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

September 1, 2010

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

"Liar, liar - pants on fire," is a saying we've all heard and said; especially as kids. Generally this is said when someone has been caught in a lie.

It's amazing that a child can learn to lie at a very young age. "Did you eat that cookie?" If they know they weren't supposed to eat it, they'll say no, even though they may have cookie crumbs and chocolate outlining their lips. Or a mother hears a crash and runs in and sees the child scampering from the room as quick as they can. "Did you break the lamp?" "No!"

Lying is not something that is taught, but seems to be a natural instinct born within us all. Most eventually outgrow the tendency to lie (usually after the teen years), but even as adults there are still those occasions when telling a little fib seems easier than telling the truth. We don't like to call it a lie, but rather justify it as "just bending the truth a little". "I wasn't really lying!" And we would be offended and shocked if anyone ever accused us of such a thing.

It's amazing how quickly a lie can slip from our lips. There have been times when I've said something, then later think, "Why did I say that? It wasn't a big deal so why didn't I just tell the truth?" Other times I've felt backed into a corner, and before I know it, a lie is rolling off my lips. The trouble is, later you may be questioned about it, and have to try and remember what you originally said. Then you may be put in a position to tell another untruth in order to cover the first one, so no one knows that you were being dishonest.

Lying is nothing new. It started back in the Garden of Eden with Eve. The serpent first lied to Eve. There was a tree in the middle of the garden that God specifically told Adam and Eve not to eat from. They could eat from every other tree, except this one. God instructed them, "You shall not not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die." When Eve told the serpent what God had told them, his response was, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Eve saw that the food was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, and she took of the fruit and ate it. She then gave some of the fruit to Adam, and he also ate. It was only in that moment that they both realized that they were naked.

Later that evening, they heard the sound of God walking in the garden, and they hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees of the garden. Apparently it had been their custom to walk and commune with God in the cool of the evening. Now they were hiding from Him due to their sin. God called out to Adam, "Where are you?" Adam replied, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."

Just like a child will try to hide from their parent when they've done something wrong, Adam tried to hide from God. Kids don't rationalize that they live in the same house as their parents, so they're going to be found. And when they are found, they're going to have to face up to their actions. By hiding, they're only delaying the inevitable. Adam and Eve heard their Father walking in the garden, yet they tried to hide themselves. They were only prolonging the unavoidable confrontation with God. Yet we still do the same thing today. We may not have a garden to hide in, but when we sin we often try to cover up instead of confessing, taking the punishment, and then accepting forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

God asked Adam, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"

Instead of Adam fessing up to his actions, he tried to pass the blame. "The woman You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."

When God looked at Eve and asked what she had done, she too tried to pass the buck. "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

There were dire consequences for their sin. They were driven from the garden by God, and were no longer allowed to live there. God even placed cherubim at the east of the garden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Adam and Eve had to then begin tilling the ground and toiling for their food.

This was just the beginning. There are several examples of lying in the Bible; as well as the consequences.

In Genesis 27 Jacob lied to his father and deceived him by pretending to be his brother, Esau, in order to receive his father's blessing before Isaac died. And he did so at the urging of his mother, Rebekah. She told him what to do and what to say in order to deceive Isaac and receive the blessing that should have belonged to Esau, since he was the oldest son.

Once again, there were consequences for lying. Esau was angry at Jacob and threatened to kill him as soon as their father died. Rebekah heard of the threat and sent Jacob away from home. So Jacob had to flee his homeland in order to preserve his life.

But he later was repaid for his deceit and lies, when the shoe was on the other foot and he was on the receiving end. He fell in love with Rachel and worked for her father 7 years in order to marry her. But on his wedding night he was shocked to find that the bride underneath the veil was actually her older sister, Leah. When Jacob confronted her father, he was told that it was unlawful for the younger sister to marry before the older. He had to work another 7 years for Rachel. The father's lie resulted in Jacob being married to sisters. Can you imagine?!

Abraham is another person who lied, thinking he could protect his wife and preserve his own life; not once, but twice! In Genesis 12 Abraham and Sarah were entering Egypt. He told her, "You are a woman of beautiful countenance. It will happen that when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife', and they will kill me, but will let you live. Please say that you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you." When the Egyptians saw that Sarah was very beautiful, they took her to Pharaoh's house. He treated Abraham well for her sake. But the Lord plagued Pharaoh's house with great plagues because of Sarah. It made Pharaoh angry and he asked Abraham why he had told him that she was his sister? He might have mistakingly taken her as his wife. Pharaoh sent Abraham and Sarah away.

It looks like Abraham would have learned his lesson, but that didn't happen! In chapter 20 he and Sarah were dwelling in Gerar. Once again, Abraham told everyone that she was his sister. King Abimelech sent for and took Sarah. God came to Abimelch in a dream and said, "Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife." Abimelech began pleading with God due to his innocence in thinking that Abraham and Sarah were brother and sister. The next morning he returned Sarah to Abraham and questioned why he'd brought this sin upon him. Abraham admitted it was because he had been afraid that they would kill him and keep Sarah if they knew that he was her husband.

Not only did Abraham and Sarah sin by lying, but in both of these circumstances they caused distress and potential dire consequences to fall upon innocent people. We may think that our lies won't hurt anyone, but they have a way of bringing harm in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. Instead of trusting God to protect and keep him and Sarah safe, Abraham tried to take both situations into his own hands and manipulate it himself. How often we do this same thing! Instead of asking God to work in our circumstances and then leaving it in His hands, we try to figure things out on our own and end up making a mess of things. We experience fear, and think that lying is the only possible solution in which to escape. But God wants us to trust Him for protection and commit the situation into His hands. If we would only learn that He can handle things much better than we can on our own.

The most astounding example given in the Bible, regarding how much God hates lying, is found in Acts chapter 5. Ananias and Sapphira were husband and wife who sold a possession, but held back part of the money for themselves. They both were aware of it, and had a lie concocted to tell the apostles. Ananias took a portion of it and laid it at the apostles feet. Perhaps they wanted to look important in the eyes of the disciples and church by pretending to donate all the proceeds. But God revealed the lie to Peter. He asked Ananias, "Why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained in your possession was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."

Upon hearing those words, Ananias fell down and immediately died. Wow, that's a huge price to pay for lying!

About three hours later, as planned, his wife came, not knowing what had happened with her husband. Peter asked her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She agreed that was the right amount. Peter answered, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Sapphira immediately fell down in death.

Keeping back part of the money from the sale of the land wasn't the sin. As Peter told Ananias, the money was in their control and they could do what they wanted with it. The sin was in them conceiving a devious plan in their heart and lying about the money. Was it because they lied to Peter? No. As Peter said, "You have not lied to men but to God." And they paid the ultimate price for lying to God. It cost them their lives.

The bottom line is: God hates lying! Furthermore, we should also hate lying. None of us like being lied to, but yet we don't consider how our dishonest words can hurt others. Usually we're only trying to protect ourselves and don't stop to think how it could affect someone else.

Proverbs 13:5 says, "A righteous man hates lying, but a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame."

Whether we call it a lie, (little) white lie, fib, whopper, tall-tale, falsehood, half-truth, etc. the truth is: a lie is a lie is a lie. There's no white-washing it or justification for saying things that are not true. If by some chance you were to come face to face with God after lying, and He confronted you about it, how would you respond? Would you try to cover up like Ananias and Sapphira? Would you cast blame on someone else like Adam and Eve? Would you have to run away and live isolated from your family like Jacob? Or would you try to justify it like Abraham, while causing harm to come to others?

Let words of truth filled our mouths. "Honesty is the best policy" is more than a trite phrase. It's what God desires from us.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've failed to meet quite a few commitments lately. Is missing a commitment a lie? It's easy to say it isn't. After all, when I made the commitment, I thought I'd be able to make it.

But the bottom line is, I got people to count on me, and I failed them. Fortunately, I'm in a habit of only saying I'm sure (or fairly sure, or suspect) I would have such and such done on a certain date. And many of the commitments weren't ones that I'd made. That doesn't totally get me off the hook. I still had people who made plans around my estimates.

When being honest gets to the point of being a habit, it's hard to accept the gray areas.

BIBLE TRIVIA QUESTIONS:

      1. Which of the disciples is best known for being a doubter?

      2. Who in the Old Testament had a reputation as a reckless driver?

      3. Which king had the most wives?

      4. Which man was most known for being hairy?

      5. Who was known for their patience?

ON THE MENEWE:

Scalloped Potatoes

3 Tbsp. Butter

6 cups slices potatoes

2 Tbsp. Flour

2 tsp. Salt

2 cups milk

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in saucepan; stir in flour and salt. Add milk, stirring constantly until sauce boils and thickens. Add potatoes and heat, stirring until it boils again. Turn into a shallow greased casserole dish. Spread 1 tablespoon melted butter over top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Diced onions or ham may be added, if desired. Also, you can add shredded cheese to the top when almost done cooking.

BIBLE TRIVIA ANSWERS:

  1. Thomas (John 20:25)

  2. Jehu (2 Kings 9:20)

  3. Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3)

  4. Esau (Genesis 25:25, 27:11)

  5. Job (James 5:11)

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little. Proverbs 10:20

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org