WRITTEN BY: OLIVIA CALDWELL
There is a beautiful series of events that unfolds after Jesus’ death, as the stone has been rolled away and his tomb is found empty. In John 20:1-10, Scripture says:
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.”
Though it may appear clear to us throughout the Gospels that Jesus had been pretty explicit regarding what was to come and what He must do, so that the Pharisees remembered that Jesus had said He would rise again in three days and ensured that His tomb was guarded (Matt 26:62-66), we also see that later, as recorded in Luke 24:44-49, Jesus opened the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures. So what did they make of all this? What could they do, but marvel and wonder at the empty tomb and folded grave clothes- and then go home??
“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)
Mary, who had been delivered from seven demons and followed Jesus all the way to the cross and beyond, as she approached the tomb early that day with spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1), stood weeping. She lingered. Where else could she go? Jesus, the Messiah, had saved her life. Her life had become His, as she followed Him to the end. Her hope was Jesus and now it seemed that her hope was not just lying in a tomb but gone altogether.
Although she knew that the tomb was empty, she still stooped to look as she wept. She kept seeking. And can you hear the desperation in her voice as she encounters these angels and answers, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”?
Turning, she sees Jesus, not yet actually seeing Jesus, and again seeks after her Lord, stating that she will take him away if she can only find him. And one word stops her in her tracks.
As soon as she heard His voice, she knew. She recognized Him and immediately turned, exclaiming,“Rabboni!”
Her Lord, her deliverer and savior, stood before her upon her searching after Him, and sends her to tell the others, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
“My Father and your Father.”?
“My God and your God.”?
This changed everything.
I can imagine her breathless exhilaration as she ran to the disciples yet again, only this time to declare, “I have seen the Lord!”
Oh, may we linger like Mary. May we never stop seeking after our Lord Jesus. May we know His voice and stop in our tracks upon hearing Him speak. May we let His voice change the trajectory of our lives!
And may we not hesitate to run to announce that we have seen the Lord. We have been with Him. We know Him to be true.. the Truth.
May we be faithful with the commission that has been given to us- the good news that we have been entrusted with.
May His great love shine forth because we ourselves have been loved much. Because to us the cross no longer means death and because the tomb was empty. Because we have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Pet 1:3)
May our lives be wholly given, so surrendered to and wrapped up in Jesus, that we cannot do a thing apart from our Lord and our King.
That can change everything.
Written By: Lyndsay Terry
Hosea - can we all agree this man is a saint? If you know the story of Hosea and Gomer, then you know. If you don’t, here’s a quick overview, but if you want the whole story, all the amazing details and glimpses of God’s goodness, go read the book of Hosea. It’s short and sweet. You’ll love it!
Here we go…
God told Hosea that he needed to go marry a prostitute and have children with her. So he went a found a woman named Gomer…I just imagine, in today’s world, a righteous man traveling to some pretty seedy places and subjecting himself to some things he doesn’t want to see or hear or feel in order to find a woman who is so far gone, for whatever reason that led her there, and bring her with him to a life of wholeness and freedom and into the beauty of marriage. He would be a man committed to her, something she’s never known, fully and wholly. That is Hosea.
Next God tells Hosea to give his children names with very specific meanings as a prophetic sign of his intent toward Israel and Judah for the own sins of prostituting themselves to other gods instead of remaining true to the One True God. Hosea and Gomer’s children bore the bad name of Gomer and all her sins laid on them as well. Her actions were burdens on her children. Heavy burdens.
Gomer leaves her family to go back to her life of prostitution. She just couldn’t play the part of wife. It was so foreign to her and I can only imagine the shame she carried in her heart and mind as she tried to raise children and love a husband. She’d rather go back to the life she was familiar with…it was easier to not commit to love and settle for cheap imitations of it.
But Hosea…Hosea went to find her. His love for her was greater than her sin. He searched for her until He found her where, in that time, women were put up for sale for a “good time”. She was stripped naked for all the hungry men to see and then her value was determined by what these men would be willing to pay for her company…the only thing she knew that she had to offer was her company for a night. Was that all she was worth? Hosea found her there and bought her back…not for a night, but forever. He was committed whether she was or not. He was sold out to love her wholly, whether she could love him or not. He would love her even if she never stopped running. His love for her was pure and whole…perfect love.
My goodness…what a gorgeous picture of God’s unending, perfect love for us. We have run so far at times, haven’t we? We have run to other things that are easier. We’ve sold ourselves for less than we’re worth. We’ve left what was good for what was known…even if it hurt us. We’ve let our value be determined by other people and what we can do for them. BUT GOD. God found us in that marketplace, naked and vulnerable. He beat all the other offers and bought us with all He had, not for a night…not for what we could DO for him…but for His own love for us. His perfect, whole, pure love for us. No matter how far or how often we run, He is waiting at the market to buy us back. To bring us home where we belong. He is committed…are we?
Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
I read that and I just think…God desires for us to really know Him, not just do things for Him. We can DO for God and still our hearts are far from Him. We can play the part and still be found in the marketplace. BUT GOD. He wants us near, not to do things for him, but to know Him. To be committed and connected to His heart. He wants mercy…mercy on us.
Sister, if you’ve run so far you’ve lost your way back…He is waiting for you in the marketplace of your life. He will buy you back, bring you home, and have mercy on you. He wants you to know Him, to love Him, to be connected to His heart. And He’ll do whatever it takes to bring you back to where you belong. He doesn’t want you to be nearly so concerned with DOING things for Him as he wants you to KNOW Him.
It’s time to stop prostituting ourselves to other things…even if they are good things. If they are taking our attention and time from the Lord, we are selling ourselves to a lesser love. It may be a relationship, an activity, our phones (oh mercy, yes), television, our need to veg out, whatever. If it is causing us to withhold our attention and love from the Lord to give it to a lesser thing, we’ve run away.
Pray and ask the Lord how you’ve been running from Him lately. He’ll show you the marketplace in your heart where He’s waiting to bring you back. Let Him.
written By: Gay Idle
Have you ever found yourself shifting between adapting to the subtle (or not so subtle) lies of the culture in which we live and the truth found in the Bible? It can be easy to condition our thinking to the path of least resistance because we can become weary of truth-splaining. When this becomes our default way of thinking it becomes easier to just do what we’re told…even when what we are told is a lie from the enemy of our souls.
But God calls us to do so much more than live in the misery of Satan’s lies. He calls us into His truth. Jesus said that when we abide in His Word, we will know the truth and it is that truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32). And sometimes that truth calls us to step out and take a bold risk.
We find two such audacious women stepping out in the first chapter of Exodus.
Exodus begins with Jacob’s descendants multiplying rapidly in Egypt and a new ruler in place who has no respect for the Israelites and no memory of Joseph and what he had done. As a matter of fact, he seemed to be so fearful of the sheer numbers of the Israelites that he put them in forced labor.
“So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and put brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down under heavy burdens. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king” (Exodus 1:11).
But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied! This was alarming to the Egyptians so they made their work even harder. They were cruel taskmasters.
“Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: ‘When you help the Hebrew women give birth, kill all the boys as soon as they are born. Allow only the baby girls to live.’ But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king and allowed the boys to live, too.” (Exodus 1:15-17).
Did you catch that? At the risk of their own safety, Shiphrah and Puah defied Pharoah’s evil edict to kill the baby boys. They feared God more than they feared Pharoah. Because these women revered God more than the current ruler and his wicked law they had the courage to step out and do the righteous thing. They took the high road and saved the lives of many Hebrew infants. And so we read in verse 20: “So God blessed the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.”
God honored these women for their bravery. They were given the dignity of being named in God’s word. Notice the Pharoah is not honored in this way as he is not identified by name. In the big picture of God’s story, these women are more important than the King of Egypt.
And why? By defying the king’s order, these gutsy women set in motion the story of the Exodus, the story of how God was going to free the Israelites from slavery. We read in the second chapter of Exodus that it was during this time that Moses was born. And it was very likely the actions of these two midwives saved the life of baby Moses. It is also very likely that the bravery of Shiphra and Puah inspired Jochebed, Moses’ mother, to be courageous enough to further protect him by hiding him for three months, and then setting him off to his destiny in a basket along the edge of the Nile River. Moses grows up and goes on to deliver the Hebrew people from slavery.
So what does that mean for us?
As I write this I keep thinking of Fred Roger’s mother telling him that when he saw really scary news on television to “Look for the helpers”. Shiphrah and Puah were the helpers…the ‘ezers’ (Hebrew word for ‘helper’). Women are called to be ezers. There are many nuances in the word ‘ezer’, but in one sense it means “rescuer”. We, God’s women, are called as image bearers of God to be ezers. To be ready when God calls us to do the right and righteous thing.
We need to look for the ezers. Those women who are walking out the call that God has placed on their lives…as Shiprah and Puah did. When we read the stories of these brave women…when we see other women stepping out boldly for truth, we too can be inspired to courageously step out.
When those around us are suffering because they have believed the lies of the enemy…we need to be ready. And sometimes we need to love God enough to break the rules.
Written By: Alexandria Brown
"…Jesus left on a journey to the village of Nain, with a massive crowd of people following him, and his disciples. As he approached the village, he met a multitude of people in a funeral procession, who were mourning as they carried the body of a young man to the cemetery. The boy was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. When the Lord saw the grieving mother, his heart broke for her.* With great tenderness he said to her, “Please don’t cry.” Then he stepped up to the coffin and touched it. When the pallbearers came to a halt, Jesus spoke directly to the corpse, “Young man, I say to you, arise and live!” Immediately, the young man moved, sat up, and spoke to those nearby. Jesus presented the son to his mother, alive! A tremendous sense of holy mystery swept over the crowd. They shouted praises to God, saying, “God himself has blessed us by visiting his people! A great prophet has appeared among us!” The news of Jesus and this miracle raced throughout Judea and the entire surrounding region." Luke 7:11-17
This particular woman of the Bible remains unnamed and still teaches us powerful attributes of the character of God. Let’s start at the beginning. This was not a “planned” stop on the trip Jesus was preparing to go on. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it was absolutely and totally a divinely orchestrated appointment, just no one that the disciples were let in on. His crowd literally ran into her crowd. This crowd was mourning. This mother was mourning.
God isn’t waiting for us to get our act together to meet with him. He is not looking for us to only come when we are joy-filled and laughing. He longs for us to come to Him in the good, the bad and the ugly. “Come as you are” is not just a cute tagline when it comes to being with the Lord, but a genuine invitation.
"When the Lord saw the grieving mother his heart broke for her."
*Excerpt from TPT regarding the above verse:
7:13 The Greek word splanchnizomai denotes the deepest level of compassion. There is no greater word in the Greek language to describe the depth of emotion Jesus felt for this widow over the loss of her son. Splanchnizomai is actually the word for “intestines.” Jesus’ emotions fully identified with her grief and he cared her sorrow.
This woman did not have to say a word. She did not have to ask a question. She simply met with Jesus and He met with her. It is not recorded that Jesus asked her if she believed or what she wanted, instead we are told about the compassion of the heart of our Lord. This verse shows us that when we are hurting God knows, understands, and has compassion on us. He hurts with us. He stopped her in the middle of her hurting and reached down and grabbed her hand and did something miraculous.
With all authority and power of the Son of God he touched the coffin and declared life back into the young man! The glory, all the glory, was given to God. I love the phrasing “a holy mystery”. Wow.
How many of us came out of, are in, or are headed into a season in our lives where we could use some holy mystery? When we long for the glory of God to be tangible, touchable?
Sis, if I could leave you with anything today, let me leave you with this…meet with Him and let Him meet with you. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He will carry our sorrows if we let Him. He longs to bring us His comfort, His peace, His joy. The Bible says the Joy of the Lord is my strength. Look for the holy mystery in what He is doing and we will receive strength.
He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He’s with you.
Written By: Angie Reese
You will have to bear with me as I share with you my thoughts from this week. I am a little more scattered than usual, but I think that God has been putting this message on my heart to share with you. It is inspired by the book of Acts. Let’s take a look at a few quick verses.
Acts 16: 13-15
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
This simple mention of Lydia for some reason brings to mind robes of purple. The color of the robe they placed on Jesus during his crucifixion was purple. Lydia is a beautiful example of the simplicity of the gospel message we are blessed to know in completion today. This thought of purple and robes and salvation makes me think of the robe of righteousness that we are promised as believers and followers of Christ. What a beautiful robe! Purple is my favorite color, so I like to think of mine as purple as well. But what other robes are we placing on ourselves? In Tana Glanzman’s book “My Father’s Daughter” she talks about these robes. Let me share with you an excerpt from her book...
“Our Heavenly Father has generously and graciously dressed us as His children. A beautiful robe of righteousness awaits each child of God who chooses to humbly and willingly submit their hearts and lives, accepting the new identity that is theirs according to the inheritance they have received.
Often, however, we are tempted by the enemy of our souls to toss aside our robe of righteousness and replace it with something much less fitting. He tries to whisper in our ear that a robe of shame, insufficiency, or self-defeat really suits us better. He even helps us put it on, step by step, attempting to convince us the entire time that this is what we were intended to wear all along.” (pg. 77, My Father’s Daughter)
I couldn’t think of a more fitting description than what Tanya shares there. It makes my skin crawl thinking of the enemy helping me dress in such tattered and ugly robes as the ones she mentions. Sadly, we give into this on a regular basis and take off our beautiful royal robes that God Himself has given us, and replace them. The day that Lydia boldly responded to Paul’s Gospel message, she put on a robe - one she could never earn herself and more beautiful than her finest purple. This girl knew it too! I love how she convinces them to come stay with her. (Feisty women in the Bible are my favorite!)
So I will end with a question. What robe are you wearing these days? Is it a royal purple robe of righteousness or a tattered rag given by the enemy?
Dear Father, thank you for the royal robe of righteousness that you have given us. Please help us to remove those rags from the enemy and take our rightful place in your kingdom with confidence and pride. You are such a good Father that gives us good things, even if we could never earn them. Thank you for that.
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
Let's talk about worship...pure and unadulterated worship.
David learned how to worship before the Lord. You may be familiar with the story of David shedding his kingly robes and dancing before the Lord, but there is so much that David walks through just in 2 Samuel 6 before he strips down and leaps and dances with all the house of Israel.
How is it that the king became so "undignified" to the point of declaring, "I will make myself even more undignified than this,"?
He saw just who God is, just how holy He is. David learned how to rightly worship a holy, holy, holy God.
A few months before this, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, "with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals." (2 Sam 6:5b) After many years, since the ark was lost in battle, the ark was now finally being returned to the tabernacle, to be set in the Most Holy Place. God's glory and presence was returning to its rightful place, in the center of Israel and in the center of the hearts of God's people!
David and the 30,000 Israelites are bringing the ark back and look at how they dance and worship! Look at their rejoicing! Isn't this incredible? Surely the Lord is pleased!
Well, no. See, God gave very specific instructions for transporting the ark. It was to be carried. And it was only to be carried by Levites of the family of Kohath. And yet...
"And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark." (v. 3-4, emphasis added)
So, here we have this large production and this worship and so much joy and celebration- and gracious, doesn't it seem like their hearts are in the right place? But how holy our God is. How worthy He is of our reverence towards Him and His commandments.
And how quickly David and the Israelites will be reminded.
"And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God." (v 6 & 7)
Not only was the ark of God to be carried by Levites of the family of Kohath, but there were also very specific instructions outlined in Numbers 4 of how every thing of the ark of God was to be covered: "but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die." (Numbers 4:15)
Perhaps one of the most profound statements I have heard that will stick with me forever is this: “Uzzah assumed that his hand was less polluted than the earth.” (R.C. Sproul)
David was angry and he was afraid of the LORD that day. "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?" (v. 9)
Can you imagine how that must have been for him? He wholeheartedly wanted for his people to be centered around the glory and the presence of the Lord and His desire seemed to be to honor the Lord above all else. How confused he must have been after this. How heart wrenching it must have been, to have had this horrifying realization wash over him that what he had been doing was not, in fact, honoring to the Lord.
"So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household." (v. 10 & 11)
"David did this in fulfillment of God's word. Obed-Edom was a Levite of the family of Korah and Kohath (1 Chronicles 26:4).
When God's word was obeyed, and His holiness was respected, blessing followed." (Enduring Word Commentary)
When David heard how the Lord had blessed the household of Obed-edom, David went and brought the ark of God to the city of David. Verse 12 says, "with rejoicing."
"And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn." (v. 13-15)
How different this was.. we see that the ark of the Lord was being carried, "bore" by men, and then this elaborate sacrifice followed.
And David. David dancing before the Lord with all his might in his linen ephod. Note that 1 Chronicles 15:27 says this, "David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers. David also wore a linen ephod." (emphasis added)
David encountered God in all His holiness and his worship was transformed accordingly.
Isn't that beautiful? How convicting and inspiring.
Well, not everyone thought so.
"As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart." (v. 16)
David finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings and went to bless his household, but his wife, Michal, confronted him, saying, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” (v. 20b)
This sarcastic vitriol could have been so deflating. And maybe it even could have even hindered a full and righteous worship of the Lord. But because of what David had experienced in those months and how he had seen with his very own eyes the holiness of God, he did not bend. He was not deterred. He was not swayed. He responded, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel--I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (v.21-22, emphasis added)
Hey, sister? There may be times when your obedience to and honoring of the Lord will not make sense to others. What He is doing and what He has done will compel you to offer to Him that which is pleasing and even that which is costly and that which will require levels of humility that could only come about from being in the presence of God. Once you have tasted and seen, you will not dare offer up anything less to the King.
There may come those who revile you and those who question you, confront you and accuse you, even.
May you stand firm in your convictions and in your devotion to a right worship of a worthy King.
May you be even more undignified - more and more and more, as you heap more and more and more glory and honor on the Lord of lords and King of kings.
Let it be so.
Written By: Alexandria Brown
Anna: There is little scripture written about her and, still, this prophetess had the privilege of seeing the Savior. Anna saw this tiny baby called out and thanked God for the Savior to be. The prophet Anna lived a life of worship to God. The Bible tells us first that she was a prophet, that she was married for 7 years and became a widow, and after that seven years she devoted her life wholly to God until the time see saw Jesus. When she encountered Jesus, Anna was 84. That’s a lifetime of worship.
Anna had a glimpse, a glimmer of understanding, of just how much God loved her and what that meant and she chose to love God and worship Him in return. I believe Anna understood that God loves to give gifts to us and she recognized that encountering the Savior was a gift for her.
All through out the Bible we see scripture after scripture that reveals to us "if we ask…"
I believe for myself that sometimes…sometimes I don’t ask because I am afraid of not getting the answer that I am looking for. "What if it doesn’t happen?" "What if I don’t deserve it?" And I’ll admit, sometimes I allow that to shift my perspective of what are “acceptable” and what are “unacceptable” asks of God depending on my behavior. I begin asking according to what I believe I deserve rather than asking from the place of beloved daughter, precious treasured one.
Anna lived, breathed, spoke, and stayed where God’s presence could be found. She devoted her life, all her life, to God. Fully surrendered, fully committed. She intentionally surrendered herself to God. It would be safe to say that Anna did not only talk about God, she lived it. She breathed it. She moved in it.
The key to power & authority is proximity to the King and with proximity to the King you get intimacy with the King. And because of Jesus we all have access to God in a way that Anna never did. We have access to the presence of God whenever and wherever we are. Still intimacy is not created by one night stands. Intimacy is created when we continuously surrender, submit, and allow access into every part of our lives, both with people and with God.
Intimacy & presence is where we begin to develop the heart knowledge that God’s love for us is not dependent on the words we say and the things we do. That’s what the Bible means when it talks about the unshakeable love of God. There is nothing we can do or say to make God love us any more and there is nothing we can say or do to make God love us any less.
Anna knew that God’s love was not dependent on her, but how she received and accepted God’s love was up to her response. Anna had decided that her life was going to be a “living sacrifice” as we read in Romans 12. Anna spent her time worshiping, praying, and seeking the Lord. She devoted herself to ministering to the King of kings and Lord of lords. She made herself an offering unto the Lord and the Lord blessed her.
Not all of us are in a position where we can drop everything and spend our day at the church. We have jobs, families, and ministries. Still God gives us the incredible opportunity to spend our days at the tabernacle of His presence because of what Jesus did and the Holy Spirit in us. The Bible says that we are the living temple of the King! We don’t have to spend our day hanging out IN the presence of God, because we have the opportunity to spend our day WITH the presence of God. We get to invite Him into every moment of every part of our day. WOW!
I have heard it said, "If you’re confused about who you are supposed to be and what you were created to do with your life, try ministering to the Lord." Spend time in His presence. Please, please, I double dog dare you! Pray. Worship. Lean on the Lord. He wants to see you. He wants to know you. And just like He did for Anna He will show Himself to you.
Written by: Gay Idle
So much has been wrapped up in her story in the garden.
We have placed so much emphasis on the fall of man, i.e. Eve, that we have lost who she was created to be. We tend to find our identity within the fallen Eve. So much so that we attach that identity, (the fallen Eve), to the way God created woman to function, and in turn to ourselves.
For the sake of brevity and getting a true grounding in who we as women were created to be, I want to look at Eve before the fall. Before sin entered the world. Eve…as God’s Image Bearer and as man’s strong Ezer.
A side note about sin entering the world: Scriptures indicate that sometime between the creation week and the fall of man in the garden Satan and ⅓ of the angels rebelled against God and were thrown down to earth. This rebellion had to take place after the creation week because God pronounced on each day that what He had created was good, including man(i.e. Humankind: man and woman). If rebellion had entered before creation, through Satan, I hardly think God would have pronounced it good. Satan was a created being, as were the angels who followed him in his rebellion. Satan, as a created being, was pronounced good. Ezekiel 28:15 says of Satan, “you were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.” So that gives us a little background to consider what happened. Satan as well as humans had the ability to choose to obey God, or turn from Him. It was his own prideful desire that led him to his rebellion. So sin was not a created thing, but rather a choice to follow our own desire over God’s desire for us. When we choose our own desire over and against God’s desire for us then we can blame no one but ourselves, not God and not even Satan.
Now let’s get back to Eve before the fall. If we want to know who God created the very first woman in all of creation to be, we have to get back to Genesis…in the beginning…before the fall, before that serpent slithered onto the scene.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ” Genesis 1:26-28 (emphasis mine).
Did you get that? The designation, ‘man’ in the first part of these verses is referring to mankind…both man and woman. And man, as male and female were created to be the image bearers of God.
Eve… as Image Bearer
The fallen view of a woman says that she is a temptress, or at the very least that she is morally weak and unable to withstand Satan’s scheme. After just one bite of the forbidden fruit, we forget that the female was originally created equal to her male counterpart as an image bearer of our creator almighty God. Yet the blueprint for the woman is found before that fatal bite. She was created to be God’s image bearer…in His image and likeness.
Let’s dive into that scripture a bit more. It begins with the words, “Then God said, Let us …”, so here we see God basically in discussion with Himself. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit…the triune God were all present and active in creation. That’s one God in three. It’s where we get the concept of the Trinity. I don’t have the space or bandwidth to dive into that concept in this article, but we see in this that God, who is in relationship with Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, created us for relationship as well. There is no hierarchy within the Godhead. Therefore there is no hierarchy in the relationship between man and woman. God created man, male and female, as one flesh and they were given one name. Man.
“This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man.’" Genesis 5:1-2 (added emphasis).
In referring to the one name ‘man’, Herbert Lockyer, in his book All the Women of the Bible, says it this way, “This inclusive name implies that the divine ideal for man and wife is not merely that of association but an indissoluble unity. God made them ‘one flesh’ and gave them one name.”
So in unity, they share in the role of being God’s image bearer. And as such, God blessed them and then gave them the mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to rule and subdue the earth. As His own image bearers, God gave them the same name (Adam=man), the same blessing, and the same function.
We are given the invitation as God’s image bearers to learn all we can about Him. To fully know Him and be fully known by Him. To know and be fully known is the desire of every man and woman’s heart isn’t it? Only God can fill this seemingly insatiable need. Insatiable, because we seem to look to everyone and everything but God to fulfill that role in our lives. As God’s image bearers…we were created to intimately know and walk with God and to be a reflection of His character. Our great high calling is to make Him known.
Eve… As ezer
As God’s image bearers we are to be in strong and healthy relationships with one another. The second chapter of Genesis gives us further understanding of man in relation to woman. We see in this account how Eve, as an image bearer of God reflects the ‘ezer’ facet of God’s character.
Here we read again (the same story as Chapter 1, but in greater detail), the story of the creation of man. God created man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). And then God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). And so God brought all creatures he had created to Adam to see what he would name them (Genesis 2:19). Still no suitable helper was found. The created animals were not suitable for only man was the image bearer of God.
“So the LORD caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:21-25.
Note that ‘woman’ was not her name. She was called ‘woman’ because she was taken out of man (literally part of man), this was more of a general designation than an actual name. Remember further on in Genesis 5:2 we read, “male and female he created them…and called them Adam.” So the first woman came out of man. She is the female part of man, God’s image bearer…and at this point man (who was two in one), becomes two separate physical beings. This, I believe, is part of the mystery of God’s creation that is so hard to wrap our heads around. So I am just trying to lay it out as I have found it written in His Word.
Also, note that we don’t even know her as Eve at this point in the creation story. Adam renames her Eve after the fall. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
In Genesis verse 20, we read, “no suitable helper was found” for Adam. What exactly does that mean? In this passage, the word helper in the original language is Ezer (pronounced ay-zer). The word helper in our English language does not adequately render the true meaning of this word. On its surface, we might think it just means that woman was created as a lowly servant. And so we might then derive that woman is subservient to man. Some people think that the first woman, and therefore all women in general, were created to be nothing more than sidekicks to men…basically subordinate assistants. But this could not be further from the truth. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible gives us this definition for helper:
5826 - ‘azer - aw’ - to surround i.e.) protect or aid. Help, succour.
Biblical scholars have pointed out that the word ezer is used on 16 separate occasions in the Old Testament in reference to God. These are times of powerful acts of God as man’s rescuer, protector, helper/ezer in times of trouble and need.
Moses named one of his sons Eliezer. In Hebrew, this means “My God is my helper”, (Eli = my God” Ezer = “my helper”). In Exodus 18:4 we learn that Moses named his son Eliezer because God had powerfully delivered Moses from Pharoah’s sword.
Ezer has also been found to be a powerful Hebrew military word. So, instead of seeing the first woman as a weaker counterpart to man, we see her as a warrior, created to be man’s strong helper. Wow…just wow!
Adam was in need of an ezer. One who would come alongside him in this spiritual war zone. They were about to face their adversary. And while it didn’t quite turn out the way we would have hoped, nevertheless this team was God’s choice. And it still is…we are still in a war zone.
And so what does all this mean? It is clear that the intention of God in creating humankind was for men and women to be working together as equal partners in God’s created world. God created them and blessed them.
Just as the first woman was, we too are God’s image bearers and ezers. And so, we are to love God with our whole hearts. When we do that it leads us to love our neighbors (beginning with the men in our lives) as ourselves. While sin entered the world and wrecked creation as it was meant to be, God made a way through the seed of woman…Jesus Christ… to redeem and restore all of creation to its original purpose. Because of His great sacrifice, we are not bound to the effects of sin. We are not bound to the strife and struggle of man against woman/woman against man … that began all the way back in the garden when that serpent slithered onto the scene. We need only to take Him as our Lord and Savior, to turn from our own sin, and turn back to God to begin to reclaim this world once again as the Kingdom of God. Let’s do it! Let’s advance the Kingdom of God on earth!!
Thank you, Jesus!
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.
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.
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