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!'"
January 23, 2008
Last week's devotional was about Elijah. After much prayer, I feel led to continue with lessons from Elijah's life. So for the next few weeks, I will be focusing on Elijah. If you would like to study Elijah's life for yourself, you can find the scriptures relating to him in 1 Kings chapters 17-19, then in 2 Kings chapters 1-2. My prayer is that you will be encouraged and learn from these devotionals over the next few weeks.
In the beginning of 1 Kings 18, over three years has passed since Elijah's prophecy had been made that there would be no rain nor dew. As you can imagine, there was a horrendous drought and famine in Israel.
Think about how it is today when we go several weeks without any rainfall. People begin to panic because of the lack of moisture. Farmers' crops begin to fail, water wells begin to get dangerously low, cattle begin to suffer, there is danger of fires, and pandemonium begins to take place. Grocery prices begin to rise and it affects our economy for a short time. No burn orders are issued and random fires begin breaking out. People begin to worry and tempers become short.
Can you imagine what it would be like if God withheld rain in the U.S. for over three years? We think the world is coming to an end if we go a month without rainfall, especially during the heat of the summer. But if there was absolutely no rain for over three years, all of the farmers would go out of business, crops would fail, fruit orchards would dry up, water supplies would dwindle down and become dangerously low, prices would soar, etc. The economy would suffer, and our lives, as we know it, would drastically change. As spoiled as we are as a nation, can you even imagine the sheer panic that would occur if there were food and water rationing?
Israel was suffering as a nation, and desperation had long since set in. King Ahab and the Israelites were all avid Baal worshipers and had denied the one true God. Baal worshipers believed that he controlled rain and was responsible for abundant crops. So not only was the nation suffering from the drought, the people must have felt that their god was letting them down. Starvation as a result of the famine was taking a toll on the people.
At the end of 3 ½ years, God speaks to Elijah and says, “Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.”
Elijah goes to try and find Ahab, only is unable to locate him.
Obadiah was the governor of Ahab's house. He greatly feared the Lord. Jezebel, Ahab's wife, was having the Lord's prophets killed, and Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves. He had been supplying them with food and water.
About the time Elijah went to locate Ahab, the king had told Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So the two men divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in the other.
As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized Elijah, and asked if it was really him. Elijah replied, “Yes, Go tell your master (Ahab), Elijah is here...”
That struck fear in Obadiah's heart. The last thing he wanted to do was go give Ahab a message that Elijah was looking for him.
“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where Ahab hasn't sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, 'Elijah is here.' I don't know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn't find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven't you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord's prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, 'Elijah is here.' He will kill me!”
Elijah assured Obadiah, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”
Obadiah goes to meet Ahab and relayed the message, and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
When reading the conversation between Obadiah and Elijah, it kind of sounds like Obadiah is a big coward. It is obvious that the last thing he wants to do, is go give Ahab the message from Elijah. But who can blame him! I can't say that I would be running to the king, who had been searching for over three years in all the surrounding nations and kingdoms for Elijah, and gladly tell him that I had just had a conversation with this missing prophet.
Three and a half years ago, Elijah tells Ahab that it's not going to rain until he speaks the word from God, then he disappears. Famine and desperation grip the hearts of the people, and I'm sure they are lashing out at Ahab wanting him to do something about their situation. There had probably been a lot of people who had died from starvation during those years. Ahab and the other Baal worshipers have been pleading and begging their god for intervention, only to find him silent. Yet this prophet, Elijah, who is the only one who can speak on God's behalf for rain to fall, was nowhere to be found during this whole time. I think I would have told Elijah, “You want Ahab? You go find him yourself!”
On the other hand, we see that Obadiah had to have been very brave. He was in charge of Ahab's palace. He had direct day to day dealings with the king. He knew first hand, the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel. Jezebel had ordered that all the prophets of the Lord be killed, yet Obadiah had hidden a hundred of them in caves. He was seeing that those prophets had food and water. He was putting his own life on the line every single day by his actions. I'm sure that not a day went by that Obadiah didn't plead for God's protection over himself and those hidden prophets. He had to watch his every step, because if the wrong person found out what he had done and told Ahab or Jezebel, Obadiah would have been killed. Yet apparently, he was willing to put his own life on the line for the safety of these Godly men. The scriptures say that Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord.
In spite of his obvious fear and reluctance to go tell Ahab that he knew where Elijah was, he finally obeyed.
I believe that God put Obadiah in the position he was in, as governor of the household of Ahab. Apparently this ungodly, wicked king put his trust in Obadiah's abilities. Obadiah held one of the highest positions possible in the king's palace. I'm sure it was a desired and respected position. How is it that a man, who is a devout man of God, is given this sought after position in the palace of an evil, wicked king? God can open doors that no man can open, and shut doors that no man can shut. You can read in the Bible and in the history books where numerous times God has placed the right person, in the right place, at the right moment, in order to accomplish His plan.
We often see ourselves as being so insignificant and small in the scheme of things. How could God ever accomplish something worthwhile through “little ol' us”? We may never be in charge of the “king's household” or have direct connection with men of importance, although God does place men and women in those positions. There may never be noteworthy articles written in the paper about us, or news stories on TV told about our greatness. We may never win any awards or be given any honors. Few people may know who we are, and we may never own a lot materially or have much wealth. Yet God has placed each of us where we are for a purpose, that only we can fulfill. It may not be a life filled with great events and ultimate highs. But it may be that one pivotal moment in time, when we accomplish that one big purpose that God had for us to do.
Obadiah's accomplishments of what all he did in the king's house is not recorded. That was insignificant; it was just a job. The only events that are recorded is that he hid the prophets in the caves for a while, and his encounter with Elijah. He's not mentioned anymore. If Obadiah lived to be 80, this was just a little short span of his life.
Too many times we miss the little events where God uses us. It seems so insignificant that we're always thinking, “Surely there's a greater cause or purpose for me!” We wait our whole lives for that “Big Moment” to happen, where we hear angels sing, and applause of men, and the rainbow ends at our front door (figuratively speaking, of course).
Although Obadiah showed bravery by hiding and feeding the prophets, upon his meeting with Elijah, he lets fear take hold. He has been living in the king's house, while hiding these men, knowing the consequences if he is found out. Yet when Elijah asked him to go tell Ahab where to find him, he begins begging and pleading with Elijah not to make him go. Obadiah mentions three times that he'll be killed by Ahab. Perhaps when he was inside the palace he knew his safety and those of the prophets depended on God, so he was constantly in prayer, and had faith that God would protect them. Yet once he left the household, was away from the king, and out on his own, he let his guard down.
There are times when we go through adverse situations that our faith in God is strong, because we know we have to depend on God and trust Him in order to make it through. But once we get away from the situation and things start looking better, we let our guard down and become spiritually relaxed. Something unexpected occurs, and fear immediately consumes us and we begin to worry and fret.
God was the same inside the palace as He was outside, yet Obadiah was scared for his life.
We need to always be conscious of the fact that God is God wherever we may be, whatever our circumstances may be, whoever we may be in contact with, whenever our situation may change; and He will never change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That fact will never change.
I'm not sure why Elijah sent Obadiah to get Ahab instead of going himself. Perhaps he didn't want to make things easy on Ahab and go directly to him, but wanted Ahab have to come to him. Also, he may not have wanted the confrontation to take place without any witnesses to what was said between himself and the king. He may have wanted Obadiah there to witness what took place.
During the years that I was a supervisor there was occasionally a situation where there was a major problem with an employee. On those occasions, my supervisor and I would both meet with that employee. That way they couldn't come back and say something was said, that really wasn't. They also couldn't misconstrue something that was said and twist it around. Afterwards, we would record in the employee's folder what occurred in the meeting. That prevented many potential problems. In important issues, there are times when it's better to not handle it alone but have a witness to the confrontation or conversation. This is important for those in business, for pastors, and in various situations.
Also, the offended or disciplined person will at times try to make themselves look better by going to others and telling their version of the event. They will tell only what they want you to know, and will leave out any details that may may them look bad. This happens all the time in business, churches, families, etc. It they can get people to take sides and cause division, then they have accomplished their goal. It's so easy to get people to listen and take sides.
Last of all, all those things that Obadiah feared never came to pass. He went and gave Ahab the message, Ahab comes and talks to Elijah, and Obadiah is out of the picture. How many things do we fret about that never occur? If there is nothing to fear or worry about, many times we will conjure up something in our imagination. We will think out all these “what if” scenarios, or have imaginary conversations of conflict with others in our minds. We waste so much time trying to plan ahead for all possibilities, that we often get ourselves worked up into a frenzy. Then after the fact, we realize that nothing had happened as we had imagined, and that we wasted all that time stewing about it.
Even though we may be devout believers in God, we must keep daily going to God in prayer and keep our minds fixed upon Him. Once we let our guards down just a little, that gives our enemy (Satan) an opportunity to whisper some lie into our mind or place a hindrance in our path. May we ever be vigilant and keep our focus directed on God.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the need to be vigilant against letting evil influence in “through the window”. After a few days and some thought, two things occurred to me. The quick thought was that, “Eyes are the window to the soul.”
