems and difficulties will not last forever. David writes in Psalms 30:5, "Weeping may endure a night, but joy comes in the morning."
As we read the Psalms, we can see where David's life consisted of many ups and downs. In some Psalms, he is praising God for His goodness and extolling the greatness of God and His majesty. In others, he is crying out to God for help and mercy. He is feeling as if he is all alone, and is desperate for God to intervene on his behalf; sometimes asking where God is, and feeling abandoned. I think that's why I enjoy reading the Psalms so much, because I feel like that's how my life is and I can relate. Some days I feel like I'm on the mountaintop and nothing can bring me down. Then a few days later, I may be going through something and will be weeping and crying out to God to please come help me. I go from feeling blessed and my heart filled with praises for God, to feeling alone and crying out in frustration and desperation.
No matter what today or tomorrow holds for you, know that God always has His eyes upon you and is holding you close to His heart. When you feel like your world is falling down around your head and that nothing is going right, God is still there. Our emotions and our situations may change, but God will never change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Call out to God, knowing that He is there to hear your heart's cry. Your circumstances may not immediately change or go away, but God will be your strength and a very present help in time of trouble. He is the same God in time of blessing, as He is in time of need.
I've read Samuel before. But I'm re-reading it now. There's too much going on to summarize it easily. Several times over, the entire nation is blessed or cursed based on their behavior as a whole, or based on their king (Saul or David). Through almost the whole two books, Samuel is living an honorable, righteous life. But he also suffers right along with the nation when they suffer. He also has to hide or run for his life at times. And yet, we don't read about any sins or transgressions by Samuel.
It's tempting sometimes to see bad things happening, especially when they come in storms, to wonder what we've done wrong to deserve it. But it doesn't always (or even usually) work that way. "The rain will fall on the just and the unjust alike."
Chicken Pot Pie
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. Boneless skinless chicken breast
1 can mixed veggies
Boil chicken. Mix cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup together with the vegetables. Cut chicken up in bite sized pieces and mix with the soup and vegetable mixture. Put in 9x11 baking dish or casserole dish. Bake at 375. Bake your biscuits at the same time. When the biscuits are done, the dish is done. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve. Serve the chicken mixture over the biscuits. (Do not cook biscuits on top of chicken mixture. This will not allow the biscuits to cook all the way through and you will end up with soggy biscuits.)
Over Memorial weekend, Jon and I spent a couple days in Lampe with several members of my family. There were some great-nephews and great-nieces there that kept us entertained. It rained the whole time we were there, so we were pretty much all stuck either on the front porch or living room. On Sunday evening we were all crowded on the front porch in lawn chairs. Winston, who is age three, had recently learned a memory verse from the Bible and some songs for a pre-school program he was in. He said his memory verse, and remembered all the words and where it was found. His grandparents were trying to get him to sing "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" for us. He sang "The B-I-B-L-E" instead and said his memory verse again. Different people were trying to talk him into singing the other song for us, and he said, "No, I can't. I have to save that one for tomorrow." And he did sing it for us the next day.
His sister, Lillian, is a busy two year old. Monday morning I was sitting in the living room eating a little chocolate donut. I had taken a bite when she saw me eating it. She came over, threw her bear and pacifier in my lap, said, "I want a bite." Took it from me, ate a bite, gave it back and walked away. It was almost impossible to keep her out of the rain. Every chance she got, she'd run out in the rain or splash in a little puddle that was on the front porch, or stand under the water dripping off the edge of the porch.
One of my other sisters has two granddaughters, ages two (almost three) and four. They enjoy nursery rhymes, and have several memorized. They would recite them for us. The youngest one would get a book of nursery rhymes she had brought with her. She knew which pictures went with which one, and would find the right picture, then quote the nursery rhyme, pretending that she was reading them.
Little kids are so precious and cute... and grow up so fast!
Seven days without prayer will make one weak.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon