Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Esther: Studying Great Women of the Bible

Tonight we discussed Esther. REALLY good talks! We began with an overview of the story. We talked the heart ache that Esther must have felt when she was taken away from her home when faced with the possiblity of losing any hope of a husband and a father because of her "night with the king." We talked about her small argument with Mordecai when he tells her what is going on with the Jews in Susa. Even as queen she still listened to the guidance of Mordecai and she approached the situation with Godly wisdom. Unlike many of us :) she didn't rush into the battle or storm into the kings room and demand attention.

Instead she stopped, spent the time to gain wisdom, pray, have others pray, hear from God, act, and then stay sensitive to the spirit. What wise steps to take as women of God when situations come up in our lives.

We discussed how interesting it is that she held two dinners. Why? I have to believe that it was sensitivity to the situation and the grace of God.

This verse could describe Esther's overall response:
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

Her bravery was amazing, wasn't it? I love this line: “If I perish I perish” Does Jesus say anything like that?

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matt 10:39

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matt 16:24,25

To follow the call on Esther's life required her to give hers up to God and for her people. I believe that each of us is called to lose our life and pick up our cross daily. Do I do that?

We ended with spending some time looking at ourselves and how we have arrived where we are in life. Then we journaled a little bit about our past, present, and future with God.

Heritage: Esther is a Jewess and her family was taken to a new place because they were captives. Consider your own heritage. What life lessons have you learned from what your ancestors fought for and believed in?

Parentage: What do we know about Esther’s parents? What about Mordecai? Consider your own parentage. If you weren't raised by your parents or didn't have both as a part of your raising, spend time to be thankful for those whom God has provided in their place to shape your life.

Experience: Who did Esther have in her life helping direct her steps? Consider your own experiences. Give thanks for the variety of teachers God has sent your way to guide and instruct you to where you are now.

Advantage: What advantages did Esther have in her life? Do you have advantages in your life that were put in place by God? Conditions, circumstances and opportunities are all gifts from God to help grow you to a useful place in His kingdom.

Current Issues/Circumstances: What were Esther’s circumstances where she used all that God had placed in her life for all of her growing and molding years? What about yours?

You may be in an "Esther" situation... where there were things done to you that you had no choice. Or maybe you, like me and many others, have just made some crummy decisions... no matter what - God has a plan for us. If Esther can rise above her situation so can we. One way to start is to follow in her footsteps when she stopped, spent the time to gain wisdom, pray, had others pray, heard from God, act, and then stayed sensitive to the spirit.

Next week is:
Anna the prophetess:
Luke 2:36-38

Woman with the issue of blood:
Mat 9:20-22
Mar 5:25-34
Luke 8:40-48

Blessings!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Studying Great Women of the Bible

Tonight we discussed the story of Ruth in the Bible. There are certain themes that stick out. One that we all agreed on tonight was the idea of self-less love. Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law and leave everything that she knew, everything that she was comfortable with and chose a God that she had only gotten glimpses of through her family. She and her other sister-in-law Orpah experienced the love of God through Naomi and her family, but when faced with the choice Ruth chose the Lord. We talked about the times when we have known someone that was excited to get on the path that the Lord had for them only to stop or turn around once they run into difficulty. In those times our faith empowering our will are the only things that keep us going. Ruth made the difficult but right choice and she was blessed for it. We paused and thought of times in our life when we have been at a crossroad and the choices we made... and why.

Then after her choice of staying with Naomi she began working the difficult job of gleaning in the fields for weeks. We talked about what gleaning was and how the Lord provided a way for those less fortunate to be able to work and eat. The mercy of God is evident all through out the old testament as well as the new testament in the ways that He provides for His people. In the old testament it was through rules and laws until the coming of Christ which set us free. Ok, back to gleaning. So Ruth chose Boaz's field to glean and he showed great kindness to her in Ruth 2:8-16.
8Then Boaz said to Ruth, Listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but stay here close by my maidens.
9Watch which field they reap, and follow them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.
10Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should notice me, when I am a foreigner?
11And Boaz said to her, I have been made fully aware of all you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to a people unknown to you before.
12The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take refuge!
13Then she said, Let me find favor in your sight, my lord. For you have comforted me and have spoken to the heart of your maidservant, though I am not as one of your maidservants.
14And at mealtime Boaz said to her, Come here and eat of the bread and dip your morsel in the sour wine [mixed with oil]. And she sat beside the reapers; and he passed her some parched grain, and she ate until she was satisfied and she had some left [for Naomi].
15And when she got up to glean, Boaz ordered his young men, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.
16And let fall some handfuls for her on purpose and let them lie there for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.

What a blessing to a woman who probably felt very much like an outcast in a new country. Boaz went far beyond what was required of him in Leviticus 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:19 by the law. We talked about how in Matthew it says that the mother of Boaz is Rahab (our study of last week). Was his heart touched for her because he understands how hard it is for a woman from another culture to come and be a part of the Hebrew nation? Does he see in her the strength and character that he saw in his mother? We don't know but we do know that there are important things that we learn from our family and we pass those things on to those that come after us.

Later at the end of the harvest Naomi decided it was time to move Ruth back into a home with a husband. She instructed Ruth to go to Boaz as a kinsman redeemer for the family and to lay down at his feet. His care for her is evident yet again as he said that he would do all that she asked and blessed her for her choice of him. He takes care of speaking to the closer kinsman redeemer quickly so that he can take Ruth as his wife. This is where self-less love reenters the picture. From what we understand about the idea of kinsman redeemer is that they take the wife of a close relative if the husband dies and leaves the woman childless (really son-less). In marrying the woman and conceiving a son the 1st son carries on the name of the dead husband and all that is his inheritance. Boaz maybe putting aside some of his rights to an heir for his inheritance by following through as a kinsman redeemer and therefore giving self-less love. What we did note was that in Matthew 1:5 "5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse," So in his gift of a home and a family to both Ruth and Naomi he was included in the lineage of Christ.

Truly the verse from Matthew 10:39 sums up this story "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Giving ourselves away in faith is the way to truly enter into all that God has for us.

Esther next week! Be Blessed!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Studying Great Women of the Bible

What a great night! We discussed so much about Rahab and the faith of this woman. I love that one of the first women mentioned in the lineage of Christ is a prostitute. She is the great, great, great, great, great grandma of Christ. We answered a few questions during our discussion such as:
Why did the spies go to her home especially since Hebrew law would keep them from speaking to such a woman?
What did their actions say to her about their God?
Why did she choose a God she had only heard stories about AND risk her life against her king?

She is a woman who was presented with a choice and chose faith in the living God. Not only did she have faith, but she backed that faith up with action.

"8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Eph 2:8-9

The whole idea that we are saved by grace through faith, but that isn't where it stops.

"17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. " James 2:17 says that if there isn't works and doing in obedience to what Christ has called us to then our faith is dead.

We spent some time talking about the different things that we are being called to have faith in now and what it looks like to walk out in obedience the things Christ is calling us to.

There was so much more said... but it is hard to try to get it all on paper... I will try to do better next week :).

We had a great night! Next week is Ruth and Naomi!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hello old friend

It seems like forever since I have shared on this blog. There is so much going on in life right now I don't even know where to start. I am still in love with my husband and my kitty. I work at my church now (as in for the last year since the last update) helping in the background so the pastors are free to do all that God has called them to. We bought our first house a month ago and there are STILL boxes in my bedroom. Every one of those statements comes with TONS of stories and background. I don't know why but I just wanted to be in touch. Dinner is almost done... talk to you soon.