"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!'"
August 1, 2018
When I was in high school I was on the yearbook staff. Part of our duties was to get out of school one day to go to businesses to sell ads for the yearbook. Students would split up into groups and were given a list of businesses to contact; most of whom had bought ads in prior years. I hated the selling part, but liked getting out of school for a few hours.
I can't remember the circumstances, but apparently we hadn't sold as many ads as was needed to cover the cost of publishing the yearbook, so the teacher said that we could go back out and sell another day, if the principal would give permission. The students put their heads together, then said, "Loretta, you go ask Mr. Bolin; he likes you and will let us go if you ask."
Truth was, he did like me; but probably because I never caused any problems and was obedient and did exactly what I was supposed to do. I was pretty naive, but had an idea that the reason we hadn't reached our quota in ad selling was because a group of students in the class did go out and sell a few ads to look as if they had put a little effort into it, but had stashed beer in the back of one of the cars and used that time to get together somewhere and party for the majority of the afternoon. Mr. Bolin wasn't stupid, and knew that I had been sent to ask and knew what the other students were up to. I'm sure this happened most years. But when I went to ask, he did give permission.
Many times, kids will use this same type of tactic on their parents. When they want to do something, they will choose the sibling that they think will more likely be told yes to be the one to go ask mom or dad. It may be the only girl (or boy), or the youngest, or the one who has been the best behaved, or the one that they think will be most convincing. "If you go ask mom/dad, they'll say yes!"
Even if the parent says no, that doesn't stop the kids from ever asking again. The next time they want to go somewhere or do something or have a bright idea, they will go back and ask permission. Why? Because sometimes mom and/or dad will say yes. Being turned down may upset them at the time and they may question and ask why and keep nagging, until the parent finally tells them, "I've had enough! Stop asking! I don't want to hear anymore about it!" The child may stomp off and pout and think it's unfair and be upset with that parent, but when it's dinner time, they will come back to the table. When the next time comes up that they think is a good idea for them to do, they will go back to mom or dad and ask permission. Being denied doesn't prevent them from ever having another conversation with their parents.
There may be times when a child misbehaves, disobeys, tries to be sneaky and do something without permission, gets into trouble, gets into a fight, is rebellious, etc. and the parent may have to discipline that child. That is not done for the benefit of the parent or because they enjoy punishing their son or daughter, but it's done in an attempt to train and teach their child that there are consequences for disobedience. They know that once that son or daughter leaves home, it's out of their control. But even when discipline occurs, they still love their child.
I understand that there are extreme circumstances when the bond between parents and children is broken; sometimes one or the other renouncing their family and that relationship being severed, other times the child or parent becoming estranged for a period of time. That's a whole other subject, and not what my point is for the sake of this devotional.
Overall, parents and children love one another, regardless of moments of hurt or anger or disobedience. They forgive, settle their differences, and move on. Their disagreements are settled and peace reigns in the family. Love outranks all else.
There are times when individuals become estranged with God. They alienate themselves from Him, go their own way and live life the way that they want to live it; often not with very good results. They make unwise choices, sometimes choose debilitating habits, and struggle to get through circumstances that life brings on their own.
I've heard people say, "Oh, God wouldn't want to hear from me! After everything I've done, He wouldn't want to talk to me." Satan has convinced them that their Heavenly Father has no interest in them, no longer cares, and that their life is too steeped in sin to be reconciled to God. That is nothing but a blatant lie! God is always right there, ready and willing to hear from His children; no matter what they've done or how long they've alienated themselves from Him. He is eager to hear from us all 24/7. In fact, God loves communicating with His sons and daughters!
When I disobeyed daddy, never did he reject me or make me feel as if he no longer wanted a relationship with him. He may have been disappointed in my behavior or choices, but he always loved me. Never was I made to feel as if he no longer wanted to be my father.
Even as an adult, daddy was always eager to hear from me and enjoyed it when I came for a visit. We may not have always agreed on everything and may not have had the same opinions on various issues, but that never made us love one another less. If I didn't call him every few days, especially when I was single and living alone, he would call to check on me. Whenever I went for a visit, he and June would always send something home with me; whether it be a can of home-canned green beans from their cellar, or something from their garden, or some chicken from their freezer. If daddy was outside working or down in the chicken house when he saw my car pull up, he would come into the house and take the time to sit down and visit.
The two of us went to visit my sisters a few times and traveled to Tulsa or Austin together. We probably had some of our best talks during those trips. Closed up in the car together during the drive time we would talk about family, church, community, the old days, and whatever came to mind. Sometimes we just rode down the road together in silence. We knew each other and were comfortable being with one another, whether we were visiting or being quiet.
The Father is interested in our lives. Yes, He sees all and knows all, but He wants to hear from us. He wants to speak to us. He is never too busy or we never catch him at a bad time when there are too many other things going on. God will always have time to commune with us. It doesn't matter if it's been a while since He's heard from us, or if we talk to him off and on throughout each day; God loves hearing from His children and spending time with us is one of His favorite things to do.
If someone understands the relationship between a parent and child, then they should understand the relationship between themselves and the Father; especially if they are a parent. They understand how much it means to them when their own children drop by for a visit or call or want to spend time with them and just hang out. That is how God feels about us!
There are scriptures that speak about being reconciled to God. Colossians 1:21-23a (TPT) says, "Even though you were once distant from Him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, He reconnected (reconciled) you back to Himself. He released His supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of His own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you could dwell in His presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for He sees you as holy, flawless, and restored, if indeed you continue to advance in faith, assured of a firm foundation to grow upon."
Jesus sacrificed His own body as a sin-payment on our behalf. He gave Himself for us, while we were yet sinners, so that we could be reconciled back to the Father. We don't have to live as estranged children, we don't have to live as orphans, and absolutely nothing has to separate us from God. We can accept the gift of salvation and be reconnected back to God. We can be at peace and truly know the unconditional love of the Father!
Even if we're not living alienated from God or if we haven't distanced ourselves from Him, we often can become busy in our every day lives and neglect to connect with Him. We often make time for everything else in our day, but forget to make time for God. He can often be an after-thought at the end of our day before we fall asleep.
I encourage each of us to make God a priority each day. He loves spending time with us, and honestly, we should feel the same. The highlight of each day should be when we get alone with God and have conversations with Him to share our heart with Him and to hear what He's saying to us!
There have been several times that I heard a story about someone in our family, and then that someone told me the same story later. I used to stop them, and say I'd heard. But now, I usually just listen to it again. Partly, I usually get a little different vantage on the story. But more, they usually enjoy telling the stories themselves. I've even gotten to where I enjoy hearing the story retold.
Talking to God is a little like that. Sure, He knows exactly what we've been through, and how we feel. But it is good for us to speak it. And He enjoys hearing it. He enjoys hearing how we are grateful for all He has done for us. And He also wants us to tell Him when we are angry with Him. King David did a lot of both when he wrote the various Psalms, and God calls David a man after His own heart.
Skillet Caramel Apple Pie
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter (plus 1 Tbsp. melted)
2 Pillsbury pie crust
1 (21 oz.) can apple pie filling
2 Tablespoons cinnamon/sugar mixture
Preheat oven to 400. Melt brown sugar and butter in a 9-inch iron skillet over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with one pie crust, bringing the pie crust up the sides of the pan. Pour the apple pie filling on top of the crust; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar. Cover with the second crust. You don't have to pinch the edges closed; it's a rustic looking pie. Brush the top of the crust with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
As I grow older, it is at times humorous how my thinking or my likes or my activities change. As each year passes, I see more of my parents or grandparents in myself. I catch myself doing things that I remember my aunts and uncles doing, and family history and stories mean more to me.
For instance, Granny Horton used to always wear plain canvas lace-up tennis shoes. For some reason that my sisters and I don't understand, she often would cut a hole in the shoe at the end of where her big toe hit. I don't know if her toe rubbed right there, or if she had a bunion, or if it was hard for her to bend over to trim her toenails so it was easier to cut a hole in her shoes instead. She also wore stockings and would roll them down to her ankles. I don't think she ever wore tennis shoes with the holes to church; those were her every day shoes.
My sister and I have recently discovered that we both really like canvas tennis shoes. Ours is a little more updated style than what our grandma wore, but the comfort of the shoes make us think that perhaps she was onto something! If you catch us starting to wear stocking rolled down around our ankles, look out!! (chuckle!)
A bad attitude is like a flat tire;
you won't go anywhere until you change it. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon