"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 13, 2016
I've heard it said that God can open doors that no man can open; and shut doors that no man can shut. While it's true that God opens doors for new opportunities, directs us down new paths, gives us opportunities to minister to others using our experiences; as well as closes doors when it's time to move in a new direction, or a life situation changes, or to get us out of a rut; He rarely pushes us in and out of those doors. We have to choose, by faith, to walk down the new paths that God opens for us, and trust Him when the path we've been on changes direction.
There are many reasons why we often have a difficult time changing directions and fully trusting God. Sometimes we may have the tendency to worry and fret about new situations. Often our thoughts are consumed with an abundance of "what ifs". We may be fearful what someone may think of us, or afraid they'll judge if we do something they disapprove of. Many times, we feel incompetent, unworthy, or self-conscious, or compare ourselves to others and never measure up. There may be those rare occasions when we're stuck in a rut, like our routine, and flat-out don't want anything new and different.
Whatever our reasoning may be, when God leads us to a new path, we can go kicking and screaming, or stand there with our heels dug in not wanting to follow Him, or stand there questioning and asking a thousand "what ifs; or we can say, "Okay God, I choose to trust You!"
Let's say you come to my house. You sit in your car, questioning whether or not you should come in..... what if Jon and I really don't want company..... what if you've stopped by at an inconvenient time.... what if...... Oh yeah, you had been invited to come! You finally get out and ring the doorbell and I answer the door and open it wide to welcome you inside. You stand there, not coming inside, because you're allowing worry and doubt keep you from walking through the door. "What if we got the wrong night, or the wrong time?" "What if they didn't really want us to come?" "What if we're the first guest to arrive and they're not ready for us?" "What if we got the wrong house and were really supposed to meet at Loretta's sister's house?" I can't pick you up and carry you inside! I can open the door, invite you inside, but you have to be the one to take that step and walk through the door.
Once you get inside, I will show you my new living room remodel, offer you a drink, let you use my bathroom, invite you to sit and visit, let you take your shoes off if you like, offer you something to eat, and welcome you into my home. All that worrying and fretting you did before walking through my door was useless and a waste of time. Instead of setting outside in your car or standing out on my front porch, you could have been inside where it's warm and comfortable.
Suppose you did misunderstand the invitation and were supposed to meet at my sister's house instead of mine? What's the worse thing that could happen? Do you think I'll slam the door in your face, mock you or get upset with you for coming to my house in error? Absolutely not! I will still welcome you inside, show you my living room remodel, offer you a drink, let you use my bathroom, visit with you, and offer hospitality. Then I may say, "We were going over to my sister's house, too. Would you like to follow us over there and we can go together?"
If I were to welcome you and show you my house and invite you to follow me to my sister's house should you arrive here by mistake, don't you think our Heavenly Father would do the same should you happen to go through the wrong door or head down the wrong path? We don't have to worry and fret and question and stress over making a mistake and going through a wrong door. If we do, then God will still welcome us, can show us something while we're there, offer us a refreshing drink, and then go with us to the right place where we need to be.
Isaiah 30:21 says, "Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, 'This is the way you should go,' whether to the right or to the left."
Psalm 32:8 says, "God will instruct me and teach me in the way I should go. He will guide me with His eye."
One of my favorites is found in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT): "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."
Something that I'm working on this year is obedience to God. Not just to obey, but to obey immediately; in full faith and trust in God. To not question and doubt and worry and stress and waste time going over all the what-ifs; but to be quick to follow through and just do it. I'm a work in progress and haven't quite got there yet!
One of the things that I feel that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart a few days ago is this: "In 2016 be an intentional woman!" Intentional means: deliberate, conscious, planned, meant, willful, purposeful, done on purpose. In other words, pray and read my Bible intentionally. Be kinder intentionally. Do things for others intentionally. Encourage others intentionally. Worship intentionally. Fill my mind with good, positive things intentionally. Obey intentionally. Love intentionally. Trust God intentionally. Don't do it because I "have" to or it's expected of me or the right thing to do, but do it on purpose willfully.
One of my all-time favorite hymns is 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus'. I love the words: "Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him. How I've proved Him o're and o'er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus. Oh for grace to trust Him more."
May you choose to walk in trust and faith and obedience to God. Our lives will all be more blessed and peace-filled should we do so.
This goes well with another lesson I've learned from our dog. He is pretty good about not jumping into our laps without being invited. We really don't mind if he does jump up, but it's good to see that he waits for our permission.
The problem is: he frequently needs us to tell him to "hop up" three times before he actually will. It gets pretty annoying.
I realized at one point that I sometimes do the same thing. If God tells me to eat at His table, I need to jump up and do it. But too often, I stop and question if He was really offering me something, or if I was imagining it. And if He tells me to do it again, I stop and wonder if it's just my own desires, because it might be sinful to be so selfish or greedy. But God does want good things for us, and sometimes we just need to jump up and accept it.
Oven Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch Asparagus
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425. After you wash the asparagus thoroughly, stack a bunch together and lop off the tough/thick bottom an inch or so.
Spread the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat it as dry as you can, as you don't want any water to "steam" the asparagus in the oven.
Begin by generously drizzling olive oil all over the asparagus and then sprinkle the asparagus generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
Roast the asparagus for about ten minutes. The secret here is for the oven to be very hot so the asparagus can begin to brown on the outside without overcooking and getting too flimsy. You want the finished asparagus to still have a bite to it.
One thing I've been praying this year so far is that God will open up an opportunity for me to someway, somehow minister to someone each and every day. It doesn't have to be anything big. One morning I felt the Holy Spirit impress me to message someone with a word of encouragement. Another day I picked up lunch and took it to someone who was going through a tough situation. I tend to have a "loner" mentality at times, especially when I'm out in public. I go about my business, whether it be grocery shopping or running errands, in my own little world. I've been trying to be more aware of my surroundings and to smile at the people in my path and say hi more often. It's been amazing how many people will respond back with a smile or a "Hi, how are you!" I've been trying to say, "Thank you -- have a good day," more often to cashiers and those waiting on me in a fast food drive-thru. Occasionally when Jon and I go out to eat we will leave a bigger tip for our waitress/waiter than normal. Honestly, I've had to be intentional about being friendlier to others when I'm out and about. These aren't big things, and are things that everyone can do. But we never know when someone we meet may have just received bad news or are going through a tough situation and need a smile or friendly greeting.
Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith. - Elisabeth Elliott
We love you!
Loretta & Jon