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May 4, 2021 – #4 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

Esther ~~

Esther, chapter 2

A beautiful girl chosen by the King of Persia to be his new Queen, unbeknownst to him, a Jewess. Pampered and Primped in the king’s haram spa until she was fit to be called to spend a night with Him. She found favor.

Meanwhile, a proud and pompous descendant of the Amaekites approached the King with a wicked plan. He hated all Jews and tricked the King into agreeing that a “subversive people group” needed purging from Persia.

Esther got wind of the plot from her uncle Mordecai. He asked her to save her people by doing the impossible – going into the king’s inner court without first being called to beg his favor. The law stated that the one who did so was to be put to death…. unless the king held out the golden scepter.

Her uncle’s words, “Do not think to yourself that in the King’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

While the Jews in capitol city fasted and prayed – Esther and her women as well – Esther made a plan.  She went in the strength of Almighty God with the simple, yet sly plan, to see the King.

And miracle of miracles King Ahasuerus held out the scepter!

Twice the King and the Amalekite were invited to Esther’s private quarters for a sumptuous meal. During the second, when the King was sated with rich food, Esther told him about the Amalekite’s plot to kill her.

In a rage, the king ordered his death by hanging, and since the Law of the Persians could not be cancelled, he ordered that the Jews could fight and defend themselves when the henchmen came.

After that, a great celebration was held to honor the Jews’ victory. It’s called Purim, and is celebrated today.

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PS: The whole story of Esther in the Bible is a delightful, intriguing read.  I’ve left out many of the unbelievable details. But read it on your own. It almost sounds like an episode of the Keystone Cops.

 

 

LORD, help me to be willing to stand up against evil and proclaim the righteousness of God and the Son regardless of my own safety.

JH

May 3, 2021 – #3 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

Sarah ~~

Genesis 18:1-14

Sarah had followed her husband from Ur of the Chaldees (modern day Iraq) to Canaan (later to be Israel) along with his father, brother, and nephew. A long journey because God had called her husband – a man of faith – to this new land. God had promised it would be theirs forever.

Then, walking from one end to the other of this long strip of “promised” land at the Eastern side of the Great Sea, camping in tents, till the pasture ran out, then moving on, making do.

And then a famine, no crops, no water for the animals, and another long journey to Egypt. “Say you are my sister, Sarah,” her husband whispered as they entered the well-watered land.

And of course she did, because she always obeyed him, and after all, wasn’t she his “half” sister? But who knew that Pharoah would desire her and take her. Sarah looked at her husband with pleading eyes as she was led away. “Tell him the truth, husband!” But he was silent.

Sarah was a woman of faith. She prayed to God and rested in the peace He sent as she settled in the kings harem. And then tragedy struck Pharoah’s palace; women began miscarrying babies, infants who were born died, and not one woman could conceive. And God spoke to Pharoah in a dream. “That woman you took is another man’s wife. Return her to him.”

This Pharoah listened to God. He took Sarah and returned her to her husband, along with food, livestock, servents, gold and silver.

“Your God spoke to me, why didn’t you?  What’s wrong with you, man? What, you were afraid?  Give me a break!  You are lucky, I could have defiled her…. and then what would your God have done to me. BE GONE!”

And yes, reader, that happened again with King Abimilech. But this time she was a few weeks pregnant with a promised son. “Tell him you are my sister,” he’d said, and Sarah didn not even look back. She trusted God. She knew this king would not defile her. God would protect that promised seed growing within her – the One by whom the whole world would be blessed, the One who would come to save His people. Hadn’t He promised it?

Sarah remembered a few months earlier, when three strangers had come to their tent. They looked like angels, Sarah thought! She had hid inside, right at the flap of the tent and listened to them.  And her laugh of… of what? Joy? distain? unbelief?  She knew not which. But the One had said that in a year she would bear a son!  Ha! She was 75 and her husband 100.

But it had happened, so Sarah KNEW the Holy One would protect the small speck of humaness in her by the power of His Word.

And the son was born. He was named Isaac, which means “he laughs.”  Yes, he was a good, happy baby. But Sarah knew that the Holy One had heard her laugh, and had His own joke with the boy’s name.

 

 

LORD,  that I might have patience and faith to trust You in my trials, and joy in all  Your promises.

May 1, 2021 – #1 of 31 Days of Biblical Women

May 1, 2021 – 31 Days of Biblical Women – Eshet Chayil

It is a 22-verse poem found in proverbs 31:10-31, and sung each Sabbath to honor Jewish women. It is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet (like the sections in Psalm 119). Some interpret it as being about Abraham’s wife, Sarah, or about Solomon’s great grandmother, Ruth.

Eshet Chayil is Hebrew for “woman of worth,” “valor,” “strength,” or “virtue.”

 

The Woman Who Fears the LORD

10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.

15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard.

17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

LORD, give me a heart of virtue, courage, and strength, to serve my family.

 

jh

 

Bible Women Study – 31 in May

I found this “adventure” that took place in 2017, four years ago.

How fun this would be THIS YEAR if you all took the time to read about these women in the Bible – one per day – and wrote a short blog post, and, if you feel like it, draw a picture of how you imagine each one.  Will you do it?  I’m going to try.

Let me know and I’ll read your blog too!

woordvrouw challenge schema EN

Thank you Sara Lindenhols in the Netherlands!

http://www.lucilight.nl & http://www.saralindenhls.wordpress.com

Today is the 20th day of Lent/Self-Denial.

Moses’ intercession & request of God.

Consider Exodus 33:12-23.

 

Exodus 33:12-23 (ESV)
Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
Have you seen the GLORY of the LORD today?
JH

God Became Like us, so that —

—- we could become like God.

But it doesn’t happen by anything we can DO in our self.

It takes God by His wonderful grace, sending His Holy Spirit to “quicken” (make alive) our dead spirits, so that we can receive His gift of faith and believe the Gospel. And then He graciously fills us with His Holy Spirit. When that happens, we are saved.

Now, the Holy Spirit’s job in us is to “sanctify” us (make our thoughts, words, and actions righteous and holy) like Jesus.

 

Romans 8:29 (ESV) –  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 

 

 

jh

 

YET I will rejoice in the Lord!

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”

 

Make “YET” be your word in 2021

HOPE, a Poem of Redemption

by Naomi S.

a young girl in Italy.

 

HOPE

If I could go back…

back to when my wide eyes

peered at the world,

trusting,

innocent,

wholehearted….

If I could go back,

back to when nobody,

nobody had stepped in

and whispered delicious poison

in my ears…

If I could go back…

back to when I was still a flower,

petals whole,

all in one place…

I’d tell you.

I’d tell you everything.

The pain. 

The heartache, the brokenness.

The searching.

The hatred.

The burning in my chest. 

The bitterness of

being told

you aren’t enough,

and knowing

it’s true. Too true.

Friends are only for a moment,

they aren’t there

for you,

but for themselves.

I’d tell you about the goodbyes,

the pain,

the ache I couldn’t fill.

The loneliness in the place

I was told

to call home.

Yes.

I would tell you.

I would tell you about the humiliation,

the grief,

the wondering,

the tears,

the ache in the absence of tears.

I’d tell you about the pain

of loving

and losing when you need love

the most,

and not knowing the future,

and wondering…

wondering if love would ever come.

Telling you would crush you.

But am I not crushed?

Yes.

I am crushed.

I am broken.

I am shattered.

My petals are scattered

in different homes.

What is home anyway?

I would tell you about it all

and not hide one word.

Not one word.

But then,

after all the heartache,

and pain,

and loss,

and goodbyes,

and lies…

…then…

Then I would tell you…

I’d tell you about picking myself up.

I’d tell you about the One

who took me,

loved me,

showed me,

healed me,

exposed my lies,

held my hand,

transformed the pain,

the loss,

the goodbyes,

into scars.

Scars of loss,

of love,

of healing,

of losing myself

to find myself. 

I’d tell you about the growth,

daughter of pain,

the flower

born from the ashes,

strong

because of the flames,

because of the pain.

I’d tell you about the comfort,

the healing,

the love brought by true friendship,

the care,

the words

that leave me speechless,

heart bursting each time.

“Your worth is not in yourself”.

I’d tell you about Christ,

about his loss

and my gain because of it.

I would tell you everything.

About heartache,

loss,

pain,

tears,

ache,

loneliness,

emptiness.

I’d tell you about hope.

 

Notes from the author:

“I’d love if you shared the poem on your blog! Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it. I’ve only ever written rhyming poetry, but I started trying free verse because I like playing around with the rhythm…I actually didn’t think much of it when I wrote it months ago, but coming back to it last week, I though you might enjoy reading it.”

“…how Christ changes a broken heart through redemption…that is exactly what the poem is meant to portray.”

 

What are YOUR thoughts?

 

 

 

jh

What if There’s No Pumpkin Pie? Ending the Year with Hope

Spectacular fall colors, warm apple desserts, and spiced-aroma candles. What’s not to love?  Whether my grandsons and I drink hot cider and eat donuts on my screened porch, or I enjoy my personal time under a warm blanket reading a good book, surrounded by the sights and smells of fall, I’m in a happy place.

                  As the leaves began to change and I was greeted by a raining day, my mind turned to baking pumpkin bread. With my weekly shopping list in hand I went to one supermarket only to find the shelf that housed pumpkin was bear. I waited until the next week and the same was true in two different supermarkets. Sure that I had missed the usual baking displays, I approached a store clerk to ask. He told me I’m not alone in that request. Shoppers had purchased the canned pumpkin earlier –at the start of COVID-19, along with the rush on paper products. Stores are waiting for the crop to be picked, processed, and shipped. Another unprecedented experience in 2020.

 

                 No pumpkin. Strange. What if we won’t have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving?  It’s first world problem I know, but I asked myself that question. We’ve asked and continue to ask many  “what if” questions-more serious than pumpkin pie. We are entering another season that looks different. Our cozy, colorful, and warm autumn picture may have a chilly and cloudy cast.

What if there’s no opportunity to be with family due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel?  Family gatherings look different. Unless I want to quarantine in NY for 14 days and be tested before and after I travel, I can’t fly to see family in NY.  My family may have pumpkin pie without me.

What if grief, already exaggerated in this season, is met with fewer face to face contacts and hugs?  The grief support group I facilitate has been cancelled twice because our church closed due to COVID-19. At a time when grievers especially need face to face support even at a 6-foot distance, we meet by text and phone. Pumpkin pie is not served.

What if the usual Christmas concerts, holiday parties, and children’s programs are canceled this season?

What if there’s no pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?

The prophet Habakkuk in the OT answers that  “what if” question when he says,

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, (and no pumpkin pie, or travel, or events, or…), yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

And the apostle Paul adds to that when he says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 11-12 NIV

So what if?

  • What if I renewed my focus during the closing weeks of 2020?
  • What if I monitored my thinking?
  • What if I intentionally used positive words in my self-talk?
  • What if I followed Habakkuk and the apostle Paul’s reminders?

Then… We can live in contentment because we can draw on God’s promises to stay the course, live in His strength, and remember Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.

What if? What are your strategies to answer that question with “then”? 

 

For more of Marilyn Nutter’s blog posts, books, etc., click here.