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

April 3, 2019

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Something that kids have a difficult time learning is that bad behavior results in consequences. Children will lie, thinking that they can cover and get out of trouble, but then they end up getting into double-trouble; for their bad behavior and for lying. Many times, what someone questions the child about is not a big deal, but they are not yet mature enough in their thinking to figure that out, so will try to cover up the truth.

Sadly, most (if not all) adults never fully learn that their words and actions bring about consequences when they are dishonest or have bad behavior or made the wrong choices or disobey God. Their first gut reaction is to try to cover it up, which results in consequences. Or they may understand, but fail to always put this into practice.

This is nothing new to mankind! It began in Eden with Adam and Eve. She was tempted by the serpent to eat of the tree that God had specifically said do not eat from, and she gave into that temptation and ate the forbidden fruit. Adam also joined in and ate from that same tree when Eve did. He could have said, "No! God commanded us not to, and I'm going to obey;" but he didn't. They suffered the consequences of their disobedience. They realized that they weren't clothed, then tried to hide from God when He came down to walk with them that evening. They were banned from Eden and had to work hard and endure hardships; which was passed down to all other generations after them. The consequences of their disobedience and sin still has an affect on mankind today.

Twice Abraham and Sarah lied about her being his sister instead of his wife; which led to consequences both times. The first time, when they approached Egypt, he told her to tell them that she was his sister because of her beauty. Sure enough, when they arrived, everyone noticed Sarah's beauty. When the palace officials saw her, they sang her praises to Pharaoh, their king, and she was taken to his palace. Then Pharaoh gave Abraham many gifts because of her -- sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, male and female servants, and camels; which he accepted. But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. Pharaoh summoned Abraham and accused him and demanded, "What have you done to me? Why didn't you tell me that she was your wife; instead saying that she was your sister? Take your wife and get out of here!" Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort them and all of their possessions out of the country. (Genesis 12)

The second time, Abraham and Sarah moved to Gerar and Abraham introduced her once again as his sister. King Abimelech sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace. Sound familiar? That night God came to him in a dream and told him, "You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married." Abimelech said, "Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Didn't Abraham tell me that, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'Yes, he is my brother.' I acted in complete innocence! My hands are clean."

God responded, "Yes, I know you are innocent. That's why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I did not let you touch her. Now return the woman to her husband, and he will pray for you, for he is a prophet. Then you will live. But if you don't return her to him, you can be sure that you and all your people will die."

Early the next morning, Abimelech gathered his servants together. When he told them what had happened, they were terrified. Then Abimelech called for Abraham. Once again he was asked by a king, "What have you done to me?" The king continued, "What crime have I committed that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? No one should ever do what you have done! Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?"

Abraham replied, "I thought, 'This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her. And she really is my sister, for we both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her. When God called me to leave my father's home and to travel from place to place, I told her, 'Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.'"

Abimelech gifted Abraham with some of his sheeps and goats, cattle, and male and female servants; and returned Sarah back to him. He told Abraham to look over his land and choose any place where he would like to live. In front of witnesses, he said to Sarah, "Look, I am giving your 'brother' 1,000 pieces of silver to compensate you for any wrong I may have done to you. This will settle any claim against me, and your reputation is cleared.

Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants, so they could have children. For the Lord had caused all the women to be infertile because of what happened with Abraham's wife, Sarah. (Genesis 20)

Perhaps in Abraham's mind he justified his lies by thinking, "Well, Sarah really is my half-sister, so I'm not really lying to these kings." But two times he put a king and their people in turmoil due to their dishonesty; and almost caused them to greatly sin. In Egypt, God sent terrible plagues to Pharaoh and his household due to Sarah being there. Then in Gerar, God caused the women in Abimelech's household to be infertile due to Sarah being there. Their lies brought about consequences that affected two kings, and had potential for having devastating affects on their kingdoms.

Later we see Abraham's son, Isaac, following in his father's footsteps. Abraham had moved his family to Hebron. After the death of both Sarah and Abraham, a famine struck the land, so Isaac moved back to Gerar. When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, "She is my sister." He thought, "They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful." Sound familiar? But some time later, King Abimelech looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah. Immediately, Abimilech called for Isaac and exclaimed, "She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, 'She is my sister?'" Isaac told him that it was because he was afraid that someone would kill him to get her from him. "How could you do this to us?" Abimelech exclaimed. "One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin." Then the king issued a public proclamation: "Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death."

Scripture doesn't say, so we have no way of knowing whether or not Isaac had been told of his father doing this exact same thing twice before; lying about his wife being his sister. If so, it seems as if Isaac would have remembered that neither time brought about good results for his dad; so why try it himself? Perhaps he had heard of what Abraham had done, which is why it was in his mind to try this same thing; yet he expected that with him, there would have been a different outcome.

There are many other examples of imperfect people who did stupid things, made bad choices, disobeyed, and allowed their flesh to cause them to sin. The Bible is filled with the stories of imperfect men and women and the consequences.

Yet, many of their stories are also a story of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. Just because they failed never meant that God forgot about or stopped loving them; even if they did have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

I think many times when we repent, we accept God's forgiveness; but we have a hard time dealing with the fact that He didn't remove the consequences of our actions. We think that God should have made things easy for us because of our repentance, and taken away the repercussions for whatever it was that we did wrong.

We could look at the story of Abraham and think, "God could have/should have protected Sarah so that she was never taken away and given to Pharaoh or King Abimelech." I'm sure she was terrified both times when this happened. And yes, God could have prevented this from happening.

But God had spoken amazing promises to Abraham prior to either of these thing happening. In the beginning of Genesis chapter 12, the Lord told Abraham to leave his native country and all of his family behind and go to a land that He would show him. God promised this: "I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you."

Yet when Abraham entered into a foreign territory, he allowed fear to cause him to lie about Sarah being his wife. His son, Isaac, did the same. Both men were motivated by fear when they pretended that their wives were their sisters.

Here's a little side note, that really has nothing to do with this... but again, maybe it does! Both Abraham and Isaac were afraid that they would be killed, because their wives were so beautiful, and they thought that other men would want her for themselves. I can't wait to get to heaven and see what these two women look like! They must have been extraordinarily beautiful for their husbands to have that type of fear; but on the other hand, Sarah actually was carried away to be given to Pharaoh and the then to King Abimelech, so apparently, her beauty was extremely striking and noticeable by others.

Because of the promise that God had made to Abraham, then the blessing that He promised to Isaac, both men could have chosen to trust God and believe that He would keep His word. They each could have chosen to have been honest about Sarah and Rebekah being their respective wives, instead of lying, having faith that God would protect them. Instead, they allowed fear to motivate their actions.

Many times we will say or do things, justifying them in our minds as being the right thing to do, even though God has given us promises and clearly shown us that He has a plan to give us a future and a hope. Fear is often a huge motivator to say or do things we shouldn't, and that fear is contrary to the Word of God and what God would desire us to do.

Yet, regardless of these lies and the potential consequences that could have taken place, God kept his word and fulfilled all that had been promised. He continued to love and bless Abraham and Isaac; even though their lies could have caused these leaders to sin and disaster to befall their nations. He used them greatly.

In fact, God told King Abimelech to have Abraham to pray for him; and God used Abraham's prayer to bring about healing.

We need to be careful that fear never causes us to react contrary to the Word of God. But if we do sin out of fear, or any other motivating factor, we can be assured that God will never turn us away or withdraw His hand from our lives. He will still keep the promises that He has given to us. He will still use us to pray for others, and those prayers be answered.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

With all the great prophets, disciples, and others who followed God who started off with sins, it might be tempting to think it must be okay (maybe even good) to have sins to overcome before becoming a great follower of God.

There isn't a single record of Enoch sinning, but he was taken up into heaven without dying.

Okay, most of the great prophets and patriarchs of Israel gave into fear, or a temper, or lust on rare occasions. But the key is they repented. They deeply regretted their disobedience. They were human, but had hearts that sought after God, and to please God.

Not one of them said, "I could sin against God, or not. But I know God will forgive me, so I'm going to go ahead and sin." Knowing God is patient and forgiving is a comfort to us, not an excuse.

ON THE MENEWE:

Chicken and Rice

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast,

cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 box (fast cook) Long Grain and Wild Rice

3 stalks celery, diced

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 can cream of chicken soup

Prepare rice according to package directions. Spread in bottom of glass baking dish. Layer with cooked chicken, that has been cut into bite-sized pieces. Top with warmed soup (thinned with milk, if desired) to cover the top of the casserole. Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

The summer that I turned 6 (I think I'm right about the year!), my parents built onto our home. Up to that point it was a 4 room house, with a living room, kitchen, and 2 bedrooms. They built on a bathroom, utility room, and another bedroom. One day while they were working on the house, my cousin, who lived at the end of the dirt road that led to our house, came down to play. Kevin was about a year younger than I was. He had snuck his dad's pocket knife out of the house and brought it down so we could play with it. I had been told to not play with daddy's pocket knife, but decided to sneak into the house and get it off of his dresser; because Kevin and I each needed our own knife! He had seen his dad and uncles tossing their pocket knifes into the dirt to try and make the blade stick into the ground; and I had seen men do this, also. So we thought that would be a fun thing to do. This was a bad idea for many reasons! First of all, we weren't supposed to have the knives; secondly, neither of us knew what we were doing; and thirdly, the land where I grew up has more rocks than dirt -- or so it seems. We had thrown the knives a few times, when I threw mine with a little too much curve to it and it flipped backwards and stuck into my thigh, before falling out onto the ground. Of course, it hurt and I started crying; but we knew that we were in big trouble. So Kevin took off running back home as fast as his short little 5 year old legs would carry him. Mama heard me crying and came running out of the house, to see blood running down leg. She wanted to look at it, but I was more scared of getting a spanking for disobeying than I was about the cut on my leg; so I took off running around the yard with her trying to get me to stop so she could see how bad the cut was. I remember crying and saying, "But you'll spank me!" After promising not to spank me, if I would just stop running and let her look at it, I finally let her clean me up and put a bandaid on it. Almost 48 years later (really?!?), I still carry a small scar on my upper thigh from that pocket knife incident.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Warrior not worrier! - Luke Lang

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org