Monday, November 30, 2015

Mary -- chosen to raise God's Son

For the next three weeks, leading up to Christmas, we are going to focus on just one woman of the Bible. I think it's really appropriate for us to study Mary in this season, and there is so much for us to learn from her -- we could study her even longer!

Mary has been held up as the model of motherhood. Her love and faithfulness, her willingness to serve God . . . we would do well to imitate her, no? But why did God go to a tiny town called Nazareth? We read in the Bible that Nazareth was not highly thought of. It was a small town, kinda off the beaten path. The nearby city of Sepphora was much more highly thought of - I guess that was where the action was. Probably when the kids from Nazareth were growing up, they cast longing glances toward Sepphora and said that was where they were going, when they could!
Nazareth was an agricultural town, so perhaps that is all that folks meant; it was small, rural, nothing remarkable about it. Or Nazareth could have had a reputation -- perhaps not very moral or religious.

At any rate, God chose Nazareth, because it was there that Mary lived. A girl who was barely a teenager, who lived in a small, humble cottage. He chose her to be the mother of Jesus. And He told her that she was highly favored by God.

What was it in Mary that caught the attention of our creator? Let's read first the 26-28th verses of Luke, chapter 1:
 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

We are not told directly (no bullet points or anything) what caused her to be chosen, or exactly why she was "highly favored," but we can see some reasons if we study her further.

One reason she was highly favored was because she had the right outlook -- the right perspective on life. Nowadays we'd say she had the right worldview.
What do you think this teen was thinking when Gabriel tapped her on the shoulder? I would think that being visited by an angel would be not only exhilarating, but terrifying! She was probably frightened, and then possibly on edge, thinking about what the message was . . .

After all, she was engaged at the time to Joseph. An older man, he was a solid, respectable and godly member of the Nazareth community. Engagements at the time were a lot more serious than they are today. Guys and gals today get engaged and "un-engaged" so swiftly it can make your head spin. They sometimes regard it as rather inconsequential -- and then those are sometimes the ones whose marriages also end pretty easily. But in Mary's time, things were different. An engaged woman could not be divorced without a "bill" of divorcement, and if she was suspected of unfaithfulness, she could be divorced or even put to death. If her fiancee died, she was considered a widow -- and we've seen before that the situation of a widow was less than ideal.

So here is what Mary could be facing: as her "special" pregnancy became known, she could face many troubling possibilities. She could be rejected by Joseph, and face raising her child alone in a culture that did not value women very highly. Her reputation in Nazareth would take a hit, and she risked losing her life if Joseph accused her of unfaithfulness.

We can see, too, that Mary may have felt insecure -- unworthy for this awesome task of being the mother of God the Son, Who would be the savior of the world. We can't fault her for that, can we? Others have hesitated (or even balked) at God's calls in the past. Remember what Moses said? He was right there at the burning bush; he was not facing an angel, but God Himself.

"Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
"What if they don't believe me?"
"I don't speak very well."
"Please send someone else to do it!"
Moses was facing a pretty tough challenge, no? But I think Mary's challenge was even larger -- she'd been told she would have a child as a virgin, and that the child would be conceived through the Holy Spirit; He would be the Son of God, and the Redeemer of mankind. She could have said all kinds of things . . . "I'm just a girl, Lord."
"I'm not ready to be a mother."
"I'm not well educated."
"Joseph may accuse me and have me killed."
"Maybe you should choose someone else."
 But this is what she said: "I am the Lord's servant, may it be as you have said."
She knew Who God was -- the Lord Almighty -- and she knew who she was: His servant. She knew that nothing was impossible for her God, Yahweh. If God spoke it, it was going to happen. And even if she didn't understand the "how" or the consequences, she was going to go along with Him, for she was His servant.
And if the Lord Almighty wanted to give her the task of raising the Son of God, then she would accept it.
Later in chapter 1 of Luke's gospel, Mary's song is recorded, and in it she tells how she is rejoicing, and how she is blessed by God.
She sees her situation now as an honored one. She has been given a gift. She saw that this Life was to be knit in the womb by the hand of the Almighty (as are all wee babes) and that it would be her responsibility to raise Jesus for God. She probably had no clue what all of that would mean -- did any of us know that as teens? (Grin)
Whether we are moms or grandmoms, or we have no children of our own, but are aunts or neighbors, we all share a responsibility to influence the children around us for God. We may feel overwhelmed. We may feel totally inadequate for the task. But like Mary, we can be assured that "nothing is impossible with God." With God on our side, nothing is impossible. Do we believe that?

God looked upon Mary with favor because she had the right perspective: she knew that first and foremost, she was a servant of God. And she believed that nothing was impossible with God.

We'll see more reasons she "found favor" in our next study.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Conclusion of Thanksgiving week

Here's hoping that all of you had a lovely, blessed, and happy Thanksgiving!

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  1. We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
    He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
    Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
  2. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
    Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
    So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
    Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
  3. We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
    And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
    Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
    Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving III

Truly Thanksgiving breaks out in our hearts when we realize that the same awesome Creator that placed the stars and planets in the heavens, is interested in the details of our lives!

Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving II

Again today, here is a song of praise and thanks to the Lord. I hope that you are enjoying this week and lift your heart in praise with us.

VERSE: Lord, I am thankful; thankful for the Name of Jesus; thankful for the Blood that cleans us. Lord, I'm thankful for You each day. Each day I am thankful; thankful for the Spirit's leading; thankful that in You there's healing. Lord, I'm thankful for You.

CHORUS: Oh let my spirit soar in worship to Your Name. My life is not the same by the power of Your Blood. And every moment that I breathe, Your Spirit leads and meets my every need of walking in the Light of You.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the United States, this is our Thanksgiving week . . . on Thursday, many of us will gather around the table with family and friends. Believers will be counting their blessings and praising the One Who makes them all possible.

I've chosen some songs this week that I hope will be inspiring for us in the US, and for those who follow our blog elsewhere.

We lift up happy, grateful hearts to You, Oh Lord. Thank you for all You have given to us so freely.

This song by Brianna Haynes sums it all up:

Orange and yellow autumn leaves
Falling from the colored trees
Outside of your thanksgiving feast
Family favorites in the air
A time to give, a time to share
The love you have is everywhere 
To love, to life, to hope, to dreams
To all whose thankful hearts you bring

Thank You for the air I breathe
Thank You for the love I need
Thank You for the joy inside of me
You give us hope, You plant the seed
You harvest every heart in need 
Thank You for the love you've given me

Special people by your side
Open fires and pumpkin pies
The years they catch you by surprise
The seasons joy is at your door
There's so much to be grateful for
So much you have and there is so much more
To faith to friends to joy to cheer
To celebrate another year

All the beauty on this planet
Every moment took for granted
Here's the chance to get it right 
All the blessings you've been handed
Every memory life makes candid
Here's to living here's to life

You hold me up when I can reach
You give me strength when I'm too weak
Thank You for the love you've given me
Thank You

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday slowdown

Jesus healed Joanna, and changed her life.

Those of us who know Him can point to our changed lives, too.

He has started a fire in our souls . . . let's keep it going, and tell anyone and everyone about Him!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Joanna - healed and heard

We've seen that our lady this week, Joanna, was healed by Jesus, and then she supported His ministry and shared the gospel in the palace. She was healed, and she was heard. One more time, we will see that she is heard . . .

Joanna was one of the grief-stricken women who made the sad trip to the tomb on that very first Lord's Day. Their steps were probably slow, and their parcels of spices and oils to anoint His battered body probably felt so very heavy. As they walked, they may have wondered aloud about the events of the last few days.

They might also have consoled themselves, as we humans do, by thinking of special memories of their lost One. Perhaps each of them re-told the story of how they came to know the Master. Mary could have told the story of His releasing her from the demons. Joanna could speak of how He had healed her, after many expensive consultations from doctors had been ineffective.

I wonder if they asked each other, "How are we going to move the stone?"
To their amazement, when they walked up the pathway to the tomb in which Joseph of Arimethea had allowed them to place the Lord, they saw that the stone was already rolled away!
The tomb was empty!
The Lord Jesus was alive -- He was no longer counted among the dead.

Suddenly the women saw two beings in clothing that was as bright as lightning, and these beings spoke to them:

                    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 over to the hands of
                     sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again." (Luke 24:5b-7)

Perhaps still trembling with fear and emotion, the women must have looked at each other -- how could they have forgotten? Yes! He did say that! And this is the third day!

We can be sure that they could not contain their joy. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, must have run as fast as they could -- the Bible tells us they went straight to the apostles. They must have joyously told the news, their words tumbling over each other's in their excitement. They probably were breathless from their running, and all of this made the apostles skeptical.  It was difficult to understand them in their excited state, and what they were saying was incredible!

He is alive! The Master has risen!
Peter was probably just like all the others at first, but then he begins to wonder. Perhaps their words are not "idle tales" and perhaps he'd better go and check it out!

We know the rest of the story: Peter and another disciple dash to the tomb, and while one waits outside, Peter barges right in and sees the graveclothes there, empty. Then he believes the women. The rest of the disciples were clued in on things, and then Jesus appeared to small groups and large, before He ascended into heaven.

We don't know for sure, but I like to think that it's very logical that Joanna would have been among the group that day. Looking joyfully into the heavens, she would have been "all fired up" to spread the Word to everyone. She was there at the cross, and there at the empty tomb. She was among the first to proclaim that the Lord, whom she loved so dearly and served so well, was risen indeed.

Oh, that this was true in all of our lives. . . Surely we have been healed of our sins, just as Joanna was healed of sickness and sin. We know for a certainty that Jesus is alive -- we have proof in our own lives each day. Let's determine to re-kindle that fire within us; let's tell anyone and everyone of our Lord and Savior!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Joanna - healed and heard

This week we are studying Joanna; she's a woman of wealth, of influence, and more. We saw last time that she was ill, and that Christ Jesus healed her. Now let's follow her story a little further.

Did you see in the verses the name of her hubby? Chuza was Herod's steward. That word has been translated various ways: domestic manager, guardian, steward, even tutor.  Sounds like he wore many different hats, doesn't it?  One of the commentaries said this, "....a curator, a guardian, a steward or manager of a household or lands, an overseer; one who has the care and tutelage of children, whether the father is dead (a guardian of minors) or alive." (Thayer)

Oy. Sounds like he would have been called "stressed out" by today's standards. He must have been a man of great intelligence, wit, and personality to hold that position. Maybe Joanna and Chuza were among those mentioned in Matthew:

                At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus and said
                to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead! 
                That is why miraculous powers are at work in him! (Matthew 14:1-2)

Wowser. Can you imagine being in Joanna's sandals? She was literally in the enemy's territory. She had probably heard the conniving and scheming when Herodias wanted John the Baptist killed. She had probably averted her eyes, and then wiped tears away, as the platter with his head was brought to the wicked Herodias. How she must have mourned for her Healer, as He coped with the death of his cousin. And how she must have feared for her life, even as she spread the gospel inside the palace.

Perhaps she even trembled with fear:

               And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
               And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words
               of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
               (I Corinthians 2:3-4)

But as a child of the King she simply had to tell others! To speak her joy abroad, as the hymn-writer has said. Many times Christians find themselves in very unlikely places where they can be a witness for Christ Jesus. Would you have thought that a prison in Rome, very likely in or near the palace of the insane Nero would have been an ideal place for Paul to spread the word? But in Philippians we read:

                Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 
                All the saints here greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. 
                (Philippians 4:21-22)

Joanna was in just that kind of a position. And the commentators have found a clue that may indicate her witness did pay off:

                Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and
                teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of 
                Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, 
                and Saul. (Acts 13:1)

"who had been brought up with"...... that could also be translated "a fellow nursling." My commentary said that Manaen was a foster-brother to Herod, the son of Herod's nurse. He grew up with Herod, was educated with him, and could have been a part of the household when he was grown. Maybe he was one of the people that Joanna told her story! She'd been healed, and now she was being heard . . . telling all who would listen.

Joanna also ministered to Jesus. She was definitely a part of helping others to hear His message. The KJV says that she gave of her "substance." That means material possessions: her money, perhaps some property that belonged to her, etc. She was healed, and now she had a desire to support Jesus' work. Her gifts were used to meet the needs of Jesus and His disciples. Joanna was different from Nicodemus; she didn't follow quietly, or from afar. Her heart must have overflowed with joy as she had a part in meeting the needs of the One who had done so much for her.

Joanna also was one of the women at the cross. Her heart was broken as she looked up and saw her beloved Master dying. She was unafraid, even as a wealthy and aristocratic woman, to be there at the cross. Jesus had healed her and saved her; innocent of any crime, He was dying in agony, as a common criminal.

Sometimes it seems that we are callous to the death of Christ. We have heard it so often. We take it for granted that He was crucified, and sometimes we don't give it much thought. Or perhaps it makes us feel guilty anew, to think of the nails piercing His hands and feet; to picture the spear being thrust into His side; to think of His struggling to raise His body so that He could breathe -- so that He could speak His words arranging His mother's care, and then His words of passion and victory. The suffering is difficult for us to imagine, and many times it is too painful for us.

But if we fully understand what He did for us on the cross, it helps us to live our lives for Him. It helps us to make those choices that keep us close to Him. We honor God's gift -- the most precious thing He could give.

                For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or
                gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down
                to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a 
                lamb without blemish or defect. (I Peter 1:18-19)

Jesus had healed her body and soul; so Joanna ministered to Him while He was alive. We will see tomorrow that she continued to minister to Him after His death.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Verses that inspire

Recently several of the larger planets "lined up" to a point where earth-bound skywatchers could see all three of them in the eastern sky.

I don't know about you, but things like that evoke a response from me. I'm awestruck just to walk out on our deck and look up past the silent oaks to see thousands of stars twinkling. (We live where there are no lights to hamper our stargazing.) 

These verses come to mind as I look above: Have some verses inspired you lately?

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Have some verses inspired you lately? Leave a comment to tell us, and let's share the blessings that we receive from His Word!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Joanna - healed and heard

Have you heard of a lady in the Bible named Joanna? Do you know where to find her story? Don't hang your head in shame; many people don't remember her. But she was an integral part of Jesus' ministry and in the spread of the Gospel -- we can learn a lot from her!

Let's dive in!
                   After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)
These verses introduce us to Joanna; she was cured by Jesus of a disease, or released by Him from the clutches of evil spirits. Her life was changed, and she helped Jesus while He was on earth.

We see her mentioned again, later in Luke:
            The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. (Luke 23:55)
And lastly, in the next chapter we see her again:      
           On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “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 over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (Luke 24:1-12)
There are several translations of the name, "Joanna" -- it can mean "Jehovah hath shown favor" or "the Lord is grace" or "gift of God."

God certainly did show favor to Joanna, and she was a gift in the lives of many. Let's look at the background for our story . . .

Joanna was a very wealthy woman; as the wife of the manager of Herod's vast and prosperous estates, she would have had plenty of money and lots of material possessions. She would have been quite comfortable in the scheming and intrigue of the court, for she was highly regarded, as was her husband, Chuza (some translations note his name as Cuza).
At some point, she became ill. We don't know if Joanna was demon-possessed, or if she suffered from a mental or physical illness. A rich and powerful woman would have been able to consult with many noted physicians, but it's apparent that none of them were able to effect her healing. Perhaps she came to Jesus as a skeptic, or just as a last resort -- but she left a changed woman.
He healed her body and He changed her life. She was different.

Whenever anyone came into contact with the Lord Jesus, they were never quite the same. Some went away happy. Some left angry. It's the same today . . . people will always go away different. When you talk to someone about Jesus, they might become irritated, angry, or hostile. Or they may become repentant, relieved, and joyful.

Joanna went away healed. But in reality, she never went away! She began to support His ministry with her money and her material goods, and probably her influence, as well. She traveled with them, too. She gave her life to Him.

We'll see as we study that this had profound effects on Joanna, and on the people around her.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday slowdown

Not only did Noah wait for God's promise while he built the ark, but he waited patiently for the waters to recede, as well. Noah spent much of his time waiting.

It's difficult sometimes to wait on the Lord.

But the rewards are so worth it.

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait
I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Noah's wife

This week we are studying a lady whose name we don't even know! We've seen that she was a righteous lady, and that she had great compassion.

She also must have been quite strong in her faith.  Can you imagine what you would think? What if your hubby said that God told him to spend years and years building a big boat, and then to load it up with all kinds of animals . . . and then to get all of your family on the boat, too? And then to know that you have to stay on that boat filled with animals for over a year? Wow. That would test anybody's faith! I wonder if Noah's wife heard from God, too. The Bible doesn't tell us if she had confirmation from the Lord, or not.

It's hard to know for sure if the Father is speaking to us, isn't it? Sometimes when we are facing a decision or situation that we aren't sure what we should do, we feel like it would be nice to have a sign. Moses had a burning bush -- maybe we could at least have a small sign to lead us? Just something to confirm if we are headed in the right direction.

Perhaps Noah's wife had strong faith because of her years of serving God. I bet she had seen Him provide for her family, and she knew that she could trust Him in the present and the future. How can we develop that kind of faith in today's world? We can do it by spending time with God. By taking time each day to listen to Him and study His Word, we can be more familiar with that small voice that speaks to us. And we can hear the Spirit speak to us in the passages we read in the Bible. Each day as we grow closer to Him, we can see more clearly that His plans for us are good, and that we can trust Him. We can obey Him in the smaller tasks that He gives us, and that will make it easier to obey Him when He calls us to something that seems "too big" for us.

The Bible doesn't tell us about any certain times that Noah and his family worshiped God, or about the ways that they worshiped. But the Bible does tell us that they were a godly family, so we can assume that they kept Him and their worship important parts of their everyday lives. Even with boys to raise, the daily routine of managing her household, and laying in supplies for the long time on the ark, Noah's wife must have had her priorities "straight." Keeping our priorities in order can often be quite a challenge. We live in a world where we are as busy as bees. We juggle families, careers, church activities, and whatever else we can fit into our schedules before we fall into our beds, exhausted.

Remember when Jesus instructed Martha when she complained about Mary? She spoke to Jesus and was frustrated because Mary was sitting at His feet, instead of helping her with the meal preparations. Like Martha, we must be careful not to miss the most important thing. The absolutely most vital thing that we can do for ourselves and our families is to spend time with the Lord and to study His Word. If we make that a priority, the other details of our lives will fall into place.

                     But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these 
                     things will be given to you as well.  (Matthew 6:33)

Noah's wife must have kept her focus on God, for she exemplified the virtues of great faith, righteousness, and compassion for others. She led a life that is a godly example for us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Noah's wife

This week we are going to study a lady whose name we don't know! Noah's wife is never actually named in the Word, even though she has an important role to play. The scriptures to read for this week are lengthy, so I'm going to put the references here, and ask you to please read them, and then come back here for our study. OK?

Genesis 5:32, Genesis 6 - 9  (Read carefully, even though it's very familiar to us.)

We'll wait for you!

OK, now we are ready to dive in!

Imagine that you are living in a world that is absolutely filled with wickedness . . .

                   The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had 
                   become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of
                   the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)

Does that sound familiar? (Grin) It sounds very much like the world that we are living in, today. Noah and his wife were busy raising their three sons, and struggling to protect them from the forces for evil in the world.

They must have done a very good job. The Bible says that Noah "found grace" (KJV) in the eyes of the Lord, and that he and his family were to be spared from the devastation to come:

                  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. This is the account of
                  Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among 
                  the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had
                  three sons: Shem, Ham and Japeth.  (Genesis 6:8-10)

Is that an awesome way to be described, or what? Wouldn't we love to have someone say that about us?  If scripture tells us that Noah was righteous, and that he walked with God, then I guess we can imagine his wife as a righteous person as well.  She must have been a supportive and loving woman, who helped raise their three sons in such a way that all of them were to be saved on the ark. I'm certain that when they were small, they told them the stories of Adam and Eve, and of Cain and Abel. They had good examples there of the temptations and the consequences of doing right and wrong. Noah and his wife did their parenting well.

In our wicked world today, we are tasked with telling and teaching others about God, too. If we have children, it's one of our most important jobs. If we don't have children, our lives still teach others who may be watching to see how we live. How we react to and handle the everyday obstacles (and joys) of life. We need to be mindful of setting a good example; not just talking about what we believe, but living it for all to see.

I believe Noah's wife must have been a woman of compassion, as well as righteousness. Imagine if your husband is building a huge ark, and people are stopping by to ask "what in the world is Noah doing?" Noah was urging his neighbors to repent, I'm sure, and telling them about the destructive rains to come. What do you think their responses were? I expect that they believed he was crazy. The Bible seems to indicate that it took many years to complete the ark, so I bet that the people pointed to that, as well. How can you believe that, Noah, when it's been so many years since you say God told you to build this monstrous boat?

But she didn't laugh. She loved him, and I bet she helped him. I believe that she was devoted to him, no matter how long it took till the rains came. And I bet she wasn't necessarily looking forward to sharing the ark with all those animals, either. But she still helped Noah, and encouraged him. This woman of compassion probably even urged the neighbors to listen to him, so that perhaps they would be spared.

I'm betting, too, that she was an example of the verse, "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (Proverbs 31:27) In addition to helping Noah, she would have her usual routine of caring for the household, making clothing and linens, preparing meals, etc. We can adopt that good attitude, as well:

                  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also
                  to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as 
                  that of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:4-5)

Loving service.
Even if we are not married, there are opportunities around us to serve others. Whether it is reaching out to those who are in need, or simply being a good team-player at work, at church, or at home, Christ has given us an example of how to put others and their needs before our own.

We may not know Noah's wife's name, but we can see that she was righteous, and compassionate. We'll conclude our study of her life tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mercies in disguise -- prayer requests

We're closing in on the time of year when many of us focus on the blessings that we have received. It is truly a good idea to set aside a time, even a holiday, when we think about these things.

But what if we aren't feeling particularly blessed?

What if, like in yesterday's notes, we are facing obstacles? A Jericho?

This song brought me to tears recently, for it contains some simple truths that we have as head knowledge, but perhaps need to be reminded of, in our hearts  . . .

Do we grow impatient when we think He does not hear us? Do we begin to doubt? Even though we have a Bible packed with promises from Him? He hears our whispered (or shouted) pleas, and longs for us to grow up in our faith in Him.
We pray for blessings, we pray for peace. Comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity. We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering. And all the while, You hear each spoken need, Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops. What if Your healing comes through tears. What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near. What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.
We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear. We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near. We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love. As if every promise from Your word is not enough. And all the while, You hear each desperate plea. And long that we'd have faith to believe.
'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops. What if Your healing comes through tears. What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near. What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.
When friends betray us, When darkness seems to win, We know that pain reminds this heart, That this is not,This is not our home. It's not our home.
Here is a link to this song if you would like to listen:  

Have you a prayer request that you'd like to share? Let us help you with your burdens, and let's all encourage each other with reports of answered prayers . . .