Saturday, February 22, 2020

Just Like Sheep

white sheep on green grass field near lake during daytime

Not only does God speak to us in a way we can understand, but He created nature in such a way that it is full of pictures and examples to make God's ways very clear to us. 

This morning, my husband and I were watching a nature show on our kitchen TV as we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast .  The program focused on monkeys, who always fascinate me.  One monkey had a pet kitten that it was dragging around by the tail or rather roughly cuddled.  The kitten could easily have run away but the 'friendship' seemed to go both ways.  If the monkey had both hands busy in getting food, the kitten sat nearby and watched.   It was rather cute to see.  
But then the monkey walked through a chest deep swampy river and he held both arms above his head, the kitten clutched tightly in one hand, making sure it was above water at all times.   Then he dumped the kitten on the shore and before the monkey climbed out of the water he began to wash himself.   

My thoughts raced ......  and I realized in a flash of insight that all animals either keep themselves clean or  for some another animal will help groom/clean them .  
All animals - except one. 
The sheep.  
Interesting that the sheep is the animal that God created to be the 'picture' of His people.  "We are the sheep of His pasture."  Psalm 100:3.  

We know that sheep need a Shepherd and  that sheep need a lot of care.... but I had never recognized this truth --  That sheep are the only animal unable to clean themselves.  They are afraid of water, and they cannot lick themselves.  
And no other animal is able to clean them.   They need someone higher and wiser -- their Shepherd -- to clean and keep them clean. 
Isn't that a perfect picture of us ?   We cannot 'clean' ourselves, not can we look to each other to clean us.  We need someone Higher and Wiser -  our Shepherd -  to clean us from our sin and iniquity.   Only God can forgive us through the sacrifice of the Perfect God/Man.
In Exekiel 36:25, speaking prophetically of the New Covenant He says .....   "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 

We don't need to be theologians to understand God.  We just need to be observers of the 'picture book'  He created around us to illustrate and make clear His word so that we not only understand Him but also ourselves in relationship to Him. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Before We Call

Key, Car Keys, Keychain, Metal, Door Key

I had an appointment this week, and I was watching the clock to make sure I had just enough time to get to the meeting place I had agreed to with my brother.  We were going to meet at my closest freeway exit as he traveled past on his way home up country. 

It was time to go ... and I hesitated on what jacket I should wear.  I took my heavier jacket and then, deciding that it had warmed up considerably I decided on my lighter jacket instead.   Before I hung up my heavier jacket I did something that I really had no reason for doing.
I put my hand in one of the jacket's many pockets and to my utter surprise my hand closed around my car keys!
I did not remember putting them in my pocket - I always put them back into my purse.
Had I not found them by accident, I would have searched my purse... and then, the house, not knowing where in the world I could have left them.  My husband was not home, so I could not have borrowed his.
Had I not found my keys, I would have missed my rendezvous.

What immediately came to mind was a scripture verse...
Isaiah 64:24 "....Before they call, I will answer...."

I was spared that panicky feeling in not finding my keys where I expected them to be...and then not knowing where to look for them.   I found them even before I knew they were 'missing'.
God truly answered before I called out to Him for help.

I offered up a grateful  'thank-you!' to the Lord for His goodness. 
But as I pondered how God had answered before I called....I wondered ... How often does God answer before I call and I don't even notice? 
Maybe that is why God usually waits until we DO call.  Until we are desperate and call out to Him for help, too often God's answer/intervention is ignored or dismissed as co-incidence.

God's heart is expressed in His heart-cry ... "O that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and his wonderful works to the children of men!"  Psalm 107:31
Is God looking for praise to fill His own need?  No, God wants us to acknowledge His Presence,  and goodness because it is good for US .. The more we recognize and acknowledge Him the closer we grow in fellowship and the more we depend on Him - which pleases Him because then He can pour out more goodness upon us, on whom He has poured out His love !

What if we flip the 'take-for-granted' that we are so good at!  ...
What if  instead of taking for granted that we can take care of ourselves, until we hit a crisis-moment that will move us to call out for God's help ... what if we  take-for-granted that God is in the moments of our day .. helping, intervening, managing details in such a way to make our day as 'perfect as possible' ?   
Would our day play out differently ?  Would it change our attitudes?   Would it make the day a delight?   Would we have more God-stories to share in conversation ?

Truly... God is not a far-off God but one who desires to be intimately involved in our lives -- He just waits to be invited and noticed !

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Be Happy !!!

HAPPY New year
How many times in the last couple of weeks have you been wished a HAPPY greeting? 

Have you stopped to think how often we focus on 'happy' as being the ultimate wish?  Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Anniversary, Happy Travels.  Whatever we wish others we attach 'happy' to the wish.   

While it is a given that everyone desires to be 'happy' we never seem to be able to hold onto it even if we do experience it here and there for a short time. 
For most of us, most of the time, 'happy' is a future state of being that is dependent on whatever personal conditions we place upon it. 
I will be happy 'when' or 'if' my conditions are met.  I will be happy if I win a million dollars... I will be happy when my mortgage is paid off,  I will be happy when I retire, I will be happy when all my children are grown, I will be happy if I have a new car,  I will be happy if I am successful in my career, I will be happy when I finish my schooling, I will be happy when my medical condition is resolved,  I will be happy when I lose 20 pounds, I will be happy when I am on vacation ...I will be happy if my bills are all paid ... etc, etc.  
And then even if we do fulfill our happy-conditions, it seems happiness has suddenly moved out of reach presenting yet another need before it can be a felt reality. 

That our default as humans is  to desire happiness is noted in the United States Declaration of Independence that the right of every American is "the pursuit of happiness."  

Yet Eleanor Roosevelt clarifies the misconception in her quote, "Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness, it is generally the by-product of other activities."

As a child reading "Alice Through the Looking Glass", by Lewis Carroll,  I was always intriguer by the fact that Alice had to walk away from something in order to reach it.   She did not realize that she was observing life through a mirror.

Eleanor's quote echoes this, identifying that Carroll's illustration is a  reality we all experience in our lives.  
We all naturally view life through the physical  reality of our world but we must learn to view our life through the 'mirror' of God's word.   Then we will see how walking contrary to what seems logical or reasonable will bring us to the very goal we are desiring to reach. 

Happiness cannot be attained by reaching for it, it will prove to be an illusive mirage or futile exercise.  
BUT when we believe God's word , when we put God and His righteousness first and do the things He tells us to do, when we seek the good of others,  when we focus on the task  before us and do it well, when we are thankful,  suddenly we will find that happiness has filled our hearts. 

Happiness is the fruit of the things we pursue in life and therefore is not dependent on circumstances or possessions or events - it is the reward of seeking the best in each day, yes, even in each moment.  If we see ourselves and our life through God's 'mirror', we will find that not only is our happiness a state of being but it deepens into abiding joy. 

"And these things write we to you, that your joy might be full." 
 I John 1:4


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Not Worthy

Car Accident, Damage, Crash, Insurance

In my last post I referred to an accident my husband had recently.  The photo above is not a
photo of our car but it looks much the same. It was deemed 'not fixable'.
We were talking about the accident today  and my husband made a remark that I immediately saw was a wonderful picture of what God has given us.

The accident was my husband's fault and our car was old.  It was in good condition but had a lot of miles on it. We did not expect we would get much of a settlement from our insurance.  But to our surprise, we were awarded more than we paid for the car a year ago.  It was a wonderful surprise but totally beyond our wildest hopes!
The remark my husband made in our conversation was ...
"It was totally my fault, and yet the reward was so generous!" 

I thought of the words ... "not by works of righteousness which we have done".  We are all a mess, like a car after a serious accident.  Not only are we not fixable but we are also undeserving of God's favour because the condition we are in is our own fault.   And yet, God offered to us salvation that is far beyond what we deserve. 
Tit_3:5  "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," 

Just as our insurance settlement had nothing to do with our rights but had to do with the willingness of the insurance company to give us more than we could have expected, so also God does not measure His grace and forgiveness and salvation by our 'good deeds'  or our 'deserving character' and even though He knows our 'mess' is our own fault , He offers salvation with a generous hand so full and free!

Our almost unbelieving joy in receiving the insurance settlement was an appropriate response ... but I had to honestly wonder ---   Do I respond the same way to what God has so generously given to me, not just for this life, but for all eternity? Do I just take it for granted?  Should I not live in joyful praise to Him for His goodness to me?