"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!'"
February 5, 2014
I have been attending a ladies Bible study and the topic is about our bodies being the temple of God. That is a hard concept for me to truly grasp. It's hard to comprehend that the God who created this universe would want to dwell in my heart; and that He sees me as someone unique and special. I have been praying that God would help me see myself as He sees me; and that I would truly understand the value and worth that He sees in me.
Psalm 139:14 (NLT) says, "Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it." The first part of that scripture in other translations words it, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."
In Jeremiah 1:5, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah and said, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations."
Before God even formed us in our mothers' womb -- before our conception -- He knew us! Before my mother gave birth and she and my father laid eyes upon me for the very first time -- God had already seen me and knew me. In fact, during the nine months that I was in my mother's womb, God was shaping and forming me and involved in every part of my creation. Out of the billions and billions of people who have lived since Adam and Eve, there has never been anyone exactly like me -- or you. God created each of us to be unique and one of a kind.
So knowing that God knew us before we were even formed in our mother's womb -- and knowing that He was involved in every single detail of shaping us -- and knowing that He made us so wonderfully complex..... how can we deny that He isn't concerned or doesn't care about every detail in our lives?
Just because God may not answer every prayer the way we want doesn't mean He doesn't care. When bad things happen and we have to endure hardships, it doesn't mean that God has stopped loving us or is punishing us for some wrong-doing. We are not going to understand why everything that happens in our life occurs. Not everything is going to make sense or be understood. But God's thinking far exceeds ours and He sees the big picture.
A while back I was worrying about a particular person. They feel that God is leading them to do something that could be potentially dangerous, and I was having a hard time saying, "NO! You cannot go.... you can't do this.... I do not like this...." I kept praying about it and trying to keep my opinion to myself. Jon and I were talking about it and he told me this bit of wisdom: "We often put so much value on our life here on earth that we forget that God has a better place prepared for us. We are so focused on doing everything we can to be safe and survive that we miss out on a far greater purpose that God has for us."
It made me stop and think that if we fail to trust God and believe in the great love He has for us, then we will miss out on our purpose for being on this earth. If we walk in fear and worry and are afraid to walk in obedience, then we will miss out on knowing the peace that God can give in the midst of trials or tribulation or in difficult day to day activities.
My sister has been burdened for a particular country and has been praying for the people there; especially the christians who are being persecuted. During one of her prayer times she heard the Lord speak to her heart and say, "I love the people there just as much as I love your children." That brought to her an understanding of the great love that God has for all mankind; that no matter our nationality or situation or background, God loves us all equally. When it was put in perspective that God loved them just as much as He does her children, it gave her a clearer vision and perspective.
It doesn't matter if you come from a strong family unit or were raised in a dysfunctional situation, God loves us each the same. God doesn't love Americans more than He does those living in communist or poor nations. Whether an individual has the freedom to openly worship, or is persecuted for their faith doesn't mean that God is blessing one and punishing the other. Someone being rich or spoiled or being in a position of prestige doesn't make them more loved or valued by God. On the other hand, someone being poor and downtrodden and living in a box on the street doesn't lessen their value to God. God formed and created each and every person on this earth and He sees us all. God loves and values us all and sees worth in us.
I don't pretend to understand why so many have to live in such harsh conditions. I cannot even begin to imagine living in the circumstances that some of the people in this world have to live in day after day. But possibly if that was all I'd known all my life, then it would be the norm. Then again, maybe not. Would living under oppression or fear of persecution ever feel normal? I don't know! But I have to believe that God has a plan for each person on earth and formed them for a special purpose and plan; but it's up to each one to follow what God places them here for.
The main purpose for all mankind is salvation. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world (every nation, every country, every city, every town, every jungle, every desert, every mansion, every hovel) that He gave His only Son (Jesus) that whosoever (you, me, and every single human that has ever lived upon earth since Adam and Eve) believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." After accepting the gift of salvation and eternal life, how we spend our days and live our life is then up to us. Will we allow the things we go through to shape and mold us into better people, or will we allow them to make us bitter and harden our heart?
I believe that God shapes our lives by each circumstance we go through. Perhaps it is to prepare us for something bigger in the future; perhaps it's to strengthen and teach us for an adverse situation down the road; perhaps it's to build up our relationship with Him... or our relationship with others; perhaps it's to teach us to rely on Him; or perhaps it's to use us as a help and encouragement to someone who goes through a similar situation. I believe when we do go through tough times, if we'd look back, we'd see that God often prepared us for that particular moment in time. And many times He also prepared others and placed them in our life at the right time so that they can walk through our valleys with us, lending strength and encouragement and support.
None of us were a mistake, but God took the time to design us and know us before we were formed in our mothers' wombs. When you feel like giving up or feel like life it too hard or feel like God has forgotten about you, remember these scriptures and allow God to reaffirm His great love for you.
When I asked Loretta to marry me, she didn't say a word. She just snatched for the ring. But I was quick enough to pull it back, and ask here again. I wanted a "Yes" before I was going to give up a ring.
God has great things for us, especially His forgiveness. But He wants a "Yes" first. We have to commit ourselves to Him just like Loretta had to commit to me before she could have the ring I had designed and had made just for her.
(This is one of the first recipes I learn to cook by myself.)
2 cans of Canned Biscuits
8 oz. Tomato Sauce
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 cup Green Pepper, chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp. Oregano
Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper; drain. Add to skillet and stir in tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and oregano. Separate biscuits and pat each one to a 5 inch circle. Place a heaping tablespoonful of meat mixture on each biscuit. Fold in half and seal edges together with a fork (as you would do if making a fried pie). Deep fry in 2 inches of oil at 375 until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a paper towel. If you prefer not to fry, you can also bake in oven at 350 until lightly browned. Makes 20-24 foldovers.
Nine years ago today, Jon proposed to me and asked me to become his wife. In many ways it seems as if it that happened much longer ago. A lot has happened since that memorable day in 2005. For one thing, Jon proposed to me on Jimmy and Janie's (my sister) anniversary; but it so happened that Jimmy was out of town ministering that particular year. Also, my oldest sister and her son -- who also happens to be my oldest nephew -- had brought my dad and June down for a visit that day. Jon wanted to ask my dad's permission to marry me before proposing. I had no idea that Jon had the engagement ring in his pocket and was waiting for an opportunity to talk to Daddy without me being in the room.... if so, I would have left the room as soon as we had arrived! While I was in the bathroom, Jon asked my dad -- in front of the rest of the family. That surprised me, because Jon was a little quieter and shyer at that time. I came out of the bathroom and Jon knelt down in front of me and proposed in front of my family, who were present, that day. HE says I grabbed the ring without saying yes first..... I think I did it at the same time! In my defense, I knew that he had the ring back before Christmas and was eventually going to propose, so had waited several weeks for this to happen. Since I hadn't received it Christmas, I thought perhaps he was going to wait until Valentine's Day. I had no idea he was just waiting for a chance to ask Daddy first..... or I would have invited my dad down before then!!
Since that special day in my life, both Daddy and Jimmy have gone to be with the Lord. I have always been so grateful that God allowed my dad to be there for the proposal and also for being there to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day.
For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God.
Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be His own special treasure.
Deuteronomy 7:6 (NLT)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon