Mary’s husband had a name….

A few years ago I was slowly blogging through the Bible with the aide of Max Lucado’s “Life Lessons Study Guide“* books. At the time, I had started the journey as part of my one word challenge that year, “Redeemed“.

Now I’m starting again with a friend. She was looking to read her Bible more, and I had recommended this study series and then thought “why not go through it all again myself?” Additionally, it seemed very fitting to get back into a disciplined habit of spending dedicated time in God’s Word and in prayer through His Word. And go figure, my one Word challenge this year is “Discipline“.

I started back with Matthew, reading over Chapters 1 and 2 slowly, intentionally, and prayerfully. And again, Joseph really stood out to me.

Joseph is referred to as a “righteous” man (HCSB). Matthew 1:19 specifically shares “So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly”. Continue reading “Mary’s husband had a name….”

Did You Meet Judah in Genesis?

MyBlogI had this fantastic idea in 2015 I would “blog through” the P31OBS I am doing with Proverbs 31 Ministries. I love great ideas. I have A LOT of them. A LOT. And as we are preparing to jump into Week 5 of the 6 Week study, I realized I haven’t posted a single blog. *tee-hee*

 

Better late than never! 

Even though the study is near the end, I have a few things the Lord has laid on my heart I’d like to blog about. One of the things the Lord has really laid on my heart this year is my need to be in His Word. The Bible.

 photo Chapter1b_zpsbzjsx6on.pngI love reading. Always have. As I’ve grown older I’ve moved away from fictional reading and have been hungry for “teaching” reading. I’ve read a lot of books in the last few years and the Lord has used these books to help my growth. He has also convicted me that these books are to be a helpful addition to His Word, not a replacement.

So when I started Chapter 2 of Keep It Shut during week one, and Karen began to walk us through Chapters 37-50 of Genesis, I laid the book down and picked up my Bible. Before reading Karen’s words I decided to read The Word. So I took the time to read Genesis Chapter 37-50 myself. I am so thankful I did.

 photo HCSB BIBLE_zpsbeflvmqz.jpgThe Lord showed me something in those chapters I’ve never picked up on before. Last year I invested in a Women’s Study Bible, as I was reading through Genesis I took the time to read all the study notes in the side margins. Did you know in Joseph’s story there is a whole chapter that takes a short detour to talk all about Judah? My study Bible helped me slow down and really think about Judah’s life.

Remember Judah was the one who suggested they sell Joesph in the first place (Gen 37:26-27), and then lied along with his brothers to their father about what really happened. In Chapter 38 we watch Judah continue to make bad choices, continue to do dishonest things. He keeps bending and breaking the truth to serve himself and he keeps trying to hide what he’s actually done. Isn’t that usually the slippery slope we tumble down when we allow a dishonest thought to form in our mind and exit from our lips?

What really grabbed my attention were the notes in my study Bible.

“Seeing his possessions, Judah understood that he was the father of the child. Judah declared Tamar more in the right (Hb tsedaqah, ‘just’) than he because she was trying to fulfill levirate marriage, while he sought to dissuade the union of his youngest son to Tamar. With Judah’s admission of guilt also comes a sign of repentance since he did not have sexual relations with his daughter-in-law again.”

Let me be honest with you. I believe to understand the Old Testament is extremely difficult because we often read it with no understanding of the culture, the laws they lived under, and their customs. We read it with the lenses of our own culture and it just makes it weird and irrelevant. That’s one of the reasons I like a good study Bible, because it helps me to read with a better set of lenses.

My take away as I went through my study Bible notes and the chapters: Judah was in sin with how he treated Joseph and lying to their father about it. Then he continued a life of lies and sin with how he treated his own daughter in law. The key is the sign of repentance, or in my mind, confessing his sin. As the Bible turns back to focus on Joseph’s life after Chapter 38, we see a different Judah also emerge. A Judah who by the end of Genesis receives a blessing of highest praise from their father before he dies. Even higher than his older brothers, which in their culture, is a BIG deal.

To me, it’s a story of Redemption. 

We can come from a place of bad choices. A place where our lips have spoken evil thoughts, maybe even evil thoughts we’ve acted on and then lied about. Praise Jesus that we can use these same lips to confess, repent, and be redeemed and restored and live a changed life!

 photo chapter2c_zpsn6lsimey.jpgWeek one of #KeepItShutBook was fantastic for me. Not only did the Lord speak to me through His Word, Karen had some great insights into Joseph’s life as well.

Let me be honest friends, I am a stupid sheep.  I need to be reminded of what my Shepherd says so I can stay focused on listening for His voice to guide me. One big thing I’ve found myself thinking about (and being convicted about, and having to repent about, and hopefully grow in) was the following after being reminded of Luke 6:45:

You see, my words don’t just tumble out of my mouth randomly or by mistake. They are purposeful and intentional, having originated first in my heart. So if we have a mouth problem, in actuality what we really have is a mind and heart issue. ~Karen Ehman {Keep It Shut}

A great week one of #P31OBS #KeepItShutBook

May I encourage you with any study book you may be reading, to pause where scripture is mentioned and first read that scripture for yourself, prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to teach you through it?

And if you are looking for a bible study to join online, might I invite you to check out P31OBS?
Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies

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Serving with Intentional Purpose requires The Lonely Place

It’s time to pick back up our study of Luke. I’m going to pick up where we left off, as I feel the Lord has laid some specific things on my heart. One of the things I love most about reading the Bible, is that it truly is a Living Word. Each time I meditate in it, the Lord finds a way to speak something to my heart. I hope you’ll join me in finding that time to be with the Lord so He may speak to your heart as well.

Luke Study Image

Lesson Two: Faith at Work
Text: Luke Chapters 4 and 5 (click here to read now)

My Personal Thoughts:

Last year I read the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. One chapter I find myself reflecting on frequently is titled “Balancing Work and Worship“. Some of the notes I took as I read the chapter were…

  • Love for God first, love for others second. Worship and Service. One flows from the other and back again. It is a picture of a balanced, Christ-like life.
  • God wants us doing both, loving Him, loving others. Service is love. Worship is love. It will never be enough to only do one or the other, both is required by God’s commandment. 
  • Balance is found in the flow of our life. Each day may not reflect equal work and worship time, however, over time they equal up and balance each other out. 

In this section of Luke, I see Jesus working. Serving. His work is active, intentional, and purposeful. He is teaching, calling, traveling, and healing. In chapter four we see a “healing spree” take place starting in Capernaum at the synagogue and continuing at Simon’s home. We read “When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” (Luke 4:40 NIV84)

Jesus was working. Serving. Loving others.  

Sometimes I think we get lost in the command to love others. I know I have.
We feel we don’t volunteer enough of our time, enough of our finances, or enough of our homes. We start seeking various ways we can love others, and over-commit ourselves to loving others. Instead of love it turns into a “to-do” list, a score card, and we find ourselves serving others with a underlying foul mood and critical spirit. We lose the love. We lose the heart of service. In trying to love others we begin to alienate others, judge others, and suddenly we are trying to serve without love and beating our heads against the wall as to why it isn’t working.

As a homemaker, I too frequently forget the call to love others starts at home. My husband, my son, are the “others” that are directly in my path each and every day. On a busy week I can beat myself up “I didn’t do enough to love others” because I didn’t leave home enough. The Lord is helping me see His call to love others starts here and spreads outward.

Loving others is service. It’s work. It means caring about their needs first. Thinking about how to best help them. It uses energy and effort. Time and thought. It is work physically, emotionally, and mentally. Jesus knows this. He knows the work that serving others involves because He came to serve. He came to serve others with absolutely everything He had to offer. He knows the effort and toll such work can take on us, especially when we find ourselves in a season of “marathon loving”.

Which is versus like this one grab my eyes.

 At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. ~Luke 4:42a

As a people person, words such as “solitary” and “lonely” have never appealed to me. Not until I realized just how precious they are with God. Not until I’ve found myself on the brink of collapse because of spiritual exhaustion.  It’s more than the tired sweaty end to a workout or the brain dead feeling after a two hour math test. It’s that feeling deep down, even deeper than your bones, that you just can’t take another step, or another breath, without falling on your knees and crying out to God.
In my personal walk, I’ve come to realize this type of exhaustion comes when I forget the importance of finding a lonely place. A place to worship the Savior. To lean on the Holy Spirit and use His strength to breath in His Word, His Healing, His Resting place. Jesus knew the importance of finding the solitary place, the lonely place, and praying. Worshiping the Father. Talking with the Father. Loving the Father.

How precious those moments must have been. God and Son were in perfect community together, for all time. For Jesus to be here, working, serving, Loving others, how precious and sacred those moments alone with God must have been for Him.

 photo Luke516_zps7c5a8156.jpg
Some days it’s not long before I already begin to feel drained. A testy teenager. An over-tired husband. A disagreement with a friend. A change in my routine. The longer I go without finding a solitary place, the less I’m able to work with the intentional purpose to love others.

Sometimes the work load will be great. It will require an “all-nighter”. When the sun rises, will I rush to go to bed, or will I take a moment to find the lonely place and withdrawal to worship my Lord? Will I turn to the world to give me rest, through games, TV, or YouTube? Or will I find the solitary place to rest my spirit? To Love God first, so that through Him, I can Love Others to His Glory?

My Personal Application:

Loving others is work. Loving others is a command that starts with my family, and branches out to all the world. Christ served people with intentional purpose, to give Glory to God. I want to serve and love others with that same purpose. To do so, I need to withdrawal to the quiet place. My spirit will only find rest in God, not in the world. If I give up my precious moments to be with God for the distractions of the world, I will lose those moments to worship and Love God first. To be renewed and restored in spirit. Which will result in losing the ability to truly Love others. Loving God and Loving Others. The lonely place is vital to find.

Next Week’s Post will be a though reflection on Luke chapter 6. 

In Love & Faith,
RaZella