"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!'"
April 16, 2014
When a couple falls in love and starts planning their life together, they believe that they can conquer anything. It doesn't matter what other married couples tell them, they think that their love is stronger and different from other people, and that they will always be head over heels in love and be able to overcome whatever comes their way.
But after the newlywed bliss mellows and they become immersed in daily life, they find that perhaps they're not quite so different from other married couples as they thought they would be. Dealing with finances is probably one of the biggest issues. There may also be unexpected health problems, job loss, a struggle to conceive a child or a miscarriage, unplanned and un-budgeted expenses such as a major car repair or a broken appliance, etc. Sometimes it's just the struggle of dealing with day to day living; working full-time jobs while trying to keep the house clean, meals cooked and dishes washed, lawn mowed, bills paid and checkbook balanced, groceries bought, errands ran..... and the general busyness that seems to consume most people. Life gets tough, and you have to figure out how to deal with it with your spouse, and not go running to parents or best friends for help. You suddenly realize that other couples, who had tried to prepare you for this, knew what they were really talking about, and you're not exempt after all.
Other times it may not be anything big that occurs, but the routine of working and taking care of day to day responsibilities becomes tiring and boring. The husband no longer surprises his wife with flowers, hand-written notes or cards, and doesn't help around the house or help cook meals as he did when they were first married, and doesn't listen to what she has to say. On the other hand, the husband thinks that the wife no longer tries to be romantic, throws the quickest meal on the table that she can instead of the home-cooked meals she prepared when they were first married, spends too much money, and complains and nags about what he doesn't do or should be doing much more than he thinks necessary, and talks too much. Over time, instead of eating dinner at the table with occasional candlelight the couple now finds themselves kicked back in front of the TV during meal time. Add kids to the mix and suddenly there is very little romance, very little time together, all money and focus is on the kids and their needs, finances are even tighter, and life gets busier and harder. That's when bickering and snipping and nit-picking at each other can begin; or very little conversation at all, except when needed.
Perhaps that is why there are so many divorces. Marriage doesn't meet with initial expectations. Life gets tough and marriage takes work. Or couples find themselves in a daily pattern (or some may call it a rut); one spouse is completely satisfied with having the unchanging daily routine and sameness, while the other spouse desires a little more excitement and variation and senses that the marriage is boring and dull, so they decide that they need a change and want out of the marriage.
These same principles can be applies spiritually. When we first become a christian, life seems joyful and we are so grateful for the forgiveness and grace of God. The peace of mind and the hope that we have in Jesus fills our heart with thankfulness. We think that feeling will never go away. We feel overwhelmed with the price Jesus paid for our sins so that we can experience salvation.
But life happens. Somewhere along the way we will experience some type of heartache or trial or temptation. Sometimes when that occurs, we feel as if God has forgotten us or may even be punishing us for something in our past or a sin that we committed in the present. Suddenly, we have to make a choice on whether we are going to hold fast to our relationship with God and trust Him regardless of what happens, or if we're going to choose to "divorce" Him and sever that commitment we made to be His bride and remain faithful to Him.
In John 16:33 Jesus is speaking and says, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
Often we fall into the rut of complacency and we assume that God will always be in our life, but put little time or energy into our relationship. The only time we really communicate with Him is when we really want or need something. We take God for granted and forget the joy we felt when we first became a christian.
Matthew chapter 24 speaks of the signs to look for before the second coming of Christ. Verse 12 says, "Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold."
Love for Jesus that was once filled with passion (zeal, vigor, enthusiasm, spirit, fervency) becomes complacent and cold. The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus no longer fills hearts with awe and thankfulness. It has become an old story that we've heard so many times that it doesn't really mean anything to us anymore. It evokes no emotion or feeling of deep love for what Jesus did for us.
This coming Sunday we will celebrate Easter. What does it really mean to you? I'm not talking about being able to repeat the words that you've read in the Bible or sermons you've heard on this subject; I'm talking about personally, what does it REALLY mean when you think of Easter? What do you feel in your heart when you think about what/Who we will be celebrating on Sunday? Has it just become a fun day for egg hunts for the kids and family dinners? Has it become that one special Sunday of the year when you dress up for church.... or that one Sunday when you attend church? Is there any special significance about Easter? Or has it just become another Sunday -- that day when you have to listen to that same old boring sermon that you hear year after year on Easter? There is nothing wrong with spending time with family, egg hunts, or dressing up for church. But if that is all Easter means to you, then you have missed the point of what the day is all about.
I pray that this Easter we will all (myself included) really remember and think about what happened over 2,000 years ago. God sent His only beloved Son to earth especially for you, me, and all mankind. He sent Jesus specifically to pay the price for our sins. When Jesus left heaven to come to earth, God knew what lay ahead for His Son. He knew the rejection, suffering, torment, and crucifixion that His only Son would have to endure. I'm sure it broke His heart! Yet God also knew that the only way mankind could experience salvation and forgiveness of sins was by Him giving His Son. But God also knew that death and the grave could not hold His Son captive! He knew that Jesus would rise forth from that grave and live again. He knew that Jesus would then ascend back to heaven to be forever with Him. The only time that Jesus will ever leave His Father again will be when He returns to rapture all those who believe and have accepted the gift of salvation, and take them to heaven to live for all eternity with Him and His Father. But that is going to occur in the twinkling of an eye. He will not be leaving heaven for 33 years, like He did when He came the first time. At that time, all of God's children will be together in heaven for all eternity, and there will be no more separation.
"For God so loved the world (that means He loved you and me), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (again that means me and you) believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3-16
My desire is that that I will never lose the wonder and thankfulness for the price Jesus paid for me, so that I can have forgiveness and everlasting life. And if I ever begin falling into a rut of ungratefulness and taking this gift for granted, I pray that God will remind me once again of what Jesus did for me on the cross and make it new in my heart.
I think the emotion I most associate with Easter is relief.
Good Friday is the day we 'celebrate' the crucifixion. That is the day Jesus gave himself and died to pay the price we all owe. And even after accepting His sacrifice to erase my sins, I've sinned. I'm grateful to the point I owe my life to Jesus for giving me His. But I still need that sacrifice. And I could never repay that debt.
On Easter, though, we celebrate His resurrection. Even though He did suffer beating and death, He came back. I'm relieved in several ways. Mainly, I'm relieved that He didn't die an eternal death for me. I'm also relieved because if He hadn't come back, He would have been lying when He told His disciples, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up." And if He had been lying, we couldn't count on all the other promises He made, like that he was making a new home for us with His Father.
Strawberry Trifle Dessert
3 cups cold milk
2 small pkg instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 prepared angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 large container Cool Whip, thawed
In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Place a third of the cake cubes in a trifle bowl or 3-1/2 quart serving bowl. Top with a third of the pudding; sprinkle with 1 cup of sliced strawberries and 1 cup blueberries; then layer with a third of the Cool Whip. Repeat layers of cake, pudding, strawberries and blueberries, and Cool Whip -- making three layers. Sprinkle top of Cool Whip with remaining fruit. You can add in raspberries, if desired.
**Also, you can bake an angel food cake instead of using a pre-prepared one if you would like. I have also made the cake using a French Vanilla cake mix. I baked the cake in a 9x13 pan, then after it cooled, I cut into cubes and layered as instructed.
When I was a kid, using plastic eggs for the Easter egg hunt was unheard of. Mama would hard-boil the eggs, then we would dye the shells to make them pretty. After the egg hunt the next day, we would always eat the boiled eggs.
While in Germany, I was at a small grocery store one day and sitting at the end of one of the aisles was a display of cartons of hard-boiled eggs. The eggs were all dyed really pretty. I'm not sure if the eggs are boiled in something other than water to preserve them longer or if it's the same process we use here. They weren't kept in coolers.
I found it interesting the fear that most Americans have nowadays of eating anything that has been left sitting out, and many are afraid of eating boiled eggs that have been lying around for a day or two; but it never hurt anyone, as far as I know, when I was growing up. Then in Germany, being sold in cartons without being refrigerated was the norm.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Verse 3 to the hymn It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio G Spafford)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon