"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!'"
December 11, 2013
We often don't realize that we lack something, until we have need of it. In life, we can't foresee or anticipate everything we might have use of or need, until a situation arises that requires it.
For instance, neither Jon nor I have any snow or rain boots, and have never even considered that we had need of them. Until this past week, when it snowed and we had to take our dog outside. The first morning after we received snow, Jon got up to take Sammie out. Generally when we take him out, we slip on our house-shoes, which is what Jon did. He came back upstairs and said that he had made a big mistake by wearing his house-shoes and they just weren't going to get the job done. His feet were cold and wet, and snow had got inside his shoes. After Jon left for work, I was looking for shoes that I could slip on whenever Sammie needed to go outside, and realized that I really didn't have anything appropriate. Now we know that we need to invest in winter boots.
A scripture has been on my mind this week. Matthew 6:8b says, "....for your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask Him." We may not always know what we have need of, but God sees and knows our future and knows exactly what we will have need of, before we even ask or know ourselves.
After the birth of Jesus, there were three wise men who journeyed to see the Messiah. They presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were not just common everyday gifts, but were valued treasures.
Soon thereafter, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."
Joseph was a carpenter by trade, which from what I have read, was not a glamorous trade; nor did it bring in a lot of income. He and Mary had traveled to Bethlehem just prior to the birth of Jesus to fulfill a census requirement, so he had already missed those days of work and lost income. Now, instead of going back home as soon as Mary recuperated enough to make the trip, he was instructed to make an unscheduled journey to Egypt. He was taking them to a country where he likely had never been. He didn't have a reputation as a respected carpenter in Egypt, so it would take time to get work or his business established, in order to support his family. This is pure speculation on my part; but perhaps the reason God had sent the wise men to go visit Jesus after His birth, and the reason they brought valued treasures, were to finance the unexpected journey to Egypt. God knew that Joseph had need of finances and needed something of value to sell, while in Egypt. God knew what Joseph had need of before he even asked.
Just days prior to my brother-in-law being diagnosed with a brain tumor, he and my sister had changed insurance. As we all know, a new insurance often doesn't want to pay if they can prove that something was an existing condition. My sister was concerned about medical bills and how things would get paid. Long story short -- the new insurance ended up paying most medical bills and they were able to get the chemo pills directly from the manufacturer for free. Generous gifts of others covered the rest, as well as help with household expenses, while neither was able to work. My brother-in-law had a major surgery, chemo, radiation, and numerous MRI's. When he passed away a year later, there was absolutely no debt or medical expense owed. Doctors told my sister that had she stayed on the previous insurance, she would have had mountains of debt. God knew what she had need of before she even knew to ask.
In comparison, needing winter boots seem insignificant in terms of need. We can often have a small need, and when we compare it to the need of someone else, it seems unimportant and we feel guilty for even mentioning it. But however small, it is a need for us at that moment, which makes it important. God has not provided us with the needed boots, but He has provided us with the finances to purchase the boots. If we choose to not purchase them, we could end up getting wet, cold feet and could possibly end up getting a cold or worse. It's up to us to use the resources that God has provided for us to meet the present need that we have.
Other times, our need can feel so overwhelming that it feels impossible and we get discouraged looking at our situation. But there is nothing too difficult for God. Nothing is too big, nor is it too small. God cares about the little details, such as how many hairs we have on our head. He also cares about the little sparrow and feeds them. God also has raised the dead, opened blinded eyes, caused an earthquake to open prison doors, filled the widow woman's oil so that it didn't deplete during famine, caused the stone of a shepherd boy's sling to slay a giant, flattened the walls of Jericho at the sound of the trumpets of the Israelites, protected Jonah those three days that he was in the belly of a big fish...... it's all there in the Bible. NOTHING is impossible with God -- absolutely nothing!
Sometimes God may use others to provide for our needs, and at others He may provide the resources for us to use ourselves.
We've all heard versions of this joke: A flood occurred and a man was stranded in his house. The water kept rising and he had to keep climbing up higher and higher until he ended up on top of the roof. A boat came by and they tried to get the man to get in, but he replied that God was going to rescue him. Next a helicopter came by and threw down a ladder and encouraged the man to climb up to safety, but once again he said he was waiting on God to save him. The man died and when he got to heaven he asked God why he hadn't saved him. God replied, "I sent you a boat and a helicopter!!"
Whether you are in need of snow boots, safety and protection for your family, finances and provision; God knows your need before you even ask. If we will listen and obey, He will provide the needed resources to meet that need.
God seems to know that Loretta and I need to get to church about 5-10 minutes before the service each Sunday. We figured out a good time to leave so we would get to church on time, and for weeks left at that time. But we always seemed to get there about 5 minutes early. So we started leaving about 5 minutes later. We started to get there about 10 minutes early. We left another 10 minutes later, and still seem to get there 5-10 minutes early. I hate to keep that up. It would be too disturbing to me to get to church before we leave.
I'm not sure why we always arrive early. Maybe we need time visiting with others. Or maybe they need to see us. One of the other members of the church always makes a point of giving us each a hug and thanking us for coming. It's good for us, but also good for him.
Whatever the reason, we don't fight it. We just enjoy the extra time to shake hands and visit, and let God take advantage of the time however He sees fit.
Granny Schwyhart's Fudge
(This is one of my favorite fudge recipe! It was given to my sister by her husband's grandmother several years ago.)
1 can evaporated milk
1 jar marshmallow cream
4-1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter
24 oz. Nestle chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
Put evaporated milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Stir constantly to keep from scorching after 4-1/2 minutes. In a large bowl put all other ingredients. Pour boiling mixture over ingredients in bowl. Stir until glossy. Pour in buttered pan.
This Christmas season I encourage you to choose someone and do an act of kindness. It doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant. Maybe it's doing a little extra for someone who has been an encouragement or help to you this past year. Or perhaps it's doing something for a neighbor. The past few days I've read of examples that have made me stop and think about what I would like to do and for whom. Here are a few acts of kindness that others have done or experienced the past few days:
A young lady had someone in the car ahead of her pay for her coffee at a Starbucks.
Two different families baked cookies or made fudge. One made up plates and took them to all her neighbors. Another made up plates and the entire family went to deliver them to various people.
There is another lady who bakes up multiple batches of pumpkin bread each year and she and her sons deliver them to families in their community.
One time Jon and I were eating lunch at a restaurant after a Sunday service. We saw an elderly couple from our church sitting across the restaurant and asked our waitress if we could pay for their ticket, without them knowing who did it. She was happy to get it from the couple's waitress and allow us to pay. That night at church the lady was visiting with me and told me, "We were eating lunch today and when we got ready to pay, our waitress told us that someone had already paid for our meal. I have no idea who did it! We've never had anyone do that for us before." I didn't tell her that it was me and Jon, because her not knowing and being surprised and excited, was part of the gift.
There are many ideas that doesn't involve cooking: giving of a gift card inside a thank you card; writing a letter of thanks and sending it to someone special who has meant a lot to you this past year; tipping extra at a restaurant and writing a note of thanks to your waiter/waitress on back of your ticket; participating in buying a gift for a child whose name is on an angel tree; surprising an old friend, whom you haven't visited with in a long time, with an unexpected phone call.......... Be creative -- there are so many ideas!
It is better to give an inexpensive gift with a smile than an expensive one with a frown. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon