Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Taking Selfies, Taking Stock

Photo by: imagerymajestic

At summer camp, one of the little girls reached for a counselor’s phone and said, “Let me take a selfish.” She clearly meant “selfie,” and all of us laughed. Later, the counselor said, “Well, it is selfish!”

I’ve tried to take selfies several times with varying results. (I think it has something to do with the length of your arms. If you’re short like me, you can miss all together, and the results can be really funny!)

I have a few young friends who post selfies almost every day on social media—or so it seems. The comments are always “looking good,” “you always look pretty,” “I like your hair,” “you are so beautiful,” and so on. Do selfies fulfill the need for affirmation?

When you travel alone, you might take selfies just to prove you were there, so as not to lend your camera or phone to a stranger.

Selfish means being egocentric and lacking consideration for others.

Contrast that with selfless, which means thinking of others before one’s self.

Jesus was completely selfless. Yes, Jesus is God, and He is perfect. I am reminded of Philippians 2 which says, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name (Philippians 2:5-9). Can you imagine that God Himself limited Himself with flesh, became servant to all, and then died a criminal’s death on the cross—for love?

I can’t begin to comprehend this kind of selflessness.

Yet, the Bible says, Let this mind be in you.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

That’s humility. That is selflessness. That is Christ-likeness.

Is a selfie selfish? I have no idea.

Am I selfish?

Way too often.

Let this mind be in me . . . esteeming others . . . serving others . . . not thinking about my reputation . . . humility . . . obedience to God, even unto death.

Laying aside self.

Now that’s the best image, the best selfie of all: selfless.

What a picture!
  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wise Child, Wise Parents

Photo by: stockimages

Proverbs 13:1 says, A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.

I recently spent a week at a Christian camp for 10-13 year-olds. We had a great week, and I thoroughly enjoyed the campers and the counselors. I have worked at this same camp for most summers over the last more than twenty years, and I’m noticing a trend. It has come slowly, but it is happening.

There’s less respect for authority today than years ago. The leaders have to ask several times for quiet—instead of just once.

I taught a class to the girls, and one of the illustrations I used was a personal story. I told them it was a true story. Afterwards, several girls asked me if it really happened. Obviously, they thought maybe I was making it up.

Without going into the whys of the distrust and disrespect, let’s look at some positive teachings in the Word of God.

David to his son Solomon:
  • My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother . . . My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. . . . My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path (Proverbs 1:8, 10, 15).
  • My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:20-23).
Solomon taught:
  • The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother (Proverbs 10:1).
  • A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother (Proverbs 15:20).
  • Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Proverbs 29:3, 15).
  • Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice (Proverbs 23:22, 25).
Jesus said:
  • For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition (Matthew 15:4-6). This is a passage about adult children not providing for their aging parents. They said the money was “dedicated to God” so they could get out of honoring their parents as they should. Jesus was displeased.
The Apostle Paul taught:
  • Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (Ephesians 6:1-2).
  • Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord (Colossians 3:20).
  • But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God (1 Timothy 5:4). This instruction is for adult children to take care of widows, either mothers or aunts. It is always the family’s responsibility to take care of its own.


Wise children will:
Listen to their parents.
Choose their friends wisely.
Obey their parents.
Please their parents and make them proud.
Honor their parents.
Take care of aging parents.


Wise parents will:
Instruct their children.
Teach children to obey clear commands.
Punish wrongdoing and reward right actions.
Enjoy their children.

If you are a parent, are you instructing and teaching your children? Do you expect obedience and respect?

If you are a child, do you obey and respect your parents? Are you careful to have friends that will influence you in the right way?
  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Holy Cities, Holy Shrines, Holy Smoke . . . What's Holy?

Photo by: pakorn

We listen to the news and hear “the holy city of _________,” a “holy shrine,” one of (this religion’s) “most holy days.” Some religions use “holy water” and some even have “holy smoke.” There are other “holy” things, too: trees, pillars, books, cathedrals, mosques, basilicas, words, and even people!

What’s holy?

The word holy in biblical Greek (hágios) has several meanings:* 
  1. Venerate, revere, worthy of veneration, reverend, God. Anything connected with God: the temple, the holy of holies in the temple.
  2. Set apart, different, “otherness,” exclusively God’s
  3. Morally pure, clean, sinless, upright, Christ 

In the biblical book of Revelation, we read about the only One who is worthy of praise and adoration, Jesus. It gives us several reasons, and they have to do with Jesus’ creation of the world and His work of redemption on the cross. Consider these verses:
  • Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11).
  • And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelation 5:9).
  • Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12).

Why is Jesus the only One worthy of praise, honor, glory, and blessing? It’s because He’s holy!

So, when we hear the term holy, we should think of God. Some things are truly holy, and some aren’t. Let’s look at some biblical holy things. Some of them might surprise you:
  • Holy ground—When God spoke to Moses from the miraculously burning bush, He told Moses to take off his shoes, for the ground where he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Stephen retold the story of Moses in Acts 7:33.
  • Holy smoke—When Moses prepared to meet God on Mount Sinai, the Lord signaled His Presence with fire and smoke and an earthquake (Exodus 19:18). When the high priest offered in the holy of holies, a cloud of incense covered the mercy seat. If that step were to be ignored, the high priest would die. This sacred smoke was a symbol of God communing with man and man with God (Leviticus 16:13).
  • Holy garments—The priests’ garments were designed and specified by God. They were worn only for the tasks in the Tabernacle and Temple. These were symbolic—along with all the Old Testament rituals—of what Jesus would do when He came to redeem mankind from sin. The specifications for the priests’ garments are in Exodus 28 and 29.
  • The altar, bread, and other furnishings of the Tabernacle and Temple were regarded as holy. The Tabernacle and Temple were called holy places, as was the Holy of Holies.
  • Holy water—There’s only one reference to holy water in the Bible. It’s in Numbers 5:17 where there’s detailed a way to judge if a wife had committed adultery. Pure water, mixed with dust, was to be given to the woman to drink. If she was fine afterwards, she was innocent, and if she got sick, she was guilty. “Holy water” isn’t used for baptizing or sprinkling as is common in many religions.
  • Holy city—Jerusalem is called the holy city many times in the Bible. It is the only city called holy. (Nehemiah 11:1, 18; Isaiah 48:2; 52:1; Daniel 9:24; Matthew 4:5; 27:53; Revelation 11:2; 21:2 the New Jerusalem; 22:19)
  • Holy day—The Sabbath is the only holy day mentioned in Scripture. (Exodus 35:2; Nehemiah 10:31; Isaiah 58:13) The Sabbath is also called a holy convocation. (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:3, 7-8, 21, 24, 27, 35-36. The feast of the first fruits is called a holy convocation. The feast days are outlined in Numbers 28-29.
  • Holy oil—The priests and kings were anointed with specially blended oil (Exodus 30:31-37; Numbers 35:25; Psalm 89:20).

In the Bible there's no:
  • Holy shrine—The word shrine doesn’t appear anywhere in Scripture.
  • Holy person besides Jesus Christ, Who is God—It is interesting to hear many religions address their leaders as “holy father,” “his holiness,” “most holy father,” “reverend” “his eminence,” etc. The only time the phrase Holy Father is used in the Bible is when Jesus is praying to God the Father, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are (John 17:11). Jesus said, And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ (Matthew 23:9-10). There are two instances, however, of the phrase “holy men.” The first reference is speaking of health laws with the meaning of “set apart unto God.” (Exodus 22:31) The other reference speaks of the writing of the Bible by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21).

Okay, so what does all of this matter in the eternal scheme of things? Here’s some application. The word holy is about God. Anything that isn’t about the one true God isn’t holy. When we hear the word holy used to describe things or people in a non-biblical way, we know it’s inappropriate.

One of my favorite ways to hear holy is when it’s three times, for the trinity, the three Persons of the Godhead:
  • And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3).
  • And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8). (Now you know where the hymn came from.)

Praise God, for He is holy!


 *Definition from Online Bible.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

When Jesus Said "Go Ye"

Photo by: Free Bible Images (Mark 14:13)

Sometimes when I’m reading the Bible, a phrase will pop out at me, and I decide to explore the phrase more thoroughly at a later date. I knew that Jesus said, “Go ye” on various occasions, not only in the Great Commission. This little study is a collection of all of Jesus’ “Go ye” statements.

In the kingdom parable about the householder and the laborers, Jesus used the phrase “Go ye” twice. Both were when the householder had hired men for a price, and he sent them into the vineyard:
            And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way (Matthew 20:4).
            They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive (Matthew 20:7).
            At the end of the parable, every laborer gets the same reward (what was agreed upon at the beginning). This is about people who are saved early in life and late in life. All get the same reward: heaven.

The next instance is in the parable of the wedding guests. The king’s invited guests didn’t take him seriously, so the king sent his servants out to the street to invite anyone, so that the wedding would be well attended. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage (Matthew 22:9). The servants came back with lots of people, and the banquet room was full. This is, of course, a parable about the Jews and gentiles.

The next “Go ye” passage is in the parable of the wise virgins. They took oil for their lamps, and the foolish virgins didn’t take oil. They weren’t prepared as they waited for the groom’s party. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him (Matthew 25:6). The foolish women asked to borrow oil, but the wise women answered saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves (Matthew 25:9). This parable teaches about Jesus’ Second Coming, that people need to be prepared when He comes.

Then, we have the Great Commission: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus outlines the mission of disciples everywhere and in every time: go, teach, baptize, disciple, and He promises to be with us. What a blessing! (Repeated in Mark 16:15)

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, when He was preparing for the Last Supper, He sent forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him (Mark 14:13). They, of course, found the man with the pitcher (a woman’s job in those days, so this was different) and they followed him to the correct upper room.

The next instance in Scripture comes at the very last week of Jesus’ life on earth. The Pharisees warn Jesus that Herod wants to kill Him. Jesus answers, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected (Luke 13:32). Then, Jesus mourns over Jerusalem.

The next passage is when Jesus sends His disciples to get the colt for Palm Sunday’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. He tells them how to find the colt: Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither (Luke 19:30). Of course they easily find the donkey and take him to Jesus.

Jesus told his family to go ahead of Him to the feast of tabernacles: Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come (John 7:8). Jesus went “secretly” later, the Bible says. This is the last “Go ye” of Scripture.

So, which “Go ye’s” are instructions for us today?


  • The Great Commission—It’s the outline for Christian ministry and the promise of God’s presence always.
  • The kingdom parables tell us something about the kingdom of God. Each covers a different aspect of Jesus’ kingdom, and all are for our profit.

Go ye and be ready.
Jesus is with us always, even unto the end of the world.
  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Being Different . . . Exceptionally Different

Photo by: photostock

Brilliant physicist Albert Einstein once said,

“The one who follows the crowd
will usually get no further than the crowd.
The one who walks alone
is likely to find himself in places
no one has ever been.”

Fashion designer Michael Kors said in a recent CNN interview, “Those that are different are successful.”

“The one who walks alone” and the “different” people are standouts.

Did you ever wonder how different Christians should be? After all, the Bible says Christians are “peculiar people“ (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9). Are we supposed to be weird . . . or maybe exceptional? What does being peculiar mean?

Peculiar in Titus 2:14 means “being one’s own possession.” The context talks about Christians belonging to God. The word peculiar has nothing to do with being strange or weird. It means that we are different in that we belong to the Lord.

Some religious sects take this idea to extremes. They seem completely otherworldly, since they’re so set apart as to be aliens. Their dress, rules, customs, and way of life seem to have come from somewhere else. (One wonders where.)

A biblical Christian is set apart. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him (Psalm 4:3).

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

As Christians, we are different because the Holy Spirit abides in us and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.

What does that Christ-difference look like?
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Treating others fairly
  • Peacefulness
  • Respect
  • Morality
  • Honesty
  • Self-control
  • Modesty
  • Humility

The child of God has a different motivation. He wants to glorify God with his life. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

He’ll be different!

If you walk with God, others notice. They may not mean them as compliments, but you might hear remarks like these:
  • I notice you’re gone every Sunday (to church).
  • I knew you would pay your bills.
  • I notice your children obey without questioning. What’s your secret?
  • You’re a man of your word.
  • I notice you dress modestly.
  • I feel the love in this place (church).
  • We’ve noticed how you treat your wife and children.
  • You’re always smiling.
  • Why are you always with your children?
  • I notice you never speak badly about others.
  • You don’t understand; you don’t have problems like I do.
  • Oh, I guess you wouldn’t be interested in going to (worldly entertainment location).
  • You married such a good person, you have a perfect marriage.

The world—those not trusting in Jesus as Savior—will not understand a true, obedient Christian. He will look strange to them.

The Bible puts it this way. Notice the “why” to our being unique:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises of him
who hath called you out of darkness
into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).

All that we are, all that we do, all that looks strange to the world around us is for the purpose of glorifying God. He alone deserves our praise. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12).

Why are we different? To give God glory. To be a living testimony.

May God help us show forth His praise through our lives! Let’s be godly different!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Does Modesty Matter?

Photo by: Serge Bertasius Photography, Free Digital Photos

I see the pictures on social media. I read the posts. I look at the pins.

It’s summer!

  • Girls in strappy, skimpy tops that show just enough to inspire interest.
  • Girls in shorts of every description, showing off long, tanned legs.
  • Girls in short skirts playing golf—and bending over to pick up the balls.
  • Girls in strapless bridesmaids dresses, brides in strapless gowns.
  • Girls in leggings and skinny jeans, showing every curve of their bodies.
  • Girls in bathing suits.
  • Girls in short dresses, low dresses, sleeveless that shows more than just the arm . . . .


Times have changed.

Does modesty matter any more?

Should we care?

God cares.

Read 1 Timothy 2:9-10, In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

Let’s look at the words used in these verses to see what they really mean.
  • Adorn = put in order, make ready, prepare
  • Modest = of good behavior, seemly, modest
  • Shamefacedness = a sense of shame or honor, modesty, reverence, regard for others, respect
  • Sobriety = soundness of mind, self-control

Okay, from the definitions, we get the ideas of getting ready (putting on clothes) in a way that suggests honor, modesty, respect for others, and self-control.

Let’s look at the rest of the passage. It says we’re not to go overboard with hairstyles, jewelry, or costly clothing. This probably implies we are moderate. This is in keeping with other passages about women’s clothing and demeanor.

Notice what comes next. It tells us whom Christian girls and women should copy, when it comes to how we dress. Do you see it? We’re to copy godly women!

Do you know a truly godly woman? I’m speaking of one who reads and studies her Bible, one who glows with the joy of the Lord, one who epitomizes all that is godly and good in a woman.

If you do, think of this woman and answer the following questions:
  • What adjectives could you use to describe her clothing?
  • How does she dress for sports?
  • How does she dress at church?
  • How does she dress for everyday activities?
  • How does she fix her hair?
  • What kinds of jewelry and accessories does she wear?

If you have several godly women in mind, what is common about the way they dress?

Do they show a lot of skin? Would they wear the items listed at the beginning of the post: strappy tops, shorts, short skirts, strapless gowns, tight leggings, short dresses, low tops?

No. A godly woman—one who truly wants to please God—dresses with taste, but she covers her body. She doesn’t put everything on display, not even in the summertime.

Our fashion models are these godly ladies. They please God. Dress matters to Him!

Why does it matter? Because God wants us to represent Him in our lives. God wants us to be walking witnesses for Him.

When a girl or woman is running around in skimpy clothing, anyone who sees her won’t exactly be thinking “godly.” It’s as simple as that.

Do you love God?

It’s important to be modest.


(See also Proverbs 31:22 and 1 Peter 3:3-6.)


* Definitions from Greek, Online Bible.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Liars!

Illustration by: Salvatore Vuono

When the Apostle Paul lived, he quoted a writer who said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies (Titus 1:12b). Can you imagine a whole region being known for lying, evil, and laziness?

Why do people lie?

Many years ago, I had an experience that was afterwards funny, though I was upset when it happened. I had gone to meet a woman and drive her to a ladies’ meeting. I went to the specified place, waited fifteen minutes there, and then I decided to drive to her house, to see if she were well. (This was before cell phones.) I found her in her living room, seated on the couch, watching television. She swore to me that she had been in the appointed place, on time, and had waited for me.

Right.

Okay . . . .

You can prove people are lying and they tell you cover-up lies. It’s amazing!

Some people, instead of telling blatant lies, tell white lies. Those are the “good lies” about birthday parties, Santa Claus, and surprises. When the end justifies the means . . . .

Then, there are the storytellers. They can embellish a real happening far past recognition. (It ends up being way more interesting!) Some people make things up just to have something to say. It’s all fantasy, but hey, they told a story, too.

There are face-saving lies. Like the woman I found watching television, these lies don’t make them look like they really did what they really did.

And, there are manipulators. They’re the ones who try to get you to do what they want you to do, so they appeal to your weaknesses, ply you with “poor-me” lies, with the hope that you will take pity and do exactly what they want you to do.

Christians lie.

Whaaa?

Oh yes, people who name the Name of Jesus and claim to be Christians lie.

Some call lies “fibs.” It sounds a little softer, like other synonyms: misleading, tricky, misstating, and misrepresenting.

What does God think of lying?

Look at the Ten Commandments. Number Nine is: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Exodus 20:16). It almost sounds like it’s talking about being in court and not committing perjury, but this verse can be accurately translated “Thou shalt not lie to another.”*

I think it’s interesting to know where lying comes from. The Bible says, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44). Lying originates with the devil.

Contrast lying with Truth. God is true (John 3:33). Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).

When we speak truth, we represent God.

How can we help to change lying ways—in ourselves or in our children? 
  1. Call all falsehoods “lies.” When we stop fooling ourselves into thinking that a lie is a “small sin,” we begin to see lying as God sees it. It is an act contrary to God’s nature. It breaks the ninth commandment. It is wrong!
  2. Deal with lying. When your child lies, talk to him about how lying doesn’t please God. When a friend lies to you, talk to him about it. Don’t ignore lies.
  3. Focus on truth. When our minds are on the Lord, on good and pure things, on those things that are honest and true, we will be a lot less inclined to tell falsehoods. (See Philippians 4:8 for what we’re to think about.)
  4. Make up your mind that you will tell the truth. The next time someone plans a surprise party, figure out how to do it without lying. The next time you’re caught in a fault, admit it. The next time you’re tempted to embellish the story, don’t. (It will be less interesting, but you will have done right.) The next time you try to manipulate another’s actions, refuse to do so. Pray and leave the other’s actions to God. Never cheat. Make up your mind that you will not lie. Discipline and catch yourself before the words come out of your mouth. If you have been a habitual liar, this isn’t going to be easy. Ask the Lord to help you stop lies before you say them.
  5. If you tell a lie, admit it. It’s hard; but if every time you lie, you go back and admit it to the person you’ve lied to, you will quickly condition yourself to avoid the embarrassment. And, you do owe an apology to anyone to whom you’ve lied! Your children should also be held to account. If you catch them lying, make them apologize.

Wherefore putting away lying,
speak every man truth with his neighbour:
for we are members one of another.
(Ephesians 4:25)

*Greek help from Online Bible.
  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Can a Woman Have a Say?

Photo by: Photokanok

According to the Bible, can a woman hold her own? Can she share her opinion? Do women have an important part in society? Or are women supposed to be seen and not heard? Is she to be so submissive that she doesn’t have a voice?

Studying biblical women, we can come to a conclusion about God’s thinking on this important issue.

Let’s explore this question through women in the Bible:
  • Eve—Given the same rights and heart as her husband, Eve could choose to obey or disobey God’s command. The Bible says she was made in the image of God, as was Adam. (Genesis 1:27)
  • Rebekah—God orchestrated Rebekah’s marriage to Isaac. Everyone recognized that fact, since God had answered Abraham’s servant’s very specific prayers in such an obvious manner. When the servant wanted to leave the very next day, Rebekah’s brother and mother asked if she could remain another ten days or more at home. But, they asked Rebekah’s opinion, and she agreed to go the next day. (Genesis 24:54-58)
  • Miriam—Moses’ older sister led the women in praise to God. Her song is recorded in Exodus 15:20-21.
  • The five daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Micah, and Tirzah—Zelophehad didn’t have any sons, but he had five girls. Under the original Old Testament Law, they would have completely missed out on an inheritance, as only sons were heirs. The daughters felt they should get an inheritance, since there weren’t any brothers, so they took their case to Moses, Eleazar the priest, the princes, and all the congregation. Their father had passed away. The new ruling? The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. There was only one catch: they could only marry into their father’s tribe. They married their cousins, and everyone lived happily ever after. (Numbers 26:33; 27:1-7; 36:6-11)
  • Deborah—She was a judge in Israel and went to battle with Barak. She communicated God’s Word to others. (Judges 4 and 5)
  • Jael—This lady convinced Sisera, the enemy general, to drink some milk and take a nap in her tent. She must have been a convincing actress, because he did just that, and she pounced upon the opportunity and drove a tent stake through his head, killing him. (Judges 4:17-22)
  • Hannah—This prayer warrior and godly woman knew that God is good. She prayed so fervently that the priest Eli thought she was drunk. God answered her prayer and gave her Samuel and then five more children. She gave her little son to God. (1 Samuel 1 and 2)
  • Esther—She was a beautiful Jewish woman who won the king’s favor. She trusted God and bravely saved her people from certain slaughter. She pointed out Haman as the mastermind of the plot and ended up living in his house. Esther risked her life to save the Jews. She understood the power in prayer and fasting and experienced God’s enabling. (the book of Esther)
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus—When Gabriel spoke to her and told her she had been chosen to bear the Son of God, she answered, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38).
  • Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha—They showed open friendship and devotion to Jesus. Martha was a practical woman, and Mary was a worshiper. When Lazarus died, we see how both ladies trusted the Lord implicitly. (Luke 10:38-41; John 11; 12:2)
  • Dorcas—She was a Christian who helped the poor and widows. She was a giving person, and Peter, by God’s power, raised her from the dead. (Acts 9:36-41)
  • Priscilla—This businesswoman knew her Bible. She, alongside her husband, helped to train the evangelist Apollos. (Acts 18:24-26) She and her husband hosted a church in their home. (1 Corinthians 16:19)

There are many more examples in the Bible of women having an integral part in their communities, having a voice and taking actions on their own.

There are all kinds of opinions out there. Some books say a woman cannot even tell her husband what she’s thinking. She’s to rely on him to make all the decisions for the family. Well, that’s not exactly the way the Bible expresses the order in the home.

Yes, Adam was responsible for Eve, as he was the head of their home. This is why God went looking for Adam and asked him if he’d eaten from the tree. Later, God talked to Eve and asked her what she had done. (Genesis 3: 9-13)

There is an order in the family, and there’s an order in the church.

God’s order in the home and church doesn’t mean a woman has no role! Her opinion, choices, and actions are important, and she is a valuable partner in God’s plan in the world.

When God talks about marriage, he says husband and wife are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Marriage is a partnership that represents the relationship of Christ and the church.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. . . . For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:21-24, 29-32).

Do you see the parallel? The marriage relationship is a living illustration of Christ’s relationship with His church.

A woman is not the boss in the family or in the church. She’s not the one with the ultimate word, but she does have a say. A woman is every bit as important as a man. We just have different roles.

(For a more detailed discussion of God’s order in the family and church, you may read my post here.)
  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Let Me Touch Jesus"


Illustration: freebibleimages

I’d love to know if Matthew 9:20-38 describes one day or more. It is one of the most amazing passages about Jesus’ healing ministry.

First, a woman comes and touches Jesus’ garment. She believes that if she can only reach His clothing, she’ll be healed. And she was! Jesus turns around and speaks to her. She’s embarrassed and afraid, but Jesus says, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. (verses 20-22)

That’s the way it is. We trust Jesus, and our faith is the means of healing—not of a sickness necessarily, but of our sins. I love that Jesus called this lady daughter. I believe she must have been much older in years than Jesus—humanly speaking—but He called her daughter because of her faith. She had put her faith in God and had been adopted by the Eternal One.

Then, Jesus goes to Jairus’ home, where his little girl was dead. Jesus tells the people she was only asleep, and the people mocked Him. He put them out of the room. Only her parents, Peter, James and John were allowed to see Jesus take her hand and raise her to life.

Jesus leaves, and two blind men follow him crying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. When He arrived at a house, they presented themselves to Him and Jesus asked them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened. (27-30a) Can you imagine the scene? What made the difference between their blindness and seeing? Their faith and Jesus’ healing touch.

As the blind men went out, someone brought Jesus a person who couldn’t speak. The Bible says he was possessed by a devil (demon). Jesus simply cast out the demon, and the man began speaking.

Then, Jesus went to all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (34-36a)

Reaching out to Jesus.
  • The sick lady did.
  • Jairus did.
  • The two blind men did.
  • The mute person’s friend did.

Jesus healed them as well as whole cities and villages full of sick people.

He had compassion on them, healed them, helped them, cast out their demons, and honored their faith.

There’s a Christian song from the beginning of the 1900’s that goes, “Let me touch Him; let me touch Jesus.”* I believe everyone needs to have that heart cry.

Here are some practical ways we can reach out to Jesus:
  • Communicate with Him in prayer. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:6).
  • Read His Word (the Bible). Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed (John 8:31).
  • Get to know Him. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:29).
  • Trust Him. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). 
Not only did the people reach out to Jesus, Jesus reached out to them.
  • He immediately spoke to the lady who had touched His garment.
  • He raised Jairus’ daughter by speaking to her and taking her hand.
  • He touched the blind men’s eyes.
  • He cast the demon out of the man who couldn’t speak.
  • He preached the gospel in every city and village.
  • He healed all sickness and disease.

Jesus reaches out in love today: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Have you been to Jesus?

Are you reaching out to Him today?

He’s reaching out to you.
  


* “Let Me Touch Him” is by V. B. Ellis.