Daily Devotionals

May 30, 2021

Judges 4:4-10

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

“Women of Valor”

 

MEMORY VERSE

 

Romans 10:13

“For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

 

 

MONDAY, May 31                           2 Chronicles 9:1-12

Today we hear of a beautiful, brilliant, and wealthy Queen who had all the world could possibly offer. The one thing she lacked was the knowledge and wisdom of God. When she hears of King Solomon, she uses all of her considerable resources to seek out the King so she can gain wisdom and insight.

From the Queen of Sheba, we learn that the wisdom and knowledge of God far surpasses anything this world has to offer. “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” (Proverbs 16:16).

Prayer: “God, you are to be desired more than all the wealth and greatness of this world. I want to know you and your love.” Amen.

 

Tuesday, June 1                                2 Kings 5:2-4

The Arameans were enemies to Israel and would frequently conduct raids and attacks to take from Israel what they needed, things such as food and women. In one of these raids, they had taken a young girl from her family, most likely killing the family, then forced her into slavery in Aram. This young girl ended up serving the top general Naaman’s wife.

This young slave girl who had lost everything when her captors invaded her home, now blesses and helps those who took her into slavery. She hears that Naaman, the general, has leprosy, so she tells them of the prophet Elisha, a prophet of the Lord in Israel, who through the power of God can heal her captor. What an extraordinary act of faith.

First of all, she helps those who have hurt her. She doesn’t have to say anything, but she wants to share her God with those who have done her wrong. Second, to say anything at all places her in harm’s way. She is a slave girl, to speak up when not asked was dangerous. She must have given them a pretty convincing testimony of her God and Elisha as well, because they listened to her and took the recommendation to the King. Now, this slave girl is in real peril. If Naaman goes to Israel and is not healed, it’s her life that is at stake.

Not only is Naaman healed, but this act also creates and alliance between the two warring nations. Her simple act of faith turned Israel’s enemy, Naaman, into a man of God. 2 Kings 5:15-17 “Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!’ He urged him to accept, but he refused. Then Naaman said, ‘If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.’”

It is amazing what our simple acts of faith can accomplish when we trust in God and share God with others.

Prayer: “God, you are an amazing God and I trust you. I want to share you with everyone.” Amen.

 

WEDNESDAY, June 2                      1 Kings 16:31; 18:17-19

Today we look at one of the most powerful women in scripture, unfortunately, she was also the most heartless, cruel, and evil women in history. She became the Queen of Israel when she married King Ahab, who is considered to be one of the evilest Kings in Israel’s history.

Jezebel was the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Zidonians, he was also the high priest of Baal worship. Jezebel not only served and worshiped Baal and Ashtaroth she also set up temples for them in Israel. She had 450 priests in the temple in Samaria and another 400 priests in the temple of Jezreel. In addition to all of this, during her reign she attempted, and almost succeeded in killing all the priests of Jehovah and wiping out the worship of the one true God.

King Ahab of Israel was guilty of great sin and evil on his own, but they were considered minor in comparison to his marriage to Jezebel. This marriage was a direct sin against Jehovah, Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal which means “A Man of Baal”. She was an extremely strong-minded idolatrous woman and Ahab was a weak and spineless king. She used Ahab’s power and position as King of Israel and became the ruling authority.

Jezebel’s story can be found from 1 Kings 16:31 to 2 Kings 9:37, where she met a very violent and gruesome end after Jehu became king if Israel. “When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it… As Jehu entered the gate, she said, ‘Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?’ He looked up to the window and said, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. He said, ‘Throw her down.’ So threw her down. Some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled on her… When they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands… he said, ‘This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no won can say, This is Jezebel’.”

Prayer: “God, you are the only God and I worship you. I want to proclaim your name to all I meet.” Amen.

 

THURSDAY, June 3                          Esther 1:2-3, 10-12

King Ahasuerus of Persia, better known as Xerxes, is well known in history for his arrogance and impetuousness. He inherited his vast Persian Empire from his father Darius. In today’s passage we hear of a party the king was throwing in order to flaunt his wealth and impress all those beneath him. During this celebration the king gets drunk and decides to flaunt his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, in front of all his drunken friends. He commands her to come before them wearing her royal crown. The implication is that the royal crown was all she was to wear.

To her credit, Queen Vashti refused to come before the king and his drunken friends. The king’s word was law and for her to disobey him meant giving up the throne, all of her privileges, and to be cast out. Rather than cater to the vanity and abuse, she courageously sacrificed her kingdom. Vashti accepted disgrace and dismissal.

We read this book in honor of Esther and her sacrifice. However, Vashti is the first hero in this story, and she needs to be honored for her courage and as a positive example for all women.

Prayer: “God, give me the courage I need to stand against injustice and the immorality of the world around me.” Amen.

 

FRIDAY, June 4                                  Esther 4:10-17

Yesterday we heard about the courage of Queen Vashti of Persia. She refused to accept the abuse of the King and sacrifice her dignity and honor, as a result she was banished. Because of Queen Vashti’s banishment, King Xerxes orders that beautiful young virgins are to be gathered for his harem and from them he will select a new Queen. Esther is one of the young women chosen for the harem and soon wins over the heart of King Xerxes and is selected as Queen.

