The Orphan Lamb
"The Orphan Lamb"
There's nothing quite so humbling as hearing a good ol' sheep story. Because we are so much like sheep, the analogies we hear tend to expose so many of our more endearing qualities. But in this story, the analogy is not so much concerned with revealing our sheep-likeness, as it is to revealing God's loving-kindness. This story was written by a man who was reflecting back to his childhood growing up in "sheep country", Montana.
He writes; "There were many sheep farms in the area of Montana where I grew up. Spring was the season when the little lambs were born. But spring in Montana can be brutal, sleet storms can come whirling down out of the north, and snow can still be three or four feet deep on the prairies. Often, there are long, protracted seasons of bitter cold during lambing season. Of course, when the sheep must give birth to lambs in that kind of weather, many of the lambs and ewes die. As a result, sheep farmers have many mothers whose newborn lambs have died, and many newborn lambs whose mothers have died. A simple way to solve this problem, it would seem, would be to take the lambs without mothers, and give them to the mothers without lambs.
But with sheep it's not that simple. If you take a little orphan lamb and put it in with a mother ewe, she will immediately go to it and sniff it all over. But then she will shake her head, and most likely say; "Well, that's not OUR family odor!", and proceed to butt it away, refusing to have anything to do with it.
But the sheep men have devised a means of solving this problem. They take the mother's own little dead lamb and skin it. And then they take the skin and they tie it onto the orphan lamb. Then they put the little orphan lamb with this ungainly skin flopping around - eight legs, two heads - and they put it in with the mother. She pays no attention at all to the way it looks, but she sniffs it all over, again, and then she nods her head, saying " all is well", and the little lamb is allowed to nurse.
What has happened? The orphan lamb has been "accepted in the beloved one." This story touches my heart because it reminds me that there was a time when God's Lamb lay dead on our behalf, and God took us orphans, and clothed us in the righteousness of His very own Son, the holy, perfect, innocent Lamb of God. We who were lost, and helpless, and outside the family of God, were "accepted in the Beloved". We were accepted in God's own Beloved Son.
Think for a moment about that little orphan lamb. What would have happened to it, had there not been the death of this other lamb? What if all the other natural born lambs had survived? Well, the little orphan lamb would have been pushed away, where it would have eventually died. There was only one way for the orphaned lamb to be accepted, and saved. And that was through the death of the natural lamb, and by being covered with his skin.
So it was for us. We too were alone and helpless, and outside the Family of God. As Paul writes in Ephesians;
12) we were separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel. We were strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13) But now in Christ Jesus we who formerly were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
The nation of Israel was God's chosen people. He set them apart to have a special relationship with Himself. They were given the privilege of having His Law, His promises, and the responsibility of representing Him to all the nations of the earth.
We, on the other hand, were outside of this covenant. We had no special relationship with God. We were separated from God, not only because we were not His chosen people, but also, because of our sin. We were far off. We were strangers to His covenant, to His promises. We had no hope. We were without God in this world. "But now, in Christ, we who were formerly far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
Because of what Jesus Christ did when He went to the cross to be our substitute, to be our sacrifice, to die in our place, to shed His precious blood so that our sins could be washed away, - because of what He has done for us - the dividing wall, the barrier that once separated us from God, has been abolished. We have now been reconciled to God, through the blood of the cross. We are no longer strangers and aliens, but we are fellow-citizens with the Saints, and are of God's household.
What a joy to consider what God in Christ has done for us. He has done it all. We had no part in this process, except to believe. It was His plan. It was His work that saved us from our sin, and gave us eternal life. What did we ever do to merit such a gift? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! What we did deserve was His wrath, His righteous Judgement.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ... (Eph. 2:4-8)
--- Rick Wooten
"God's Goodness" (Palms 31:19)
No matter what your day has been like, no matter what you may be going through, no matter where your heart is at today, the Holy Spirit can still fill your heart with "a joy inexpressible and full of glory" if you count your blessing, by counting them one by one.
As you focus on God's goodness today, let it encourage and uplift you with the truth that, as His precious child, He's continually storing up blessings that He has designed just for you. Think of it as a huge warehouse with your name on it. God is continually storing up blessings that perfectly fit whatever need you happen to have. And the great thing is, you never have to worry about it running out.
If life is not going well for you right now, it's not because you've used up your yearly supply, and now you have to wait until next January to get some more of God's goodness. And that's because there's an endless supply of blessings continually replenishing your warehouse. You will never run out. But you may be thinking, "It sure doesn't feel that way, my life's the pits right now." Well, I'd like you to consider this. Feelings! they are never a very good indicator of what's really true. And the truth is, God IS good, and the blessings that He stores up in your warehouse are always good, even if it doesn't feel that way. Our feelings can sometimes deceive us. Isn't it true that at times we can get so caught up counting our problems, that we completely lose sight of God's goodness, and the many blessings that He does give us? If you are struggling in this area, I ask you to refocus for a few minutes, and consider God's goodness. Let's look at what the Word of God has to say about this.
I will be sharing a verse from Palms 31. In verse 19 we read,
"How great is Thy goodness which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men."
"When I think of the first part of this verse, "How great is Thy goodness", I think of it in two ways. One, as a question, the other as an exclamation. Have you ever asked yourself "how great IS God's goodness? Let your mind try to measure it? There's no tape measure long enough. Can you weigh it? I don't think so! Have you ever laid down at night under the stars, and tried to take in the awesome majesty of the heavens? It's impossible, our minds cannot grasp the hugeness of it all. Well, that's about as close as I can come in trying to explain how great IS God's goodness. All I can do is put an exclamation mark at the end of it and cry out, "Oh, how GREAT is Thy goodness!" And then to think, "God stores up His goodness in a warehouse with MY name on it?! And if that's not amazing enough, . . . check this out . . .
The verse continues by saying, "Which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee." Not only do you have a warehouse full of God's goodness that will never run out, but His goodness is uniquely shaped just for you. That's what the word "wrought" actually means in this verse. It means to shape, fashion, and form. So let your mind wrap itself around this amazing truth. The God of Heaven, the Creator of all things, the One who holds this universe together, holds you in the palm of His hand, and takes the time to shape, fashion, and form each blessing into exactly what you need. Each blessing is uniquely and perfectly shaped just for you. It will fit no one else, just like another's will not fit you.
But here comes that nagging question again, "if God is always storing up these perfect blessings that fit whatever my need is, then why aren't my needs being met? Why am I going through this horrible situation? Why am I so unhappy?" To understand that, you must be willing to understand the truth that God's blessings do not always come in the shape of a SMILE, they sometimes come in the shape of a TEAR. Tears can sometimes become a greater blessing than a smile could ever become. I know that this has been the case in my life. And if you really search your heart, I believe you will discover that to be true in your life as well.
Perhaps you are experiencing a time of tears in your life. I know it must be painful, and I'm not taking it lightly. But I want you to consider that your tears have been perfectly shaped into something that God in His wisdom and love knows that you need. You may not see it now. Most of us do not while in the midst of a painful season in life. But if you can hold on to God's many promises, and trust Him to walk you through the storm, you will find "treasures in the darkness." God will take your tears and water the wound which has caused you so much pain. And then you will see that your tear was perfectly shaped as a blessing to you. We can praise God for both the "smiles" and the "tears" because they have both been perfectly shaped by the hands of our Heavenly Father, who loves us more than we can ever know.
The verse closes by saying "before the sons of men." Why does it end like this? It might seem a little out of place, but it really isn't. Because God's goodness to us is never meant for us alone. His goodness to us is often meant to be seen by others. After all, how will people know that there's a God who is real, and who can shape His goodness to bless their lives, if they do not see it lived out in our lives. And so let's remember today that there are people watching, people who may be broken, hurting, and lost, who desperately need to experience God's goodness in their own lives. Maybe today, you can make a difference in someone's life, by showing them how God has been so good to you. A challenge? Live out God's goodness "before the sons of men".
Our prayer for you is that God will fill you with His fullness today, and saturate your heart with the spirit of thankfulness.
--- Rick Wooten
Have you ever been really hurting, and when you reached out to others for help, for whatever reason they failed you, or they weren't there for you? If you can, then you understand how painful and discouraging a time like this can be.
— This is a Gethsemane Moment.
Have you ever cried out to God for help? Those you had expected would be there for you in your time of need were not, and so in your desperation you prayed and cried out to God, "Father, please let me hear your voice!" But all you heard was silence?
— This is a Gethsemane Moment.
Have you ever faced something in your life that was so huge, so painful, so frightening, that you felt that there was no way you could endure it. And so you cried out, "Father, please, if there is another way so that I don't have to go through this, will you please remove it, would you please take it away?" But no matter how many times you prayed for deliverance, nothing happen. Well, .......
— This is a Gethsemane Moment.
Have you had a Gethsemane Moment in your life? Are you going through one now? You see, every one of us have, or will, go through times when someone you trust, someone you depend upon, someone you call a Trusted Friend will disappoint you. They won't be there for you like you thought they always would be. There will be times when your prayers for deliverance will go unanswered, and you'll cry out, "I don't understand, I don't get it! What's going on Lord?"
These are painful times, times that will test your faith, times that will take you to the limit. And we call these times .... Gethsemane Moments. It's important that we learn about how we can have victory during these times, not only for ourselves, but for those that God is preparing right now for you to help during their moments of greatest need. There will be times when you will face a Gethsemane Moment in someone else's life, and we believe that what you learn here today can help you to help others face their crisis, as the Lord Jesus did when He Himself was facing a Gethsemane Moment.
As our High Priest, Jesus understands our pain and sympathizes with our weaknesses, as He was tempted in all things just like us, yet without sin. In this session, we're going to go on a journey to the Garden of Gethsemane. We are going to observe as our dear Savior experiences the pain of having those closest to Him, fail Him during His time of greatest need. We're going to watch Him as He cries out to His Father, and for the first time ever, not to hear the voice that had always been there before.
Together, let's learn from Jesus Himself, how we can have victory in our own Gethsemane Moments, and how we can help others down the road who like yourself are going through times of pain, confusion, and doubts.
When you are suffering, do you prayerfully turn to God’s Word? That’s the only source we can count on to bring life, hope, and promise to otherwise hopeless situations. Its principles illustrate how to — and how not to — deal with trials. When we respond God’s way, the difficulty that threatened to harm us actually enrich our character, and enables us to do greater works for Him.
I believe that the most intense suffering ever recorded was that of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Christ knew that by bearing our sin, He was about to endure not only a gruesome and horrific crucifixion but also the full force of God’s wrath. Even more devastating, He’d be separated from His Father for the first and only time since eternity past. That’s something no other child of God will ever have to endure, because Jesus’ agony achieved mankind’s redemption. So we know that whatever trial faces us, the Lord Jesus will be by our side, supporting us, and providing His grace that is more than sufficient for whatever we go through in this life.
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
(2 Cor. 12:9)
--- Rick Wooten
All Design, & Artwork Including Traditional & Digital Painting by Rick Wooten