#198 "Could Your Name Be In the Bible?"
May 10, 2011
"And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope." (Romans 15:4 CEV)
I was never a big fan of women. I always found them to be catty, gossipy, whiny and ever in competition with one another. All of my college friends were guys. I gravitated to the male of the species, which got me into more trouble than I will ever be transparent enough to say. I take a Selah to thank God for His mercy and forgiveness.
One Sunday a few years back, a woman who led women's ministry at the church I was attending came at me out of nowhere and said, "Do you have a heart for women?" I was quite taken aback and mumbled something to her. I can't even remember what I said. I didn't want to look like a bad person in front of this mighty woman of God. I walked away murmuring, "Not so much." She never heard those words, but I believe they went from my lips to God's ears and a change began. I know that this woman and many others began praying for me from that moment on. They saw something in me that I never did. One woman who I didn't even know used to walk by me and say, "Hello Mighty Woman of God." She used to freak me right out. It was kind of creepy but she later became my BFF.
Not long after that encounter the woman with the question found out that she had cancer and passed away. By this time God had done a mighty work in me through her friendship and the love of another dear FEMALE friend. I began to lead women's ministry after she passed, and started to teach and write women's bible studies. God had a plan and He had sent her to me to begin the heart change that I needed to have in order to walk out the destiny He had for me. I now have a heart for women. There are times when I sit back in church and tears come to my eyes as I observe all the different women around me. I wonder what their story is, where they've come from, and what's on their heart. But most of all I want to tell them what Jesus has done for me and if they would just believe, He will do the very same for them. I want to unzip some gals and apply the balm of the living Jesus right into their hurting innards. I want them to know that it doesn't matter who they are, where they've come from, what they've done or what has been done to them. They can be given a new heart and a new life in Christ.
I apologize to my male readers today, because this "Tuesdays" is all about the girls. Don't stop reading though. Maybe you can get some insight into the women in your life.
This morning I was thinking about women in Scripture. On my mind were the famous and the infamous; the ones with big stories and the ones who were only briefly mentioned. What an honor it would be to have the Holy Spirit bring your name to the mind of a writer and cause it to live on in the pages of history; the pages of His Story. I know, I know. You're thinking it could never happen to you. Don't be sure. Think about it.
Eve had everything she could have ever wanted, but temptation came disguised as a serpent and she fell for it. Her name is in the Bible and she would tell you that sin can never be blamed on your environment or heredity. Redemption's love story began with Eve's story.
Sarai, Abraham's wife, would tell you to leave your situation to God. Never come up with a do-it-yourselfer. It never works. Ask Hagar. She never asked to be used in Sarai's scheme, but she paid the price for that mistake by being mistreated and thrown out of town. Hagar would tell you that God is One who sees you in your ill treatment and that He hears your cries of misery.
Leah, rejected and unloved, would tell you to stop looking for love in all the wrong places. All those sons later, and Jacob was still in love with her sister Rachel. Leah's daughter Dinah would tell you about her rape and how she had brothers who would stand up for her and avenge her violation. (Read about the Shechem incident in Genesis 34) You have a friend who sticks closer than a brother in Jesus.
Jochebed, the mother of Moses, would tell you what it's like to sacrifice for your child. Sometimes we have to lay them in a basket and watch them go down the Nile toward their God-ordained destiny. Could Jochebed have known that her son would be a prince in Egypt and later deliver a nation from slavery and bondage?
Zelophehads's daughters would tell you that women aren't second class citizens and that we have a delightful, rightful inheritance in the saints, in Christ Jesus.
Rahab the prostitute would tell you that you can be used by God and that your name can live forever in the pages of God's story no matter where you came from or what you've done. Deborah led a nation and tells you that you can be a great leader, even if you are a woman. Delilah would tell you to leave your man's hair alone.
Ruth would tell you to leave your Moab behind you. It may be where you've come from, but it should never influence where you're on your way to. Her sister-in-law Orpah would tell you to stick it out, take a chance, trust and step out with God into the unknown, lest you end up walking off the pages of Scripture into obscurity as she did. Ruth would tell you that deep sorrow can turn into radiant joy. Emptiness can be filled. And Naomi would tell you that God can truly turn your mourning into dancing.
Hannah testifies that the Lord is a God who knows and answers your prayers. She who was barren was heard by God and given a son, "because [she] asked the Lord for him." Abigail would tell you to never marry a fool and to be a cool hand on a hot head. She would speak words of life to King David and stop him from making a rash, foolish decision based on anger. May we be life-givers when choosing our words. Michal would tell you to let your man worship the Lord with wild abandon if that's what he wants to do. Bathsheba would tell you to never, ever go out in the hot tub, naked, in the spring.
Tamar's name was not taken out of the Bible because she was raped by her brother. Your story couldn't ever be as twisted as the story of Tamar and Amnon. After the rape, she lived "a desolate woman." Anybody?
In the Bible we see women called "widows" and "Shunammites's", identified by their status or where they came from. They have no written name on the pages of Scripture. But their stories are there nonetheless. They would tell you that you are a significant part of God's story even when you feel like people equate you with where you've come from or what's happened to you.
Queen Esther would tell you that, "one night with the King changes everything." Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba were moral blots on the canvas of history by the world standards, but they appear in the genealogy of Christ. They were prostitutes, foreigners and adulteresses. Oh the grace of God! He is so much better than He has to be.
Elizabeth would testify to the miracle working power of God. Mary would tell you of God's ability to do the impossible. A sick woman would talk about how you just barely have to touch the hem of the garment of Jesus and He will heal you; no matter how long you've been ill, no matter how much money you've spent on doctors. The Canaanite woman would encourage you to keep on crying out for your child, over and over and over again and Jesus will honor your great faith and grant your request. Don't settle for crumbs off the table. The mother of Zebedee's sons would advise you to never pray for worldly success and notoriety for your children, but to pray for them to become adults with servant's hearts who are wholly committed followers of Jesus.
A widow from Nain would tell you that God hears the cries of your heart even when you don't voice them out loud. All He did was see "her and His heart went out to her and He said, "Don't cry." He sees you today. His heart is with yours and He says, "Don't cry."
The sinful woman...the sin-full woman, would tell you that nothing is so bad, so ugly, or so awful that you can't find forgiveness at the feet of Jesus. Fall at His feet and go away in peace like you've never known.
Martha says, "Chill out. I wasted my life being worried and upset about many things." Her sister Mary chose what was better and it could never be taken from her. They would also tell you that nothing is dead in your life until God says it is dead. There is always hope and resurrection power in Christ.
A widow would tell you that Jesus notices when you give all you've got to give.
The Samaritan woman would tell you to stop trying to find your worth and value in a man and to never settle for less than you deserve. You are a precious creation and daughter of the living God and you should be treated that way by the man in your life. You have a right to be treated like the jewel that you are, never used, abused or not committed to.
The woman caught in adultery would tell you that she is forgiven. You can be forgiven. You can get up from the ground, shake off the dust of shame and other people's stoning words and glances, and walk in new found freedom and forgiveness. Today! Hold your head up high, girlfriend! Put those shoulders back and walk on.
Finally, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary and Salome would tell you what it's like to watch something fall apart and think that there is no hope; how it feels to think that every good thing you ever hoped for is now gone. They would tell you about despair and hopelessness. But then they would tell you to never believe your eyes or your feelings. In order for something to be resurrected it has to die first. You can experience new life in spite of the hopes and dreams that have died in your life.
Girlfriends, did you notice that none of these women had perfect lives? They made mistakes, they sinned heinously; they were used, abused, raped, and mistreated. They suffered ridicule, shame, guilt, and rejection. They had good times, bad times, suffered loss and experienced gain. They lived life. But their names are right there in the Scriptures. That's because God loved them. He valued them. He knew they were His own precious daughters who suffered in an imperfect world. But each one was included because each one was a part of the story that pointed to the One and Only. And so are you. If a 21st Century Edition of the Bible were being written today, your name would be there. Of that you can be sure.
Living the Word along with you,
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