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!'"  

Luke 15:4-6

March 12, 2008

We are celebrating the 1st anniversary of our website this week!!

Thank you all so much for your continued support. We appreciate the positive comments and response this past year.

Hearing from you occasionally lets us know that we actually do have readers out there.

May God bless each of you!

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I hope that you have enjoyed the study I have done on Elijah the past few weeks. This devotional will conclude that study.

In 1 Kings 19:19-21, Elijah anoints Elisha to succeed him as prophet. Elisha is out plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, when here comes Elijah, walking across the field to where he is working. Elijah walked up to Elisha, threw his cloak (mantle) around him, and kept walking. The scripture does not record any words being spoken between the two men. But apparently, Elisha knew who Elijah was and recognized the significance of his actions.

Elisha ran after Elijah saying, “Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will come with you.”

Elijah's response was basically to go do what he had to do, and settle it for himself.

Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. Then he burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.

I think there is significance in Elisha using his plowing equipment as the fire to cook the meat. He was making sure that he had no reason to return back home. His life as a farmer was over, and he was to now serve in the role as prophet.

Many times God asks us to do something that requires us to step out in faith. We want to obey God and do the things He is leading us to do, but we have trouble “burning our plows and killing our oxen”. We want to hold onto those things that we are comfortable with; just in case things don't work out, or if we somehow misunderstood God and are making a mistake. But it makes it much too easy to turn around and “go back home”, when we face discouragement or things don't work out as we think they should. We like having that safety net. Yes, we may have the security of knowing we have something to fall back on, but too often it also causes us to depend on those things and not God.

In II Kings chapter two, Elijah's ministry is coming to an end in a most unusual way. From my understanding of these scriptures, Elijah and Elisha, as well as other prophets, knew that Elijah was not going to die a natural death, but God was coming to get him in an unbelievable way.

Verse one says, “When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.”

Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

But Elisha replied that he was not going to leave Elijah. So the two men went to Bethel together.

Upon their arrival, the sons of the prophets from that city came to Elisha and said, “Do you know the Lord will take your master from you today?”

Elisha replied, “Yes, I know, but do not speak of it.”

Then Elijah told him to stay there, for the Lord has sent him to Jericho. But once again, Elisha refused to leave Elijah's side.

When they arrived in Jericho, the same thing happened there, that had in Bethel. The sons of the prophets came to Elisha and asked if he knew that the Lord was going to take his master from him that day. Once again, Elisha told them yes, but not to speak of it.

A third time, Elijah tells Elisha to stay where they were and he was going on, this time to Jordan. But Elisha refused to stay and was determined to stay by Elijah's side.

The two men arrived at the river of Jordan. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went, and stood to watch from a distance. Elijah took off his cloak (mantle), rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two men crossed over on dry ground.

There are a couple other places prior to this, that God had divided the water so the people could cross on dry ground. The first time was in Exodus14:21,22 when the Egyptians were pursuing the Israelites. Moses stretched his hand out over the Red Sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on both the right and left sides of them.

Then in Joshua chapter three, the Israelites were finally getting ready to go possess the land that God had given them. In order to do so, they needed to cross the Jordan River, which was overflowing its banks at that time. God instructed Joshua to have the priest bearing the ark of the covenant, to go first before the people. When the feet of the priests dipped in the edge of the water, the waters would be cut off, and the water coming from upstream would stand as a heap. Verse 17 says, “Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.

When they were across, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”

You have asked a hard thing,” Elijah replied, “However, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

The only other person in the Bible who was taken to heaven without first dying is Enoch, as recorded in Genesis 5. He was three hundred sixty-five years old at the time.....yes, that's age 365!! Genesis 5:23,24 says, “So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who please God.”

When Elisha saw this, he cried out, “My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.

He picked up the cloak (mantle) that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan river. Then he took Elijah's mantle and struck the water with it and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” When he struck the water, it divided once again and he crossed over.

When the sons of the prophets, who were watching, saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” I believe that this sign was given to them to confirm that Elisha was truly the prophet who was to succeed Elijah and carry on his ministry.

They went to meet him and said, “Behold now, there are among your servants fifty strong men; please let them go and search for your master; perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or in some valley.”

Elisha replied, “No,don't send them.”

But when they urged him till he was embarrassed, he said, “Send.” So they sent fifty men, who searched for three days, but did not find Elijah.

When they returned to to where Elisha was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn't I tell you not to go?”

Elisha knew that he had seen a chariot of fire and the horses of fire appear; and a whirlwind had taken Elijah into heaven. Yet when the sons of the prophets kept persisting that he let them send fifty men to go search for Elijah, he became too ashamed to refuse them. He knew those men could search for as long as they wanted, but they would not find Elijah.

Some times the things that we see God do in our lives or someone close to us, makes no sense to others when we tell them about it. We know what we saw, yet when we share it with someone and they don't believe us or keep persisting otherwise, we get embarrassed and are ashamed to stick to what we know is the truth. It's easier at times to back off and let them think what they want, even though we know the truth in our heart. There are those who are not going to take our word of the work God did, especially when it comes to miracles, but when they see the results. they eventually will not be able to deny the power of God.

The sons of the prophets were insisting on going to look for Elijah. Elisha finally told them to go, even though he knew that Elijah wasn't sitting on some mountain or in the valley. But perhaps he knew the only way these men would believe him would be for them to go see for themselves.

Prior to that happening, Elisha knew that Elijah was going to be taken from him that day. Perhaps it was a test of Elisha's persistence, but three times Elijah urged him to stay in the towns where they were while he traveled on, but Elisha refused. Two different groups of the sons of the prophets asked Elisha if he knew that the Lord was going to take Elijah that day. Both times Elisha replied yes, but not to speak of it. He knew, but he didn't want to hear it or talk about it. He was determined to stay be Elijah's side and not leave him.

Elijah and Elisha's circumstance is different from what most of us will face; although Jesus could return and we be raptured to heaven without facing death. But most of us have known what it is to lose a loved one, whether it be a family member or friend. Sometimes death comes unexpectedly without warning. Other times that person may be ill and we know that they are dying. Yet it's not a subject we want to discuss with others. When people want to talk about it our reply is somewhat like that of Elisha, “Yes, I know. But don't speak of it.” And we want to spend every possible moment with that person whom we love so deeply.

Elisha's response to Elijah being taken away was to rip his clothes apart. Everyone responds to situations differently. Even though Elisha was witness to a great miracle, he still wasn't ready for Elijah to leave. Yet he knew he had a work to carry on. The prophetic role was now upon his shoulder to carry out. The first miracle occurred shortly after Elijah being taken away, when Elisha struck the Jordan river with the mantle and the water parted. His ministry was just starting.

Even though Elijah was a very anointed prophet and God used him in awesome ways, Elisha's ministry was even greater. Elijah had granted Elisha's request, by promising a double portion of his spirit, if Elisha saw him taken away. I'm sure after that conversation, that Elisha was determined to not let Elijah out of his sight. He was focused on staying beside Elijah, probably trying to glean every last bit of wisdom from him that he could, before he was taken away.

There are those whom we can gain wisdom from by listening to them and observing their life. But we also need to be aware that each of us have the opportunity to be an example to others. It's our responsibility to pass on the wisdom and truth that God has shown us, and to live godly lives that those around us can learn from.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've been reading in Psalms lately. And there's a line in Chapter 23 that keeps intriguing me. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Why didn't David (probably David) write “He lets me...”? Once again, I think there are two right interpretations.

First, we were created to lie down in green pastures. When God made Adam, his job was simple: tend the Garden and name the animals. We weren't created to drive an hour to work under fluorescent lights eight to ten hours, drive an hour back, then watch TV all evening. We were created for something greater, like enjoying what God created for us and worshiping Him for it.

And second, I know I can get caught up in work, hobbies, projects, plans, and all that I forget to lie down. Once in a while, I need to be made to lie down in the green pastures. It isn't that I don't want to, it just seems like so many other things are more important, so I put it off again and again.

ON THE MENEWE:

Dishpan Cookies

2 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. white sugar

1 tsp. salt

4 eggs

1 c. chopped nuts

½ c. margarine, softened

1 ½ c. oats

1 ½ c. oil

2 c. coconut

4 c. flour

16 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

½ tsp. baking powder

Cream together sugars, eggs, margarine and oil. Add dry ingredients. Mix in remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Do not over-bake.

This makes a big recipe. The cookie dough can be refrigerated or frozen.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

Being an aunt definitely has its advantages; especially since I don't have kids of my own. It also gives me a chance to be ornery without payback.

One of my nephews wife was telling me a while back that my nephew had been complaining that their 2-year old son is always getting into things and making messes. Shortly thereafter, I was going through some older family photos. I found a couple pictures of that particular nephew when he was approximately age 2. One of the pictures was of him standing in my parents kitchen. My mom had a drawer she kept her flour in. My nephew had opened the drawer and was holding the flour sifter, and was covered from head to toe with flour. Not only was he covered, but the floor was too. In the second photo, he and his brother (who is just 10 months older) were sitting on top of my mom's kitchen table. Mama had placed a berry pie in the center of the table. Both boys were on the table top with their fingers poked in the pie and berry juice all over their faces. I e-mailed both of those pictures of my nephew to his wife. She thanked me for sharing and said she would be sure and show her husband so he could see that their son was just a normal little 2-year old!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

I will thank Him (God) for all that He has given me, not curse Him for all that I've lost.

God doesn't always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need.” - quote from book by Lynn Austin

Our heartfelt thanks to you:

Hard to believe that a year has already passed since the beginning of our website. What a wonderful year this has been. Anytime someone starts something new, they never know what the outcome and response will be; but you all have made this an incredible year for us. We feel so overwhelmed that so many have been so faithful to read our newsletter each week. We so much appreciate the words of encouragement that we receive from time to time. Each week before writing the devotional, I pray that something I write will encourage or help those who read it. Our thanks to you is very heartfelt. We look forward to the next year and pray that you will continue being blessed and encouraged by our weekly devotionals. If you have any ideas or suggestions for devotional subjects or studies, or anything else you would like me to include in the newsletter, please e-mail and let me know, and I will take it all into consideration. I am open to all feedback, but please don't be offended if I don't use all of your ideas or suggestions; and some I may use at a later date. May God abundantly bless each and every one of you.

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org