This morning you will find on the patio a smorgasbord of opportunities. If you don’t find one which gets you excited, then let us help you get something new started. The patio this morning is a tool to motivate you to find a place to be a blessing. And sometimes it doesn’t take much to get noticed by God.

Buried deep in the writings of Jeremiah is the story of a man who simply wanted to bless others. I am thinking of Ebed-Melech.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Ebed-Melech, and that’s ok, we don’t spend time in Jeremiah (not that we shouldn’t, of course).  Jeremiah 38 tells the story of the prophet Jeremiah being cast into a dry, but muddy, cistern by the leaders of Judah. What a  popular preacher! Left in the well, Jeremiah would die.

When Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian eunuch, learned of the incident, he protested to Zedekiah, the king, and eventually was given permission to rescue the prophet of God.  The eunuch, along with thirty men, went to the cistern, taking “some old rags and worn-out clothes.”  As these were lowered to Jeremiah with a rope, Ebed-Melech yelled down the shaft, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.”  Jeremiah did so, and was rescued from certain death.

Under such dire circumstances, Jeremiah, I suppose, would have been grateful for a bare rope – even though it might mean raw and bleeding armpits!  At least he was out of that deep pit. But Ebed-Melech was a “Barnabas” and anticipated what the rope would do, so he brought along those old rags to protect the prophet’s armpits!  God saw that deed of kindness, and promised to spare the eunuch’s life in the evil days ahead.

“How blessed,” writes Vance Havner, “to know that the Almighty, with a whole universe on His hands, caught a glimpse of Ebed-Melech with those old rotten rags, preserved him from judgment and remembered his rags in the Holy Record. Blessed be all those saints of God who belong to the order of Ebed-Melech!  They never preach great sermons.  But they are the unsung heroes of the cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.  They make the bed smoother for some weary invalid; they leave a bushel of potatoes at some back door and drive off without waiting for thanks; they sit up some long, lonely night with a distressed soul who cannot sleep. They were never meant to be teachers, prophets, or evangelists; but they are ‘helps,’ and their greatness consists in doing nobly a multitude of unromantic things.”

Ever been touched by a descendent of the order of Ebed-Melech?  Ever been a card-carrying member of the order yourself?  That’s what is happening out on the patio this morning. We are encouraging the tribe of Ebed-Melech to increase.