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 29, 2007

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

During all my years in banking, I attended many sessions regarding security. We were trained on how to handle robberies and possible kidnapping or hostage situations. We were told if there was ever a situation where the robber(s) tried to force us to go with them as a hostage, to never ever leave with them. We were to do whatever it took, whether it was to fake a heart attack, fainting, fall in the floor as if you were having a seizure, etc. Most robbers want in and out as fast as possible, and are not going to stand and argue with you, or take the time to drag you out and force you into the get away vehicle. Statistics show that if you went with them, your survival rate was almost non-existent. Thankfully, I was never involved in any of those type of scenarios. I cannot imagine the depth of fear that type of situation would invoke.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in II Kings chapter five. The story is about Naaman, who was commander of the army in Syria. Verse one says that he was a great man in the sight of the king and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a valiant soldier, but he was a leper.

The young servant girl in this story is one of my favorite characters. Her name is not given and there are not many details given about her. In fact she is only mentioned in two or three verses. The Syrian army had gone to Israel and the young girl was taken captive. She ended up as a servant to Naaman's wife.

We don't know the depth of devastation she experienced during the raid to her home land. We don't know if she was separated from her family to never see them again, or if she may have even watched members of her family murdered by the Syrian soldiers. Perhaps they kidnapped her and her family never knew for sure what happened to her. Maybe she was an orphan. She was taken to a strange country, where she was possibly looked down upon and ridiculed. It could have been that since she ended up as the servant in Naaman's home, that perhaps he was the one who had captured her and brought her home as a gift for his wife.

Regardless of everything this young girl may have endured, she knew how to forgive and had compassion in her heart for Naaman. It is apparent that she was familiar with the prophet, Elisha, and had a personal knowledge of and relationship with God.

She told her mistress, “If only my master would go to Samaria and see the prophet, Elisha, I know that he would be healed of his leprosy.” The wife passes the word on to her husband, who makes the trip to locate Elisha. He is told to dip in the Jordan river seven times, and that his skin would be made whole. Afterwards, Naaman then declares that, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

If I had been in this servant girl's place, I'm not sure I would have handled the situation as she did. I probably would have seen the leprosy and thought, “He's just getting what he deserves for what he and his army did.” I may have even considered the possibility that his leprosy was a punishment from God for his actions. I don't think that I would have had compassion on him and wanted him to be made whole again.

She may have been well treated by Naaman's wife and had developed a fondness for her. Perhaps she was thankful that God had placed her in a home where she was cared for and had food to eat and a place to sleep. Perhaps she realized her purpose in being placed in Naaman's home was so God could use her to tell him about Elisha, in order that he would receive his healing and know that there was only one true God.

Whatever she may have been feeling or thinking, she was willing to speak up in faith. Whether or not she had battled within herself first before speaking, we don't know. I probably would have been thinking, “Okay, what if I tell him to go see Elisha, then he ends up not being healed? Would Naaman be angry and sell me to another master that possibly could be cruel to me, or would he have me put to death?”

Many times we over-think things. We try to reason out all the “what ifs” and possible scenarios beforehand. Especially in those type of situations where we feel that we have been wronged, we want justice to be served, and have a hard time forgiving and wanting good things to happen to the one who hurt us.

I have heard the comment on many occasions that, “They are only getting what they deserve.” When we've been wronged, or see someone fail or caught doing something wrong, we set ourself up as judge and jury. We want to hear all the “juicy details”, then judge whether or not their punishment fits their action. We are quick to say, “They should have known this would happen!” How many times have you heard the comment about someone who has committed a crime that “they should lock them up and through away the key?”

If someone does something to hurt or offend us we may say, “I forgive them, but I won't forget.” Later if someone tells us about something that same person did to them, we are quick to speak up and tell our story of what happened to us. We want that person to sound as bad as possible, and are quick to speak up and tell others of how we were wronged. We will say, “Did I tell you what they did to me?”

I think the young servant girl had the heart of a true Christian. She was able to look beyond herself and her circumstance and see the hurt and need of someone else. She wanted only the best for her master.

The passage of scripture that best describes how God would have us handle these types of situations is Luke 6:27-36:

But I (Jesus) tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your clothes. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners', expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

These are not easy scriptures to live by and obey!!

I haven't had many enemies, that I know of anyway. There is only one incident that I can remember where I know that someone actually hated me. I had been promoted to a supervisory position, which she felt that she should have been given. This woman was a very bitter, selfish, self-centered person. During lunch hours, she would dominate the conversation and it was all about her and her problems. Through a series of events, she ended up getting fired. I found out afterwards, that she was saying bad things about me behind my back to other employees. A couple days after she was fired, I was in the grocery store and her mother was in the check out line across from me. I hadn't noticed her, but felt someone staring at me. I looked over and I have never had anyone glare at me with so much hatred. A few days later, I was in Wal-mart and looked several check out lines over and saw the woman who had been fired. She had seen me and was shooting daggers with her eyes. I could see all the hatred she was feeling towards me. Her boyfriend was with her, and I wasn't sure of his opinion of the situation. To be honest, it kind of scared me. It was dark outside, and I was a little worried that they would follow me out to the parking lot and try to beat me up or slash my tires or something. I finished up before them, and hurried out as fast as I could and left.

Probably seven or eight years later, I was working the drive up at one of our branches and saw a truck drive up. I looked up and it was this woman. I knew that she had moved away and I was shocked to see her. Dread filled me, but I was the only one working the drive up, so had no choice but to wait on her. She sat there for probably ten minutes (there were no other customers at that time) visiting like we were long lost friends. Needless to say, I was so surprised! Apparently, time had healed her feelings toward me. It made me feel better to know that she was no longer harboring bitterness, hatred or unforgiveness.

Another thing that stands out to me about the young servant girl in II Kings chapter five is her faith. She didn't say, “I think he might possibly be cured.” She spoke boldly and said, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” She didn't hope that it would happen, she knew it would happen. It wasn't Elisha who would cure Naaman of the leprosy, but it was God working in and through him.

To believe and not doubt is something that is very difficult for a lot of us to do. There are many scriptures that speak about faith. How much faith is required? According to Matthew 17:20, it only takes faith the size of a tiny mustard seed. In addition to believing and not doubting, another key to faith is forgiving others.

Mark 11:22-25 says, “'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.'”

In closing, I read a story several years ago that I have never forgotten. A missionary lady was well known, in the region in which she served, as being a woman of great faith. Many miracles had occurred in the places that she had ministered. She was speaking at a particular conference one time, and everyone was excited to meet this woman. She was introduced as being a woman of great faith. When she stood to speak she said, “I am not a woman of great faith, but a woman who has faith in a great God!”

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

It can be hard to receive forgiveness. But it's also very important. One of the first steps to salvation is to ask God for forgiveness. But we can't honestly ask for forgiveness unless we are ready to accept it.

When someone has sinned against us, if we refuse to forgive them, it can destroy our relationship. But if we refuse to accept their forgiveness, it can also destroy the relationship. The forgiver is offering a great gift. It can be very hard to give up anger and pain. And it can be a risk. When someone offers you that much, it is a huge insult to toss it away.

Even if we feel like we've done something that can't be forgiven, God can forgive anything. And so can someone who truly loves us. We can only make things worse by refusing to be forgiven.

ON THE MENEWE:

Oreo Ice Cream Dessert

1 pkg. Oreo Cookies – crushed (reserve ½ cup for topping)

1 stick butter – melted

Mix the Oreo crumbs with the melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

½ gallon vanilla ice cream – scoop the ice cream and place over the Oreo crust.

Top with hot fudge sauce.

Sprinkle the reserved Oreo crumbs and nuts on top.

Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

RAM-BLING IDEAS:

I recently read a newspaper article regarding household secrets. No, this wasn't about hidden secrets within a home, but about convenient household items we shouldn't live without and additional uses for various products.

LAUGHING LAMBS:

I have cold feet and hands a lot, especially at bedtime. For some odd reason, when we go to bed at night, Jon hates it when I put my cold hands and feet on him until I warm up. Can't figure out why!! But I absolutely cannot go to sleep when my feet are cold. I like going bare foot and hate wearing socks. And I cannot sleep with socks on! The only way I know to describe it is that my feet feel claustrophobic when I wear socks to bed and am covered up. Last year for Christmas, Jon's parents bought us a heated mattress pad, that we keep on our bed during the winter, which is wonderful and helps tremendously. At times though during the summer, with air conditioning and ceiling fans blowing on my feet, they still get cold. I told Jon that I just didn't get it because if his feet were cold, I would let him put them on my legs to warm up. A few nights ago he thought he would prove a point.

I had gone to bed earlier than him, due to him staying up to watch a sci-fi program (yuck!). He got this bright idea to put his feet on an ice pack while he was watching TV to get them as cold as possible before he came to bed. I had fallen asleep, but woke up when I heard him come upstairs. He got in bed and stuck his ice cold feet on my legs. To his extreme disappointment, he got absolutely no reaction out of me, which took all the fun out his little plan! I knew that he was up to something when his feet were so cold. I told him that if his feet were really that cold that I would be more than happy to let him put them on me to warm up. He was a little disgruntled to have spent all that time with his feet on an ice pack, only to have it back fire on him and his wife be so accommodating.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

The joy of the Lord is our strength! Therefore, lack of joy = lack of strength.

This is our 25th newsletter!! We have thoroughly enjoyed writing these each week and once again want to thank you for reading them. We pray that what we write will continue to bless and encourage each of you. We enjoy hearing from you. It encourages us to continue doing what we feel God has placed in our hearts to do.

Thank you and God bless!!!

Loretta & Jon

shepherd@grayengineers.com

www.graysheep.org