"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 28, 2012
The song "Through It All" by Andre Crouch has been on my mind this week. The lyrics to one of the verses and the chorus are as follows:
"I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys; I thank Him for the storms He brought me through. For if I'd never had a problem, I wouldn't know that God could solve them; I'd never know what faith in God could do. Through it all, through it all; I've learned to trust in Jesus. I've learned to trust in God. Through it all, through it all; I've learned to depend upon His word."
None of us enjoy going through difficult situations, but if we never had to deal with problems then we would never know what our faith in God could accomplish. The testing of our faith is what strengthens us. We would have no need for God if life were perfect and we could get by on our own.
One of my favorite hymns is "Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus".
"Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise, just to know, 'Thus saith the Lord.' Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I've proved Him o'er and o'er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. Oh, for grace to trust Him more."
There is something very comforting in knowing that I can place my trust in Jesus. That doesn't mean that He will always work things out according to my liking, but that He will work it out for my good. Even though I may not always see the good in it at the moment, and sometimes may not ever truly understand the why's of certain situations, I can still trust that God is in control and loves me.
The last verse to that hymn says, "I'm so glad I learned to trust Him; precious Jesus, Savior, Friend. And I know that He is with me; will be with me to the end."
Trusting God is not something that comes naturally, neither is it an internal instinct, but it is something that has to be learned. We learn that we can trust God when we put our faith in Him and allow Him to teach and instruct and guide our lives.
Sadly, that is not always our response to problems and adverse circumstances; and it has been that way throughout history since the beginning of time.
In John chapter six, Jesus is teaching a multitude of people and many began grumbling because they disagreed with His message and didn't want to hear what He had to say. On hearing the words of Jesus their response was, "This is a hard and difficult and strange saying -- an offensive and unbearable message. Who can stand to hear it? Who can be expected to listen to such teaching?"
We often have this idealized thinking regarding those who were alive and present during the days of Jesus, assuming that they all spent their time setting around His feet hanging on His every word; and often think that's what our response would be should we have been living back during that time. But I dare say that's not how it was back then, and not how many of us would have responded.
Many didn't recognize and believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The religious leaders were constantly trying to find fault in His message and followed Him to try to find a reason to destroy Him. Sin ran rampant and there was much unrest, must like there is today. Jesus wasn't a popular man and many didn't want to be associated with Him. Even those who were closest to Him found it hard to be strong in their faith when it was tested.
Jesus knew that there were those who were followed Him who would betray Him and some who didn't believe. I don't think He just shrugged it off as being of no account and thought, "Oh well, it's their loss!," but I think it broke His heart and He was saddened by their unbelief; just as He feels about the unbelief of individuals today.
Those who were grumbling about the teaching of Jesus turned back and no longer followed Him.
Jesus asked His twelve disciples, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"
Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
The night that Jimmy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, my sister, Janie, was sitting alone beside his hospital bed in Phoenix, AZ. She has shared that while sitting there, stunned by the diagnosis she had just heard, she heard an almost audible voice speak to her that asked, "Will you leave Me now?" She knew in her heart that it was God asking her this question. Her response was, "Lord, where would I go?" Janie knew that even though they were facing a difficult situation, that God was their only hope and that there was no one else to whom she could run.
At the time, Janie had no idea what lay ahead of them or what the following year would hold in store. In her heart, she thought that this meant that there would be hard times ahead and that Jimmy would have to deal with the consequences of this brain tumor, but then she thought that he would receive his healing and be okay. What an awesome testimony that would have been to share with the deaf (and hearing) around the world!
Yet that was not God's plan. His plan was to take Jimmy home to be with Him. That was not what Janie and Jimmy thought was going to happen or what they wanted to happen. Yet, we know that Jimmy is now in Heaven and that he ran and finished the race that God had set before him. And although the family mourns this loss, they know that becoming bitter towards God is not the solution to their prayers not being answered as they had hoped. Janie has stated that her faith has become stronger because she has realized that she has to rely on God and put her complete trust in Him, even when she doesn't understand or it doesn't make sense. Her dependence on God has become more secure and stronger than ever before.
We all will face situations in our life where things don't happen as we had planned or as we had hoped. Sometimes it may be something that is completely out of our control. It may be a choice that someone else makes that affects our life. It may be a sickness or disease that either we ourselves or a loved one has to deal with. It may be a loss of job or financial security. It may be a natural disaster that destroys our home and everything that we own. It may be not being able to take a trip or do something or buy something that we really want. It may be a disappointment that we have to deal with. Family and life situations are things that we all have to deal with.
What is our response going to be when those things happen? Are we going to be like those followers of Jesus that grumbled and thought what He was saying and expecting of them was too hard, so they turned back to their old life of sin and chose to no longer follow Him? Or will we be like the faithful twelve, and say, "Lord, there is no one else to whom we could turn to or follow! For You are the only one who promises us eternal life!"
Determining in our hearts to follow Jesus, no matter what may happen, is the one and only thing that will bring us a measure of peace and hope of eternal life. The thing is, bad things and problems will happen to us all, regardless if we chose to follow Jesus or not. But the huge difference is the measure of peace and joy that God can give us in the midst of all circumstances if we decide to remain committed to Him and put our complete faith in Him. He will give us hope, not only in our life here on earth, but the hope of spending eternity with Him.
Our pastor mentioned something in the sermon Sunday. He mentioned that kids and adults often look for their mommy to help them and comfort them if they are sick or hurt. They look to their father if they mess up their lives.
I was curious about his choice of words, "mommy" and "father". There is a big difference between the formal words "mother" and "father", and the more intimate, "mommy" and "daddy". Even as a kid, I thought "mommy" and "daddy" sounded childish, so avoided them. His main point was about how children can feel like they are orphans, even when they have a father and mother. Sometimes, they need a mommy and daddy more than just a mother and father. A mother and father are needed to produce a child, but it takes a mommy and daddy to raise a child.
When Jesus was praying on the mount, the night before his crucifixion, he prayed to "Abba, Father" (Mark 14:36). I understand "abba" is the Hebrew version of "daddy". So often, we get so wrapped up in thinking of God as just "Father". He is also Abba, or our heavenly Daddy.
Mama's Cocoa Gravy
(We grew up eating this for breakfast, and it's still one of my favorites.)
Approximately 1 1/2 quarts of milk
Pinch of Salt
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
4 Tbsp. Cocoa
3 Tbsp. Flour
Pour milk into a 2 quart saucepan and begin to warm until milk steams. In a bowl mix sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt. Add enough warm milk from the saucepan to the mixture to make a pourable sauce. Stir well to make sure there are no lumps. When the milk in the pan begins to steam, pour in the mixture from the bowl very slowly, stirring constantly. Cook until it bubbles and thickens; making sure you keep stirring. Remove from heat and add butter (approximately 1-2 tablespoons), and vanilla. Serve over hot biscuits.
I was babysitting Jax this past Monday and we were talking as we drove from his house to mine. I said something to him about "your mom". He told me, "I don't call her mom. I call her mama or Janee'." He often will call her Janee' when talking to his daddy, as if Jeremy won't know who he's talking about if he says mama. I asked what he called his dad. Jax said, "Hmm.... I don't know. I think I call him McCrate (which is their last name)." I'm pretty sure he was trying to think of his dad's first name and couldn't come up with Jeremy, and McCrate was the only name he could think of.
You can't HAVE thanks; you can only GIVE it. - Luke Lang
We love you!
Loretta & Jon