Summary: First sermon in series on encouragement for the home.

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Once upon a time a rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap. Retreating to the farmyard the rat proclaimed the warning; "There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The rat turned to the pig and told him, "There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!"

"I am so very sorry Mr. Rat," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers."

The rat turned to the cow. She said, "Like wow, Mr. Rat. A rat trap. I am in grave danger. Duh?"

So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital.

She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows that you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk.

This truth could not be more relevant than in our scripture for today. One household in Israel caused an entire battle to be lost - the Battle of Ai.

We could argue that just because some families are in trouble in our world today, it does not mean we should be alarmed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The disintegration of even one household affects us all!

The battle of Ai was supposed to be a pushover in comparison to the great battle that had just been won at Jericho. But now General Joshua is perplexed to determine what went wrong in a battle that should have gone into the history book as an overwhelming victory.

God revealed the problem to be a "household" problem.

In fact, many of the problems facing our world and the church today are "household" problems.

The word "household" appears 61 times in the authorized version of the Bible. Its a great biblical word because it covers everyone living in a particular house, not just the nuclear family.

This word covers not only two-parent families, but also single-parent families, blended families, multi-generational families, etc.

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