"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!'"
September 15, 2010
We have had a dry summer, especially from July on. Perhaps my memory has failed me, but it seems as if in prior years I had to mow weekly until mid to late September before backing if off to every couple weeks. But this year by the first of August our grass was already growing slowly and starting to turn brown. Other than the ditches looking a little shaggy, the rest of the yard looked as if the grass was barely growing. I could get by with only mowing every two weeks.
We went several weeks without rain. There were days when we'd have a slight percentage, but it always seemed to miss us here. On August 17th I had watched the weather early that morning and both west and north of us were getting heavy rainfall. The weatherman said that it looked as if it would miss the area where we live. There was a small band of rain to the west of us that could possibly bring a shower around 11:00 that morning, but it appeared as if it was going to break up before reaching us.
At 9:45 that morning I had finished doing some things indoors and went outside to sit for a while. It was cloudy and a nice breeze was blowing. Just as I was walking outside I got a text from Jon saying that it was raining where he was working, and he was wondering if it was raining here. I walked outside and saw that it had just started sprinkling. But before I could even finish the text, it had already stopped.
I began to pray and asked God to please put some rain in the clouds overhead and send us a good soaking rain. We were getting desperate and really needed it. A second time it began a light drizzle, then stopped. I continued praying and asking God for rain. Finally, it began raining and we got a really nice, steady rain for about three hours. It was much needed, and I was so grateful!
Later Jon and I were talking about it, and I mentioned the story of Elijah in 1 Kings chapter 17 and 18. Ahab was king of Israel and according to scripture did more evil to provoke God to anger than any of his predecessors. He participated in idol worship, and built a temple and altar to Baal.
God sent Elijah to prophecy to Ahab that there would be no rain nor dew for years until he spoke the word. For three long years there was no rain nor dew in all Israel. Because of Elijah's faithfulness, God provided for him. God told Elijah to go to the Brook Cherith, which flowed into the Jordan River, and to drink from the brook and that He would send ravens to feed him there.
After some time, the brook dried up because of the drought, but God had another plan for Elijah. He sent him to a widow in Zarephath, which would feed him. Upon arrival, the widow was gathering sticks in which to build a fire to prepare a last meal for herself and her son. She only had a handful of flour and a little oil in which to make one last meal. She told Elijah that she had nothing more, and that the two of them would eat what little she had, then die. Elijah told her to make a cake for him first, then one for her and her son. She obeyed, and as promised, God miraculously provided. Her bin of flour was never used up and the jar of oil never went dry throughout the remainder of those barren years.
During the third year of drought and famine, God spoke to Elijah and told him that the time had arrived for him to go speak to the king. Ahab's first words upon seeing Elijah were, "Is that you, o' troubler of Israel?"
Elijah told him to gather all of Israel and meet him on top of Mount Carmel, as well as the 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah (the god that Ahab's wife, Jezebel, worshipped).
Once everyone arrived, Elijah asked, "How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him."
Then the showdown began. The false prophets built an altar to Baal and put a sacrificial bull on it. They then did everything within their power to try and call down fire in which to consume their sacrifice. They cried aloud and even cut themselves with knives and lances, as was their custom, until their own blood poured forth. Nothing happened.
Elijah then build an altar to God, and even had water poured on the sacrifice and on the wood. He prayed a simple, short prayer and the fire of the Lord came down and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and all the water that was in the trench around the altar.
The false prophets were then put to death. Only after that was accomplished, did Elijah speak the word that an abundance of rain was on its way.
Did it begin raining immediately, once Elijah spoke the word? No! He went to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees and began to pray. He sent his servant to go look out towards the sea. There were no clouds. He sent him to look seven times, and on the seventh time the servant reported that he saw a cloud as small as a man's hand. But that was all Elijah needed to know that God was sending rain.
He sent a message to tell Ahab to get back home before the rain stopped him. By then the sky was black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain.
I cannot even imagine what things would be like if we had no rain for over three years! There would be unimaginable famine and devastation. Even now, if we go just three months without rain people begin to panic. You hear reports on the news requesting you to ration water. Farmers begin to panic because their crops start drying up and failing. Fruit trees begin shriveling up. Dairy cows give less and less milk. Food prices begin to spike in the groceries stores, and everyone begins to worry and become paranoid. Can you imagine what it would be like if we went even one year without rain or dew?
I remember a few years ago when an ice storm hit Oklahoma, where we live. Many homes were without electricity for several days. I later heard news stories of generators being stolen. Store shelves were emptying out of water, flashlights and batteries, and grocery items. When people become desperate, the "ugly" comes out of them, and they often do things that they normally wouldn't do. They become rude and aggressive if they are without something and think they have to have it to survive.
I can only imagine the pandemonium and chaos that would take place should a long drought and famine truly occur. I'm sure there would be a lot of robberies occur with people breaking into homes trying to find food. Over time many people would lose jobs and the economy would plummet worse then this generation has ever seen. There would be starvation cases filling our hospitals, and deaths as people no longer had ready access to food or water. In fact, there would probably be a ration program that would have to be put in place.
When the three year drought took place in Israel, I'm sure a lot of these same things took place. At first, people may have began hoarding food supplies. But over time as food became harder and harder to get and crops stopped growing, a sense of desperation must have been felt all over the country. There may have been mothers going to the homes of their neighbors begging for some small morsel for their children to eat. Robberies and break-ins were probably a common occurrence as individuals began starving and went out looking for something to fill their empty stomachs. People who wouldn't have dreamed of doing those things before, possibly were acting in unthinkable ways due to desperation. There must have been a sense of hopelessness and depression that settled across the land. Reports of deaths due to starvation were probably very common.
Yet, apparently, few people refused to call upon God. Perhaps they felt guilty for turning aside from Him and worshipping in the temple of Baal. They may have bought idols and brought them into their homes and were scared that God wouldn't heed their prayer. I have read stories where there were people who would go to the temple and offer a sacrifice to God on the Sabbath, then would turn around and worship other idols and bow to them during the week. They were trying to appease all "gods".
But that doesn't work. God wants all of our heart every single day; not just on the Sabbath. He wants all of each of us, not just a small part.
The first thing Elijah asked the people of Israel was, "Why are you halting between two opinions?" If they believed that God was God, then they needed to stop messing around with the other idols and serve only God. But if they truly believed that Baal was god, then they needed to follow him and stop going to the temple and offering their sacrifices to the true living God. In other words, make up your mind!
We can see from this story that God provided for Elijah during the entire three years. First, by sending him to a brook where he had water to drink and God sent ravens daily to bring him food. Do you not think that God could have provided for all His followers by having ravens bring them food during the drought? After all, when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God sent down manna (bread) from heaven for them to eat. God provided water from a rock for them to drink when they were thirsty. If the Israelites would have only prayed and believed during the drought, God may have had amazing miracles in store for them those three years. After all, He did daily put flour and oil in the containers for the widow woman until the famine came to an end. He could have done the same for many others, if they'd only believed and asked. And the years without rain may have been shortened, if the people would have humbled themselves and repented.
It's often easier to trust God when things are going smoothly and all our needs are provided for. But when we reach a place of desperation, so often we try to figure it out for ourselves and rely on our own meager resources. We want God to lay it all out in front of us showing how He'll provide, THEN we'll trust Him. But He wants us to follow Him first and foremost, THEN He'll meet our needs and provide the things we need.
Even though God had commanded Elijah to speak to Ahab at the end of three years that rain was coming, it didn't come without Elijah bowing himself down in prayer. I probably would have thought, "God said it's time, so I'll just sit back and wait for it to come!" But Elijah got on his knees before God. Six times he sent his servant out to look for a cloud, and six times the servant came back saying that the sky was clear.
How many of us would have thought, "Oh, I must have misunderstood God, or it must not be His timing," and given up? Or we may have thought, "I guess God will send rain when He's ready." After the second or third time, we would have become discouraged and laid down and had a pity party. We would have started worrying that we would look foolish before King Ahab and the rest of the Israelites when no rain immediately came.
But Elijah knew that God had promised rain, and he continued in prayer until the servant saw a small cloud in the sky. That was all Elijah needed to hear to know that an abundance of rain was on its way. By the time the servant had run to Ahab to tell him to get home before the rain stopped him, the sky had already turned black and the wind was blowing and a downpour of rain came. In a matter of moments the day went from sunny and clear, to dark and stormy.
A few days ago when we got a nice rain, would it have came anyway, even if I hadn't sat on the back porch praying for God to send it? I have no way of knowing. But it taught me a lesson. Too often I go by what people say, and instead of praying for God to turn the situation, I believe what someone has told me. I need to get past what I've heard, and focus on what the Word of God says.
Also, at first I was disappointed when at first we only got a short shower before the rain stopped. My first thought was, "Man, this really stinks! We only got a few sprinkles. We need rain so badly, and other places are getting it, but it's going to miss us." But then I decided, "Why not pray?"
The first few minutes of prayer, nothing happened. The second time it began raining, it was only a brief shower before stopping. But I decided to see what would happen if I continued praying. After some time, the sky darkened and the heavens opened up and we got a heavy rain for about three hours.
I don't want to give up when I'm praying about something and nothing happens the first time I ask. But I want to choose to follow God and trust Him. Even if I have to stay on my knees, and the first few times I look at the situation it remains the same without any change, I want to persevere in prayer. God will be faithful to His promises and will do what He says He'll do. "God increase my faith," is my prayer. Bring on the rain!
At work, recently, we received some wrong equipment. As usually the first thing anyone wanted to do was check out whether we ordered it wrong, or the vendor sent the wrong thing. That's normal, and is important to decide how to fix the problem. But most times, we want to go one step further, and figure out who messed up the order. Mostly, we want to make sure we didn't make the mistake. But there's a natural desire to know who to point the blame at.
Even after the first month without rain, I'm sure Ahab wanted someone to blame. If his subjects knew they were without rain as a punishment for his refusal to quit giving sacrifices to Ba'al, they would have hated him. They might have even killed him. He could have blamed God, and I'm sure to some extent he did. But saying God was giving them the drought would admit that God is more powerful than Ba'al. But he had Elijah. Elijah was a convenient target. That's probably why Ahab called Elijah "O troubler of Israel."
Pointing blame might be convenient sometimes, but does it really help?
Who was known for being left-handed?
This woman hung a red rope from her window.
Which woman conspired with her husband to lie to the Holy Spirit, resulting in both of their deaths?
This woman laughed at God's promise concerning her having a baby in her old age.
This woman was seen bathing by King David.
Potato and Egg Scramble
1/2 onion -- diced
1 lb. Smoked sausage -- cut up
If using red potatoes do not peel, but slice as for fried potatoes. Dice onion. Put potatoes, onion and smoked sausage in a skillet and cook together until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the eggs and scramble; cook until eggs are done. Instead of smoked sausage, you can use little smokies, pork sausage or bacon.
Ehud (Judges 3:15)
Rahab (Joshua 2:3,21)
Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10)
Sarah (Genesis 18:12-13)
Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2,3)
God isn't bothered when we pray; He's bothered when we don't.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon