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 26, 2008


LIFE IN THE FOLD:

A scripture that I hear just partially quoted many times, is the first part of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good.” But the last part of the verse puts stipulation on the first part. It says, “...to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

To those who love God and have committed their lives to following His purpose, then all things work together for good. We can't disregard God, live to please our own flesh and desires, and forage our own path; then expect God to work everything out for good on our behalf and bless us.

This doesn't mean that those who love and serve God will have a problem-free life. There may be those who will endure pain and sickness, suffer persecution, and have to go through hard times; yet God will be there working on their behalf.

There are so many examples in the Bible that shows us how those who were called by God and following His purpose, fell on difficult times. But God was faithful to cause good to come of their situations.

A woman that comes to mind is Ruth. Her story happens during the days when the judges ruled in Israel, before the people began to demand a king to rule over them, so they could be like the other nations. A famine began to grip Israel. A man from Bethlehem, named Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and his two sons to live in the country of Moab. While there, Elimelech died. The two sons married Moabite women; the name of one Orpah and the other Ruth. The lived there about ten years, then the two sons both died. So now, the mother and her two daughters-in-law were all three widowed.

Naomi heard that God had provided for the people in Israel, so the three women prepared to leave Moab to go to Bethlehem. Naomi told her daughters-in-law, “Go, return back to your mother's house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted their voices and wept.

They told Naomi that they would go with her; but she answered that she had no more sons and was too old to have another husband, so there was no one for them to marry. Back during that time, if a husband died and he had an unmarried brother or close kinsman, then it was the responsibility of that man to marry the widow and care for her.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and left to go back to her people and her gods; but Ruth clung to Naomi.

When Naomi once again encouraged her to leave, Ruth committed to staying with her. The words of her response is actually used in many wedding ceremonies. She replied, “Entreat me not to leave you; for wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Upon arrival in Bethlehem, the people were excited to see them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me.”

Here was a woman who had to leave her homeland, family and friends and move to a foreign country, due to famine. While there, she lost her husband and sons. Although she had Ruth with her, she had said goodbye and was parted from her other daughter-in-law. From the description given of the three ladies parting earlier, you can see that they deeply loved one another. Naomi was a devout believer, yet she felt that God had dealt bitterly with her.

It's easy to just look at that portion of the story, and say that was bad. How horrible to lose not only your spouse, but both of your children. And here she had been in a foreign country among strangers when it all took place. She didn't have the comfort of family and friends supporting and comforting her.

But God wasn't through with Naomi and Ruth yet. It just so happened that they arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

There was a relative of Naomi's husband, a man of great wealth, whose name was Boaz. Boaz owned fields and hired men to reap the harvest. The women were allowed to go along behind the reapers and glean what was leftover.

Ruth asked Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” Naomi gave her permission, and Ruth went out and began gathering up the leftover grain.

Boaz had come to the field, and noticed Ruth. He asked a servant who she was, and was told that she was the young Moabite woman who had returned from Moab with Naomi.

Boaz approached Ruth and told her not to go glean in any other field, but that she would be protected in his field. She fell on her face and asked why she had found favor, that he should take notice of her, since she was a foreigner.

It had been reported to Boaz all that Ruth had done to care for her mother-in-law since the death of her husband, how she had left her parents and the land of her birth, and had come to a people whom she had not known before.

Can you imagine how scary Ruth's situation was? She probably had never been outside of her home town in Moab. Yet she left everyone and everything that was familiar to her to live in a strange land. Once there, she had to go glean the leftover grain that the reapers had dropped or left behind, just so she and Naomi would have something to eat. It is doubtful that she had had to work outside the home before this.

There are people currently in my life who have moved from their native homelands to the U.S. One couple moved here from Honduras, in order to work and send money back home to their family and support them. Another lady came here from India to marry. They all left their native countries, their family and friends, their culture and all that was familiar to them. All of them speak English, but their accents are so heavy and thick, that it is very difficult for me to understand them and hold a conversation. I was thinking of that a few days ago, and wondering how many people avoid them or just nod and wave, in order to not have to converse with them; because it does take patience and work. Their lives have changed so drastically and there have been so many adjustments for them. I think how very lonely they must be at times.

Ruth had committed to caring for and staying with Naomi. But I'm sure there were times when she missed her family; knowing that the likelihood of her ever seeing them again was slim to none. Did people shun her because she was a foreigner and they had problems understanding her? Did she ever come in from gleaning in the fields with her back aching and her hands rough and chapped, and question in her heart why she had decided to leave Moab? If she had returned back to her family instead of staying with Naomi, her father would have provided for her and taken care of her until she married again. Once again, we can look at Ruth's situation and think how bad it was. Yet God had not forgotten or forsaken her!

Boaz spoke to Ruth and said, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.

During those times when you feel overwhelmed and forsaken by God, know that you are under His protection and care. It may look bad now, but know that God is up to something and is at work. Just as a mother hen protects her chicks under her wings, God covers us and gives us refuge.

Psalms 91:4 “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge..”

Psalms 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”

(This has turned into a multi-part devotion. I will continue along the same theme next week. I'm not sure how long this is going to end up being!)

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

We've all heard parents say, “Because I said so, that's why.” I'm sure there are times when the parent saying it doesn't have a reason. But most of the time, they have a very good reason. But after years of being asked “Why!?”, they get sick of explaining.

It aught to be enough that the parents have lived through childhood and learned a little from it. Their wisdom should be enough that when they say their child needs something, the child should trust that they need it.

There are other times when a detailed explanation isn't good for the child. Perhaps the parent made the same mistake and paid for it, like with a speeding ticket.

Once in a while, God does tell us why. In my own experience, it's almost always afterward. I'm okay with that. I've learned by repetition that when I do understand why I've been through something bad, I can see the wisdom in it. And when I don't understand, I've learned to trust God that I'll see the wisdom in it when I see Him face-to-Face.

ON THE MENEWE:

Heavenly Hash Cake

2 sticks butter

4 eggs

2 c. sugar

1 c. pecans

1 ½ c. flour

1 jar marshmallow cream

4 Tbsp. cocoa

Combine all ingredients except the marshmallow cream. Bake 25 minutes at 350 in sheet pan. Spread marshmallow cream on top while cake is hot. Let cool before adding the icing.

Icing:

1 stick butter

4 Tbsp. cocoa

1 lb. powdered sugar

4-6 Tbsp. milk

Heat the butter, cocoa and milk until melted together. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

I have a brother-in-law who is a pastor, and doesn't like to use the word luck, so always says blessing instead. That works fine in most situations. But on one occasion their church was going to have a potluck meal. On the back side of their church sign, (the side facing their church) is a space where he can use the black block letters, and put up messages for his church people. His announcement for the church dinner read, “Pot Blessing Next Sunday.” Good thing that side wasn't facing the highway for people driving by to read, or he may have ended up with the wrong kind of pot to bless!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Prayer is the key to Heaven;

Faith unlocks the door.

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org