The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Read this today and it ministered to me......

"I watch over My word to accomplish it."  Jeremiah 1:12

Jesus entered earth's atmosphere quietly one night in Bethlehem's stable, and the promise You had first spoken in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) was fulfilled.  A promise You had renewed through every generation.  A hope and expectation that You kept alive in your people.  All the time, You were preparing the way for the promise, laying the groundwork for its fulfillment, readying the hearts of Your people.

Jesus, You are the proof that our God is a God whose promises are sure.  When it looks to me as if You are neglecting Your promises, let my heart see You, the Promise, lying incongruously on a bed of hay, transforming the ordinary into the holy.  My soul waits for the fullness of time.   
 {Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean}

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Story of the Orphaned Lamb

There once was an orphaned lamb who had wandered into the wood.  She was wounded.  She was fearful.  She was alone.  She was lost.  She heard nothing but the sounds of pine straw crunching 'neath her feet along with an occasional snap of a fallen tree branch as she walked aimlessly in circles.  It would be night soon.  "Where should I go?"  she thought to herself.  Just then she felt strong arms of a human grabbing her, lifting her into the air.  She struggled, but her broken, wounded body could not free itself.  She surrendered and was slung over His shoulders.  She then recognized His face.  He was her Shepherd.  "Don't be afraid, now." he said in a quiet, warm tone and carried her through the wood, through the pasture full of grazing sheep, and into His house.  He began to care for her wounds.  He set out food for her to eat.  He washed her dirty coat.  He spoke gently to her.

He seemed kind.  He probably could be trusted, but the little lamb chose to fear.  She didn't know where she was.  She had never taken food out of a bowl.  She had never had bandages wrapped around her legs.  She had never felt this clean.  She felt trapped.  She felt fearful.  She felt alone.  She glanced out of the farmhouse window watching all the other sheep happily grazing along the far hillside.  All the little lamb could do was think about the other sheep out in the pasture.  She wanted to be with them... for what was most familiar, felt most safe.

She stayed for quite some time in the Shepherd's house.  Most days she would try to escape, but the Shepherd was much too fast and clever for her.  She could never be free of Him.  "You aren't quite ready sweet girl.  You need to heal, darlin'.  Trust me little lamb."  He would say.  She grew to detest His words to her.  She didn't like being here.. alone.. with just Him.  "But I don't understand.  Why do you have me here!" she would tell him.  "One day, you will understand.  One day, you will," He would reply.

The day finally came when the Shepherd brought the orphaned lamb outside and turned her loose unto a different field.  There were other sheep, here.  She was curious, thankful to be out, yet still disappointed.  Some of these sheep couldn't walk very well.  Some seemed very weak, but they were kind.  They greeted her tenderly and welcomed her into their flock.  She still pinned for other pasture.  Reluctantly, she entered into the fold which was extended to her.

"But I don't understand.  Why did you put me HERE!  You know where I want to be.  I'm ready.  Can't you see?"  she pleaded again to the Shepherd.

"One day you will understand.  One day, you will.  I promise."  He replied.

With each day her strength grew.  She walked around with the other lambs in her flock.  Some had been orphaned, too.  Some had been severely broken and beaten.  Some had been attacked by wolves, but ALL had spent time in the Shepherd's house.  All had eaten from His bowl - fed from His hand.  All had been washed and bandaged and loved on by the Shepherd.  Some had shared in her frustration of feeling held captive at first.  Others were extremely thankful.  All were encouraging.  For the first time, the orphaned lamb did not feel fearful.  She did not feel wounded.  She did not feel alone

And then it happened!  The Shepherd called for her.  "I think you are ready, sweet girl," he said smiling.  "Come on, let's go on with the rest 'em."  She followed Him as He led her out towards the open field.  She was finally going with the other sheep. "There ya go," and just like that He set her free.

She watched Him standing guard in the sunlight.  A full grown ewe, now, she had remembered as a lamb seeing Him, but never really seeing Him.  She never paid much attention to Him.  He was always someone poking and prodding her to move on from where she thought she wanted to go.  He looked different to her today.. and she understood ~ just as the Shepherd had promised.

He rescued me.  It wasn't good for me to be out with the other sheep, for I was wounded and small and weak.  I was an orphan.  So out of His great love, He brought me into His own house...not His barn, not in a pen by the His bed.  I didn't know how to get my own food, so He fed me. I couldn't walk well, so He carried me.  I couldn't keep up with the healthy larger sheep, so when I was strong enough, He surrounded me with sheep that, too, had been wounded.  Sheep that had shared in a similar story as me, in order to bring me encouragement.  And all the while I wanted to be away from Him.  I felt He was being cruel.  No.  He was being just the opposite.  He is a Good Shepherd.

The orphaned lamb couldn't keep her eyes off of Him.  She watched His every move... noticing when she was venturing too far.. anticipating His calling for return to the stable. Though at times she still wandered, the Shepherd was faithful every time to bring her back.  She had forgotten all about the other sheep in the bigger pasture.  She realized that her Shepherd meant more to her than life itself.  He was the reason she was alive and well.  It mattered no longer whether she lived in a barn, or house, a backyard, a tiny field, or an enormous green pasture... as long as she was with Him.  As long as she was near Him, the little orphaned lamb was not fearful.  She was never alone.  She was content.  She was joyful.  She wasn't lost anymore; she belonged to Someone.  She was no longer an orphan.

When other sheep noticed her contented, joyful heart, they became curious.  "Why are you never fearful?  Where do you find your joy?" the little lambs would ask.

Then she would tell her story...

...and other sheep came to know Him as the Good Shepherd, as well.


I once was lost, but now I see ~ "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)