THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which 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 neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
January 16, 2008
In 1 Kings 16:28-33 we read about the beginning of Ahab's reign as King over Israel. Ahab was married to the notorious Jezebel. 1 Kings 16:30 says that Ahab did evil in the sight of God, more than all who were before him. This king was an avid Baal worshiper. Verse 32 says that Ahab, “Set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.” Verse 33 continues, “And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel before him.”
Chapter 17 brings about the entrance of a prophet named Elijah. As God's messenger, Elijah spoke to Ahab a word of judgment from the Lord against Israel's disobedience. In verse 1, he told Ahab that there would not be any rain nor dew. God withheld rain from falling upon Israel for 3 ½ years.
The worshipers of Baal believed he controlled rain and was responsible for abundant crops. Therefore this judgment of God was part of His plan to prove to Israel that He was the One and Only true God.
After Elijah prophesied to Ahab, God spoke to him and told him exactly where he needed to go. Elijah was to go eastward and hide by the Brook Cherith. In 1 Kings 17:4 God tells Elijah, “And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
Even though the rest of the nation was suffering from drought, God daily provided for Elijah. Verse 6 states that, “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.”
What a miracle! Elijah didn't have to go scavenge for food, but God miraculously provided meat and bread for him twice each day. He had fresh spring water to drink.
Yet after a while, something happened. The brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. I read that and think to myself, “Okay, God miraculously had a raven bring meat and bread to Elijah twice each day. Why didn't he keep the water flowing in the spring? That would not be too difficult for God to do! After all, there was an occurrence where God instructed Moses to strike a rock and water came out of it. It wouldn't have been anything at all for Him to keep the water flowing to provide for Elijah.” It seems that at that time, God also stopped the ravens from coming and bringing food to Elijah.
God had another plan for Elijah. He no longer wanted this prophet to hide out by the brook. It was time to move on. If Elijah was anything like us today, the only way God could get him to move, was to cut off his water and food supply. If the brook was still running with fresh water and the ravens were daily bringing meat and bread, Elijah might not have been so willing to obey. He might have thought, “I've got it good here, why should I leave and go someplace where I don't know whether or not my needs will be met.” God didn't give Elijah that option.
God's instructions to Elijah was to go to a particular village and dwell there. God told Elijah that He had commanded a certain widow there to provide for him.
Elijah obeyed and found the woman gathering sticks. Elijah approached her and first of all ask for a cup of water. When she turned to go get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
The widow replied, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar, and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
Apparently the lady had some extra water, because she didn't even question it when Elijah asked her for a drink. But I can imagine the thoughts that ran through her head when he asked for some bread. She had a young son to provide for, and knew that she only had enough flour and oil to make them one last meal. She had no more resources, and knew that they were going to die from starvation afterwards. Now here comes this man to her gate, and asks her to bring him some bread. She may have been filled with hopeless desperation. Perhaps she had prayed and cried out to God for provision, only to see her supplies dwindle down to that very last bit.
What Elijah asked this woman to do required complete faith on her part. He told her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me and afterwards make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.'”
I think my first reaction would have been to make a cake for my young child. Then if there was any left over, I would give it to the prophet, then feed myself lastly. Yet Elijah told her to bring the small cake to him first, before feeding herself and her son.
The widow may have thought, “What have I got to lose”, and she obeyed. The scriptures say that the bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.
By leaving the Brook Cherith, not only did God provide for Elijah during the drought, but He also provided for the widow and her son. God had a much bigger purpose to fulfill through Elijah, that could not be accomplished by him hiding out by the brook.
In our lives, we may have a season where God directs us to do a certain thing. This is our “brook” experience. We may experience blessing and enjoy provision during that time. God may answer our prayers and we see Him do some awesome things. We may see God's hand orchestrating our lives and see His plan for us being fulfilled. Yet after some time, in the midst of what looks like a miraculous and wondrous time in our lives, God instructs us to do something else.
Many times, He has a hard time getting through to us and getting our attention. We have grown comfortable there by “our brook”, we like it there and are settled, our needs are being met there, and we don't want to leave. Sometimes God may have to allow the brook to dry up and cut off our provision, in order to get us to follow Him. At times we dig our heels in, and instead of leaving our brook, we hunt around trying to find another source of water. But we are never going to be contented until we leave that place and go to the next level with God.
Yes, God did instruct Elijah to go to the brook, and He provided all that Elijah needed for that time. But it was never God's intention for Elijah to spend the rest of his life there. The same principle can be applied to our lives.
If Elijah had refused to obey God and go find the widow woman, then both his needs and hers would have gone unmet. God may have a purpose in moving us away from the brook. There may be someone that God intends on bringing into our path, that only we can minister to and help. By doing so, not only will we be blessed and provided for, but the needs of that other person will be met.
I'm not talking about us moving physically to different locations, although there may those whom God does require that of. But each of our lives are a series of changes and seasons, and we need to make ourselves available to God and allow Him to direct our steps. God has a purpose for each of us, that only we can fulfill. We have to be open to change, open to God placing various people in our lives, and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, after God miraculously keeping the widow woman's flour bin and jar of oil full, her son became sick. Verse 17 says that “his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him.” The woman was absolutely devastated when her son died! Elijah took the boy out of his mother's arms, took him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid the child on his own bed.
In verse 20 Elijah cries out to God and says, “O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” Elijah stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray, let the child's soul come back to him.” The Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.
After God so miraculously providing for the widow, her son, and Elijah, it is puzzling that He would allow her son to then die. In the midst of God's miracle provision, sorrow and tragedy entered the home. If God could keep the widow miraculously supplied with flour and oil, why didn't He keep her son from sickness and death? It makes no sense.
A great mystery, to which we will never know the answer while on this earth, is why sickness, sorrow, or tragedy happens to those who are following God and doing His will. God may answer our prayers and supply our needs and do wondrous things in our lives, and the lives of our family. Then disease or sickness, death, accidents, fires, floods, etc. suddenly and unexpectedly strikes. Have we sinned, or is God punishing us, or pouring His wrath out up on us? Although individuals can bring harm and sickness upon themselves by their actions, that is not always the case. Godly people who love God and whole heartedly follow Him experience these things, just as the wicked do. I have no big explanation for this. Throughout history, bad things have happened to good people.
The major difference is that when Christians experience these types of things, they have God to lean on, and can trust Him to be with them. The ungodly and non-Christians have only their own devices and understanding to look to for comfort and help. Just as we see demonstrated in the story of Elijah and the widow, in the midst of tragic circumstances, God's power and love are active on behalf of those who love Him.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
We can be encouraged that in all things and in all situations, God is working on our behalf. We may not always see what He's doing and may not always understand, but we can still know that regardless of what happens, God is there. Many things in life we will never understand or be able to explain. It's easy at times to become so focused on those things and trying to figure them out, that we lose sight of God. The situation becomes magnified and looks bigger than God. We may have to admit that we don't know the answer to all the whys and how comes, and put our trust in God, knowing that He can see the big picture and knows what is best for each of us.
Just as Elijah and the widow lady chose to obey and trust God to do what He promised, may each of us also chose to do likewise. Miracles happen for those who truly believe and are willing to do what God asks, without question. May we each open ourselves up to what God has for us in 2008.
I'm about to go through something of a career change. I really don't know what'll happen. I can only trust God to take my wife and myself through it. I trust Him, but it's still kind of scary.
I've heard a great series of Sunday School lessons on “You Have to Get Out of the Boat to Walk on Water.” It was referring to Peter stepping out of the boat to walk across the water to Jesus. I'm not really sure what's scarier: stepping away from the boat, or having the boat tipped over. Either way, I know God will take care of us in the long run.
Andes Candies Cookies
¾ cup butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 ½ cups flour
2 Tbsp. water
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Andes mints, Andes baking chips
or Hershey Kisses with cherry cordial filling
In saucepan over low heat melt butter; add sugar and water. Add chocolate chips. Stir until partially melted. Remove from heat; stir; cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs and dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until blended. Chill for 1 hour. Make into little balls and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 10-13 minutes. (I have also made these using a miniature muffin pan.) While still hot, put Andes mint on each cookie. Let it get soft, then swirl mint with a spoon. Cool.
(At Christmas I didn't have Andes mints so used the Andes baking chips instead, which worked well. For half of the recipe, instead of using the Andes mint baking chips, I put a Hershey's Kiss with cordial cherry filling in the center of each cookie. The ones with the mints were good, but the ones with the cherry cordial Hershey Kisses were very good! This past Christmas was the first time I had used this recipe, and these are my new favorite homemade cookies (especially the ones with the Hershey kisses with cherry filling).
Cold weather and hot chocolate just go together; especially if you're not a coffee drinker. Here's a way to kick your cup of hot chocolate up a notch. (Probably will add several more calories too!)
I generally use the hot chocolate mix that you add to hot water. After Christmas I had a partial bag of Andes mint chips left over. My sister had left a spray can of Whipped Cream at my house recently. After you mix up the hot chocolate, squirt some Whipped Cream on top, then sprinkle with Andes mints. The Whipped Cream and mints will begin to melt into the hot chocolate. This is very, very good!
My sister works with young children, and one day she and a little boy were talking about frogs. She told him that she knew a song about a frog, and started singing the old kid's song “Frog Went A-Courtin'”. One of the verses say, “Where shall the wedding supper be.” She noticed he was really deep in thought as she was singing, and afterwards he very seriously asked, “Hmm, I wonder where they could have the wedding supper?” Suddenly his face lit up and he said, “I know! They could have it at McDonald's! That would be a good place to have it, wouldn't it?” He was so serious, she didn't want to hurt his feelings, but was having a hard time not laughing. She told him that McDonald's was a good idea as a location for the “frog wedding supper”.
4 Things You Cannot Recover:
The stone....after the throw
The word....after it's said
The occasion....after the loss
The time....after it's gone
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We love you!
Loretta & Jon