"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!'"
June 10, 2015
Recently, I was at my sister's house babysitting two of her grandkids while she ran an errand. Owen is almost three and Jovie is a year and a half. Overall, these two play well together; unless Jovie wants to play with the matchbox cars! Owen loves playing with these little cars, and really doesn't like anyone else touching them. He has pretty much taken ownership over them, even though his grandma reminds him that they are really "her" cars, which means they have to be shared with the other kids.
Owen was playing with the cars, and Jovie reached over to take one. He didn't want her to have it, and I saw his little hand moving towards the car to take it back. I told him, "No. There are enough cars for the two of you; you have to share with Jovie." Owen got the saddest look on his face, and the way he was holding his hands by his face let me know that he was trying his hardest not to cry. He really wanted that car back!
Later, my sister arrived back home and we were watching the two kids play. Jovie reached over to get one of Owen's cars, and he told her no. His grandma told him that he had to share and give Jovie one of the cars. He would point at one and say, "She can have this one, Grandma." My sister would say, "Okay, give it to Jovie." He would keep pointing at the car saying that Jovie could have it, but just couldn't seem to make himself pick it up and hand it to her. Finally, he handed it over, then immediately decided that he wanted it back and she could have another car. His grandma told him, "That's fine, but you have to give her another car." It was really, really difficult for him to give up one of the numerous matchbox cars to Jovie!!
We often have that same mentality when God asks us to give up something that we really, really want. We may say, "God, you can have it..... you can have it.... you can have it.....", but never actually hand it over and give it to Him. God may saying, "Okay, give it to Me!", and we answer, "Okay," but it is tough to pick it up and hand it over. Then there are times that after we do, we decide we want it back so say, "God, you can have this instead!" God may say, "That's fine; give that to Me!", but we keep saying the words without actually doing it. When we do, it takes everything within us to not start crying!
There is a hymn we used to sing quite often during altar service entitled, 'I Surrender All'. The first line of the first verse says, "All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give." That's easier sung, then done!! Often, we have a difficult time freely giving Jesus our all; our habits, talents, time, family, relationships, health, finances ..... and it's especially difficult to freely surrender every aspect of our lives to Him. We want to pick and choose which parts of our life He can have, and which parts we want to control ourselves.
Over and over in the Bible we read examples where partial surrender and half-hearted commitment to God always ended badly. That doesn't mean that God forsook them or good things never happened, but trying to hold onto the world and selfish desires with one hand, and hold onto God with the other never ends well.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree they were specifically told not to, there were consequences to pay. They were forced from the garden, everything in their lives changed, and one of their sons murdered the other.
When Moses disobeyed God and allowed his anger to control his actions, he paid the consequences by not being allowed to be the one to lead the Israelites into the promised land, after journeying in the wilderness with them for forty years and being their leader.
When Saul began to focus on his abilities as king and try to do things his own way, sin began to rule his life, and his family lost the kingship lineage. God passed that responsibility and title to David,who was anointed to be king by the prophet, Samuel.
When David allowed his lust to overcome his sense of morality, he killed a man to try and cover up his sexual sin. Then the baby that was born to Bathsheba died, even though David begged God to intervene and save their child.
Samson allowed himself to be drawn away from his Nazarite vows and was led astray by Delilah, over and over again. God had appointed Samson to fulfill a specific purpose before he was even born. God did use Samson to accomplish much, but because of him allowing himself to be seduced by a woman, he didn't fully achieve all that he could have.
There are numerous other examples I could use. Never fully allowing Jesus to be Lord of your life and not ever fully committing your heart and life to Christ will lead to heartbreak, hardship, lost opportunities, unhappiness, and being unfulfilled. It's easy to look at individuals in the Bible, or acquaintances, or family members, or your enemy.... and think, "What I'm doing isn't as bad as what they did! I'm okay!" We justify our lack of fully surrendering our heart and life to God by comparing ourselves to others who seem worse off. But God compares us to no one else. He will judge us on our own merits.
We each have to choose whether or not we're going to freely give up those things that are hindering or holding us back from total commitment to God. We can be like Owen and spin our wheels, so to speak, by thinking or saying we'll give them up; but we end up just saying the words over and over, without ever actually doing anything about it. I've heard it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I daresay that very few really desire to spend eternity there, although I've heard a few say things to that end. But more people than not, "intend" on turning their live around, or making changes, or surrendering their heart to God, or fully committing themselves to the Lord; but too many end up facing eternity before they ever take the time to ever make good on those intentions.
My grandpa was 75 years old before he ever really prayed the prayer of salvation and surrendered his heart to God. He was a really good man, and was well liked and respected by his family and the community. He even attended church with my grandma. I remember him as being a very quiet, gentle man with light blue sparkling eyes, whose only vice was smoking Prince Albert cigarettes that he rolled himself. But regardless of how good he was, he still needed salvation. It was just a short time before his death that he got saved during a revival that was being held at the church he attended. I believe the evangelist went back to where Grandpa was sitting and asked him if he was saved and for the first time in his life, Grandpa repented and prayed the prayer of salvation that night. It wasn't long thereafter that my aunt dropped my grandparents off at their house, after having taken them to doctor appointments. She was helping my grandma carry in groceries, and Grandpa had sat down on an old bench that was sitting out in their front yard. He fell over from an apparent heart attack, and died instantly. Thankfully, he had prayed and repented of his sins prior to that, or he wouldn't be in heaven today, no matter how good of a man he was.
Today is the day of salvation. Today is the time for full surrender and letting go of those things that hold us back from fully living the life that God has for all us. Just do it!!
Janie did something many parents never learn to do. She made Owen give the car to his cousin. She didn't take it from him, and didn't give in, either.
God often does the same thing. He will tell us to give something up. But He will wait patiently for us to either do it, or refuse on our own.
I'm sure if Owen had rebelled, and said, "NO!", Janie would have taken all the cars and put them away. And if he kept saying, "Okay", but never actually gave the car up, Janie would have either put all the cars away, or taken the car from him. She certainly wouldn't give him more cars as a reward.
Again, God often does that, too. If we refuse to give of ourselves, or give from what we have, He may cut off our income for a time, or block some great blessing we don't even know was coming.
Country Fried Okra
Okra, cut into chunks
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Dip okra in buttermilk to coat; roll in flour. Salt and pepper, to taste. Heat oil in skillet and fry until golden brown.
**You can also cook squash this same way.
This week, I want to give a testimony of praise! My nephew, Devin, is 13 years old and deaf. About ten years ago, he had a cochlear implant done, but only recently has he really started utilizing the cochlear and been able to hear out of it well. A few weeks ago, Janie (his mom), had Jimmy's hearing aid (that he had bought not long before his brain cancer diagnosis) fit to Devin's other ear, so that he could use that, also. The hearing aid is a really good quality one, and works well for Devin. For the past couple years (more or less), Janie has been trying to get a new, updated cochlear device for Devin. The one he had broke, and it took several months to ever get it repaired. The state insurance that he has no longer wants to cover cochlear devices and told him that he would not get a new device, but would have to have his repaired as long as they could get parts for it.
This past week, Devin went to his audiologist to get a mapping for his cochlear; which means, they test his hearing with it and program it so it will be the most beneficial for him. The audiologist told Janie that with Devin's old cochlear and the "new" hearing aid he is now using, his hearing is within normal hearing range! She had a cochlear device that was almost brand new, that an older man had bought right before he passed away, and his family donated it back after his death for the audiologist to give to someone who could use it. Because of Devin's success in being able to hear so well using both the cochlear and hearing aid, she let him have it for free. It is higher quality and better technology, therefore, works much better than his old one did. With the new cochlear and hearing aid, his hearing is in the normal range! That is amazing!! Now, they are working on getting him set up for speech classes. Learning to speak and hear orally is like learning a brand new language for him, which will be a lot of work, but he is one excited teenage boy!!
Who made you think that your worth is measurable? They were wrong!
Remember WHO you are; remember WHOSE you are! - Luke Lang
We love you!
Loretta & Jon