"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!'"
September 5, 2018
I love hearing testimonies of how God has answered prayer or provided or protected. It is encouraging and builds my faith.
Revelation 12:10-11 says, "Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, 'It has come at last, salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters (Satan) has been thrown down to earth -- the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.'"
So really, we defeat Satan, not only by the blood of Jesus, but by our testimony. Our words build one another up and increase our faith, as well as the faith of others. When we speak of what the Lord has done for us, others hear and think, "If God did that for them, then He can meet my needs and answer my prayers!"
I remember the many times that God has been Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. When I was a child, I saw God's provision for our family over and over again. When Mama passed away, her doctor and hospital wrote off her medical bills. During the years of her illness, I have memories of the community or neighbors or family blessing us in many different ways.
I have seen God provide for my sisters and their families many times throughout my life. He has blessed them with groceries when they didn't have much, finances to pay bills when their bank account was almost empty, medical bills completely paid when there should have been an insurmountable bill, and so much more.
One of my sisters recently shared a testimony with our church regarding God's provision. When she and her husband were pastoring a church in OKC, they were struggling financially. One time they received a check in the mail from a cousin for an odd amount; for example $237.16 -- not an even dollar and cent amount. When they received it, they thought the check amount was strange and didn't really understand why. The very next day, they received a bill for that exact amount. God provided for their need in advance, down to the exact penny, before they knew that they needed that money.
God is the provider for our needs, but sometimes He also provides "just because He loves us and wants to bless His sons and daughters" type of gifts. I believe that often those bonus gifts are because God has seen our faithfulness and generosity and wants to do something special for us.
One time my sister and brother-in-law had someone stop by their house with a brand new swing set, still in the box, and asked if their kids could use it. That person had felt impressed that they were supposed to buy it and give it to them. That wasn't a need, but it was an unexpected blessing to the kids.
I have been making quilts for over a year now and have given almost all of the quilts that I've made away as gifts. I enjoy doing that, and have never had the intention of giving for the purpose of receiving something in return. For me, being able to make something that someone likes and enjoys is the blessing.
When I first began sewing, I went over to my sister's house and we often sewed together. For one thing, I needed her help and advice. But she also had a sewing room set up in her home and had an extra sewing machine that she allowed me to use. After I saw that this was something that I enjoyed doing and Jon saw that it was something that I was going to continue doing, we made the decision to set up my own sewing room in our home. The first thing I needed to do was buy my own sewing machine. I had been pricing them off and on for several months, wanting one like that machine that my sister had that I was already used to. When I became serious about setting up my own room, I checked prices again and that particular machine was being phased out for newer models and I got it over $100 cheaper than it had been listed. My sister gave me a table that she needed to get out of her way to set the machine on.
As time has gone by, I've been blessed over and over again.... and the blessing keep coming for my sewing room. Jon built me a nice cutting table and bought me a better chair as gifts. Jon's aunt gave me a serger. Recently, I happened to be in or local Walmart and they had just put all of their fabric on clearance for $1.00 a yard, due to them phasing out their bolts of cloth. I was able to stock up on good quality fabric at a huge savings. Later this week I am going to go look at the sewing room of another aunt of Jon's, that was a quilter and passed away several years ago, to see if there is anything that she had that I can use. Blessing after blessing just keep coming regarding my quilting and sewing room.
I have already shared in previous newsletters regarding God meeting financial needs when I needed money for groceries or to pay bills. Sometimes it came from unexpected people in unexpected ways; and sometimes I had no idea who the money came from.
God has been provider many times for myself and Jon since we've been married. A couple years ago, Jon received something in the mail about some stock that he had forgotten about and wasn't even sure if he still had it. They were trying to find a current address for him and needed him to contact them. It's not a huge amount, but is a few thousand dollars. We began receiving quarterly dividend checks at that time, and even got backpay for ones that Jon had missed getting.
Not only does God provide, but He protects.
I could share so many stories of God's protection; and honestly, I'm sure that there are many, many stories of times that God protected me when I was unaware of Him doing so.
One Sunday evening I was driving home alone from ladies Bible study and had dropped a lady off at her home. I was driving down one a dark street and suddenly there were three deer running across the road. There were no shoulders on the street so I couldn't swerve to the side or I would hit the ditch, and I didn't have time to slam on my brakes and stop. It happened so quickly that I didn't have time to think about options. Someway, somehow God helped me navigate through the middle of those deer without hitting any or any of them running into my car.
I remember an aunt sharing a testimony many times about God's protection. She was driving home from work and kept feeling prompted in her spirit to stop and buy a loaf of bread. She knew that she had bread at home, so tried to disregard it, but she couldn't shake that inner voice telling her to stop. So she stopped at the store and picked up a loaf of bread. Just a few miles down the road there had just been a horrible accident with a fatality. She said that she felt like God had prompted her to stop and buy the bread so that she wouldn't be there at the time when the wreck happened so that her life would be spared.
My dad used to say something along the line of don't get upset or mad when there were delays getting someplace, because it could be God sparing your life.
God answers prayers in so many different ways and in so many various areas of our lives!
My doctor sent me to an endocrinologist about a year and a half ago regarding nodules found on my thyroid. The first two ultrasounds were done six months apart so that they could have something to compare whether or not the nodules were changing or growing; then I went back last month for a yearly check-up. One of the nodules on the right side was borderline for needing a biopsy and had grown just a tiny amount, so the endocrinologist felt like it was time to go ahead and do the biopsy. The nodule was deep, but thankfully they were able to do the biopsy by just numbing the area.... well, actually the doctor took four biopsies. I did well through the procedure and afterwards had no soreness whatsoever and couldn't tell that anything had even been done. The results came back benign and so I don't have to have anything done, but will go back again next year. Praise the Lord!
When we are going through difficulties, or are struggling with receiving an answer to a long-awaited promise from God, or are feeling disheartened or discouraged we often forget for a moment all of the wonderfully, awesome things that God has done for us in the past. In fact, during those times it may feel as if God is answering the prayers of others and disregarding the cry of our heart. But if we will stop and begin to think back on all that God has done for us and the times that He has met our needs, healed our body, protected us and our family, met financial needs, blessed us with those extra bonus blessings...... then our faith will become strong, once again, and we will have assurance that He has heard our prayer and that the answer will come. It may not come when we think it should, and at times may feel as if it comes at the last possible second, but it will come.
Psalm 111:1-4 says, "I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with His godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them. Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember His wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord!"
The sentence that stands out to me is, "All who delight in Him should ponder them (God's amazing deeds)." To ponder something means that we "think about, contemplate, consider, reflect on, meditate upon, dwell on". If we were to do that consistently, then when difficulties came, our immediate response would be gratefulness and thankfulness that nothing is too difficult for our Father.
Too often, when someone is going through tragedy or sickness or tough circumstances, the response of others is to tell their "horror" stories of something that they went through that was similar and how horrible it was... or share a depressing story of someone they knew who faced the same thing and how difficult it was. Instead of sharing testimonies of answered prayers and building up that person to encourage them and strengthen their faith, people tend to share any and all negative stories that they can think of. Why? What good does that do?
Let us all attempt to try to begin doing two things: First of all, let's begin daily taking time to ponder how amazing the deeds of the Lord is. Remind ourself of answered prayers, protection, provision, peace in the midst of turmoil, unexpected blessings that came our way, etc. Let's build ourselves up each and every day!
Secondly, let's share those stories with others in order to encourage and build up their faith. When we hear of someone going through sickness or grief or difficulties, instead of sharing our stories of pain and hardship and similar battles, share testimonies that will cause others to become encouraged and build up their faith. There may be a time to share stories of difficult times that we have endured; but the purpose of that should always point to Jesus and how He helped us through, not to point to the pain and difficulty.
Let us give thanks to the Lord, in all things and at all times!
"If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all." I couldn't count how often I heard that growing up. It might sound trite, but it's still good advice, even for adults. When someone is facing a bad situation, sometimes, the best thing we can do is simply be present. Even the most well intended things can cause more grief than help, especially when it isn't the right time.
Old Bay Seasoning or Crab Boil Packaged Seasoning
5 pounds red new potatoes
3 (16 ounces) packages cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
Mini corn cobs
Fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Amounts depend on how much you want to make.
Heat a large pot of water over medium heat. Add pre-packaged crab boil seasoning or Old Bay seasoning to the water and bring to a boil.
Add potatoes and sausage and cook for about 15 minutes.
Add the mini corn cobs and crab legs; cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Add shrimp when potatoes and the other ingredients are almost done; cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Drain off water and pour the contents out on table top covered with newspaper or freezer/butcher paper. Eat and enjoy!
A former pastor and his wife recently returned from a trip to Alaska, which had been on their bucket list for many years. He has had health issues and although they had this trip booked, back in May he had some heart issues and they thought that perhaps they would need to cancel. But the doctor ended up giving them his blessing and they were able to go ahead and go. At the end of the trip, he ended up with pneumonia for the return trip home. He is probably in his mid to late 70's.
The wife (who is several years younger than her husband) recently shared about their trip on Facebook, then wrote these words, which I think are worth sharing: "When I was young, I thought I had innumerable days and opportunities before me. It seems I just turned around and suddenly I am here -- looking at retirement in a few short years, and watching Larry struggling with so many health issues. As my dear Mama is fond of saying, 'Tempus fugit' -- time flies. Whatever you plan to do, don't delay! Take that trip (even if it's just tossing a tent in the trunk and heading for the woods), make some memories, tell your loved ones how much you love them, mend fences, don't be afraid to say you're sorry, and most importantly, don't put off planning for the greatest destination of all -- eternity. The best decision I ever made was to make Jesus my Lord and Savior, and I wish I had done it earlier. If I never go back to Alaska, one day I will head out on the greatest adventure I'll ever know, and some days I can hardly wait!!" (Sharon Harrison)
Knowledge is knowing what to say.
Wisdom is knowing whether or not to say it. - Toby Mac#SpeakLife
We love you!
Loretta & Jon