"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!'"
November 26, 2014
When I was somewhere around 3rd or 4th grade, a lot of the girls in my class started wearing the black and white oxford shoes, with the black soles. I really, really wanted a pair like the other girls had. I had begged Mama to buy me a pair of shoes like that. Well, one day I came home from school and Mama had gone to to the store and bought me a pair of black and white oxford shoes. Only they weren't like what the other girls were wearing. These were really heavy and bulky and had kind of a light reddish tint thick sole on them. I was so disappointed.... then Mama was so disappointed, because she thought she had done something special for me.
In retrospect, we didn't have a lot of money and I'm sure that Daddy and Mama didn't have the extra cash to spend on a pair of new oxford shoes for me. Mama had found these in a little shoe store in Reeds Spring, MO and they were on clearance and marked down in price. I'm sure they were all that my parents could afford at that time, and she probably took it out of the grocery money to get the shoes for me.
I did wear the shoes some. Even though I was young, I remember realizing that Mama was so disappointed in my reaction, because she thought I would be excited; so I would wear the shoes occasionally. I was so quiet and shy when I was at school, and I remember feeling embarrassed because the shoes weren't like what the other girls were wearing, and I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. I don't think anyone ever mentioned anything about even noticing my shoes.
Many times our level of gratitude and thankfulness is based upon whether or not we feel that God has blessed us with what we exactly wanted. If we pray and God answers in a different way from what we expected, then we can get surly and pout. God knew what our desire was, why didn't He give that to us? Why did He give us something different?
We may see something that someone else has been blessed with and we want it so badly! We think, "If only God would let me have that......."! God may sometimes give us our desires, but if it's not precisely what we had our heart set on, we fail to see the blessing of the gift.
Psalm 106 and 107 basically begin the same, word for word; except in some translations chapter 106 begins with the words, "Praise ye the Lord!" But then they both say (NLT), "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever."
Chapter 106 give the Israelites as an example. It starts out by saying to give thanks to the Lord...... Verse 2 says, "Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough?" When we stop and think of the protection and health and material things that God blesses us with each day, it is pretty overwhelming. Wow! Can we really ever praise Him enough for all the wonderful things He does for us?
It's sometimes easy to point our finger at the Israelites for their cycle of sin and repentance, after God miraculously delivered them from Egyptian slavery. We would like to think that we would have been more like Moses and Aaron, in having steadfast faith and conversations with God.
But honestly, don't many of us go though life cycling between sin and repentance? We may not build idols and worship them; but we often have the Israelite attitude in other ways. After they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground and God drowned them from their enemy, the Egyptians, "then the people believed His promises... then they sang His praise". (verse 12)
Verse 13 then says, "Yet how quickly they forgot what He had done!"
On and on the story goes. Verses 24-25 say, "The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn't believe His promise to care for them. Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the Lord."
Does that sound familiar? How many times have we failed to believe God's promise to protect, provide, and care for us? We look at our situation and it looks impossible. So instead of stepping out in faith and trusting God to do what He says He will do, we go back to our "tents" and grumble; thereby, refusing to obey the Lord.
Over and over again, whenever the people repented, God would intervene and forgive them and do miracles on their behalf. Lesson learned? No, they seemed to follow this same pattern over and over again.
We often blame human nature on our inability to consistently walk in faith and trust in God. We think we can't help ourselves, that's just the way of the world. The truth is, we can't help ourselves; but when we live in continual close fellowship with God, He will give us the needed strength and help to be victorious over sin. When we're tempted, we should turn to God first for His help to resist temptation; not turn to God after the fact in repentance and remorse.
In Genesis chapter 4, Cain and Abel had just offered their sacrifices to God. God accepted Abel and his gift, but He did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry. (Verse 6) "'Why are you so angry?' the Lord asked Cain. 'Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.'"
We should all take those words to heart. Sin crouches at the door of each of our heart and mind, eager to control us. I believe that God would say the same words to us today as He spoke to Cain. We must subdue it and be sin's master. Don't let sin control us, but we defeat and overcome and be the ruler over sin.
Four times in Psalms chapter 107 it tells us, "Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them."
In spite of our situation, we can always praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." It doesn't say to be thankful FOR all circumstances, but to be thankful IN all circumstances.
Psalm 108:1 says, "My heart is confident in You, O God; no wonder, I can sing your praises with all my heart!"
We can give thanks when our heart is confident in God. When we're putting our confidence in ourselves, other people, our jobs, our churches, etc., we will be disappointed and be filled with grumbling and complaining when things don't go our way. That's also when the sin that is crouching at our door will sneak in and try to control us. But when we have our focus on God, then everything else will fall in order and we can have a heart filled with praise. We can be master over sin and live a victorious life.
We consider the Thanksgiving holiday to be a day in which we say what we're thankful for and think about our blessings; but it shouldn't be just a one day a year thing. Each and every day, we should sing the praises of God with all our hearts.
Some people might be able to read all of Exodus in a single day (probably not me). So we tend to think of it happening over a fairly short period of time. But the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land took 40 years. That's 10 presidential terms. It's long enough for your favorite party to hold the White House, then lose it to the wrong party five times.
We read about Moses going onto Mount Sinai, and returning to find the Israelites worshiping an idol. It seems like they turned away from God as soon as Moses wasn't there to guide them anymore. Exodus 24:18 says it was "forty days and forty nights".
Even without Moses for just over a month, it seems far fetched that they would start bowing down to a gold statue. Most of the cultures in the area did worship statues of one kind or another, treating them as if they had control over battles, weather, and harvests. But the Israelites had been following God as a pillar of fire by night or smoke by day. They walked through a seabed between two walls of water. They had been given food and water through miracles.
Without Moses to teach them and lead them, they had a lot of time to sit and worry, and to wonder. They felt like they had to give worship, but didn't know where to bow down, so they asked Aaron to make them a thing they could call God. They confused God with a thing, and expected Him to place Himself solely in a little statue. But God isn't in a statue, or in a painting, a cross on the wall, or even a Bible. He is all over, though. Especially in our hearts, if we will invite Him.
Pecan Pumpkin Dessert
2 cans solid-pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can evaporated milk
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 cup chopped pecans
Line a 9x13 baking pan with waxed paper and coat the paper with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin, milk, and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Put the dry cake mix on top evenly and drizzle the entire top with the melted butter. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert onto a large serving platter; carefully remove the waxed paper. Frost the dessert (recipe below) and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
12 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip. Frost dessert.
Last year both Jon and I had itchy, dry skin and none of the store-bought lotions we were using were working very well. I found a recipe for a homemade lotion that I made, and we both thought it worked well and liked it. I shared some of it with my sister and she really likes it, too. I just made up a new batch for this winter and thought I'd share the recipe with you:
15 ounces Baby Lotion (I use the regular pink Johnson's Baby Lotion)
Large Container Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
8 ounces Vitamin E Cream (make sure it's Vitamin E Cream -- NOT Vitamin E Lotion)
Dump the three ingredients in a bowl and use your hand mixer to mix it up until thoroughly combined. Put in lidded jars or containers to store.
(Note: At Walmart, the Vitamin E cream came in a double pack and each container was 4 ounces, so I used them both. The lotion may feel a little oily at first, but soaks in very quickly, so I think it's fine. If you don't like that, you could probably use the 8 ounce container of Vaseline instead of the 13 ounce.
The practice of thankfulness is the enemy of entitlement and the cure for comparison.
When we focus on what we do have instead of what we don't have,
"I deserve" becomes "life isn't perfect, but it's good". - Luke Lang
We love you!
Loretta & Jon