Written by: Lyndsay Terry
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about a woman who is only mentioned a couple of times. Her story has so greatly impacted my life and the way I view the ordinary, boring parts of life. Look at 1 Kings 10…
"1Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with riddles. 2So she came to Jerusalem with a very large caravan (entourage), with camels carrying spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about everything that was on her mind [to discover the extent of his wisdom]. 3Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. 4When the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, and the house (palace) which he had built, 5the food on his table, the seating of his servants (court officials), the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, his stairway by which he went up to the house (temple) of the Lord, she was breathless and awed [by the wonder of it all]. 6Then she told the king, “The report which I heard in my own land about your words and wisdom is true! 7I did not believe the report until I came and saw it with my own eyes. Behold, the half of it was not told to me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. 8How blessed (fortunate, happy) are your men! How blessed are these your servants who stand continually before you, hearing your wisdom! 9Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, He made you king to execute justice and righteousness.” 10She gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again did such an abundance of spices come in [to Israel] as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon.
Such a small moment in this story hit me so hard…she noticed the stairway up to the temple and that was one of the things that brought her to the Lord. All these other things - Solomon’s wisdom, the way his servants and wives treated him, their happiness, their clothing, and his wealth - I understand. Those are impressive and very noticeable…but a stairway?
A few chapters earlier, we read all about the building of the temple and how ornate and beautiful it was. Every part of it. We read about what materials were used in what areas and the kinds of carvings put into the walls and the undressed stones and the gold in the room for the Ark of the Covenant. You know what we don’t have detailed descriptions of? The stairway. It’s mentioned, but it’s not clear what it looks like or what it’s made of. It’s almost unnoticed…mentioned in fleeting. But you know who notices it 4 chapters later? The Queen of Sheba.
The only reason I can think this woman would see the staircase and be so impressed, so moved to know this God of Solomon’s is that this staircase must have been made with an impressive level of craftsmanship.
Friend, when you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter, that you aren’t making any kind of important contribution to the Kingdom of God, when your calling goes unnoticed, or your life feels small…you may just be building a staircase. And your staircase, while quiet and mundane, can be built with such an impressive level of dedication to beauty that spiritual (and maybe literal) kings and queens will be drawn to the Lord by your work. Yes, God will use the mundane and ordinary done with excellence and beauty for his glory and the redemption of people around you.
The Queen of Sheba didn’t come for the staircase. She came for the wisdom and riches, but she stayed for the staircase. She came to know God because of the wisdom, riches, AND…a staircase.
So build your staircase, sis. Build it with a dedication to beauty and the glory of God. Clean that toilet, raise those kids, serve in your church, work for your boss, love your husband, build your staircase for the glory of God. Your work, your dedication to craftsmanship and beauty in all you do, will win others to the Lord.
Your staircase is important. And the Lord sees its beauty.
Photo by Justin Chrn on Unsplash
Sapphira: Life or DeathRead Now
Written by: Olivia Caldwell
I love reading about the early church. I love reading about their boldness and their love and their commitment to the spreading of the gospel and their commitment to one another.
I love verses like Acts 2:46-47: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
And I love this account in Acts 4:32-35: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”
I. Love. That. I love that the church was so in awe of Jesus, in awe of such great grace and in awe of the Spirit of God, who dwelled in them and unified them and led them and gave them pure hearts, generous hearts, and hearts overflowing with the love of God.
What could keep us from that kind of fullness of life?
At the end of Acts 4 there, we read of a man named Joseph, called Barnabas (son of encouragement) by the apostles, who sold a field he owned and laid the money from that sale at the feet of the apostles.
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.” Acts 5:1-5 (italics added)
Ugh. This is so heavy. I feel such a grief when I read Peter’s question to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit..?”
Sapphira arrives mere hours later, unaware of what transpired earlier, and is seemingly given the opportunity to answer honestly, possibly to humble herself and to repent. She stands alone to answer for her involvement-really, this is an examination of her heart.
“And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” Acts 5:8-11
“How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?”
This passage from the book of James comes to mind: “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:14-17
There is such a clear distinction in this passage, just as in the story of Ananias and Sapphira following such a beautiful description of the church. Peter does not hesitate to call their choice demonic. Whatever their motive, whatever their intention, it’s clear that it was completely devoid of and in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit.
How did they get here?
Take a look at what is recorded twice in this passage in Acts:
“And great fear came upon all who heard of it.”
“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”
We may not be able to tell how exactly they arrived here, how it is that their hearts were so turned from the Holy Spirit and filled by Satan, but from the reaction of the church, we can gather that a fear of the Lord was missing.
Where was their reverence? Their humility? Their recognition of just who God is and of His character? Of His power? Of the Spirit’s ability to discern at the very least whether or not they were lying and moreover, their hearts behind the lie?
What of His holiness? And what of their holiness? Their purity before the Lord?
Living by the Spirit is imperative. We cannot harden our hearts, resisting and quenching the Spirit, until we eventually are no longer sensitive to the moving, stirring and convicting of Holy Spirit. That is dangerous. That is where the enemy has free rein to wreak havoc; that is where disorder and every vile practice begins.
That is how we give dominion of our hearts to the one who is not King. That is how we forsake life abundant and mistakenly choose death instead.
For the church to be “of one heart and soul”, the full number of us, we will need to be in complete submission and surrender to the Lord and to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our flesh has no room-and honestly, why would we want to give our flesh mastery over us?
What the early church had was not natural; it was supernatural. The unity and the favor and the great grace and the generosity and the salvations day after day were not produced by human effort. And that’s the point.
Friend, we have a choice to make each and every day. Every hour. Every moment. Will we surrender to the Holy Spirit? Will we choose life over death? Will we choose transformation over stagnation?
Will we allow the enemy a foothold? Will we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to the lies and deceit that grieves the Spirit and sows disorder and impurity?
Let the story of Ananias and Sapphira instill anew a healthy fear of the Lord and a wholehearted desire to be yielded completely to the Holy Spirit. Let the accounts of the early church inspire a wonder and a desire in you. And let the divide between life according to the flesh and life according to the Spirit be sharp, a line distinct and uncrossable.
Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash
Messy WorkRead Now
Written By: Angie Reese
Lineage of Jesus.
Have you ever played “one of these things is not like the other”? That list makes it pretty obvious which one doesn’t belong. They all belong to one person though. If you immediately thought of Rahab when you saw those words, you are right on the money. If you aren’t sure who Rahab is or what she is about, take a quick look in the book of Joshua chapter 2. It will be worth your time to go read this short chapter and her short, but important story.
I remember being asked to teach the story of Rahab to a group of elementary students at a VBS we were having. As an adult, I was horrified. How was I going to explain this woman and her shortcomings to an innocent group of first graders? In my mind it became almost comical: “Now children, do any of you know what the word harlot means?” Big no there. But that was me focusing on her just like the people of Jericho did. However, praise God, there is more to her than just that.
In Rahab’s story she encounters two spies sent to the city by Joshua. These men were sent in to check things out before the Israelites were going to do their famous march around the city to destroy the wall. For whatever reason, they were found out and Rahab saved their lives by hiding them on the roof and then lowering them out her window (which was built into the wall of Jericho). This story has all the makings of a good movie - spies, a search, secrets, and a dangerous escape.
This woman, who had an ungodly profession, was known very well in the city. Enough so that the king sent to her and asked about the men who came into the city. She was one of those women that everyone knew and that knew about everything. I would imagine that this came naturally with the life she led. But that is not the most important part of her story. Let’s look again.
“...for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
Rahab had heard all the things that God was doing for the nation of Israel and she had a healthy fear and respect for what was going on. This caused her to recognize God as God. This in turn made it so she put her life on the line to save these two spies - that might not have been that good at spying (just noticing that they were found out pretty easily.)
When we recognize the power and might of our Lord God, life changes. Rahab and her family were the only ones we know of that were saved from the battle at Jericho. Her life had to have changed from that time forward. We read in her story that she asked the spies to save her in return for keeping their plan a secret. She knew destruction was coming to the city. She tied a red chord on her window and as the wall fell, she and her family stayed safe because of her faith.
Later, in Matthew 1, as we are taken through the lineage of Jesus, we see Rahab’s name again. She is one of two women mentioned (usually it didn’t matter who your mother was in a lineage - your father was the important one) as part of this. Rahab and Ruth - two very different women, but both mentioned.
I believe this story is a great example of how our faith can turn things around. We always say God can use anything for his good, and Rahab is proof! A woman who was worldly and far away from God at the time has an encounter with God and changes her life and the life of her family. And we think God isn’t using us? Think again! Can you imagine her testimony? How powerful would that story be?
Sisters, sometimes we are a mess - a hot, hot mess. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am downright lazy. I can’t seem to keep the house clean, laundry done, and myself together. I miss deadlines, say things I shouldn’t, participate in gossip, and just go through the motions of worship instead of really entering into God’s presence. However, time and time again, just like Rahab, I am used for HIS glory. When I am paying attention sometimes the Holy Spirit will put words of life and love into my mouth that help others. Sometimes I get it right and I actually teach my sweet little girls about God in a moment instead of losing my mind. And I give God all the credit for that.
God uses whatever he wants - the messy and broken - because He can! He knows we are a mess and he uses us anyway. I personally find hope in the story of Rahab. If he can use her, I know that I can allow him to move in my life and use me. Will you allow him to use your mess?
Lord, thank you for using us and all our mess for your glory. Thank you for stories like that of Rahab where your work and change is evident. I pray for each woman that reads this. Let her light for you shine through the difficult moments of this earthly life. Let her heart and her voice be used for you. Amen.
Woman at the WellRead Now
Written By: Alexandria Brown
Most of us have heard about the woman at the well. There is so very much to unpack in that small section of the Bible and there are mountains worth of truth in every verse.
The Lord has place those scriptures on my heart for what seems like a very long time. Diving deeper every time I read it. Every time I meditate on it. Even waking me up from my sleep with new revelation from those scriptures.
That’s where I want to start.
I was speaking with a group of people on a zoom recently, let’s start there. Let me explain the scene.
While we were in this zoom meeting my family and I had been living and working from our trailer while we had an extended stay at a local lake. We like to work with the crashing waves in the background and my husband is nice enough to commute straight from the lake.
Our trailer isn’t big and fancy like some. In fact it is an older trailer that my husband and I have remodeled over the last few years. We have one big open space that is the living room, dining room, kitchen and where our kiddos sleep on portable bunkbeds.
This particular morning was rather windy at the lake so I took shelter during our computer meet up at the table in our trailer. Half of my background was our where couch is situated, it was previously cleaned and fluffed with our “Beyond Blessed” pillow perfectly in place had our cute pictures hanging on the wall, and a cuddle blanket neatly thrown over the side of the couch. creating a nice backdrop from my table temporarily turned desk.
On the other half of the screen was our children’s disheveled portable bunkbeds. With pillows and blankets piled up and stuffed animals hanging over the sides of the bed ready to fall to the floor at a moment's notice. Not organized nicely. Not picture perfect. Messy.
During my zoom meeting I found myself constantly consciously and unconsciously leaning toward the right side of my computer screen trying to cover up the mess of the disheveled bunkbeds while displaying the left side background of the cute couch and photos. I was so busy trying to hide the mess, worried what others might think, that I never could get to far away from it for fear it would then be seen on the screen.
It was then that Holy Spirit began speaking to me. He reminded me of something He spoke to my spirit many years ago.
“When we water down our testimony, we water down our God.”
When we are focused on hiding our past, our mess, we can never move very far forward. We become so focused on obstructing the view of our past, trying to hide it, that we get stuck never able to take more than a few steps ahead. Sometimes we even take a few steps forward away from it and then step back. Because if we are not standing in front of it hiding it from people, who knows what people with think?
All the while the words "If they only knew what we did, said, were…" floating in our head.
Back when I received that word above my bubble burst.
It was almost as if Holy Spirit was saying to me "Sis, you ain’t special."
Don’t miss understand me. I am unique and divinely loved by a perfect Father. He calls me His Treasure. He was beaten, died, and rose again for me. I know that, I trust it and I live from it. AND… my situation is not unique. I am not the only person who has gone through hard times. I am not the only person who has had to deal with difficult situations, circumstances, consequences, and hurts. I am not the only person who has made terrible, damaging decisions.
I did not just magically appear in the position that I am in my life spiritually, physically, and emotionally. It is a result of a constant surrender and trust in what the Lord is doing in my life and the life of those that have gone before me that I learn from each and every day.
I am where I am at because I was willing to look at my mess and say, "I want something more. Lord will you help me?"
I am at where I am because those who have gone before me performing and receiving signs and miracles in their health, in their families, in their marriages. I am where I am at because of the testimonies of people that I know, people that I have seen, people that I have read about. I am at where I am at because if He could do it for them, He can do it for me.
That’s what I mean when I say if we water down our testimony, we water down our God. It does not mean that we control God. Far from it! It means when we try to hide our past, when we try to put those stained glass windows up around our life and make everything pretty and neat, we may be leaving those around us feeling hopeless and alone, not seeing a way out.
In John 4 we see that there is a Samaritan woman coming to Jacob’s well in the middle of the afternoon and it was there that she met Jesus. The scriptures go on to give us insight as to why the woman was going to draw water, a strenuous task, during the hottest part of the day. This woman had a past to hide from.
Jesus, of course, didn’t shy away. He met her right where she was. He didn’t tell her to "get her act together and then come talk to me." He didn’t say "you are too dirty" or "you're not good enough." He didn’t even define her by her past, but instead He told her who He was and invited her to worship Him!
All at once, the woman left her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be the One we’ve been waiting for.” Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.
Sis, let’s be woman who use our testimony to bring hope to the hopeless. Let’s step away from our past and into the healing future and Kingdom that God is calling us into. Let’s break that fear that has held us in captivity for so long, if they only knew…
Let’s extend that statement while we do that.
If they only knew…what God can do.
God is too big and too good for us to keep that to ourselves! There is a deeper healing in the openness. Step out. Step in. Trust.
Love you sis, really!
Photo by Call Me Fred on Unsplash
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