ETERNAL INK +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The articles within this publication remain the copyrights of the authors. Any permission to reproduce any article, in any format, must be granted by the author. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Editor-in-Chief of Eternal Ink - Mary-Ellen Grisham - meggy88@... Administrative Editor - David Davis - fishercaster@... Devotions Editor - Annettee Budzban - ahrtwrites2u@... Features Editor - Carl Phillips - CarlPhil10@... Special Materials Editor - Ivie Bozeman - ivie@... Poetry Editor - Elizabeth (Betty) Pearson - roybet630@... Eternal Ink Web Site - www.eternal-ink.com ISSN#: 1528-9605 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Table of Contents 1) Mary-Ellen's Note 2) Devotion 3) Poetry of Praise 4) Moments of Doubt 5) Seasonal Feature 6) Christian Profile 7) Meditation on Scripture - Part Two 8) Light Moments 9) Bible Study 10) Memorable Words/Closing Words ISSN#: 1528-9605 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1) Mary-Ellen's Note From my childhood days, I remember the famous news picture that showed the young child carrying a smaller child. When an adult asked the older child about the burden, he replied, "He's not heavy; he's my brother." While I cannot remember the exact setting of the photo--whether in a war torn country or in a 'poor' section of the United States, the message is still the same. Love and concern for another makes the "burden" of friendship or the "trials" of relationship possible, if not always easy. The Lord intended for us to help carry each other's burdens. The organization of the New Testament Christian Church assures that we will care for our brothers both inside and outside the church. The theme of "loving your neighbor" (that is, anyone who needs your help) is the subject of parables and commands throughout both the Old and New Testament. Those within the church become the Body of Christ on earth, and as such, these Christians should extend empathy and love to each other and to all men. In Romans 12, Paul makes this kind of behavior a model for Christian living: "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil. Hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another, do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12: 9-18 Revised Standard Version) +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 2) Devotion God gave us the gift of friendship to help us in troubled times By Annettee Budzban "When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other -so that his hands remained steady until sunset." - Exodus 17:12 (NIV) I've heard it said that friends come into our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I have a small square box imprinted with lavender flowers, which holds special notes and cards I have received from friends. Oftentimes, I like to reflect on the blessings each of these people have been in my life. Whether for a short season, or for the duration, nothing can replace the heartwarming gift of friendship. I recently hurt a friend of mine. It wasn't intentional--it was a mis-communication. When I realized what had occurred, I called to explain the situation to her. Like a loving friend, she understood and we continued on in our relationship as if nothing had happened between us. Good friends are a valuable treasure. They stick with us through thick and thin. They are willing to help without expecting favors in return. They laugh and cry with us depending on the occasion. They will, oftentimes, lift our spirits and challenge us to be a better person. God created us for friendship. He knows we can't make it through troubled times alone. When Moses was battling the Amalekites, he stood on the top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands. As long as he held his hands up they were winning the battle. Over time, his hands grew weary, however, and he needed help. His brother, Aaron and another friend, Hur came to help steady his hands in place. Together they won the battle. We may not be fighting on a battlefield. Instead we may be battling an illness, financial problems, relationship issues, or some other trial. God is our ultimate friend when trouble comes our way. But, oftentimes, He will send us His comfort through loving words or support of a friend. There may be someone who needs your friendship today. Why not reach out to them? To acquire a friend we need to reach out and be a friend. If you're on the receiving end, reach back--you'll both receive a blessing. Annettee Budzban ahrtwrites2u@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 3) Poetry of Praise ONLY THOU ART JUST By Gary J. Smith God, You know our deepest sorrow, In your care, we place our trust. All compassion and forgiving, Surely Lord, Thou art Just! As our hearts abide in your love, Receiving Grace anew each day. Memories of loved one's filling, All the joys, of yesterday. Surely Lord, 'tis grand to know Thee, Blessings abundant-Joy divine! Hallelujah! What a Saviour! I am His and He is mine! No deeper thought can reassure us, No greater Word than this can be! God my Saviour - Jubilation! "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me!" No gates of Hell to bar our journey, No sorrow, no tears to wipe away. All creation, groaneth; travaileth, For that grand and glorious day! Trumpeter's - All attention! Sound the ready - Christ is come! Precious loved one's await our entrance, To that Glorious, Heavenly, Home. Gone, oh earth are all your Kingdoms, Treasures here, all but dust! King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Saviour Jesus, we worship thus! Bowing knees in adoration, Singing Praises to our God! Rejoicing, being with our loved one's; When Heaven's streets of gold we trod. Eternity - Oh Hallelujah! Thank you Lord for saving me, Greater love than this has no man Jesus died on Calvary! Sing my soul with psalms and praises, Resting in that love of God! Waiting for that coming glad day, When our feet touch Heaven's Sod. Gary J. Smith (c) Copyright Feb. 15,1977 glsmith@... BIG OR LITTLE? by Elizabeth Pearson Which does God use more... The gigantic or the small? Who best can gain the vict'ry, To make a giant fall? Does He need a horde of soldiers, With swords and armor clad? No, God can use one volunteer... As when David was a lad! Does He need a mighty army To rout a pow'rful foe? No, God can triumph with a handful... As Gideon came to know! Does He need a score of messengers To warn when dangers loom? No, Jonah preached to Ninevah And saved a nation from doom! When leading His chosen people To the distant Promised Land... Moses and Aaron were the two who led This multitudinous band! Did God need countless angels To rescue man from his sin? No, His only Son was the Chosen One To woo mankind back to Him! So, we see that God is seen to work Through people and things quite small... We must be willing, 'tho unimportant and weak, To always be "on call." If, going forth in our own strength alone, All our efforts will come to naught! But by letting God have His way in our lives, Our battles are already fought... The vic'try is His, for He is the One Who works on our behalf... He sits on His throne in the Heavens above And over the "mighty" He laughs! (c)2005 Elizabeth Pearson roybet630@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 4) Moments of Doubt Two messages of searching and doubt came to me recently. I wanted to share these with our readers because times of questioning, stretching, and growing are definitely part of the Christian's journey. It is at times such as these that we pray for the believer as he attempts to mature and reach a new level of faith: "Recently I was involved in a bible discussion on prayer. The topics ranged from how to pray, does God answer prayers, is prayer necessary since God hears our thoughts/desires? and can we pray for the impossible? One of the fiercest critics of praying was saying she doesn't hear God's replies anymore and gave us an example of how God used to respond to her when she was little girl. Her account was like this: 'I remember in junior school after school, going home, we met Mr. Ice cream-man with his appetizing, tingling bell. I and my friend only had a few cents of bus fare but nothing more. We had to make a decision ice cream or walking 15km home, and I said we will have ice cream, and my friend asked whether i was willing to walk home. I proudly and innocently, with faith, replied "God will provide." Just a few delicious bites into my ice cream an army truck pulled by and gave us a lift home' So we started discussing her and agreed on the following: 1) God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. 2) We all need that child-like innocent faith and belief that God will provide." By Phillimon Mutonhodza c/o Carl Phillips CarlPhil10@... It's Me Again Lord By James A. Henson It's me again, Lord; and I just don't understand Why you're allowing me to hurt this way! I've tried and tried to serve you day by day, As best as I can, without complaining; and yet, Despair and anguish are my constant companions! Without fail, I have sought to follow your teachings. My goal has been to please you in each aspect of my life. I have cherished your Word, and have diligently Embraced your way, when those about me mocked And scoffed at me, saying, "Where is this God you Are tethered to? Why does he not come swiftly to your aid?" All those who scoff and mock me for trying to live By your Word, go to and fro in the workaday world With no compassion...no concern whatever for needs of The fallen, the hungry, and the destitute. They do this, With no apparent fear of your awesome might and power. Although these vile individuals flaunt themselves, and Make no attempt to serve you Lord, you allow them to prosper. As I ask these questions, I can feel anger taking control. Why should I even try to live in strict obedience, while Those who have no regard for your ways seem to prosper? How long, Lord, will you ignore the evil deeds of those Who have utter contempt for your righteousness? Why am I persecuted and cast down; one who strives To please and obey you at every turn? Have you turned Your face away from me at the very time I need you most? Forgive me, Lord; for even asking such questions. I remember That you didn't spare your own Son; but it was for my sake That you let Him suffer agony and rejection! I know the answer To all the questions that I have foolishly asked...I'm also glad That I don't even have to identify myself... You've always known me! (c) 2002 James A. Henson jahenson13@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 5) Seasonal Feature SPRING IS ON ITS WAY By Ivie Bozeman This is the season of the year when excitement fills the air. Much of nature is swelling and bursting forth with bloom. Those trees and flowers not yet in bloom are sending forth promises of new life to come. On a road I often travel, an ancient pear tree is in full bloom. It is gnarled and broken, many of its limbs are gone; but those that remain are filled with blossoms, promising a bumper crop of fruit this year. I wonder how many cycles of life it has been through in its productive years? I marvel at the rhythm of its cycles and see the truth of its many rebirths after periods of dormancy. In my city, the main street in our historic district is lined with dogwoods. The church I attend is located at the end of this street so I travel it regularly. Just before Easter each year, the lovely blossoms create a border of white as we drive down the street. We strain our eyes to see if we can see signs of The Legend of the Dogwood. The Legend contends that at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. It was selected as the timber for the cross. This distressed the tree and sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. From henceforth, it will be slender, bent and twisted. Its blossoms will be in the form of a cross-two long and two short petals--and in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints--brown with rust and stained with red. In the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember." (http://www.javaforjesus.com/morelegend.html) There is another Easter story circulating on the Internet--about the pine tree. No one knows exactly where the story originated. A man and his wife are riding in the country. The man begins to tell his wife a story. When he was about eight years old, his grandfather had taken him fishing. His grandfather told him that pine trees know when Easter is coming. " I had no idea what he meant," the boy said, "so I pressed him for more information." He said, "The pine trees start their new growth in the weeks before Easter. If you look at the tops of the pine trees two weeks before, you will see the yellow shoots. As the days get closer to Easter, the tallest shoot will branch off and form a cross. By the time Easter comes, you will see that most of the pine trees have yellow crosses on all the tallest shoots." The writer, who is the wife, states after having heard this story, she looked out the window and sure enough, it was a week before Easter and all the trees had yellow shoots stretching to heaven. The tallest ones shone in the sunlight like rows of tiny golden crosses. I've never noticed this before, even though I've always lived in pine tree country, but you can be assured that I shall be looking this year for these yellow shoots with crosses. (http://www.noahsnet.comWanda/pinetreecrosses.html) Now that spring is definitely coming with its rebirth and new growth, our thoughts turn to other forms of rebirth. Just recently, the International Sunday School Lessons addressed the subject through Nicodemus, who came to Jesus asking how he could be saved. (John 3:3-5) "In reply Jesus declared, 'Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'" Nicodemus said to him: "How can a man be born when he is old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be reborn?' Jesus answered, 'Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.'" Nicodemus went away troubled because he did not understand. Jesus went forward into Jerusalem, was crucified on the cross and three days later, rose again, showing both Nicodemus and all of us what his ministry was about. Now, on Easter, we too, as Christians, celebrate a new birth. Christ died for us. He arose again bringing with him the secrets of a new life for all who believed in him. We are not told whether Nicodemus accepted this new life that Jesus was trying to tell him about. There are so many unanswered questions in the Bible; so many characters like him, who are left dangling. We can only hope that Nicodemus became a Christian. For us who live in the twenty-first century, the message should be clearer. Jesus has shown us how to bring springtime rebirth into our hearts and become new creatures. We can walk in newness of life because Jesus showed us the way. (c)2005 Ivie Bozeman ivie@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 6) Christian Profile - A Boy Finds a Friend Bigger than a Bully By Ron Reese It was winter time at the Esma Lewis Elementary School. Billy Berguson took a quick look at the thermometer on the outside of the school building. The thermometer read 6 degrees above zero. "Brr," thought ten-year old Billy. He continued walking on the icy walkway towards his classroom. As he did so, he passed one of the McGrogan brothers walking with a bunch of his friends going the other way. The two McGrogan brothers were twins and identical in every way, except personality. Mike was always happy, while Mark always seemed rather cold-hearted and mean. For no reason, he would just come up to people and push them down, and then laugh about it. He'd even used his fists to make a few of the boys cry. Billy always tried to just walk past him and not look at him because he didn't want to get hurt. "Hi Billy," said the McGrogan boy as he walked past him. Not knowing whether it was Mike or Mark, Billy wanted to just walk past the boy. But before he did, he replied, "Hi Mike." A few seconds later he heard a loud taunt behind him. "BERGUSON, YOU'RE MINE!" shouted the voice. Billy knew at once that the twin he'd just met must have been Mark. As he quickly turned around, he noticed that Mark was already running after him. Billy didn't have any time to think. All he had time to do was run from the bully chasing him. A string of profanities escaped the lips of Mark as he stated in no uncertain terms just what he was going to do to Billy when he caught him. Billy continued running down the icy sidewalk in front of the school with Mark getting closer and closer. Billy didn't know how much longer he could keep it up. He was trying to hold on to his homework and his lunch pail and at the same time run. As Mark continued yelling obscenities, Billy could hear the laughs and jeers of Mark's friends as they all joined the chase to watch Mark beat Billy up. If he were only a little bigger, then maybe Mark wouldn't be so apt to chase him. All along the walk people pointed and stared at the chase. Finally at the last minute, Billy knew there was nothing else to do. Even just then Mark was reaching his arms out towards him trying to get Billy's jacket in his clutches. At just the last second Billy decided to drop to the ground. Mark hadn't planned on him doing that. In fact Mark had been so bent upon hurting Billy that when he tripped over Billy and fell, he actually slid several feet on the icy asphalt. Shaken up a bit by the bad fall, he took a few minutes in getting up. But when he did he was even madder than before. All the other boys laughing at him didn't help matters either. Billy wished the other boys hadn't laughed. He knew that would only anger Mark and that it would cause him to get an even worse pounding. "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?" Mark demanded. Then without waiting for a reply from Billy he continued, "WHY DID YOU TRIP ME?" "I'm sorry," apologized Billy. "I really didn't mean for you to trip over me." Billy had already gotten up from the ice where he had laid himself down. He prepared for the fists that he knew where about to fly in his direction. "WHY DID YOU TRIP ME? HUH? HUH?" taunted the older boy. Mark was so close to Billy that the younger boy could feel the spray of Mark's saliva in his face as he spat out angry words. "I'm gonna teach you a lesson Creep!" Mark glared at Billy while raising his own fists to fight. Billy thought briefly for a moment about running again, but something held him back. He wasn't sure what it was, but instead of running, he decided if he was going to get a beating he'd just as well get it over with. Silently, he put up a prayer. "God please help me. This doesn't look good. Please help me to be loving and kind to my enemy." "Put up your fists!" demanded Mark. Billy just stood in front of Mark with his hands to his sides. "PUT UP YOUR FISTS AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN!" shouted Mark. Billy just stood there knowing that Mark was about to slug him. As he stared at the angry boy about to hit him, he felt sorry for anyone that could be so full of anger. Silently he prayed for Mark, "Dear God, please be with my enemy. Help him control his anger." Just then Mark held his right fist back. Billy could tell that Mark was done trying to taunt him with words and that he was about ready to smack him in the face to get him to fight. He wondered where Mark would hit him first. Would he give him a black eye, a bloody nose, or a fat lip? Billy wouldn't have long to wait to find out. Mark's fist shot forward towards Billy's face with all the force he could muster. Billy had already instinctively closed his eyes because he could already see that Mark was going for a black eye on his first swing. But the fist never connected. Billy opened his eyes to see if Mark had missed. Unbelievably, the doubled up fist was still there, right in front of his eyes. As Mark had swung, his fist was intercepted just before it connected with Billy's face by the biggest kid in the whole school. Charles Cox, the pastor's son, had stepped in at the last minute and grabbed Mark's wrist. "GET OUT OF MY WAY, CHARLES," retorted Mark. "I'M GOING TO GIVE HIM A BLACK EYE!" "No, I'm not getting out of your way, and you're not going to hit anybody," Charles stated as he stepped in front of Mark's target. "GET OUT OF MY WAY COX!" Mark repeated. "Listen now, there's not going to be any fight here today," Charles stated calmly. "And I don't want you to ever bother Billy here again. Do you hear that?" "You can't stop me," Mark stared at the taller boy. "I just did," replied Charles. "Now don't make me have to do it again or you'll have all of us to deal with. Just then several of the other boys joined Charles and made a line between Billy and Mark. There was nothing left for Mark to do. He turned around and found his school books and then went to his classroom. Just then the school bell rang. As it did so, Charles and several of the other guys helped Billy pick up his school books. As they all made their way to their classrooms, the rest of the guys gave Billy pats on the back and said, "Way to go Berguson." Billy hoped that Mark wasn't watching from his classroom because it would only make things worse later on when Mark caught him alone. Just then Charles handed him his lunch pail that had slid quite a ways along the ice when Billy went down. The older boy smiled at Billy. "You were going to let him hit you weren't you?" he asked. "Well, he was going to do it whether I let him or not," Billy explained. "I figured I'd just as well get it over with." "You know Billy, I may be a big guy, but I've never done anything as brave as what I saw you do today," smiled Charles. "Man, that was what the Bible was talking about. You were really turning the cheek." As Billy left to go to his classroom, Charles stood alone on the playground and shook his head with a smile. The rest of the school year Charles and Billy were good friends. And whether it was the fact that Mark had made such a fool of himself tripping over Billy, or just the fact that Charles was usually close by, Billy wasn't sure. He just knew that from that point onward, Mark never did try to bother him anymore. Charles was a lot like another friend we all have. A long time ago, our friend Jesus stepped between the devil and us so that we would not get hurt. It caused Christ's death, a debt He was willing to pay that we might be saved. Our friendship with Jesus is a friendship worth keeping up. As long as that friendship is kept up, the devil cannot cause us spiritual harm. (c)Ron Reese RonnieRayReese@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 7) Meditation on Scripture - Part Two In the last issue of Eternal Ink, the first part of this article appeared with thoughts and Scriptural references on Guarding the Heart. This issue carries the conclusion of Inez Norwood's article: GUARD YOUR WORDS By Inez B. Norwood Father, forgive me for sometimes seeking You with selfish motives. Let my heart's true motivation be the pleasure of Your presence. I want to delight in You and find that You are the one desire of my heart. Thank You for Your unfailing love. In the name of Jesus, Amen. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, "he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check" (James 3:2). This Scripture suggests that a chief sign of Christian maturity is a tamed tongue. Of this I'm certain: a sanctified mouth is too unnatural to ever be coincidental. If we want it, we're going to have to pursue it earnestly and cooperate with God to receive it. Isaiah struggled with governing his speech so that he could do God's will. The passage in Isaiah 6: 5-8 reveals his need: "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." Through God's Word and prayer, we can go to the throne of grace like Isaiah did. To be more "alive," I must guard my tongue. James 3:2 suggests that a chief sign of Christian maturity is a tamed tongue. I cited the verse from Proverbs (in the first part of the article) stating that from the heart comes our words. So when we are careful to "guard our hearts," the tongue will certainly reveal it. James 3:4 compares the tongue to the small rudder with the power to steer a large ship. James 3:6 compares the tongue to a fire that can corrupt and set aflame the whole person. Our words are potent no matter how we use them, but what would happen if we allowed God to take hold of them? Truly prayer, determination, Bible reading, and guidance by the Holy Spirit help us to keep our words in check. GUARD YOUR ACTIONS "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it"" (Joshua 1:8). As we read from the word of God, let it be shown through our actions! James urges us in his brief letter in the New Testament to allow God's Word to penetrate our hearts and lives. "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22) He also stresses that faith without works is dead. (James 2:17) In the beautiful prayer for the Ephesians, Paul prays that "the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19) This power, which God used in raising Christ from the dead, is the same power that makes our Christian lives possible. It empowers our actions of love and kindness. It gives us the grace to be obedient to Scripture. With the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation" mentioned in the same passage (verse l7), we can get to know God more thoroughly. The more we know God, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the more we sense His peace when ill winds blow against us. As we grow, we become more like our Lord and Savior! I know that you, as I, want to become more ALIVE IN 2005! Inez B. Norwood 2/08/05 vibn@... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 8) Light Moments HUMOR Once when the power went off at the elementary school, the cook couldn't serve a hot meal in the cafeteria. She had to feed the children something, so at the last minute she whipped up great stacks of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. As one little boy filled his plate, he said, "It's about time. At last -- a home cooked meal!" From Christian Voices, February 16, 2005 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 9) Bible Study WATER - AN IMPORTANT COMMODITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST By CARL F. PHILLIPS In the part of the world where I live, the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, water rights are important. The population keeps increasing, but there is a limit to the amount of fresh water available for use by both agricultural and municipal interests. As a result, water districts are looking seriously at desalination of ocean water to provide for the increasing demand. We have seen in our study of the patriarchs, how God overcame seemingly impossible obstacles to found the nations of Israel and Judah (or Judea). God walked with the fathers of His people, and guided their development. His presence among His people was made tangible and permanent when Moses, at Sinai, directed the people in the construction of a sanctuary where God could live on earth. Exodus 25:8 - God told Moses, (BEGIN ITAL) "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." (END ITAL) Water has always been a problem in some areas of the world. Isaac had a problem with providing water for his flocks and his people. Because of the divine blessing, the wealth he inherited from his father Abraham had increased drastically. From Abraham onward the Jewish people were enriched even though they lived in foreign lands. Genesis 12:16 - (The Pharaoh) (BEGIN ITAL) treated Abram well for (END ITAL) (Sarah's) (BEGIN ITAL) sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels. (END ITAL) Genesis 20:14-16 - (BEGIN ITAL) Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. (END ITAL) We can't help but think about the despoiling of the Egyptians. Exodus 3:21 - God told Moses, (BEGIN ITAL) "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed." (END ITAL) Exodus 11:2 - God said to Moses, (BEGIN ITAL) "Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold." (END ITAL) Exodus 12:35-36 - (BEGIN ITAL) The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. (END ITAL) Psalm 105:37 - (BEGIN ITAL) He brought out Israel (END ITAL) (from Egypt), (BEGIN ITAL) laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered. (END ITAL) A related string of narratives tells of the success of Israelites in foreign courts. This is a major factor in the story of Joseph, and in two other Old Testament books - Esther and Daniel. The Yahwist story of the dispute over water rights and how it was settled by a treaty between Isaac and Abimelech repeats the Elohist version in Genesis 21:22-34. In the Elohist story, Abraham made a treaty with Abimelech for water rights. There is also a connection here with another passage concerning Abraham and his nephew Lot.. Genesis 13:5-7 - (BEGIN ITAL) Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. (END ITAL) So, after the treaty between Abimelech and Isaac, the departure of Isaac from Abimelech's kingdom meant also the source of the divine blessing would go with Isaac, away from the Gentiles. In essence, the divine blessing left the Gentiles the same way it left Lot when Abraham and Lot parted ways. The agreement between Abimelech and Isaac concerning water rights was culminated with a meal like the one between Laban and Jacob described in Genesis 31:43-54. It was at Jacob's Well that Jesus would pass the time of day with the Samaritan woman. Moses and the leaders of Israel celebrated the covenant with God with a meal. Exodus 24:9-11 - (BEGIN ITAL) Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise hi hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. (END ITAL) After the dispute over the water, but before the treaty with Abimelech, Isaac had a second visit from God. Genesis 26:24 - (BEGIN ITAL) That night the Lord appeared to (END ITAL) (Isaac) (BEGIN ITAL) and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham." (END ITAL) "Do not be afraid." This phrase always accompanies an appearance of God. Genesis 15:1 - (BEGIN ITAL) After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward." (END ITAL) Genesis 46:3 - (BEGIN ITAL) "I am God, the God of your father," he said (END ITAL) (to Jacob, after Joseph had demanded Jacob's presence in Egypt). (BEGIN ITAL) "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there." (END ITAL) God's appearance to the patriarchs always promises divine presence, divine blessings, and numerous descendants. Since New Testament teachings make it clear that we Gentiles are adopted descendants of Abraham, and since we have God's assurances that the "whole world" will be blessed through Abraham, we need not worry about where future water supplies will come from. The divine blessing has been restored to the Gentiles. God has given us a whole ocean full of water, and has blessed us with the technology to take the salt and impurities out of it and make it potable. Perhaps by the time the next drought occurs, and the reservoirs of the Rio Grande River shrink dangerously low, we will be converting sea water into water for drinking and bathing. Carl Phillips Author, The Wesleyan Way and Making Waves Features Editor, Eternal Ink Carl uses the italic designations to make the quoting from Scripture less complicated, but the formatting of Eternal Ink does not allow the use of italic in the transfer from Word to disk to email. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 10) Memorable Words/Closing Words "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17 Sharing the load, helping to lift the burden, rejoicing in good experiences, empathizing with feelings--all this and more is the responsibility and joy of Christian friendship. It is such a privilege to walk with each other as we walk the way with Jesus. We strengthen each other in many ways and help each other to grow in service to the Lord. 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