Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book 2 - Day 15 The Sinful Woman

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men –robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14).
Have you ever felt shame? Shame over something you have done, shame over something you’ve thought or shame over something you have said?  Webster’s Dictionary defines shame as, “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety or a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.” ( I have felt this shame, and more than once I might add.  I think the worst part about shame is someone who will never let you forget what you have done,  like this Pharisee Jesus mentions in Luke 18.  It is not enough you carry the burden and memory of your shame, but to be reminded of it daily can be overwhelming.
The sinful woman in Luke 7 is continually reminded of her shame and sin.  Reminded by the religious sect of the day; reminded by the town in which she dwelt and much like the Woman at the Well, separated herself from their vicious talk.  The scene for which God has this woman humble herself before his Son, mentioning her in his bible is as follows, “Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at this Pharisee’s house,  brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man was a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’
‘Tell me teacher,’ he said.
‘Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owned him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?’
Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.’
‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’
Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith as saved you; go in peace.”
This is one of the most beautiful passages to me in the bible.  Knowing and believing Jesus as the Messiah, he allowed a sinful woman to kiss, cry and wipe his feet.  She humbled herself before the religious men, did not care what they had to say, just as Mary of Bethany when she anointed Christ was admonished, Mark writes, “They rebuked her harshly.” (Mark 14:5).
 Pushing past her shame, pushing past her embarrassment and pride, the sinful woman weeps at her own depravity.  The knowledge in which God has opened her heart for a new beginning; a new season in her life, to leave the old way and become a new creation in Christ pulled her toward this Pharisee’s house.  Christ showed this woman, as he shows us, unconditional love.  The love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, and love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.  Love never fails.”
 I highlight “it keeps no record of wrongs” because shame will hold the record for you.  This Pharisee would never let this woman forget her sin.  This Pharisee would never let her come near the temple.  This Pharisee would despise and reject this woman, even in thought.  This Pharisee would turn his back on this sinful woman and sadly, this “Pharisee attitude” is alive and well in the church.
 I have felt shame.  I have felt the rejection of the church.  I have felt the finger pointing, the joking and laughs at my expense.  Shame can hold you prisoner with the church as its prison guards! I know of those who have talked about me, whispered untruths and gossiped.  The shame of telling a testimony of “worldly” behaviors, attitudes and actions to a Christian woman who may not have experienced that type of “sinful” woman is hard.  My telling has been “told” to others without me being present.  I have had women turn their backs to me, turn their faces, walk away if I come into a group, completely ignore me if I am sitting at a table with them, and deliberately interrupt while I am speaking.  These are all experiences I had in the church.  The “record of wrongs” was, as the sinful woman, un-forgiven.
 Our Lord is not like that. The mistakes you have made can be repented of, forgiven and washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb.  The memories and past, in which others seem to reveal in remembering, will haunt you if you allow them to.  To be loved by others who are encouraging, welcoming and believing you are a new creation in Christ, the old has past and the new has come, is beautiful, but rare.  Contrary to the world which will rehash and remember the past, contrary to the world and those who choose to NOT forgive, contrary to the world’s pointing at you and contrary to the world who would disown you for your lack of good judgment, Christ’s arms are always open to the those who desire unconditional love. 
 Open to the in-valids in our society, open to the broken hearted, open to the ones cast out of groups, open to the ones who know their depravity and need a Savior, open to the ones so scarred and marred by the world, only his gently embrace could ever heal those tender wounds.  Jesus Christ will never turn you away!  Remember, Christ allowed the sinful woman to wash his feet with her tears.  Redemption is a tender, sweet, pure and beautiful act of worship.  Christ allowed her to feel the conviction coursing through her body, repent and be set free from bondage.  Jesus allowed her humbly fall on her knees in reverential awe, salvation is for all those who humble themselves before them mighty hand of God.  This is NOT a weak willed woman.  This was a woman, who tired of her sin, who tired of society’s rejection, tired of the shame and embarrassment, her heart sought true love.
 Are you shamed or a-shamed of your sin? Do others remind you of your past? Do the memories bring a hot embarrassment of shame when recollection? Is your shame outwardly known for an adulterous affair, eating disorder, imprisonment, sexual promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, fraud, gambler, cheater, thief or any other out-wardly crime or sign the church, your family or friends will NOT let you forget or will not forgive you? I know who will!
 My heart is for the woman coming from the “world” into the Word.  How do these “worldly” women relate to these nice, sweet Christian women? Christian woman, I beg you, love this worldly woman.  Love them for taking that step of faith, walking into a church and giving their heart to Christ.  Allow them to open themselves up, totally transparent, share their testimony and accept them as Christ does.  Encourage them to be this new creation in Christ.  Encourage them in their bible studies, serving in the church and loving them the way Christ loves them.  Do not turn your back to them.  Do not shun them the way society does.  The shame of conviction is in their spirit, and the rejection from the church can be a double the pressure.  Humbling themselves to repent and come to the church, feeling the shame of conviction and the maybe the rejection of the church can cause may to leave and just be too overwhelming.  Please, love these women.  Open your arms to the sinful woman, giving her a place of comfort, security and love. 

Let us pray for these women and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;

            I have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Forgive me, wash me clean and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7). I know you have heard my cry for only you could lift me out of the mud and the mire, setting my feet on a rock, Jesus Christ.  You’ve put a new song in my heart, a hymn of praise to you (Psalm 40:1-3).
            I believe I am a new creation in Christ, the old has passed the new has come (1 Corinthians 5:7). For I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34:4). Help me to humble myself before you, for only then will you lift me up (James 4:10). Teach me your Word, guide me in all Truths, counsel me with love and show me your ways (Psalm 25).
            I praise you Lord for bringing new believers to eternal life (Romans 10:9).  I pray that my own heart is open to their testimony, never quick to judge or turn away from them (Luke 6:37-38).  I pray I can encourage them in their walk, this journey of being a Christian (Ephesians 5:19-20).  My heart’s desire is to understand and guide them into all Truths.  I never want to gossip or be as the Pharisees, reminding them of their sin continuously. Help me know when to speak, when to encourage, when to gently rebuke and when to bring wisdom to their walk (Isaiah 11:2, 2 Timothy 4:2). I want to open my arms with this sincere love of Christ, devoted to brotherly love, share with those who are in need, practicing hospitality and keep no record of wrongs (Romans 12:9-13). In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen.

Book 2 - Day 14 Tabitha (Dorcas)

Death comes to us all.  I think the sting of death, the finality of a passing loved one or someone we loved in the community is painful and full of heart ache.  Our finite minds grapple with irrevocability of death and ask the questions, “Where are they? What did they experience? What are they seeing?” All these questions may penetrate our hearts, but in the wake of a passing, Christians should be at peace.
Dorcas is the only woman to be called a disciple of Christ. She is described as a godly woman who did good and helped the poor.  “About that time, she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, ‘Please come at once!’
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.” (Acts 9:36-39).
Tabitha was a great woman in her community.  The heart she had for widows and the poor was indispensable.  Her making of clothes and providing for the widows and poor reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20). Dorcas’ generous spirit, her love for those who need help, the clothing and supplies she prepared with caring hands is instantaneously gone. 
Some may say the mourners were distressing because of the things they had lost.  On the contrary, when you have experienced unconditional love, it is not the “stuff” you miss, but the relationship and contact with the person who poured the love out to you. This love is rare and once found, we are to hold tight to the beauty of it. Our Father’s love is unconditional and merciful; the forgiveness he bestows on his children is amazing for I shudder to think of all the wrong I have committed, but he freely forgives and continuously loves.
A miracle is about to be performed.  Actually miracles are performing right before our very eyes, yet we tend to take these for granted daily.  The sunrise every morning, the Earth suspended in space, gravity holding all things together, the seasons changing, the birth of a child and the gentleness of a forgiving love are all examples of daily miracles.  Sadly, these amazing phenomenons do not seem so amazing once witnessed daily.  We continually want “signs”.
“This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but non will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:29-30). Interestingly enough, this “sign” is what some believe to be an allegory.  Many people believe Jonah was never in the whale, just a tale past on from centuries ago.  My response, then Jesus is not a very good Messiah if the sign he gives is an “allegory Jonah” in the whale.  This is all about faith.  “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).
Dorcas had faith! Peter had faith! “Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.  Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.  He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet.  Then he called the believers and the widows and presenter her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:40-43).
What is amazing about this is in Luke 8:54, Christ raises a dead girl to live saying, “Talitha Kumi, my child, get up!” What is interesting is Tabitha and Talitha are just one letter off from each other, plus Peter was in the room with this little girl and our Lord.  Maybe remembering this, he prayed and asked the Lord for Dorcas to get up. 
The Scriptures are silent as to how long this godly woman lived after this miracle, but I can assure you, she was generously giving of her time and services, spreading the Gospel and praising the Lord in Joppa.  I am sure many nights were spent in reliving God’s power over food and fellowship.  This small town was given a testimony, a walking, living, breathing, giving, beautiful testimony!

Let us pray and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;

            I desire to be a woman of faith.  A woman recognized for her Christ-like behavior, good deeds, knowledge of Scripture and heart open to those in need.  I desire to be called a disciple as your servant Tabitha (Acts 9:36).  With a heart to serve the poor, always doing good as our Lord Jesus of Nazareth did (Acts 10:38), I want you to shine, not me. 
            Help me be a woman of belief in healing and the power of the Resurrected Lord.  I know Jesus of Nazareth healed the little girl saying, “Talitha Kumi” or little girl, get up as Peter said, “Tabitha, get up.” (Acts 9:40, Luke 8:54) I want the Holy Spirit to use me in such a way, but also to be healed from _______________.  The Bible says to not be wise in my eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil for this will bring health to the body and strength, nourishment to my bones (Proverbs 3:7-8).  I know your Words are precious and we are to keep them within our hearts for they are life to those who find them and health to a woman’s whole body (Proverbs 4:21-22). 
            I desire faith to move mountains, to believe in something I can not see, but the hope and certainty it is there (Hebrews 11:1).  Move me in such a way to receive healing, whether through prayer, the laying on of hands or fasting for answers (James 5:14-15).  Your will be done in my life, not mine and I will be gracious for I have been given for Christ told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
            Thank you Lord for you mercy, your death on the Cross where I have salvation, love, and hope.  I praise you Lord for your goodness.  I praise you Lord for your power to do all things in which glorify you and will give me the strength to continue in my commission (Philippians 4:13).  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book 2 - Day 13 The Queen of Sheba

We think they have everything.  We think they have no problems, concerns or aggravations.  We think the luxury, money, trips, houses and “stuff” make a person satisfied. Fortunately, we are wrong.  Why did Jesus look intently at the rich young man and command, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”? (Matthew 19:21). This “poor” young na├»ve man thought money would win him to Christ.  He had everything, saw Jesus perform miracles and wanted to follow him.  But, Jesus sees something inside his heart, the love of money.  “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Matthew 19:22) This young man would depart with his wealth.
            The Queen of Sheba had wealth, power and prestige, but lacked something.  She apparently was intelligent, inquisitive and had heard the rumors of a King so wise her thoughts plagued her a night thinking of him.  Unable to restrain her heart longer, the Queen of Sheba mounts an entourage to see King Solomon and test his wisdom (1 Kings 10:1). 
            “Arriving in Jerusalem with a very great caravan – with camels, spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones – she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.  Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.  When the Queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.” (1 Kings 10:2-5).
            Let us stop right there for a moment.  My heart desires for “worldly” wealth to come and gaze upon the churches of God.  If someone took a few minutes to sit and ponder the workmanship of God’s churches, why a man would built a Temple to the Lord and worship with all his heart; I pray that person would be the as the queen, overwhelmed.  Maybe the thought would be along the lines of, “Something is bigger than me.”  “Maybe there is more to life than money and stuff.” The bible says after walking in the Temple and seeing the burnt offerings Solomon gave to the Lord for sacrifice, then she was overwhelmed.  I am sure the queen saw the “first fruit” and “best” offerings, no Cain skimping here with Solomon.  Her reply to the king is priceless.
            “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 to 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.” (1 Kings 10:6-9).
            How I would love for the “world” to look on the church as blessed for God’s wisdom and righteousness.  I would love to see more Christians blessed with money and the world look on at our worship to the Lord in thanksgiving.  I do want to make one point clear.  God’s blessing of money is not evil although many who quote, “Money is the root of all evil”, this referring to 1 Timothy 6:10.  Actually, the verse says this, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
            Proverbs 10:22 reads, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” I do not how the Queen of Sheba would have responded to Christ’s direct confrontation as did the young rich man, but I do know she was seeking after wisdom and something else.  Her heart must have sought something more than money for the Lord Jesus of Nazareth mentions her in the book of Matthew, “The Queen of Sheba 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).  The Queen of Sheba sought wisdom, but was enriched by knowing who provided Solomon’s money.  I believe she returned to her country a changed woman.
            The desire for “worldly pleasures”, including money can cloud our vision.  My prayer to the Lord is to remove any and all scales or hindrances from my life which would lead me astray from the Lord and my plan.  I have prayed, “Father, if money will deceive me, if money will cause me to desire and quest after the world, then I do not want it.” The queen had it all, but Romans 1:14-15 brings to mind what God writes on our hearts, “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even thought they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thought now accusing, now even defending them.” 
            Woman, God has placed a yearning in our hearts for him.  The Queen of Sheba, a gentile, did not have the Ten Commandments that Solomon had.  She knew not of “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” The Queen knew something of the God of Israel, but maybe she was feeling Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God has made everything beautiful in its time, he has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” I am sure Solomon repeated many Proverbs to the Queen and made the God of Israel very plain to her; a changed woman she was indeed!
            Solomon’s reputation preceded him and I pray our reputations precede us as Christian women.  I would love for a person to say, “I have heard of your joy.  I have heard of how happy you are and want to know why?” or “I have heard you are on troubled times, but you look so at peace. Why?” or maybe, “I have heard you are a woman of prayer. Who do you talk to and what do you say?” I think if unbelievers saw happy, joyous, generous, loving and caring Christians, more people would be in our churches; more souls would be won to Christ.
            I do understand “first hand” experiences are what a heart needs to know Christ.  Think of the Samaritan woman who told her village about what Jesus had told her.  On her testimony many believed, but it was when he stayed with the village two days their hearts were won (John 4:39-42). When we have a “first hand” encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives are changed.  I pray if someone encounters you, as a Christian woman, their lives are touched and inquisitive.  If you know of someone who needs a revelation of Christ, then pray for them; pray for the Lord to open their heart and see Truth removing whatever hindrances stand in their way of Truth.  Be as the persistence widow continually knocking, seeking and asking for their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  A life changing experience as the Queen of Sheba had with Solomon and his love for Yahweh.

Let us pray and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;

            I have a desire for Truth.  If I have never had a life changing encounter with Christ, then I open my heart to receive him as my Lord and Savior.  I do not want to perish for lack of knowledge, but will continue knocking, seeking and asking for Truth (Hosea 4:6)
            I do not want to be blinded by the world’s pleasures.  If money, power or prestige has been my focus, then I pray for redirection, a redirection of my priorities, a revival of my spirit and restoration, a transformation of my mind to know Christ and the power of the resurrection (Romans 12:2). I do not want to be as the rich young man, unable to let go of his wealth, treasures stored up where moth and rust destroy (Matthew 6:19).
            I know the love of money is the root of all evil, leading some away from their faith and causing my grief (1Timothy 6:10).  My heart’s desire is to be content where ever you place me, whether abasing or abounding (Philippians 4:12).  If I need time to spend with you, then lead me to green pastures and living water (Psalm 23).  Help me as the Queen of Sheba, seek you out and the Truth in which I desire to know.  For I know in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). I want to know more for I do not want to be deceived by fine sounding arguments or help captive by the hollow, deceptive philosophies of the world (Colossians 2:8).
            As Solomon instructed the queen, I know that fear of the Lord is beginning of knowledge and wise men store up this knowledge (Proverbs 1:7, 10:14). It is written who ever loves discipline loves knowledge, I do not want to be one who hates correction for the Lord disciplines those he loves (Proverbs 12:1). Help me to sit, study and listen to the Word.  I have zeal for the House of God, but it is written not to be zealous without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way (Proverbs 19:2).
            Thank you Lord for the Word.  Thank you I can study the women of the bible and learn from them.  Thank you Father I can come to you any time I desire for wisdom, knowledge and correction.  I praise you Lord for your goodness! In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray. Amen.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Book 2 - Day 12 Tamar, King David's Daughter

Heartache is about to strike the house of King David.  A man after God’s own heart, David is not immune to the repercussions of sin.  For David’s sons, the sins of the father have not gone unnoticed.  After striking Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, in battle, the Lord has brought this murderous sin to David’s attention.  Full of repentance and grief, David writes one of the most beautiful Psalms in the Bible, Psalm 51, “Wash me clean and I will be whiter than snow.”
 David’s heart may have been repentant, but if the lessons of God’s wrath and judgment are not taught to the children, the same sinful, repetitious patterns may continue.  A good example is Adam, Eve and Cain.  Adam and Eve were subject to the punish and just judgment of God, but why would they not express these convictions and repentant hearts to their son Cain? He was a prideful, arrogant and a jealous boy.  Cain was disrespectful for we can see his flippant attitude when responding to the Lord’s question, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain responds, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper or guardian?”(Genesis 3:9)
 Witnessing his father’s actions of “taking what he wants”, Amnon, David’s eldest son burns for his half sister Tamar.  So consumed with his desire and total lack of self-control, Tamar torments his thoughts daily and is noticed by a “good friend” Jonadab.  “Why are you, the king’s son, so miserable every morning? Won’t you tell me?”
 Amnon replied, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” (2 Samuel 13:4).  Amnon is confused.  Love and infatuation or lust are two completely different emotions for after Amnon rapes Tamar, he casts her aside as is filled with hatred (2 Samuel 13:15). Under the pretense of illness, Amnon requests her presence to make him “feel better”. The servant and sweet sister she was, “took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his presence, and baked them.” The Lord gives this young man time to think about what he is going to do.  This preparation and baking take time, but instead of a conviction growing in Amnon’s heart, he feels sin crouching at his door.  Lust, sexual arousal and desire mixed to form a deadly reaction. 
God spoke to Cain about his own heart filled with jealousy, hatred and revenge, “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7).  With the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians the fruit, actions, guidance and counsel we have with the Holy Spirit as “our master”, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25).
 Many women have the pain, shame, humiliation and embarrassment of rape.  God’s reaction and command for rape is undeniable, “If the man encounters the engaged woman in the open country, and he seizes and rapes her, only the man who raped her must die.” (Deuteronomy 22:25).  God does not cast the victim aside. Our Lord also does not allow the rapist to walk free and unpunished.  Your question may be, “Why does God allow this to happen?”

            In my first One a Day book, I write about the “Afflicted, Battered and Bruised.” This is an excerpt from that chapter, “There are numerous biblical accounts of women who were afflicted, used, enslaved, hurt, rebuked, mistreated and raped. I’ve read these accounts and thought to myself, “Why Lord? I do not understand.” I have family members and friends who were either raped, molested by trusted adults, abused sexually, physically assaulted by boyfriends, verbally abused, neglected and rejected by husbands.  I’ve listened, cried, loved and prayed for those closest to me.  The hurt is real, so painful there are no words to describe or are spoken.  Just tears, just anguish, just pain from a broken heart and spirit.
            “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I wonder if the woman raped from dusk till dawn had ever heard that verse. I wonder if the little girl given to men for their depraved pleasure has heard of the Living God’s promise. Has the molested, beaten and neglected know that Jesus Christ loves them and will never leave them? You may ask where is God? Where does the healing begin? Why is this happening to me?
            My sweet sister in Christ, whose heart is so tender, so broken, I understand the very mention of memories, a look, touch, smell can send a quick flinch or chill, and the healing for unanswered questions or forgiveness seems unattainable or out of reach.  But, there is hope in Jesus Christ.  I pray you do not believe for one second the selfish, depraved and sinful mind of man is the portrait of God.  I pray you do not believe the evil in the world is an exact replica of God.  That is a lie. If one’s pain can bring ten, hundreds, thousands or even millions to a life of healing, a relationship with Christ and Heaven’s door open for them, then what the enemy uses for harm, God uses for good.
 The woman raped to death in the book of Judges 19 is an example of the same rape existing today in sex trafficking and brothels around the world.  Where in the mind does one man think he can take another and use them for his sick pleasure, taking the innocent from a small child, manipulating them into sexual abuse and beating them into submission and fear?  The enemy has tried to destroy the heart and spirit of a woman since the Garden of Eden.  Eve, innocent and manipulated, Satan will stop at nothing to destroy what God’s deems as beautiful.  Why has the devil set out on a destructive rampage to kill, destroy and shame women since the beginning? Why would he hate us so much?
            Woman was the final creation of God.  I once heard John and Stacey Elderidge explain it as woman was created not as an afterthought, but as a final crowning of God’s masterpiece.  I believe she is beautiful, giving life to God’s children and able to give man such pleasure.  She is warm, soft, enticing and has a heart to love.  Satan was considered the most beautiful angel, but when God made woman, He trumped this prideful angel with a soft curves, a gentle spirit, a miraculous life giving womb and the desire of her husband.  Satan does not hold a candle to a woman of God; her beauty has surpassed his and the devil will hold at nothing to destroy this innocent and beauty God created and formed in the womb. 
            To hold the memories, to hate, to let your life succumb to bitterness, and cursing God allows the enemy to stick the final dagger in for his victory and succession in your life and family’s.  But there is One who understands your pain.  One who suffered the hurt of rejection, abuse, beating and suffocation for all mankind.  He was rejected by His people; He was bruised for our transgressions, whipped for all to see (Isaiah 53).  He suffered as no other person has ever suffered.  Christ came down, in the form of a man, and suffered to understand our pain, hurt, tears and shame.  He knows how you feel. 
            Jesus suffered the cat of nine tails ripping apart His flesh, but uttered no word. He was beaten and mocked for another’s pleasure.  He was rejected, cursed, and hung an excruciating death on the cross, not for man’s pleasure, but to save man’s soul.  He understands physical pain.  Christ understands your rejection, abandonment, and asked the same question, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus experienced something no one else has ever, total separation from God.  Christ, selflessly, suffered.  The Living God, where no other religion can claim, came down to this sinful earth, and walked to understand how you feel.  Suffered to understand the human heart, pain and hurt Satan attempts to destroy us with.  Yes, Jesus of Nazareth knows how you feel.”
            The Lord gave me those words to write for the women who have experienced such hardship, humility, shame and discard.  Our came to the “in-valids”, the socially discarded, the ones who need a doctor to love them, care for them and restore them.  God is our vindicator, our restoration, our reviver and our everything.  Allow him to restore what has been broken.  Allow him to repair the pain and shame you have experienced at the hands of someone else.  Allow him to court and woo you gently taking the pain and suffering, memories and nightmares, using those tears for good. 
            Amnon did not get away with Tamar’s rape.  Sadly, David’s lack of punishment, his lack of teaching and training his children and reminding them of God’s judgment brings more heartache.  Absalom, filled with rage and hatred toward his brother, avenges Tamar’s honor and kills Amnon.  This reminds me of stories I have heard or watched on the news of someone’s daughter raped and the father, filled with hatred revenge, kills the rapist. Now, he himself is in jail, leaving the family with a harmed daughter and no father.  We can not take justice into our own hands. 
            Woman, we need to lay this at the alter.  We need to cast our care upon the cross and believe, hope and pray.  Pray for the restoration of our minds and spirit.  Pray for the forgiveness only the Lord can give and pray for the soul of the rapist used by Satan to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

Let us Pray and CONFESS the Word of God:

            I come to you in Jesus name and give my heart to you.  I am hurt and broken.  I feel no one understands; I feel isolated and alone.  I feel I am in a dark pit of anger and bitterness (Psalm 40).  I want out! I know you make all things clean (John 15:3).  I know you give beauty for ashes, to bind up the broken hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release form darkness, the oil of gladness instead of mourning (Isaiah 61:1-3).  I know you can turn what the enemy has tried to destroy and use it for good (Genesis 50:20)   I believe my testimony, the test that I have walked and suffered through, will glorify you.  I pray for the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7).  I pray I can diminish and you increase with the portion you have given me to enhance your kingdom (John 27-30).  I pray I know you and the power of your resurrection.  I know many have doubted including John the Baptist when locked and thrown in prison for fulfilling your plan, asking “Are you the Messiah?” (Luke 7:20).  If I have been a Christian and this tragedy has happened to me, I pray I never curse you and fall into the trap of walking away from my faith (Job 2:9-10)
            I pray I am filled with the fruits of the spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).  I pray I am diligent in studying your word, memorizing scripture for when the enemy comes to steal kill and destroy, I use the Word of God, get behind me Satan, for you are concerned with the things of this world and I am concerned with the things from above (John 10:10, Matthew 16:23) Help me to bless those who have hurt me.  Forgive those who used me, and love those who have rejected me (Ephesians 4:19, 5:1).  Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).  As it is written, I believe I have all spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3), and I believe I am an adopted daughter of Christ (Ephesians 1:5-6).  A princess of the Most High, clean and restored, loved and revered as a woman of God.
            I pray I am unashamed of the Gospel and plant this seed for you (Ephesians 6:19).  I pray I can help bring healing to those who have suffered as I have suffered.  May I be a blessing in the church, using my gifts and talents for your glory (Ephesians 3:20-21).  I pray you increase my faith and I abound more and more in love.  I pray to be a prisoner of Christ and ambassador in chains for you (Ephesians 6:20). I know whether I am abasing or abounding, you have given me all strength for all situations (Philippians 4:11-13). 
            Thank you for dying on the cross.  Thank you for knowing exactly how I feel, my hurt, my shame, my pain and my suffering.  Thank you for giving me an example to follow.  Thank you for your precious love that has carried me through painful memories, fearful dreams or nightmares, heal my heart, renew my mind in Christ Jesus (Romans 12:2).  I am a new creature in Christ; the old had passed away including my past.  I press on toward the goal and prize awaiting me (Philippians 3:13-14).  I will continue to prepare my heart and mind for action (1 Peter 1:13).  I pray to encourage others along through my own healing process. If I backslide, push me forward.  If I fall down again in sadness, why me and painful memories, life me up to stand firm with the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), preparing my mind daily with the Armor of the Lord.
            Thank you for turning evil into good and I am confident the plan and purpose you have for me will be completed in the end (Philippians 1:6).  I believe my life has purpose, a plan set for me, not for evil, but good (Jeremiah 1:5).  I believe this is my season, a time I can never get back, help me to use this time wisely, growing daily in the Lord with spiritual meat, lacking no good thing (James 1:4).  If I am faced with my past, if I am faced with the very ones who painful hurt me, help me to love them as you love them.  Show me this mystery, filled with the Holy Spirit to love them as Christ loved the church (Colossians 1:27). 
            Praise be to God the Father of Jesus Christ.  Praise be to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Thank you for your Word and the women in the bible I can learn from.  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book 2 - Day 11 Jezebel

Romans 1:18-25 sets the foundation and gives us insight in to the mind of a depraved and evil woman. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God of images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their heart to sexual impurity for the degrading of the bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25).
Mentioned in the Old Testament, Jezebel is one of the most evil women to walk this Earth.  Evil has a face.  Its primary purpose is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). The woman killed, destroyed and stole from the Lord and his people.  Her pathetic and sad end may not be remembered as much as her murderous rampages.  But let us not forget, God has a plan.
Jezebel killed the Lord’s prophets, disgraced the Temple and built idols to Baal for worship and praise (1 Kings 16:31-33).  She was ruthless, cunning and manipulative.  Once when her husband Ahab threw himself into a temper-tantrum for the inability to purchase a vineyard from Naboth, sweet Jezebel threw a party.  She invited all the town’s people, gave Naboth the sit of honor, the prominent position at the table, then had two murderous men, “scoundrels”,  falsely accuse Naboth, stone him to death so Ahab could plant his vegetables in the vineyard (1 Kings 21).  Her depravity knew no bounds. 
I think what surprises me the most about these type f people is the complete disregard for human life, but also the audacity to think there is no accountability.  The prideful mindset that believes you can do anything you desire, including murder, to achieve fulfillment and never have to answer for the destruction in your wake is nothing short of mind boggling. There is no reasoning with these people.  There is no conversation that can turn the tide from evil to good.  Only the very breathe of God can do that.
We live in a world where men and woman, maybe not to the scale of Jezebel, but have the “Jezebel Spirit”.  These people stop at nothing to achieve their desires: slander, gossip, manipulate, use, abuse, threat and accuse others whom are innocent, but unfortunately hinder success. We all know of someone who has cheated, lied and manipulated their way to the top.  We’ve read of individuals who have “sold their soul” for fame and fortune, forsaking all others including their own dignity, living shameful lives broadcasted for all to see.  There are some who follow these depraved minds, willing to go down in flames with them, but there are also a remnant who will stand up for righteousness.  God told Elijah, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18).
Evil will never win.  For a time or a season it may appear to gain the upper hand, but God will use all evil situations and turn them to good.  This Jezebel spirit was also mentioned in the book of Revelation.  To the church of Thyatire, Jesus of Nazareth accuses them of tolerating an ungodly woman, “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificedl to idols.  I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.  So I will cast her on a bed of suffering and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of their ways.  I will strike her children dead.  Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.  Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatire, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned the Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come.” (Revelation 2:20-25).
My prayer is you are in a Christian church alive to the Holy Spirit, the reading of God’s Word and Truth.  Many are sheep in wolves clothing, tickling the ears of the congregation when what we actually need is meat, not milk! I do want to address one more issue before we pray.  If a wicked person repents, has that broken, contrite spirit God will not turn away, we as Christians should never turn them away either.  Let us never forget the Apostle Paul.
“I persecuted the followers of the Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify.  I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” (Acts 22:4-5)  This is the same Paul who wrote 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, “Love is patient, and love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the Truth.  It always protects, always trust, always hopes, and always perseveres.  Love never fails.”
Yes, this is the same Paul, but with Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  Evil can be turned to Good.  What the enemy attempts and tries to destroy, God can use it for good (Genesis 50:20). I am thankful for Ananias’s obedience to the Lord, running to Paul and giving him a Word from the Lord (Acts 9:17-19).  I am thankful for Barnabas’s encouragement to Paul and standing beside him in truth (Acts 10:27).  Our arms should never too short to those who come to our church from living in the “World”.
Let us pray to the Living God and CONFESS the Word;

            The Bible says you will never reject a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise (Psalm 51:15).  Lord, I repent of my sins.  I admit I am a sinner, living in the world and following its desires and cravings (Ephesians 2:3).  I desire to know Truth, come to Christ, so I confess with my mouth and heart you are Lord (Romans 10:9).  I desire to change.  I desire to know you and the power of your resurrection.  Forgive me of my sins, as I start a new life, for I am a new creature in Christ, the old has passed and the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). 
            I want to know this love written for in 1 Corinthians 13.  I desire to have a love that is patient and kind.  I never want to be rude, self-seeking, easily angered, holding on to bitterness, frustration and disappointment.  Your love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the Truth.  This love protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres and I desire this love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
            Help me to open my arms to those who need Truth, those who are coming in to the church from the “world” and those who are repenting of their sins.  For I know and remember, we’ve all followed the ways of the world, were dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)..  Help me to love them and see these new Christians the way you do, their gifts and talents and encouraging them along the way.
            I pray to be a living, breathing epistle for you and your kingdom.  Teach me your paths, show me your truths and guide me into all righteousness for your names sake (Psalm 25). I know you understand all temptations and I submit in all humility the capability of falling, backsliding or sinning.  But as David prayed when you exposed the sin in his heart, “Wash me clean and I will be whiter than snow, let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice!” (Psalm 51: 7-9). Thank you for your forgiveness and mercy.  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen.

Book 2 - Day 10 Hagar

Webster’s Dictionary describes haughty as, “having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people.” In Hagar’s story, a slave develops a haughty attitude.  Taken against her will from Egypt, used for someone else’s gain and her body not her own, this slave girl becomes pregnant with a patriarch’s son.
Hagar was a slave.  Assuming not by choice and maybe taken from Egypt when Pharaoh gave goods and bounty to Abraham, Hagar was no longer master of her own destiny.  She was property of another, used by a family and then outcast for her obedience.  Slave to Sarai, a maybe highly respected by the matriarch, Hagar is given to Abraham to conceive a child.  Sarai knew God’s plan for a child, a nation born unto them, but it had yet to transpire.  Hurrying the Lord along, she requests her husband to sleep with her handmaid.
Low and behold, a baby is conceived.  The slave, this prisoner, this woman used was able to accomplish something her mistress was not, pregnancy.  All the years held in captivity, submitting to orders, yielding to another person’s life and their desires finally has taken a turn.  God has blessed this slave with a child, while the mistress of the house has none. 
The bible has several scriptures regarding a “haughty” attitude, but I think Proverbs captures the haughty spirit well; Proverbs 16:18 describing best, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 6:16-19 reads, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissensions among brothers.”
Hagar was about to experience a fall, though, she had not been the first to “vex” her mistress.  Remember Hannah and Penninah? Penninah mercilessly vexed and mistreated Hannah for she had Elkanah’s love, while Penninah no love, but his children.  Rachel experienced the empty womb, while her sister enjoyed ten sons, but no love from Jacob.  Hagar did not have Abraham’s heart either, for when Sarai accused him of causing these problems, his reply was, “Do with her whatever you think best.” (Genesis 16:6).
Sarai may have cast Hagar out of camp, but God does not.  She may be mistreated, unloved, and her own behavior inexcusable, but we have a God with a plan.  Woman, we have a Savior who will love us unconditionally, gently teach us and guide us into Truths.  Hagar was thrown out by an angry, frustrated and broken hand, but God brought her back with a gentle, loving and purposeful hand.  “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.  I will so increase your descendants that they will be to numerous to count. You are now with child and you will have a son.  You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of you misery.  He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s had against him, and he will live in hostility towards all his brothers.” (Genesis 16:9-12).  The Lord saw Hagar’s misery, knew the root cause of the haughty attitude, gentle spoke to her and commanded she submit.  Our God brought this broken woman back to the very hand that threw her out and Hagar was accepted back in for a time.

I love our Christian faith.  We have a God who looks at the root cause of our problems, judges fairly and gently teaches us Truth.  Remember the daughters of Zelophehad? “They approached the test entrance to the Tent of meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, “Our father died in the desert.  He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.” (Numbers 27:1-4)
The Lord answers Moses who brought their case before him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right.  You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.” (Numbers 27:5-7). Woman, we serve a God who will stand up for you, give you Truth and take your case! We have to know Christ is our High Priest allowing us to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).  The Word of God is sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).
            Believing in the Lord, Hagar willingly goes, submits and gives birth to her son.  She experienced something her mistress had not, communion with God.  God is willing to forgive a repentant heart.  He desires a broken, contrite heart; a broken spirit God will not despise (Psalm 51:16). At times we are going to experience haughty attitudes from others, but that by no means gives us the green light to mistreat them.  Actually, it gives Christians the opportunity to bless! (Matthew 5:11-12). 
            No matter the situation, we are to love those who are lost.  No matter the situation, we are to love those who mistreat us.  No matter the situation we are to bring our requests before the Lord, let him judge righteously.  No matter the situation, we are to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31). Having a haughty attitude is unacceptable to God.  We are to treat all as equal, for God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, James 2:1-13).
 I pray this blesses you today and encourages you to think about your own behavior.  My prayer every morning is for the Lord to bring people in my path to bless, pray and encourage.  I pray the Lord teach me the Word, guide me in all Truths and confide in me as a friend.  I do not want to miss an opportunity to encourage and bless another of my sisters in Christ who needs to know she has a purpose, a plan and the Lord loves her.  I never want the Lord to reveal I had a “haughty” spirit to those around me, but instead a humble spirit to be used as vessel for his kingdom.

Let us pray and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;

            Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love for they are from of old.  Remember not the sins of my youth, my haughty and rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.
            Good and upright is the Lord, there for I know you instruct the sinners in your ways, you guide the humble in what is right and teaches us your way.  All your ways are loving and faithful, never hard, harsh and pressing.  For the sake of your name, forgive my iniquity, my selfish attitude, my waywardness and rudeness, for I know you are full of mercy and gracious to forgive (Psalm 25).
            Thank you Lord for being no respecter of persons and teaching me to love all of your children the way you do (Acts 10:34, James 2:1-13).  Thank you I can bless those who hurt, reject mock and persecute me for I will find great joy in only you (Matthew 5:11-12).  I pray to never look down on your daughters who are around me.  I pray to have a gentle, humble spirit, giving rest to those who I comfort, encourage and love (Matthew 11:28). 
            I praise you for your goodness, I praise you for your death on the cross and the Salvation found only Jesus Christ.  Thank you I can bring all my requests to you, boldly coming to the throne of grace knowing you will judge fairly and righteously (Hebrews 4:12-16).  Help me submit to your will and not my own.  In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen!