"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 20, 2018
Jon and I just celebrated our 13th anniversary on Monday, June 18th. When we took our vows and became husband and wife, we became one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24; Ephesians 5:31; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9)
Also, upon our marriage to one another, what was mine became Jon's and what was his became mine. I owned property in Missouri and I changed the deed to add his name as joint owner. We each added the other to our vehicle titles. We opened a joint checking account, have joint credit cards (which we pay the balance off monthly, by the way!), and Jon added me as beneficiary to his 401K and investments.
When we bought our home, we were both put on the paperwork as equal owners. Both of our names are on our car and truck titles. Neither of us have kept anything secret or hidden from the other; no secret savings accounts or hidden cash. Every single thing that we own, we are joint owners. That's as a strong marriage should be.
Neither of us made the other beg, plead, work for, or earn the privilege to share whatever the other brought into the marriage. We were both willing to give the other equal rights of everything that we had; no strings attached.
We are the bride of Christ. What's ours is His.... we get that and have no problem wrapping our head around that thought. But it also means what is His is ours, as His bride!
Jesus doesn't withhold things from us, making us earn or work for it. He doesn't say, "You're not worthy of Me giving this to you!" He doesn't make us beg and plead for what He brought into our spiritual wedding, wanting to keep it for Himself, or waiting to see if it's going to work out. But we have joint ownership of everything that He has. That's pretty amazing!
We are the ones who put stipulations on receiving from the Bridegroom. We are the ones who feel as if we are not good enough or unworthy of Him showering us with blessings and partaking of all He has available for us to receive. We are the ones who feel as if we somehow have to earn or work for His favor. Our poverty mentality, thinking that we don't deserve His riches and favor and blessing, is what stops us from accepting all that He is willingly offering us. Jesus is offering joint ownership to all that He has; we just aren't willing to receive it.
When Jon and I got married, our families also gladly welcomed and received the "in-law" into the family circle. They didn't hold us at arm length, wanting us prove that we were worthy or waiting to see if our marriage was going to work or making us to work to earn our place within the family, before embracing us as a son/daughter or brother/sister or aunt/uncle.
Stan and Diane showed no favoritism between the two of us or acted as if they loved one of us above the other, but always made me feel as if I were an important part of their family. They treated me on a equal level as they did Jon.
Sadly, my dad passed away after we'd only been married a couple years, so Jon really didn't have an opportunity to get to know Daddy well or cultivate a close relationship with him. But I know that he was so happy to have Jon in the family, and the fact that Jon loved and treated his baby daughter well, meant the world to him.
My sisters and their families have embraced Jon and treat him as a much-loved brother and uncle. He is an important part of our family circle.
There are scriptures that we know, but honestly, there are times when it's hard to really wrap our minds around what it's truly saying:
Romans 8:14-17 says, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, 'Abba, Father.' For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. (Here is the verse I want you to pay attention to:) And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering."
Galatians 4:7 says, "Now you are no longer a slave, but God's own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir."
Do you understand what these verses say? We are each God's own child. He is our Father, we are His children. As His sons and daughters, God has made us His heirs. What do heirs do? They inherit all that their Father has. Romans said that together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. Some versions say that we are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Think about that!
We have no problem thinking about the fact that yes, one day when we get to heaven than we will inherit eternal life... inherit a mansion and walk on streets of gold... and all the splendor and beauty of heaven will be ours to enjoy forever and ever.
But we don't often consider that fact that we don't become God's children when we get to heaven, but when we receive salvation, at that very moment we become His son or daughter. As such, how can we not think that He wants to give us benefits to enjoy during our time on earth?!
If God is the King (which He is), then that makes us a prince or princess! He desires to take good care of us and graciously pour out His favor upon us.... not waiting until sometime in the future when life on earth ends, but right now, today.
Psalm 103:2-5 says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle."
Our Father has benefits that He wants to bless His children with.
Matthew 7:11 says, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."
Psalm 84:11 says, "For the Lord God is our sin and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right."
James 1:17: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
We need to know and understand who we are in the kingdom of God! We are the bride of Christ!! We are the son or daughter of God; His beloved child!! As such, we are given benefits and favor and blessing by our beloved Bridegroom and our Heavenly Father, the King!! That's astounding!
We don't have to grovel, beg, plead, hang our head low, feel worthless or full of guilt, condemned, or feel as if we aren't good enough. It is Satan who causes us to feel that way; who wants to keep us feeling as if we don't matter or aren't important or unloved or whatever negative thought he can plant in our mind.
There is an old song that says something along the lines of, "I just want a cabin in the corner of Gloryland." Why would we settle for just a little cabin tucked away in a corner of Heaven, when our Father is promising us a mansion? But that is the mentality that many of us have regarding spiritual gifts and blessing. We're willing to settle for crumbs when God and Jesus are wanting us to bestow the riches and splendor and glory of the Kingdom.
The truth is, we are cherished, beloved, special treasures brides of Jesus and children of God! We should walk around with our head held high, feeling secure and confident and full of peace, knowing who we are in the Kingdom of God. We should see ourselves as the cherish, loved, precious, favored bride of Christ; and act as such. We should see ourselves as sons and daughters of the most High King, as royalty; as special treasures to our Father, who dotes on us and adores us and desires to give us His very best and lavish us with His riches and His love. Because that is who we are! Let's open our hearts and be willing to receive every single gift and blessing that our Bridegroom and Father want to bestow upon us.
Loretta and I had a wedding ceremony and began our full commitment 13 years ago. But we started a commitment before that, when we became engaged.
I'm a traditionalist in many ways. And so are Loretta and most of her family. So I followed the proper tradition, and asked Loretta's father if he would let me marry her. And then I asked Loretta. I might have been able to marry Loretta without her father's blessing, but I definitely couldn't marry Loretta without her permission.
Jesus has the blessings of The Father to marry His bride (the church). But he asks our permission. We do have the option of turning down the marriage, and finishing our lives separated from Him. Or, we can take the option of joining into the marriage.
Creamy Ranch Pork Chops or Chicken
6 pork chops or chicken tenders
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
Place the pork chops or chicken in the crockpot. Pour the soups over them; sprinkle the Ranch seasoning pack on top. Close the lip and cook on low for 6 hours or or high for 4 hours.
These are good served with mashed potatoes, over egg noodles, or with rice.
When Jon and I got married, two of the things that were important to me, as far as our wedding went, was for our families to be there to celebrate with us and for Daddy to walk me down the aisle. I didn't care about having a big fancy wedding with all the bells and whistles, but I did care about having family there to share in our special day. We didn't spend a lot of money on the wedding, but it was really nice and pretty.
Looking back, I'm so very grateful that we had the wedding that we really wanted. I'm thankful for the pictures that I have to look at and can reminisce about our special day. Both of our dads have since gone on to heaven. Several others who were there have also passed away: Wanda and Joyce, two ladies who came together whom I had gone to church with for several years; Bette -- a lady whom I had worked with at the bank for many years and who was so excited about my getting married; Bill and Ruth -- a special aunt and uncle that I loved dearly; as well as other aunts and uncles on both my mom and dads side of the family. I am so incredibly blessed that I got to have them in attendance at my wedding; as well as the many who are still with us today.
There have also been marriages, as well as lots and lots of babies born since that time in our families. Life is always continually cycling... some die, while others are born.
Jon and I have been incredibly blessed these past thirteen years! God has been so very gracious and so very, very good to us!! We are definitely blessed and highly favored of God.
Always pray to have eyes that see the best, a heart that forgives the worst,
a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon