Monday, June 23, 2014

Putting on the Armor

Friend, do you ever feel like you're in a battle? Like there is a war going on around you? Perhaps even within you? I do and the last few days I've felt that way more than I have in a long time. I've been reminded there is a war going on...not just over-seas, but right here in Iowa and also wherever you are. We are in the middle of a spiritual battle and if you are walking with Christ, Satan longs to bring you down.

I've been experiencing this quite intensely the last week, especially the last few days. He's attacking my mind, my marriage, my mothering, my ministry. At times I feel defeated and depressed; other's I'm full of doubt and discouragement.

Nearly a week ago as I laid in bed unable to sleep, I cried out to God and asked, "What do I need to do?" His response, not audibly, but impressed on my heart, "Put on the armor."

I agreed and instantly Ephesians 6:10-17 came to mind, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

These verses reminded me of the spiritual battle that is taking place, but that reminder wasn't enough. I meditated on them for a bit and eventually two words stuck out - "Put On". I thought about this and could see a paper we have hanging on our fridge...a project my daughter did awhile back.

This visual made me think about each piece of armor and how simply knowing about them does no good. If we want the armor to be useful, we must put it on. But then I wondered, how do I do that?

I didn't get out of bed and physically start putting things on my body, but instead I began to think about each piece starting with the belt of truth. Questioned entered my mind - What is true about this situation? What is the truth? The questions led to thoughts and then I began to pray, "Lord, I know You are Truth. Though I let others down and even sin against you, you forgive me. Thank you. Help me focus on the Truth, stabilize me with Your Truth Father."

Then I thought about the breastplate of righteousness and as I put that on, my eyes shifted from myself to God...He is righteous, holy and able to save. The breastplate protects my heart from which my emotions flow and again I started to pray, "Lord, you are good, strong and mighty to save. Protect my heart Lord, it is deceitful and tender. Fill me up with your love and create in me a pure heart, renew a right spirit within me. Help me stand behind your righteousness."

Fitting my feet with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...this left me wondering a bit, but as I focused on the key word "peace", I was filled with it. "Lord, thank you for being the Prince of this battle rages help me run to You, stand for You and walk with You. Fill me with your peace Father, the peace that passes all understanding and help me be ready to do what you need me to do."

Then thoughts went to the shield of faith, the piece of armor we must pick up and use to defend ourselves. Faith is our defense's easy to say we have faith when life is good, but it's a must to pick it up and stand behind when the battle is on. As I thought about this, I praised my faithful Father, "God, thank you for who You are. You are able to fight this battle, You already have and You are victorious. Strengthen my faith as the battle continues."

The helmet of salvation, yet another critical piece of armor. A helmet protects our mind and in the middle of a battle my mind needs protection! Friend, think about what protects and better yet who - our salvation that comes through Christ! Regardless of the results of the earthly battle, spiritually Christ has won. "Father, God thank you for saving me. Right now I ask you to protect my mind...Satan is feeding me lies and tempting me to believe them. I ask for wisdom and understanding. I pray for clarity and long for you to renew my mind. Help me focus on Truth that comes from You and is You."

Finally the last piece of armor, our only offensive weapon - the sword of the Spirit. Paul tells us this is the Word of God. Friend this is what we can use to defend ourselves and protect ourselves so I immediately cried out, "Lord, bring the verses to mind that I need right now. Saturate my mind with Your Word. Give me the wisdom I need in this situation. Help me speak Your Word. Like Christ help me combat Satan with Your Word."

Friend, this may seem like a long post and a longer process, but I want you to know I've worked through this in 3 different "battles". Each time my prayer was a bit different and my situation didn't change, but my heart did. I've studied the "Armor of God" a bit, talked about with my kids and have listened to others share, but aside from praying the verses from Ephesians this is the 1st time I've "put it on".

I struggle admitting that, but I'm guessing someone else might be able to relate, so if that's you, please hear me on this - putting on the armor takes time, it is a process and it's not a one time job, but it's worth it!! And if you're not in the middle of a battle right now, know this is the perfect time to put it on!! It's always easier to dress for battle before you are in one!!

In closing may we all learn a lesson from 1 Samuel 17, he plans to fight Goliath and after convincing King Saul he was going to do it, the king outfits David in his armor. (vs 38) After trying to walk in them, David says, "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them.' So he took them off." (vs 39)

Friend, we can't rely on someone else's armor to assist us or protect us. We must make it our own and be diligent to put it on!! I'm praying we will all do that today!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Leave a Mark

The other day my husband asked me, "Who drove the skid loader through the yard?" I had a sheepish grin and he responded, "I knew it could not have been J.D." I'm pretty sure he knew it was me before he asked as I have a tendency of leaving a mark when I drive this big, yellow machine.

We'd had a storm with pretty strong winds that left many branches on the ground, so the kids and I picked them up. The yard eventually was clear of one mess, but now had a new mark.

I'm grateful I was responsible for the damage instead of my son and I'm thankful that it's not as bad as some of the tracks I've left in the past. A couple of days have passed and the marks are still there; now they have me thinking about a couple of things - one, I need to leave the skid loader operating to someone else and two, just as I left a mark driving through the yard I'm also leaving one as I walk through life.

In the same way the skid loader tires sunk into the wet soil, my words leave an impression on others' soft hearts. The track I left in our yard is there for all to see as is the example I set with the life I live. The path I cut through the grass impacts how it will grow and in a similar way my attitude and actions affect those around me.

Oh friend, I encourage you to think about the mark you are making. Think about the words you say, the things you do and the attitude you have. Especially think about these things in relation to those you love the most. What mark are you leaving on your husband? Children? Family? Co-Workers? Neighbors?

Matthew 5:16 tells us, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Friend, when our light shines, others see this. They notice the things we do and say the same way my husband noticed the tracks I left in the yard. Those marks didn't please him much and sometimes God doesn't approve of the marks I leave either. Could you say the same?

Thankfully my husband is a patient, forgiving and loving man and I'm grateful God is perfect in all of those ways! So when we mess up and leave a mark we regret let's receive His grace, but may we be motivated by His love and Word to live out 1 Thessalonians 2:12 and walk in a manner worthy of God.

When we walk this way, we are guaranteed to leave a mark that matters - one that impacts others, leaves an impression and glorifies God.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Another lesson from our lamb...

The other morning my oldest son flew into the house and said, "Mom, you have to see this!" I left the kitchen and went with him to the back porch door. He went out and brought our little orphan lamb over from the barn. Jip followed him across the yard and then J.D. pointed him one way, darted back into the house and told me, "Watch!"

Immediately the woolly little fellow started bleating and wondering around...he ran to the other edge of the house and back to where he came from. Then he started circling around the door...J.D. was enjoying the scene and we each laughed a bit, but then I said, "That's why God calls us His sheep."

Friend, I wish you could have witnessed this...the little lamb knew his "shepherd" was gone and he wasn't content until J.D. went back outside. Now, I know our "Shepherd" will never leave us or forsake us (or hide from us), but I was reminded there are times I drift and moments I take my eyes off of the Lord. I'm sorry to say I don't always respond like our little lamb.

I grew up on a sheep farm and I haven't always appreciated being compared to this animal...they are not the smartest or strongest on the farm, instead they are one that is quite dependent. Though the world pushes us towards independence more and more all the time, God longs for our dependence on Him to increase continuously.

Like sheep, he wants us to depend on our Shepherd. He wants us to know His voice and follow it. God created us to need Him and trust Him just like Jip does with J.D. My son had taken our little lamb out of his pen and there will be times when God leads us out of our comfort zone, but may we remember He will never hide. He will sustain, lead and protect His sheep...that means you and me.

Friend, you don't have to take my word for this because we can find all the support we need in the Word! Psalms 100:3 says, "Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." You belong to God...He cares for you!!

John 10:14-15 tells us, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep." Friend, God made us, Christ died for us and the Holy Spirit lives in us...they know you, but do you know them? I encourage you to dig into God's Word and get to know our Shepherd better. The more we know His heart and understand His voice the better we will be at following Him.

Finally, this incident led me to think about Psalms 23 a bit more...I'm guessing you've heard these words many times and may even have them memorized, but I'd love to challenge you to meditate on them and ask God to speak through them in a fresh way. As you read these words, think about what they say about God as our Shepherd and you as a sheep.

"The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

I'm grateful for the lessons in responsibility my kids are learning as they care for little "Jip", but I'm praying we all hold onto the spiritual truths that are being revealed by our new furry friend! This is a picture of when J.D. went back outside...he called for Jip and the little lamb immediately came to him. Oh, friend I pray we would do the same when God calls us...we know His voice, may we rightly respond to it! When we do...we'll experience the joy and peace that Jip felt and we'll please our Shepherd too!!

Friend, have you ever struggled in seeing yourself as a sheep? Why? What will you do today to strengthen your relationship with the Shepherd?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Year Later

This morning I'm up early, the house is quiet and my mind is going. Many thoughts run through my head, but eventually I begin to focus on one thing...last year on this Saturday morning before Father's Day I received a call saying my grandma had passed away.

It's a call I knew was coming as cancer had taken over and during her last week there were a few times they didn't think she'd make it through the night. Though the call was expected, the news was hard and now that time has passed the pain is not raw, but grief is still present. 

This morning I have found myself reflecting...I've revisited my prayer journal from a year ago and reread the devotional that spoke to me a year ago last night. 

The opening verse was from Luke 10:41 and said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things." I read those words and felt God address me, "Jill, Jill you are worried and troubled about many things." And friend, let me tell you - I was.

I was struggling with my grandma's imminent death, hurting for her family and worrying about how my children would handle the loss of one they loved. My 3 oldest kids were all sleeping over at different houses and I wondered, "If something happens tonight, how will we tell them." And friend, this was just the beginning of the mess in my mind.

But then I read God's Word - the one that is living and active, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training, and things changed. He spoke to my heart and quieted my soul. I was reminded of who He is...a good and loving Father, who can and will sustain me no matter what life brings. His Word was Truth, which helped me remember His promises and put things into perspective. Then I had peace.

By 6 the next morning this is a peace I would need and it's one God provided again and again this past year. It's hard to believe that much time has went by and I can't begin to tell you how many times we've missed Grandma B. I also don't want to paint a perfect picture because honestly it hasn't always been easy. God's peace and perspective do not lead to perfection here on earth, but friend they do help us persevere. 

As I do this and try to help my children do the same, I'm grateful we can persevere with hope and thankfulness. Sometimes we laugh as we remember funny stories and fun times, others we cry when we miss Grandma and wish we could stop in for a visit, but in it all we remember. We remember the story is not over, we will see her again...because Grandma knew Jesus as her Lord and Savior we have the hope of heaven. And for that and all the memories, we are thankful. 

Friend, I don't know what you are walking through or what the past year has held for you but can I encourage you spend sometime in God's Word and prayer. He has what you need...go to Him, ask Him to provide and He will. Today will you join me in focusing on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18? Here Paul tells us, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Believe me, I know this is not always easy, but it is always right! 

A year ago I'm not sure I would have thought I could do that on the day my grandma died, but today a year later I know if we ask God to help us live out His Word, He will. Friend, thank you for stopping's a joy to walk through life with you. Please know I'm lifting you in prayer and asking God to draw you close, speak to your heart and fill you with His Spirit. And a special thanks for all the prayers you've prayed for me! We've all needed them and appreciated them.

Thanking God for the memories and in them too!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Only part of the process...

Life on the farm has been busy…we are in the process of finishing up planting. A time that can be intense and includes long days, late nights and lots of work. We'll be relieved when the planter is back in the shed, but the work will be far from over.

The other day as I thought about all that had to take place before we could harvest our crop in the fall, my mind began to drift and I thought about harvesting in a spiritual sense. Do you long to live a life that produces a crop? One that pleases our Creator?

As we work towards this, we can put much emphasis on planting seeds. This work is very important…crops will never grow if seeds are never planted. But will you learn with me from my recent lesson on the farm?

If my husband puts seed corn in the ground, we will have a crop to combine in the fall, but he knows more can be produced. He understands there are things he can do between planting and harvest that will increase the yield.

He can harrow the field, rotary hoe the crop and cultivate the corn. We can pick the rocks, pull the weeds and spray the fields. All of these things will impact the harvest.

And friend, in a spiritual sense we can do the same. We can till up the soil of our heart and remove the sin from our lives. We can protect the seeds by being aware of what we expose ourselves to and getting rid of things that can hinder growth. The growth of the seeds of faith can be stimulated as well when we saturate ourselves with God’s Word and surround ourselves with Godly friends. Time spent in worship will nourish the seeds too.

We can also enhance the growth of the seeds we plant by praying for and encouraging the ones we share with. Speaking Truth and living our faith are ways to care for the seeds we plant.

My husband, the farmer, does something else through the growing season that we must not forget - he trusts the One who does the growing. He knows there are things he can do to increase yield, but he also knows he is not in control. So from planting to harvest and all the time in between, he is praying. He asks God to grow the seed, bring the rain and produce a crop.

And in this journey, he trusts. He trusts our good and powerful God. The one who created the heavens and earth. The Lord who knows all and sees all. Our Father who has a plan and a purpose.

Oh friend, may we do the same as we wait for spiritual seeds to grow. Seeds that matter more than the corn and beans that produce a crop that provides for my family. May we remember that planting seeds is vital, but it’s only part of the process!

Today no matter where we are in the growing season, let us not forget a few things about the process...

"I said, 'Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.'" (Hosea 10:12)

"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains." (James 5:7)

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

Heavenly Father, Lord, we know you alone are the One who does the growing of every seed we plant. Help us not only plant seeds, but also care for them. Show us how to water, protect and nourish the seeds that have been planted into the soil of our own hearts and may we be diligent to tend other seeds as well. Thank you for the example we see on the farm and help us learn from it…farmers work hard, they invest time and trust You, may I do the same. And Father thank you for the growing You’ve done in my life…I am grateful and I ask You to continue to rain down and let the Son shine so that I can produce a fruit that yields a bountiful harvest for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thinking about teachers...(and a give-away)

First of all a special welcome to those of you joining me from the Encouragement Cafe! It's a joy to be sharing there today about a topic that is dear to my heart - mentoring! (If you want to read my devotional, you can do so by clicking HERE.)

Today I shared about the reason Paul gives for mentoring - "so that the Word of God would not be maligned." (Titus 2:5) Friend, I encourage you to stop and think about those words for a moment - they say a do our actions!

Mentoring has always played a role in my life...I looked up to my mom, grandma's, aunts and older cousins - I watched them and tried to imitate what they did. As I grew, I looked to my teachers, coaches and older athletes in a similar way. When I gave my life to Christ in my early 20's, God brought wonderful spiritual mentors across my path...ones who shared Truth, set an example, listened and offered insight. I am grateful for all who've impacted my walk with Christ.

But today, I want to spend sometime talking about teachers, a type of mentor. As a little girl my dream was to be a teacher and as a 22 year old that dream came true, but 5 years later I left the classroom to be a stay at home thinking maybe that dream was over. Now I realize it just changed - I am a homeschool teacher and at times even teach from the Bible. (Let me tell you God's Word and an algebra text are two entirely different books!!)

In all of this I've learned matter my job or title, I will always be a teacher. And friend, so will you...someone is always watching and they learn from the things we do and say. They see how we act and react and whether we want them to or not, they learn from it.

Along with this, regardless of our age or school status, we will always have teachers. Learning doesn't end when our days in the classroom are over...we too, even as adults, are impacted and influenced by those around us.

The other day I heard a teacher say, "I have LOVED being with you. You are THE best FB friends a girl can ask for...encouraging, wise, prayerful, engaged and honest about your faith. I'm so thankful for each of you." I did the FB thing and liked her comment. Then I walked away from the computer, but those words stayed in my head. 

I'm one who typically struggles with compliments (just ask my husband), but I was receiving these words and instantly God brought to mind Luke 6:40. Here Jesus says, "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." Every word our "teacher" had used to describe us are ones she lives out. We are learning from her and in the process are becoming like her.

These thoughts then crossed over with today's devotion...friend, mentoring and teaching are a constant part of life and we should always be living both roles - doing the instructing as well as the learning! And may we never forget the ultimate reason - so that the Word of God will not be maligned!

So let me ask you a few questions -
Who are the "teachers" in your life? Are they people you want to become like? Do they set an example you want to follow? Do they point you to The Teacher, the one we call Christ?

Who do you "teach"? What lessons are you teaching? Think about the things you do and say, are these things you want imitated? (If you're a Mom, you know this happens!!) Are you following Christ so that as others follow you, they are really following Him?

Friend, God's Word tells us we will become like our teachers...may we learn from ones like Him and teach others what God wants them to know. And His Holy Word also instructs us to train up others so that His Word will not be will you do this today? Share your thoughts in the comments and I will select a winner to receive a copy of my book, "Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship."

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you Lord for the mentors and teachers in my life. Bless them for pouring into my life and showing me what it means to follow You. Give me wisdom to seek out and be influenced by teachers who point me to You. Give me a teachable spirit so that I can learn and then teach others as well. I am grateful that You are the perfect teacher...make my heart receptive to each lesson you need to teach me. And Lord, as I learn, help me share with others. May my life be an example for those who are watching. Today Father, help me learn from You so I can become more like You and point others to You. Thank you for all You've taught and I look forward to all that lies ahead. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Songs that tell a story...

Last night I found myself exhausted and a bit frustrated, so I pushed pause and cried out to God asking Him to fill me up and speak to my heart. He led me to a post I wrote last August but never published...I read the words and was reminded of how He's worked in my life - constantly speaking to me, leading me, working in me and even through was a reminder I needed. And now He's leading me to share it with you and I'm pausing as I ask Him to speak to who ever He brings here. Friend, may you be encouraged as you live out your story!! 

Growing up my dad and I use to say, "We can sing like a bird...a dead one!" It was our fun way to state the truth - we can't sing. Now my children laugh at me when I try to clap to the beat and I only need the hymnal for the words because I can't read the notes. 

I can't sing, but I do. Well, when I'm sure nobody can hear just me. I can't read music, but it touches my heart. I don't understand musical language, but words strung together speak to me in a powerful way. 

A couple of weeks ago, a new song touched me deeply and has quickly became one of my favorites. There are many, many songs I like and countless ones I remember, but it seems every so often God gives me one that I connect with in a deeper way. Thoughts of this new favorite song made me think about the ones that have already left a mark. I realize these songs each have a message, but when strung together they tell my story.

The first one to come to mind is a country song from my high school days. I realize Kevin Sharp was singing about the girl who walked away, but the words he sang described exactly how I felt. As a lonely, depressed teenager I could relate as he sang, "I'm dying inside and nobody knows it but me, Like a clown I put on a show, The pain is real even if nobody knows and I'm crying inside and nobody knows it but me." Nobody knew I was hurting, but I couldn't hide the pain from God and eventually I gave my life to Christ and He put a new song on my heart.

I don't recall the first time I heard Avalon sing "You're Everything", but I know I identified with every word. It began, "I grew up in Sunday school, I memorized the golden rule, And knew how Jesus came to set the sinner free." I had done all these things, but as I stated above I was empty, alone and lost. Thankfully God removed the scales from my eyes and drew me to Himself so I could sing along, "But I'll never be the same because, He changed my life when he became.....Everything to me, He's more than a story..."

As He became my everything, God gave me a desire to live out the title of the song my little boy and I enjoyed jamming to. Back when my oldest was just a toddler, Tree63 released "Blessed Be Your Name" and I loved it the first time I heard it. In June of 2006, God brought some of the words to Saturday morning I attended the funeral for a good friend's dad and later that day a pregnancy test confirmed I was going to be a mom again. I clearly experienced God giving and taking away. Then a few years later as I experienced a miscarriage, I surprised myself by asking our pastor to sing this song. Though I cried through the whole thing, I sang the words from my heart..."When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say...Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Because of God's work in me, He took me to a place where I could praise Him regardless of my circumstances and during Christmas of 2006, I heard a song that has become my favorite song of the holidays. We attended a Go Fish concert and "It's About the Cross" touched me deeply. At Christmas it can be easy to get lost in the busyness and buying, doing and going, but the words to this song remind me what it's really all about! "It's about the cross, It's about my sin, It's about how Jesus came to be born once, So that we could be born again." Though it's a Christmas CD, it's one I pull out from time to time to remember all Jesus did for me!!

Over the years God has led me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I never expected to do, but He's given me the desire to obey and when I heard Chris Tomlin sing, "I Will Follow" it became the cry of my heart. I always sang along with the words, "Where you go, I'll go, Where you stay, I'll stay, When you move, I'll move, I will follow..." Then God led me to step away from some of the things I loved and enjoyed; I'll admit those steps were hard, but looking back I know He's shown me the rest of the song is true, "All your ways are good, All your ways are sure, I will trust in you alone."

My faith has grown, but there are times I still struggle with who I am. I often see myself as who I was once...the girl who thought she was never good enough, the one who failed and didn't measure up. It's no surprise that Jason Gray's "Remind Me Who I Am" struck a chord and always speaks to my heart. His words are mine, "When I can't receive Your love. Afraid I'll never be enough. Remind me who I am. If I'm Your beloved, Can You help me believe it." As I've dug into God's Word and tried to seek Him with my whole heart, He's done just what this song says!

And because of the work He's done in me, I now embrace my new favorite song - "One Pure and Holy Passion". I don't recall singing it before or even hearing it, though I'm sure I have, but two weeks ago it was like I'd never heard it and instantly I found it on my list of all time favorites. I pray it won't just be words that touch my heart, but like all the songs that have come before it I trust it will become the cry of my heart. "Give me one pure and holy passion, Give me one magnificent obsession, Give me one glorious ambition for my life, To know and follow hard after You." Isn't that a great thing to ask God for?!? 

Friend, thank you for reading through this...I pray by sharing a bit of the story I'm living God will encourage you as you live out the story He's writing for you. And if there are special songs in your life I'd love to hear about the story they tell!! May we all remember that regardless if we can sing or not, music can speak to our hearts and God wants us to make a joyful noise!!

(To hear t
he songs I've mentioned, click on the blue lyrics.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You Can't Save Them All, But...

Every year my dad gives our kids some orphan lambs and about three weeks ago, he brought the first one over. Instantly the kids fell in love and by day two were treating him like a new puppy - taking him on walks, snuggling with him and just loving little "Jip".

This little guy had been an orphan from day one and was pretty healthy. He had no problem with the bottle and even my 2 year old could feed him. The kids were thrilled and I was thankful they were old enough to now handle the job responsibly. (Not the 2 year old!)

A few days later, Grandpa came with another lamb, but Flopsy didn't have quite as good of a start. He didn't like the bottle and wasn't overly cooperative. I shared some concerns with my dad and his words to me were simple, "Remember, you can't save them all."

The mothering instincts in me took over and I found myself in the barn nearly as often as the kids. The little guy needed help standing up and drinking from the bottle, so I either observed the kids or fed him myself. Then one day I found myself getting frustrated...we were investing the time and money, but Flopsy was not improving. I began to wonder if our efforts were even worth it and then I recalled my dad's words, "You can't save them all."

I knew that statement was true...I've spent most of my life on a farm, but yet another thought immediately followed that one as I heard, "but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try." That phrase stuck in my head and came back to my mind each time I helped the struggling little lamb.

One day as I was working with the weak, sick, little fellow God used the situation to illustrate a spiritual concept. First of all, I want to clarify one thing - I know I am not the one who would save this lamb or any person...God is the only one capable of breathing life into a person physically and spiritually, but He can and does use people to point others to Himself, so with that said I'll move on.

Our sick little lamb is a picture of the ones who need to know Christ. It can be easy to minister to and encourage a fellow believer...they are typically willing and able to receive what you offer, just like our healthy little Jip. But working with those who need Jesus can sometimes be like it was when I tried to feed takes more time, requires more work and can lead to frustration. They may put up a fight, ignore you or avoid you. And the truth is you can't save them all...meaning it may not bring the result you want.

Though that is the reality, the truth is we still need to try. We must be willing and able to share Christ and live our faith will all who cross our paths, not just the ones we choose or those we assume will respond to our efforts.

Luke 5:31 says, "Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." And the thing is each and every one of us is sick. The human race, including me and you, is sick with sin...we need the only One who can heal us and save us. 

I'll close this post by letting you know my dad was can't save them all - our little lamb lost his fight and our efforts were not enough. But I'll add this, we did try, but God is sovereign and friend this is true in our spiritual efforts as well. Everyone will not respond to us the way we'd like, the way we pray, because God is sovereign, but we will experience peace if we know we tried rather than the regret that comes with doing nothing at all. 

Friend, if you are a believer in Christ remember you are called to share your faith! May these verses encourage you today - 
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

"We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38