"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!'"
June 25, 2014
King David was not only a great leader, but he was also a great warrior who defeated many armies who fought to destroy Israel. There were three men that fought along beside him for many years and are listed in scripture as being David's mightiest warriors.
2 Samuel 23:8-17 tells who these three men were and what their greatest accomplishments were.
The chief among the three captains was Josheb-Basshebeth. He raised his spear against eight hundred men, who he killed in one encounter.
Next to him was Eleazer. He once stood with David against the Philistine army when the entire Israelite army had fled, leaving the two of them alone to face the enemy. Eleazer stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought a great victory that day. The rest of the troops only returned to gather the plunder after the battle was over.
The third man was Shammah. When the Philistines banded together in a field full of lentils to attack the Israelites, the Israelite army fled. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field and defended it, striking the Philistines down. The Lord brought about a great victory.
When I read what each of these three men did, I think that there is no way that I would ever be able to face an entire enemy army on my own. I would have been really tempted to flee when the rest of my troop ran, and probably would have done so. After all, what chance does one man have against an entire army?!
But we see from these scriptures that they were not fighting alone, but that God was fighting with them. He may have been unseen by the human eye, but God was there and brought about a great victory.
The one man that I'd like to focus on is Eleazer. I have no idea how long this particular battle lasted where he and David fought against the Philistine army, but I would assume that it likely went on for quite some time. After all, I can't imagine the Philistines backing away very quickly from two men, thinking that this would be easily won and they would walk away victorious.
But the scripture says that Eleazer fought until his hand grew weary and tired from holding his sword. He was probably constantly having to swing the sword to slay the enemy coming towards him. But he refused to give up and held so tightly to his sword that his hand froze to it. He knew if he ever lost his sword and let go of it, then his life would be lost and David would be left alone to fight. So he clung to it as if his life depended on it, because in all actuality, it really did.
Ephesians 6:10-17 says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Unless we are a soldier in the military, most of us will never have a face to face encounter with a human enemy that we have to fight. The battles that we will have to fight are in the spirit. We will have to battle our thoughts, temptations, bad habits, attitudes, and the general ungodliness that fills our world. The full armor of God may be invisible, but it is more powerful and protective than any human armor we could wear.
All of the armor listed in Ephesians is for our protection, except for the sword of the Spirit, which is the only offensive weapon that we have to use against Satan.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) says: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
God's Word is not some ancient book full of historic events and useless text, but it is alive and valuable and powerful. The words contained within it are life-changing.
When Jesus was temped in the desert by Satan, He countered with the truth of the scriptures. Satan's tactics haven't changed, so we can follow the example of Jesus, and use the Word of God as our defense when we are tempted.
Just as Eleazer clung fiercely to his sword while battling the enemy, we need to cling to the sword of the Spirit and never let go; especially during those times when we are being tested and tempted. That is our only defense and if we ever let it leave our hand, then the enemy will try to destroy us.
Every hour of every day, we need to hold to the Word of God so tightly that it is frozen in our hand and nothing can pry it away from us -- figuratively speaking. When we do so, the Lord will bring about a great victory in our life and our situation.
I recently read about Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis again. I don't really know how big either city was. I found a paper claiming Sodom had 600-1200 people at the time, but I don't know if that can be trusted. It was certainly large enough that it had a city wall with a gate, and was small enough that all the men in town could show up one evening when strangers came there.
Before they were destroyed, God spoke with Abraham about it (with two angels). He said that He was going to destroy them because of the wickedness there. But God also agreed that He would not destroy them if just 10 worthy people could be found there. For the sake of 10 people, a pair of cities with hundreds of people would be allowed to wallow in wickedness. It turns out that only Lot and his family were found worthy, and allowed to escape. Actually, it doesn't say whether his family were worthy, but they were allowed to leave with Lot. The two men engaged to his daughters refused to leave, his wife turned back, and died, and his two daughters prove themselves less than pure. And it was obvious later that Lot had a weakness for getting drunk enough to black out. But Lot still had faith in God, and worshiped Him, so was worthy to leave with his family.
There are a lot of good people in America. But there is a lot of wickedness, too. I don't know if God is tempted now, to start raining down destruction on cities, but I'm glad He is sparing us. I've wondered, sometimes, though: Am I prepared to head to the mountains, leaving everything behind, if God tells me my town is wicked, and about to be destroyed?
Fresh Green Beans With New Potatoes
Fresh Green Beans
Salt & Pepper
Dice up 5-6 pieces of bacon and cook in a large pan until browned. You can also dice up onion and cook in the pan with the bacon to soften it. To the pan, add the green beans (I snap the ends off, then break in half), leaving the bacon, bacon grease, and onion in it. Add enough water to cover the tops of the green beans. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for an hour. Check occasionally to make sure it doesn't boil dry; if the water is evaporating too much, just add more. Add in the new potatoes and cook an additional hour or so, until the green beans and potatoes are tender. Turn the heat off and add just a splash of vinegar to season. (The lady who gave me this recipe uses white vinegar, but I didn't have any so added balsamic vinegar and that was really good -- just gives it a little more flavor.) Taste to see if you need to add anymore salt or pepper.
(I know that some put everything in the pan all at once and cook for a couple hours, but I prefer to cook my bacon some beforehand. I also think it makes the potatoes a little too soft and mushy when doing that. But you can cook it like that if you prefer.)
Every once in a while, I'll come up with a saying or a word from my growing up years that causes my husband to give me a look that says, "What in the world are you talking about?!" One day I was telling him that Daddy would go to the general store in Blue Eye and buy feed for our cow. He would just throw the sack of feed on top of the turtle hull of the car and drive home like that, instead of putting it inside. WHAT?? When I was a kid, we always called the trunk of a car the turtle hull. Far as I know, that's what everyone called it back then! How could he not know what I was talking about?!?
Humor is to life what shock absorbers are to automobiles. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon