"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!'"
September 12, 2012
For many years, our family home in Missouri was rented out. The rent money helped supplement my dad and stepmom's income, and Daddy wanted to keep the property so that we girls would have an inheritance from him and Mama.
At the time of his death, there were renters living in the house. It had been several years since my sisters and I had been inside the house, so we contacted the renters and asked permission to go down and visit the property. What we discovered was a bit heart-breaking and disappointing. Daddy didn't charge a lot for monthly rent, and didn't go check on the property unless the renters called with a problem. He was very trusting. We walked into the house and found that it was piled from floor to ceiling with junk. It was a major fire hazard. There was an old car, that no longer ran, parked in front of the house piled full of clothes and junk.
We five sisters discussed it and decided that we wanted the house for our own personal use for vacations or weekend getaways, and to have as a place for us all to get together. We have a lot of very special memories of growing up in that house, and of time spent with relatives there, so we wanted to keep it in the family and be able to use it for ourselves. We gave the renter a few month's notice to find another place to live.
After they finally moved out, we went down to check the house and property. There was an amazing amount of work and cleaning that needed doing. They had left a huge pile of old clothes (even underwear and socks), wire clothes hangers, and I can't remember what all, thrown in a heap beside the driveway. Where things had been piled from floor to ceiling in the living room, rain had apparently either leaked in that window or they had left it partially opened, and the wood floor was warped. Repairs were needed -- and had been needed for quite some time. Had they let my dad known, he would have seen that they were taken care of. They had a bunch of dogs, and the yard was covered with ticks.
We spent a lot of time cleaning and painting the rooms inside the house, burning and throwing away and hauling off, spreading tick granules in the yard, etc. It was a major project getting the house and yard cleaned up and usable.
It was aggravating at the time. But the renters had nothing invested in that house or property, and had no memories tied to it, so had nothing to lose (except for having to eventually move) by not taking care of things. They weren't having to pay taxes on the property, didn't have to pay for repairs, and were only responsible for paying their monthly rent. It wasn't theirs, so they didn't feel the need to respect the house or property.
Once my sisters and I took ownership of the property, the burden of responsibility fell on our shoulders. We have a shared interest in maintaining the house and keeping the yard mowed and cleaned. We're not just tenants, but are legal owners of the house and land. If we don't take care of things, we can only blame ourselves.
God has entrusted things to us all that we are responsible for taking care of; our family, home, job, material possessions, finances, health, etc. People comment, "God gives and God takes away. Everything that He's given us, He can just as easily take away." That may be true, but that doesn't excuse us from taking responsibility for those things that God has blessed us with. That doesn't mean that we're not to be good stewards of those things that God has given us custody of. Our mentality at times seems to be that God is looking down upon us just waiting to snatch things that we love or that are important to us away at any given moment. God is not a harsh, unloving Father who enjoys making us miserable or gives us things for the pleasure of taking them back from us. Some things in life are unexplainable and we may not always understands why God does the things He does. But sometimes we may lose those things that God has entrusted to our care because of our own stupidity and lack of using the wisdom and common sense that God has given us.
Jon and I had a new roof put on our house in May of this year. Last week we had strong winds and a thunderstorm one evening, which resulted in a huge limb falling off the pecan in our front yard and landing on our roof. It broke off from the top of the tree and fell many feet and hit with a lot of force. The heaviest part punched a hole through the roof. One of the smaller branches on the limb went through our roof and penetrated down into an attic space, hitting a heating duct and breaking the sheetrock. Jon had to tie ropes onto the limb to hold it into place while he sawed it into pieces to get it off the roof, trying to prevent any further damage; and also as a safety precaution to prevent it from rolling off and hitting him while he was standing on the ladder with a chainsaw.
When we first saw the limb and the damage it had done to our roof, it was a bit disheartening. Our first thought was, "We just spent several thousand dollars to have the new roof done, and now this happens!" But the more we talked, the more we found to be thankful about. Since our roof is only about 4 months old, when the roofers fix this hole the new shingles will match the ones already there. The shade the large pecans in our yard create for our home, helps save on heating bills; so overall we are still better off having the trees. And when we got the estimate for the repairs, it was much less than what we had anticipated and we can pay it outright out of pocket without filing an insurance claim.
The old roof was worn out and several years old, and we were starting to get some leaks in our attic. But just because we paid to have a new roof put on didn't mean that we would never again have any damage to it or have to do repairs. That's part of being a homeowner. Things happen that are often unexpected, and you have expenses from time to time.
God has given us the choice to accept salvation and the hope of eternal life. But once again, just because we may at one time say the sinners prayer and receive Jesus into our heart, doesn't mean that He will continue to abide there if we fail to maintain our relationship with Him. We have to take the responsibility of preserving our salvation.
Just because you get saved and repent of your sins doesn't mean that you never have to do ongoing maintenance. You have to take care of yourself spiritually in order to keep yourself from falling back into sin and giving into temptations. It's necessary to read your Bible, pray, attend church and receive teaching, and fellowship with other Christians. You can't just say one prayer and never pray again, and expect to stay secure in your salvation.
An example is your relationship with your spouse. You can't just say your vows at your wedding, and think that's all there is to it in order to have an ongoing healthy, loving, strong marriage. Marriage takes work; no matter how long you've been together. There are times when you disagree, get on each other's nerves, and have a bad day and are cranky and grouchy. There are times when you have to come to a compromise. And there are times when you have to apologize, even when you may not want to. Why do you do those things? Because it's important that you work to keep your relationship with your spouse strong and secure, and you find your marriage worth the work and investment. And that is what we're supposed to do.
How much more should we work at building and maintaining our relationship with God. We're not just looking at spending 50 years with God, but an eternity. Do we find that worth investing ourselves in? If not, we certainly should.
John 14:2-3 says, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
Jesus is in heaven preparing our eternal home. He has mansions for each of us to dwell in forever and ever. We're not just going to be tenants or renters, but we are going to be homeowners. I believe that He is personalizing our mansions individually and it's going to be ours for all eternity. We won't have to worry about home maintenance, repairs, mortgages, or taxes. But they are going to be ours free and clear.
There is only one way to get one, and that is by accepting Jesus as our personal Savior. When our eternal choices are heaven or hell, how could anyone possibly choose hell over heaven? But each man and woman has to choose for themselves, and the choice isn't forced upon them nor can it be made for them by someone else. Yes God is a God of love, and that's why He is giving each of us the chance while we're on earth to repent of our sins and accept His forgiveness. He doesn't send people to hell, they choose to go there by being too stubborn or too hard-hearted or too dependent upon themselves or too self-righteous to admit their need for a Savior and repent of their sins and ask for God's forgiveness.
If you have never made that decision to accept Jesus into your heart, do so today. Don't wait until you get older, or your circumstances change, or you get sick, or a crisis forces the issue for you; because if you hesitate and continue putting off asking Jesus into your heart, you may end up waiting too long and missing the opportunity to do so.
If you have accepted Jesus into your heart, but have stopped investing in and maintaining your relationship with Him, make a choice right now to make some changes. Storms may come into your life and reek havoc, but Jesus is always there to help you make repairs and you will come out stronger and better than ever.
You've probably all heard Ephesians 5:25 dozens of times. Loretta mentioned that we must maintain our relationship with our spouse, and that we need to maintain our relationship with God in the same way. Ephesians 5:25 is really written to husbands, but it's important to wives, too: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her." That loving relationship is, or at least should be, as close as we can get.
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 small packages French Vanilla instant pudding
3 1/2 cups cold milk
16 ounces Cool Whip
1 package Oreo cookies
Cream softened cream cheese, margarine, and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine pudding and milk; add in Cool Whip. Add the two mixtures together. Let stand for a few minutes. Crush Oreo's, centers and all (works well to put them in a ziplock bag to crush). In a large bowl, start with a layer of crushed Oreo's then layer with the other mixture and continue alternating, ending with a layer of Oreo's on top. Refrigerate several hours until good and firm.
More Church Bulletin Bloopers:
The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
Applications are now being taken for 2-year old nursery workers.
Helpers are needed! Please sign up on the information sheep.
Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.
Hymn: "I Love Thee My Ford."
Don't be a link in a chain of rumors.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon