"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!'"
May 9, 2018
Happy Mothers Day!
Coming up on Sunday is Mother's Day, so we would like to wish all of our readers who are moms a very blessed Mother's Day. This year I don't particularly have a special devotional directed to the mothers and grandmothers, but wanted to let you know that we do honor you and pray God's blessings upon your life.
This past Sunday, the teacher in our Sunday School used a fairy tale as an illustration for a parable that Jesus taught, and I found it fascinating the way they fit together. I'm borrowing just a small portion of her lesson for my devotional, for she went in a somewhat different direction than I'm going in. But her lesson gave me a starting point to think about, and then the Holy Spirit begin speaking to me and building upon what I had received from her teaching; which is what I pray happens when people read my weekly devotionals. Also, regarding the Sunday School lesson, neither Jon nor I are skilled signers, so we tend to comprehend the general idea of what is being taught, but miss out on a lot of details.
(Funny side story: A while back, Jon was tutoring our nephew in science. Devin is deaf and Jon signs as much as he can while tutoring him, but Janie also is on hand to interpret for him. Jon thought he was using the right sign, but kept mis-signing a word. Janie corrected him and laughed at the wrong sign he kept using. Devin's response was, "OH!! I thought Jon was signing in Spanish!!" He was just joking and we all got a good laugh out of that. But that has been an ongoing joke between Jon and myself that the deaf in our church probably think, "OH! They're just signing in Spanish!")
I'm going to begin by telling a children's fairy tale. There are a few different variations, so this may not be exactly as you have heard or remember, but I found a few copies of this version online, and it fit with the rest of my devotional the best:
"Once upon a time there was a mother pig who had three little pigs and not enough food to feed them. So when they were old enough, she sent them out into the world to seek their fortunes. The first little pig was very lazy. He didn't want to work at all and he built his house out of straw. The second little pig worked a little bit harder, but he was somewhat lazy, too, and he built his house out of sticks. Then, they sang and danced and played together the rest of the day. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks. It was a sturdy house complete with a fine fireplace and chimney. It looked like it could withstand the strongest winds.
"The next day, the big bad wolf happened to pass by the lane where the three little pigs lived. He first passed by the straw house. He knocked on the door and said, 'Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in!' But the little big saw the wolf's big paws through the keyhole, so he answered, 'Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin!' The wolf showed his teeth and said, 'Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!' So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down. The first little pig ran away to hide with the second little pig.
"The big bad wolf continued down the lane and passed by the second house made out of sticks. So he knocked on the door and said, 'Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in!' The second little pig said, 'Not by the hairs of my chinny chin chin! I won't let you come in!' So the wolf said, 'Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down.' So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down. They ran away as fast as they could and safely made it to the brick house and slammed the door before the wolf could catch them.
"The three little pigs were very, very frightened; they knew that the wolf wanted to eat them. And that was true! The wolf hadn't eaten all day and had worked up a big appetite. He knew that the three little pigs would make a delicious feast.
"So the wolf came to the door of the third house made out of bricks. He knocked on the door and said, 'Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in!' The third little pig answered, 'No! Not by the hairs of my chinny chin chin! We con't let you come in!' So the wolf showed his teeth and said, 'Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down.' He huffed and he puffed and he huffed and he puffed; but he could not blow the house down!
"The big bad wolf was very sly, so thought that he could sneak down the chimney and eat up the little pigs for his supper. But while he was climbing onto the roof, the third little pig made up a blazing fire and put on a big pot full of water to boil. Just as the wolf was sneaking down the chimney, the little pig took off the lid, and plop, in fell the wolf. The little pig put the lid back onto the pot, and the three little pigs ate him for supper. And the three little pigs lived happily ever after. The end!"
That is a make-believe, made up, fairy tale that probably all of us heard when we were children. But I wanted to use this story as an illustration for a couple passages of scripture.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells this parable: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash."
There are two choices for the foundation of our life; Jesus, who is our rock, or Satan, who is like shifting sand. If you try to establish your life on both the rock and sand, your house can't be strong and steadfast. When the storms of life come, which we all will endure, your house is going to fall apart if it's not fully built on the foundation of Christ.
There are many scriptures that refer to God as being our rock. In Psalms, David calls God our rock several times. 2 Samuel 22:32 says, "For who is God, besides the Lord? And who is a rock, besides our God?" 1 Samuel 2:2 says, "There is no one holy like the Lord; indeed, there is no one beside You. Nor is there any rock like our God." Isaiah 26:4 says, "Trust in the Lord forever. For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock." There are numerous verses that called God our rock. Acts 4:11 says, "He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone."
So when Jesus was giving the parable of wise and foolish builders, He was saying that those who hear His words and puts them into practice, those who obey, are the ones who have established their lives upon Him, who is our rock. Then when the big bad wolf, the devil, comes and huffs and puffs, our house (lives) will stand strong and cannot be shaken!
Jesus warns us in John 10:10 that "the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." Again, who is the thief, the big bad wolf? Satan! His purpose is never to do good, but to always bring harm and destruction and take what doesn't belong to him. Satan may try and disguise himself in order to appeal to our senses so that he can gain entrance into our lives; but once we open the door to him, he will never do anything good for us. Nothing beneficial will ever come from inviting Satan into our homes or our lives; even if it seems small and harmless at the time, he will only wreak havoc.
Jesus continues speaking, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10:11-14)
There are times when being a christian is hard work. It takes dedication and commitment and time. Like the story of the three little pigs, it would be easy if we could just hurriedly throw our house together and not have responsibilities and sing and dance and play our way through life. And that might be fun for a season of time; but there will come a time when the big, bad wolf is going to come down the lane and be looking for someone to devour. Skipping through life, without having a foundation built upon God our rock, is not going to prepare us for those attacks. We're going to be frightened and devastated and not know how to handle the huffs and puffs of the enemy trying to blow our house down. Then he's going to steal, kill, and destroy, and we're going to go running away to try and another safe place. But where we run to may not be much better than what we left behind.
When the first little pig ran to his brothers home, was he safe from the attack of the big, bad wolf? No! He was followed there and was still under attack. Again, he faced devastation and loss a second time, along with his brother. Why? Because the second little pig hadn't done much better at building his own home. He hadn't seen the importance of taking the time and patience and commitment of establishing his home on a solid foundation.
It was only when they ran to the place that had been built strong and secure that the wind of the enemy couldn't bring destruction. Even then, the wolf wasn't satisfied to run away and leave them alone.
Often people have the misconception that if they outrun the enemy one time, then they'll be safe. "If only I can get inside and lock the door, then no harm can come to me!" But Satan isn't one to give up easily and run away in defeat. He will try to sneak through the chimney, or windows, or however he can to come into your life and bring about death -- whether it be spiritual death, physical, emotional, or mental.
But when we are built on the foundation of God, then when those attacks come, we have Him as our Protector. We won't be shaken or lose heart, nor will Satan be able to kill, steal from, or destroy us. We will stand firm, being unshakable and unmovable, with our faith firmly in place.
What is your house, your life, built upon? Is the foundation built on the Rock, or on the sand... or are you trying to build using both as a foundation? Be wise! Keep your life firmly on the foundation of God! Occasionally, you may need to do some maintenance checks to make sure that there aren't any cracks or shifting in your foundation. If there are, God can repair and make new, so that your foundation remains strong and secure!
If you build a house with 3 corners and most of the walls on solid rock, but if even one corner is on sand, when the floods come, the corner can wash out. It won't take long to crack the walls, and could eventually start tipping. Don't believe me? Just check out that tower in Pisa. It's leaning.
I don't think I really need to explain how that applies. I'll let you do that.
Chicken Breasts, chopped
Red Grapes, cut into halves or fourths
Boil chicken breasts; cool, debone and chop. (Or do it the easy way like I do and buy a rotisserie chicken and debone it and cut into pieces -- which is my favorite. Or you could even used canned chicken -- which isn't quite as good, but still okay.) Add Hellmann's Mayo (the real stuff tastes so much better!), chopped celery, and the cut grapes. Mix together until it's a good consistency. Serve as sandwiches on croissants.
**The amounts depends on how much you want to make. You can make just a little or a lot!
Although I am not a mother, God has blessed me by placing may wonderful women and mothers in my life over the years. Women who had a great influence on my life and who loved me and encouraged me.
Mama went to Heaven when I was only 15, so I really didn't have her in my life for very long. But the years that she was here, she made a huge impression and marked my life for eternity. Her gentle spirit, her faithfulness, her love for God and her family, her uncomplaining spirit in the midst of pain and suffering, her devotion and commitment to God, her mother's heart that made each of her daughters feel as if we were her favorite.... those are qualities that I will never forget.
My stepmother, June, has been in my life since I was 17. She honored our mom and never tried to take her place; asking that we only allow her to be our friend, which we did. She never made any differences between her kids and grandkids and Daddy's kids and grandkids, loving us all equally. She never has a bad word to say about anyone -- ever -- and always has something good to say and finds the best in people.
My Aunt Ruth, who was Mama's sister, loved me like a daughter and I spent hours in the home of her and my uncle; especially when I was single and living alone. Ruth fussed over me, baked me birthday cakes (and had my uncle to deliver it to me, and he would always say, "She never goes to the trouble to make this cake for me!"), and loved me.
My sisters have all been my best friends; always have been, always will be. Even though there is 14 years age difference between me and my oldest sister and we are all kind of spread out in age, we have always respected each other, never been jealous, been each others biggest prayer-warriors and encouragers, have cried on each others shoulders, have shared every personal detail imaginable, and have always deeply loved each other. Even when I was a kid and my sisters were teens or in their twenties, they would let me hang out with them and go wherever they went; sometimes to the dismay of their friends; but they honestly didn't care that I tagged along. We always did everything together and that was our way of life. I cannot imagine life without them.
There have been other aunts, cousins, pastor wives, and friends who made a very positive impact on my life and I will be forever grateful. Today, I pray that I make that type of positive, life-changing impact on the lives of my nieces and their daughters, as well as other family and church members, and friends!!
"Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
'Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.'" Proverbs 31:28-29
We love you!
Loretta & Jon