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

August 20, 2008

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

This week during my morning devotions, the phrase "whiter than snow" came to mind. I was sure there was a scripture that used those words, so looked it up in the concordance in the back of my Bible. Psalms 51:7 says, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."

This particular Psalms, which was written by David, begins by him saying, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."

This whole chapter is David praying a prayer of repentance, asking God to cleanse and purify him, and to bring restoration. In verses 10-12 David prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

David seems to be overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame, and he truly has a broken and repentant heart.

I was curious what was going on in his life when he wrote these words, and at the top of the Psalm it reads, "A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

This event is found in 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. David had sent his men of war out to battle, while remaining behind in Jerusalem.

One evening, David arose from his bed, and walked upon the rooftop of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. He found out that it was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. David sent messengers to get her. She came to him and he slept with her, then afterwards she went back home. Bathsheba conceived, and sent word to David that she was pregnant.

David sent word to Joab, who was commander of the army, to sent Uriah to him. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab and the soldiers were, and how the war was going. David told him to go home. Uriah left the palace, and a gift from David was sent out to him. But instead of going home, Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants, and did not go to his house.

When David was told that Uriah did not go home, he asked him, "Haven't you just come from a journey? Why didn't you go home?"

Uriah replied, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do this thing."

David told Uriah to stay one more night, then the next day he would be sent back to the battle. At David's invitation, Uriah ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.

The next morning, David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah to deliver. In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."

That's exactly what Joab did, and Uriah died. Afterwards, Joab sent a messenger to David with the full account of the battle. Not only did Uriah die, some of the other men did too.

How ironic and sad that David had Uriah deliver his own death sentence to Joab. It was bad enough that David had gotten himself in this mess to begin with, but now to try and cover his sin, he was sending Uriah into the front of the battle so that he would be killed. And to add to David's situation, he ordered Uriah to hand deliver this command. The letter was probably sealed with David's seal, and Uriah had no idea what the message was that he was carrying. In fact, he may have felt honored that the king would trust him to hand deliver a letter to the commander of the army. Unknowingly, Uriah was sealing his own fate by delivering this letter to Joab.

Sin can cause people to do things that they normally wouldn't do. Once they begin the attempt to cover up and conceal their sin, the lies and desperate acts to try and hide it begin to snowball and grow. So now not only do they have the original sin to deal with, but also the numerous other sins that have been committed while trying to hide their first one.

When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.

2 Samuel 11:26 says, "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord."

Sin will not remain hidden forever, and God will not allow it to go without being dealt with. There are consequences to pay, and those consequences may not only affect us individually, but also affect our family and others round us.

God sent the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan told David a story about two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb. He brought it up and nourished it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

A traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd to prepare a meal for the traveler. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, " As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity (compassion)."

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says, 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your care. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah with the sword, and took his wife to be your own. Now therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah to be your own. Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'"

David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."

Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."

After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Bathsheba had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. On the seventh day, the child died.

Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

His servants asked him, "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat."

David answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

Then David comforted his wife, and he went to her and lay with her. Bathsheba gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. And the Lord loved him.

Perhaps David penned the words to Psalms 51 while he was fasting and praying for the life of his son. Perhaps it was when he went to the house of the Lord to worship, after the death of his child.

God heard the prayer of David, and saw his repentant heart. He knew that David was truly sorry for his transgressions. And God forgave David and blessed him with another son. Solomon went on to be king after David's death, and was known for his wisdom.

David begins Psalms 51:7 by praying, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean." I wasn't sure what hyssop was, so looked it up. In biblical times, hyssop was a wild shrub of uncertain identity whose twigs were used for sprinkling in ancient Jewish rites of purification.

Then David continues, "Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." I love the picture that paints in my mind.

Have you ever sat and watched snow fall? When it falls and hits the ground, it is absolutely pristine. It is the purest of whites. When it covers the ground and trees, it blocks out all dirt and grime. Everything looks so pure and clean.

David said that when God washes or cleanses us of our sins, then we are whiter than snow. It goes beyond the purest image that we can imagine. God doesn't just cleanse us, but he washes us so that we are purer than the white, untouched snow. He doesn't just swipe across our sins, leaving behind the residue and grime from our transgression. No! God completely and totally washes us so that there is no filth or smudge of the past. We can stand pure and clean before Him. What an awesome thought! No matter what we've done, or how bad we think we've messed up, we can come to God and He will cleanse us and make us whole. We will be washed whiter than snow.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've been reading Luke in my morning devotionals. This morning, I read in chapter 22. Jesus was trying again to explain to the 12 disciples that he was about to die. And again, they didn't seem to understand. In fact, Peter was very offended. He said that he would certainly follow Jesus into prison, or even into death. But Jesus said that actually, Peter would deny even knowing him three times before the rooster crowed at dawn. That shut Peter up.

Only a few verses later, Jesus was taken captive. Peter followed. Maybe he was trying to prove something, maybe he thought he could make a jail break, Luke doesn't explain. But three times, someone pointed to him and accused him of being one of Jesus' disciples. Each time, he denied it more angrily than the last.

John wrote (in chapter 21) about a later conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. Three times, Peter said yes. I've heard this passage spoken on many times, but usually about the Greek word for love. One time, however, I heard a preacher speak about the significance of Jesus asking three times. He said that it was because Peter had denied him three times. Jesus was giving him a way to make amends for his sin.

Jesus had another prediction about Peter. He said that Peter would be the foundation of His church.

Jesus knew exactly what Peter would do, but forgave him before he even did it. Isn't that awesome? But I'd also like to point out that after the rooster crowed, Peter looked at Jesus (I can almost imagine the horror he felt). Jesus looked back at him. Then Peter went out and wept bitterly. Peter felt terrible for what he'd done. A few days later, Jesus made sure to give Peter the peace he needed.

ON THE MENEWE:

Potato Salad

Everyone has their own individual or family recipe for potato salad. This isn't so much a recipe as some tips.

Cut potatoes into large chunks and put in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, plus a little extra.

I make my potato salad with boiled eggs. I put a couple eggs (whole eggs in the shell) in the same pan with my potatoes to boil. When the potatoes are tender, the eggs are perfectly done.

I don't particularly care for uncooked onion, so if I decide to add onion to my potato salad, I dice it up and add it to the pan and let it cook with the potatoes.

I like my potato salad kind of between a creamy and chunky, so after the potatoes are cooked and drained, I take a fork and break up the potatoes a little so they're not in big chunks.

Instead of adding the mayo, mustard and spices directly to the potatoes and hoping for the best (I don't use a recipe or measure), I mix all those ingredients together in a separate bowl first. I start with approximately 1 cup of miracle whip as my base (depending on how big a batch of potato salad I'm making) then add mustard, salt and pepper to that. Sometimes I add some paprika. This allows me to taste the mixture before adding it to the potatoes to make sure it's seasoned right and is the right balance between the mayo and mustard. I usually add about half of the mixture first, then see if I'm going to need it all or have mixed too much or will need a little more than what I have made up. Once you dump it in and stir, there's not taking it back out! You can always add a little more ingredients to make more if you didn't get the right amount the first try.

I also don't particularly care for the stronger taste of the regular yellow mustard, so add some honey mustard in addition to the yellow mustard to tone down the taste some. I also like the flavor this gives the potato salad.

After adding the mayo/mustard mixture, I slice the boiled eggs and add them.

You can add other ingredients per your personal taste. Some like to add pickles or relish to their potato salad. I'm not a huge pickle fan myself so when making this for myself and Jon, I leave that out. But I like to stir in bacon bits to my potato salad, if I have them.

It's all about personal taste and adding the ingredients that your family will like. My mom always made creamy potato salad, one of my sisters likes to make hers more chunky, and I'm more middle of the road. I prefer mine warm or at least room temperature, and don't particularly care for it after it's set in the refrigerator and gotten cold. This is what makes cooking so fun, you can experiment and find what works for you and what you like best.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

A young couple hadn't been married very long, and the wife was making potato salad for their dinner. She put the potatoes on to cook, then had to run to the grocery store. After she left the house, she remembered that she hadn't put the eggs on to boil, so called home and asked her husband to put a couple of eggs in the pan with the potatoes. She got home and went in to check the potatoes to see if they were done. She saw something floating in the water and asked her husband what he had done. He told her that he had put 2 eggs in with the potatoes, just as she had told him to do.

He did follow instructions, only he had cracked the eggs opened first, and then added them. I'm not sure that he knew what she was going to make with the potatoes, and his mom had always boiled her eggs in a separate pan.

So the moral of this story is: wives be very specific when giving your husbands cooking instructions. If not, they will argue that they followed directions and did exactly what you told them to do. This is a true story that happened to a nephew and his wife.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org