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!'"

Luke 15:4-6

August 15, 2012

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

The biblical book of Isaiah records a vision that God gave to Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem. But the message can be taken personally and applied to us today.

Isaiah 43:18, 19 says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

How easy it is to dwell on our mistakes and past sins. We will carry that guilt and shame around with us for years. It is as if we wear a shackle around our leg, keeping us bound to the past. We can go on existing and take care of our daily duties, and may even forget about our past for periods of time, but then something will happen or be said that will once again remind us and we will feel that remorse over and over again.

No matter how hard we may wish that we had made different choices and not given into temptation, we can't go back and erase our past. To make ourselves feel better, we may even try to justify our choices, yet in our heart we know that what we did was sin and didn't honor God; and likely we didn't honor ourselves either.

Satan will do everything he can to keep us shackled to our past and bring it up in our memories over and over and over again. As long as he can keep us bound to the memory of our sin and cause us to feel shame and guilt, we can never be truly free to move forward.

But this is not God's response to our past. Once we repent and ask forgiveness, we are washed clean in His eyes and all is forgotten. God doesn't bring back the memory of our past to torment us and cause us to feel like failures. Instead He fully forgives and forgets.

Psalm 103:10-13 tells us, "He [God] does not treat us (or has not dealt with us) as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear (regard Him with reverence and awe) Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

"As far as the east is from the west" knows no boundaries and goes on and on into infinity. That means that when we repent of our sins, God removes them and throws them as far as the east is from the west. He doesn't keep them close by so He can bring them up again or tempt us with our past. Those sins are gone, never to be remembered again; as far as God is concerned.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

The old person who sinned against God is gone. We have become brand-new creations. The old has passed away and is gone, and we become brand spanking new! God gives us fresh starts and new beginnings.

John 8:34-36 explains it well. "Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'"

Before we confess our sins and become a child (son or daughter) of God, we are living as a slave to sin. It has us bound and controls us. A slave only dwells in a house as long as the owner hires them and allows them to do so. But the owner has the ability to sell that slave at will. Therefore, the slave never has a permanent place within the household. They are only there to fulfill a specific job. But a son born into the family has a permanent place within the family. Even though he may disobey and disappoint the parents, the blood lines cannot be erased and he will forever belong to it. Even if he is adopted out to others, his blood will be that of his birth parents.

Therefore, if Jesus, the Son of God, sets us free from sin, then we are completely free. We are no longer slaves to sin and our past, but we become a member of the family of God. We are no longer slaves to the world, but live as sons and daughters of God. We can live free from sin and live forever as children of God. That doesn't mean we won't sin or make mistakes, but it does mean that we can ask forgiveness and always have a place within God's family.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

With about 6 thousand year of practice, Satan knows how to get people distracted from God. Bringing up the past is a very effective way.

Getting us obsessed about the future can also be effective. It's easy to get obsessed about plans for our future, to plan out where we'll live, how we'll live, and so on. The future isn't such a bad thing to focus on. We can look forward to eternity in heaven, growing old with someone, or even just that nap we'll get to take Saturday afternoon. But it can be a problem if we plan so much we miss the work it'll take to get there, or if we get our future too wrapped up in what we do, save, and plan without considering God's plans.

I tend to get too wrapped up in either the past or the future. Too often, when I do, I start focusing on the other just to get a change.

ON THE MENEWE:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups peeled and shredded zucchini, about 1 medium

1/2 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla together. Stir in zucchini. Combine dry ingredients, add to zucchini mixture and mix well. Mix in chocolate chips. Pour into two greased 8x4x2 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or until bread tests done.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

For a party, to keep drinks cold, fill colorful balloons with water and freeze them, and use them instead of ice. Place the cans/bottles in a large plastic container or cooler, then arrange the frozen balloons around them to keep them cold.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Cleaning house while the kids are home, is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org