The second thought was that just saying to be careful isn't always that helpful. So I'll pass on some advice that I've heard and think is helpful. If you feel too ashamed of something to talk about it, that's a sure sign that it's wrong, no matter how much you can justify it to yourself. But the most important thing you can do is talk with someone. Sound scary? It doesn't have to be. You don't have to tell someone that you're a compulsive gambler, get drunk after church, or whatever. Just go to someone you can trust, and tell them you're going through something rough right now and need prayer. Ideally, a spouse would be a great person to talk to. But if that isn't an option, try a friend, co-worker, Sunday-school teacher, or pastor. A preacher who doesn't know you might make you more comfortable. Most people would never pry if you tell them you just need some prayer, and don't want to talk yet. In time, you might feel ready to say more. And in the meantime, it's a comfort and help to know someone is praying for you, especially if you feel temptation.
New England Clam Chowder
4 cans cream of potato soup
1 ½ c. milk
½ c. diced bacon, browned (approx. 4-5 slices)
½ cup diced onion
2 cans minced clams (with the juice)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. thyme
Brown your bacon and crumble. In the bacon grease, saute the onion. In a large saucepan or crock pot, mix your cream of potato soups and milk. Add the onion (I just pour the onion and what's left of the bacon grease it was cooked in into the pot). Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and thyme. Drain the clams and add the clam juice to the mixture. Let the soup heat up completely. Add the clams and let cook a little longer (maybe 4 or 5 minutes). You can either add the bacon to the soup mixture, or serve with the crumbled bacon on top of each serving. Serve hot with oyster crackers.
I have never done very well with house plants. I think they're pretty and have tried growing them over the years, but haven't have much success. One tip I have been given (other than to remember to water) is to make sure that the flower pot is the right size.
After Daddy's funeral, I brought home a peace lily. I really wanted to keep it alive and healthy. It was beautiful when I got it home and was full of the white flowers, but after a few weeks it began to look wilted. I noticed that the pot was about a 4-inch pot and the plant was full and probably at least 12-18 inches tall. I bought a much bigger pot and a bag of potting soil. When I re-potted the plant, I saw that the roots were all bound. I carefully loosened up the roots before putting it in the bigger pot. I poured some of the potting soil into the new pot, put the plant in, then filled in all around it with new potting soil and watered thoroughly. It took a few days, but the plant soon adjusted and now looks great. I've had it for four months now, and it is growing, green and looking good.
Many flower shops use smaller pots for their plants (probably more cost effective for them), so you will need to keep an eye on any plant you receive and re-pot as necessary.
The plant was in the small pot, which was placed inside a straw basket. To dress it up, they had wrapped the pot in colored cellophane paper before sitting it down into the basket. They had also wadded up cellophane paper and put it under the pot. I didn't realize, but that paper was holding the water in as I watered the plant and was causing the roots to begin to rot. So even though it may look pretty, take the paper off so the drain hole in the bottom of the flower pot isn't blocked.
Not only can you underwater a plant (like forgetting all about it until it starts wilting), you can also over water. A gardening tip we recently heard was to stick your finger down into the potting soil about an inch or two. It the soil is still moist, you don't need to water. It it's dry, then it's time to water again. I've only been watering my peace lily about once every couple weeks, and it seems to be about the perfect timing between waterings.
Another tip I was given, was that peace lilies do not thrive well in direct sunlight. They do better in indirect lighting. I'm not sure this is accurate, but it seems to be working well for my plant.
When I was a very young, very little girl, the freezer part of our refrigerator was definitely not self-defrosting. I'm not sure any of them were back then. Thick ice would build up on the inside of the freezer. Mama would have to occasionally empty it out and let it defrost, and would scrape out the ice that had built up.
I'm not sure what possessed me to do this. But one day I pulled a kitchen chair over to the refrigerator, climbed up on the chair and opened the freezer. Maybe it was because vanilla ice cream (or “white ice cream”, as I called it back then) was my favorite. Perhaps it was because when it snowed, Mama would go outside and scoop up a big bowl of it and make snow ice cream. Maybe the white frosty ice reminded me of those things. Maybe it was because we didn't have air conditioning in the house and I was exceptionally hot that day. But I decided that it would be a good idea to lick the ice inside that freezer. All it took was me sticking my tongue to it, and I was stuck! Mama heard me hollering and ran into the kitchen, only to find her baby's tongue stuck to the ice inside the freezer. She had to pull it loose, and all I can remember about it was that it hurt like crazy when she did! Needless to say, it only took that one time for me to learn my lesson.
“The greatest tragedy in life is people who have sight but no vision.” - Helen Keller
Thanks again for reading our newsletter. May you be encouraged and blessed.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon