Excellence in ConsistencyRead Now
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
I know that I naturally struggle with consistency but just in case, I googled the definition of consistency…for science. Here’s what I found:
“The quality of always behaving or performing in a similar way, or of always happening in a similar way.“ (Cambridge Dictionary)
While I do generally struggle with consistency, I want to share with you a testimony: for the last 22 days, I have been able to be very consistent. Maybe the most consistent I have ever been. And more than consistent, I’ve been living free. I mean, this has just been an amazing start to the new year and I’m praying for a stretch that is much, much longer than 22 days!
(Before you get any ideas, consistency to me doesn’t mean like, living by a schedule or adhering to some set structure or always having everything just so or whatever pops into your brain when you think of what it would look like for someone to live consistently. I mean, I do have a planner, but I didn’t even use it last week, so, that’s where I stand there.)
Towards the end of last year, I got to a point where I knew I could not go on living the way I was living anymore. I knew the things I needed to lay down and I wanted to, but it was not enough for me to simply recognize them and to desire to leave them behind. And that was real clear, because it was almost like I could not stop. I was living Paul’s words: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
It was so bad. I was so desperate. I was crying out for the Lord to help me, to set me free!
On January 1, I started fasting. I didn’t really think about it or plan anything, I just did it because I knew that I needed real help, real transformation- and I needed to draw near to Jesus and to deny my flesh.
So, here’s what I think I really mean when I say that I’ve been killing it at consistency lately:
I have consistently been weak.
I have consistently been desperate.
I have consistently been longing for more than I have been settling for.
I have consistently been running to Jesus.
I have consistently been crying out for the Holy Spirit to teach me, to lead me, to transform me, to sanctify me, to set me free.
And He has consistently done just that.
Day by day, I am reaching for the Word more than I am scrolling on my phone. I am hearing His voice instead of hearing a bunch of distracting noise. He is leading my decisions, big and small, more and more and more.
I find myself wanting to slip back into my old ways every now and then, of course, but mostly I am just full. So full. This is what I have desired and prayed for, for so long.
There’s still a part of me that feels like maybe it’s not enough to say to you, hey, if you’re struggling, the answer is Jesus. Like I should leave you with some solid tips or advice or something more, but more than anything, I just want you to know that He is more than enough.
He really is.
If you find yourself consistently struggling, consistently not enough, consistently weak and weary and desperate- good. You’re excelling in consistency.
If you’re consistently coming to the end of yourself and if you’re consistently crying out to the Lord for help and for deliverance- good. You’re excelling in consistency.
If it’s been days and weeks and months and years, even, that you have consistently been desperate for something to give, to see the Lord move- that’s good, friend. Yes, it is. You’re excelling in consistency.
Come to your Savior who is consistently present and near and interceding on your behalf. Keep drawing near again and again and again. Keep asking and asking and asking. Keep believing that in the place of your consistent weakness, He is consistently your strength. Keep trusting that beyond the consistent circumstances of nothing changing, He is consistently working and moving in about a million ways you can’t yet see.
I feel that someone needs to hear today and take to heart that one day you will see. And you will not change one bit of your waiting and wailing and wondering because you will have seen and come to know so much of Jesus through your situation.
Lord Jesus, we praise You for who You are. We thank You that You are everything, all that we need. You are more than enough. I ask that You strengthen the woman reading this article today. Would You overwhelm her with Your presence right now with Your sweet Spirit? I ask that You speak to her and lead her, that You enable her to live by Your Spirit consistently, that You would show her what it looks like to die to herself in that area of struggle and fleshly living and replace that with real freedom that comes from Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Strong SuitRead Now
Written by: Angie Reese
When it comes to consistency, I am NOT your gal. I struggle with being consistent in most areas in my life. Dieting - nope. Exercise - nope. Even reading my Bible - it’s a struggle. I am so bad at this that when I shared that I was writing about consistency, a few people in my life actually laughed. Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt my feelings.
But I have an excellent example of consistency in my life. My husband is a rock star at this. If he finds it important enough to put it on his habit tracker, it gets done. I am amazed at his ability to do this. He reads his Bible daily, does a devotional, exercises, and practices a foreign language. Every. Day. For like, over 1,000 days in a row on some of that! It’s quite amazing.
So on one hand you have me - I don’t string more than a few days of consistency together. And on the other hand you have my husband - who doesn’t miss a day. There is a saying that goes “it takes all kinds” and I guess that is true in this case. My wise little sister even said “God calls people to be the message when they’re “not right for the job” all the time.” And she is right. So here I am.
Consistency is not one of those subjects that is talked about much when it comes to the Bible outside of us reading it for growth and intimacy with God. Both of those things are very important. But the thing that jumped straight into my head was the verse in Hebrews 13:8 that states,
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV)
This verse brings me peace in such a deep place. In this world that is ever-changing, Jesus is the same. Right now the price of groceries isn’t the same from one week to the next (hello eggs!), but HE is the same. Gas prices shift from hour to hour it seems, but HE is the same. I put off reading my Bible, but HE is the same. Just waiting for me. Just waiting for me to come and sit by His side and commune with Him. And He isn’t doing so with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face because it has been a few days since I cracked open my Bible. Rather, he is waiting patiently and calling to me like a Father that wants to see their child. Arms open and expectant.
So, when your diet fails - AGAIN - or you forget to get that snack for your child’s classroom, your workout gets put on the backburner, or you haven’t read your Bible in a few days, take a deep breath, remember that Jesus offers a clean slate policy and doesn’t keep a record of wrong, and make time for Him. Oh, and get those other things done too. Alarms help I hear.
Let me pray for us.
Jesus, thanks for being the loving friend that you are. Thank you for forgiving me when I mess up. Help me and my fellow sisters to be more consistent with everything, but especially spending time with you. Thank you for being constant and never changing. Your dependability is a rock in our lives. We love you.
written by: Lyndsay Terry
Consistency. In preparing for this article I started to think about my life and where I was consistent. I thought…and thought…and kept thinking…and then felt pretty poorly about myself. Am I consistent in my workplace? Mostly…sometimes. Am I consistent with our housekeeping? Ehhhhhh that’s a no. Am I consistent with our children? I honestly try to be but I’m no expert on that. Am I consistent with the Lord? If I’m totally honest, not always there either.
My yes isn’t ALWAYS my yes and my no isn’t ALWAYS my no. How do I write an article to help women understand and live in a space of consistency when I’m no good at it?
I had to laugh…and then shed a tear or two. There are other people far more qualified to write on this than I am. Far more eloquent. Far more experienced. Far more…consistent. But the Lord worked it out for me to write on this topic. Truly He did because I wouldn’t have picked me. I signed up for this week before I knew what our topic was this month.
What I CAN speak to you about is…I know. I get it. This is hard in so many areas of our lives. We are all going 100 miles an hour trying to please our bosses, our families, the Lord, and even ourselves. We fill up our schedules with really important stuff and then what? We are too tired to stay consistent. We are so busy that we run out of steam and we Just. Can’t. Even.
The advice I feel the Lord giving me for myself, first, and then for you, sweet sister, is this… He is inviting us to SLOW DOWN. Get into His river and flow with His rhythm. He isn’t so busy and fast-paced all the time. There are seasons, yes, but we aren’t meant to sustain those seasons indefinitely. We can’t stay consistent in making time for Jesus, one on one time with our babies, heart-to-heart time with our spouse, giving quality work in the office, and taking care of the home and things God has gifted to us if we are constantly going and never resting and restoring.
Slow down, sis. I’m in a season of finding out just how to do that. How do we do that?
I don’t have the answer but I know that my kids don’t need to be in every sport, I don’t need to say yes to every extra opportunity at work, I shouldn’t have something going every night of the week, I should have regular date nights with my husband, my kids should have fun moments with their mom everyday - no matter how big or small - they deserve the best of me, and I should wake up with Jesus everyday…my morning (or bedtime) should be spent unwinding with the Lord and getting into His river, asking what HIS agenda is for the day.
If we want to be consistent, we need to get into the River and flow with the Lord’s rhythm. Slow down.
Written By: Gay Idle
When thinking of women of the Bible who have been, basically, demonized through the ages, Job’s wife seems to be right up near the top of the list. I’m not sure it’s entirely fair when we stop to consider all the snide remarks said and judgements made against her. Augustine actually labeled her as “the devils accomplice”. Wow! Those are some harsh words! And how many of you have heard sermons about Job and the only mention of his wife were snide remarks such as this, “How’d you like to be married to that?!”
Just one sentence from her mouth and it seems she is judged for all eternity. At least by man. So what was that one sentence and what was the context in which this exchange took place?
The book of Job is a bit lengthy. Most of us are familiar with the story, but if not I want to encourage you to spend some time reading all 42 chapters. So let’s take the short route to get to that one sentence.
It begins in the first chapter by introducing us to the main character, Job:
“There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen and five hundred female donkeys, and he employed many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in the entire area.” Job 1:1-4 NLT.
What proceeds from this is really a remarkable story…and it gives us a picture of how Satan wants to destroy us and will do everything in his power to accomplish that mission. But God is in control and places limitations on Satan’s efforts according to His great wisdom, love, and power. This picture is really remarkable because we get the best seat possible…we see what Job does not see. In the midst of a discourse between God and Satan over Job’s faithfulness to God, Satan is granted divine permission to test that faithfulness. Why? Because God trusts that Job will stay the course and remain steadfast to his faithfulness to his creator. That right there is a sermon in itself…but we’re here to talk about Job’s wife, so let’s get going.
Satan proceeds to take away all of Job’s earthly treasures: his wealth (all of his livestock and servants gone), his children killed in a tragic ‘accident’, even his reputation. And this was Job’s response to this tragedy:
“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise name of the LORD!” Job 1:21 NLT.
Satan the accuser goes before God again. God say’s, “See…he maintained his integrity despite your efforts to destroy him”. (my paraphrase). Satan is really wanting to destroy Job so he says to God,
“...he blesses you only because you bless him. But take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 2:4 NLT.
So God gave him permission to do whatever he pleased, but he was not allowed to take Job’s life. And so Satan inflicts Job with a terrible disease that causes awful boils all over his body. Literally head to foot.
It is at this point that Job’s wife is introduced into the story…through one conversation with her husband. As Job was sitting in the ashes scraping the boils from his skin, his wife muttered these words:
“Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:1 NLT
And this one statement puts her in the annals of bad bad women of the Bible. You might say…rightly so! What kind of thing is that to say to a man who has just suffered through losing his children, his health, and all of his earthly possessions?!
But I contend that we are missing something here. While it’s true as the bible says that what is built up in our heart overflows into our words, I’m not sure we can take words from one exchange and build an entire description of her character from this. Why? Well let’s look at her life.
While we have very little to go on from what’s actually said of Job’s wife in scripture we can make some observations from what is written. Other than this one statement to her husband there is nowhere else in scripture that describes her as a bitter or miserable wife. This is not necessarily her ‘default’ attitude or nature. Even Job’s response to her gives us a clue that maybe this was not her usual attitude.
“But Job replied, You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” chapter 2, verse 10.
Job didn’t say, “You godless woman!” Nope, he said she was talking like one. In my mind that implies that she is acting outside her usual nature. She’s not herself. And why would she be so upset?
We seem to forget that Job is not the only one suffering here. She is a woman who has just lost all 10 children in one fell swoop! She went from contented empty-nester to grieving mother. She went from being a woman of wealth to poverty. From the wife of a strong, well-respected man, to one whom no one respected. They had nothing left but themselves. Job had nothing to offer her as a husband but repulsive breath, (Job 19:17), and a diseased body. She went from being well taken care of to caretaker. Not an easy thing. It had to break her heart to see her beloved husband suffering as he did. In her eyes, surely for him to die would be a mercy.
A little side note here: In those days it was thought that sudden death was to result from cursing God. It is also highly possible that her actual words were, “Bless God and die”, as the literal translation of this is just that. The first word she used was ‘barak’, which means ‘bless’. There’s a weird argument for translating it in the opposite of it’s meaning that has something to do with the practice of the original hebrew scribes of the bible use the word as ‘barak/bless’ as a euphemism for ‘curse’ because they would not utter the words ‘curse God’. But it is translated most often as ‘to bless’. So there’s that. But if she actually said, “Bless God and die”, she was urging him to prepare for death. Not telling him to turn against God.
This was a woman who stood by her man through the worst of the worst. She was not blaming him for their current situation. She acknowledged that he was a man of integrity, and that through all the suffering he was still holding on to it.
In a small way I can identify with her. I’m a pastor’s wife and through the years we have suffered some pretty unfair criticisms. My husband is a man of integrity as Job was. When he comes under attack, I suffer with him. In the moment, my roiling thoughts come boiling up out of me and I can say some nasty things as we discuss the situation between ourselves. Not a godly response, I admit. But my husband knows that this is not me… and he reminds me who our real enemy is…Satan. Not the people who have false accusations. In other words, God is not the enemy. The people are not the enemy. Satan is the enemy of our souls. But he’s not going to have the final word. God will work it out. So we need to leave it to Him to work out. Those words are enough to soothe my hurt heart and shut my mouth to further ugliness.
Maybe Job’s similar response was enough to calm her heart. So much so that we no longer hear from her in the story. And I find this so very interesting. She had affirmed Job’s integrity and the fact that he had done nothing wrong to deserve all that was happening to them. Now his friends enter the picture and try to convince Job that he must have done something wrong to deserve this. And there are entire chapters devoted to those conversations between Job and his friends.
The Rest of the Story
I believe there is one last observation to make in defense of Job’s wife.
God rebukes Job’s friends for their false accusations. And God requires that they take bulls and rams to Job so that he can act as a priest on their behalf and offer up prayers to God for them so that they won’t actually get what they deserve. Which they did, and as he prayed for his friends God restored Job’s fortunes (Job 42: 7-10). Twice as much as he had before!
There is no rebuke recorded for Job’s wife. Let me repeat that. NO REBUKE for job’s wife. I’m pretty sure that if God had rebuked her we would have read about it. Hmmmm…think about that.
Just as she shared in the original blessings in the life of her husband…I believe she shared in the blessings in the second half of his life. His brothers, sisters, former friends had returned to feast with him. They comforted him because of the trials he had experienced and even brought money. Maybe from a guilty conscience from their earlier desertion?
But it would seem that Job’s wife walked with him through the whole miserable experience and was with him in the the midst of his lowest point in the trials. She stayed with him through it all. The good, the bad(breath), and the ugly…and finally the restoration.
The doubling of the restoration of her husband’s health, wealth, and reputation, and 10 more children. Notice all the other things were straight up doubled in number. But those children that were lost would one day be seen again. Can you imagine what that reunion must have been in heaven?
And so, to the many who have cast a dubious cloud of judgment over this woman’s head, I say, “Just maybe, you were wrong.”
So many lessons to be taken from this story. But one not often taught? Let’s quit judging people on the basis of one statement made under trial and suffering. Let’s be mercy givers.
Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash
So lovedRead Now
Written by: Alexandria Brown
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God is not surprised by our circumstances. No thing that we walk through was, is, or ever will be a shock to God. We can not make a decision or go down a path that He has not accounted for.
This scripture tells us that God knew everyday of our lives before we even knew day one! And more than that, it says that he INTRICATELY made us for every circumstance that we would come into.
If we believe that is true then it must also follow that we recognize that God is aware of our mess-ups, our stumbles and struggles. And He was aware of them all BEFORE He sent His Son and yet, He still sent Him and Jesus still came.
God’s love for us is stronger than anything else in all creation, and we are completely, totally and irrevocably loved by God.
The truth is that God’s love is not based on you or me. We don’t get to determine or control how much God loves us. God does not love us because of who we are or what we do or do not do. God loves us because IT IS WHO HE IS.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?-Nothing in all création will be able to separate us from the love of God.”
God’s love is strong. God’s patience is more powerful than our stumble. His love is so much stronger than our frailty.
We are fully known. You are fully known. Mess-ups and all.
And yet, still completely and totally loved by the God of the universe. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son...
The God of the universe bought YOU at a cost. The Highest cost. He did not bargain or negotiate. He did not ask ‘what is the price’ or wait for a sale. He simply gave everything...
YOU are the most expensive thing in heaven & earth. Nothing, no one cost more! God named the price and Jesus willingly paid it for YOU.
God’s love for us is not something to be earned. We can’t work for it. It’s not an award, it is a gift. We only need receive it.
Jesus made it possible for us to once again walk in and through the love of the Father.
For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believed in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Sis, believe it. Receive it. Share it.
There is nothing that you have done or ever will do that is to scary for God. Let Him love you today. There is nothing He want’s more.
I love you and so does He!
Lord, Help Me!Read Now
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
There is a woman of great faith and humility that the Holy Spirit keeps bringing to my mind. Her story is found in Matthew 15 and it is short and yet powerful. Her interaction with Jesus is at first a bit confounding, but I believe this small passage of Scripture holds much for us to glean and to cling to.
“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:21-28)
Why did he not answer her? Not even a word? As she cried out for mercy and as she, a Canaanite woman, recognized just who He was? “O Lord, Son of David” she called Him. She knew who Jesus was and that it was only the Lord who could help her.
And yet, He was silent.
Perhaps His disciples mistook His silence for indifference or refusal even, because they begged Jesus to send her away. They begged Him since she kept crying out to them, as well.
Have you known that kind of desperation before? To cry out to the Lord over and over again, only to be met with silence? To come to the church, His people, for relief? I pray that you have been met by the members of His body with nothing but sacrificial and supernatural love - and that is a gift and a grace - but those people serve to usher you into the presence and the love of Christ.
What do you do when there seems to be no answer to your cries for help? When people can’t save you and when the only One who can seems to be choosing not to?
When He answered her, His answer was not what we may have expected: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Was there no hope for her? She was a Canaanite, after all. We know that the gospel would go forth to the Gentiles, but Jesus seems to be saying this is not the time. He is here for His lost sheep. She is not of the house of Israel. But she’s encountered the Lord Jesus and is so close. So close. Will He really not show her mercy?
She comes closer and kneels before Him, pleading, “Lord, help me.”
His answer: “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
What is your response to that statement? It sounds harsh, right? Offensive, even. How could He say that? As she kneels before Him in utter desperation?
It’s important to note a couple of things here. By “children”, Jesus means the Israelites. His usage of the word “dogs” does not actually reflect His mind toward this woman or toward Gentiles at all. “Dogs” was a term commonly used by the Jews that represented their animosity toward ‘unclean’ Gentiles. And in fact, the word that Jesus used here for ‘dog’ is a much more mild, gentle word.
Still, we may wonder at His statement and ask ourselves if this context makes His words any less harsh. But note here, sweet sister, that this woman does not. She does not even flinch and without missing a beat, she replies, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
When Jesus encountered this woman, He knew what He would do. He knew that the very words she would speak came from a heart full of faith, humility and trust. Note that just before this account, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and states, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart...” (Matthew 15:18a) and what came from this woman’s mouth represented a deep humility, content with even crumbs from the masters’ table. Faith that even those crumbs could heal her hopeless situation. Trust in the person and character of Jesus Christ.
His silence and His words did not deter her. His words were not a hindrance to her and she did not receive them as such. No, in knowing and recognizing Jesus, trusting in Him, she persisted. He did not remain silent nor did He refuse her out of malice.
Her faith was put to the test and her perseverance was rewarded:
“"O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”
Oh, Lord, would you grow our faith? And as you grow our faith, would you grow us also in humility? Would you grant us a humility and a meekness like this Canaanite woman?
Would you make us persistent? A people persevering in prayer? Bowing before you full of faith and wonder, content and confident in even crumbs from your table to be more than enough for us?
Oh, God, let it be so.
But Mary...Read Now
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.
Gomer & HoseaRead Now
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.
Photo by Dasha Yukhymyuk on Unsplash
The Numbers 5 WomanRead Now
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
Hey, I want to go through a passage today that at first may seem kind of weird or difficult to understand. Okay, it’s both and at first, it really makes you scratch your head and wonder, but it actually is quite kind, gracious and beautiful. I promise. Remember that, okay?
Here we go!
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, If any man's wife goes astray and breaks faith with him, if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.” (Numbers 5:11-15)
Okay, let’s keep going..
“And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the Lord. And the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord and unbind the hair of the woman's head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And in his hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband's authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, then’ (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) ‘the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your thigh fall away and your body swell. May this water that brings the curse pass into your bowels and make your womb swell and your thigh fall away.’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen, Amen.’” (5:16-22)
You still with me?
“”Then the priest shall write these curses in a book and wash them off into the water of bitterness. And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain. And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand and shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children.
“This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, though under her husband's authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when the spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife. Then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.”” (5:23-31, emphasis added)
You made it! I really wish I could see you face to face and ask if your reaction to this passage of Scripture matched mine. If so, you have a lot of questions. At first glance, this doesn’t seem...good, right? What does all of this mean and how is this kind or beautiful or even remotely pointing to Jesus?
Let’s start with how this passage of Scripture tells of God’s care for and protection of women. Because, like, all of this talk of a curse and thighs falling away and bellies swelling may not exactly paint this picture at first. Check this out:
“The ancient Near East was an especially cruel place and time to be a woman. Women had little protection…And at this point in history, men had all the cultural power as well. It would not have been out of the ordinary for a man to simply act on a suspicion and cast his wife aside. Not so for the people of Israel. The Lord set them apart by requiring this strange-to-us test. If the woman was innocent, the Lord provided an opportunity for her to be vindicated. If she was guilty, the consequences upheld God’s standard for marriage.” -Lauren Chandler, With Us in the Wilderness
God is always providing a way. In this way, women were given a chance to be proven innocent, to live free from the harsh cultural norms. A marriage could also be delivered from any suspicion, this "spirit of jealousy", and restored. How heartbreaking it would be for a husband to accuse his wife, for trust to be broken in some way, but this ceremony gave the opportunity for a clean slate and for the covenant to be restored.
How comforting it is, really, for this design. In a culture that would not have hesitated to toss women aside, to cast them out, God commands His people to bring His women before HIM.
“And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the LORD.” (5:16)
“Then he shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law.” (5:30b)
Are you seeing how this points to Jesus? Jesus is our High Priest and He brings us near! He is the one who has carried out for us all the law, who has fulfilled the law, so that we can come near. Jesus stands at our side as our Advocate - even now.
If you stand accused today, your hair unbound and your hands filled with a grain offering devoid of oil and frankincense - which symbolizes joy and the Spirit of God - you have an Advocate. You may be bare, exposed, uncovered, bringing nothing but an offering that serves to bring your iniquity to remembrance, but you have a Savior who comes near and covers you in His righteousness.
You may have "broken faith with the LORD" and you may feel as if you’re drinking the water of bitterness, water that brings the curse, but Jesus Himself redeemed you by becoming a curse (Galatians 3:13).
“Surely, both the holiness of God and the perfection of His word testifies against us. We should be forced to drink a bitter cup that would destroy us – but Jesus drank it for us.” -David Guzik
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Father, for providing a way for us. Thank you for your faithfulness and your loving kindness. Thank you for your protection and your provision. Thank you for your holiness and for the gift of our robes of righteousness. Thank you that we can come near. We just want to be near.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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.
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
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