Stuck in the Brush?

He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him, can not separate you from the love He has for you.

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Landscape Water *JKSLW047 (Quiet Resting Place)

The darkness is filled with silence as the chill of the night causes him to pull a woolen blanket close around his shoulders. Tonight, his awareness of creatures quietly waiting and watching is heightened. The stones piled high make a quasi-safe barrier encircling his flock but experience warns him that hidden danger waits all around – hungering to make a meal of his little ones.

The open entrance gives access not only to those who are permitted but to those who would steal and kill; so here is where he sits on this dark night, here is where he will lay down across this entrance to rest, as the night wears on.

His mind wonders to the afternoon’s activities. As he had begun taking stalk of his sheep, readying for his evening gathering – one was missing. He thought of nothing but that one lost sheep. He searched through the brush, down the mountain side, by the river, and anywhere this little one might have gone. He never once thought of the ninety-nine others that he had left behind as he searched for his lost one. He knows each sheep personally – its looks, characteristics, habits, and movements – to this shepherd, each sheep is as individual as a human. Each one holds a special place in his heart. This has happened many times to him and each time the love he has for that lost one overwhelms him as he persistently traverses dangerous terrain, never thinking of himself – only that one.

Thankfully, today the lost one was found. It had wondered off, all alone and soon had become tangled under brush and was unable to free itself. The shepherd called it by name and with loving hands reached down and set it free. He lifted this tired little one out of the entrapment, drew the quivering body close and with joy, placed it over his shoulders to carry it back to a place of safety within the flock. 

Just like that little sheep, we can find ourselves tangled under many different entrapment’s, unable to free ourselves. We wonder off – away from the safety of the flock; or even worse, are snatched from the flock by claws and jaws desiring to steal and kill us. But look up, for you have a good, good shepherd. He knows you by name and without hesitation; with great love, He will leave all the rest, just for you. He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him cannot separate you from the love He has for you.

If you find yourself stuck in a lost empty place – listen and look up – you will find Him calling your name and He will be right there to free you, draw you close and with great joy He will place you over His shoulders and triumphantly carry you to safety.

Luke 15:4-6 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that 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 his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was last.’ (ESV)

God’s Today Assignment

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     As the cool of early morning covers my yard I see activity in my filbert tree. Every year there comes a harvesting time for the local squirrels. We have grown to expect and joyfully watch when these few days each year arrive. It is fascinating to watch the acrobatics and diligent work that begins at sunrise and continues to sunset for several days in a row. Every nut is gathered, checked, shelled and tucked away for future use.

     However, that tree has now grown to be nearing 20 feet tall and this morning I found myself holding my breath as my little woodland critters began this tenacious dance. They teeter on thin branches pulling and shelling nuts, then as if the height doesn’t matter; they jump and swing from branches high in the air to reach the next tiny treasure.

     They have no fear and nothing distracts them – even my yapping dachshunds who circle the base of the tree. Their eyes are focused on the assignment at hand.

            Prov. 4:25 Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. (ESV)

     We can learn a spiritual lesson from these little squirrels.

     They woke to have one assignment today and that has been their job – and only job – all day long. Nothing distracted them from that purpose.

     Jesus walked with so many needs and expectations circling him every day but He chose to focus on the voice of His Father. Only doing what He was called to do – thus when His short three years of ministry was complete, He could say “I glorified you on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do.”

     We allow everyday expectations and needs to pull us, run our lives and distract us into exhaustion. We must choose to listen and obey the Spirits voice. When we say no, begin to manage our own expectations-as well as realign others expectations; we are then allowed to joyfully pick up His specific assignments, stay on task and with joy have plenty of strength to accomplish what He desires for us.

     Just as my little squirrels focus only on the prize – the tiny nut treasure – our forward focus on God’s assignment for TODAY will bring an eternal treasure and allow us to rejoice with the words that Jesus spoke – “I glorified you on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do”.

     Join me today in a choice to jump and swing from the highest branches – reaching for the next treasure – HIS assignment set up just for you to complete. Willingly lay down those urgent things that distract and open your eyes to His eternal plans for your TODAY.

Philippians 3:13-14 Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

The Waiting Game

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Life is all about waiting. We begin that “waiting game” within the womb – waiting to make the first appearance into this world. From then on, it’s as if we are always pushing forward – waiting for the next big life experience. To walk, to talk, to go to kindergarten, to go on a first date, get a first kiss and graduate high school; life is always rushing forward. The list goes on throughout our lives: we are always pulling at the harness to go faster and sooner.

Human nature doesn’t like to wait. However, to wait is necessary in every arena of life. All of those “hurry up” things, that we feel are just not happening fast enough, are only good when received at the God ordained time.

If a cocoon is opened early or a bird egg is helped to hatch – the butterfly and the bird will die. The same is true of the plans God has for us. Often, we jump in, run ahead and find ourselves crying out for Him to fix the mess we made by our impatience. The true answer is to wait!

Waiting is not the same as inactivity!

Seeds that are planted wait as the germination process takes place, each having a time table that is appropriate to its ultimate production – only producing what it was created to. But that germination process is not inactivity.

Though nine months is required for a baby to develop, every second of that time-frame it’s cells are actively working, creating a miracle of life while we wait.

Jesus waited, listened and moved only where and when He was directed by the Father. Learning this discipline requires just that – discipline. When our tendency is to move forward, to do something just because we always have or others expect it, often we are stepping out from God’s planned purpose for us.

If you feel rushed to make a decision or pressured to move forward (from any outside expectation) – slow down, stop and wait. If your next step doesn’t find you at a place of confident inner peace, be aware – this could be that God hasn’t directed you yet. Only when He has spoken will you find anxiety lift and peace flood in. I am not saying that it won’t be difficult, stretching or that you will have all the answers; that’s not how He operates. Just as a baby doesn’t jump up and walk or talk in full sentences at birth, we must grow into who He has created us to be.

Waiting is the key! Learning to wait and listening for the Spirits stirring and direction will bring you to a life where you will see the Father working and your next step will be to go there. Until that direction is heard be committed to the last thing you heard Him say!

Join me in the “waiting game” as we wait in His presence – listening and moving only as He speaks.

John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (ESV)

Ecc. 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven (NASB)

Realignment Brings Freedom

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God’s agenda and ours are usually different. As we reach out for freedom in our lives we begin to realign our internal thoughts and expectations – finding that saying YES to Jesus is the answer to living a life of freedom.

Our expectations, thoughts and dreams begin to match His promises and priorities.

Once that realignment begins we will find our place at the foot of the cross. Here we can surrender our fleshly desires and step into freedom – here is where freedom brings love, grace and deliverance beyond anything we could ever want or need.

Starting a journey realigned to His priorities can begin today – simply say YES and watch a new life where life stands in front of you at every corner you turn. Eyes wide open to His agenda for your day – not yours.

Aha – what a way to live.

Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the the things of the Spirit. CSB