Esther’s parents had died when she was young, and she was raised by her uncle Mordecai. Mordecai was a devout Jew who served in the palace of the King. Haman, who was a high-ranking official in the king’s court, hated Jews and especially Mordecai. So, Haman cooks up a plot to have all the Jews exterminated and has King Xerxes sign the extermination order – unaware that Queen Esther was a Jewess. When Haman learns of the extermination order he sends word to Esther so she can notify the king. Today’s passage picks up at this point.

Through a series of divinely inspired coincidences Esther is able to get word to the king about the plot and the king has Haman and his sons killed. The Jews are saved from extermination and their enemies are destroyed.

From Esther we learn of the power of seeking divine guidance in times of difficulty. We also see that when we move forward in faith God is able to accomplish amazing miracles through us. Do not underestimate what God can do through your seemingly small acts of faith.

Prayer: “God, you are able to accomplish far more than I can ever ask or imagine. Give me the courage I need to follow you in faith.” Amen.

 

SATURDAY, June 5                           Ruth 1:1-5

Naomi’s story is one of desperate choices that lead to the loss of everything, but after turning back to God, redemption.

Naomi is the wife of Elimelech of Bethlehem, and they have two sons. Names mean a lot in scripture and Naomi means “Pleasant” and she must have been a woman of distinction who was both charming and attractive. They live in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”. They have a wonderful and blessed life until a severe famine hit. Instead of trusting God to provide during this time of difficulty they made the unfortunate choice to leave Bethlehem – which meant they left God – and traveled to Moab, which means “waste” or “nothingness”. Moab was a country that was considered forbidden for Jews to live in.

In Moab Naomi’s husband dies and her two sons marry Moabite women. Then both of her son’s die leaving Naomi with nothing, in a land of nothing, with no friends or family to help her. Destitute, having lost everything, Naomi turns back to God and decides to go back to her home in Bethlehem. This is a dangerous and difficult journey for an elderly woman and her daughter-in-law Ruth chooses to sacrifice everything to travel to Bethlehem with her.

Upon arrival in Bethlehem the women, who were the friends and family she had left when she was still a beautiful and pleasant woman, ask; “Is this Naomi?” They hardly recognize her. “She said to them, ‘Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity on me?’”

Naomi leaves full but returns home empty. Through her perseverance and returning to the Lord she is eventually blessed and finds redemption and fullness once again through her daughter-in-law Ruth, who has also turned to God and found blessing.

Prayer: “God, thank you for being a blessing to me and all people. Help me to see my blessings and stay faithful to you in the good times and the challenges.” Amen.

May 23, 2021

Joshua 2:1-15

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

“Women of Faith”

 

MEMORY VERSE

 

James 2:26

“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.”

 

 

MONDAY, May 24                           Genesis 25:19-28

We backtrack a bit today as we go back in scripture and look at Rebekah, Isaac’s wife. Their story begins in chapter 24 and goes through chapter 28. This is a wonderful love story between Isaac and Rebekah until we get to the birth of their son’s Jacob and Esau.

Rebekah is a woman of faith who turns to God for help and is answered. This demonstrates a wonderful quality we should all aspire to, however, after this answer and blessing of God problems arise. We see the root of this problem in verse 28 when we hear “Isaac loved Esau… but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Nothing good comes out of parents picking favorites and acting on that choice. Some argue that Rebekah love Jacob because God chose Jacob. I think that Rebekah and Jacob were very much alike, and she used God’s divine answer to her as an excuse to play favorites. However, both parents are to blame in this game of favorites.

When parents single out one of their children as a favorite and shower more love and attention upon that one than the rest, such an unwise and unnatural course inevitably results in jealousy and strife. We see the results of this when their twin sons, Jacob and Esau become adults. Esau has become so estranged from his mother at this point that he rebelliously goes out and marries two Canaanite women. An act that was expressly forbidden and hurt his mother Rebekah much more than it did his father Isaac. This only strengthened Rebekah’s resolve toward Jacob to the point that she hatches a plan to ensure that Jacob steals Esau’s blessing from their father.

The result of this scheming ended up with her having to send her beloved Jacob away to find a wife in order to keep Esau from killing him. Rebekah dies before Jacob is able to return back home.

Prayer: “God, I want to listen, hear, and follow you. Keep me from taking matters into my own hands as I follow you.” Amen.

 

TUESDAY, May 25                            Exodus 2:1-10

Today we hear of Moses’ mother Jochebed. Her name means “Jehovah is her glory” and she has 3 amazing children. Her first child was her daughter Miriam, who we will hear more from tomorrow. Her second child was Aaron, who became Israel’s first high priest and the founder of the Aaronic priesthood. And her third child is Moses.

At the point when Moses was born Pharaoh had become paranoid of the rapidly multiplying Hebrew slaves and had ordered that all newborn males should be thrown into the crocodile infested Nile. To avoid this horrible fate Jochebed makes a basket out of reeds, seals it with pitch and hides the baby Moses among the reeds in the Nile to avoid Pharaoh. Jochebed had her daughter Miriam, who was 10 at the time, stay nearby to help keep an eye on the situation. When Pharaoh’s daughter comes by to bath in the Nile, she hears the baby crying and takes him in. Miriam, who is nearby asks Pharaoh’s daughter if she needs a Hebrew woman to help nurse the child, when told yes, Miriam goes and gets her, and Moses’ mom, Jochebed, and Pharaoh’s daughter pays her to nurse Moses until he is weened.

Jochebed serves as an example of a Godley mother. She not only raises 3 amazing children who grow up to serve God, she is willing to do all that is necessary to provide for and take care of her children in incredibly difficult circumstances.

Prayer: “God, thank you for amazing women and mothers such as Jochebed. Help us to serve you with such strength and courage.” Amen.

 

WEDNESDAY, May 26                    Exodus 15:20-21

We were introduced to Miriam yesterday. She is Moses’ older sister, Jochebed’s daughter who was sent to keep an eye out for baby Moses when he was placed in the basket in the Nile. Then along comes Pharaoh’s daughter. What a brilliant stroke of luck – or actually an amazing miracle of God. This must have been terrifying for 10-year-old Miriam. This was the pharaoh’s daughter with her attendants. Rather than hiding, Miriam boldly stepped into the potentially life-threatening situation and suggested a nurse maid for the child. After this, Moses is raised in Pharaoh’s house and for forty years was a prince of Egypt – until he killed an Egyptian slave master and had to flee into the desert.

Fast-forward another forty years. Moses is reunited with his sister Miriam and their brother Aaron. Together they witness the miracles that God performed to free the Israelites from slavery. Together they witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of their enemies. And in today’s passage we hear that Miriam is not only a Prophetess – a distinction few others are given – she also leads her people in singing and rejoicing their victory. If only her story could have ended here.

After wandering for what must have seemed like forever in the hot, dry, arid desert, the Israelites grew increasingly cranky and unbelieving. The truth is they were losing hope, and this began to wear on the sibling bonds between Miriam, Moses and Aaron. In Numbers 12:2-3 we hear “and they said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

You can almost hear it, like Jan on The Brady Bunch, Moses! Moses! Moses! Miriam and Aaron were becoming jealous of their younger brother. And that’s when God pulls all three of them aside and in verses 6 -9 we hear “And he said, ‘Hear my words: When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face – clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?’ And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.”

God put Miriam and Aaron in their place and when the cloud lifted “Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow.” Seeing this both Aaron and Moses prayed to God and after seven days her leprosy was lifted. Only Miriam was inflicted with leprosy which seems to imply that she was the ringleader in this sibling revolt. Given seven days to think about her part she returned, fully redeemed. From Miriam we learn that even the strongest can be wrong and there is still redemption. Own your mistakes, accept the consequences, then move forward.

Prayer: “God, give me the strength to move beyond my mistakes.” Amen.

 

THURSDAY, May 27                        1 Samuel 1:4-5, 9-20

King David is the story that weaves its way through much of the Old and New Testaments. His life is covered in 3 books of the Old Testament and the Psalms. In order for us to have King David, we must also have Samuel, the prophet who anointed David. And to have Samuel, we have to have Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

Hannah was a wonderful woman of faith who was not only barren, but she was also in a polygamous marriage and her husband Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, had children and she mocked and derided Hannah constantly about being barren. It would be hard enough sharing your husband with someone else. Hannah is also childless, and the other woman mocks her continually to the point of tears and complete despair.

Hannah calls out to the Lord “remember me, see my misery, please do not forget me.” This is a wonderful prayer for all of us, whatever we may be going through or struggling with. And Hannah continues to lift up her prayer to the Lord. Initially, Eli the priest, drew the wrong conclusion about her prayers but when he realized she was in distress he lifted her up, gave her encouragement and she was able to find hope in her anguish.

Hannah is given a child and they name him Samuel. It is hard for us to imagine handing our child over to the Lord, but that is what she did. Hannah puts the thing she cherished the most into God’s hands and into his service. And for Hannah it was a joyful decision and the very next thing we hear in scripture is a song of prayer and praise to God that is the longest prayer of its kind in the Old Testament and has been compared to Mary’s Magnificat.

Hannah was blessed for her faithfulness and she has three more sons and two daughters. Her misery and despair were turned into joy and blessings as her family grew and she watched as her son Samuel grew to become one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history.

Prayer: “God, thank you for amazing examples of faith like Hannah. Help me to place what I cherish most into your hands and into your service.” Amen.

 

FRIDAY, May 28                               Genesis 25:1-6

The story of Abraham and Sarah is so well known that we think this is the end of the story. We have already talked about Hagar, Sarah’s maid servant who she gave to Abraham and she bore Ishmael.  And we know that Sarah later gave birth to their son Isaac, who is the son of God’s promise. What most people don’t remember is the fact that after the death of Abraham’s beloved wife Sarah, Abraham remarried.

We don’t know much about Keturah other than she was Abraham’s wife in his later years. We do know that she gave birth to six sons which is a remarkable achievement in itself. We also know that these six sons become the founding fathers of six Arabian tribes of Southern and Eastern Palestine.

It is her fourth son, Midian, we hear the most about. When Joseph is sold into slavery by his brother Judah, he was sold to Midianite traders. This is how Joseph and the Hebrew people ended up in Egypt for four hundred year. When Moses killed the Egyptian slave master and had to flee into the desert, he ends up staying in the house of Jethro, a priest of Midian, and marries his daughter Zipporah.

It is truly amazing how the biblical stories are interwoven through the blessings of amazing women.

Prayer: “God, thank you for blessing me so I can be a blessing for others.” Amen.

 

SATURDAY, May 29                         Exodus 2:16-22

Today we hear about Moses’ wife Zipporah, daughter of the Midianite priest Reuel who also goes by the name Jethro.  The Midianite’s are descendants of Abraham’s son Midian from his wife Keturah. Zipporah’s story is an unusual one in scripture. She marries Moses after he fled from Pharaoh into the desert. They think Moses is an Egyptian, and for all intents and purposes at this point he is. He was raised in Pharaoh’s house and lived as an Egyptian for forty years.

Together, Moses and Zipporah have two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, and for the next forty years they live in the desert tending the flocks of Zipporah’s father Jethro the Midianite priest. Then God speaks to Moses from the burning bush and calls him to return to Egypt to set God’s people free.

The next we hear from Zipporah is a strange passage from Exodus 4 when they are traveling to Egypt together and stop for the night “On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him and tried to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, ‘Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!’ So, he let him alone. It was then she said, ‘A bridegroom of blood by circumcision’” (Ex. 4:24-26).

There are a multitude of interpretations of this strange passage. Here is my interpretation. Moses should have circumcised his son when he was an infant but didn’t. To me this says he is struggling between being an Egyptian and following his Hebrew roots and fully following God. So, God stops him before he gets to Egypt and forces him to choose, and it is his wife Zipporah who circumcises their son (men are supposed to do the circumcision). Then Zipporah throws the bloody circumcised flesh at Moses and basically says “Remember who you are!“You are a bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

Moses had to let go of his Egyptian ways and fully embrace God and his Hebrew roots. Moses also needed to be fully focused on the task in front of him so at this point Zipporah and the kids go back to her father Jethro’s house while Moses travels the rest of the way to Egypt with his brother Aaron. After the Exodus, in chapter 18, Jethro brings Zipporah and the kids back to Moses.

Prayer: “God, sometimes I need a little extra push to do what is needed. Thank you for providing the guidance I need.” Amen.

 

 

May 16, 2021

Genesis 11:29-30; 12:1-5

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

“Women of Covenant”

 

MEMORY VERSE

Genesis 12:2-3

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

 

MONDAY, May 17                           Genesis 16

On Sunday we looked at Sarah – A woman of covenant. Over the next couple of days, we are going to look at a second woman of covenant – Sarah’s servant Hagar. 

Hagar was a slave girl. She was not free to come and go as she pleased, but was the property of her owner, Sarah. This is the dominant feature of Hagar’s life and the one that colors everything else we know about her and her situation. As a slave, Hagar would not have been asked her opinion.

 Abraham and Sarah were wealthy and wealthy people owned slaves in that time. It was also common practice that if the wealthy did not have children of their own then a child born of a slave girl would be considered the child of the husband and wife. It is also important to note that this was the way of the world – not the will of God.

As a slave girl Hagar would have had no voice or value of her own. Nobody would even see her as anything more than property. So, when she becomes pregnant, she saw an opportunity to add value to her life and this was immediately met with severe opposition, so she runs away.

But God sees her. Starting in verse 7 we hear that the angel of the Lord comes to her. The angel of the Lord appears to a pregnant slave girl who is alone and cowering in fear in the wilderness. She has no defender or encourager in this world, yet the God of heaven wanted Hagar to know that He saw and heard her in her distress.

What an amazing confirmation. The world does not see her, hear her, or consider her of any value at all. But the God of heaven and earth, the creator of all things not only sees her, He comes to where she is. Verse 13 says, “So she named the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi’” Which means the God who sees me.

Prayer: “God, thank you for seeing me. Open my eyes so I can see others.” Amen.

 

TUESDAY, May 18                            Genesis 21:14-21

Yesterday we began to see Hagar, Sarah’s servant girl who was given to Abraham to become a surrogate mother for Sarah. We see Hagar today because God saw Hagar then, just as God sees all his children.

In today’s passage Hagar’s situation goes from bad to worse. She and her son are sent into the desert with a bare minimum of supplies. Then in a scene that is one of the most heartbreaking in scripture Hagar acknowledges that she cannot bear to watch her son die. God reached into Hagar’s despair and said to her “Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.” This is the same God who came to Abraham in Genesis 15:1 saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.”

Hagar is addressed with the same words used for Abraham because God does not distinguish between the wealthy patriarch and the lowly slave girl. The “God who sees” (El-roi), sees all his children, God does not see through eyes of the world.

Our story today might be much different if Hagar and Sarah’s story had been different. What if they could have forgiven each other and seen each other through eyes of love? What if Sarah could have seen beyond Hagar’s disrespect and valued her as a person and not as a servant? What if Hagar could have reached out to Sarah with compassion for her situation even though Sarah showed her no compassion? If God’s love would have ruled in Sarah and Hagar’s hearts, then Ishmael and Isaac could have grown up together. Jews and Arabs may have grown up arm in arm, beloved brothers, instead of bitter enemies.

Who knows what the future may hold if we can begin to see through God’s eyes and show compassion for one another?

Prayer: “God, you are El-roi – the God who sees. Help me to see as well so I can respond with love and compassion.” Amen.

 

WEDNESDAY, May 19                    Galatians 4:21-31

Over the last couple of days, we have seen Hagar, the slave girl, as a person, which is how God sees her. But Hagar’s life (and its impact) is so much larger than her as a person, or even her story as contained in the book of Genesis. Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia, shows us how her life is an allegory and contains an important message for Christians.

Sarah and Hagar represent two covenants. Hagar is the covenant from Mount Sanai and bears children of this world for slavery to the law. Sarah represents freedom and her children are born of God’s promise. God’s promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who died to set us free from slavery to the law. As Christians we are children of God’s promise. And God sees all of us, slave or free, and wants all of us to choose the freedom that is promised through Christ. Freedom to accept God’s unconditional love so that we can show unconditional love to others.

Prayer: “God, you are love and your love frees me from slavery to this world. Thank you for loving me.” Amen.

 

THURSDAY, May 20                        Genesis 29:1-12

Genesis 29-35 has the account of two more amazing women of scripture – Rachel & Leah – sisters who together with Jacob began the 12 tribes of Israel. Today we are going to meet Rachel, the younger sister who was known for her beauty.

Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, had sent him home to Haran to find a wife from their family. When Jacob saw Rachel, it was love at first sight. As it turns out, Rachel is the daughter of Laban, Rebekah’s brother, but Rachel has an older sister who does not have the same prospect of marriage as she does. Rachel was beautiful, Leah was not. So, Jacob works 7 years for Laban to win the hand of Rachel only to be duped on their wedding night and discover he had been tricked into marrying Leah instead. So, Jacob works another 7 years to earn the hand of the sister he truly loved.

Now, Jacob is married to both sisters which poses problems of its own. However, the biggest issue comes when Leah has 4 sons and Rachel has delivered none. So, Rachel gives her handmaid to Jacob so she can give him children as well. The First son born she names Dan (God has vindicated me), Bilhah the handmaid conceived again, and the second son is named Naphtali (I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won). Then, Rachel conceives and her first born son is Joseph (I will bear another son). Rachel does conceive again and has a difficult delivery. As she lays dying, she names her second son Ben-oni (son of my misfortune). Rachel has always been the love of Jacob’s life so after her death he changes the boys name to Benjamin (son of my good fortune).

Rachel’s story is a love story that is repeated throughout scripture. She is buried outside of Bethlehem and we are reminded of her love in Matthew 2:18 after King Herod’s slaughter of the children in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Rachel is remembered as the mother of the children of Israel.

Prayer: “God, your love is with us always. In the struggles of life as well as the joy. Thank you for your steadfast love.” Amen.

 

FRIDAY, May 21                               Genesis 29:31-35

Genesis 29-35 has the account of two more amazing women of scripture – Rachel & Leah – sisters who together with Jacob began the 12 tribes of Israel. Yesterday we met Rachel, the younger sister who was known for her beauty, she is also the one Jacob loves. Today we meet Leah, who apparently had a wonderful personality and a heart of gold but wasn’t the type most men choose to marry.

Although Leah was the older sister she must have lived in the shadow of her beautiful, younger sister. We first hear from Leah in the naming of her firstborn son Reuben. Women named the children, and it was a way for them to be heard, for their story to be told. The Re in Reuben means “look”, look what God has done for me. It also means God looked on me. The unloved, unseen Leah was seen by God and given favor by God.

Her second son she named Simeon; God has heard me. The God Leah has come to know, and love, has not only seen her, but he also hears her. As much as God means to her, Leah still desires to be loved by her husband. Her third son is named Levi; now my husband will be joined to me. As heartbreaking as it is, Leah’s hope is that her husband would love her. But it wasn’t to be, and by her fourth son her attention and focus is on God. She names her fourth son Judah; I will Praise the Lord.

Though Leah may not have ever received her husbands love, she certainly received God’s blessing. Through her son Levi came Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and all the priests of Israel. Her son Judah became the greatest blessing, not only do the Jewish people derive their name from his, the Lion of the tribe of Judah – Jesus Christ – comes from his line. Leah becomes the mother of the entire royal line of Israel, the mother of kings and princes for a thousand years and also appears in the lineage of Christ.

Through Leah we get the amazing picture of redemption. Leah knew what it was to be rejected, a sorrow Jesus also knew. Jesus warned his disciples in Luke 17:25 that he would “suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” Through Leah we can see that even in our brokenness and rejection we can still find God, seeing our misery, hearing our cries, and bringing us our most precious blessing.

Prayer: “God, you see me and hear me when no one else does. Thank you for loving me and being my God.” Amen.

 

SATURDAY, May 22                         Genesis 38:6-15, 18, 24-26

Today’s story isn’t exactly the inspiring woman of scripture we would expect. You certainly wouldn’t share this story in a children’s Sunday school class. So why not just skip it? Because Tamar’s story is one of a fascinating woman who was also an outsider and exemplifies God’s redemptive power in our messy lives.

Tamar’s story is awkwardly placed in scripture between Joseph being sold into slavery by his brother Judah and the remainder of Joseph’s amazing story in Egypt. Tamar was the victim of a really bad marriage. Er was apparently so evil that God killed him. The Leviratic law dictated that the next son should marry her to carry on the first son’s name. He was bad and died too. Judah did not want to risk his third son dying so he sent Tamar away. Tamar decides to take matters into her own hands and trick Judah into sleeping with her so she can have a son. When Judah discovers she is pregnant he doesn’t realize the child was his, so he orders her to be burned to death. That’s when Tamar sends him back his signet ring, cord, and staff – proof he is the father. It’s at this point Judah has to swallow his pride and admit that Tamar is more righteous than he is. Tamar, an outsider, a woman with no power, no standing in her community, and no male protector looking out for her, delivered a powerful rebuke to Judah, and was heard.

Remember, her story is an awkward interlude in the middle of Joseph’s story. Why? Remember, it was Judah who sold Joseph into slavery. Years pass and we then hear the story of their elderly father Jacob having to send the youngest son Benjamin away to Egypt. Judah steps forward and places his life on the line to protect Benjamin. Judah’s attitude has changed from a vengeful hothead to a mature, compassionate man. Judah being humbled by Tamar and having to confess his wrongdoing made a powerful impact on his life. Tamar showed him the way to righteousness.

In Matthew 1 we see the genealogy of Jesus and verse 3 says “and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar.” Tamar is one of only 3 women lifted up in the lineage of Christ. God can use even our messed-up stories to miraculous ends.

Prayer: “God, you are truly an amazing God. Take my life and use it for your blessing of others.” Amen.

 

May 9, 2021

Luke 1:26-38

WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

“Called to Motherhood”

 

MEMORY VERSE

 

Luke 1:37-38

“For nothing will be impossible with God. Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to our word.’”

 

 

MONDAY, May 10                           Genesis 1:26-27, 31

Genesis begins with God creating the heavens and the earth and all things in them. Each day’s creation ends with “God saw that it was good”. On the sixth day God created man – or so the King James Version and a few others interpret it. The Hebrew word used actually means humankind – both male and female. There is a specific Hebrew word for man and that is not what is used. That should become obvious by the end of verse 27 it says, “male and female he created them”. Then verse 31 says, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

However, there is a second creation story in Genesis 2. In this one man is created first out of the dust of the ground and an interesting phrase was introduced for the very first time in 2:18; “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’” God saw that man by himself was not good, he is only good and truly complete when he has woman as his partner. So, God took living flesh and bone and created woman. “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

It is important and vital to understand this concept because for thousands of years this section of scripture – along with others – has been abused in order to diminish the role of women in scripture. Men and women are created different and unique. Both are created in the image and likeness of God and are created to be in partnership with each other and God.

Over the next several weeks we will be looking at various women throughout scripture, their roles and the message and example they have for us today. I hope you join us as we celebrate the blessing they have for all of us.

Prayer: “God, thank you for creating us and giving us the blessing of each other. Thank you for our differences as well. What a wonderful blessing these differences teach us.” Amen.

 

TUESDAY, May 11                            Genesis 2:21-23; 3:1-7, 20-21

Eve is the first woman of scripture and she is actually known by three names. Her first name was Woman because she was taken out of Man. In Hebrew Man is “Ish” and Woman is “Ishshah” – Man-ess. Then Both Eve and her husband are called Adam which means both male and female; “Male and female He created them.” This inclusive name implies that man and woman ideally form an indissoluble unity. Then there is the third and most popular name – Eve – which means “Mother of all living”.

Eve is courageous, smart, created for companionship, and faithful. All of these traits are to her credit, but they also contribute to her failure. Adam and Eve were together when the serpent tempted them, and the serpent knows woman was created to form relationships. That is why the serpent spoke to Eve and not Adam and she was courageous enough to engage in the conversation which resulted in her temptation. Her greatest strength became her greatest vulnerability.

Eve doesn’t give up. Because of her and her husband’s disobedience in the garden they lose their home and are forced to leave Eden. Eve builds a new home and a new life for them and has a son – Cain – who is a farmer. Then a second son is born – Able – who is a shepherd. Tragedy strikes again when her 1st born son kills her 2nd son. She loses both of her sons but still does not give up. Then in Genesis 4:25-26 we hear, “Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.’ To Seth also a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.” Eve’s faithfulness, courage, and resiliency is a testimony to what women are capable of through God.

Prayer: “God, thank you for Eve and what we learn through her.” Amen.

 

WEDNESDAY, May 12                    Genesis 4:3-17

This passage raises so many questions. Where did Cain’s wife come from? How many more people are there? Was this woman Cain’s sister? Scholars and theologians have debated these questions for centuries. The simple fact of the matter is God didn’t focus on the origins of all the people involved. The crucial point is the issue of good and evil in all of its pain and complexity. This is a tragic story of an older brother who is jealous of his younger brother. God urges Cain to change his attitude, confronts him with his crime then in verse 16-17 we are told “Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch.”

The question I have is why in the world would this woman want to marry someone like Cain? Why would someone want to marry trouble? Which leads us back to God who continues to pursue Cain even when he is unwilling to repent and change his ways. Cain moved away from God and into the land of Nod – wandering. Cain made wandering his new home.

Then enters this unnamed woman. Was the marital market that bleak? Was it blind love? Maybe she just wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box? Or, perhaps, she like many women is a victim of unbridled idealism. She believed she could make Cain a better man.

Women have an extraordinary gift for believing that they can redeem a lost cause. It’s the fairytale of the princes and the frog. Maybe her kiss can transform him into the prince he was created to be. We all love it when such stories come true.

Remember, it was God who ensured Cain would have a long life. God hasn’t given up on Cain either. There is still hope he can become a better man. And this hopeless murderer who walked away from God and made wandering his home settles down with this idealistic woman, starts a family and eventually builds a new home. Praise God that there is grace enough for Cain.

Prayer: “God, thank you for believing in me when I don’t even believe in myself. Thank you for grace.” Amen.

 

THURSDAY, May 13                        Genesis 4:19-21

Yesterday we saw how women have an extraordinary gift for believing that they can redeem a lost cause. And this is a wonderful gift from God. However, for this to truly work we must be in a relationship with God, otherwise it’s the fairytale of the princes and the frog. Maybe her kiss can transform him into the prince he was created to be. Without God, it’s the princess who is transformed into the frog instead. That is what we see in today’s passage.

Cain’s wife was able to settle him down, but they were still wandering away from God. Over the subsequent generations this gifted union between man and woman began to turn sour. Now, six generations later we have the story of Lamech and his two wives, Adah and Zillah – (adornment & shadow of darkness). This is the first polygamous marriage and is expressly against the union of 1 man and 1 woman that was ordained by God in Genesis 2. This union degraded the dignity of womanhood, profaned God’s ordinances and brought even more terrible complications by sin upon the human race.

Listen once again to Lamech’s poem to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Lamech exults over the violent revenge he can and will take over anyone who offends him. This includes his wives who now see the consequences of not doing what he says.

Without God’s grace and forgiveness, we humans de-evolve into violence and manipulation. Lamech celebrates his ability to seek vengeance and retribution seventy-sevenfold. In Matthew 18:21-22 “Peter came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’” Jesus once again overturns the fall of man and gives us a way home.

Prayer: “God, teach me your grace and forgiveness.” Amen.

 

FRIDAY, May 14                               Genesis 6:1-7

Yesterday we saw how polygamy disrupted the union of 1 man and 1 woman that was ordained by God in Genesis 2. This union degraded the dignity of womanhood, profaned God’s ordinances and brought even more terrible complications by sin upon the human race. Without God’s grace and forgiveness, we humans de-evolve into violence and manipulation. In today’s passage we see how sin and evil, when given a foothold, will completely corrupt everything it touches.

In this unusual passage to understand what is happening we first must understand what is meant by “the sons of God”. This same phrase is used 3 other times in the Old Testament and each time it is referring to angels. What we are seeing in Genesis 6 are the fallen angels, (what we call demons today), the ones that followed Satan when he was kicked out of heaven. The line of Cain had degraded humanity to such an extent that they were now performing demonic rituals to produce an even more corrupt hybrid humanity. This in turn corrupted all of creation. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.”

Men and women were created to be the image bearers of God – two equal halves that compliment and complete God’s intended purpose. Without God as the defining element that completes us, we fall into complete ruin.

Prayer: “God, we need you at the center of our lives. We can only find completion and perfection in you.” Amen.

 

SATURDAY, May 15                         Genesis 6:9-10, 18

Noah was not the only one God found to be righteous. His wife, his sons, and their wives were also saved through the flood. 1 Peter 3:20-21 reminds us, “God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you – not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Prayer: “God, thank you for patiently waiting for me. I want to live in your covenant.” Amen.

May 2, 2021

Matthew 6:25-34

LOVE REIGNS

“Tomorrow’s Hope”

 

MEMORY VERSE

 

Matthew 6:34

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

 

 

MONDAY, May 3                              1 John 4:12-16

God is love! We were told this in our passage on Saturday and John reaffirms this message again today. GOD IS LOVE!

John wants us to know and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that “God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.”

There has been opposition to this message of truth from the very beginning. The world does not want us to believe the truth. Jesus Christ is the Son of God! We can know this truth and God’s love for us changes everything. That is why the world doesn’t want us to believe the truth.

“We have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

Prayer: “Jesus, I want to hold on to your truth and abide in your love. Use me to change the world in your love.” Amen.

 

TUESDAY, May 4                              1 John 4:16-19

We Love because He first Loved us.

Have you found Christ? We have all heard this question posed in one form or another. The problem with this question is that it implies that we are somehow to be credited with our own salvation. Or, that somehow Jesus is hard to be found.

The truth is God has done everything and is continuing to do everything so that we can return to Him. We are like a lost child who has wandered away in the darkness, and God – our Father – is shining His light and waiting for us to turn around and come home. We have to stop running away and wandering lost in the darkness.

God loved us before we were even born and has prepared a place for us. It is not up to us to somehow find God and build a relationship. It is up to us to stop running away and accept the home and the love that has been waiting for us all along.

We Love because He first Loved us. When we accept God’s love then our love grows and matures, and we become perfected in God’s love. That is how we have boldness on the day of judgment. We are already home and safe inside protected from the storm.

Prayer: “God, thank you for loving me so that I can love you.” Amen.

 

WEDNESDAY, May 5                       1 John 4:19-21

We Love because He first Loved us.

When we come to see and understand all that God has done for us, we begin to understand just how much he must love us. Romans 5:8 reminds us that “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” It is God’s unconditional love for us that works in us to bring us into his perfect love.

We could not know love or participate in loving except that God loved us. All of our loving is a response – in the power of the Spirit – to the great love with which He loves us. We cannot take pride in being already loving. As we experience God’s love for us, through the Holy Spirit, we begin to understand his love is for the whole world. As we abide in God’s love then we are able to see how strange it is for us to hate our sister or brother.

We are all receivers of this love of God–we are all created in His love, redeemed in His love. We are all in need of knowing this love and being made more and more able to receive it. When we hate others, we are not yet able to see them as brothers and sisters who are in need of God’s transforming grace.

That is why in 1 John 1:9 he tells us that “if we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So, we hand God our hate and anger, confessing our need for forgiveness and for His Spirit to transform our feelings and perfect our love. He is the one who will change us, so we hand over each day all that we are, our fears and frustrations as well as our faith, allowing Him to do His loving will in us.

Prayer: “God, perfect your love in me.” Amen.

 

THURSDAY, May 6                           1 John 5:1-5

Yesterday we heard John say, “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” Today, John puts a different twist on this when he says, “everyone who loves the parent loves the child.”

At first it just seems like John is talking in circles. He’s not. This is actually one of the fundamental points of what it means to be a Christian. Love for God and love for God’s children are integrally connected. They both flow from the belief that God sent the Son for our sake, and one love cannot exist without the other. That’s why in verse two for today John ties this love back to obeying God’s commandments.

You don’t have to memorize all of God’s commandments to understand this either. Jesus summarized all of God’s commandments in Matthew 22:37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Get the point yet? Love God and love each other! Scripture repeats this over and over and over again. And in case you are wondering why scripture repeats this simple commandment – It’s because we still haven’t gotten it right yet. Keep working on it and God will keep working on you.

Prayer: “God, thank you for loving me in all my imperfection. I want to love others as you love me.” Amen.

 

FRIDAY, May 7                                  1 John 5:6-12

The early church had various people and groups who were trying to lead the believers away from their faith in Jesus Christ. Some of the false doctrines stated that Jesus wasn’t truly human, he was just the spirit of God that appeared to be human. Other false doctrines stated that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. Either he was taken up to heaven before the crucifixion or someone else was crucified in his place. All of these false doctrines were contrived to lead people away from the truth of the gospel.

That’s why at the very beginning of John’s letter in 1:1 he states, “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” The message of truth, the gospel, is that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, was truly human, suffered, was crucified, and died on the cross. On the third day he rose from the dead. John continues on in chapter 2 to warn us that these false doctrines that try and lead us from the truth are coming from the spirit of the antichrist – those who are opposed to Christ or are trying to replace Christ.

In today’s passage from chapter 5 John testifies that the Spirit and the water and the blood all testify to the truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, through the water of human birth and truly died a human death as seen through his blood on the cross. Through Jesus Christs entire human birth, life and death we are united to him and redeemed of our birth and death into eternal life in him. His victory for us is really our victory in Him.

Prayer: “Jesus, thank you for redeeming our life through yours.” Amen.

 

SATURDAY, May 8                           1 John 5:13-21

John begins this epilogue to his letter by saying “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God.” It is written so we can have confidence in eternal life. That our sins do not jeopardize this eternal life. And the gospel message is true. “These things” John refers to is everything written previous to this. This includes the fact that God is light and in him there is no darkness.  Therefore, His children, true believers will: Know they are sinful; Love things of God and not things of the world; Confess that Jesus is the Christ; Pursue a lifestyle of rightness and holiness; Love with a self-sacrificing love.

With this confidence we can come to God in prayer and anything we ask for that is in accordance with God’s will, he will answer and grant that request. We can and should come to God with everything, and God hears everything. But it is the things we bring to God in His righteousness that we can have full confidence are granted.

Throughout this letter John has warned us about those who pretend to be righteous but who are actually trying to destroy the message of the gospel. They have denied the birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and are trying to lead others from God’s message of truth. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and a denial of God – a mortal sin which leads to death. In Mark 3:29 Jesus tells us, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.”

In John’s last sentence, he encourages us to “keep yourselves from idols.” An idol is anything we look to besides Christ to give us our identity and our life. Whenever we say, “I will really be happy, life will really be good, only when …..” then we have made an idol of that thing. Anytime we believe our lives or our identities depend on the fulfillment of something besides God, we have taken hold of an idol.

Prayer: “Jesus, I place my trust in you. Perfect my love for you and others.” Amen.