"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!'"
January 6, 2016
In Exodus chapters 11 and 12 we read about the last plague that God sent to Egypt, which finally prompted Pharaoh to allow the Israelite people leave and journey back to their homeland.
Exodus 12 tells the story of the first passover. On the tenth day of the month each family was to choose a lamb or young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. The animal they selected was to be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects. They were to take special care of their chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. Then the whole community of Israel was to slaughter their young animal at twilight. They were to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the door-frames of the houses where they were going to eat the meat. They were then given further instructions on the preparation of the passover meal.
Verses 11-13 (NLT) say: "These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord's Passover. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt."
God gave the children of Israel very direct orders on what they needed to do in order to escape this particular plague. But He didn't force them to obey; nor would He have been lenient should they have made the choice to not follow through and do exactly as He had commanded. God gave them instructions on how to protect their firstborn son and firstborn animals, but each family had to decide whether or not they believed His word and follow through.
Had they not followed through and applied the blood to the top and sides of their doorpost, thinking, "Oh, God won't really kill my firstborn son; after all we are God's chosen people! I'll just put a little blood here on top and that will be good enough;" their firstborn would not have been spared. Had they been afraid what Pharaoh and his army would do should they drive by in their chariot or marched by, and applied the blood on the inside of their doorpost so that it would be hidden, instead of the outside, they would not have been under the protection of God.
I honestly believe overall that most of the Egyptians were really good-hearted, Israelite-loving people. All Egyptians weren't slave-driving, harsh, and hateful as we tend to often think. Exodus 11:3 (NLT) says, "Now the Lord had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel. And Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt, respected by Pharaoh's officials and the Egyptian people alike."
But no matter how favorable the Israelites were looked upon by the Egyptians, and no matter how good-hearted and loving they may have been; that didn't save them from this plague. The blood was the one and only thing that brought about protection.
Now fast-forward to the New Testament. In Mark chapter 14 we read about the Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples; which is also referred to as the Last Supper. In verse 12, the disciples ask Jesus, "Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for us?" It was during this meal that Jesus blessed the bread, broke it into pieces and gave it to the disciples saying, "Take it, for this is my body." Then He took the cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it, saying, "This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many."
That same night was when Judas betrayed Jesus, then Jesus was arrested and brought to trial. The next day was when He was crucified. His blood was poured out for me and you. No longer did Passover require the blood of lambs and goats as sacrifices, for Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. His blood was spilt so that it could then be applied to our hearts. When that blood is applied, we are saved and under His protection.
Here's the thing, just as the Israelites were required to apply the blood to their doorpost in order to be saved from the plague of death, we have to have the blood of Jesus applied to the doorpost of our heart in order to be saved from death and destruction; eternal separation from God.
Exodus 12:37-38 says that there were 600,000 Israelite men, plus women and children who made the exodus out of Egypt to the Promised Land. That was likely well over a million people. Here's the thing: These were all human people, with flaws and sinful natures, just like us. That night after the sacrifices were made, the blood applied to the doorpost, and the meal eaten do you supposed every single one of these people had pure thoughts, godly actions and deeds all that evening? I sincerely doubt it!! I imagine that there were spouses who got into an argument, or someone got jealous, or got upset and said things they shouldn't have, or had a lustful or envious thought, etc. But that didn't negate the blood that had been applied to their doorpost. The blood didn't disappear or have to be reapplied, it remained where it had been applied, and that family's firstborn was protected and saved.
How many times have you left a really great church service, only to get into an argument with your spouse on the way home.... or have a car cut you off in traffic and you have an outburst of anger..... or someone says something to hurt your feelings or something that feels derogatory and you get upset and say words of retaliation..... you fall down and scrape your knee or stub your toe and an ungodly word comes to mind.....? Or perhaps during your devotionals you prayed and told God that you were going to become a better, kinder person and then something happens at work and you lose your temper? What?!?! We've all had those type of situations happen in our lives; probably more than once!
When we sin or make a mistake or have an ungodly thought or bad attitudes, the blood of Jesus doesn't disappear from our heart. Once we've confessed our sins and asked Jesus into our heart, His blood was applied over the doorpost (so to speak) of our hearts and we are under the covering of His protection and are saved. Jesus doesn't have to reapply His blood over and over and over again every time we do something wrong. His blood remains as long as we remain His child.
I was raised hearing hell, fire, and damnation preaching. That's not entirely a bad thing, because there really is a hell and we are damned to spend eternity there if we refuse salvation. But there is a balance to that, which is the grace and mercy of God, which is not something I heard much about. I think preachers, and some parents, were so scared that if they gave any leniency and taught about the grace and mercy of God, then kids and youth and even adults would think that gave them license to sin. But as a little girl, it put fear in my heart. Every night before going to sleep I would repent of any sin I could think of that I had possibly committed, and repented of things that I may have done and had forgot about, or things I may have said or done that I didn't realize was a sin. I would wake up in the middle of the night and make sure my family was still home and that the rapture hadn't taken place. I was scared silly that I was going to do something wrong, then the rapture would take place or I would die, and I would miss heaven. It was a very real fear!
But the Holy Spirit spoke this message very strongly to my heart and I think I'm finally really getting it and believing it: There is so much power in the blood of Jesus! As christians, we need to believe that and stop living in fear that the blood of Jesus comes and goes from our heart.... that it's applied, then wiped away every time we sin or mess up.... then reapplied when we repent.... then taken away when we make another mistake..... then reapplied again.... When we are living as children of God, we are under that constant protection and covering of the blood of Jesus. We don't have to fear that we're going to slip up, then something happen where we meet God -- whether it be through the rapture or death -- and we will miss heaven, because we didn't have time to repent beforehand for our misdeed.
Just as there were many good Egyptians who lost their firstborn due to the blood not being applied to their doorpost, there will be many well-meaning, good people who will miss heaven. The blood of Jesus is the one and only thing that will save us.
Also, if someone repents and the blood of Jesus is applied to their heart, then they choose to turn away from God and go their own way, they walk away from the covering and protection of the blood of Jesus. "Once saved, always saved" is how we should all live; but once being saved, then turning away from God and not keeping our heart committed to Him doesn't keep us saved. Sometimes people walk away from Jesus because they feel that they don't need the covering and protection of His blood and can handle life on their own, or some become disillusioned by life circumstances and move away from the place where they are covered by the blood and and allow other things to fill their heart. They may want to stay near to someone whose "doorpost" are covered by the blood, because it makes them feel safer -- but they have to have the blood applied to their own heart.
When we are living as children of God, we are under His constant protection and have the covering of the blood of Jesus upon our life. That should give us the freedom to live today as Jesus would have us live -- unshackled from the past -- knowing that we have a future and a hope. As long as we are covered by the blood of Jesus, Satan can't destroy us! We need to stop living as one who is defeated and downtrodden and fearful, and live in the freedom of knowing that we are covered by the most powerful blood imaginable -- the blood of Jesus!!
From my observation, most younger kids obey their parents because they want to avoid getting into trouble. Drawing pictures on the walls with markers can get them in time-out or get their hands slapped, so they stop drawing on walls, or at least try to avoid getting caught.
Eventually, hopefully, they reach a point where they obey because it has become a habit, or even because it is their lifestyle. For some, it can become a duty they are willing to live up to. To be honest, I'm not sure which seems better, being obedient out of habit or out of duty.
My point is that as we grow up, hopefully we switch from obeying out of fear to obeying because it's right, or because we just always obey.
Jesus compared new believers to children, which fits. At first, we may obey God out of fear, but hopefully we will grow up, and learn to obey because it is the right thing to do. Jesus gave His life to wipe away our sins. That's huge. We owe it to Him to treat that gift with respect and honor. One way we do that is with obedience. It doesn't mean we should give up and throw it away if we make mistakes. But it does mean we need to honestly try.
This week instead of posting a recipe, I'm going to offer a couple of cooking hints.
I have been on a cinnamon roll kick the past week, having made two different batches. I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe (can be found on her website or in her first cookbook). The first time I used the recipe, the cinnamon rolls tasted good, but I had a couple of issues making them. So I learned some things that worked better for me, then tried it again a few days later. So my first tip is this: If you try a recipe and it doesn't turn out perfectly or you had some problems, don't be afraid to tweak it and try again.
For instance, this particular cinnamon roll recipe said to roll your dough out, pour melted butter on top and spread it evenly, then sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon. That didn't work well for me, because when I rolled the dough up before cutting it into slices to put into the pan, the butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture went oozing out and I ended up with a huge mess on my countertop. Plus I wanted those things to stay inside! So the next time, I used really softened butter -- not melted. I used my fingertips and spread it evenly all over the dough. That time the butter and cinnamon/sugar stayed on the dough when I rolled it up.
The recipe also said to set the bowl in a relatively warm spot for an hour to let the dough rise. I set it in front of our fireplace the first time, thinking that would work. It did rise, but not a whole lot. So the next time, I went ahead and turned the oven on to the right temperature for cooking the cinnamon rolls, then set the pan with the dough mixture on top of the stove. The heat from the oven kept the stovetop warm, and the covered bowl of dough rose nicely.
Lastly, this recipe has maple frosting on top. It calls for a splash of coffee to be added to the frosting mixture, which I did the first time. I'm not a coffee drinker, but it was just a subtle hint of coffee flavor and was pretty good. The second time, I chose to leave the coffee out completely. I liked it a whole lot better, because you could really taste the maple flavor better.
So when trying a new recipe, don't be afraid to experiment and make a few adjustments!
Have you ever made a New Year resolution, then a few days or weeks (or hours!) later, you've already broken or forgotten what you had resolved to do during that year? I cannot tell you the number of times I've done so; therefore, I don't make New Year resolutions anymore.
This year I decided to try something different. I asked myself the question, "What can I do that I've never done before?" From time to time, my sister, Janie, has asked if I've read various classic books. I have to say, I've never read any of them. I took a poll on Facebook and asked my "friends" what their favorite classic book was. I compiled a list from their suggestions and have decided that I am going to read as many of them as I can this year. I have 18-20 books on my list. I'm a pretty avid reader, so I think I can possibly read them all!
I've also decided to do one more thing: During 2016 I'm going to do one new thing per month; whether it be try a new food, try a new hobby, go someplace I've never been....... At the end of the year, I will have done twelve new things!
"When God speaks, just do it, because you may never know the full impact of your obedience." - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon