July 2007

"Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore." Psalm 105:4

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Thought: Living in Freedom

This past Forth of July is one that I don’t think I will ever forget. After tying up a few loose ends around the house, we headed off on a trip to New York.  For years, I had tried to get to New York City—and now we were really going there!

Even though we didn’t really have many firm plans (the trip was rather last minute), God had our trip all planned out. He demonstrated over and over again to us that He had each detail in His capable hands. I couldn’t walk far because of some trouble I was having with my knee—God provided a parking spot within site of the firework viewing area. It started to rain—we realized that we just “happened” to have a tent in our trunk. We needed to get out of the tent to watch the fireworks—the rain stopped, starting up again as soon as we were safely in our cars.  We started driving back to the hotel—the traffic was unusually light because of the rain, and we made it to the hotel in an amazingly short time. 

The whole evening was positively spectacular. Not because the fireworks were anything or because being in New York by itself was anything, but because God was using the whole incident to speak to my heart exactly what I needed to hear. He was reminding me that He knows my needs—even the tiniest ones—and that I can trust Him to take care of every detail of my life.

So often I forget this fact and allow myself to be enslaved to my own plans and desires. I allow what I want to keep me from rejoicing in what God is giving. As I stared at the Statue of Liberty, I kept thinking about the verse that says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1 KJV).

The verse was in reference to the Galatians, who were becoming entangled in legalism. It hit me that we can so easily allow ourselves to be entangled by a whole host of things, thus missing out on the freedom we can have in Christ.

I was reminded that God wants us to walk in the freedom and joy of knowing that He has every detail of our lives in His hands. Even on those days where things don’t go our way, He is still in charge! No matter what it may look like, He is the One who is governing our days and deciding our future. We can trust Him—even when what is happening doesn’t look good to us. We can walk in true freedom—handing our plans over to Him and rejoicing in what He gives us each day!

Story: Rejoicing in His Care

“What happened to that miserable little lamb?” Josiah had finally gathered the courage to state the question that had been on his mind all afternoon. When he had visited his friend Peter a few weeks ago, he had noticed that one of Peter’s lambs sat on the very edge of the pasture, making itself miserable by wishing itself in a different pasture besides the one in which it had been placed. Where had the lamb gone?

Peter smiled one of his broad, joyful smiles. “You mean you don’t recognize the lamb?”

Josiah shook his head.

Peter pointed to one of the lambs contentedly grazing nearby. “That little lamb over there is the very same one.”

Josiah could hardly believe it. The lamb Peter signaled out looked so happy and content, quite unlike the miserable lamb he had seen a few weeks ago. The lamb’s body, which had appeared wasted away and matted down, now practically shone with health and vitality. “What happened? Did you move it to a different pasture?”

Peter shook his head. “Oh, no. I didn’t change her pasture. She just finally realized that I was caring  for her and placing her just where she needed placed. She very slowly backed away from the pasture’s edge and began eating the grass in this pasture. Some days, though, she still forgets that I know what is best for her. I will see the discontent creep back into her eyes and replace the joy and delight you see there now. But when the lamb looks at me and remembers my care, the discontent vanishes and she is able to enjoy what I have provided once again.”

“But will you always keep the lamb in this pasture?”

Peter shook his head. “No, of course not! I will lead her out to different pastures when the time is right. Then she will have the same choice once again as to whether she will delight in the new pasture I’ve given her or waste her time wishing for the old one.”

As Josiah pondered these words and looked at the once miserable but now happy lamb, he began to realize the lamb’s secret. It wasn’t that the lamb was delighting in the pasture it had. The lamb was delighting in the knowledge that its shepherd knew what it needed and was caring for it. It had finally realized that being near its shepherd and rejoicing in his care is what would bring it true joy and peace. 

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15 KJV

Homeschool Tip: Are You Using Your Map?

--By Cris Loop

This month, my children surprised me and took me on a trip.  As I was heading out the door, my husband asked if we had a map. I replied that no, we didn’t, but that was okay. I'd traveled these highways many times before.  Even though I had never visited two of the destinations we had planned, I assured him that my scribbled directions would be enough.  His pleading face compelled me to find a place for the atlas he handed me, but I thought to myself, What did we need a map for? I know the basic way by heart. Besides, God has always seen to it that we arrive safely wherever we’ve traveled.  

The trip on the way to each destination went wonderfully!  We were having so much fun we didn't even think about directions.  Miraculously, I made each turn just in time.     

Coming home, though, was a different story.  I chose to take a short cut.  I had looked at my friend’s  map the night before we left and jotted down a few turns.  The short cut only lasted a couple of hours, so I would get to familiar territory quickly.  I didn’t think there would be any problems.

Once on the road, I began to realize my folly. A few wrong turns rattled me just a little, but I relaxed, knowing we we were now in familiar territory.  Then came the predominately stopped traffic. Suddenly I was REALLY wishing that I had brought a more detailed map. I was so thankful for the atlas, but it didn’t give me the details I really needed. 

If I had had a more detailed map, I wouldn’t have gotten off track or even wondered if we were going the right way.  I could have kept looking down at my map to make sure that I was still on target.  And, when I ran into the stopped traffic, I would have been able to go a different way more easily. 

I wondered, could I be doing spiritually what I had done on my trip?  Could I be thinking that I can “find my way” without having a map to consult because I had been there before? God’s Word is like a map, giving us direction for each day.  Could I be relying on the Lord and my knowledge of Him, reading His Word daily, but not really letting His Word give me the direction and comfort I need?  My whole map incident got me to thinking about how easy it is to get off track spiritually, especially when we know God’s Word well.    

As you “drive” through your days this month, stop frequently and consult your map. Even if you have done the same thing before, question the things you’re doing and hold them up to the Word of God. It is so easy to get confident in our relationship with God and/or our past experiences that we forget to consult His Word for today’s answers.  We might read the Word, but are we letting it speak to us?  Don’t forget that it’s through His Word that God speaks to us, changing our hearts and showing us His direction for us.  We continually need to come before His Word like we would a trustworthy map, checking out the “road signs” we see and ascertaining if we’re still on the correct course.
                       
I'm leaving on another road trip this week. This time, you can be sure that I've got a map!  

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 KVJ

Hymn/Poem: My Jesus, As Thou Wilt

--Text by Benjamin Schmolka. Translated by Miss J. Borthwick. Found in Living Hymns for Use in the Sabbath School, Christian Endeavor Meetings, the Church and Home. Compiled by John Wanamaker. Published in Philadelphia by John J. Hood, 1890.

My Jesus, as thou wilt:
O may thy will be mine;
Into thy hand of love
I would my all resign.
Thro’ sorrow or thro’ joy,
Conduct me as thine own,
And help me still to say,
“My Lord, thy will be done.”

My Jesus, as thou wilt:
Tho’ seen thro’ many a tear,
Let not my star of hope
Grow dim or disappear.
Since thou on earth hast wept
And sorrowed oft alone,
If I must weep with thee,
My Lord, thy will be done.

My Jesus, as thou wilt:
All shall be well for me;
Each changing future scene
I gladly trust with thee.
Straight to my home above,
I travel calmly on,
And sing in life or death,
“My Lord, thy will be done."

 

Unless otherwise indicated, articles are written by Katherine Loop, 2007.  Feel free to pass these e-mails or articles that we have written within these emails along to others (please include a link to our website when you do). If you do not regularly receive Christian Perspective's monthly e-mails and updates and would like to receive them, please send your e-mail address to info@christianperspective.net or sign up on our website, www.christianperspective.net.   If you would like to be removed from the e-mail list, simply let us know, and we will promptly remove you. We'd always love to hear from you. Drop us a line sometime and share with us your thoughts and suggestions.

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Unless otherwise indicated and where marked KJV, scripture taken from the King James Version.

Where marked NKJV, "Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."