Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Big God Who Cares About Little Things

On Sunday afternoon, Jason and I stretched out on the couch and watched an interesting show about the odd relationships between animals of different species.  The show featured a dog and cheetah who were raised together and were now the best of friends, a giant turtle and goose who were lifelong mates, and a dog and fawn who were inseparable.  Each tale was heartwarming, but two of the stories literally brought tears to my eyes.

The first was a dog who was born blind but adopted by a mama deer.  The deer watched over the dog, groomed him and offered him love and companionship beyond what you could imagine.  She offered her warmth when he was cold and her tender kisses when he was lonely.  She walked beside him and led him around the farm.  After several years, the dog miraculously received his eyesight, but even upon discovering that his best friend was a deer, his affection for her seemed unchanged.  It was a precious story.

The second account was similar, only this one included a goat and a forty-year-old blind horse.  When the horse lost sight in both eyes, the owners made the decision to put him down.  But after observing an unusual scene, they changed their minds.  A large goat in his teens took on the responsibility of being the horse's guide.  He nudged the horse in the right directions, walked in front of him at a specific distance to lead him to his favorite grazing spot and even ran to the house to alert the owners when a wild storm had trapped the horse in a tangle of trees.  After witnessing the care and attention of the goat, the owners felt certain that the horse would be fine.  He had a friend and caretaker.

I was amazed at the relationships formed between these animals, but I was also blessed by a realization.  If the Lord cares enough about a blind dog to allow him to be befriended by a mother deer, how much more does He care for me?  If He cared enough to send a goat to help and guide a blinded horse, who or what will He place in my path?  The Bible assures us that not one sparrow falls to the ground without the Lord's knowledge.  He knows, and He cares.  But as much as He cares for the animals, how much more does He care for us?

He cared enough for the blind dog to send a mama deer.

He cared enough for the aged horse to send a guiding goat.

He cared enough for us to send His only begotten Son.

I'd say He cares a lot.  What do you think?

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. - Luke 12:6-7

Monday, July 28, 2014

Focusing on Dead Trees

While hiking on Paris Mountain, Jason and I came to an open cliff that overlooked the countryside. Stretched out before us lay a valley of towering pines and mighty oaks, hemlock and rhododendron. In the distance, we could see buildings of different shapes and sizes, hazy, but still visible.

But as we surveyed the beautiful scene, we were shocked to realize that we were both focused on the same sight--one dead tree in the midst of the many living. It wasn't a large tree. In fact, compared to many of the trees, it seemed small and insignificant. But, for some reason, as we scanned our surroundings, that one dead tree caught our attention.

Isn't that the way it is with hard times in our lives? Most of the time, we're surrounded by good things--a beautiful scene. But when those trials arise, it seems like that's all we can focus on. They stand out in our lives just like that one dead tree stood out in the midst of the living. During these times, it's hard to see anything else, for no matter how hard we try, our attention keeps returning to the trial. It was for these times that God gave us Psalm 121.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. 

*****Excerpt from Random Ramblings of a Raving Redhead***** 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Get Mad, Get Even or Give Grace?

I've been teaching through the story of Joseph in my ladies' Sunday School class, and let me tell you, there's some good stuff in there.  When you really delve into a story like that, it's amazing what you can discover.  For the most part, the lessons have been humbling, and each week I find myself saying, "Lord, make me more like Joseph."  Last week was no different.  Take a look.

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. - Genesis 41:39-40

On the surface, there's no new revelation here.  I mean, we all know the story of Joseph.  Most of us have heard it since we were in diapers.  Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, so Pharaoh made him ruler over all the land.  It's a big deal, but to be honest, after hearing the story so many times, this order of events lacks the "shock and awe" factor.  But when I began thinking about what this order of events entails, I was amazed.

Joseph was made ruler over all the land, all the people.  Only Pharaoh was higher than he was.  Everyone else answered to Joseph.  Everyone!  That included Potiphar (who had thrown Joseph in jail), Potiphar's wife (who had lied about Joseph and accused him of wrongdoing), the butler (who had forgotten about Joseph for over two years), and eventually his own brothers (who had sold him into slavery).  Suppose for a moment that you were Joseph and had just been given the news that you were ruler of it all.  What would your first thought be?

I don't know about you, but I think I might be seeking some revenge.  Yep, payback was certainly in order, wasn't it?  These people had done him wrong, and they weren't even sorry about it.  Now, Joseph had the chance to make them pay.  He could make them suffer like he had suffered.  He could get mad and get even, but he didn't.  As far as we can tell from the Biblical account, Joseph treated each of them with grace.  They didn't deserve it, but then, isn't that what grace is--unmerited favor?  Despite their mistreatment of him, Joseph showed mercy and grace. . . and so should we.  After all, haven't we been given grace?  Do we deserve it?  Well, let's see.

I can honestly say that I haven't thrown the Lord in jail nor have I sold Him into slavery, but I have accused Him of wrongdoing when He didn't do things my way, and I have forgotten about Him when things were going well and I didn't think I needed Him.  Nevertheless, God has forgiven me.  Day after day, He gives me grace.  I don't deserve it any more that Potiphar's wife deserved it, but God has given it all the same.  Now, it's time for me to follow His example.

There will be people in this life who will hurt you beyond belief.  Some will betray your friendship.  Some will lie about you.  Others will forget you or turn against you.  When these things happen, it's so easy to get mad.  It's natural to want to get even.  But the Spirit reminds us that we have a new nature now, which means the situation merits a new response--grace.  No, they probably don't deserve it.  But grace reaches out to the undeserving.  It reached out to you.  It reached out to me.  Will you extend it to others?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What Will It Take?

I don't usually enjoy documentaries, but yesterday I decided to watch one on the hunt for Noah's Ark.  Obviously, it was not portrayed from a Christian standpoint, and while the producers tried to sound neutral in their beliefs, it was quite evident that they did not believe in the existence of Noah's ark.  They treated it as a myth, legend or simple story.  Still, the facts about some of the different "ark hunters" were fascinating, and I found myself intrigued by the information.

What intrigued me the most, however, was the determination of some of the "experts" to contradict all the findings that indicated that Noah's ark did, in fact, exist.  When one explorer found a piece of petrified wood that matched the wood recorded in the book of Genesis, he had it dated and discovered that the dates also matched up.  However, when the wood was exposed to carbon dating, the facts no longer matched.  Another explorer found a shape that resembled the ark, and after taking precise measurements and performing a multitude of tests, proclaimed it to be the ark of Noah.  Still, the scientists found fault with the theory.  A third explorer is still searching the mountains of Ararat for Noah's ark, but the local trail guide seemed unimpressed.  Her statement was something to this effect, "He honestly believes that Noah's ark is out there.  He's even tried to convert me several times, asking me wouldn't I give my heart to Jesus.  He's trying to make a believer out of me.  So, I told him, 'If you can show me Noah's ark, then I'll believe.'"

Really?  A team of Christians from China discovered what they believed to be Noah's ark, packed tightly under some glaciers.  After clearing an opening in the ice, part of the crew went down into the cavern and filmed their discovery.  The film shows them walking through a large wooden structure that was divided into rooms.  The details found within match up with the Genesis record exactly.  But since the Chinese refused to disclose the exact location of their discovery, their video was considered a hoax.

It seems to me like the world is screaming for proof that the Bible is true, yet when the evidence is given, they deny it and use "other science" to disprove it.  So the question is, do they really want to know?  I think not.  But an even greater question is this:  What will it take for them to believe?  Another world catastrophe?  The death of a loved one?  The rapture?

I'm reminded of King Agrippa in Acts 26:28:  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.  Almost, but not quite.  It was as if Agrippa took the same stance as the trail guide at Ararat--"You show me what I consider proof, then I'll believe."  But will they?  The fact of the matter is that one day, everyone will believe.  Unfortunately, it will be too late for so many.

If you haven't made the decision to accept Christ's gift of salvation, I beg of you, don't wait another day.  Give Him your heart today.  Believe in His great love and sacrifice for you.  Surrender your life and your all to Him.  Don't wait for more proof.  Faith isn't about proof.  It's about accepting the unexplainable.  It is believing in the unseen.  You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.  Don't be an Agrippa.  Accept Christ as the Lord of your life today!