THE NEW EWE

"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!'"

Luke 15:4-6

August 22, 2018

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

During pregnancy, the unborn baby depends on its mother for nourishment and oxygen. Oxygen and nutrients from the mother's blood goes through the placenta and to the baby through blood vessels in the umbilical cord. Waste products and carbon dioxide from the baby are sent back through the umbilical cord blood vessels and placenta to the mother's circulation to be eliminated.

This same process puts the baby at risk whenever the mother introduces anything into her bloodstream that would be bad for the baby, such as alcohol or drugs.

At birth, the umbilical cord is clamped and the baby no longer receives oxygen and nutrients from the mother. With the first breaths of air, the lungs begin to expand. The baby's circulation and blood flow through the heart so that it can function independently of its mother.

There are a lot more details and it's a lot more involved than that, but that is how it works in a nutshell.

My point is this: If an expectant mother is eating healthy and putting good things into her body, then there is a better chance of her baby being born healthy. But if a pregnant woman is putting drugs and alcohol into her body while carrying her baby, those things go through the bloodstream and are pumped into the baby which causes more risks of birth defects as well as other health issues.

For instance, mothers who use drugs during pregnancy can give birth to a baby who has those drugs in it's bloodstream. Therefore, they begin their life having to be weaned off the drugs and going through withdrawals. The drugs can cause numerous birth defects as well as developmental problems.

Women who drink during pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Fetal alcohol syndrome can cause abnormal facial features, growth deficiency and problems with the central nervous system. Children with this may also have learning disabilities, attention span disorders, and other physical disabilities, including vision and hearing problems.

Yes, healthy woman can give birth to babies with many different diseases or birth defects, but the likelihood is less than those born to women who drink, smoke, or do drugs.

When we first ask Jesus into our heart and become a christian, we are like a newborn baby. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:2, "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment."

It is important for us, at that time, to read the Word of God in order to fill our heart and mind with the basics of what God has to say to us regarding how to live the christian life. We need to fill our minds with solid biblical teaching so that we can ask questions and learn and grow in our relationship with Jesus. We also need to learn how to pray and communicate with our Heavenly Father. We drink the pure spiritual milk so that we can grow into a full salvation experience.

If we are putting garbage into our minds during this same time, or are inconsistent in reading the Bible or getting scriptural teaching or praying, or still hanging onto old habits and lifestyles, then we're not going to be able to ever get past the milk stage. Honestly, we will likely end up dying spiritually.

If a mother only feeds her baby when she feels like it or when it's convenient, or only when the baby is first born and every thing is exciting and new and then she grows tired and weary and finds that it's a whole lot of work, then that baby will die. It has to have consistent feedings in order to grow and be healthy.

You also can't skip growth progression and put a baby eating meat before it has teeth and is ready. I've been babysitting a newborn beginning this week. She can only drink about 2 ounces every 3 hours. That is all her stomach is able to handle at this time. But as she grows and gains weight she will begin needing more ounces per feeding. Then the time will come when she will be strong enough to begin eating baby cereal.... then she will begin getting teeth and will be able to start eating soft table food. Then the time will come when she will be able to handle eating meat. But if we tried feeding her meat now, she would choke and die. She has to develop and work up to that stage.

Too often, new christians want to skip the levels of progression and think that they can go from being a newborn believer to being mature. When they do so, often they will choke and die. There is a process of development that needs to take place in order to healthily grow and mature.

Growing up in church, there was a progression from learning as a child to learning as an adult. I began first hearing the basic, exciting stories when I was a little girl like David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark, and Daniel and the Lion's Den. Then when I became a teen the Sunday School lessons were more in-depth and I began to be taught scripture passages and what they meant, instead of hearing the Bible stories. Sermons began to make more sense and I could learn and glean knowledge from what God spoke to the congregation through my pastor or through evangelists. The stories that I had heard as a little girl were used as sermon illustrations, but were made applicable to life today and taught in more depth. I learned how to study and read the Bible and hear from God for myself. Even today, at age 53, I am still studying and learning and the Holy Spirit is deepening my understanding of scriptures, therefore my spiritual understanding is still growing and I'm still maturing and learning. But it all began with first feeding on the milk... that first bit of spiritual nourishment... then moved on to the meat of the Word.

Paul is writing in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 and tells the people that when he first came to them that he only preached Jesus and he kept his message very plain and simple; relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. He did that so that they would not trust in human wisdom, but in the power of God. He goes on to say that when he is among mature believers, he does speak with words of wisdom that is the mystery of God.

Verse 10 says, "But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets."

Who does God share His deep secrets with? Those who are in a close intimate relationship with Him and have matured. You don't share deep family secrets with babies! You share them with those whom you are closest to and whom you know that you can trust; as well as those who are mature enough to understand.

Verses 1-3 of chapter 3 says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready, for you are controlled by your sinful nature."

Just as what a mother puts into her bloodstream can affect the health of her child, what we put into our spiritual bloodstream will have an affect on our spirit. You can't feed your mind with sin and expect it to grow spiritually strong. You can't sporadically pray or read your Bible or listen to biblical teaching whenever it's convenient or whenever you are desperate, and expect to mature and have a close, intimate relationship with Jesus. What we spiritually feed our spiritual man with will determine the health of our soul and spirit. If it's not getting fed, then it's going to die. If it's being fed the wrong things, then it's going to cause deficiencies and our growth will be stunted.

Here are a few things that we can faithfully do to ensure that we maintain a healthy soul and are thriving spiritually.

Philippians 4:8: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

Romans 12:9: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

Make sure that your life is bearing the right kind of fruit. Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

2 Peter 3:17-18: "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you ware not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."

Joshua 1:8: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."

These few scriptures are just barely scratching the surface of what the Word of God tell us to do in order to live a godly life that is constantly growing and maturing and thriving.

I desire to have a healthy soul and spirit that has moved way beyond the milk and is feasting on the meat of God's Word! I want to constantly be hearing from God... hearing Him reveal His deep secrets to me... and to have an intimate relationship with Him that is growing stronger every day. I don't want a sick, unhealthy, soul and spirit that are stunted in their growth due to me not feeding them on the right things... or failing to feed them at all.

I pray that this is your desire also. If you're not growing and maturing in your relationship with Jesus, or if it has grown stagnant and boring, or is sick and you've allowed things to come in and taint your spiritual bloodstream, you are not without hope! Our Father wants a deep intimate relationship with us, much more than we can even comprehend. He is always waiting for us to come back to Him when we allow things to stunt our growth or come between us. All we have to do is repent, ask Him to draw us back into right relationship with Him, and then walk in obedience and faithfulness. Do what's right for your spirit, even when it seems hard or you really don't want to or think you're too busy. The results will amaze you!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I like to have a glass of milk at bedtime every night. Sometimes, I opt for chocolate milk instead. I like to have a glass of milk, even if I've had a steak dinner that night.

Even when we have grown to the point of having the real meat of Spiritual growth, that doesn't mean we don't need a little milk of reviewing the basics once in a while.

ON THE MENEWE:

Irresistible Beef Stew

1-3/4 to 2 pound chuck roast cut into 1-2 inch pieces

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces baby Portabella mushrooms

Pearl onions

3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 large carrots diced or baby carrots

1/2 cup pepperoncini

1 tablespoon each: tomato paste and sugar

1 packet ranch seasoning mix

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2-3 tablespoons cornstarch

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cup low sodium beef broth

3 cloves garlic, minced

Instant Pot Directions: Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in the instant pot on the saute setting. When the butter is melted, sear the beef (in batches if need be to make sure it gets seared on both sides). In a large measuring cup, mix the beef broth with the cornstarch until it dissolves. Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot and select the meat/stew setting. Time for recipe for 35 minutes (I actually hit the meat/stew setting twice for "more" and it set it for 45 minutes... I wanted my meat more tender). Once the stew is cooked allow it to rest in the pot for 10-15 minutes before releasing the steam, which gives the meat time to really soak up all the flavors. Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

This recipe could also be made in the oven or crockpot. Saute the beef in butter to sear it. Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot or an oven safe dish (I'd recommend a cast iron dutch oven pan).

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Seeing all of the kids' first day of a new school year pictures being posted the past few days have made me have this one thought, "Thank goodness I am long past my school years!!" I was a good student, but never particularly liked school. In fact, my kindergarten year, I cried every single day of the school year.... all day long.... and that sadly, is not even an exaggeration. The teacher made the mistake of allowing me to go sit in the classroom across the hall with my older sister, so that's what I did many days during my kindergarten year. It was a small school and the teachers allowed it back then. I'm sure that I learned very little that year of school. After that I didn't cry every day, but was always so excited for any and every school break; and summer vacation was always way too short! I was never one of those kids who was anxious to go back to school when the new year began. There was a post on Facebook a while back on a page set up for the alumni of the school I attended K-12 asking the question, if they could, who would like to go back and do high school over again. To my surprise, many said yes. My answer was a resounding, "NO!" Been there, done that, and love my life where it is today and have no desire to go back and relive my teenage years -- even if that were possible.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith. - Elisabeth Elliot

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org