"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 30, 2015
Honestly, I'm having a difficult knowing how to best write this devotional. I know what's on my heart and the topic God has placed on my heart, but it's hard to know how to write it without sounding like I'm tooting my own horn or being prideful; which I'm not. The subject is obedience. God knows that I've failed in this area more times than not, but it's an area that I've been working on. Hopefully, by using myself as an example of how obedience pays off, it will encourage someone else to listen to God when He prompts their heart to do something.
Probably a year ago now, I felt impressed that Jon and I were supposed to start buying up groceries and household supplies to stockpile. I mentioned the idea to Jon, and after giving it some prayer and thought, he was in full agreement and also felt as if this was something we were supposed to do.
I didn't really know where to store things, so looked around and realized that the room off our dining room, which was being used as a library for all the books I had at that time, was really wasted space and used as a catch-all for things I didn't know where to put. So I cleaned out all my books and started using the room as a pantry. There were shelves that lines a couple of the walls, so it worked out perfectly.
Each time I went grocery shopping I would pick up a few extra items, and over time built up a really nice supply. I had everything from canned goods and various grocery items, toilet paper and cleaning supplies, laundry and kitchen supplies, to bottled water.
Soon after we began doing this, Jon mentioned that not only was this a great idea for our sake, but if anyone we knew ever had a house fire or a tornado hit their home or other catastrophe, then we would have the extra items to be able to help them out.
Over the next several months, we discovered that having the extra pantry items was really nice. It ended up saving us a lot in grocery money, after we got it fully stocked. There were many, many weeks when the only items I had to pick up at the store was milk, eggs, and bread. As most of you know, when you run into Walmart or the grocery store to get a couple of items, you come out with five bags (at least); but I wasn't doing that. I loved it!
As most of you know by now, my sister, Janie, had a house fire a couple of weeks ago, which destroyed the entire inside of her home and she lost almost everything she owned. Insurance paid for her and her 13 year old son and her two foster babies to stay in a hotel, until she was able to get into a rental house. She will be in the rental for the next several months during the reconstruction of her home.
This week Janie was able to move into the rental house. I remembered the words Jon had spoken those many months ago: "It will be nice to have all the extra items in our pantry, so if anyone ever has a house fire or disaster, we will be able to help them out." I was able to bag up several sackfuls of groceries and household items to fill her cabinets and help her out, and still have a plenty leftover in my pantry to tide me over until I can build up my stock again. When Jon made that statement, neither of us dreamed that it would be my sister or a close family member who would benefit from our obedience to that inner prompting that God gave us to begin stockpiling a pantry. In fact, our tendency was to believe that it was for our own benefit to have the extra items on hand. Thankfully, we obeyed those inner promptings and were able to bless someone when they had a need.
In 1 Samuel chapter 15, the prophet Samuel gave a message to King Saul from the Lord, telling him to go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation. Saul destroyed everyone, except the king, whom he captured instead. He then kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs -- everything, in fact, that appealed to him and his army. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.
The Lord spoke to Samuel and said, "I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command."
The next morning, Samuel went to find Saul and found out that he had went to a certain town to set up a monument to himself; then had moved onto another town.
When Samuel finally found him, Saul cheerfully greeted him, "May the Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord's command!"
Samuel demanded, "Then what is all the bleating of the sheep and goats and the lowing of the cattle that I hear?"
Saul admitted, "It's true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle. But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else."
Samuel said to Saul, "Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!" Uh-oh!! Saul knew he was caught, but asked what the Lord had told Samuel. Perhaps he hoped that God hadn't revealed all of his acts of disobedience to Samuel.
"Why haven't you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord's sight?"
"But I did obey the Lord," Saul insisted. "I carried out the mission He gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God."
Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the Lord; your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."
Saul blamed the people for his disobedience to Samuel's instructions and the Lord's command, saying that he was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.
The truth was, had Saul obeyed God, God would have honored and blessed him. But Saul decided to do things his own way, for his own benefit. His greed motivated him to disobey God.
Most of us are not going to have a prophet come and give us explicit instructions on what we should do. Most of us aren't going to have as huge of a task as what God instructed King Saul to do. But we all have felt those inner promptings and that voice in our heart telling us things we should do. When that happens, we have to choose whether to act and obey or ignore and disobey.
It's much easier to obey when we know there's a purpose for our actions and know why we're supposed to do something and see a reason for it. When we feel those inner promptings and don't understand or really see a need or reason for it, it's much easier to think, "It must just be me coming up with this idea! If it were God, then He would show me why I'm supposed to do it." But that's often not true. True faith is acting and obeying without knowing God's purpose or plan.
There's a song I used to sing years ago that said, "Yes, Lord, yes to Your will and to Your way. Yes, Lord, yes I will trust You and obey. When Your spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree; and my answer will be yes, Lord, yes."
Are we really willing to say yes to the Lord when His spirit speaks to our heart? Are we willing to trust God and obey? With our whole heart, are we willing to agree with what we feel impressed to do? Not only say the words "Yes", but follow through and obey.
I want to become more sensitive to the promptings of the Lord and be willing to obey Him not only in the big things, but in those small things He asks me to do. How about you? Our obedience and submission is what is most pleasing to God!
It might seem like the simplest instructions from God would be the easiest to obey. But they can also be the easiest to dismiss as some silly impulse. And maybe a lot of them are. But if we get in a habit of dismissing God's prodding, then it'll be much easier to dismiss something bigger. And we may never know how important that little task would have been.
Our puppy is generally pretty obedient. If he doesn't have anything else to do, look at, or sniff. But one of the commands he almost always obeys instantly is "leave it." If he starts sniffing at mushrooms, or his vomit, or other favorite things, we can say, "leave it", and almost every time, he will jump away from it, and won't go back to it for at least a few seconds. Sometimes, it takes a more stern shout, but he is in such a habit of jumping away from whatever 'it' is, that he does it the first time without thinking. It's after he's thought about it a little, and wants to go back, that we usually have to be more stern about it.
Many times God gives us a nudge to "leave it". The better we get at jumping away, the safer we'll be. But we also need to stop re-thinking about it, and going back later.
BBQ Pulled Pork
Pork roast (any type of roast cut)
1 can Dr. Pepper
1-2 cups BBQ Sauce
Put the pork roast in the crock-pot or a roaster pan. Pour the Dr. Pepper and BBQ Sauce over the top. In the oven, cook for 4 hours on 350, until meat is tender enough to shred. If cooking in crock-pot, cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low all day. When meat is tender, take two forks and shred the meat. Serve as a sandwich on buns.
Note: If there is too much juice in the meat, drain some of the juice off. You can also add more BBQ sauce to the meat, if needed.
The past couple years or so, the neighborhood around our home has become more and more crowded, with the street in front of our home becoming very heavy with traffic. There are even more building and businesses going in nearby, which is only going to add to the problem..... at least, it's a problem for me and Jon! It makes me reminisce about bygone days and long for country life!
I'm thankful that I grew up in the small rural country area in which I was raised. I'm thankful that I was raised with lots of relatives all around and that we were a close-knit family. I remember catching lightning bugs in the summer; making daisy chains; walking down a dirt road to the general store nearby to buy a bottle of pop or candy bar; riding on back of Daddy's truck; playing in the dirt at the edge of our yard with a jar of water and a plastic farm set -- building ponds out of jar lids and building fences out of sticks; running around barefoot all summer; sleeping at night with all the windows open (during summer) listening to the sound of tree frogs and cicadas (and the noise of box fans); playing hide-n-seek after dark with my cousins while our parents visited; the list could go on and on.......... I am much blessed and am grateful for my upbringing!!
"When we're always waiting for what's next, we miss what is now." - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon