"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!'"
March 28, 2012
It amazes me at times the people that God chooses to use. In the Bible there are stories where God didn't choose the ones who were the best looking, strongest, richest, or the most likely candidate for the job. In fact, there are times when the names of the men or women weren't even recorded.
One of my favorite stories that best exemplifies this is found in 2 Kings 7:3-9. Here's a little background that sets the stage for what's about to take place. The King of Syria gathered his entire army to march and besiege Samaria. The siege lasted so long that a severe famine took place in Samaria. Prices were outrageous and people were so desperate that they were eating their own children. The King of Samaria blamed God for the evil disaster taking place and wanted to behead the prophet, Elisha. But Elisha told them that by that time tomorrow a change would take place. He told them that prices would be back to normal and the shortage of food would end. It looked impossible!
Throughout all this, there were four lepers sitting at the entrance of the city gate. They began discussing the disastrous situation and said to each other, "Why do we sit here until we die? If we enter the city, we'll die there. If we sit here, then this is where we'll die. So let's go to where the Syrian army is camped. If they spare us, we'll live. If they kill us, we'll die."
These leprous men had nothing to lose by going to the camp of their enemy. What they did know was that if they stayed where they were in Samaria, then they for sure were going to die. So out of desperation, they decided to get up and go to the enemy's camp. At least there they might have a 50/50 chance of survival.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures, and during those times we'll see what we're truly made of. Will we cave into fear and do desperate acts that we normally wouldn't even consider? Will we fret and worry, but be too scared to do anything about our situation? Will we want to stay where we feel safe and want someone else to act and do something? Or will we be brave enough to get up and do what needs to be done?
At dusk these four lepers got up and headed to the Syrian camp. Upon their arrival they were shocked to see that no one was there and it was completely deserted. Imagine their great surprise! On their journey there they may have rehearsed what they were going to say. They may have thought about all the various scenarios that could happen when they walked into the camp. But the one thing they didn't consider was to find no one there.
What they didn't know, was what God was doing behind the scenes. When these four leprous men got up and started on their journey, God saw their faith and acted on their behalf. Instead of hearing the footsteps of four sick men, the Lord made the Syrian army hear a noise of chariots, horses and a great army. They Syrians said to one another, "The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptian kings to attack us." They ran for their lives, abandoning their tents, horses and donkeys.
The Syrians were brave when they thought they were the bigger, stronger Army and held Samaria captive. But when they thought they might be outnumbered, instead of standing their ground and fighting, they chose to leave all their possessions behind and run away as fast as they could go.
This is what I find interesting: God could have performed this miracle alone, but He chose to work through four lepers. He waited until they were willing to risk it all and walk boldly into the enemies camp, then He honored their faith and caused the enemy to flee. Perhaps He called all His warrior angels together and told them that there was an important job they needed to do. God needed them to make the loudest sounds of battle that they could. Perhaps He had them march across heaven, and when it echoed down into that Syrian camp it sounded like chariots, horses and a great army. I don't know how God did it, but I know the scriptures say that's what the enemy heard.
The lepers ate and drank until they were full, then went into the tents and carried away and hid the money and clothes. The lepers then said to one another, "We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we're keeping it to ourselves. Let us go at once and report this to the king's household."
When we experience victory in our lives and God does something miraculous in our lives, we may take a moment to hold it close to our hearts, but then there comes that moment when we want to shout it to the world and let them know what God has done. Or God may bless us and we think of all the thing we can do for ourselves with that blessing, then see others who are hurting or in need and want to share those things that God has blessed us with.
The lepers knew that it wasn't right to keep all this food and drink and clothes and money for themselves, when their city and loved ones were starving to death and suffering. They had to share the good news and tell the king.
One thing I like about this story is that God used the four most unlikely men in all Samaria. They were the only ones who had the courage to leave the city and walk into the enemy's camp. These men did something that the Israelite army and the king didn't accomplish. They had no resources, weapons, authority, wealth, or prestige, but were diseased and outcast. Yet when God saw their courage to face the enemy, He went before them and acted on their behalf.
There are times when we allow the enemy to besiege us and keep us captive in our homes, churches, families, and personal life. Probably the greatest thing the enemy holds in captivity is our minds. We begin to experience spiritual famine. We feel hopeless and defeated and allow our fear to cause us to react and do things we never thought possible. The enemy looms bigger in our minds than God does.
Too often we sit around waiting for someone, who we think would be better qualified, to fight the enemy. We feel inadequate and the situation looks impossible. So we remain in captivity, while the enemy rages around us, and we quake in fear and worry eats away at our mind.
God is not looking for the most qualified or the strongest or the wealthiest or the one with the most resources, but He's looking for those who have a willingness to step out in faith. He's looking for someone with courage. God can use the diseased and outcast to defeat armies. When we're at our weakest, that's when God will be the strongest in our lives, if we will let Him.
Here's the good news; we don't fight alone. If need be, God will cause our enemy to hear chariots, horses, and a great army. We are not just conquerors, but we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)
At times, our greatest battles are fought and won out of desperation. Revival in churches occur when folks become desperate for a move of God. They are no longer satisfied with the same old religion, programs, plans, etc. but they become desperate for spiritual change and renewal.
Whatever the enemy may be surrounding you with today, you do not have to live in fear and defeat. But take courage and get up and go to the enemy's camp to take back those things that have been stolen from you. It may be your family, peace of mind, finances, health, job, relationships..... the list could go on and on. When you courageously begin your trek to where the enemy is, God will go before you and fight your battle for you. If need be, He'll send horses, chariots, and a great army. Whatever tactic is needed, God can do the impossible and miraculously restore those things that the enemy has tried to take from you. He can turn your famine to a time of feasting and celebration.
It's easy to recognize when your body needs food. You feel hungry, our bellies rumble, our stomachs ache, and our mouths water. But sometimes we can go weeks, months, or even years with a starving spirit, and not recognize it. But there are signs. We feel inadequate; we feel lonely, even with other people around; we feel there's something missing; we keep looking for excitement and happiness, but don't really find it for long.
But just like the lepers took a leap and went to the Syrian camps for food when they were starving, if your spirit is starving, God is waiting there for us to find. We don't really have to walk far, either. God will hear anyone willing to simply pray to Him and make a commitment. But as with the lepers, the journey might be easier with a few friends, or even a church to go to.
1/4 cup flour
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 qt. tomatoes
2 lbs. beef round steak
Mix flour, salt and pepper together. Dredge meat in flour mixture. Brown in oil on both sides. Put in casserole dish. Top with onions, peppers and tomatoes. Bake at 325 for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Goes will served over mashed potatoes.
Bloopers from Church Bulletins:
Thursday, at 5:00 PM, there will be a meeting of the little mother club. All those wishing to become little mothers, please meet the pastor in his study.
This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Johnson to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
The service will close with "Little Drops of Water". One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.
On Sunday, a special collection will be taken to defray the expense of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet, come forward and get a piece of paper.
The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belser, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belser.
Sometimes God doesn't give you what you think you want because He has something better for you.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon