Monday, February 29, 2016

Very desperate housewives - two weeks' study

Did I get your attention? (Grin)

No, I'm  not working from the script of the television show . . .  I'm working from some verses in the book of Genesis.
These two desperate housewives were actually married to the same husband! You know to whom I am referring, now?
Both desperate. But in different ways.
Let's set the stage with our scripture, OK?

                 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well's mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.
Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well's mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman, and that he was Rebekah's son, and she ran and told her father.
13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him,“Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing. (Genesis 29)
Yes, this is a story with deceit, jealousy, and tons of emotion in it, don't you agree? We can see as we read, that there are pitfalls coming. We have an exciting two weeks ahead!

I hope you will read Genesis 29 through 35, so that we'll be ready for our studies.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday slowdown

Every single word I say
You know it before I speak
You know every thought
The deepest part of me

You draw me close and then I see
Your presence is every thing I need to be
The child that you've created me to be
Ready now to see it your way

Lay down my pride
My desires my demise
Ready now to see it your way
Cause I'm done I'm through ignoring you now it's true
I'm kneeling at the cross of your grace
Lay down my pride

I was faced with passing time
But I knew the choice was mine
To finally come to you
And give you all control
I've wandered miles to find my way
And then you revealed this simple thing
I know that you can see the secrets of my soul

Lay down my pride
My desires my demise
Ready now to see it your way
Cause I'm done I'm through ignoring you now it's true
I'm kneeling at the cross of your grace
Lay down my pride

The cross the blood you shed for me
Your back was ripped and bruised
So I can know your love
I kneel I bow to you my king

Thursday, February 25, 2016

No Disney princess here - Jezebel, conclusion

This princess from Sidon who became the queen is so puffed up with arrogance! We'll see more of her today, and then see how the end of the story went . . .

After the miracle on Mount Carmel, Elijah fled to the south, away from Jezebel and her threats. Jezebel needed to find something to do, I suppose, so when she found her husband despondent because he couldn't convince Naboth to sell his land to him, she was delighted to move things along.

King Ahab was pouting - Naboth's vineyard was lush and fruitful. It stands to reason, Ahab thought, that the land would make a lovely vegetable garden so that he could enjoy fresh produce at his meals. Just imagine; Naboth was such a stingy guy that he refused to sell to the king. The nerve of some people!

Jezebel jeered at her sulking husband, and told him he wasn't acting like a king. And (cue the ominous music here) she told him she would get the vineyard for him.

The arrogant queen thought up her scheme and put it in motion: she wrote a letter in Ahab's name and sent it to the elders of the town. In the letter, she instructed them to produce false witnesses who would accuse Naboth of crimes. They did as they were told, and the witnesses confirmed that Naboth had cursed against both God and the king -- both offenses were punishable by death.

She meant business, didn't she? Wow.
With Naboth stoned to death and now only a memory, Ahab was a happy man. He was strolling in his newly-acquired garden when --
Who is that walking toward King Ahab?
Why, it's Elijah!
The king greeted him with annoyance, I'm sure. The Bible scholars say that the word Ahab used to refer to the prophet means "snake."
Elijah told him that Yahweh knew what he and the queen had done, and that He would bring disaster upon him; He would cut off all of Ahab's descendants and every last male in Israel, even the slaves. He also foretold of their deaths . . .

An interesting note here is that King Ahab actually repented! He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and was a changed man -- probably was quite annoying to Jezebel, I'm sure! He did die just as Elijah foretold, and then Jezebel survived him for about ten years. Did she pay attention to the fact that her hubby died in just the way the man of God said he would? Did she turn from her arrogance and evil?
One day a man named Jehu, who would be important in the history of Israel, rode toward the palace. Jezebel heard he was coming, and carefully applied her makeup and made sure she looked her best. She shouted insolently to him as he stood in his chariot below her window, the horses stamping impatiently. Jehu ignored her insults and challenged those near her to "throw her down!" And they did . . . I expect they were sick and tired of her evil, scheming ways. The horses and the dogs completed the work that Elijah foretold years ago. She was a powerful person in life; in death, there was no honor, not even enough of her left to bury.

What can we learn from Jezebel? She was an ardent worshiper of false idols, but surely there is nothing there that applies to us? It's true that Baal worship is far from us, with its horrid practices, but aren't false gods just as prevalent today? Look at how we worship sports figures, movie stars, millionaires, and reality show actors. Look at how our society puts so much emphasis on money, sex, and power. We must guard our hearts, and remember that anything that takes God's place in our lives can become an idol,

             If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

And what about her arrogance, and pride? Do we need to guard against those sins, as well?

                    To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,    evil behavior and perverse speech. (Proverbs 8:13)

              Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
              (James 4:10)
This was a princess that we don't want to imitate . . . we are children of the King, so let's guard our hearts against arrogance and false idols!
See you next week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

No Disney princess here (Jezebel)

This week we're studying one of the "bad girls" of the Bible; Jezebel was a princess of Sidon who married a wicked king - the king of Israel, Ahab!

Jezebel is a study in arrogance: she was a religious woman who held powerful convictions about her idols. She was presented with proofs of the one true God, but her pride and lust for power caused her to ignore those proofs.

Let's dive in!

In I Kings 18:1-19:2 (I know, it's a long passage, but if you read it, you will be amazed! There is so much action, drama, and even humor, that it will be done before you know it!), we see that Jezebel is devoted to the pagan fertility god, Baal, whose worship includes sexual immorality. Baal is thought to control the rain, so he is ultimately in control of the harvest, right? The Bible tells us that Jezebel is so anxious to convert all of Israel to the worship of Baal that she hunts down and kills all the prophets of Yahweh that she can get her hands on.
Now, don't despair. Obadiah has hidden one hundred of the Lord's prophets, and there is one very famous one that has eluded her, as well: Elijah. Boy, was he annoying to Ahab and Jezebel! He warned them that there would be a drought in the land for the next few years -- and wow, what a drought! Not only would there be no rain, there wouldn't even be dew on the grass and plants! You know, even when we experience some dry weather nowadays, we will feel dew on the grass in the afternoon or evenings . . . a light layer of moisture, it helps sustain the vegetation until the next shower or storm. Israel would not even have dew for over three years.

I'm sure that the Queen instructed her priests and prophets and temple workers to do everything they could, but it just didn't work. In her arrogance and devotion to the idols, she pushed them hard to make things happen. It must have been quite frustrating to wake up day after day, and realize that Baal hadn't allowed it to rain. Again. (Grin)

Here comes that annoying upstart, Elijah. He issues a challenge to the king and queen. What would they call it today? A smackdown? Elijah wasn't avoiding confrontation -- he was starting one!

He said for them to meet him on the mountain top. They were to assemble the prophets of both Baal and Asherah, and the contest would be roughly 850 to 1. Two bulls would be prepared there for sacrifice, but no human was to light the fire on either one. Instead, the fires would be lit from heaven, thereby proving which deity was real.

Elijah graciously allowed the false prophets to go first. All morning long they chanted and danced, and called out for Baal to answer their calls. All they heard was a few crickets chirping. Elijah begins to taunt them (I'm sure this went over really well with Jezebel), "Y'all need to shout louder! He might be asleep or deep in thought!" Bible scholars say that his taunts included a word that meant perhaps Baal was in the bathroom, so Elijah was being downright insulting! His words spurred them on to more frantic shouts and they even began to cut themselves with their knives and spears, pleading with Baal to answer.

Of course, nothing happened.
Then Elijah took twelve stones and built his altar, and prepared the bull. He even instructed his helpers to pour lots and lots of water over the whole kit and kaboodle -- if it was lit, it would surely be seen as a miracle! (There was so much water that it ran off and filled the trench around the altar.) Then Elijah called on the one true God, saying, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant and have done these things at your command."
Immediately, fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil under them, and the water in the trench.
The people, who had been sitting squarely on the fence, trying to decide whether to serve God or Baal, fell on their faces and worshiped God. Elijah told them to seize and slaughter all of the prophets of Baal and Asherah. All 850 died that day.

Can't you just imagine that irked Jezebel? But wait a minute, didn't she hear about the miracle? Wasn't she convinced of the holiness and power of God? Didn't she turn from her worship of Baal?

In a word, no.
This arrogant woman sent word to Elijah that his life was very much in danger. She was after him now, more than ever!
We'll conclude our study of Jezebel tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Verses that inspire

Are you running low on hope?

If we have an imaginary gas tank that is filled with hope, sometimes we can get mighty low . . even seem like we're "on empty."

The Word of God gives us hope, and strengthens the hope that we already have. And not just the New Testament, either:

            Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction,
             that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures
             we might have hope.  (Romans 15:4)

God had a purpose in mind, and the Bible was written with a divine desire to give us hope.

And as many years as we've been Christians, we cannot begin to know all there is to know from His Word. Our experiences in life are very few compared to the wisdom of God. Sometimes what we receive from the Bible when we study is not the fulfillment of our dream. Sometimes it is the disappearance of that failed dream, replaced with the peace and glory of Jesus, our Savior.

The path of joy might not always be clearly marked. But if we study His Word, the verses we study can take us there.

               May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that
               by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

               For you shall out out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and 
               the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the
               field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)

These verses on hope and joy inspired me this week . . . will you share a verse (or two or three!) that have meant a great deal to you recently?

Monday, February 22, 2016

No Disney princess here . . .

Make no mistake; there are some BAD girls in the Bible! (Grin)
This week we are going to study one who might be the "baddest"!
This woman's name conjures up all kinds of bad vibes; people know what you mean, the moment you say it! Even today, people use this name to describe a woman that they feel is really a sinful or unfeeling person . . .



Yup. I thought you would recognize her. Let's look at the Bible verses that tell us about this woman. There are several passages, so this will be a lengthy post today!
                        In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him. (I Kings 16:29-33)
The next passage is the one that details Elijah's triumph over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel; you need to read it so you can truly see what is happening next. I know you may already be familiar with it, but turn over there and read, if you will!  It's I Kings chapter 18 . . . we'll wait until you get back!

OK, the next time we see Jezebel mentioned is when she hears what Elijah did to her precious prophets of Baal and Asherah (Ashteroth).
                 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” (I Kings 19:1-2) 
Hooooboy. Now that's a threat.
The next time we see ole Ahab and his nasty wife Jezebel, it's in I Kings, chapter 21. I'd like to encourage you to read that one, as well. You may recall the story of Naboth, who had a truly green thumb. His vineyard was producing awesomely, so Ahab wanted that land for a vegetable garden. Well, Naboth didn't want to hand it over -- then Jezebel heard about it from her spoiled, despondent hubby, and she "makes it so." Yep. She has Naboth accused and killed.
Hey, Ahab, the land is yours now!
There was one party-pooper there, though. Elijah took his life in his hands and went to Ahab to prophesy against him. Told him just how he and his wife would meet their ends.

In II Kings 9, we read that his prophecy for Jezebel was fulfilled:
Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”
32 He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. 33 “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.
34 Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” 35 But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. 36 They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the Lord that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. 37 Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’”
Our title today said "No Disney princess here" and that is the truth! We generally think of princesses as ladies who work within the lines; they don't color outside the lines too often because there are rules about how princesses today are supposed to act. There's etiquette, and there are unwritten codes of conduct, and then there is the perception of the people. They certainly don't go around breaking laws and flaunting their cruelty and foul deeds. Of course, you may hear a rumor or two, but . . .

Jezebel broke all the rules, didn't she? She was a princess of the land of Phoenicia, from a territory called Sidon. Daughter of the king, she probably didn't like that the name of her town meant something common like a "fishery," and she married the king of Israel, Ahab. She was religious, but in a totally different way -- she was unwaveringly devoted to Baal and other idols. Ahab is considered now to be just about the worst king Israel ever had, and he needed no instruction in being bad. But she sure kicked it up a notch; she set to work hunting down and killing all of the prophets of the great I AM, except for Elijah (he must have been quite wily to escape her clutches). She put 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah in place, instead, (Don't worry, gentle reader, Obadiah was still at the palace in a place of leadership, and he squirreled away fifty prophets of Yahweh in one cave, and fifty more in another.)

Jezebel's name meant "Where is the Prince Baal?" and Elijah's name meant "My God is Yahweh," so I think we can see there was conflict coming!

We'll study more in these passages next time!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday slowdown

This lovely song seems to be just right for our study this week . . .

If the path I travel
  Lead me to the cross,
If the way Thou choosest
  Lead to pain and loss,
Let the compensation
  Daily, hourly, be
Shadowless communion,
  Blessed Lord, with Thee.

If there’s less of earth joy,
  Give, Lord, more of heaven.
Let the spirit praise Thee,
  Though the heart be riven;
If sweet earthly ties, Lord,
  Break at Thy decree,
Let the tie that binds us,
  Closer, sweeter, be.

Lonely though the pathway,
  Cheer it with Thy smile;
Be Thou my companion
  Through earth’s little while;
Selfless may I live, Lord,
  By Thy grace to be
Just a cleansed channel
  For Thy life through me.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Salome, from chutzpah to surrender, Part III

How did Salome go from chutzpah to surrender? How did she change from a woman who knelt before Christ and requested special places for her sons, to a woman surrendered to the service of God?

She truly learned the lesson in humility that Jesus gave to her. She remained a loyal follower to the end. When all of the disciples except John ran away, it was Salome who stayed at the foot of the cross with Mary and John.

Salome went from being a mother with a prideful heart to being a generous and loyal woman who accompanied the other women to the tomb on that special morning when they all learned He had risen. When the others were cowering in a room, expecting the Romans to burst in at any moment, she wasn't one to sit around! She realized there were preparations that needed to be made to Jesus' body, and she went with Mary Magdelene and Mary to do that work.

She was totally surrendered in service to Him. Salome had just witnessed His torturous crucifixion and His death. She had endured the jeers of the crowds and the pain of taking His body down from the cross. She had watched as they placed His body in the borrowed tomb that Joseph of Arimethea allowed them to use. She was exhausted. She was confused. She was overwhelmed with sadness. But she was sold out to Christ -- whatever service she could give, she was ready. And so she made her way to the tomb the next morning, and received joyful news from the angels there. Salome was one of the women that raced to tell the disciples the good news.

She had sought earthly crowns for her sons, but she was now surrendered to the Lord and had learned that sacrificial service was the way to the kingdom. "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant."

It's not those who are born of Abraham who will be in God's kingdom, but those whose faith resembles the faith of Abraham. And it's not those who want to be great and powerful who will find joy, peace, and satisfaction in His service; it's those who will surrender and serve Him, and serve others.

I wonder what was in her heart, the day that she made her request to Jesus, and heard his rebuke. I wonder how that felt . . . but then I know, for I have been "brought up short" by His loving rebuke in my own life -- haven't you? It makes us want to change, to turn away from how we've been before, and be a new person.
                This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (II Corinthians 5:17)
I expect that Salome didn't want to be the way she had been, any longer. She must have wanted her words and her heart to be different. She surrendered her life to Christ and from then on, her words came from the depths of truth within her. She learned to walk in the Light and serve, instead of focusing on who was going to be honored. From chutzpah to surrender is not a long journey when He is holding our hand!

Let's all determine within ourselves to be fully surrendered to Him, and search for ways that we can serve Him, and serve others!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Salome, from chutzpah to surrender, part II

Do you know what the Yiddish word "chutzpah" means? It's derived from a Hebrew word that means insolence, cheek, or audacity. And yet, the Yiddish word is a little softer, I think. It sums up a person who is audacious, or perhaps simply bold and fearless before others, and especially before authority.

I think we can say that this prosperous woman we're studying must have had some chutzpah. Salome was firmly entrenched in the middle class; her family had servants, and she had enough wealth to (with other women) support the ministry of Jesus as He traveled and taught. Salome was also ambitious for her two sons, James and John, and that is where our story begins today:

          Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.21 “What is it you want?” he asked.She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”“We can,” they answered.23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28)
When we read this passage, we may be tempted to think, "What in the world was she THINKING?!"

But we are looking back on it, and you know what they say about hindsight . . . Salome was doing what many of us have done before; she was making an intervention for those she loved. She thought she was doing what would make them happy. Sure, they were all grown up, but Salome knew just Who they were all following -- she knew that this was the Messiah!

She had raised these two men; they were certainly men to be admired. Close to Jesus, they were passionate about His work, and they were purposeful in their efforts to help. She certainly set a wonderful example, for we read in Mark 15:41 that she was one of those who followed Jesus and supplied His needs. She loved Jesus and her two sons, and she was devoted to all three. She did not, however, have a clue about His Kingdom. She shared the disciples' view that the kingdom would soon be established, here on earth. He would drive out the Romans and establish a kingdom in the land of Palestine.  And she wanted her sons to continue to be close to Jesus and perhaps be honored parts of His inner circle.

So, she gathered up her courage, her "chutzpah" if you please, and approached Jesus with her request. Salome was so sure that the kingdom was going to be established any day now, she requested that one of her sons be placed on Christ's right hand, and one on His left when He inaugurated His kingdom. The true sources of this request would have been her misunderstanding of His kingdom, and her maternal pride. She didn't really know what she was asking, but she had some chutzpah, and she asked!

How did Christ respond? It must have stung, and perhaps more than a little, for Christ rebuked Salome for her misguided ambitions. He didn't simply say, "No!" but He corrected her in a way that she would never have anticipated. He said that to be near Him on His throne (remember, high and lifted up....) meant they would have fellowship with Him in His suffering. Still, He didn't treat her as a horrible sinner - He was compassionate; He understood her love, and the ignorance of His mission.

In effect, Jesus was asking if her sons were ready to "drink the cup of martyrdom." That they would have to share His suffering.
And they did. James was the first martyr, according to tradition, and John was the last.

Her dreams of her sons sharing His rule when He was king would be rudely shattered when Salome saw the Messiah hanging on the cross. Oh, she must have thought, it was He who would have redeemed Israel! But instead, He is hanging on a Roman cross, the object of ridicule and in terrible pain.
Twice Salome would be taught a lesson in humility. Once when she had the chutzpah to ask her request for her sons, and again when she saw Jesus on the cross. She learned that greatness comes when we give of ourselves. She was one of the supporters of His ministry; she had social standing; she had chutzpah -- she could have turned away from Jesus with her pride hurt. But she learned her lesson, and she surrendered to Christ's call.

We'll finish our study of Salome tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Prayer requests

This is the day that we pause to remember our prayer requests, and to learn of answered prayers of our prayer warriors.

I hope that if you have something on your heart that we can pray about, you will let us know in the comments. Of course, it never hurts to scroll down and look at previous posts and pray again for situations that need God's hand of intervention.

If you have an answered prayer, and would like to praise God for it, please let us know that, too. It's so encouraging to hear of His help in times of trouble -- it helps us keep on keeping on!

And don't forget that prayer time can be a time when we can recharge our batteries, so to speak. Take time to stop and listen, after laying all your cares at His feet. Thank Him for His many blessings, and then take a moment to listen for His voice. Or turn to some of the "praise" psalms and read those, and wait upon Him. You'll find that you get up from your prayers with renewed energy and a much better outlook!

UPDATE: I'd like to request prayer for one of our sweet followers, Belinda. They've been dealing with the shock and grief of an unexpected death in their family. Please lift them up in prayer, and ask the Lord to comfort them in this difficult time.

Blessings to all of you . . . what can we help you pray about?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Salome - from chutzpah to surrender

When you saw the name on this post, did you instantly have visions of a royal court, a fancy platter, and a man's head on it? (Shudder) Nope, we're not talking about THAT Salome! That was Herod and Herodias' daughter, and it's one of those stories . . . you know, the ones that you read as quickly as possible to get past them to the better stuff? (Grin)

This Salome is the wife of a fisherman, and mother to two famous disciples. We're going to look at her story and learn from her this week. Let's look at some scriptures and see if we can glean some knowledge about our lady of the week.

                Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:21-22)

                 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means "sons of thunder"), (Mark 3:17)    
            Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.21 “What is it you want?” he asked.She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”“We can,” they answered.23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
          (Matthew 20:20-28)

      Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
     (Matthew 27:55-56)

What did we learn about Salome here? She was the wife of an honest and prosperous man, who had a thriving fishing business - their two sons joined him in working in that business every day.  They probably lived in the same town, Capernaum, where Peter and Andrew lived, the first two to be called by Jesus. I wonder what she first thought of Jesus? This wandering teacher came to the boat where her hard-working hubby and sons were plying their trade, and told the two young men to "follow Him,"
And they did.
Ever wonder what Zebedee thought, as he bobbed along in the boat, with just the hired men? (Mark 1:20)
Where are they going? Are they coming back this afternoon? Tonight? Ever? What will I do without my two strong sons to help me?
Whatever Zebedee and Salome thought, I expect it impressed them that Jesus knew their sons so well, when He hadn't known them before . . . He called them "sons of thunder." Apparently they were boisterous, perhaps even a little rowdy, impetuous, but fervently devoted to their Teacher and His cause. We can draw from that, that Salome and her husband were devout, looking-for-the-Messiah Jews, and had brought their family up in the faith.
How do we know that? Look at this passage:

                    When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54)

This was their response to the Samaritans who would not give the travelers lodging for the night - simply because their destination was Jerusalem! James and John are revealed here as fervent, impetuous men who were angry that the Teacher was not treated well. Truly they believed that He was the Messiah, and were angry at this prejudice and opposition. (I'm sure there were other times when they lived up to their nickname, but this makes it obvious that they were trained in the faith to look for the Messiah, and they were sold out to the fact that Jesus was the One.)

So, Salome and Zebedee must have been faithful at the synagogue, and diligent to teach their children.

We'll learn more about Salome next time we study. I hope you'll join us!