"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!'"
October 9, 2013
A while back, Jax, my 4 year old great-nephew, had disobeyed his mom and she told him that he had to go to time out. Jax asked, "Mama, are you my friend?" "Yes." "Well, friends don't put friends in time out!" Smarty-pants! He found out that the role of mama trumps the friend relationship and he had to go sit in time out. At the time, Jax's mom didn't find this as humorous and clever as the rest of us did!
It's amazing the depths of creative genius many of us will go to, when we know we've disobeyed God or have grown slack in our relationship with Him, to try and justify our actions. Instead of repenting and making things right, we will spend our time making excuses and trying to appease our guilty conscious. We may even point our finger at others, either casting blame on them for causing us to stumble or pointing out their flaws, pointing out that they are so much worse than we are! We will pick someone who it seems has done much worse things that we have done, in order to try to make ourselves appear to look better; or perhaps to try to get attention off us and onto someone else.
The thing is, God really isn't interested in our judgement or opinion of others. He is looking at our heart and holds us each accountable for ourselves.
John 15:15 (NIV) says, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
Much like Jax questioned his mama when he had disobeyed and was trying to find an escape from his punishment, we often do the same with God when we've disobeyed. Instead of saying, "Sorry" and repenting for our wrongdoing, we will search for an escape route. "Jesus, are You my friend? Remember that John 15:15 says that you call me Your friend! Friends don't punish friends!"
It is during those times when God looks at us and says, "I am your friend! But first and foremost, I am your Father! And I would not be doing my job if I didn't discipline you in order for you to learn and grow and mature. I'm not doing it to be mean, but because I love you." If God didn't love us, then He wouldn't care what we did. It's because of His great love for us that it breaks His heart when we disobey, therefore, He metes out discipline in order to restore us back to right relationship with Him.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV) tells us, "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in."
In Hebrews 12:5-11 (NLT) says it like this: "Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, 'My child, don't make light of the Lord's discipline, and don't give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.' As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never discipline by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn't we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening -- it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."
I keep seeing again and again when kids get into trouble that they demand to know how their parents knew they did something wrong. They seem to think "innocent till proven guilty" applies to them, and their parents aren't allowed to punish them without sharing all their proof. I know that when I was young, I wanted to hear the proof against me so I'd know how to cover it up better next time, especially when I thought I had covered up all the evidence.
Our heavenly Father doesn't have to have proof. He knows our hearts. Trying to hide our sins from God is just embarrassing.
There are several things that I've heard debated whether they are a sin or not. One of the more common is wine. Some people insist that drinking any alcohol is a sin, even though the Bible only says not to drink to excess. Some say there is nothing wrong with it. I believe it can be okay for one person, while a sin for another. Romans 14:5 says, "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." (It is referring to picking certain days as holy, but I think it relates.) Acts 10 relates closer. Peter was given a dream in which he was told three times to eat food he always considered a sin, but verse 15 says, "And the voice came to him again a second time, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.'" to tell him that what is sin or not is up to God. I don't plan to quote the entire chapter, but recommend it.
Probably the most sure way to know if what you are doing is a sin is whether you want to hide it from God. If you would love to cover up the evidence, and keep it secret, it's a sin. If you can embrase God in your heart while doing it, it isn't a sin.
Green Bean Casserole
2 cans French-Style green beans
1/8 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup milk
1 can French-Fried onions
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Combine all ingredients, using 1/2 can of the French-fried onions. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onions and bake 5 minutes longer.
Jon and I don't travel extensively, but we do go to our property in the country as often as possible; and I go with him when possibly when he goes out of town for work. One thing I finally learned to do that makes things much easier, to make sure I don't forget bathroom/personal items (toothbrush/toothpaste, deodrant, razor, hairbrush, Advil, Tums, contact solution, etc), is to keep a tote bag packed with those things at all times. It was an initial cost, but in the long run is much easier; and probably more cost effective because we're not having to run to the store to get items we've forgotten. Now when I pack, I only have to pack clothes and then grab the tote that is already packed with these other items, which makes it go faster and easier. When we run out of something, I make a note and replace it right away instead of waiting until the next time we travel, so that I don't forget to buy it.
There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn't jump puddles for you. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon