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MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Sep 2014, 8:38 pm

Women of the Bible Header


Esther


Her name means: "Ishtar," the Babylonian Goddess of Love, or from the 
Persian Word for "Star." Her Hebrew Name, "Hadassah," Means "Myrtle"


Her character: An orphan in a foreign land, she was willing to conceal her 
Jewish identity in a bid for a pagan king's affection. Esther seemed willing
to made moral compromises by sleeping with the king and then taking part in 
a wedding that would necessarily have required her to pay homage to foreign
gods. Even so, she displayed great courage in the midst of a crisis. Prior 
to risking her life for her people, she humbled herself by fasting and then
put her considerable beauty, social grace, and wisdom in the service of 
God's plan.
Her sorrow: To learn that her husband, the king, had unwittingly placed her 
life and the life of her people in jeopardy.
Her joy: To watch mourning turn to celebration once the Jews enjoyed relief 
from their enemies.
Key Scriptures:
Esther 1-10


Her Story


Vashti, queen of Persia, was the most powerful woman in the Middle East, yet 
her power was as fragile as a candle in a storm. Her husband, Xerxes, had
just summoned her to appear before a festive gathering of his nobles. 
Vashti, however, having no intention of parading herself like a prized cow 
in front
of a herd of drunken men, refused.


What should be done to punish her insolence? One of the king's counselors 
spoke for all: "Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but 
also
against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 
For the queen's conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will
despise their husbands and say, 'King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be 
brought before him, but she would not come.' There will be no end of 
disrespect
and discord."


So poor Vashti bore the brunt of every man's fears. She who had refused the 
royal summons was forever banished from the royal presence, and a great 
domestic
uprising was squelched before it even began.


After a while, a search was conducted for a new queen to replace Vashti. It 
so happened that many Jews were living in Persia at the time. Exiled from 
Judah
a hundred years earlier (after Jerusalem's fall in 587 bc), they had been 
deported to Babylon, which in turn was conquered by Persia. Mordecai and his
orphaned cousin Esther were among those living in exile, 650 miles northeast 
of Jerusalem.


Like many other young virgins, the beautiful Esther was gathered into the 
king's harem. To refuse the privilege may well have meant her death. 
Counseled
by Mordecai to keep her Jewish origins a secret, because being a Jew would 
probably have disqualified her from becoming queen, she spent the next 
twelve
months awaiting her tryst with the king. When the moment came, Esther so 
pleased Xerxes that she became queen in Vashti's place.


Some time later, an Amalekite named Haman rose to power in Persia. Haman was 
so highly placed that other officials knelt before him as a sign of respect.
One man, however, the Jew Mordecai, refused to kneel. Haman became so angry 
that he decided to eliminate every Jew in the kingdom.


To ascertain the most favorable moment for destroying them, Haman piously 
consulted his gods by casting lots (or pur). A date eleven months into the 
future
was revealed—March 7 by our reckoning. Haman immediately persuaded Xerxes to 
issue a decree that all the Jews in his realm were to be slaughtered on that
day. By way of incentive, the decree proclaimed that anyone who killed a Jew 
could plunder his possessions.


Mordecai reacted immediately by contacting his cousin Esther and asking her 
to beg Xerxes for mercy. But Esther was afraid and replied, "For any man or
woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the 
king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the
gold scepter to them and spare their lives. But thirty days have passed 
since I was called to go to the king."


Mordecai replied, "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you 
alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time,
relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you 
and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come 
to
royal position for such a time as this?"


So Esther instructed Mordecai, "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in 
Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I
and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, 
even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."


On the third day, Esther approached the king. As soon as Xerxes saw her, he 
held out the golden scepter. "What is it, Queen Esther?" he asked. "What is
your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you."


But Esther merely invited the king and Haman to join her that evening for a 
banquet she had prepared especially for them. That evening the king again 
pressed
her to ask for whatever she desired, but Esther simply invited the king and 
Haman to another banquet, to be held the following night.


That evening, on his way home, Haman caught sight of Mordecai, sitting 
smugly rather than kneeling as he passed by. Haman was outraged, but his 
wife consoled
him by proposing an evil scheme—he need merely build a gallows and then ask 
the king to hang Mordecai on it the next morning.


While Haman was happily constructing a gallows for his enemy, the king was 
pacing the royal bedroom. Unable to sleep, he ordered one of his servants to
read from the annals of the kingdom. That evening's reading just happened to 
be about how Mordecai had once saved the king's life by warning of a plot
against him. It struck the king that Mordecai had never been properly 
rewarded for his loyalty.


So the next morning the king asked Haman: "What should be done for the man 
the king delights to honor?"


Assuming the king intended to reward him in some new and marvelous way, the 
foolish Haman replied with a grandiose suggestion: "For the man the king 
delights
to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the 
king has ridden. Then let one of the king's most noble princes robe the man 
and
lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 
'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!' "


"Go at once," the king commanded him. "Get the robe and the horse and do 
just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew."


Haman was dumbstruck. The man who had planned to bury his enemy was suddenly 
forced to exalt him that very day!


That night, as the king and Haman were once again drinking wine at the 
queen's banquet, the king implored Esther to ask for whatever her heart 
desired.
This time she spoke her mind: "If I have found favor with you, O king, and 
if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare
my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for 
destruction and slaughter and annihilation."


"Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?" the king demanded.


"The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman."


And so Haman's star, which had risen to so great a height, fell suddenly, 
like a bolt of lightning crashing from the sky. He was hanged on the very 
same
gallows he had built for the Jew Mordecai, and all his property was given to 
Esther. Furthermore, the king, because he could not revoke one of his own
edicts, issued another to counteract the first one. It gave Jews throughout 
the empire the right to protect themselves, to destroy and plunder every 
enemy
who might raise a hand against them on the seventh of March.


As news of the king's edict spread, many people from various nationalities 
became so terrified that they claimed to be Jews themselves. The very day 
Haman's
gods had revealed as a day of reckoning for the Jews became a day of 
reckoning for their enemies. Ever after, the Jews commemorated these events 
with the
Feast of Purim. As the book of Esther says, these days were celebrated "as 
the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when
their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of 
celebration."


Subject to foreign powers after the exile, God's people must have felt among 
the weakest elements of society. But weaker even than a Jewish man exiled
to a foreign land was a Jewish woman. And weakest of all would have been a 
young orphan of Jewish descent. God had once again employed one of his 
favorite
methods for accomplishing his purposes: He had raised an imperfect woman, 
the weakest of the weak, placing her in a position of immense strategic 
importance.


But it had been up to Esther to decide whether she would play the part God 
offered. Like Moses, she chose to identify with God's people even if it 
meant
risking her life to do so. And even though exile was a punishment for 
Israel's long unfaithfulness, God showed that he was still with his people, 
delivering
and protecting them in surprising ways, turning the table on their enemies 
through a series of stunning reversals. Earthly powers were at work to kill
and destroy, but a heavenly power, far greater in scope, was at work to save 
and preserve.


Her Promise


God often uses the most unlikely characters to fulfill his purposes. He 
elevates a Jewish orphan to become queen of a great empire. Esther begins as 
a
nobody and becomes a somebody, a woman who somewhat reluctantly risks her 
life to make a stand.


Again, God reveals his penchant for using the most unlikely, ordinary people 
to accomplish his divine purposes. But, you may wonder, could God ever use
you to accomplish his purposes, with all your foibles and imperfections, 
your lack of talent or influence? Yes, he can! He isn't looking for people 
who
are perfect or talented or influential. He is only looking for people who 
are willing.


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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MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Tue 19 Aug 2014, 10:47 pm

The Queen of Sheba

Her character: Though a pagan queen like Jezebel, she prized wisdom above 
power. She appears to have been intellectually gifted, with a good head for 
business
and diplomacy.
Her joy: That her quest for wisdom was rewarded beyond her expectations.
Key Scriptures:
1 Kings 10:1-13
;
Matthew 12:42

Her Story

Sheba was a fragrant land, famous for its perfumes and spices. Located on 
the southwestern tip of Arabia, bordering the Red Sea, it traded precious 
commodities
like gold, frankincense, and myrrh to kingdoms in Africa, India, and the 
Mediterranean. Little wonder that passing caravans brought news of the wide 
world
to Sheba's queen.

Lately, the queen had heard marvelous stories of Solomon, the son of 
Bathsheba and David, now Israel's third king. At his birth, a prophet had 
named him
"Beloved of the Lord." Some said he was the wisest man alive.

The queen smiled as she recalled the tale of the two prostitutes. Both had 
claimed to be mother to the same infant. How could the king possibly know 
who
was telling the truth and who a lie? But Solomon merely ordered the baby cut 
in half, to be divided equally between the two women. He knew the real 
mother
would relinquish her rights rather than let her child perish. Indeed, the 
king's cleverness had quickly revealed the truth, reuniting the heartbroken 
mother
and her child.

The queen had also heard of the fabulous temple and palace Solomon had built 
in Jerusalem. Such a ruler, she realized, would have little trouble 
controlling
the international trade routes crisscrossing his kingdom.

Though Jerusalem lay fifteen hundred miles to the north, the queen was 
determined to see for herself whether Solomon measured up to even half the 
tales
told of him. Hoping to establish a trade agreement with Israel, she 
assembled a caravan of camels and loaded them with precious spices, gems, 
and four
and a half tons of gold. Her entrance into Jerusalem would have created an 
unforgettable spectacle, adding to Solomon's growing fame.

Day after day, the queen pounded Solomon with hard questions. But nothing 
was too difficult for the king to explain. Overawed, the queen exclaimed: 
"The
report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is 
true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own 
eyes.
Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far 
exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your 
officials,
who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord 
your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel.
Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to 
maintain justice and righteousness."

Then the queen gave Solomon all the gold and spices she had brought with 
her, perhaps foreshadowing the Magi's gift of gold, frankincense, and myrrh 
to
the Christ child nearly a thousand years later. In fact, Jesus himself 
referred to the Queen of Sheba when he replied to the Pharisees who had 
demanded
from him a miraculous sign: "The Queen of the South will rise at the 
judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of 
the earth
to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here" (
Matthew 12:42).

Though ruler of a pagan nation, the Queen of Sheba was so drawn to the 
wisdom of God that she made an arduous and dangerous journey, traveling 
three thousand
miles round-trip in order to meet the world's wisest man.

Her Promise

The Queen of Sheba was a wealthy and influential ruler whose nation 
dominated commercial trading in the Middle East at that time. She must have 
had a certain
measure of wisdom, or at least intelligence, to rule such a country. Still, 
she had questions, many of them, and she sought out the region's famed King
Solomon, depending on his wisdom for answers. Solomon didn't disappoint her; 
she went away satisfied.

Do you have any questions that need answers? Questions about yourself? About 
things that have happened in your life? About the will of God? About God's
love for you? If you do, go to the source of all wisdom, God himself, for 
answers. When you diligently seek him, he doesn't always give clear answers,
but he will give peace. And you will go away satisfied. He promises.

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.

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.
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MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jan 2014, 11:47 pm

Martha

Her name means: "Lady" (the feminine form of "Lord" )

Her character: Active and pragmatic, she seemed never at a loss for words. 
Though Jesus chastened her for allowing herself to become worried and upset
by small things, she remained his close friend and follower.
Her sorrow: To have waited, seemingly in vain, for Jesus to return in time 
to heal her brother, Lazarus.
Her joy: To watch as Jesus restored her brother to life.
Key Scriptures:
Luke 10:38-42
;
John 11:1-12:3

Her Story

Martha, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus, lived together in Bethany, a 
village just two miles from Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of 
Olives.
All three were intimate friends of Jesus.

During one of his frequent stays in their home, Martha became annoyed with 
Mary, her indignation spilling over like water from a boiling pot. Instead 
of
helping with the considerable chore of feeding and housing Jesus and his 
retinue of disciples, Mary had been spending her time sitting happily at his 
feet.
Feeling ignored and unappreciated, Martha marched over to Jesus and 
demanded: "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by 
myself?
Tell her to help me!"

But Jesus wouldn't oblige. Instead, he chided her, "Martha, Martha, you are 
worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has
chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her."

Jesus' tender rebuke must have embarrassed and startled her, calculated as 
it was to break the grip of her self-pity and reveal what was really taking
place under her own roof and in her own heart. Perhaps this competent woman 
realized for the first time just how much she had been missing. Distracted
by the need to serve Jesus, she had not taken time to enjoy him, to listen 
and learn from him. Her anger at Mary may have stemmed more from envy than 
from
any concern about being overworked, for her sister had made her way into the 
circle of men to sit at the feet of the Teacher and learn from him.

Martha's story, of course, points to what is really important in life. She 
seemed confused and distracted, conned into believing her ceaseless activity
would produce something of lasting importance. But Martha does more than 
simply instruct through her mistakes. She shows what it is like to have a 
relationship
with Jesus so solid and close that no posturing or hiding is necessary. 
Martha seemed free to be herself in his presence. Where else should she have 
taken
her frustration and anger, after all, but to Jesus?

Martha seems to have worked out her faith directly and actively, 
questioning, challenging, asking Jesus to rectify whatever had gone wrong. 
Her spirituality
was like that of Jacob, who wrestled all night with an angel, or Job, who 
questioned God in the midst of his suffering, or Peter, who stumbled brashly
forward into faith despite his mistakes.

In a later scene, after her brother died, we see Martha running to meet 
Jesus as soon as she heard he was near. Her greeting to Jesus was tinged 
with complaint:
"Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." But faith, 
too, was present: "I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

"Your brother will rise again," Jesus assured her.

"I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day, " Martha 
replied.

"I am the resurrection and the life, " Jesus said. "Anyone who believes in 
me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me 
will
never die. Do you believe this?"

"Yes, Lord, " she told him. "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of 
God, who was to come into the world."

But right after her tremendous expression of faith, Martha's practical side 
reasserted itself. When Jesus asked for the stone to be removed from 
Lazarus' s
tomb, she objected, raising the concern on everyone' s mind: "But, Lord, 
there will be a terrible stink. Lazarus has been there four days!" How 
amazed she
must have been when instead of the stench of death, Lazarus himself emerged 
from the tomb.

The more we delve into Martha's story, the more familiar it seems—as 
familiar as the face gazing at us in the bathroom mirror. A woman who placed 
too much
importance on her own activity and not enough on sitting quietly before 
Jesus, she pleaded for fairness without realizing that her version of 
fairness
was itself unfair. Her commonsensical approach to life made faith difficult. 
But she also loved Jesus and was confident of his love for her. How else 
could
she have found the courage to keep pressing him for answers to her many 
questions? Martha offers a warmly human portrait of what it means to have 
Jesus
as a friend, allowing him to stretch her faith, rebuke her small vision of 
the world, and show her what the power of God can do.

Her Promise

Martha meets Jesus again in
John 11
after the death of her brother, Lazarus. With characteristic forthrightness, 
she tells Jesus that if he had come earlier, Lazarus would not have died.
Her statements open the way for Jesus to declare for all to hear—including 
us today—that he alone is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in 
him,
even if we die, we live. What a promise! What a comfort! Through Jesus, 
death no longer has any power over 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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MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty Re: MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Thu 05 Dec 2013, 12:48 am

MEN OF THE BIBLE.
Read
2 Kings 5:1–19

Naaman, a valiant captain, seeks healing after he is stricken with leprosy.

Seven Times

Healing doesn’t happen overnight. The Bible tells us that Naaman, was told 
to dip seven times in the Jordan River in order to be healed of leprosy. He
couldn’t go to one of the prettier rivers with cleaner waters and just dip 
once. He had to get in the Jordan and bathe there again and again and again.
Healing was a messy process, a choice he had to make. It works the same way 
in our lives. We have to choose to heal, and trust that if we do what God,
the Great Physician asks—forgive those who have wounded and damaged us—there 
will be a change, a good result, strength, and wholeness. That means we can:

list of 7 items
1. Forgive every time we feel anger or mistrust or bitterness. Instead of 
dwelling on the emotions that are eating us alive, we can dwell on all that 
is
good (
Phil. 4:8).
2. Stay in the present moment or think on the future. Instead of rehearsing 
old injustices and letting our lives revolve around the past, we can find a
greater reward by thinking on the future (
Phil. 3:12).
3. Love others enough to let them make their own choices. Instead of loving 
the need to control and insisting on our own choices, we can love others 
enough
to let them decide for themselves (
Ps. 52:8).
4. Let go of the idea of our perceived power and focus. Instead we can focus 
on God’s work in every person and on the power of the cross. We can’t heal
our own hearts. But God promises to be strong when we are weak (
2 Corinthians 12:10).
5. Stop trying to punish those who hurt us with anger and hate. Instead, we 
can let God deal with them. Unforgiveness harms only you, and the damage is
considerable. It keeps you cowardly and stunted, isolated and alone, ugly 
and bitter. Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven because no matter how 
much
you forgive others, he has forgiven you even more (
Matthew 18:22).
6. Stop trusting in ourselves. Instead we can trust in God and follow his 
leading. When we do, he promises to direct our paths (
Proverbs 3:5–6).
7. Believe our wounds can make us stronger. The hard work of therapy makes 
the wounded parts of our hearts even stronger (
1 Peter 5:10).
list end

Point to Ponder

Beyond the things we can do, God is at work too. He is always good. He can 
always be trusted. He is in the business of turning anything bad into 
everything
good. You can trust him with anything—any wound, any circumstance, and 
situation.
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MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE Empty MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Post  Admin on Thu 28 Nov 2013, 1:34 am

Joanna
Her name means: "The Lord Gives Graciously"
Her character: A woman of high rank in Herod's court, she experienced 
healing at Jesus' hands. She responded by giving herself totally, supporting 
his ministry, and following him wherever he went. The story of her healing may 
have been known to Herod himself.
Her joy: To find the tomb empty except for the angels who proclaimed Jesus 
alive.
Key Scriptures:
Luke 8:1-3
;
24:10
(and Matthew 14:1-12 and Luke 23:7-12 for background on Herod and his court)


Her Story


Joanna was a wealthy woman, accustomed to an atmosphere of worldliness. One 
didn't live in Herod Antipas' s courts without learning to navigate the 
powerful
currents of intrigue that swirled continuously around his throne. But 
nothing had so troubled and sickened her as the death of the prophet John. A 
holy
man murdered for speaking the plain truth, his head was carried to Herodias 
on a platter, like a tantalizing dish to satisfy her appetite for revenge.
How sad she had been as she watched Jesus grieving his cousin's murder.


Joanna's own life had been so altered by Christ that she may have hoped to 
influence Herod on his behalf. Married to Cuza, the manager of Herod's vast
estates, she was well-positioned for the task. How intently Herod would have 
listened as she recounted the details of her miraculous healing. But after
John's death, Joanna must have wondered what would become of Jesus should he 
ever have the misfortune of falling into Herod's hands. And what, for that
matter, would become of his followers?


Though Joanna would have realized the escalating risks that faith required, 
there is not the slightest evidence she flinched from them. Unlike 
Nicodemus,
she made no effort to hide her admiration for Jesus. Along with other women, 
she provided for his needs from her own purse. Perhaps her gifts made it 
just
a little easier on this teacher who had no place to lay his head (
Matthew 8:20).


All we really know of Joanna, in addition to her status as Cuza's wife, is 
that Jesus cured her of some spiritual or physical malady, that she was 
among
a group of women who traveled with Jesus and his disciples, that she 
supported his ministry out of her own means, and that she was present at 
Jesus' resurrection
along with Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James. Whether her faith 
cost her dearly or little in either her marriage or at court is a matter for
speculation.


Joanna was probably among the women present at the crucifixion. And like the 
others who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body, she must have fallen on
her face in awe of the angels who greeted her with astonishing news: "Why do 
you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! 
Remember
how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man 
must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the 
third
day be raised again.' "


She would have run with the others to tell the disciples of the incredible 
discovery. Though Peter and the other disciples discounted the story as the
ravings of hysterical women, Joanna would hardly have doubted herself. For 
she was a woman who lived in an atmosphere of power, and she had just 
witnessed
a far greater power than Herod's. She would have recognized it as the same 
power that had healed her.


It didn't matter that her husband served a man opposed to Christ; Joanna 
knew where her allegiance belonged. A woman of high rank, she became part of 
the
intimate circle of Christ's followers, casting her lot with fishermen and 
poor people rather than with the rich and the powerful. God honored her by 
making
her one of the first witnesses of the resurrection.


Her Promise
Joy comes in the morning. Joanna discovered this in a miraculous way on 
Jesus' resurrection day. She went to his tomb expecting to minister to his 
dead
body and to grieve. Instead, her sorrow turned to tremendous joy. Our joy 
may not come this morning or tomorrow morning or even the morning after 
that.
We face too many hardships, too many difficult situations, too much sorrow 
here on earth to think joy will arrive with each morning. But it will come.
He has promised. At the end of the day, at the end of this life, there will 
be a joyful morning for all who trust in him.


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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