"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!'"
September 10, 2014
A while back I was babysitting my niece's four kids. The baby was napping and the two girls were downstairs with me watching Curious George. Jax had been upstairs playing in his bedroom, but then I heard him sniffling. Their house is two-story and their office is open on one side, with a railing, and overlooks the living room. I looked up and saw that Jax was sitting on the office floor with his little white legs stuck through the railings. I could see his legs, but he couldn't see me. Before leaving for work, his dad had told him not to play in the office.
I said, "Jax, your daddy told you not to play in the office, so I need you to please get out and close the door. You can come downstairs if you want to watch TV with the girls." I could still see his legs, so knew he wasn't obeying. I told him that he needed to obey and I wanted to hear the office door close. Shortly thereafter, I heard the office door slam shut.
But then a few minutes later, I heard the squeak, squeak, squeak of the door slowly opening. I was pretty sure I knew what had happened. I stood up so that I could see up into the office. Jax had obeyed, up to a point. He had closed the door to the office, but he did so with him still inside. He then found that he had a problem! He needed to get outside, but the door was squeaky. I watched as he slowly opened and closed the door.
I didn't say anything until Jax came downstairs. He came down and sat on my lap and I said, "Jax, did you close the office door with you still inside?" He looked guilty and smiled at me and said, "Uh, yes." I told him that when he disobeyed he would always get caught, so he needed to listen and obey. I think he was a bit surprised that I knew what he had done, because he thought he had closed the door quietly enough where I wouldn't hear and he wouldn't get caught.
No matter our age, we often do the exact same thing with God. We don't want to always do what we know that God would want us to do, so we see how close we can come to doing just enough to appease Him, but not quite doing what He asked. At times it may seem as if we have gotten away with it, but even if no one else ever finds out, we will know. Sometimes having to live with our own conscience or trying to always make sure we cover up or knowing that we chose to do things our own way instead of listening to God is what we have to deal with, until we choose to repent and ask for forgiveness.
I have heard kids who did things when growing up that their parents never found out about, until the child grew up and confessed it to their parents. Other times, kids only thought they got away with something. Often, it's not as much fun as a young person thinks it will be to disobey or rebel, unless someone else knows about it or finds out. The same can often be said about an adult.
There may be times when we think that we're not hurting anyone but ourself when we lie or do something we shouldn't do. We are hurting ourself, but we can also be hurting friends and family who are watching our lives and the example that we're setting. We may also be showing that we don't fully trust God when we do these things.
Twice Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister. In his mind, he thought he was protecting her. But both times he was caught in his deception because God revealed the truth to those whom Abraham had lied to. Both time Abraham was confronted by those whom he had lied to and questioned about his deception. Those whom he had lied to were angry at him for not telling the truth. God had blessed and protected Abraham over and over and over again, yet there were times when Abraham chose to try and do things his own way without fully trusting God. (Genesis chapter 12 and chapter 20)
Don't we often do the same thing? We think that we can handle things better than God. Oh, we will not often blatantly say that, but that is what our words and actions show. If we truly trusted God, truly believed that He would always protect us, truly believed that He always had our best interest at heart -- and truly trusted and believed at all times -- wouldn't we always quickly respond in obedience and faith, even when we didn't understand or know the outcome of our situation or regardless of what others are saying or doing? But sometimes it's easy to try and figure things out on our own and analyze situations and think we can handle it by ourselves.
Honestly, when Jax was sitting in the office upstairs watching the TV down below in the living room, he wasn't hurting anyone. He wasn't hanging off the railing or doing anything dangerous. He was sitting quietly, with his legs dangling through the railing, watching Curious George. I wasn't concerned that he was going to fall or get hurt. So who was he hurting? What did it matter if he sat up there alone watching TV? Because his daddy had told him that he was not to be in the office -- period. Had I allowed him to sit there and not disciplined him, then I would have been just as guilty of disobedience as Jax. I knew that he was not supposed to be in that room because I had heard Jeremy tell Jax not to go in there; therefore, it was my responsibility to see that Jax obeyed. Had I not done so, then I would have been negligent in my duty of being the kid's caretaker at that time.
James 4:17 (NIV) says, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." The NLT simplifies it like this, "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." How can you argue with that?!?
I've heard parents or grandparents (or aunts) discipline a child who disobeys and say something along the lines of, "You knew that you weren't supposed to do that! Why did you do it? You knew better, yet you still did it!"
Hmm...... wonder if that is how God feels about us at times? We know that what we're doing is wrong. We know that we should do better. We know what the right thing to do is. Yet we choose to disobey anyway.
Another thing that is often said to disobedience children is, "Just because your friends are doing something, doesn't make it right. If they were going to jump off a building, would you do it, too? You can't follow other people when you know it's wrong! That will get you into trouble!"
We may not always be following the example of others, though at times we do, but we may be setting an example for our kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, co-workers, friends....... It amazes me how many times I've heard adults curse, then get onto their kids for saying the exact same thing. They are only doing what they see you do. If we want to raise godly children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews, then we have to be godly examples. We can't expect more out of them than what we teach them through what they see in our lives. For example, if you want your kids/grandkids to go to church, then you need to go with them. You want them to pray and learn about the Bible? Then you need to pray with them and let them see you praying; as well as let them see you read the Bible and read Bible stories to them. If we live a life of disobedience, then we really shouldn't expect our families to live any differently.
It is often easy to justify why we have the negative, critical attitudes that we have, and cast the blame on others. It's easy to excuse our own sin, while pointing our finger at someone else. It's also easy to judge our own sin and acts of disobedience to others, and see ourselves as not being so bad. But the bottom line is, we all are going to have to stand before God someday. We're not going to be answering for anyone other than ourselves. I don't think God is going to listen to us cast blame and point fingers at others; they will have to stand before God for themselves. No one can force us to behave in a manner that we don't want to behave. I choose my own attitudes and responses. And honestly, sometimes I hate that, because I'd rather blame someone else instead of having to deal with it myself.
But if what the scripture says is true, and it is, then when I don't do what I know I ought to do, then it's sin. Not sin for someone else, but sin for me. That means that I'm the one that will have to repent of it and get it out of my life. Jon can't repent of my sins, my sisters can't repent of my sins, a respected pastor can't repent for me -- or anyone else. I have to admit that it's sin in my life, and then ask God for forgiveness. Then change my ways and stop doing those things that I know I shouldn't be doing. Don't continue on doing the same sinful behavior over and over again -- but stop it and put it under the blood of Jesus.
In the world we live in now, it seems like people are often held accountable for what others do. If someone runs across your yard, and gets hurt, you can get sued for allowing him to get hurt. There was a case years ago where someone died trying to jump from one truck to another while speeding down the highway, and the parents tried to sue the driver (I don't know the result). It just seems insane how much blame gets shifted around in our world.
But God knows our very hearts. He knows what decisions we've made wrong, and why. It can be both comforting and frightening. He knows when we've planned to do something wrong, even if we didn't really go through with it. But He also knows when we've been tricked, or when someone else is lying about what we've done.
Crispy Chicken Strips
raw chicken breast tenders
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt
Submerge the raw chicken strips in the buttermilk for 15- to 20 minutes. In another bowl, combine the flour and seasoned salt. Mix this together well. Next, gradually drizzle 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into the flour mixture and stir lightly with a fork as you are adding it in to achieve clumps. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Remove a few of the buttermilk-soaked chicken strips and place them in the flour mixture, turning them over to coat thoroughly. Place them on a plate. Continue coating the chicken strips until they are all ready to cook. When the oil is sufficiently heated, begin cooking the strips a few at a time. Cook them for about a minute and a half or so on each side. When golden and crispy and the chicken is done, remove them to a paper-towel-lined plate. Do not allow them to burn.
This goes along with my devotional this week:
The summer I turned six years old, my oldest sister got married and my parents built onto our house. The house up to that point was a living room, kitchen, and two bedroom; and they built on a bathroom, utility room and another bedroom. My cousin, Kevin, lived up the dirt road from us and he would come down and we would play together quite often. He was probably about a year younger than me. My parents had told me that I was not to play with my dad's pocket knife, and if I did, then I would get a spanking.
But one day, Kevin came down to play and he had snuck his dad's pocket knife out of his house. He had seen his dad and some of the other men open the blade of the knife and throw it into the ground, trying to stick the blade into the dirt. That is what he wanted us to do that particular day. So with my parents busy on the building project, I snuck into the house and got my dad's pocket knife off his dresser and took it outside. I didn't fare too well with our new game! When I threw the pocket knife, I apparently flipped my wrist a tad too much and the blade of the knife went into my thigh instead of the ground. Kevin, being the faithful friend that he was, grabbed his dad's knife out of the ground and took off running as fast as he could go back up to road towards home. I had blood streaming down my leg and was crying and Mama ran around the house to see what was wrong. She saw the blood running down my leg and ran over to see what how bad it was. But knowing that I had been told that I would get a spanking if I played with my dad's knife, I took off running. I was running all over the yard, crying and with blood running down my leg with Mama chasing behind me trying to get me to stop and let her see how bad I was hurt. I remember that I kept saying, "No! You'll spank me.... you'll spank me!" She finally promised that she wouldn't spank me (although she probably should have) if I would just let her see my leg. Instead of punishment, she showed much mercy that day. She washed off my leg and bandaged it up and kissed me to make me feel better.
I still have a scar on my thigh as a reminder of my act of disobedience that day! And I have never again thrown a pocket knife and tried to stick it in the dirt!!
I have heard this saying regarding the Bible all of my life, and it is so true:
"Sin can keep you from this book (the Bible); and this book can keep you from sin." - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon