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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mary And Martha

In this last week of my promotion of my book Women For All Seasons I leave you with a post on Mary and Martha, two well known women of the Bible.

I believe in every church there is a woman like Martha. You know, the one you can call on when something needs to get done? She is at every fundraiser, every outreach, every celebration assisting willingly. I believe Martha in the Bible was like that. Hardworking, dependable, hospitable. Her sister Mary, on the other hand, just loved to sit at Jesus' feet and drink from His wellspring of knowledge and wisdom.

On one occasion, the Bible tells us, Jesus came to Bethany where the sisters lived, and went to stay with them, as He always did. Mary took her usual position at Jesus' feet, while Martha busied herself in the kitchen getting everything ready. When she saw that Mary wasn't coming to help her, she went to Jesus and complained, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!" (Luke 10: 40)

I wonder why Martha didn't address her complaint to Mary herself. Could it be that she secretly blamed Jesus for taking up Mary's time so she couldn't help her? We have to be careful not to get carried away in our zeal to do things for Christ. When we do things for the Lord, we should do them out of our love for Him, not as a duty or as a means of getting praise from others. And we should experience joy and contentment from what we do. Mary was content where she was, at Jesus' feet, but Martha, even though she was hard working, wasn't really content. 

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,
but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her"(v 41 - 42).

I believe Martha meant well, but her zeal prevented her from putting things in the proper perspective.  Instead of performing her task joyfully, she grumbled and complained because she didn't have help. Like many of us who are very active in church, at work or in the community, we often complain when we don't have enough help. We may be overburdened, but did we ask for help? Or did we try to do everything ourselves, only to realize that we have taken on more than we can handle? There's nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Don't wring your hands and say, "Lord, why me? Do I have to do everything around here?"

If you find yourself overwhelmed by your responsibilities, here are some things you can do:

1. Ask for help. As in the above paragraph, asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. Read what Moses' father-in-law told him (Exodus 18: 24).

2. Choose the right people. Having people around you who are not suited to the task can cause problems.

3. Learn to delegate responsibility. This will take some of the burden off you, while giving others the chance to show their talents and skills.

4. Be willing to train others. You won't be around forever. You must have someone to take up the mantle when the time comes.

 5. Be content. 1 Timothy 6: 6 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hannah - Barren

In my last post, I wrote about Rachel, Jacob's wife, who was very unhappy in her marriage because of her barrenness. This post deals with Hannah, Elkanah's wife, who was also unhappy in her marriage because of her barrenness. Like Rachel, Hannah's husband also loved her more than he loved his other wife, Peninnah. Elkanah didn't care if Hannah had children or not, but Peninnah taunted her unmercifully until Hannah became so distraught she couldn't eat.

Elkanah tried to comfort her, saying, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" (1 Samuel 1: 8).

Hannah decided to do something about her condition, but unlike Rachel, who resorted to schemes and charms, Hannah cried out to God and made Him a vow.

 "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head" (v 11).
So passionate was she in pouring out her heart to God that Eli the priest thought she was drunk.

But Hannah replied, "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD (v 15).

Eli blessed her, and she and her husband went home. Hannah conceived and bore a son. Hannah was ecstatic that God had blessed her with a son. She called him Samuel. Many times we pray for something and promise God that we will attend church more, or we will study our Bible more, or increase our giving, only to forget all about our promise when our prayer is answered. 

Hannah kept her promise and gave her son back to God.  The Bible says that after she'd weaned the baby, she took him to Eli just as she'd promised. Samuel went on to become one of the greatest prophets Israel had ever known. But the story doesn't end there.

And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters ( v 21). 

 God rewarded Hannah for her faith. We learn something from Hannah's story. We can never surpass God in our giving. Whatever we give to Him He gives back to us in abundance. 

Luke 6: 38 says, Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  

If you enjoyed reading this  blog post, why not sign up to receive my monthly newsletter. In addition, there will be giveaways and other articles you can benefit from. There's still time to win a copy of my book Women For All Seasons when you sign up this month. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rachel - A Woman Scorned

The story of Rachel reads like the script of a modern-day soap opera, one in which the authors decided to give free rein to their over- active imaginations. But Rachel was a real woman who became the wife of Jacob, grandson of Abraham, Sarah's husband, whom I wrote about in my last post. Rachel was also Jacob's cousin, daughter of his uncle, Laban. The Bible tells us she was very beautiful, and from the minute Jacob laid eyes on her, he was smitten. And Rachel shared the same feeling. So everything should go well, but it didn't.

Enter Leah, Rachel's older sister. Not pretty, but older, and therefore according to tradition, she should be the first to marry. And here's where things get interesting. Laban initially agreed to give Rachel to Jacob in exchange for seven years of labor, but at the end of the seven years, Laban gives him Leah instead. When Jacob wakes the next morning, there is Leah in his bed.

I have heard many explanations for this mix-up, if you want to call it that, some very comical, but for Jacob this was no comedy.  

So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Genesis 29: 25.

 Laban tells Jacob to stay with Leah for the week and he will then give him Rachel, but he must work for him another seven years. Jacob agrees and at the end of the week he gets his beloved.

 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years (v 30).

Will they live happily ever after? As in true soap-opera style, things become more complicated. It's bad enough to have to share your man with another woman, even worse when that other woman is your sister. But Rachel's woes don't end there.

  When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now." (v 31- 32).

Leah gives birth to three more sons, Simeon, Levi and Judah. By this time, Rachel can no longer contain her jealousy. She cries out to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" (30: 1).

But Jacob lashes back at her, "Am I in the place of God? Did I shut up your womb?" (v 2)

Mandragora officinarum 002.JPG
The mandrake plant
Desperate, she does like Sarah (Genesis 16: 3) and gives her maid Bilhah to Jacob so she can have children through her. Bilhah bears Jacob two sons, Dan and Naphtali. This is some consolation to Rachel, but she still wishes she could bear her husband a son. One day, she spots Reuben coming in from the field with some mandrakes, a plant to which was attached some superstition. Among other things, it was believed to help with fertility. Rachel makes a deal with Leah - give her some of the mandrakes and Leah can spend the night with Jacob. Leah agrees, but the deal backfires. Leah gets pregnant and gives birth to Issachar, then Zebulun and finally a daughter, Dinah. 

 After all this, Rachel finally gives birth to Joseph (22 - 25).  She conceives again, but dies giving birth to Benjamin. Poor Rachel. Despite her beauty and the love of her husband, she was a woman scorned. She resorted to stealing and lying when she took her father's idols and sat on them. When her father came to search for them Rachel said to her father, "Don't be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I'm having my period." (31: 35).

Laban was a trickster, and so was she. Laban obviously believed in those idols, and so did Rachel otherwise she would not have stolen them. She went to great lengths to allow Leah to sleep with Jacob in exchange for the mandrakes. But God showed her that no charm or sorcery was match for His will.

"It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy," (Romans 9: 16). 

Many of us are like Rachel, doing everything necessary to get what we want instead of leaving it up to God. If you have been striving and longing for some things to happen in your life, ask God to help you to wait on Him and accept His will. God bless.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sarah - A Woman For All Seasons

This month marks the fifth year since the publication of my book Women For All Seasons, featuring twelve women of the Bible.Their stories are written creatively so you can easily relate to them. At the end of each chapter, there is a section called "Insight" where I give my views on the story, and where you can write answers to questions. To give you a better introduction to the book, I will write a short post on one of the characters each week for this month.

This week's character is Sarah. I included Sarah in the book because she depicts the season of winter. A time when the landscape looks dry and infertile. The weather is cold and nothing grows. There is very little activity as people hurry to get before a warm fire or turn on the heat to make themselves comfortable. Such is the situation of Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman in the winter of her life, long past child-bearing age, and been barren all her life.

When the angel told her she would have a child, she didn't believe it. She said,  "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?" (Genesis 18: 12).

But the Lord said,  "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (v 14)

If you have ever read the story, you will know that Sarah did have a child and she called him Isaac. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead thousands of years later quickened Sarah's infertile womb, and she was able to give birth.

Are you in the winter of your years? Do you feel useless, infertile, unproductive? God doesn't say that. Psalm 92: 14 says, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing."

God had made a promise to Sarah and Abraham and, even though it was long in coming, He kept His promise. He has also made promises to you. Stand on His promises, and don't be discouraged. It is never too late.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the publication of Women For All Seasons, I'm giving away five copies randomly from now until the end of the month when you subscribe to this blog. You'll also receive my monthly newsletter with articles and Christian news from around the world. So don't miss out on your chance. Sign up today.   

Thursday, October 01, 2015

He Always Will Be God

God is God
And He always will be God
He's God of the fiery furnace
He's God of Abraham
He's God of the Hebrew children
He's God the great I AM

Nelcia and my daughter Karon

So go the words of this song my now-deceased mother-in-law loved to sing. Nelcia passed away this week at the ripe old age of 95. She had long lost her eyesight, most of her hearing and her memory, but she had not lost her voice. Whenever we went to visit her, she would ask us repeatedly who we were, but she never forgot who God is and that He will always be God. And then she would treat us to her rendition of the above song. I suppose that thought comforted her throughout those dim, dark days of her dementia right down to the moment when she sailed away to be forever with the great I AM.

Do you know that God is God and that He always will be God? That He is with you in the fiery furnace, the lions' den or any other crisis in which you may find yourself? That you don't have to worry or fret over anything, because He is in control? That He is the same God yesterday, today and forever? If you don't, why not get to know Him today? Find a Bible-believing church, listen to the sermons, read the Word, talk to Christians and ask God to teach you what you need to know. Then you can sing like Nelcia, God is God, And He always will be God."


This month marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of my book Women For All Seasons. To celebrate the occasion, I'm giving away five copies randomly from now until the end of the month when you subscribe to this blog. So don't miss out on your chance. Sign up today.