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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Fri 06 Mar 2015, 5:16 pm

Dorcas

Her name means: "Gazelle"; "Tabitha" Is Its Hebrew Equivalent

Her character: An inhabitant of Joppa, a town on the Mediterranean coast, 
thirty-five miles northwest of Jerusalem, she belonged to one of the 
earliest
Christian congregations. She was a disciple known for her practical works of 
mercy.
Her sorrow: To have suffered a grave illness.
Her joy: To serve Jesus by serving the poor.
Key Scriptures:
Acts 9:36-43

Her Story

The winds roared over the coast, piling water in noisy heaps along the rocky 
shoreline. But though she lay quietly in the upper room of her house near
the sea, Dorcas did not hear them. Nor did she notice the waves of grief 
that spilled into the room from the heart of every woman present. For once 
she
had nothing to offer, no word of comfort, no act of kindness to soften their 
suffering. Instead, she lay still as other women ministered to her, tenderly
sponging her body clean to prepare it for burial.

As Peter approached the house, he could hear the noise of mourning, a sound 
more desolate than the tearing wind. Two men had summoned him from Lydda, 
where
he had just healed a paralytic. They urged him to come quickly because one 
of the Lord's disciples in Joppa had died. He had come in haste, hoping to 
reach
Dorcas before she had to be buried.

As soon as he entered the room where her body lay, the widows surrounded him 
with tangible evidence of the woman they had loved, weeping as they held up
robes and other items Dorcas had sewn to clothe the poor. Quickly, Peter 
shooed them from the room, as though to clear the atmosphere of despair. 
Then
he knelt beside her body.

As Peter prayed, he remembered a promise Jesus had made: "I tell you the 
truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do 
even
greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." His faith 
rising like the wind outside, Peter addressed the dead woman, saying, 
"Tabitha,
get up." Taking her by the hand, he actually helped her to her feet.

The next day, Dorcas stood alone on the roof of her house. The shore was 
littered with driftwood, trinkets from yesterday's storm. She breathed 
deeply,
inhaling the sea's salty tang, soothed by the sound of waves lapping the 
rocks below. Strangely, the view looked somehow transparent, as though 
another
world waited just behind the curtain of this one. Dorcas shaded her eyes 
with her hand, peering out at the sea. But she saw nothing other than the 
usual
collection of fishing boats bobbing in the waves.

Sighing, she turned and went inside. She had things to do—clothes to sew, 
bread to bake, the poor to feed and clothe. But even in the midst of her 
busy
preparations, her longing for that other world increased, like hunger pangs 
before a feast. She fed that longing with her many practical acts of love.

...

Though we don't know what went through Peter's mind as he knelt and prayed 
at Dorcas's bedside, we do know that God worked through him in an 
extraordinary
way. And though Scripture doesn't tell us how Dorcas responded to her 
incredible experience, it doesn't take much to imagine her joy. The story of 
her
miracle spread throughout Joppa, leading many to believe.

Her Promise

God is glorified in the story of Dorcas, not only in her being raised from 
the dead, but through her acts of kindness, her generosity, and her 
willingness
to go out of her way to offer help to others. Don't think you must do great 
and noble and noticeable acts for your life to glorify God. He will be 
glorified
through your simple acts of love and obedience, whatever they are, wherever 
you are.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Fri 20 Feb 2015, 1:52 pm

The Widow with the Two Coins

Her character: Though extremely poor, she is one of the most greathearted 
people in the Bible. Just after warning his disciples to watch out for the 
teachers
of the law, who devour widows' houses, Jesus caught sight of her in the 
temple. He may have called attention to her as a case in point.
Her sorrow: To be alone, without a husband to provide for her.
Her joy: To surrender herself to God completely, trusting him to act on her 
behalf.
Key Scriptures:
Mark 12:41-44
;
Luke 21:1-4

Her Story

With Passover approaching, the temple was packed with worshipers from all 
over Israel. The previous Sunday, Jesus had created a sensation as he rode 
down
the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem, mounted on a donkey. A large crowd 
had gathered, carpeting the road with palm branches and shouting: "Hosanna 
to
the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna 
in the highest."

Some of the Pharisees, scandalized that Jesus was being hailed as Messiah, 
demanded, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

Stung by his words, the teachers of the law began to plot how they could 
break the law by murdering him at their first opportunity.

Days later, after warning his disciples to watch out for the teachers of the 
law who preyed on widows for their money, Jesus sat opposite the temple 
treasury,
in the Court of the Women. The place was crowded with people dropping their 
offerings in one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles that hung on the
walls. But Jesus had eyes for only one of them. He watched as a widow 
deposited two small copper coins, less than a day's wages.

Quickly, he called to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow 
has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of 
their
wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live 
on."

No one else would have noticed the woman. But Jesus, with eyes that

penetrated both her circumstances and her heart, recognized the astonishing 
nature of her gift. Her gesture was a sign of complete abandonment to God.

Without faith, she wouldn't have offered her last penny, believing God would 
care for her better than she could care for herself. But there is yet 
another,
more subtle aspect to Her Story. How easy it would have been for her to 
conclude that her gift was simply too meager to offer. What need had God for 
two
copper coins anyway? Surely they meant more to her than they would to him. 
Somehow she must have had the grace to believe in the value of her small 
offering.

Maybe God, in a manner of speaking, did need what she had to offer. Perhaps 
her gesture consoled Jesus a short time before his passion and death. She 
had
given everything she had to live on; soon, he would give his life.

The story of the widow and her two copper coins reminds us that God's 
kingdom works on entirely different principles than the kingdom of this 
world. In
the divine economy, the size of the gift is of no consequence; what matters 
is the size of the giver's heart.

Her Promise

God's promise of provision is nowhere more evident than in this story of the 
widow who gave all she had. She had no one else to rely on—only God. That's
true of us as well, isn't it? Regardless of our financial situation, whether 
we are financially well off or constantly skimming the bottom, we have no
one else to rely on. Our true security is not in our belongings or our bank 
accounts, but in God alone. And he has promised to provide.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Tue 16 Dec 2014, 10:19 pm

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Her character: So desperate for healing, she ignored the conventions of the 
day for the chance to touch Jesus.
Her sorrow: To have suffered a chronic illness that isolated her from 
others.
Her joy: That after long years of suffering, she finally found peace and 
freedom.
Key Scriptures:
Matthew 9:20-22
;
Mark 5:25-34
;
Luke 8:43-48

Her Story
The woman hovered at the edge of the crowd. Nobody watched as she melted 
into the throng of bodies—just one more bee entering the hive. Her shame 
faded,
replaced by a rush of relief. No one had prevented her from joining in. No 
one had recoiled at her touch.

She pressed closer, but a noisy swarm of men still blocked her view. She 
could hear Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, raising his voice above the 
others,
pleading with Jesus to come and heal his daughter before it was too late.

Suddenly the group in front of her shifted, parting like the waters of the 
Jordan before the children of promise. It was all she needed. Her arm darted
through the opening, fingers brushing the hem of his garment. Instantly, she 
felt a warmth spread through her, flushing out the pain, clearing out the
decay. Her skin prickled and shivered. She felt strong and able, like a 
young girl coming into her own—so glad and giddy, in fact, that her feet 
wanted
to rush her away before she created a spectacle by laughing out loud at her 
quiet miracle.

But Jesus blocked her escape and silenced the crowd with a curious question: 
"Who touched me?"

"Who touched him? He must be joking!" voices murmured. "People are pushing 
and shoving just to get near him!"

Shaking now, the woman fell at his feet: "For twelve years, I have been 
hemorrhaging and have spent all my money on doctors but only grown worse. 
Today,
I knew that if I could just touch your garment, I would be healed." But 
touching, she knew, meant spreading her defilement—even to the rabbi.

Twelve years of loneliness. Twelve years in which physicians had bled her of 
all her money. Her private affliction becoming a matter of public record.
Every cup she handled, every chair she sat on could transmit defilement to 
others. Even though her impurity was considered a ritual matter rather than
an ethical one, it had rendered her an outcast, making it impossible for her 
to live with a husband, bear a child, or enjoy the intimacy of friends and
family. Surely the rabbi would censure her.

But instead of scolding and shaming her, Jesus praised her: "Daughter, your 
faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

His words must have been like water breaching a dam, breaking through her 
isolation and setting her free. He had addressed her not harshly, but 
tenderly—not
as "woman" or "sinner," but rather as "daughter." She was no longer alone, 
but part of his family by virtue of her faith.

That day, countless men and women had brushed against Jesus, but only one 
had truly touched him. And instead of being defiled by contact with her, his
own touch had proven the more contagious, rendering her pure and whole 
again.

Her Promise
God promises to heal us. That statement may seem to fly in the face of the 
many who have suffered from illness and disability for years on end, but we
need to remember that our concept of healing is not necessarily the same as 
God's. For some, healing may not take place here on earth. True healing—the
healing that will cure even those who don't suffer from any particular 
physical ailment here on earth—will take place not here but in heaven. 
There, God
promises the ultimate healing from our sickness, our disabilities, our 
inclination to sin.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Dec 2014, 11:59 pm

Today's Topical Bible Study

Mary: Portrait of a Woman Used by God
by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

One of my favorite biblical role models is Mary of Nazareth. In her life I 
have found a wealth of wisdom for my own walk with God. Her story 
illustrates
many of the characteristics of the kind of woman God uses to fulfill His 
redemptive purposes in our world.

An ordinary woman

There was nothing particularly unusual about Mary. She was not from a 
wealthy or illustrious family. When the angel appeared to this young teenage 
girl,
she was engaged to be married and was undoubtedly doing what engaged girls 
do”dreaming of being married to Joseph, of the home they would live in, of 
the
family they would have. I don't believe she was expecting her life to be 
used in any extraordinary way.

The significance of Mary's life was not based on any of the things our world 
values so highly background, physical beauty, intelligence, education, 
natural
gifts, and abilities. It was Marys relationship to Jesus that gave her life 
significance. The Lord is with you,the angel told her (
Luke 1:28, NIV).
That is what made all the difference in this young woman's life. And it is 
what makes all the difference in our lives.

An undeserving woman

God did not choose this young woman because she was worthy of the honor of 
being the mother of the Savior. The angel said to Mary, Greetings, you who
are highly favored! (v. 28,emphasis added). That phrase could be translated, “You who are graciously 
accepted. If any of us is to be accepted by God, it will be because of 
grace”not
because of anything we have done.

Its all because of grace. Over and over again in
Scripture,
we see that God chooses people who are undeserving. God didn't look down 
from heaven and say, I see a woman who has something to offer Me; I think I'll
use her.Mary did not deserve to be used by God; to the contrary, she 
marveled at God's grace in choosing her.

The moment we cease to see ourselves as undeserving instruments, chances are 
we will cease to be useful in the hand of God.

A Spirit-filled woman

We, too, must be filled with the Spirit if we are to fulfill the purpose for 
which God has chosen us. When the angel said to Mary, You're going to have
a child,Mary responded, How can this be? I've never been intimate with a 
man!God had chosen her for a task that was humanly impossible.

The task for which God has chosen you and me is no less impossible. We can 
share the Gospel of Christ with our lost friends, but we cannot give them 
repentance
and faith. You can provide a climate that is conducive to the spiritual 
growth of your children, but you can't make them have a heart for God. We 
are totally
dependent on Him to produce any fruit of eternal value.

In response to Mary's expression of weakness and inadequacy, the angel 
promised her God's strength and adequacy: The Holy Spirit will come upon 
you, and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you (v. 35).

Don't ever forget that you cannot do what God has called you to do. You 
cannot parent that child, love that husband, care for that elderly parent, 
submit
to that boss, teach that Sunday school class, or lead that small-group
Bible study.

God specializes in the impossible so that when the victory is won and the 
task is complete, we cannot take any credit. Others know we didn’t do it, 
and
we know we didn't do it. We must always remember that we can only live the 
Christian life and serve God through the power of His Holy Spirit. As soon 
as
we think we can handle it on our own, we become useless to Him. We have to 
be willing to get out of the way, let God take over, and let Him overshadow
us.

An available woman

Equipped with the promises of God, Mary's response was simply, I am the 
Lord's servant.... May it be to me as you have said (v. 38).
In other words, Lord, I'm available. You are my master; I am Your servant. 
I'm willing to be used however You choose. My body is Yours; my womb is 
Yours;
my life is Yours.

In that act of surrender, Mary offered herself to God as a living sacrifice. 
She was willing to be used by God for His purposes willing to endure the 
loss
of reputation that was certain to follow when people realized she was with 
child, willing to endure the ridicule and even the possible stoning 
permitted
by the Mosaic law, willing to go through nine months of increasing 
discomfort and sleeplessness, willing to endure the labor pains of giving 
birth to the
Child. Mary was willing to give up her own plans and agenda so that she 
might link arms with God in fulfilling His agenda.

A praising woman

When God puts challenging circumstances in our lives, we either worship or 
we whine. I'm ashamed to say I've done more than my share of whining even 
about
ministry. Oh, Lord, I'm tired of traveling. Do I have to go there? This is 
so hard! Why do I have to deal with that person? I am reminded of the 
children
of Israel in the wilderness who murmured incessantly. If only God had just 
let us die in the wilderness, they whined. One day God finally said, in 
essence,
You want to die in the wilderness? Okay, you'll die in the wilderness!
(see
Num. 14:2, 28“30).
Be careful what you say when you murmur God may take you up on it.

But when Mary's world was turned topsy-turvy, when she was faced with a 
drastic change in plans, she responded in worship and praise. My soul 
glorifies
the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (vv. 46“47).
So begins her Magnificat one of the greatest hymns of praise ever lifted up 
to heaven. She worshiped God for His wonderful acts, for His mercy, and for
choosing her to be a part of His great redemptive plan.

A woman of the Word

Her prayer in
Luke 1:46 55
includes at least a dozen quotations from the Old Testament Scriptures. In 
those days women did not have a formal education; Mary was probably 
illiterate.
But she had listened to the reading of the Word and had hidden it in her 
heart. Her life and her prayers were filled with Scripture.

One of our greatest needs as women is to become women of the Word so that 
our prayers, our responses, and our words are saturated with God's way of 
thinking.
The world does not need to hear our opinions. When friends approach us for 
advice about dealing with their children, their boss, their finances, their
fears, their depression, or other issues, they don't need to hear what we 
think. We should be able to take them to the Word and say, I don't have the
answers you need, but I know Someone who does. Here's what God's Word has to 
say about this situation

A wounded woman

Eight days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took the infant to the 
temple (
Luke 2:21 35).
Simeon, who had been waiting for the appearance of the Messiah, took the 
Christ-Child in his arms and blessed Him. Simeon spoke of how the Child 
would
be a sign that would be spoken against foreshadowing the cross and the 
suffering He would undergo. Then Simeon looked at Mary and spoke words that 
she
would not fully understand until she stood beneath the cross of her Son 33 
years later. On that day she surely remembered Simeon's words, A sword will
pierce your own soul too (v. 35).

There at Calvary I believe that sword pierced Mary's soul in more than one 
sense. First, as a mother she was losing her Son. She was giving up His 
life.
Even as He laid down His life, she gave up her Son for the salvation and the 
redemption of the world.

Mothers, have you laid down your children for the sake of Christ and His 
kingdom? How sad it is on occasion to see Christian parents stand in the way 
of
their children laying down their lives for the sake of Christ. And what a 
joy to see parents who gladly release their children to the will of God.

Another wound pierced Mary's heart this one even more deeply than the first. 
You see, she understood that her Son was dying not only for the sins of the
world, but for her sins. Even before He was born, she had recognized Him as 
God my Savior(Luke 1:47,
emphasis added). As good as she was, Mary was not good enough to get to 
heaven on her own. As is true with each of us, she had to place her faith in 
the
crucified Son of God, who died in her place. As she stood beneath that 
cross, perhaps she recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah: He was pierced 
for
[my] transgressions, he was crushed for [my] iniquities... and by his wounds 
[I am] healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned
to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (
Isa. 53:5“6).

Mary was a wounded woman “wounded not only by her suffering, but by her sin. 
As she gazed upon her crucified Son, she realized that He was taking her 
wounds
upon Himself. And as she believed, she was healed”cleansed of her sin. Three 
days later when she learned that He had conquered death and was alive, 
knowing
she had been made whole by His death, she joined the other disciples in 
taking the Good News of His atonement to a wounded, sinful world, that they, 
too,
might know His healing salvation.

For more than 2,000 years her life has provided a portrait of godliness for 
women who, like Mary, long to be used of God.

----------------------------------------------------------

© Revive Our Hearts. Used with permission. Excerpted from Portrait of a 
Woman Used by God by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Content provided by
OnePlace.com.
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Fri 07 Nov 2014, 10:25 pm

The Woman of Samaria

Her character: Looked down upon by the Jews because she was a Samaritan and 
disdained because of her many romantic liaisons, she would not have been 
most
people's first choice to advance the gospel in a region where it had not yet 
been heard.
Her sorrow: To have lived in a way that relegated her to the margins of her 
society.
Her joy: That Jesus broke through barriers of culture, race, and religion in 
order to reveal himself to her.
Key Scriptures:
John 4:1-42

Her Story

Every day, the woman carried her water jug to Jacob's well just outside 
Sychar, a town midway between Jerusalem and Nazareth. Even though it was the 
hottest
time of the day, she preferred it to the evening hours, when the other women 
gathered. How tired she was of their wagging tongues. Better the scorching
heat than their sharp remarks.

She was surprised, however, to see that today someone had already arrived at 
the well—a Jew from Galilee by the looks of him. At least she had nothing
to fear from his tongue, for Jews did their best to avoid Samaritans, 
despising them as half-breeds who worshiped not in the temple at Jerusalem 
but at
their shrine on Mount Gerizim. For once she was glad to be ignored, 
grateful, too, that men did not address women in public.

But as she approached the well, the man startled her, breaking the rules she 
had counted on to protect her. "Will you give me a drink?" he asked.

What kind of a Jew was this? she wondered. Certainly not a Pharisee, or he 
would have taken the long way around Samaria to get to Galilee. With a toss
of her head, she replied, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can 
you ask me for a drink?"

But he wouldn't be put off. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that 
asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you
living water."

"Sir," she replied, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. 
Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, 
who
gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his 
flocks and herds?" That should take him down a notch or two.

But the man kept pressing. "Go," he told her, "call your husband and come 
back."

This last request took the wind out of her. Her quick tongue was barely able 
to reply, "I have no husband."

"You are right when you say you have no husband," Jesus said. "The fact is, 
you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. 
What
you have just said is quite true."

His words cut her. Shaking off the hurt, she tried changing the subject, 
diverting him by stirring up the old controversy between Jews and 
Samaritans.
"Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this 
mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in 
Jerusalem."

Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship 
the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship
what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the 
Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will 
worship
the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the 
Father seeks."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will 
explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the 
people, "Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the 
Christ?"

Meanwhile, his disciples, who had gone into the town to look for food, 
returned and urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."

But Jesus replied, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

...

Dodge, counterdodge—nothing the woman said would keep Jesus at bay. He kept 
pressing beneath the surface, inviting her to a deeper understanding, 
hemming
her in by revealing his knowledge of the most intimate details of her life. 
Overwhelmed, she finally admitted the truth. And when she did, Jesus 
startled
her with a revelation about himself: He admitted, for the first time, that 
he was the Messiah. Though she hadn't known it, she had been conversing with
her Savior.

Jesus had arrived at the well thirsty, hungry, and tired from the journey 
north to Galilee. But by the time his disciples returned from their shopping
trip in Sychar, he seemed refreshed and restored by his encounter with the 
woman.

She, in turn, was so deeply affected by him that she exclaimed to whoever 
would listen: "He told me everything I ever did." At the Samaritans' urging,
Jesus stayed on for two days and many came to believe, saying to the woman: 
"We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for
ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

Her Promise

Are you thirsty? Is there a longing in you that you just can't seem to meet? 
Do you hunger for something to fill some void, some emptiness you can't even
explain? Look everywhere, try everything—you'll find nothing in this world 
that will satisfy. Only Jesus can provide the living water that will fill 
you
to overflowing, that will satisfy your longing, that will soothe your thirst 
so completely you'll never be thirsty again.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture



  





----------------------------
DEAN MASTERS LIST
The Woman of Samaria

Her character: Looked down upon by the Jews because she was a Samaritan and 
disdained because of her many romantic liaisons, she would not have been 
most
people's first choice to advance the gospel in a region where it had not yet 
been heard.
Her sorrow: To have lived in a way that relegated her to the margins of her 
society.
Her joy: That Jesus broke through barriers of culture, race, and religion in 
order to reveal himself to her.
Key Scriptures:
John 4:1-42

Her Story

Every day, the woman carried her water jug to Jacob's well just outside 
Sychar, a town midway between Jerusalem and Nazareth. Even though it was the 
hottest
time of the day, she preferred it to the evening hours, when the other women 
gathered. How tired she was of their wagging tongues. Better the scorching
heat than their sharp remarks.

She was surprised, however, to see that today someone had already arrived at 
the well—a Jew from Galilee by the looks of him. At least she had nothing
to fear from his tongue, for Jews did their best to avoid Samaritans, 
despising them as half-breeds who worshiped not in the temple at Jerusalem 
but at
their shrine on Mount Gerizim. For once she was glad to be ignored, 
grateful, too, that men did not address women in public.

But as she approached the well, the man startled her, breaking the rules she 
had counted on to protect her. "Will you give me a drink?" he asked.

What kind of a Jew was this? she wondered. Certainly not a Pharisee, or he 
would have taken the long way around Samaria to get to Galilee. With a toss
of her head, she replied, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can 
you ask me for a drink?"

But he wouldn't be put off. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that 
asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you
living water."

"Sir," she replied, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. 
Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, 
who
gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his 
flocks and herds?" That should take him down a notch or two.

But the man kept pressing. "Go," he told her, "call your husband and come 
back."

This last request took the wind out of her. Her quick tongue was barely able 
to reply, "I have no husband."

"You are right when you say you have no husband," Jesus said. "The fact is, 
you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. 
What
you have just said is quite true."

His words cut her. Shaking off the hurt, she tried changing the subject, 
diverting him by stirring up the old controversy between Jews and 
Samaritans.
"Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this 
mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in 
Jerusalem."

Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship 
the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship
what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the 
Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will 
worship
the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the 
Father seeks."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will 
explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the 
people, "Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the 
Christ?"

Meanwhile, his disciples, who had gone into the town to look for food, 
returned and urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."

But Jesus replied, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

...

Dodge, counterdodge—nothing the woman said would keep Jesus at bay. He kept 
pressing beneath the surface, inviting her to a deeper understanding, 
hemming
her in by revealing his knowledge of the most intimate details of her life. 
Overwhelmed, she finally admitted the truth. And when she did, Jesus 
startled
her with a revelation about himself: He admitted, for the first time, that 
he was the Messiah. Though she hadn't known it, she had been conversing with
her Savior.

Jesus had arrived at the well thirsty, hungry, and tired from the journey 
north to Galilee. But by the time his disciples returned from their shopping
trip in Sychar, he seemed refreshed and restored by his encounter with the 
woman.

She, in turn, was so deeply affected by him that she exclaimed to whoever 
would listen: "He told me everything I ever did." At the Samaritans' urging,
Jesus stayed on for two days and many came to believe, saying to the woman: 
"We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for
ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

Her Promise

Are you thirsty? Is there a longing in you that you just can't seem to meet? 
Do you hunger for something to fill some void, some emptiness you can't even
explain? Look everywhere, try everything—you'll find nothing in this world 
that will satisfy. Only Jesus can provide the living water that will fill 
you
to overflowing, that will satisfy your longing, that will soothe your thirst 
so completely you'll never be thirsty again.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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Post  Admin on Mon 20 Oct 2014, 8:11 pm


Elizabeth

Her name means: "God is my oath"
Her character: A descendant of Aaron, Elizabeth was a woman the Bible calls 
"upright in the sight of God." Like few others, male or female, she is 
praised
for observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations without blame. She 
is the first to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
Her sorrow: To be barren for most of her life.
Her joy: To give birth to John, later known as John the Baptist, the 
Messiah's forerunner. His name, divinely assigned, means, "The Lord Is 
Gracious."
Key Scriptures:
Luke 1:5-80

Her Story
Her eyes were a golden brown. Like currants set in pastry, they winked out 
at the world from cheeks that had baked too long in the sun. Snowy strands 
of
hair straggled from beneath a woolen shawl, tickling her wrinkled face. 
Small hands rested tenderly on her rounded belly, softly probing for any 
hint of
movement. But all was still. From her vantage point on the roof of the 
house, she noticed a figure walking up the pathway and wondered who her 
visitor
might be.

She and Zechariah had been content enough in their quiet house these last 
few months, secluded in their joy. Each morning she had opened her eyes as 
though
waking to a fantastic dream. Sometimes she shook with laughter as she 
thought about how God had rearranged her life, planting a child in her 
shriveled-up,
old-woman's womb.

Six months ago, Zechariah had been chosen by lot to burn incense before the 
Most Holy Place, a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. But during his week of 
priestly
service in the temple, he had been frightened half to death by a figure who 
appeared suddenly next to the altar of incense. "Your wife Elizabeth will 
bear
you a son," the angel told him, "and you are to give him the name John. He 
will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his 
birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord." It was Sarah and Abraham all 
over, Rebekah and Isaac, Rachel and Jacob. God was once again kindling a 
fire
with two dry sticks.

For the life of her, Elizabeth couldn't understand her husband's response to 
the messenger that had so terrified him. Once you'd laid eyes on an angel,
how could you fail to believe that anything was possible? But Zechariah had 
blurted out his skepticism and suffered the consequences. His voice had been
snatched away and would not be given back until the angel's words came to 
pass. These days he communicated by scribbling on a wax tablet.

Elizabeth looked down again at the figure advancing up the path, a green 
sprig of a girl. The older woman stepped carefully down the stairs and into 
the
house to welcome her guest. But with the young woman's words of greeting 
came something that felt like a gale force wind, shaking the beams and 
rafters
of the house. Steadying herself, the older woman felt suddenly invigorated. 
Her unborn baby leapt inside her as she shouted out a welcoming response: 
"Blessed
are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so 
favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound
of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be 
accomplished!"

Mary had made the journey all the way from Nazareth to visit her relative 
Elizabeth. The same angel who had spoken to Zechariah in the temple had 
whispered
the secret of the older woman's pregnancy to the virgin, who was also with 
child. The magnificent song of praise that burst from Mary's lips during 
their
meeting may have taken shape during the course of her sixty-mile journey 
south, to the hill country of Judea where Elizabeth lived.

The two women held each other, their bonds of kinship now stronger than what 
mere flesh and blood could forge. For Israel's God—the God of Sarah, 
Rebekah,
Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Deborah, Naomi, Ruth, Abigail, and Hannah—was on the 
move again, bringing the long-ago promise to fulfillment. And blessed was 
she
who did not doubt that what the Lord had said to her would be accomplished.

Her Promise
God always keeps his promises! For hundreds of years, God had been telling 
the people of Israel that he would send a Messiah. One who would provide a 
direct
bridge to God himself. One whose sacrifice would provide redemption for all 
time. The events in this first chapter of Luke are just the beginning of the
fulfillment of God's greatest promise to his people. With Mary we can say: 
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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Post  Admin on Sun 14 Sep 2014, 8:12 pm

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Huldah

Her name means: "Weasel"

Her character: Trusted by the king with a matter of great importance, she 
was a prophetess whose word ignited a significant religious reform.
Her sorrow: That God's people refused to respond to him with loving 
obedience, ignoring repeated warnings about the consequences of their 
unfaithfulness.
Her joy: As a prophetess, she was privileged to be a messenger of God.
Key Scriptures:
2 Kings 22:14-20
;
2 Chronicles 34:22-33

Her Story

She pressed the leather scroll against her breast, as though cradling a 
living being. The high priest, Hilkiah, and several other men of Jerusalem 
stood
before her. King Josiah wanted to know—would the words of the Book of the 
Law, which Hilkiah had just discovered in the temple, come to pass?

Holding the scroll by its wooden handles, she unrolled it carefully and 
began reading:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God 
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength…. Fear
the Lord your God, serve him only, and take your oaths in his name. Do not 
follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your 
God,
who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and 
he will destroy you from the face of the land" (
Deuteronomy 6:4-5,
13-15).

"Cursed in the city and cursed in the country … sudden ruin because of what 
you have done … wasting disease … madness, blindness and confusion … an 
object
of scorn and ridicule to all the nations … because you did not obey the Lord 
your God" (cf.
Deuteronomy 28:15-68).

Though her voice was steady, Huldah's throat felt sore from the effort of 
speaking such words aloud, terrible threats that made her eyes well over, 
warnings
that spawned vision upon vision from the past. In her mind, she watched as 
Judah's kings Ahaz and Manasseh sacrificed their sons to pagan deities. She
saw the smoke of incense rising before pagan idols in the temple. She looked 
on as prophets were murdered, as diviners and sorcerers were honored, as 
kings
bowed down to the stars and the people followed suit, prostituting 
themselves to false gods and spurning the advances of the Almighty. She saw 
the children
of Israel marching in chains from the land of milk and honey. Her face 
flushed as a burning sensation rushed through her body and searing words 
spilled
from her lips:

"This is what the Lord says: 'I am going to bring disaster on this place and 
its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah
has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and 
provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will
burn against this place and will not be quenched.' Tell the king of Judah, 
who sent you to inquire of the Lord: 'Because your heart was responsive and
you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken 
against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid 
waste,
and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, 
declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will
be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to 
bring on this place.' "

Huldah is one of only four women with an authentic prophetic ministry 
mentioned in the Old Testament (along with Miriam, Deborah, and Isaiah's 
wife). Though
prophets like Jeremiah and Zephaniah were also active at the time, King 
Josiah consulted Huldah about the amazing discovery of the Book of the Law 
(material
that probably forms the core of the book of Deuteronomy).

Beyond the brief scene imaginatively retold above, we know little of her 
story—only that God entrusted her with his word in a time of national 
crisis.
A hundred years earlier, Judah had witnessed God's punishment of the 
northern kingdom. Faithless Israel had been led captive to Assyria, just as 
the prophets
had warned. Huldah surely knew the sordid details. She could not have missed 
its frightening significance for Judah. She may also have endured part of
Manasseh's fifty-five-year reign, the longest and worst of any king in 
Judah. Certainly, she would have been heartened by the recent reforms of 
King Josiah—his
attempts to restore the temple though the people had all but forgotten God.

But her words of prophecy confirmed the king's fear. Judah was standing on a 
precipice. God was a jealous lover who blessed those who loved and obeyed
him and cursed those who did not. Across the centuries, his slow anger was 
building to a fiery crescendo. Judah's infidelities had not gone unnoticed.

After Huldah's prophecy, Josiah led one of the greatest religious reforms in 
history, purging Judah and even parts of Israel of paganism. But the kings
who followed him soon reversed course, leading the people astray once again. 
Thirty-five years after Huldah's prophecy, Judah was taken in chains to 
Babylon
and all of its cities were destroyed.

The magnificent kingdom of David and Solomon had come to an end. But though 
every other nation captured by Assyria and Babylon ceased to exist, Israel
still had a future. Chastened, it was never destroyed. Disciplined, it was 
never forsaken. All because God still loved his people.

The words of Isaiah, a prophet who preceded Huldah by a few decades, 
proclaimed a future day of restoration: "They will rebuild the ancient ruins 
and restore
the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities…. Instead of 
their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance" (
Isaiah 61:4,
7).

Judgment and mercy, law and grace, punishment and salvation—these are the 
tensions that characterize the story of God's love affair with his people. 
Huldah
was a woman who understood the paradox and who was not afraid to proclaim 
the truth, even to a king. Her words must have cost her, but she spoke them 
anyway.
She cherished God's word in a time of spiritual crisis.

Her Promise

The story of Huldah and her words to the king illustrate the contrast 
between God's judgment and his mercy. He judges those who deserve his 
punishment,
but he quickly forgives those who repent. In fact, he is eager to forgive, 
waiting only for us to come to him in repentance.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.

ADVERTISEMENT

Today's reading is drawn from Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda's devotional
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture.

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Post  Admin on Mon 08 Sep 2014, 10:56 pm

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The Shunammite Woman

Her character: Generous and hospitable, she was a wealthy and capable woman 
who showed great kindness to one of God's prophets.
Her sorrow: To lose the son that had been promised her.
Her joy: To experience just how deep God's faithfulness goes.
Key Scriptures:
2 Kings 4:8-37
;
8:1-6

Her Story

Just a few miles north of Jezreel, where Jezebel's story had drawn to its 
grim conclusion, lived a wealthy Israelite woman whose sharp eye kept track 
of
travelers from Nazareth to Jerusalem. One of the more colorful characters 
who frequented the road outside her house was Elisha, the prophet who 
succeeded
Elijah.

One day the Shunammite woman invited Elisha to linger for a meal. Afterward, 
she said to her husband, "Let's make a small room on the roof and put in it
a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there 
whenever he comes to us."

Moved by her kindness, Elisha inquired, through his servant, Gehazi, whether 
he could use his influence with Israel's king on her behalf. But the woman
wasn't looking for favors at court, so Elisha pressed his servant, saying, 
"What, then, can be done for her?"

Gehazi merely pointed out the obvious: the woman and her aging husband were 
childless, without an heir to carry on the family name. So Elisha summoned
the woman and made an incredible promise: "About this time next year you 
will hold a son in your arms."

"No, my lord," she objected. "Don't mislead your servant, O man of God!"

Yet, a year later, just as Elisha had foretold, the woman held a squalling 
infant in her arms, laughing as she told others the story of God's 
surprising
gift. Unlike so many of her female forebears—Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Tamar, 
Hannah—the Shunammite woman seemed content without children. Elisha's 
promise,
however, was an arrow homing straight to its target, fulfilling the unspoken 
desire of her heart.

One morning, a few years later, a servant entered the house with the little 
boy in his arms, explaining that the child had complained of a headache 
while
visiting his father in the fields. Perhaps he had lingered too long in the 
sun.

The boy's face was flushed, his forehead hot as his mother caressed it, 
hushing him with soothing sounds and songs. But despite murmured words of 
reassurance,
she felt her own fear spreading. The tighter she held him, the more his 
spirit seemed to retreat. His breathing was labored, his eyes listless. At 
about
noon he died.

Without a word, she carried his small body to the prophet's room, laying it 
tenderly on Elisha's bed. Closing the door, she summoned a servant and left
immediately for Mount Carmel, where she hoped to find Elisha.

Spotting her in the distance, the prophet wondered aloud what could prompt 
her to make the twenty-five-mile journey north. "Run to meet her," he urged
Gehazi, "and ask, 'Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your 
child all right?' "

But the woman merely brushed Gehazi aside with polite words and rushed 
straight to Elisha, exclaiming: "Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn't I 
tell
you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?"

Immediately the prophet instructed Gehazi: "Tuck your cloak into your belt, 
take my staff in your hand, and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him,
and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy's face."

The woman, however, wasn't about to settle for a stand-in. So the prophet 
hurried to Shunem just behind Gehazi, who had gone on ahead to carry out his
master's orders. When Elisha arrived, he found the boy lying quiet and cold 
on his couch. Elisha closed the door behind him. Praying, he stretched his
body across the boy's so that hands, mouth, and eyes touched. As he lay 
there, he could feel the chilled body warming beneath him. He got up and 
paced
the room for a while. At last he stretched himself across the lifeless body 
again and prayed. The boy's chest lifted. Then he sneezed! Then sneezed 
again.

The Shunammite woman may, in fact, have heard the story of how Elijah had 
raised the son of the widow of Zarephath in similar circumstances. If so, 
that
miracle would certainly have fueled her hope, giving her the courage to seek 
her own miracle rather than collapse under so great a weight of grief. Now,
as she saw for herself the irrefutable sign of God's loving-kindness, she 
fell at Elisha's feet and bowed to the ground. God had been true to his 
word,
fulfilling his promise to her and then preserving it in the face of 
impossible circumstances.

Her Promise

The Shunammite woman knew there was hope even in the most devastating of 
circumstances. She had been promised a son when she was barren, and now she 
tenaciously
held on to that promise even though her little son lay dead on Elisha's 
couch. "It's all right," she said to her husband, knowing full well that 
their
boy was gone. The God who had given her the promise wasn't gone. She knew he 
wouldn't forsake her.

"It's all right." Can you express that sentiment even when your world is 
crashing in on you? Perhaps not. Remember, however, that even in the most 
agonizing
of circumstances, even when you feel abandoned, even when tragedy 
strikes—God is there. Trust his word and gain assurance from the Shunammite 
woman who,
in the midst of appalling circumstances, could say, "It's all right."

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.
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Post  Admin on Mon 01 Sep 2014, 10:39 pm

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The Widow of Zarephath

Her character: A Phoenician woman, she showed extraordinary hospitality to 
one of God's prophets, providing a safe harbor for him during a period of 
famine.
Her sorrow: To suffer extreme poverty, famine, and the loss of husband and 
son.
Her joy: To experience repeated miracles of God's provision.
Key Scriptures:
1 Kings 17:8-24
;
Luke 4:25-26

Her Story

Her arms were spindly and rough, like the dry twigs she had gathered for 
kindling. Her body shook as she stood over the fire, greedily sipping and 
sucking
the steam from the pan, as though the smell of frying bread could fill her 
belly and soothe her fears. She had lived her life a stone's throw from the
Mediterranean, at Zarephath, seven miles south of Sidon, in a territory 
ruled by Jezebel's father. She had always loved the sea, but now its watery 
abundance
seemed only to mock her, reminding her of all she lacked.

Tears escaped her eyes, try as she might to blink them back. How hard it was 
to suffer her fears alone, to wake in the night with no one to warm her, no
one to whisper sweet lies about tomorrow. If only her husband were alive to 
squeeze a harvest from the fields. But he had died before the drought, 
leaving
her with a small son, a house, and little else. Every night she hoped for 
rain, but every morning she woke to a brilliant sky.

Though she starved herself to feed her child, his distended belly accused 
her. His need condemned her. She had failed in the most basic ways a mother 
could,
unable to protect, nurture, and provide. These days she stood with shoulders 
hunched as though to hide her breasts. Today she had scraped the last bit
of flour from the barrel and poured the last drop of oil from the jug. She 
began to prepare for a final supper for herself and her child.

But then a stranger had called to her: "Woman, would you bring me a little 
water in a jar so I may have a drink?"

Graciously, she had gone to fetch it, only to have him call after her, "And 
bring me, please, a piece of bread."

Is the man mad? she wondered. He might as well ask me to snap my fingers and 
produce a cow to feast on.

She turned on her heel and replied, "As surely as the Lord your God lives, I 
don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in
a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself 
and my son, that we may eat it—and die."

But the man had persisted. "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have 
said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and 
bring
it to me and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what 
the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and
the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the 
land.' "

Instead of cursing the stranger for his callousness, as we might expect, the 
woman did exactly as he had requested, feeding him the food she had reserved
for herself and her son.

The woman from Zarephath wasn't a Jew, but a Phoenician. She had no idea 
that the stranger was Elijah, a prophet who had the gall to inform King Ahab 
that
God was withholding rain to punish Israel's idolatry. She would have been 
astonished to learn that this same God had instructed Elijah to "go at once 
to
Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to 
supply you with food."

The widow of Zarephath had felt utterly alone, not knowing God had his eye 
on her. Yet for some reason she believed Elijah and acted accordingly, 
giving
him everything she had.

After that, every time she dipped her hand into the flour, every time she 
poured oil from the jug, the widow saw another miracle unfold, another sign 
of
favor, additional evidence of God's provision. Just as Elijah had promised, 
the supply of flour and oil lasted day after day, month after month, never
failing until at last the rains came and revived the land.

How like God to construct a parable of grace during a time of judgment, to 
display his mercy and power in the midst of weakness and need. The widow's 
faith
saved not only her son and herself but actually provided a refuge for 
Elijah, who may have wondered why God chose such flimsy protection—a 
destitute woman
who lived in the territory of his worst enemy, Jezebel.

Later, the widow's faith would again be tested when her young son died. But 
she would also be the first woman to witness God's power to raise the dead,
which he did in response to Elijah's repeated prayers on behalf of her 
child. As a woman who endured extreme difficulties, her story reveals God's 
power
to provide what we need the most—a commodity of the heart called faith.

Her Promise

God doesn't ignore the needs of those who cannot help themselves. He doesn't 
urge them to pick themselves up and get going when they have no resources
to do so. He doesn't pat them on the back and say he's sorry life is so 
tough. Instead, he sometimes intervenes by miraculous understatement, in 
this case
by making sure that a little bit of oil and flour—just enough for a small 
loaf—didn't run out.

An unexpected check comes just when you need it. Another mother gives you 
her kids' outgrown clothing so you can clothe your own children. God uses 
something
or someone to change your husband's heart just when you thought he didn't 
love you anymore. Our God is still a miraculous provider, granting what we 
need
sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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Post  Admin on Sun 03 Aug 2014, 1:33 am

Tamar, Daughter of King David

Her name means: "Date Tree" or "Palm Tree"

Her character: Tamar shared her father's, David's, good looks. Young and 
innocent, she was naive to the danger that threatened from her own family.
Her sorrow: That her half brother saw her only as an object for his lust, 
destroying her future as a result, and that her father, the king, did 
nothing
to protect her.
Key Scriptures:
2 Samuel 13:1-22

Her Story

David's daughter Tamar was a knockout. No doubt she was destined for a 
marriage that would strengthen the king's political alliances. Though not 
under
lock and key, she probably lived a rather protected life. But all the 
precautions in the world couldn't save her from the danger that threatened 
from David's
inner circle.

Amnon was David's heir. As the king's eldest son, he was used to getting his 
way. But lately he'd grown despondent. Something was bothering him, chasing
away his sleep, gnawing at his heart.

One day, Jonadab, Amnon's cousin, asked him: "Why do you, the king's son, 
look so haggard morning after morning? Won't you tell me?"

Amnon confided in his friend, saying, "I'm in love with Tamar, my brother 
Absalom's sister."

"Go to bed and pretend to be ill," Jonadab shrewdly advised. "When your 
father comes to see you, say to him, 'I would like my sister Tamar to come 
and
give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight, so I may eat 
from her hand.' "

So David, concerned for his son, unwittingly sent his daughter into a trap 
that would ruin her life.

After Tamar had prepared a meal for Amnon, he asked her to enter his bedroom 
and feed him. But as soon as Tamar did, he grabbed her, begging, "Come to
bed with me, my sister."

"Don't, my brother!" she said to him. "Don't force me. Such a thing should 
not be done in Israel! Don't do this wicked thing. What about me? Where 
could
I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the 
wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from 
being
married to you." But despite her pleas, Amnon forced himself on her.

As soon as the storm of his passion died down, Amnon's infatuation turned to 
hatred. He threw Tamar out of his house, bolting the door against her, as
though she, not he, were the guilty one. Desolate, the young girl tore her 
robes, throwing ashes on her head and weeping loudly as she wandered the 
streets.
When her brother Absalom found her, he hushed her, saying, "Be quiet now, my 
sister, he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." But Absalom 
himself
took it to heart, hating his half brother Amnon for what he had done.

Though David was furious when he heard the news, he did nothing to punish 
Amnon. Did he favor his son over his daughter, thinking her hurt a small 
matter?
Or had his moral authority been so compromised by his lust for Bathsheba 
that he simply could not bring himself to confront his eldest son? Whatever 
the
case, Absalom did not share his father's hesitation. Instead, he bided his 
time, waiting for an opportunity for vengeance. Two years later he murdered
Amnon.

First rape, then murder. David's household was devastated not by barbarians 
outside the gate but by those inside his own family. After Amnon's death, 
David
must have been haunted by Nathan's earlier prophecy after David's own 
adultery with Bathsheba: "Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from 
your house….
Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you" (
2 Samuel 12:10-11).
The father's lust was mirrored by the son's; the father's violence, by one 
son's murder of the other.

Tamar, unprotected by her father, betrayed by her own brother, lived in 
Absalom's house, a desolate woman, without the possibility of marriage or 
children
because she was no longer a virgin. Thus a chain of sin wove its way through 
David's family, enslaving the innocent along with the guilty.

Her Promise

The horrifying facts of Tamar's experience—not only the rape itself but the 
effect it had on her future and her emotional well-being—are not too far 
from
the experiences of many women today. Statistics reveal a staggering number 
of women who have been violated by family members when they were very young.
The effects of those experiences can haunt a woman's existence, influencing 
her relationships with her husband, with male and female friends, and with
her children. Help is available to those who seek it, but the ultimate hope 
and help can only be found in the love and acceptance God so willingly 
offers.
His forgiving spirit can help recovery begin. His comforting spirit can 
bring a soothing balm to the hurt of the past. His constant presence can 
bring
healing for the loneliness and detachment many feel.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.

Today's reading is drawn from Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda's devotional
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture.

Available at the Bible Gateway store!

All content is drawn from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of 
Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Used with permission.

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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Sat 19 Jul 2014, 10:49 pm

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Abigail

Her name means: "My Father Is Joy"

Her character: Generous, quick-witted, and wise, she is one of the Bible's 
great peacemakers.
Her sorrow: To have been mismatched in marriage to her first husband.
Her joy: That God used her to save lives, eventually making her the wife of 
David.
Key Scriptures:
1 Samuel 25:2-42

Her Story

Blockhead, numskull, nincompoop—the words strike us as both harsh and 
humorous. But any woman married to a man worthy of such labels would have 
little
to laugh about.

Abigail must have felt suffocated, having been paired with just such a 
husband. Her father may have thought the wealthy Nabal was a catch, little 
realizing
the man's domineering attitude might one day endanger his daughter's future. 
But fools and ruin often keep close company, as Abigail discovered.

For some time Abigail had been hearing of David: his encounter with Goliath, 
his ruddy good looks, his prowess in battle, his rift with King Saul. 
Recently,
he had become her near neighbor in the Desert of Maon, west of the Dead Sea, 
where he had taken refuge from Saul. Since David had arrived with his six
hundred men, marauders kept clear of her husband's livestock, and Nabal's 
flocks prospered as a result.

But when David sent ten of his men to ask Nabal for provisions, Nabal, who 
had grown richer by the day thanks to David, nearly spit in their faces. 
"Who
is this David? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these 
days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered 
for
my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?" Rich though he 
was, Nabal had just foolishly insulted the region's most powerful man.

Aware of their danger, one of the servants ran quickly to Abigail, begging 
her to intervene. As Nabal's wife, she must have suffered his arrogance 
every
day of her life. But this time his folly jeopardized the entire household. 
Wasting no time, and without a word to her husband, she loaded a caravan of
donkeys with gifts for David and his men—freshly baked bread, skins of wine, 
red meat, and various delicacies—and took them to David's camp. As soon as
she saw him, she fell to the ground at his feet, making one of the longest 
speeches by a woman recorded in the Bible:

"My lord," she pleaded, "let the blame be on me alone. May my lord pay no 
attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name is 
Fool,
and folly goes with him. But as for me, your servant, I did not see the men 
my master sent. Please forgive your servant's offense, for the Lord will 
certainly
make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the Lord's battles. 
Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone
pursues you, your life will be held securely by the Lord your God. But the 
lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling."

Her well-chosen words, of course, reminded David of his success against 
Goliath, erasing his anger and enabling his gracious reply: "Praise be to 
the Lord,
the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for 
your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from 
avenging
myself with my own hands. If you had not come quickly to meet me, not one 
male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak." In addition
to saving lives, Abigail's wisdom had spared David from sinning, reminding 
him that vengeance belongs only to God.

After her encounter with David, Abigail went to Carmel, where Nabal had been 
shearing his sheep and celebrating his good fortune. Once again, she found
him playing the fool. Oblivious to danger, he was drunkenly presiding over a 
festival banquet, like a great king. She waited until morning, when he was
sober, to tell him what had happened. As soon as Nabal heard the news, his 
heart failed. Ten days later he was dead.

Arrogance, greed, and selfishness had conspired to rob Nabal of any good 
sense he might once have possessed. Thinking himself a great man when he was 
only
a small one, he lost everything. Abigail was Nabal's opposite, a woman whose 
humility, faith, generosity, intelligence, and honesty made her wise. Rather
than putting others at risk by an ungoverned tongue, her gracious words 
saved lives.

When David heard the news of Nabal's death, he sent word to Abigail, asking 
her to be his wife. This time it was Abigail's choice whether or not to 
marry.
She accepted, becoming David's third wife and eventually mother to his 
second son, Kileab.

Unlike Michal, who had been a mere pawn on a chessboard, Abigail was a woman 
who rose above her circumstances to change the course of events. Though 
Scripture
doesn't offer details regarding her daily life, it is logical to suppose she 
was a good wife to Nabal. Even her entreaty to David was the act of a good
wife. Perhaps her marriage was the catalyst for her character, helping her 
to cultivate contrasting virtues to Nabal's vices. Regardless, through her 
quick-witted
action, she spared her husband's life and goods. It was God, not Abigail or 
David, who paid Nabal back for his arrogance and greed.

Her Promise

Abigail was a courageous woman, who made the best out of a difficult 
situation. She knew the cultural principles at work here: Nabal—out of just 
plain
good hospitality and out of gratitude for the protection David's men had 
provided—should have given David's men what they asked for. Yet when David 
sought
vengeance, Abigail interceded, realizing that vengeance wasn't something 
that was up to David—or her—to give.

Years of living with Nabal did not seem to have made Abigail bitter, nor had 
the years caused her to look for ways to get back at him and seek revenge.
The Lord honored Abigail for her consistency, her generosity, and her 
willingness to continue on the right path, no matter how difficult. In the 
same way,
God continues to honor those who are faithful even when faithfulness brings 
difficulty and hardship and pain. He doesn't promise to always deliver, as
he delivered Abigail, but he does promise to go with us.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.

Today's reading is drawn from Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda's devotional
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture.

Available at the Bible Gateway store!
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Hannah

Post  Admin on Fri 11 Jul 2014, 4:33 pm

Hannah

Her name means: "Graciousness" or "Favor"

Her character: Provoked by another woman's malice, she refused to respond in 
kind. Instead, she poured out her hurt and sorrow to God, allowing him to
vindicate her.
Her sorrow: To be taunted and misunderstood.
Her joy: To proclaim God's power and goodness, his habit of raising the 
lowly and humbling the proud.
Key Scriptures:
1 Samuel 1:1-2:11
;
2:19-21

Her Story

It was only fifteen miles, but every year the journey from Ramah, to worship 
at the tabernacle in Shiloh, seemed longer. At home, Hannah found ways to
avoid her husband's second wife, but once in Shiloh there was no escaping 
her taunts. Hannah felt like a leaky tent in a driving rain, unable to 
defend
herself against the harsh weather of the other woman's heart.

Even Elkanah's arm around her provided no shelter. "Hannah, why are you 
weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to 
you than
ten sons? Yes, she has given me children, but it's you I love. Ignore her 
taunts."

How could Hannah make him understand that even the best of men could not 
erase a woman's longing for children? His attempt to comfort her only 
sharpened
the pain, heightening her sense of isolation.

Once inside the tabernacle Hannah stood for a long time, weeping and 
praying. Her lips moved without making a sound as her heart poured out its 
grief to
God: "O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and 
remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will 
give
him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used 
on his head."

The priest Eli was used to people coming to Shiloh to celebrate the feasts, 
eating and drinking more than they should. Watching Hannah from his chair by
the doorpost of the temple, he wondered why her shoulders were shaking, her 
lips moving without making a sound. She must be drunk, he concluded. So he
interrupted her silent prayer with a rebuke: "How long will you keep on 
getting drunk? Get rid of your wine."

"Not so, my lord," Hannah defended herself. "I am a woman who is deeply 
troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul 
to the
Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here 
out of my great anguish and grief."

Satisfied by her explanation, Eli blessed her, saying, "May the God of 
Israel grant your request."

Early the next morning, Hannah and Elkanah returned to their home in Ramah, 
where Hannah at last conceived. Soon she held against her shoulder the tiny
child she had yearned for, the son she had dedicated to God. After Samuel 
was weaned, she took him to Eli at Shiloh. Like Jochebed placing the child 
Moses
into the waters of the Nile as though into God's own hands, she surrendered 
her child to the priest's care. Eventually Hannah's boy became a prophet and
Israel's last judge. His hands anointed both Saul and David as Israel's 
first kings.

Like Sarah and Rachel, Hannah grieved over the children she couldn't have. 
But unlike them, she took her anguish directly to God. Misunderstood by both
her husband and her priest, she could easily have turned her sorrow on 
herself or others, becoming bitter, hopeless, or vindictive. But instead of 
merely
pitying herself or responding in kind, she poured out her soul to God. And 
God graciously answered her prayer.

Each year Hannah went up to Shiloh and presented Samuel with a little robe 
she had sewn. And each year, the priest Eli blessed her husband, Elkanah, 
saying,
"May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one 
she prayed for and gave to the Lord." And so Hannah became the mother of 
three
more sons and two daughters. Hannah's great prayer, echoed more than a 
thousand years later by Mary, the mother of Jesus (
Luke 1:46-55),
expresses her praise: "My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is 
lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your 
deliverance….
The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the 
poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap" (
1 Samuel 2:1,
7-8).

Her Promise

When God met Hannah at the temple in Shiloh, he not only answered her prayer 
for a child, he answered her prayer for comfort in her misery. He gave her
consolation in her disappointment and strength to face her situation. 
Scripture does not say that she went away sure she would bear a child, but 
it does
make it clear that she went away comforted: "Her face was no longer 
downcast" (
1 Samuel 1:18).
What even the love and care of her husband Elkanah could not provide, God 
could provide.

God is willing to meet us just as he met Hannah. Whatever our distress, 
whatever hard situations we face, he is willing—more than that, he is 
eager—to
meet our needs and give us his grace and comfort. No other person—not our 
husband, not our closest friends, not our parents, not our children—can 
render
the relief, support, and encouragement that our God has waiting for us.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Fri 11 Jul 2014, 4:29 pm

Michal
Her name means: "Who Is Like God?"
Her character: A woman of strong emotions, she was unable to control the 
important circumstances of her life. Forcibly separated from two husbands, 
she lost her father and her brother, who were savaged by their enemies.
Her sorrow: That she was ensnared in the drawn-out battle between Saul and 
David.
Her joy: Though short-lived, she enjoyed a passionate love for David.
Key Scriptures:
1 Samuel 18:20-29
;
19:11-17
;
2 Samuel 6:16-23

Her Story
Scene One
Michal stretched herself across the window's edge. Leaning out as far as she 
dared, she could see her husband running through the night shadows, his 
movements
swift and lithe, like a young stag evading its predators. Even if her 
father, the king, pursued with an army, she was confident he would not catch 
her David.

She had loved the shepherd boy since the day he had calmed Saul's troubled 
soul with his harp playing. After he defeated the hideous Goliath with only
a sling and a stone, all Israel fell in love with him. But it was for her 
alone that David had slain two hundred Philistines—to prove his worth.

She turned from the window, grateful for the chance to have aided her 
husband's escape. Quickly she dressed one of the household idols, placing it 
in their bed and topping it with goat's hair to make it look like a sleeping David. 
She was ready for her father's men when they came pounding on her door.

"David is ill," she told them.
So they returned to King Saul, who immediately ordered them back, saying, 
"Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him."

Discovering the ruse, Saul confronted his daughter: "Why did you deceive me 
like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?"

Michal lowered her eyes and replied, "He said to me, 'Let me get away. Why 
should I kill you?' " She held her breath, certain her father would never 
swallow so bold a lie.


Scene Two
Nine years or more have passed. Michal glanced out the window, arms folded 
tightly against her breast, observing the scene below. David, now the king,
had entered Jerusalem, leaping and dancing as the ark of the covenant was 
carried into Jerusalem. He looked ridiculous to Michal, more like a romping 
goat than a great king.

David offered the sacrifices and blessed the people. Then he entered his own 
house to bless it. But Saul's daughter met him with scornful eyes: "How the
king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of 
the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!"

"It was before the Lord, who chose me," he replied, "rather than your father 
or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people
Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified 
than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls
you spoke of, I will be held in honor."


Her Story
Twice, Michal stood at a window observing David. In the first scene, 
Scripture paints her as David's wife, in the second as Saul's daughter. In 
fact, her attitude is so changed that we feel perplexed, watching her as she watches 
David. To understand what may have shaped Michal's heart in the intervening
years, we need to find a corridor connecting the two windows, a passageway 
that somehow led from love to scorn.

Michal may have expected her separation from David to be a short one, her 
idealism forging a happy ending to their fairy-tale love. Perhaps she 
believed David would find a way to protect her from her father's wrath. Was she 
shocked when real life intervened and her father punished her by marrying 
her to another man? Did her bitterness grow during David's long absence? Had she 
finally made peace with her new marriage only to be torn from her husband 
when David demanded her back after Saul's death? Did she question God's 
judgments, identifying more with the dead than the living after her father 
perished in a desperate battle with the Philistines?

Perhaps Michal's bitterness swelled to rage when she realized she had always 
been someone else's pawn, a mere woman manipulated by powerful men. Her own
father used her, promising her to David in hopes she would prove a snare to 
him. And, finally, one of her brothers handed her back to David after Saul's
death, further legitimizing David's claim to the throne. A princess, then a 
queen, she was still a slave.

Michal's story is tragic. Throughout the difficult circumstances of her 
life, we see little evidence of a faith to sustain her. Instead, she is 
tossed back and forth, her heart left to draw its own bitter conclusions. In the 
last scene with David, we see a woman blind with scorn, making the very 
mistake
God cautioned the prophet Samuel against in his search for a king to succeed 
the wayward Saul: "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have
rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

The truth is, God is the only one who can see into the depths of anyone's 
heart, including Michal's. He knew everything that had happened, both good 
and
bad. Still the story of Michal seems to indicate that she grew to be more 
like Saul than like David. As such, she reminds us that even victims have 
choices.
No matter how much we've been sinned against, we still have the power to 
choose the attitude of our heart. If we cast ourselves on God's mercy, 
asking
him to help us, he cannot refuse. Even in difficulty, he will dwell in us, 
shaping our own wayward hearts into the likeness of his own.

Her Promise
Michal's contempt for true worship can be contrasted with David's love of 
worship. He worshiped God with abandon, with a true heart. His devotion was 
so
deep, so real, it had to be expressed in the most extravagant praise and in 
dancing "with all his might." That's the sort of worship God is looking for
from his people, and he responds with a promise to bless.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
to learn more about Ann's writing and ministry.
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Post  Admin on Sun 08 Jun 2014, 9:41 pm

Jael

Her name means: "A Wild or Mountain Goat"

Her character: Decisive and courageous, she seized the opportunity to slay 
an enemy of God's people.
Her sorrow: To be lauded by Deborah and Barak for her part in a decisive 
victory.
Key Scriptures:
Judges 4-5

Her Story

Jael watched uneasily through the flaps of her tent as clouds swept the blue 
from the sky and rain fell like a shroud across the horizon. Sisera, she 
knew,
had marched to Tabor. But what good were iron chariots in a flooded valley? 
she wondered. Yet the Israelites were poorly armed, with little chance of 
prevailing.
Still, she remembered the stories of Moses and the people he had led across 
the wilderness. Had their God, she wonderd, been asleep these many years?

The sight of a man running, then stumbling toward her interrupted her 
thoughts. A soldier fleeing? Was he Israelite or Canaanite? His identity 
might reveal
the way the winds of battle were blowing. She went out to meet him, 
surprised to find that Sisera himself was approaching, dirty and bleeding.

"Come, my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid," she welcomed him.

"I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." Instead Jael opened a 
skin of milk and gave him a drink.

"Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and 
asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say 'No.' "

As soon as Sisera fell into an exhausted asleep, Jael picked up a tent peg 
and hammer. Her arm was steady, her aim sure. Hadn't she been in charge of 
the
tents all these years? Quickly, she thrust the peg through his temple and 
into the ground. Like a piece of canvas fixed in place, Sisera, the great 
general,
lay dead, slain by a woman's hand, just as Deborah had prophesied to Barak.

Was Jael a hero, an opportunist, or merely a treacherous woman? It is 
difficult to know. She and her husband, Heber, were Kenites, members of a 
nomadic
tribe whose survival depended on its ability to stay clear of local 
disputes. Her husband had made his peace with the Canaanites despite his 
descent from
Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law. Perhaps ancient ties had no longer seemed 
expedient, considering the power of the Canaanite rulers. But Jael may have 
believed
in Israel's God. Or perhaps she merely wanted to curry favor with the 
Israelites, the day's clear winners. Certainly Barak and Deborah approved of 
her,
singing:

Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell—dead. -
Judges 5:24-27

Jael's treachery and Deborah's gloating strike us as bloodthirsty, all the 
more so because we don't usually attribute such behavior to women. But by 
the
standards of ancient warfare, both were heroes. Both were decisive and 
courageous women who helped God's people at a critical moment in history.

Her Promise

Behind the story of Jael and the death of Sisera is a God who promised never 
to forget his people and who holds to that promise. When hope seems dim and
the prospect of victory seems close to impossible, God is at work, bringing 
about his plan.

The people of Israel during the time of the judges must have worn God to 
exasperation with their continual wavering. When times were good, they 
easily
forgot God and went their own way. But as soon as times got tough, they went 
running to him for deliverance.

Sound like anyone you know? The story of the wavering of God's people 
continues even today. We so easily move forward on our own, thinking we can 
handle
it all, until we run up against something too hard for us. Only then do we 
run to God for help.

But what an amazing God he is. Always there. Always willing to rescue us 
when we call. Always willing to forgive.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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Post  Admin on Wed 04 Jun 2014, 10:43 pm

Women of the Bible Header

Deborah

Her name means: "Honey Bee"

Her character: Her vision of the world was shaped not by the political 
situation of her day but by her relationship with God. Though women in the 
ancient
world did not usually become political leaders, Deborah was just the leader 
Israel needed—a prophetess who heard God and believed him and whose courage
aroused the people, enabling them to throw off foreign oppression.
Her sorrow: That her people had sunk into despair because of their idolatry, 
forgetting God's promises and the faith of their ancestors.
Her joy: That God turned the enemy's strength on its head, bestowing power 
to the weak and blessing the land with peace for forty years.
Key Scriptures:
Judges 4-5

Her Story

Jericho, gateway to Canaan, had lain in ruins for two hundred years. From 
there, the Israelites had swept across the country like a storm of locusts, 
devouring
everything in their path. But the native peoples had somehow managed to 
survive, and like well-rooted weeds, their idolatry spread until it began to 
strangle
Israel's faith.

Rahab and Joshua were the palest of memories now, and the 
slaves-turned-warriors were once again underdogs, oppressed for twenty years 
by a coalition of
Canaanite rulers, whose chief warrior was Sisera. His nine hundred 
iron-plated chariots terrified the ill-armed Israelite people, threatening 
to sweep
over them with invincible force. Small wonder no one challenged him.

Sisera must have felt smugly secure, especially since Israel was now led by 
a woman. But his military calculations failed to account for one key 
variable:
the strategic power of that woman's faith. Deborah was a prophetess who held 
court under a palm tree several miles northwest of Jericho. Though much of
Israel was divided and dispirited, she refused to lose heart. How could she 
forget God's faithfulness, living so close to ruined Jericho?

She summoned Barak, a Hebrew from the north, and told him plainly: "The 
Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men 
of Naphtali
and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the 
commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon 
River and
give him into your hands.' "

But, like every other man of Israel, Barak was terrified of Sisera, and he 
refused to comply unless one condition was met: Deborah must accompany him 
in
battle. She would be his talisman in the fight. "Very well," she replied, "I 
will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor
will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman."

Hearing of the plot, Sisera led his troops and chariots to the Kishon Wadi, 
a dry riverbed, determined to crush the uprising. But his very strength 
turned
against him as rain swelled the valley to floodtide. Suddenly, nine hundred 
iron chariots became a huge liability. No matter how furiously the soldiers
flogged their horses, urging them onward, oozing mud held them. They became 
easy targets for Barak's troops sweeping down from Mount Tabor, putting 
every
man but Sisera to the sword.

Once again, God had heard his people's cries and had sent a deliverer—this 
time a woman whose faith stilled the nattering voices of doubt and timidity
so that the people could hear the one Voice that mattered. On their day of 
victory, Deborah and Barak sang this song:

When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves—
praise the Lord!
Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to the Lord, I will sing;
I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel….
Village life in Israel ceased,
ceased until I, Deborah, arose,
arose a mother in Israel. -
Judges 5:2-3,
7

Indeed, a mother in Israel had arisen, a woman whose strong faith gave birth 
to hope and freedom and a peace that lasted forty years. Never again would
the Canaanites join forces against Israel. Like an ancient Joan of Arc, 
Deborah arose and called the people to battle, leading them out of idolatry 
and
restoring their dignity as God's chosen ones.

Her Promise

Godly Deborah has been an encouragement to women throughout the centuries. 
When women feel confined or mistreated, when they are unsure of what is 
right
or which way to proceed, when they are entering unknown territory, when they 
feel overlooked or ignored—they gain stability and help from remembering 
Deborah.
Whatever Deborah had is available to you today. Her wisdom is discovered in 
the Scriptures. Her confidence in God is found in a relationship with him.
Her bravery is achievable when you put your trust in God and his promises. 
Her inner strength and calm leadership are characteristic of confidence not
in herself but in her God. All Deborah offered to Israel she offers to you 
as an example of a woman willing to be used by God.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Thu 01 May 2014, 9:00 pm

Tamar, Daughter-in-Law of Judah

Her name means: "Date Tree" or "Palm Tree"

Her character: Driven by one overwhelming need, she sacrificed her 
reputation and nearly her life to achieve her goals.
Her sorrow: That the men in her life failed to fulfill their responsibility, 
leaving her a childless widow.
Her joy: That her daring behavior resulted, not in ruin, but in the 
fulfillment of her hopes to bear children.
Key Scriptures:
Genesis 38
;
Matthew 1:3

Her Story

Genealogies hardly make compelling reading at bedtime—or at any other time, 
for that matter. Perhaps you welcome them with a yawn, or skip over them 
entirely
as you read through the Bible. But even long lists of bewildering names can 
reveal interesting insights into God's mysterious plan. That's the way the
Scriptures work, yielding hidden riches on every page.

Take the genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew, for instance. It lists a 
grand total of forty-one male ancestors of Jesus, beginning with Abraham,
and a mere five female ancestors, three of whose stories (those of Tamar, 
Rahab, and Bathsheba) are colored by such distasteful details as incest, 
prostitution,
fornication, adultery, and murder.

Jesus, the perfect Son of the perfect Father, had plenty of imperfect 
branches in his family tree and enough colorful characters to populate a 
modern romance
novel. That women should be mentioned at all in his genealogy is surprising, 
let alone that four of the five got pregnant out of wedlock. In addition,
at least three of the women were foreigners, not Israelites.

Tamar fell into both categories. Her father-in-law, Judah (son of Jacob and 
Leah), had arranged for her to marry his firstborn, Er. Half Canaanite and
half Hebrew, Er was a wicked man, whom God killed for his sins. That's all 
we know of him.

After Er came Onan, Judah's second son. As was the custom of the time, Judah 
gave Onan to the widowed Tamar, instructing him to sleep with her so that
she could have children to carry on Er's line. But Onan was far too crafty 
for his own good. He slept with Tamar, but then "spilled his semen on the 
ground,"
thus ensuring Tamar's barrenness. That way he would not be saddled with the 
responsibility for children who would carry on his brother's line rather 
than
his own. But God took note, and Onan, too, died for his wickedness.

Already Judah had lost two sons to Tamar. Should he risk a third? Shelah was 
his only remaining son, not yet fully grown. To placate his daughter-in-law,
Judah instructed Tamar to return to her father's house and live as a widow 
until Shelah was of marriageable age. But time passed like a sluggish river,
and Tamar continued to wear her widow's garments as Selah grew up.

After Judah's wife died, he set out one day for Timnah to shear his sheep. 
Hearing the news of her father-in-law's journey, Tamar decided to take 
desperate
and dramatic action. If Judah would not give her his youngest son in 
marriage, she would do her best to propagate the family name in her own way. 
Shedding
her widow's black, she disguised herself in a veil, impersonating a 
prostitute, and sat down beside the road to Timnah. Judah slept with her and 
gave her
his personal seal and cord along with his staff in pledge of future payment.

About three months later, Judah learned that Tamar was pregnant, little 
realizing he was responsible for her condition. Outraged that she had 
prostituted
herself, he ordered her burned to death. But before the sentence could be 
carried out, Tamar sent him a stunning message: "I am pregnant by the man 
who
owns these. See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are."

The man who had so quickly passed judgment, little heeding his own secret 
tryst with a prostitute, was suddenly taken up short. To his credit, he told
the truth, saying, "She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn't give her 
to my son Shelah."

Six months later, Tamar gave birth to twins. Once again, as with Jacob and 
Esau, the children struggled in her womb. A tiny hand came out and then 
disappeared,
but not before being tied with a scarlet thread by the midwife. Then a 
small, slippery body emerged, but with no trace of the red thread. They 
named the
first boy Perez (meaning "Breaking Out"). Then the little one with the 
scarlet ribbon was born and they named him Zerah (meaning "Scarlet"). Perez 
was
recognized as the firstborn. From his line would come King David and 
finally, hundreds of years later, Jesus of Nazareth.

Judah had shown little concern regarding the continuance of his line. 
Instead, God used a woman, shamed by her own barrenness and determined to 
overcome
it, to ensure that the tribe of Judah would not only survive but that it 
would one day bear the world's Messiah.

Her Promise
The story in
Genesis 38
reveals nothing about Tamar's knowledge of God's hand in the events of her 
life. More than likely, she was totally unaware of the power of God at work.
But he was at work nevertheless, bringing good out of tragedy and blessing 
out of less than honorable events.

That's the beauty of this story. God's power to bring positive things from 
the negative, even sinful, events of our lives is just as much at work now 
as
in Tamar's day. We may not see it today or tomorrow—or perhaps ever—but we 
can trust the God we love to do what he loves: bring blessing to us in spite
of ourselves.

Today's devotional is drawn from
Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture
by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Visit
AnnSpangler.com
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Gomer the wife of Hosea

Post  Admin on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 6:39 pm

Gomer the wife of Hosea

Hosea 1:2,3 - The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD
said to Hosea, Go, take to you a wife of prostitutions and children of
prostitutions: for the land has committed great prostitution, departing
from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which
conceived, and bore him a son.

Today as I prayed the Lord wanted me to write about Hosea's wife Gomer and
I wondered what. Everyone knows her as a prostitute whom Hosea married. But
as I was studying on Gomer in my heart I could not digest God telling His
man, a Man of God to marry a prostitute and have children from her for that
would not be a message there was something deeper in it for her father's
name is given. If she was just a prostitute why would her father's name be
given? So I searched the Hebrew text and was surprised.

Since Hebrew is written right to left I will write the interlinear text in
that fashion.

Hosea 1:2

Israel because unfaithfulness and-children-of adulteries wife to-yourself
take! Go! Yahweh from-after the-land

she-is-guilty-of-adultery to-be-guilty-of-adultery and-she-conceived

Diblam daughter of Gomer *** and-he-married so-he-went

Writing it left to right and in readable format (according to English
language)

Hosea 1:2

Yahweh said go! take! Yourself wife from (after) the land and children of
adulteries because Israel unfaithful (ness) she is guilty of adultery so he
went and he married Gomer daughter of Dibalm and she conceived.

Dibalm was the father of Gomer and the name means 'two cakes' (specified as
fig cakes). The Hebrew word translated as Egypt means two or dual strait.
We also know the fig tree represents God's people (parable of the fig tree)
while the olive tree represents the anointed of God (elect).

The Lord became God of those who drew out of Egypt and not those who
dwelled in Egypt. Egypt symbolically represents children of God who are
living a dual life people who know God yet live a worldly life.

If we look at the second marriage of Hosea as stated in Hosea 3:1 it
states:-

Hosea 3:1 - Then said the LORD to me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her
friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the
children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

There is no relation between his second wife and his first wife. His second
wife was indeed a prostitute but God told him to love her like the love of
God.

If we look at the Bible from a bird's eye view we see the Jews represented
Gomer (meaning complete). If we study her deeds with the children of Gomer
we see the Lord denied the Jews as His people (Loammi) and showed no mercy
(Lo-ruhamah) because the killed (blood) of Jehu (Jehovah He is -Jesus). So
we see because the Jews denied Jesus Christ thus God denied the Jews as His
people.

If we read of the Christian Church after 200Ad (around 300AD) the Church
became a seat of Satan and all anti-Christ things were done in the name of
Christ. Even though they saw the love of God in the sacrifice of Jesus
Christ yet they deny His sacrifice. One may say brother Catholics believe
in Christ and show great devotion to the cross.

You need to understand the Catholic belief, if they believe in the complete
work of Christ then why do they need Mary as an intercessor? Catholics
believe people cannot be save through Jesus for He has not humbled Himself
enough or His sacrifice was not sufficient therefore they need to go
through Mary (whom they claim to be His mother but in fact is someone else)
who intercedes on behave of them and complements her sacrifice to the
sacrifice of Jesus to save her children.

Today we Christians (Believers) symbolically come from the second wife of
Hosea (the Catholic Church - the Whore of Revelation 17&18) who did not
know God but whom God called and showed His love but yet was worse than His
first wife (the Jewish Church).

Bible says after a period 1260years (from around 300AD to reformation
movement around 1500AD the Church did not know God) He started to work
among His people through His Spirit and His Word, and is in the process of
making them into Sons of God (the true Israel).

[Prayer Starter]

Lord, You Word records all things that are concern to the salvation of
mankind. You have not spoken once but warned every important event at least
through the mouth of 3 in your Word. Lord, we pray your people open their
eyes and see the Truth that they draw out the two wives of Hosea and become
your Sons by the working of your Word and your Spirit...

This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.

[Reference Scriptures]

Ezekiel 20:30 - Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord
GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye
whoredom after their abominations?

Ezekiel 16

The Jewish Church is symbolized as Samaria

The Catholic Church as Jerusalem (false Jerusalem - there are 2 Hebrew
words used for Jerusalem in the Bible false Jerusalem <03389> and the true
Jerusalem <03390>)

Zechariah 5:5-11

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up
now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.

6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth.
He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.

7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman
that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.

8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the
ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two
women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings
of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the
ephah?

11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar [means
country of two rivers]: and it shall be established, and set there upon her
own base.

-- *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Sat 07 Apr 2012, 5:47 pm

Phebe, Phoebe
The Woman Who Wore the Badge of Kindness

Scripture Reference
Romans 16:1, 2

Name Meaning Pure or radiant as the moon

We know nothing of this pious female who delivered Paul's inestimable
packet The Epistle to the Romans &--;to Rome. We just have the brief
mention of
her name and service. Phoebe, a devout Christian, bore without change and
without reproach the name of the Moon-Goddess of the Greeks. The goddess Artemis,
known by the common epithet Phoebe, was supposed to have been identified with the light of the moon. But the Phoebe whom Paul so highly commended shone
as a light for Jesus, the Light of the World. That she must have been a
woman of some consequence appears from the fact that she planned a long journey to Rome on business of her own, and offered to convey to the saints there
Paul's letter an inspired masterpiece of logic which struck the keynote of
orthodoxy for the universal Church through all the succeeding ages.

In some fifty words Paul gives us a beautiful cameo of this saintly servant
of Christ for whom he urged the saints at Rome to do their utmost. The
importance of her visit is indicated by the appeal of Paul to the Romans to assist her in whatever matter she had need of.
Phoebe was A Sister
As used by Paul, this designation implies a spiritual relationship. He calls
the believing husband and wife, the brother and the sister
(1 Corinthians 7:15; 9:5).
Young Timothy was his son in the faith. Phoebe, then, was a member of a
spiritual family in which the relationship is based upon the redemption of
Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:4-7 ).
Apart from natural relationships, no woman is my sister unless she shares
my experience of God's saving grace through which alone we are made members of His redeemed family. How or when Phoebe became a Christian and a sister in the Lord, we are not told. What is evident is the manifestation of her sisterlylove and labors among her sisters and brothers in Christ. Our sister is a term indicating her Christian status.

A Servant of the Church
Phoebe was not only a member of a spiritual family, but likewise a member of the visible church at Cenchrea when Paul arrived there on his third journey and from where he wrote Romans. Phoebe was not merely a confessing and active believer, she was also a ministrant of the Church. The word for servant is diakonos , from which we have deacon or deaconess. It is not certain whether such an official female Order as Deaconess was in vogue at that time.
Phoebe, however, occupied such a position in the church, and as such could be a teacher of all female inquirers of the faith, and be active in the
reliefof the temporal needs of the poor among the flock. We can safely assume that Phoebe was one of the first, if not the first, of the noble band of
deaconesses in the Christian Church. If hers was not an official ministry, it was certainly a most gracious and effective one, and she was indeed one of the forerunners of the vast army of women who have rendered such loyal service to Christ and His Church.

A Succourer of Many, and of Myself Also
The word Paul used for succourer prostatis is a most expressive one. It
literally means one who stands by in case of need. It is classical Greek
describing a trainer in the Olympic games, who stood by the athletes to see that they were properly trained and not over-trained and rightly girded when they lined up for the signal. Moule translates the phrase, She on her part has proved a stand-by (almost a champion , one who stands up for others) of many, aye,
and of me among them. Phoebe was the unselfish, liberal helper or patroness of the saints, conspicuous for her works of charity and also hospitality.To quote Moule again

She had been a devoted and it would seem particularly a brave friend of
converts in trouble, and of Paul himself. Perhaps in the course of her
visits to the desolate she had fought difficult battles of protest, where she found harshness and oppression. Perhaps she had pleaded the forgotten cause of the poor, with a woman's courage, before some neglectful richer brother.

As for the personal touch a succourer ... of myself also, it has been
suggested that Paul had in mind the visit he paid to Cenchrea and, shaving
his head took a Jewish vow (Acts 18:18).
The vow seems to point to a deliverance from danger to sickness in which
Phoebe may have attended him. Because of her saintliness and practical
works, Paul urged the believers in Rome to receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints. All in the Lord are saints but some are more saintly than others.
Godly
Phoebe is witness to what Christ can accomplish through consecrated
spinsterhood.


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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Thu 03 Nov 2011, 6:59 pm

Miriam

The Woman Whose Jealousy Brought Judgment

Scripture References - Exodus 15:20, 21; Numbers 12:1-15; 20:1; 26:59; Deuteronomy 24:9; Micah 6:4

Name Meaning - As a name Miriam belongs to a family of words having different root-form, all of which suggest "bitterness, " Mary, Maria, Mariamne. Miriam, then, the same as Mary, meaning "bitterness, " "rebellion" was apropos, for because of her jealousy, Miriam's fate was one of extreme bitterness.

Family Connections - Miriam was the eldest child of Amram and Jochebed, and the sister of Aaron and Moses. Says Bulwer, "I honour birth and ancestry when they are regarded as incentives to exertion, not title deeds to sloth." Miriam owed much to her ancestry. She was the daughter of godly parents and the sister of two of Israel's greatest figures. Josephus in his Antiquities informs us that Miriam became the wife of another well-known leader in Israel namely, Hur, one of the judges of the people when Moses was on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:14). This would make Miriam to be the grandmother of Bezaleel, the famous artist in the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:2). The Biblical narrative,
however, suggests that Miriam remained in single blessedness all her days. "Miriam stands before us in an absolutely unsexual relation," says George Matheson: "there is neither marriage nor courtship. Her interests are not matrimonial! they are national. Her mission is not domestic, it is patriotic... . Miriam the unmarried is a heroine in an age when female celibacy was not a consecrated thing, in a Book where the nuptial tie is counted the glory of womanhood."

Some of the grandest women to benefit mankind were content to remain unmarried. Was there ever such a ministering angel in human form as Florence Nightingale, "The Lady of the Lamp," whose sacrificial work among the suffering soldiers during the Crimean War laid the foundation for the great reformation that took place in the hospitals of the world? Many noble women do not marry from sheer choice, as the biographies of some female missionaries and nurses testify. We see Miriam -

As a Clever Girl on the Banks of the River Nile

In dealing with Miriam's mother, Jochebed , we saw how Pharaoh had commanded all the male babies of the Israelites to be drowned in the Nile and how Jochebed took every possible precaution for her beautiful baby's safety. Out of the common reeds grown along the banks of the river she fashioned a small basket-boat, and making it watertight by an inside covering of clay and an outside protection of bitumen, laid the baby in its boat by the edge of the stream which she knew was frequented by the princess and her female court.

The anxious mother took the wise precaution of leaving the baby's sister, Miriam, nearby to mount guard over his safety (Exodus 2:4). Whether Pharaoh's daughter came down to bathe in the stream or wash her clothes in it, we are not told. Among the reeds the little boat with its precious cargo was spotted and brought to the princess who, seeing the child, loved him. As he was lifted up, he cried. He wanted feeding. But who was to nurse the mite? Then came young Miriam's opportunity. Out of the shadows she stepped forth so innocently, and appearing to be curious at the screaming baby and puzzled princess, ask if she would like her to try and find a Hebrew nurse. Miriam kept her silence and
did not reveal her relation to the baby and the nurse she secured. Thus the ready wit of Miriam, a girl of ten to twelve years old, saved her brother whom the Princess called Moses. When he became the great hero, how Miriam must have been grateful for her share in preserving her baby brother from the cruel fate of other Hebrew infants.

As a Gifted Poetess and Prophetess at the Red Sea

Miriam appears for the first time by name when she is called a "prophetess, " and is identified as the sister of Aaron. Both her words and work were full of the inspiration of God and she is brought as a leader and pattern to the women of Israel. Prophets and prophetesses are those raised up by God and inspired by His Spirit to proclaim the will and purpose of God. It is at the Red Sea that we see Miriam standing out so prominently, proclaiming and singing the power and faithfulness of God. She, it was, who led the Israelite women in dancing and instrumental accompaniment as she sang the ode of praise and victory (Exodus 15:20, 21). By this time Miriam was well past middle life. If she was
about 12 years of age when Moses was born, and he spent 40 years in Egypt, then another 40 in the land of Midian before the dramatic episode of the Red Sea, then Miriam was an aging woman in that time when longevity was normal.

After the plague that fell upon Egypt, Pharaoh let God's people go. Moses, leader of the almost two million people, with his brother Aaron as high priest, and his sister Miriam as his chief singer, set out for the land of promise. God caused the waters to roll back and the Israelites passed through on dry ground, but as soon as they were through the waters rushed back and drowned the pursuing Egyptians. Miriam, the first poetess in the Bible, led the joyous acclamations of the multitude, and using her timbrel, sang, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." The Song of Moses and Miriam has been referred to as one of the
oldest and most splendid natural anthems in the world. Whether Miriam composed the poem or not, we cannot tell. What we do know is that she wove the matchless, mighty ode of victory into the conscious life of the people.

Henry Van Dyke reminds us that, "The spirit and movement of the song are well expressed in the English verse of Thomas Moore's paraphrase:"

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea!

Jehovah has triumphed, - His people are free!

Sing - for the pride of the tyrant is broken;

His chariots, his horsemen, all splendid and brave, -

How vain was their boasting! the Lord hath but spoken,

And chariots and horsemen are sunk in the wave.

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea!

Jehovah has triumphed, - His people are free!

Praise to the Conqueror, praise to the Lord!

His word was our arrow, His breath was our sword.

Who shall return to tell Egypt the story

Of those she sent forth in the shew of her pride?

For the Lord hath looked out from His pillar of glory,

And all her brave thousands are dashed in the tide.

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea!

Jehovah has triumphed - His people are free!

This is a powerful verse. But there is even greater majesty and force in the form of the ode as it stands in the Book of Exodus. How grandly the antiphonal ascriptions of praise to Jehovah come into the description of the overthrow of Egypt's pride and power!

Jehovah is a man of war:

Jehovah is his name!

Thou didst blow with thy wind:

The sea covered them:

They sank as lead in the mighty waters.

Who is like unto thee among the gods, Jehovah?

Who is like unto thee?

Glorious in holiness!

Fearful in praises!

Doing wonders!

As the first of the sweet singers of Israel, Miriam sang for God, using her gift for the elevation of human souls into a higher life. A dreary wilderness faced the children of Israel, and Miriam knew that they would march better if they sang. So her song was one of cheer and full of the memory of all God had accomplished for His people. "The greatest stimulus for the crossing of Jordan is the fact that we have already crossed the Red Sea," wrote George Matheson. "It was wise in Miriam to begin with that Sea and over its prostrate waves to sound her first timbrel."

A Jealous Sister in the Wilderness

What a faithful mirror the Bible is of the characters it portrays! Blemishes, as well as beauties, are revealed. It tells the naked truth of those it describes. There is a blot upon almost all its portraits, and "its blots are as much a bit of the art as its beauties." A double feature of the failure of the Bible's heroes and heroines is that they are usually associated with middle life after the morning inspired with hope and courage unbounded is past, as in the case of Miriam. Further, such failures come where we should not expect them to overtake the otherwise true and noble. Miriam, for instance, rebelled against the mission of her life, namely, to protect and labor in partnership with
Moses whom she had been the means of saving for his country. Miriam was, above all things, a faithful patriot, with a love for her country greater than the love for her renowned brother. It was because he was the chosen emissary of God to lead Israel out of bondage into freedom that she rebelled against him in a twofold way. Jealousy led Miriam to reject both the position of Moses as the leader of the host, and his partner in the wife he took unto himself. She found the management and marriage of Moses most irksome.

Miriam's greatest offense was her sarcastic rejection of the leadership of Moses. Hitherto, she had been a symbol of unity as she shared in the triumphs and hopes of Israel. Now, unfortunately, she is prominent as a leader of discord, division and discontent. It will be noted that Aaron is paired with his sister in the outburst against the acquisition and the authority of Moses. But by the order of the names it is evident that Miriam was the instigator and the spokeswoman in the revolt. "Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses" (Numbers 12:1). This is understandable because of the close bond of friendship between two who had never been parted. After Miriam as a young girl saved Moses' life,
she scarcely saw him for almost 80 years, but with Aaron she had lived quietly at home. Now she takes the initiative in opposition against the younger brother, and uses his Cushite wife as a pretext to rebel against the superior authority of Moses. Her jealous heart led her to reject God's discrimination in favor of Moses against her and Aaron.

Thus personal jealousy and fear of their own respective leadership are mingled in their question, "Hath God indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?" Miriam and Aaron aspired to a joint partnership in state power and in the government of Israel, and they failed. If Moses had erred in marrying his bride, it was a personal mistake and not a public crime. Miriam's chief error consisted in her effort to break down the God-given authority of Moses, and thereby imperil the unity and hope of the nation. Her fault then was greater than that of Moses, because it was an offense against the commonwealth.

It is true that Miriam had functioned as a prophetess and used Aaron as a prophet, but God had distinctly said, "My servant Moses is not so. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches." Such was God's elective sovereignty, and Miriam's sin was grievous in that she rebelled against what God had spoken. That such a sister should be jealous of her brother is beyond conception, but human nature even at it best is very frail. How true it is that "jealousy is the apprehension of superiority and the towering character of Moses doubtless disturbed the peace of Miriam." George Eliot has the phrase, "One of the torments of jealousy is that it can never turn away
its eyes from the thing that pains it." Paul places "evil speaking" among the cardinal sins.

Moses, meekest of all men, acted as a deaf man who heard not, and as a dumb man who opened not his mouth. God had heard the complaints Miriam had voiced and He called the trio of leaders to meet Him at the tabernacle of the congregation. Taking up the defense of Moses, God spoke directly to Miriam and Aaron in no uncertain terms that they had not only hurt Moses but that they had failed in their duty toward Him. Moses received divine vindication as God's servant who had been faithful, and as the one whom He had chosen as the medium of a divine revelation. Then the rebellious sister and brother were reprimanded by God for speaking against His honored servant. How silenced the three must have
been when, standing at the door of the tabernacle, they were silenced by the austerity and authority of the divine voice! In righteous wrath God withdrew from the holy place.

A Repentant Leper Outside the Camp

As the divine cloud left the tabernacle, the eyes of Aaron sought his beloved and forceful sister, and to his horror she had been smitten with leprosy - the foul disease that made the victim look like death, white as snow, a living corpse (Numbers 12:12). The proud, jealous prophetess was condemned to endure the most humiliating of diseases. While Aaron was united with Miriam in rebellion against Moses, judgment only fell upon Miriam which indicated that she had been the instigator, and had influenced her pliable brother. "Look at her in her rapture, like one out of the body with the joy of the Lord, at the Red Sea," says Alexander Whyte, "and now see to what her wicked heart and her wicked
tongue have brought her. Look at her with her hand upon her throat, and with a linen cloth upon her lip, and with her hoarse, sepulchral noisome voice wandering far from the camp, and compelled to cry Unclean! Unclean! when any one came in sight."

How humiliating it must have been for Miriam to see people fleeing from her - the one who had before led them so triumphantly. Her judgment was swift and signal, even though hers was a temporary disgrace. Aaron and Moses, overcome with pity for their condemned sister and filled with brotherly love, prayed for Miriam that the punishment might pass from her. Prayer was heard on her behalf, and after her separation from the camp for seven days, she was healed of her leprosy. Evidently Miriam had the sympathy of the whole nation during her week of purification. Although she held up the progress of the host for those seven days, such was her popularity that "the people journeyed not [from
Hazeroth] till Miriam was brought in again." When Moses came to write out the law in respect to leprosy, he mentioned his sister Miriam as an example (Deuteronomy 24:9). Thus her presumptuous effort to change the leadership of Israel ended in her humiliation and in the divine vindication of Moses as the undisputed leader of the people.

What happened to Miriam during her seven days without the camp as she bore the sorrow of seeing Israel's march to the Promised Land arrested because of her jealousy we are not told. Doubtless she was repentant, but her strength was broken and the gift of prophecy had left her. One also wonders what the thoughts of Moses' wife were during that lonely week as she thought of her sister-in-law punished and excluded because she condemned Moses for making her his wife. Further, had the confidence of Moses in Aaron and Miriam been so shaken as to make him walk alone? Restored to divine favor we would fain believe Miriam was noble and submissive through the rest of her days, even though we do not
hear again of her until her death.

A Dying Saint at Kadesh

Alexander Whyte reckons that Miriam did not live long after that dread week, that she died not because of her old age, or the dregs of the leprosy, but of a broken heart. The Bible is silent as to any further service she rendered once the camp moved on. Had her sorrow crushed her song, and her presumption silenced her prophetic voice? This we do know, that as Moses was not permitted to enter the Land of Promise because "he spoke unadvisedly with his lips" at the rock, so Miriam because of her sin died before the entrance to Canaan, and was buried at Kadesh-barnea, where Israel mourned for her. She passed away at the eleventh hour of the completion of Israel's journey of forty years (Numbers
20:1). Tradition has it that she was given a costly funeral and buried on the mountain of Zin, and mourned for some 30 days. But her last resting place, like that of her great brother, Moses, is one of the secrets of God. As an epitaph for her grave, wherever she sleeps, we can inscribe "She sang the song of Moses: but it was also the song of the Lamb."

What are some of the lessons to be learned from the jealousy and ambition which were the drawbacks in Miriam's otherwise commanding character? First of all, we should learn to avoid the temptation to wield power at the expense of losing influence. Miriam had great influence in her sphere as prophetess and leader of the praises of Israel, but she was not content. She coveted equal power with Moses. Then is it not folly in trying to add to our prestige and dictating to others, as Miriam and Aaron when they gave vent to their feelings against Moses? The most impressive lesson to learn from Miriam is that it is injurious to our character to be discontented with our own distinction, and to
jealously desire the higher place of honor which another holds. My soul, never forget that it was envy that crucified the Lord who personified humility!


Today's reading is from:

All the Women of the Bible
by Herbert Lockyer
Today's reading taken from Herbert Lockyer's "All the Women of the Bible," copyright 1967. Other material copyright 2010 Bible Gateway except where otherwise noted.
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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Wed 20 Jul 2011, 5:27 pm

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE - Eve

The Woman of Unique Distinction

Scripture References - Genesis 2 and 3; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13

Name Meaning - There are three names applied to Adam's wife. She is called "Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23). "Woman" is more of a generic designation than a name, and is associated with Eve's relation to Adam, a relation she was created to fulfill. Literally "woman" means "man-ess." Then both Eve and her husband are called "Adam." "Male and female created he them ... and called their name Adam" (Genesis 5:2). This inclusive name implies that the divine ideal for man and wife is not merely that of association but an indissoluble unity. God made them "one flesh" and gave them one name. Eve, the name given her after the transgression and its prophesied results, was the
choice of Adam "who called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living" (3:16, 20). This was the name describing her function and destiny in spiritual history of which she was the beginning. Eve means "life" or "life-giving, " or "mother of all who have life," and her life is in us all. In Bible days great significance was attached to a change of name. Why then did Adam change his wife's name - which was his own, Adam, to Eve? Donald Davidson says that, "In view of the awful judgment pronounced upon them, the man might have been pardoned if he had reproached her as 'death,' for it was her sin that brought death into our world and all our woe. But Adam gives her a name
which is expressive of the prophetic life bound up in her. For through the seed of the woman, sin would one day be vanquished, and death would be swallowed up in victory."

We have given our cameo of Eve the caption "The Woman of Unique Distinction" because she is distinct, in so many ways, from all other women who have ever lived. There are a good many "Firsts" to her credit.

Eve Was the First Woman to Live Upon the Earth

The product of a divine creation, Eve appeared as a complete, perfect woman. She was never a child, or a daughter or a maiden. The first female born into the world was Eve's first daughter (Genesis 5:4). How many daughters were born to Adam and Eve we are not told. If Eve lived as long as her husband - 930 years (Genesis 5:5) - there would likely be many sons and daughters in earth's first family. Eve, then, was not born. She was created out of Adam. Having existed in God's thought, she appeared upon the earth.

Adam was directly created by God out of the dust of the earth, but Eve was fashioned out of a bone taken from Adam's side. George Herbert comments, "The man was dust refined, but the woman was dust double refined." Says Secker, "The rib was taken from under his arm. As the use of the arm is to keep off blows from the body, so the office of the husband is to ward off blows from his wife."

There is a spiritual application of the bride God created for Adam. It speaks of the sacred mystery, the bride of the Lamb, who owes her existence to His wounded side (John 19:36), and who, even more than Eve, has a place near to the Bridegroom's heart (Jeremiah 31:3), and who is destined to enjoy His companionship in a sinless paradise (Revelation 2:7; 21:9). The marriage of the Lamb, like that of Eve's, is made in heaven.

Eve Was the First Woman to Be Called a Wife

Fashioned out of man, she became man's counterpart and companion. God saw that although Adam was in a state of perfect innocency, it was not good for him to be alone. It would be good for him, spiritually, intellectually and socially to have a wife. He needed someone to love and bear his children since the command had gone forth "to multiply and replenish the earth." And so with Adam -

The world was sad, the garden was a wild,

And man the hermit sighed till woman smiled.

God spoke of the woman He was to provide for Adam as his "helpmeet" - a help meet or adapted to him - a term giving woman her true position in the world. It is only where the Bible exists and Christianity is practiced that she attains to such a position as the helper, or equal of man. In lands where darkness reigns, woman is the slave, the chattel of man. Thus Eve was given to Adam and their two hearts beat as one in love for each other and for God. Eve was formed while Adam slept. He knew no pain during the operation for as yet there was no sin in the world. How true it is that God is continually working while men sleep! He often imparts real blessings to His own as they sleep (Psalm
127:2).

When I wake from sleep,

Despair has fled, and hope is near;

The sky seems blue, and visions clear

Have banished all my dread and fear.

Eve Was the Most Beautiful Woman the World Has Known

Century after century women have appeared renowned for their beauty of face and form but Eve excelled them all. Created by a perfect God, Eve reflected the divine perfection. Hers was no artificial beauty. Face, features and form were the loveliest women have ever had. While the Bible has no description of Eve's physical appearance, Adam's first reaction as he saw the lovely figure before him was to give voice to earth's first poem -

This, then, at last is bone of my bones,

and flesh of my own flesh:

This shall be called Wo-man

For from man was she taken.

While we have Biblical warrant for the beauty of Sarah, the Talmudist says -

All women in comparison with Sarah are like monkeys in respect to men. But Sarah can no more be compared to Eve than can monkey be compared with man.

John Milton expresses a similar commendation in one of his most daring idioms -

Adam the goodliest man since born

His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.

The blind poet goes on to say of the loveliness Adam saw -

So absolute she seems

And is herself complete.

The Venus of Milo, in marble, or the Venus of Titian in oil, only convey a faint idea of what Eve must have looked like as she came from the creative hand of God. No wonder she has been described as

Heaven's best, last gift.

To quote from Milton's Eve again -

O fairest of creation, last and best

Of all God's works, creature in whom excelled

Whatever can to sight or thought be formed,

Holy, Divine, Good, Amiable or Sweet.

Yet again Eve's original beauty is expressed in these lines -

That what seemed fair in all the world seemed now

Mean, or in her contained or in her looks;

Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,

In every gesture dignity and love.

Eve Was the First and Only Woman Born Without Sin

Being the first woman Eve had no inherited sin. Coming from the hand of God, Eve had an advantage no other woman has ever had - she was pure and holy, with the divine image unimpaired. Created sinless, she yet became the world's first sinner, and introduced sin to her offspring, and thus, all since her were "born in sin and shapen in iniquity." The best and holiest born into the race have natures that are prone to evil (Romans 7:21). Fashioned with "innocence and sinless perfection and endowed to all fullness with gifts of body and mind, and rich in external blessing without spot or alloy she yet transgressed in the sin with which she caused Adam to sin." Fresh from the hand of God with
unmatchable grace and beauty of body and mind, sin and ruin followed, and paradise was surrendered for a world of thorns, thistles and tears.

Eve Was the First on Earth to Be Assailed by Satan

Before her creation, Satan, who like Eve had been created a holy being, led a rebellion against the Creator and was cast from his high estate. Now he begins his rebellion on earth and beings with one who is fascinated by his approach. Thus we have the Fall and the source of original sin. There was no great daring to sin for the first time on Eve's part. As sin was unknown to both Adam and Eve when created by God, Eve saw no wrong in the masterpiece of satanic subtle suggestion. Satan did not tell her to sin, but insinuated in the cleverest way that there was nothing to worry about in eating forbidden fruit. As George Matheson puts it, "The temptation was not in itself the wish to
transgress, but the will to possess; the transgression is merely a means.... If the tempter had said, 'Steal,' he would not have been listened to for a moment. But he did not say, 'Steal!'; he says, 'Speculate!' ... Temptation since the days of Eden has never ceased to clothe itself in a seemly garment."

Satan succeeded in painting the downward way as leading to an upward path issuing in God-likeness or a fall upwards, "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Eve succumbed to the wiles of Satan and the steps leading to her surrender are illuminating - she saw, she coveted, she took, etc. "The tree was good for food" - bodily appetite was tempted. It was "a delight to the eyes" - her sensuous nature was tempted. Then, "the tree was to be desired to make one wise" - the most powerful temptation of all, namely, "the spiritual temptation to transcend the normal experience of men and to taste of the wisdom that belongs only to God."

What about her husband? Well, Adam made no effort to restrain Eve from eating of the fruit although the divine prohibition was addressed to him as well as to Eve. If he was not the first to pluck the fruit, he must have been standing under the tree, and when he saw that it was safe to eat, then he took his share of the forbidden fruit. When God faced Adam with that first act of sin, he not only blamed Eve, but God Himself - "The woman Thou gavest me" - as if to say, "If You knew that Eve would have tempted me, why did You create her for me?" H. V. Morton says that "the words of the first Adam are like the words of a rather sneaky little boy caught out by the headmaster and blames another -
She gave me of the tree and I did eat." But thereafter, in Scripture, Adam, the federal head of the human race, is made responsible for adamic sin. ("In Adam we die"; "By one man's sin"; Romans 5:12; Job 31:33.) What followed the disobedience of the world's first sinners is only too well-known - pain in childbearing, the introduction of sin and servitude into the world, the earth cursed, expulsion from paradise, and the introduction of disease and death.

Eve Was the World's First Dressmaker

If Adam was earth's first gardener, Eve was the first to fashion garments out of leaves. "They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons" (Genesis 3:7). Andrew Johnson, who became president of the U.S.A. after the murder of Abraham Lincoln, once was a tailor in Greenville, Tennessee, where he had a shop. In a speech made at Gallatin in 1874 he said -

Adam, our great father and head, the lord of the world, was a tailor by trade. Adam and Eve "sewed fig leaves together, and made them aprons." That is the first we ever heard of tailors, and I do not see that - without intending to be personal - anyone need be ashamed to be called a tailor, nor any young lady need be ashamed to be a seamstress, for her mother Eve, it seems, handled a needle with some skill.

Clothing is a reminder of sin, for in their innocency our first parents had no sense of shame because they had no sense of sin. "They were both naked ... and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25). Says Matthew Henry, "They need have no shame in their faces, though they had no clothes to their backs." But after they sinned their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Although shame may have a fairer and a gentler face than sin, it is still its twin sister. Shame can be an expression of regret for sin, or the protest of consicence against it. When Ezra blushed and was ashamed to look up, the pardoning mercy of God came out to meet him (Ezra 9:6).

Conscious of their nakedness, why did Adam and Eve seek a covering? Not only because they knew they were without clothing but also because they were exposed to the gaze of Him against whom they had sinned. However the fig leaves they made into a garment were not sufficient to hide them from God's piercing eyes, so they hid among the trees. Even there they were under His gaze and discovered, and they tried to cover themselves with vain excuses (Genesis 3:7, 8, 11, 13). Those who try to cover their sin never prosper (Proverbs 28:13, see Job 31:33). God rejected the covering the first sinners on the earth made because it represented their own effort. So God provided them with "coats of skins"
(3:21), and placed them on the guilty ones. The wonderful invention of fastening animal pelts together was ascribed by the ancient Hebrews to God. Skins speak of sacrifice. Animals have to be slain ere man can be covered with clothes or shoes. Surely the divine provision of those sacrificial skins foreshadowed Calvary, where Jesus through the sacrifice of Himself provided a spotless robe of righteousness for all who repent and believe.

Naked, come to Thee for dress.

Eve Was the First Mother to Have a Son Who Was a Murderer

What a trail of sorrow and anguish followed her transgression! When Cain, her first born, came into her life and home how Eve must have loved him. She named him Cain, meaning "to get" or "to possess" or, "acquisition. " He became a tiller of the ground. Her second son was Abel, a name implying, "that which ascends" or "a vapor" - something doomed to fade. The latter was a spiritual man and sacrificed the firstlings of his flocks unto the Lord. The former son brought of the fruit of the ground, that is, that which he had produced, and presented it to the Lord who rejected it and accepted Abel's offering because of its sacrificial content. Cain lost his temper over this act of divine
acceptance and rejection, and slew his brother Abel. Thus Eve's favorite first born was branded with shame, and spiritual Abel became a martyr. Behind Cain's slaughter of his brother was the serpent who had made their mother the world's first sinner. Jesus said that he was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). After the crime and banishment of her first son, and the burial of her second one, God gave her another whom she called Seth. "For God," she said, "hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, for Cain slew him." In naming her third son thus she voiced her faith in God's love, mercy and provision. It was through Seth that the spiritual lineage was maintained and it was after
his birth that Eve's name disappears from the pages of the Old Testament, although it is mentioned twice in the New Testament. While Eve doubtless shared the length of Adam's life - 930 years - and bore an indefinite number of sons and daughters, we have no record of her maternity apart from the three named sons.

Eve Was the First to Receive the Divine Prophecy of the Cross

Eve was the first sinner and saw the fruit of her sin as she stood at the world's first grave and buried her dead. After confessing her sin she heard the Lord say to that old serpent, the devil, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15). With this first promise of the Redeemer there began the scarlet highway ending at the cross where Christ, born of a woman, provided a glorious victory over sin and Satan. Through a woman, God's fair universe was blighted and became "a world of sinners lost, and ruined by the fall." Now, through a woman, a perfect salvation has been provided for a
sinning race. Through Eve's sin, death entered the world, but at the cross both sin and death were conquered, for by "dying, death He slew." When Jesus cried, "It is finished," He meant that the serpent's head, representing power and authority, had been bruised. He laid hold of all satanic principalities and powers that Eve's transgression brought into the world, and put them under His feet. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

As we leave our reflection upon the world's first woman, first wife, first sinner, and first mourner, there are one or two lessons to be gleaned from her record. For instance, "many daughters of Eve have discovered that the serpent is never more dangerous than when he professes to be the earnest well-wisher interested in nothing but her advancement and welfare." What a subtle, cruel deceiver Satan is. How ignorant so many are of his devices! Further, temptation is a universal experience, and each of us should learn from the first person on earth to be tempted, its manner of approach and successive steps, and safeguard ourselves from a fall through the appropriation of Christ's own victory
over the enemy. There is no sin in being tempted. We only sin when we yield to temptation. Refusing to yield to the enticement of sin, our Garden of Eden remains inviolate. At the heart of Eve's pathetic story, however, is the moral lesson that a woman has the power for bane or blessing over a man's life. If she falls, man falls with her. How expressive are the verses John White Chadwick quotes in his chapter on Eve in Women of the Bible -

Ah, wasteful woman, that she may

On her sweet self set her own price.

Knowing we cannot choose but pay,

How has she cheapened Paradise;

How given for naught her priceless gift,

How spoil'd the bread and spill'd the wine

Which, spent with due respective thrift,

Had made men brutes and men divine.

O Queen, awake to thy renown,

Require what 'tis our wealth to give,

And comprehend and wear the crown

Of thy despised prerogative.

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Post  Admin on Fri 15 Jul 2011, 1:17 pm

Ruth 2


Ruth Meets Boaz in the Grain Field

1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!”
“The LORD bless you!” they answered.
5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart

Generosity in Action.

Boaz was impressed with Ruth because she was a hard
worker, but he was even more touched by her brave
and unselfish actions towards Naomi. Boaz saw in Ruth
qualities we should all want in ourselves: a good reputation
matched with good actions.
Like Ruth, Boaz demonstrated a kind and loyal heart
through his response to the needs of others. His
prayer that The Lord would bless Ruth was partially
answered through his own actions. Not only did Boaz
allow Ruth to pick up grain, he instructed his servents
to make it easier for her. As we fight the temptation
to be selfish with our possessions and talents,
we should realise that our acts of kindness may
be the answer to someone elses prayers.
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
Lord, please give us a generous giving heart.
A heart with feeling the needs of others. A
heart full of love and mercy for anyone in need.
Not only for giving, but for listening, talking,
hearing what people have to say.
Looking at the whole picture instead
of the bits we might find an easy option.
Lord teach us to follow in Your footsteps.
In Jesus Holy name we ask it.

Amen.


WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
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Post  Admin on Tue 12 Jul 2011, 4:48 pm

Ruth 1


Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons

1 In the days when the judges ruled,[a] there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. 3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me!”
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Ids_emoticon_roseWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Ids_emoticon_roseWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Ids_emoticon_roseWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Ids_emoticon_roseWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Ids_emoticon_roseWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Ids_emoticon_rose
Loyalty To Others.

Ruth dermined to be loyal to her mother-inlaw,even
when Naomi released her from that responsability.
Although she understood that the future with Naomi
might be hard and that staying in Moab would be easier,
Ruth made a commitment to go with her mother-inlaw.
We rarely see such a commitment nowadays. Instead
we live in a society whose philosophy could be summed
up by the motto.
" Look out for number one."
Yet it is Ruth's commitment that The Lord requires of us.
He wants us to commit ourselves to obeying Him, even
though we do not know what the future holds.
This is also the kind of loyalty God expects us to show
in our families, and to a limited extent, in our church
and business relationships.
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart

Lord, sometimes it is very hard to be loyal to people,
hard because selfishness stands in the way.
Let us put You first in our lives, and others next.
Teach us to look for wrongs we have or do that
is hurtful to others, therefore hurtful to You.
Give us an Agape love for all we come in contact
with, also those we know are in desparate need.
Touch our hearts to be charitable to all the needs
of the hungry and thirsty of this world.
Give us a spirit of such wonderful love.
In Jesus name we ask it.

Amen.

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heartWOMEN OF THE BIBLE Red_heart
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Post  Admin on Mon 21 Mar 2011, 7:02 pm

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE - Rebekah, Rebecca

The Woman Whose Favoritism Brought Sorrow

Scripture Reference: Genesis 22:23; Genesis 24; Genesis 25:20-28; Genesis
26:6-35; Genesis 27; Genesis 28:5; Genesis 29:12; Genesis 35:8; Genesis 49:31;
Romans 9:6-16

Name Meaning: Rebekah is another name with an animal connection. Although not
belonging to any animal in particular, it has reference to animals of a limited
class and in a peculiar condition. The name means a "tie rope for animals" or "a
noose" in such a rope. Its root is found in a noun meaning a "hitching place" or
"stall" and is connected with a "tied-up calf or lamb," a young animal
peculiarly choice and fat. Applied to a female, the figure suggests her beauty
by means of which men are snared or bound. Thus another meaning of Rebekah is
that of "captivating." If, then, Rebekah means "a noosed cord," the loop was
firmly around Isaac's neck. When Isaac took her as his bride he forgot his
grief for his dead mother, and lived happily with his wife for twenty years
during which time they had no children.

Family Connections: Rebekah is first mentioned in the genealogy of the
descendants of Nahor, Abraham's brother (Genesis 22:20-24). When the pilgrims
set out from the Ur of the Chaldees, Nahor was one of the party, and settled
down at Charran where Terah, his father, died. Among Nahor's sons was Bethuel
who, by an unknown wife, became the father of Rebekah, the sister of Laban.
Rebekah married Isaac the son of Abraham, by whom she had two sons, Esau and
Jacob.

The story of Isaac and Rebekah as a love lyric full of romance and tender beauty
has been retold times without number, and is a charming record that never loses
its appeal. Such an idyllic narrative is almost too familiar to need rehearsal,
and too simple to require comment, yet because it constitutes one of the most
romantic scenes in the Bible, its "moving scenes, so fresh and artless in their
old world simplicity" have a pertinent appeal for present-day society. Ancient
Bible histories with their arrestive characters and remarkable sequence of
events and fortunes never fail to leave an indelible imprint on our hearts. The
chapter recording how a wife was found for Isaac (Genesis 24)
presents a link in the chain of events leading up to-

That far-off Divine event

To which the whole creation moves.

Through the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, Abraham saw that day of Christ in
which the church should become the Bride of Christ.

Almost two millenniums after the days of the patriarch whom God spoke of as His
"friend," there were those who considered it a privilege to belong to the race
having Abraham as its fountainhead. To be "a son of Abraham" or a lineal
descendant of such a grand, great old divine was an honor, but Isaac enjoyed a
still greater advantage for Abraham was his own natural father. What a rich
dowry of blessing must have been Isaac's because of such a close relationship.
He had the inspiration of his father's godliness, and the benefit of his prayers
and wise counsels-even in the matter of securing the right kind of wife.

Abraham's opposition to idolatry is seen in his request that the partner for his
son, Isaac, must not be "of the daughters of the Canaanites" (24:3). As he had
refused a grave for his wife, Sarah, amongst the sepulchers of the Hittites
(Genesis 23), so a wife for their son must not be sought among their daughters.
Thus it came about that Abraham's trusted, godly servant, Eliezer, was divinely
guided to Haran where Nahor, Abraham's brother settled. Too feeble to make the
journey himself, Abraham gave his servant the most careful instructions, and
impressed upon him the solemn significance of his mission. Confident as to the
result of the search for a suitable wife for Isaac, Abraham assured
the earthly seeker that he would be guided by God's angel. Eliezer, the
intelligent, prudent, obedient and praying servant went forth. Seeking a sign of
divine guidance, not to prove God's faithfulness, but for his own direction in
the choice of a woman of character as a wife for his master's son, the servant
came to Nahor's well at Nahor, and saw in Rebekah who had come to draw water the
answer to his prayer and quest.

Eliezer lost no time in telling Rebekah who he was, and from whom he had come,
and the purpose of his search. He revealed his tact in the way he wooed and won
the heart of Rebekah. The gifts he bestowed upon her and the good things he said
of his master, secured the favor of Rebekah's family who gave its consent to the
proposed marriage. Faced with instant departure from her dear ones, Rebekah is
given her choice-"Wilt thou go with this man?" Without hesitation, feeling that
she, too, was following the leading of God, as Eliezer had, Rebekah replied in a
firm voice, "I will go."

The caravan set out for Abraham's home, and now we come to a superb touch in the
romantic story. Isaac was out in the fields at eventide for his usual period of
meditation. He saw the approaching camels and sensed the success of Eliezer in
the choice of a wife. Reaching Isaac, Rebekah, according to custom, veiled her
face, and the end of this exquisite poem of the meeting of bride and bridegroom
is stated in most expressive terms-"Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's
tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her."

Marrying "sight unseen" is a most dangerous venture, but in this case it was
successful because "the angel of the Lord" had directed the events leading up to
the union. When Rebekah saw the handsome, mild-mannered and meditative Isaac,
her heart went out to him. As for Isaac, a man of forty, and some twenty years
older than Rebekah, he instantly loved the most beautiful woman he beheld, and
she remained his only love. Some matrimonial matches have been described as
"Lucifer Matches," because of clash of temperament and temper, but the marriage
of Isaac and Rebekah was certainly one "made in heaven." There would be fewer
broken homes if only young people looking for partners would seek the
guidance of God as the servant of Abraham did. We agree with Alexander Whyte
when he says of the ancient record of the circumstances leading to the securing
of a wife for Isaac-

A sweeter chapter was never written than the twenty-fourth of Genesis.... The
picture of aged Abraham swearing his most trusty servant about a bride for his
son Isaac; that servant's journey to Padan-aram in the far east; Rebekah, first
at the well, and then in her mother's house; and then her first sight of her
future husband-that long chapter is a perfect gem of ancient authorship.

As with other pairs in the Bible, it is hardly possible to separate Isaac from
Rebekah whose lives were so closely knit together. Yet let us see if we can
sketch a portrait of Rebekah herself.

Her Character

As a damsel, that is, a maiden around twenty years of age, Rebekah was "fair to
look upon," meaning that she had an unaffected beauty. She was a virgin, and had
a childlike simplicity. There was no trace of wantonness in her. As with her
mother-in-law, Sarah, beauty carried its dangers. During his sojourn in Gerar,
Isaac feared lest the physical charms of his wife might excite the desire of the
king of Gerar and so he lied. Thus Isaac passed Rebekah off as his sister-a
course of action which might have had dire consequences (Genesis 26:6-16). He
fell into the same error as his father before him. Andrew Fuller says, "The
falls of those that have gone before us are like so many rocks on which
others have been split; and the recording of them is like placing buoys over
them for the security of future mariners." But in the story of Isaac the buoy
served no beneficial purpose.

Beautiful Rebekah had been taken by Abimelech, but one day as he looked out of
the window he saw Isaac caressing Rebekah, and he knew that he had been
deceived. Isaac's untruthfulness was discovered, and the heir of God's promises
was rebuked by a heathen king for his lying and deception. In the providence of
God, Abimelech, an idolater, was made the protector of the child of promise (see
Psalm 17:13). As "an amiable and lovely girl," as her name suggests, she was
industrious, for although she was a member of a family of standing she was not
afraid to soil her hands. The hard work of drawing and carrying water, the
provision she made for Eliezer's camels, and the meal she prepared, speak of
Rebekah as one who did not shun domestic duties. That she was a woman of faith
is evident from what Paul says of her as being the recipient of a direct
revelation from the Lord regarding universal blessing through her favorite Jacob
(Romans 9:12).

Rebekah's best qualities come out in the simple yet heartwarming narrative
describing her response to Eliezer's approach, in her service to him, and in her
willingness to believe and act upon all he had told her. In his remarkable cameo
of Rebekah, George Matheson uses the following terms or expressions-"a fine
manner"-"remarkable tact"-"a sunbeam to her household"-"a very beautiful young
woman, with the gift of physical charm which was apt to produce
self-consciousness"-"the gift of intellectual sympathy"-"Rebekah's morning ray
is a ray of sympathetic insight."

Modest and meek, frank and open, ready kindness, great energy and faith,
graciousness matching her physical charm, describe Rebekah. When she became a
mother she revealed how masterful and clever she could be-a direct contrast to
Isaac who was probably more simple, slow of wit, and mild of manner than his
wife. The lines of Wordsworth can express Isaac's feelings when for the first
time he gazed upon the lovely Rebekah and came to experience her comforting love
as she filled the empty place in his heart because of his mother's death.

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair,
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair.
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn. A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
I saw her upon nearer view,
A spirit, yet a woman too!

Her Children

Motherhood came to Rebekah somewhat late in life when Isaac was an aging man.
For twenty years she had been childless, and conscious of God's promise that the
Abrahamic Covenant could not be broken, Isaac entreated God that his long barren
wife might conceive. He graciously answered his earnest intercession (Genesis
25:19-34). As his prayer was in the line of God's purpose, it was sure of an
answer (1 John 5:14). The years of waiting on the part of Isaac and Rebekah show
that God has His own time for the fulfillment of His purpose.

Like coral strands beneath the sea,
So strongly built and chaste,
The plans of God, unfolding, show
No signs of human haste.

In an age of almost universal polygamy, Isaac took no handmaid, concubine, or
second wife. Rebekah and he were bound together by the bonds of a mutual
affection, and although childless, yet became the parents of two sons who were
destined to be the progenitors of different nations. But when Rebekah became the
mother of twins-the first of two Bible women mentioned as giving birth to
twins-the other was Tamar (Genesis 38:27)-somehow she changed and was a
different character from the young bride who rode south so gaily to meet her
lover in Canaan, as our next glimpse of her will show.

The opposite characters of Rebekah's twins, Esau and Jacob, brought into sharp
focus the dark side of their mother. As Esau was the first to emerge from her
womb he had the precedence and was thus the heir of two things, namely "the
sovereignty and the priesthood, of the clan-the birthright and the blessing. The
birthright was the right of succession.... The blessing was something to be
given during the lifetime of the father." We learn that as the boys grew, "Esau
was a cunning (skillful) hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man,
dwelling in tents." At the time of their birth, Jacob seized his brother's
heel-an incident prophetic of the day when he would supplant Esau. Often
in children there are characteristics predictive of the manner of adults they
will be.

The divergence of Rebekah's twins in temperament, inclination, occupation, and
religious aspirations is most apparent. Esau was wrapped in a raiment of hair, a
rough man of the wilderness, a clever hunter with something of a wild daring
spirit. Jacob was the opposite of his brother. He preferred a fixed abode, to
dwell in his tent rather than roam the desert. Esau was probably more brilliant,
attractive, forceful, daring than his twin brother. Jacob, in spite of his
weaknesses and mistakes was the finer character, and on the whole truer to the
Lord and more fitted to possess the blessing of the birthright. Further, there
was the difference of regard on the part of Isaac and Rebekah toward
their two sons that resulted in sorrow and separation.

Isaac loved Esau, but the love was somewhat sensual. He loved his son "because
he did eat of his venison." Such love is of a carnal nature, for love in its
highest sense has regard not so much to what the loved one gives as to what he
or she is.

Rebekah loved Jacob, not because he was more of a "homebody" than his brother,
or possessed a more loving nature than he, but because Jacob was the Lord's
preference (Romans 9:13). Esau thought so lightly of the birthright that he was
willing to sell it for a mess of pottage, and be guilty, thereby, of the sin of
profanity (Hebrews 12:16). Jacob, however, recognized the solemnity of the
birthright and wished to possess it. Esau thought of it as of no more value than
a mouthful of food, but Jacob knew something of the sacred significance of the
birthright and was therefore a more fit channel through which the blessing of
God could flow to the seed of Abraham.

As Rebekah is often blamed for the partiality or favoritism she manifested for
Jacob, it may be profitable to consider the matter of preference in family life.
When parents single out one of their children as a favorite and shower more love
and attention upon that one than the rest, such an unwise and unnatural course
inevitably results in jealousy and strife. Although Isaac found "in Esau that
strong practical nature, and energetic character which distinguished the woman
he so dearly loved; and Rebekah saw in the gentle Jacob a replica of the father
who had so strangely attracted her that first day when she met him meditating in
the fields at evening," the partiality was absolutely
indefensible and led to lying and deception on Rebekah's part.

What else can be expected but confusion and trouble when there is a crossing of
purposes between parents concerning their children? Was the root-cause of
Rebekah's unnatural and unmotherly preference of Jacob over Esau and her
treatment of Esau as though he was not, the lack of deep love for her husband,
and that union of moral and spiritual ideas and ideals characteristic of every
true marriage? We are certainly told that Isaac loved Rebekah, but not that she
loved Isaac. Somehow we feel that if husband and wife had been one in all things
in that ancient home, Rebekah would have been more concerned about Jacob's
character than his prosperity. But Isaac was partial to Esau and Rebekah
partial to Jacob-which favoritism resulted in Esau leaving home, and Jacob
fleeing from it. Rebekah's record therefore shows that while Isaac was faithful
to her, she was unfaithful to Isaac in a twofold way. First, she cheated Esau,
her oldest son, and Isaac's pet out of his birthright. Then she cheated Esau out
of his father's blessing, which prerogative had the effect of a testamentary
bequest.

Comparing the chapter of the romantic meeting of Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)
with its perfection of writing, and the dark chapter of Rebekah's deception
(Genesis 28), Alexander Whyte says, "That the ship was launched on such a golden
morning only the more darkens the surrounding gloom when she goes to the
bottom." Then dealing with the secret alienation that developed between Isaac
and Rebekah, the same renowned expositor adds-

When the two twin-brothers were brought up day after day and hour after hour in
an atmosphere of favouritism, and partiality, and indulgence, and injustice, no
father, no mother, can surely need to have it pointed out to them what present
misery, and what future wages of such sin, is all to be seen and to be expected
in that evil house.

One result of Rebekah's preference for Jacob was the spite and the sight of Esau
going out and grieving his parents by marrying two ungodly women. Esau was forty
years old when he did this -the same age at which Isaac married Rebekah. His
parents must have seen in the foreign wives he brought home the firstfruits of
the devil's garden they had sowed for themselves. "Their great grief would seem
to have been almost the only thing the two old people were at one about by that
time." Esau had seen little in his mother to admire and respect; therefore he
was never in any mood to please her. What a different story would have been
written if Esau's home had been "without partiality"!

Her Chicanery

Chicanery is described as the act of one who deliberately deceives, and this was
Rebekah's sin. The destiny of her favorite son, Jacob, was strongly influenced
by his mother's strong-mindedness, and thus she became the authoress of the
treacherous plan to deprive Esau of his father's blessing. Isaac is old, feeble
and blind, and informs the members of his household that the time has come to
give Esau, officially, what was left to him after selling his birthright,
namely, the blessing which carried with it the recognition of his headship, the
ratification of the birthright. So Isaac told his favorite son to take his bow
and arrow and go into the fields, hunt for his much-liked venison, and
make a savory meal. At that time, a meal taken together was a common symbol of a
saved pledge when father and son partook together. In such an hour of sacred
fellowship the father bestowed upon the elder son his rank and place.

Rebekah overheard, and her deceitful heart was stirred to action. She set about
to thwart her husband's purpose. Her favorite son must not be displaced, and her
hopes for him dashed to the ground, by the impetuous hunter whom Isaac loved.
Cunningly she devised the plan of impersonation. While Esau was out in the
fields hunting, Rebekah told Jacob to go to a flock nearby and bring two kids
for her to dress and cook and pass off as venison. While cautious about his
mother's duplicity, he had no conscience against it. What made Jacob hesitant
was the fact that his brother was a hairy man, while his own skin was smooth,
and that if his father felt him and sensed the deception, he would not
bless him, but curse him.

Rebekah, however, was equal to this fear of Jacob, and he followed the counsels
of his treacherous mother. He put the skin of the kids upon his hands and upon
his neck, thus making himself feel and smell like Esau, and so deceived his
aged, blind father. Doubtless Rebekah stood nearby in convenient concealment to
see how her ill-conceived ruse would succeed. Smelling Esau's clothes, and
feeling the false hairy hands, Isaac was a little doubtful and said, "The voice
is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau." But reassured by
the repeated lies of Jacob, the deceived father bestowed the unalterable
blessing upon his son, and Jacob, by fraud, became the father of Israel's
race. To his discredit, he played the role successfully which his mother had
drilled into him with masterly skill. Covetous of the sacred, patriarchal
blessing for her favorite son, Rebekah felt she had to resort to duplicity to
gain her ends, and in doing so she prostituted parental authority. "My son obey
my voice" (Genesis 27:8), and Jacob the misguided son obeyed, and in his
subsequent career bore the bitter fruit of his conduct when Laban deceived him
regarding Rachel.

A deceiver Jacob was
Full of craft and guile;
Thro' long years he bore his guilt,
Unrepentant all the while.

Samuel Morely once said, "I am much what my mother has made me." It was so in a
wrong sense in the life of Jacob, for as in the case of Athaliah, "his mother
was his counsellor to do wickedly" (2 Chronicles 22:3). The thoroughness with
which Jacob carried out his mother's plan of deception is surely one of the
worse features of the narrative. Fearful of the failure of his mother's plot,
Jacob said, "I will bring a curse upon me and not a blessing." But Rebekah
replied, "Upon me be thy curse, my son, only obey my voice." The future scheming
life of Jacob, however, was but the extension of the deceitful qualities of his
mother, and both suffered as the result of adopting false methods to
accomplish right ends.

When Esau found that he had been robbed of his blessing through the cunning
scheme of his mother, he became a remorseless avenger and swore the death of his
brother who was forced to flee for his life to Haran, some 500 miles away.
Rebekah never saw the face of her much-loved son again. To add to her reproach
she had to endure the grief of seeing her other son marry heathen women. Esau's
heathen wives caused Rebekah to be weary of her life (Genesis 27:46). Esau
received a promise from his father that he would be the progenitor of a great
nation-the Edomites-and much misery accrued to Israel because of Edom. The wrath
of Esau's enraged blood boiled in the blood of Herod the Idumean on the
day he reviled the Man of Sorrows.

There are some writers who try to justify the actions of Rebekah by saying that
she was prompted to take the course she did concerning Jacob because of the
prediction that, "the elder shall serve the younger," but God had no need of
trickery and deceit to fulfill His promise. Ambitious for her son, Rebekah
sacrificed the love of her husband, the loss of the esteem of her elder son, and
the peace of her soul, for the idolized son whose face she never saw again.
Without doubt, Jacob was the divinely-appointed heir of Abraham (Genesis 25:23),
and Rebekah seeking to overrule the purpose of Isaac in his blessing of Esau,
resorted to deceit to accomplish the will of God. Her guiding principle
was, "Let us do evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8), but wrong is never right
(James 1:20). Esau had sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, and Rebekah
catered to Isaac's carnal appetite in order to accomplish a divine purpose. Had
she laid aside "all guile, and hypocrisies" (1 Peter 2:1), and reasoned with her
husband about the solemn issue at stake she would have been saved from the
disgrace which her worldly policy brought upon her own head and from the sorrow
others had to endure.

Almost the last picture we have of Rebekah is when she tearfully witnessed the
hasty departure of her favorite son. "A strong-minded, decisive girl had grown
into an autocratic matriarch," and ends her days a brokenhearted woman. When she
died we are not told. Isaac, although much older than Rebekah, was still living
when Jacob returned to Canaan over 20 years later. It is assumed that she died
during Jacob's long absence, and was buried in the cave of Machpelah near Hebron
(Genesis 49:31). A fitting epitaph for her grave would have been, "Died of a
broken heart." The only monument Rebekah has is to be found in the Anglican
marriage service of The Book of Common Prayer where we read-

That as Isaac and Rebekah lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely
perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them.

While she may have been faithful during the first 20 years of marriage while she
was childless, Rebekah, by her unjustifiable treacherous and wholly inexplicable
intervention for her favorite son, stained her solemn marriage.

Reviewing Rebekah's life and character what are some of the warnings to heed?
Are we not forcibly reminded that love which seeks success at the cost of truth
and righteousness is of the earth, earthy? The devil's maxim is, "Nothing
succeeds like success." But from God's standpoint nothing succeeds which does
not follow the way of truth and honesty. Then, while she had physical beauty,
her domination of Jacob and her scheme to deceive her husband revealed the lack
of the beauty of a godly character. Further, Rebekah is a warning to all parents
that there should be no favorites in the family; that all alike should be dear
to them. If there is partiality for any in a family, it should only be
for those who are weak and helpless.

Another warning bell is that when a wife conspires against her husband, or vice
versa, they are guilty of a baseness which language cannot describe. When one
partner finds that he has been betrayed by the other, the world becomes a blank.

The mind has a thousand eyes
The heart but one,
But the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

There is one beneficial application we can make of Rebekah's prompt decision to
follow Eliezer to meet her future bridegroom, Isaac -I will go! In connection
with the higher betrothal of the soul to the heavenly Bridegroom, He comes to
the sinner saying as Eliezer did to Rebekah, "Will you go with Me? Will you
follow Me into that country where saints immortal reign?" When hearts respond to
such an appeal, "Yea, Lord I will go. I will follow Thee, whithersoever Thou
goest!" they are twice blessed.

Today's reading is from: "All the Women of the Bible" by Herbert Lockyer
copyright 1967.

Other material copyright 2010 Bible Gateway except where otherwise noted.


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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Tue 15 Mar 2011, 10:49 pm

Subject: Women of the Bible - Eunice

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WOMEN OF THE BIBLE - Eunice

The Woman Whose Son Became a Famous Evangelist

Scripture Reference: Acts 16:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 2 Timothy
4:5

Name Meaning: Eunice implies "conquering well," and was a name expressive of a
good or happy victory, and in its origin doubtless commemorated some such event.
Nice or "nike" was a favorite ending of female names in the Macedonian age.
Eunice lived up to her name for she conquered in the effort to bring up her son
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Family Connections: Eunice was the daughter of Lois whose name is of Greek
origin. Scripture is silent as to the identity of her father. A Jew, Eunice
married a Gentile, and as nothing is said of him it can be assumed that he was
dead by the time Paul contacted the family.

The commanding feature of the Scriptural record of Eunice and her mother is
their religious influence upon Timothy who, from childhood days had known the
Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-15). These two godly women had trained him up in the
way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). How gratified they must have been when Timothy
set out to do the work of an evangelist! 2 Timothy 4:5). His name, Timothy,
means "one who fears God," and must have been chosen by his Jewish mother, and
not by his Gentile father who probably had little leaning Godward. Evidence
seems to point to the contention that Lois, Eunice and Timothy were won to
Christ by Paul on an earlier visit to Lystra where the family lived Acts
14:6-7). Although Lois and her daughter were women and well-versed in Old
Testament Scriptures, and taught the child Timothy the same, it was Paul who
brought them to see that the One who died upon the cross to save sinners was the
long-promised Messiah. That the Apostle led Timothy to Christ is proven by the
way Paul speaks of him as his "beloved son" and his "son in the faith." How
grateful to God Eunice must have been when Paul chose her much-loved son to be
his companion in his evangelistic work! How she would appreciate the word of
Solomon, "She that bare thee shall rejoice" Proverbs 23:25).

Hereditary piety and personal faith are implied in Paul's reference to the
unfeigned faith which first dwelt in Timothy's grandmother, Lois, then in his
mother, Eunice, and then in himself also. While one parent's faith can sanctify
a child 1 Corinthians 7:14), it is a personal faith in Christ that saves the
soul. Notice is taken of the faith of Timothy's mother, but not of his father.
After Paul's reference to Lois and Eunice in his second epistle to Timothy, they
are not mentioned again. There may be a veiled reference to them, however, in
what Paul had to say about widows and the children of widows 1 Timothy 5:4-5).

The important feature we glean from the record of Timothy is that of the value
of a positive Christian training in the home. Paul seems to be saying to Timothy
in effect, "That you have always been schooled in the Scriptures represents an
inestimable grace, for which you ought always to thank your God." We can be sure
that Timothy constantly praised God for a home wherein His honor dwelt.
Augustine always confessed the debt he owed to his saintly mother, Monica. Not
all children have godly parents and the safeguard of a Christian home, but those
born into a home where Christ is its Head are privileged and grow up to bless
God for their spiritual heritage. Alas, the heartache of godly
parents is to have a child or children who, as they come to the age of
accountability, spurn the Christian influences of the home created for them!

<><
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE
HANNAH
I have poured out my soul before the Lord.1 Sam. i. 15.

HANNAH'S soul was fall of complaint and grief, which flowed over into her
face and made it sorrowful. But when she had poured out her soul before the
Lord,
emptying out all its bitterness, the peace of God took the place of her
soul-anguish, she went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more
sad.
What a glad exchange! How great the contrast! How much the better for
herself, and for her home!

Is your face darkened by the bitterness of your soul? Perhaps the enemy has
been vexing you sorely; or there is an unrealized hope, an unfulfilled
purpose.
in your life; or, perchance, the Lord seems to have forgotten you. Poor
sufferer, there is nothing for it but to pour out your soul before the Lord.
Empty
out its contents in confession and prayer. God knows it all; yet tell Him,
as if He knew nothing. "Ye people, pour out your hearts before Him. God is a
refuge for us." "In everything, by prayer and supplication make your
requests known unto God."

As we pour out our bitterness, God pours in his peace. Weeping goes out of
one door whilst joy enters at another. We transmit the cup of tears to the
Man
of Sorrows, and He hands it back to us filled with the blessings of the new
covenant. Some day you will come to the spot where you wept and prayed,
bringing
your offering of praise and thanksgiving.
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Post  Admin on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 1:20 pm

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE - Phoebe

Scripture Reference: Romans 16:1,2

Name Meaning: Pure or radiant as the moon

We know nothing of this pious female who delivered Paul's "inestimable
packet"--The Epistle to the Romans--to Rome. We just have the brief mention of
her name and service. Phoebe, a devout Christian, bore without change and
without reproach the name of the Moon-Goddess of the Greeks. The goddess
Artemis, known by the common epithet "Phoebe," was supposed to have been
identified with the light of the moon. But the Phoebe whom Paul so highly
commended shone as a light for Jesus, the "Light of the World." That she must
have been a woman of some consequence appears from the fact that she planned a
long journey to Rome on business of her own, and offered to convey to the saints
there Paul's
letter--"an inspired masterpiece of logic which struck the keynote of orthodoxy
for the universal Church through all the succeeding ages."

In some fifty words Paul gives us a beautiful cameo of this saintly servant of
Christ for whom he urged the saints at Rome to do their utmost. The importance
of her visit is indicated by the appeal of Paul to the Romans to "assist her in
whatever matter she had need of." Phoebe was--

A Sister

As used by Paul, this designation implies a spiritual relationship. He calls the
believing husband and wife, "the brother and the sister" (1 Corinthians 7:15;
9:5). Young Timothy was his "son in the faith." Phoebe, then, was a member of a
spiritual family in which the relationship is based upon the redemption of
Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:4-7). Apart
from natural relationships, no woman is my "sister" unless she shares my
experience of God's saving grace through which alone we are made members of His
redeemed family. How or when Phoebe became a Christian and a sister in the Lord,
we are not told. What is evident is the manifestation of her sisterly love
and labors among her sisters and brothers in Christ. "Our sister" is a term
indicating her Christian status.

A Servant of the Church

Phoebe was not only a member of a spiritual family, but likewise a member of the
visible church at Cenchrea when Paul arrived there on his third journey and from
where he wrote Romans. Phoebe was not merely a confessing and active believer,
she was also "a ministrant of the Church." The word for "servant" is diakonos,
from which we have "deacon" or "deaconess." It is not certain whether such an
official female Order as "Deaconess" was in vogue at that time. Phoebe, however,
occupied such a position in the church, and as such could be a teacher of all
female inquirers of the faith, and be active in the relief of the temporal needs
of the poor among the flock. We can safely assume that Phoebe
was one of the first, if not the first, of the noble band of deaconesses in the
Christian Church. If hers was not an official ministry, it was certainly a most
gracious and effective one, and she was indeed one of the forerunners of the
vast army of women who have rendered such loyal service to Christ and His
Church.

A Succourer of Many, and of Myself Also

The word Paul used for "succourer"- -prostatis- -is a most expressive one. It
literally means "one who stands by in case of need." It is classical Greek
describing a trainer in the Olympic games, who stood by the athletes to see that
they were properly trained and not over-trained and rightly girded when they
lined up for the signal. Moule translates the phrase, "She on her part has
proved a stand-by (almost a champion, one who stands up for others) of many,
aye, and of me among them." Phoebe was the unselfish, liberal helper or
patroness of the saints, conspicuous for her works of charity and also
hospitality. To quote Moule again--

"She had been a devoted and it would seem particularly a brave friend of
converts in trouble, and of Paul himself. Perhaps in the course of her visits to
the desolate she had fought difficult battles of protest, where she found
harshness and oppression. Perhaps she had pleaded the forgotten cause of the
poor, with a woman's courage, before some neglectful richer 'brother.'"

As for the personal touch "a succourer ... of myself also," it has been
suggested that Paul had in mind the visit he paid to Cenchrea and, shaving his
head took a Jewish vow (Acts 18:18). "The vow seems to point to a deliverance
from danger to sickness in which Phoebe may have attended him." Because of her
saintliness and practical works, Paul urged the believers in Rome to "receive
her in the Lord, as becometh saints."

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