"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 11, 2011
I have mentioned that normally when I read, I do so for enjoyment and entertainment. I guess I should have prefaced that statement by clarifying that I do read the Bible; but otherwise I generally read Christian fiction. Rarely do I read a study, self-help, spiritual encouragement type of book. But recently I had a friend recommend a particular book to me, so I picked up a copy. Granted, at the current time I have only read a couple chapters, but I read something that has made me think. The name of the book is "Made to Crave".
The premise of the book is that we were made to crave -- long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for -- God. Psalm 84:1-2 says, "How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God." But Satan wants to do everything possible to replace our craving for God with something else.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world -- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -- comes not from the Father but of the world." (1 John 2:15-16)
This passage of scripture details three ways Satan tries to lure us away from loving God. 1) The cravings of the sinful man. 2) The lust of his eyes. 3) The boasting of what he has or does.
Eve, the first woman created, was lured by the serpent into eating the forbidden fruit. Satan intentionally chooses his tactics and will strike in the area in which we're weak. He desires to lure us away from God. And he knows what will work; the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has or does. Satan used all three tactics with Eve.
"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food (cravings of the sinful man), and pleasing to the eye (lust of the eyes), and also desirable for gaining wisdom (boasting of what she has or does), she took some and ate it." (Genesis 3:6) Eve was tempted in precisely the same three ways that 1 John 2:15-16 warns us not to be lured away from loving God.
On the flip side, let's look at how Jesus was tempted.
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your food against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give You," he said, "if You will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
We see the same pattern of temptation. Cravings: Satan appealed to Jesus' physical cravings for food. Lust of the eyes: The devil promised Jesus entire kingdoms if He would bow down to the god of materialism. Boasting: Then he enticed Jesus to prove His significance by forcing God to command angels to save Him.
But there is a notable difference between Eve and Jesus when they were tempted. Eve was saturated in the object of her desire, which made it easy for her to submit to the temptation. Jesus was saturated in God's truth and spoke the Word of God in order to resist temptation.
Eve focused on the object of her obsession. According to Genesis 3:6 she saw that the food was good, pleasing to the eye, and desirable. She didn't walk away and give herself time to think about her choice. She didn't talk her decision over with her husband. She didn't even wait and talk to God when He came down to walk with her and Adam in the cool of the evening. And she blatantly disobeyed God's very specific instruction not to eat of that particular fruit. The scripture doesn't say, but I think that Eve had already been eying the fruit, and perhaps wondering what it tasted like. She may have been contemplating what would really happen if she ate of it. The seed may have already been planted in her mind questioning the forbidden fruit, so when Satan came and tempted her, she was an easy target and gave in without fully considering the consequences.
If we really want to do something, it's easy to justify our actions. And if we know that we probably shouldn't do it, it's easier to hurriedly act because we know if we take time to contemplate it, then we might change our mind. If I go shopping and find a cute pair of flip flops or purse that I really want, but know that we really don't have the extra money, it's tempting to hurry and pay for it before I can talk myself out of buying it. Honestly, I usually go to the extreme on the flip side. I will find something I want and know that Jon really doesn't mind if I buy it, but I will carry it around the store and contemplate whether or not I should buy it for a while before making a decision. I've talked myself out of it many times and put it back, then later wished I had gone ahead and bought it. But I've also saved myself from making rash purchases sometimes. I will admit though that I have made those buys that I knew I shouldn't have because I didn't have the extra money, but it was something I really wanted, so I justified why I should have it. And a lot of times I've regretted it and wished I had waited.
One reason some don't want to read the Bible or attend church is because they don't want to know what God has to say about what we should or shouldn't do; they think then they won't be held accountable for their deeds. But God places a conscience within each of us that warns us when we're sinning and doing wrong. When it comes to disobeying God, ignorance is not bliss. It's only when we strive to follow God that our lives will be filled with peace.
Another important aspect of knowing the scripture is that we can speak it against Satan when he tempts us to do wrong, just as Jesus did when He was tempted. We don't have to have the whole Bible memorized, but having some basic knowledge of scripture can help us in our day to day life.
Jon and I have a neighbor that we are not closely acquainted with. Mainly, we will wave at one another whenever we're outside at the same time. Recently, I saw an ambulance pick him up early one morning. A couple days later I saw him outside, so knew he was home from the hospital. I asked another neighbor, who I do visit with and who is a nurse, if she knew if everything was okay with him. Even though we don't know his name, Jon and I had been praying for him. I found out that a couple years ago he had a major stroke and almost didn't survive. I would guess he's in his mid to late 40's. He is on disability and is unable to work. A few months ago he had a serious seizure and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I'm not sure if that is what happened again this time, or exactly what took place. He is a heavy smoker and was told for his health, that he has to stop smoking but has not done so. In fact, he has refused to take care of his health. He and his wife have children at home that are probably junior high to teen age. He has almost died and has been told what he needs to do in order to prolong his life, but has chosen not to obey the doctor's advice. By disregarding the doctor's warnings, it could cost him his life, leaving a wife and children behind to carry on without him.
It's easy to point our finger at him and judge him as being inconsiderate of his family, stubborn, hard-headed, or acting in stupidity. But do we not sin and give into temptation, even when we know that doing so will affect our relationship with God? We know if we are stubborn, hard-headed, and stupid in not submitting our lives to God and repenting of our sins, then we stand to lose the promise of eternity in heaven with God. Yet often it seems so much simpler to give into temptation than it does to turn our back and walk away from it. We justify our actions and convince ourselves that what we're doing really isn't that bad.
Satan does know our weaknesses, and those are the areas where he'll tempt us. What you struggle with may not be the same areas in which I struggle. What may cause you to stumble and sin may be something that does not affect me whatsoever. But the areas where I'm weak may be your strong points. That's why we're not all tempted in the same ways.
The serpent tempting Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit may not have a weakness for him, and perhaps he would have been able to resist and obey God's instructions. But apparently, he was unable to resist his wife. Adam did not have to disobey and taste of the fruit just because Eve did; he could have chosen to turn away and do what was right. But he sinned just as much as Eve when he listened to her and tasted of the one thing that God told them to stay away from. Perhaps that's why the serpent tempted Eve, because he knew she was an easy target and had already been considering the forbidden tree; perhaps she had been admiring its beauty. And he knew Adam loved his wife and would do her bidding, so was pretty sure she could tempt Adam to join in her sin.
Cravings can be good, or they can be detrimental to us. Craving food can cause a person to overeat and become obese. Craving money and/or power can cause an individual to neglect their family, run over others in order to get ahead, and be focused on financial gain. Craving material things cause people to go in debt, run up huge credit card bills, and never being satisfied with what they have.
On the other hand, cravings can also be a blessing. Desiring to do good things for others can make you feel contented and fulfilled. Craving a home of your own can cause you to work hard and save in order to do so. Craving water keeps you from becoming dehydrated and sick.
But the most important thing we can crave is God. Desiring, yearning and longing for God, and giving into those cravings, will give us the most fulfillment we could ever hope for or dream of.
I usually like to have somewhere to go when I start writing. I frequently end up in a completely different place from where I intended to go. But I usually at least have a target in mind.
We spent this past weekend in the country. We love spending time there. This time was even better; we had enough extra time to just sit back and relax for half the weekend. Usually we go on a Friday, work all Saturday, then return Sunday. We still enjoy our time, but this time, we spent half of each day just sitting, visiting, and watching a fire or staring into the woods. It's great to be able to sit and enjoy the beauty that God has created all around us.
But it has struck me: if we enjoy the land God made so beautiful, why do we keep trying to change it? Most of the weekends that we work almost the whole time, we spend most of the time trimming trees, mowing, cleaning out brush, weeds, and ivy, and cleaning out trash. Well, of course the trash doesn't belong there; I didn't really question cleaning out trash. Does it seem arrogant that we hope to make the land even more beautiful?
But then, when I was burning some brush out of a dried up pond, I saw a copper-head snake fleeing from the smoke. It was big, and made me wish I had a shovel handy. I didn't question it so much. And really, it does look more inviting with a lawn of soft grass, trimmed trees, and no poison ivy.
I'm not sure that I really have any conclusion. But I think I do need to take more of my time relaxing and enjoying God's handiwork and less time tending to it.
Quick Homemade Salsa
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
10 cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
7 jalapeno slices (canned jalapenos)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. chopped onions
Combine the ingredients in a food processor until blended (to your likeness).
Why is it that little kids (especially little boys) seem to have an inner instinct to pick their nose? It's definitely not something that's taught to them by their parents, but a nasty habit that they figure out for themselves. Jax recently turned two and has the nose-picking thing down pat. Recently, his mom saw him picking his nose and told him, "Jax, no-no!!" Jax looked at her with his big, bright, blue eyes and replied, "Yes. Funny!"
My great-niece is three, and for some reason, her parents cannot keep clothes on that child when she's home. They'll dress her and turn around and she'll have most of her clothes stripped off. She stripped completely down the other day and her mom told her, "Put your undies back on! We are not a naked family!" The response was, "But mom, I want us to be a naked family!"
I have another great-niece (also age three) who loves wearing swimsuits, regardless of the weather outside. She and her big brother used to go to daycare, and as soon as they got home in the afternoons her clothes would go flying as soon as she walked through the front door on her way up to her bedroom to put her swimsuit on. One day it was sunny but cold outside. Her parents couldn't find her and looked outside and there she was with her swimsuit on and no coat -- but she did have on a hat to keep her head warm! She also loves shoes and will change shoes a dozen times a day. And watch out if there are other kids around because if they take their shoes off, she'll put them on. Last summer we had a family gathering in Lampe and a couple other great-nieces were there and had taken off their flip flops. Lillian was wearing their shoes, and even had on two different shoes one time.
Jon's nephew's wife decided to take her two kids on a donut run in their pajamas recently. The 3-year old daughter couldn't wrap her mind around it being okay to leave the house with her pj's on and questioned, "But mom, what about my hair bow?"
It's funny how different from one another and funny kids can be. They definitely keep keep you on your toes, not knowing what they'll do or say!
Oh what peace we often forfeit; oh what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer. - lyrics from 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus'
We love you!
Loretta & Jon