Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #201

#201 "You May Be In A Battle, But The War Has Been Won!"
May 31, 2011
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him." (2 Corinthians 2: 14)
For six or seven weeks I've been doing a Bible study called "Duty or Delight" by Tammie Head.  (http://www.lifeway.com/product/005429354/#) To say it's been outstanding and transformational would be an understatement. Anyway, check it out if you're looking for some structured Bible study time this summer. Schedules change in these hot months and we lean a little bit toward rest, relaxation and vacations. We should never choose the R&R and vacation route when it comes to God's Word. Be purposeful about staying in the Word in these coming months, and if you need something to keep you focused, definitely check out "Duty or Delight".
As I walked through week six of Tammie's study, she led me to an old familiar passage of Scripture in Ephesians 6. You know the place, I'm sure. I hope it's familiar to you too. It's the passage about putting on the armor of God. Riiight....that's the one!
You can check out the study to find out Tammie's take on it, and by the way...awesome! But right in the middle of the week God showed me something that just leapt off the pages of my Bible. I love the Word! I love how you can read the same passages over and over again through the years, and suddenly you see something you've never seen before. Scripture truly is "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12). It's so fun to connect the dots and have a new revelation.
Are you ready for a little Bible Study?
First of all, you need to understand that you are in a war. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have an enemy. Your enemy, the devil, schemes and devises detailed, well thought out methods to destroy you. You may even feel like the battle is particularly fierce in your life today. That's because it is! Revelation 12:12 tells us that "he [the devil] is full of fury, because he knows that his time is short." Your enemy's days are numbered and he is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5: 8) You and me!
Your battle may manifest itself in your marriage, problems on your job, troubled children, relational strife, financial difficulties, illness, or a host of other situations that have you beside yourself today. But in reality, those situations are being controlled by something else. If we could see supernaturally, we would witness a battle going on around us that rivals anything we see in Iraq or Afghanistan. It's a battle against an adversary that hates you and has unseen forces trained to hit you with a fatal blow. Their aim is your soul, your faith, your confidence in God and your very life.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6: 12)
Pretty scary, huh? It will be very scary if we only look at life through what is visible to our naked eye. But fear has no hold on us when see what is going on in our lives through supernatural eyes; through the eyes of the Spirit. Put your spiritual glasses on and hang on to your hat.
When Tammie brought me to Ephesians 6:12 in the study, four words stood out to me. "In the heavenly realms." It was then that I remembered one of my Scripture memory verses found at the beginning of that same book, Ephesians, in chapter one. This is why I believe it is of utmost importance to know your Bible. I can't encourage Scripture memorization enough. Watch this.
"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 1: 18-20)
Where are the powers and authorities and forces of evil? _____________________
Friend, where is Christ seated? __________________________________
Your Bible may use the words, "in high places" or "in heavenly places", but the same words are used in Ephesians 1: 18-20, and in Ephesians 6: 12, whatever translation you have.
While all of the forces of evil dwell in the heavenly realms, God the Father has seated Christ Jesus in those very same heavenly realms.
What is Christ doing?
Standing                   Lying down                        Running                                        Sitting
Christ is seated in the heavenly realms. The Greek word is kathizo and means that He is sitting in a position of authority on the throne of God. I believe He is also seated because one sits when one is done. Christ is done. It is finished. He has done the work. He has won the victory. He is seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms. Those forces prowling around in those same realms, and prowling around in the shadows surrounding your life, can do you no harm. They can't touch you without the express permission of God who is right there watching them, listening to them, and either giving them permission for His own perfect reasons, or rendering them powerless against you. He's right there!
**If you want to explore this further, read Job 1 and 2.
Now, watch this.
Fill in the blank:
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the ________________, against the _______________ of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Get ready!
Turn to Colossians 2: 9-10 and 15, and fill in the blanks.
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every _____________ and _____________." (vs. 9-10)
"And having disarmed the _______________ and ________________, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross."  (v. 15)
Who is Christ head over?________________________________________.
How many of them?_________________________
Who did he disarm and make a public spectacle of?_______________________   
Christ is head over EVERY power and authority in the heavenly realms where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, because by His Cross, He made a public spectacle of them all! He disarmed every last one of them and they cannot harm you. Are you seeing with your Spirit eyes what you could never see with your natural eyes before?
This is truth, precious one! This is where our faith must be our eyes, as we fix them on what is unseen, not on what is seen.
The battle you're fighting today is not against your spouse, your child, the mortgage company, your boss or the illness inside of your body that is trying to take your life. It's not against difficult people or traumatizing acts leveled against you, or that ache in your heart that you wake up to each and every morning. Your battle is against spiritual forces in heavenly places, but the triumphant, magnificent, all powerful, holy, perfect Son of the Living God has beaten each and every one of those powers and authorities. He is right there. Those forces can never get out of hand or out of control. You have no reason to ever be afraid. You will never really lose because Jesus has won the victory for you. You have everything that you need in Him to never let the enemy utterly take you down or out.  You may be in a battle today, but Jesus has won the war!
Right now you may feel like you are losing every battle that comes your way. You may feel that the enemy has caught you and you will never be free. I pray that by doing this little bible study today you may renew your mind with the truth that the Lord Jesus has won your victory for you. I know it seems like you will never taste the sweetness of the win, but I will leave you with this quote.
"The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest and most exciting triumph of all time. Many sports teams win on the last play of the game. But Jesus' victory was more dramatic. He did not win in the "last second" - Jesus won the victory three days after the game was over!"
Living the Word along with you,  
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #200

#200 "What Is Your Passion?"
May 24, 2011
"But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." (Jeremiah 20: 9 NIV)
If you go by the number of Google results I hit when I entered "What is your passion?", 111,000,000 entries will give you methods, lists, and guidelines to help you find out what exactly it is that gets your juices flowing and makes it worthwhile to get out of bed every morning. Some of those results are secular and some are from Christian authors. I'm just a little too strapped for time to read all of those entries, but over the years I have found two ways from the pages of Scripture that can point you in the direction of your own personal passion.
There are so many things that we can be passionate about and give our time to. Via the internet, we have the world literally at our fingertips. With just a few key strokes, we can see children starving, villages with no clean water, tragedy, injustice, heinous acts of violence, prejudice and mistreatment in just a matter of seconds. There is also no shortage of organizations, Christian and non, who are on the front lines of fighting countless numbers of causes. We are given opportunities to donate our time and our financial resources to a host of different things.
I believe that God created us in such a way that what gets to you, may not necessarily get to me. If He didn't work it that way, we would all be jumping on the same bandwagons. Each heart is uniquely created to break over just the thing that God has created it to break over. God's heart is breaking over it all and He wants to use us to be His hands and feet walking planet Earth in His name. There is a world full of things God wants us to do and there's enough work for all of us.
Jeremiah was appointed by God to be a prophet. He was ridiculed, insulted and suffered reproach. Eventually he was accused of treason and convicted.  He would have done well to keep his mouth closed, but in his own words, he could not. He had found his passion.
"But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak anymore in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."
(Jeremiah 20: 9)
What is it that burns in you like a fire? A fire shut up in your bones? You've tried and tried to hold it in, but, indeed, you cannot? That, my friend, is your passion.
One of my absolute favorite Greek words in Scripture is the word "dei". This word means, "necessity"; "established by the counsel and decree of God". Our English words for "dei" that we read in the bible, are "must", "ought" and "should". This word is used in reference to Jesus many times.
When the child Jesus was lost for three days, He told His parents, "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house, about my Father's business?" (Luke 2: 49) Those words, "had to be"? Dei. Jesus was telling Mary and Joseph that it was a necessity that He stay behind. It had been established by the decree of His heavenly Father, to be in His house and about His business.
In Luke 4:43, Jesus revealed His mission statement. He said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." Dei. Must. It was a necessity. Jesus and His Father were one and His Father's passion was His passion. That passion became His mission.
That passion would lead all the way to Jerusalem and to a cross where He would die for our sins. "The Son of Man must [dei] suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must [dei] be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Luke 9: 22)  
What is your dei? What fires you up? What brings tears to your eyes? What breaks your heart? What is it that no matter how you try to contain yourself, you just have to speak, you just have to open your wallet; you just have to do something? That is your passion. Now make your passion your mission.
God Himself has placed that fire on the inside of you. It is His fiery passion as well. He is commissioning you to acknowledge it and go forth in His strength with purpose and determination to make a difference in your world. Your unique passion and zeal over that one thing was given to you for such a time as this.
There will be many, many good things demanding your attention, your time and your finances. That is why there are so many of us. There is enough work for each and every one of us to do until Jesus comes or until He calls us home to glory. If He didn't have work for us to do, He would have saved us and taken us up right then and there. But He fills us with His Spirit, the One who will lead us and guide us and reveal our specific purpose and passion to our hearts. He will reveal that one thing.
"You can't do everything, but you can do something. What you can do, you should do. Today, determine that in the power and grace of God you will do it."  [Haddon Robinson. Love Needs Expression. Our Daily Bread. December, 2005.]
Let the fire burn. Don't quench it. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit spurring you on to do His work. You know it. You can feel it. Your eyes sting with its tears. Your heart aches with its pain. It is a necessity. It is established for you by the counsel and the decree of the living God. It is your dei.
Living the Word along with you,  

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

To all the young moms....

I like to keep my finger on the pulse of young moms. I love reading their blogs about how they're keeping their homes, raising their children and serving Christ on a day by day journey through life. Right off the top, I want to say...You're doing a beautiful job girls! You may not have a clue who I am and you may not even care what I think, but I just want you to know that someone up in the north is watching and praising God for you. You have been entrusted with the next generation of Christ-followers and you are molding and shaping them with excellence.

I wish I could go back to the days when my children were young. I didn't become a serious Christian until about ten years after having my first child. So that was ten years of not raising them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, like the Bible tells me to. I spent the rest of their years trying to play catch-up, if you will. As I grew in my faith walk, it was often a struggle to keep them on a godly path because they had already been so exposed to the world, other family members beliefs, or unbelief in many cases, peer pressure and the like. You are so blessed to have those babies in your care as a godly woman and mother now, while they are young.

I prayed so much during those years. I prayed that God would do a work in my children in spite of me. I planted seed wherever I could and prayed that the Holy Spirit would bring the harvest. God was and is always faithful. My children have grown into some pretty amazing adults. Somehow, supernaturally I'm sure, they have no recollection of many things that I feared would cause them harm in later years. They grew and matured and my oldest daughters are now raising precious baby girls of their own.

I sit on the other side of 50 years old now. I can look back through my eyes, but look forward through the eyes of my children and grandchildren. What would I say to you today, young moms, as you have the precious privilege to mother as a Christ follower from the very beginning? I would say these things not because I did them perfectly. I did not. I would say them because I learned them over 30 years of parenting, both the right way and the wrong way. I've seen the results, good and bad. I won't tell you which ones I failed at. Hopefully my kids won't rat me out on these either.

First, I would say, love your husband. You are so busy with the kids, the schedules, and the housework. Your man wants you to listen to him at the end of his day. He wants to know that he is appreciated, loved and respected. He's put in a long day at work for you and your children and he deserves some of your time to tell you about his day. He wants to know that he matters to you. Deliberately carve out time for one another. One day your children will leave the nest and he will be the only face staring at you across the kitchen table. Stay connected now and you will flourish in those coming days when it's just the two of you.

Second, love those babies. Love those toddlers. Love those children. Love for them begins with teaching them about Jesus and His love for them. They are never too young to hear His Name. "Talk about [Him] when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." That is primary.

Right on the heels of that comes the most important way to love your kids....give them the most important gift you can....you! They will never remember how clean your floors were or how there weren't any dust bunnies under their beds. They WILL remember the times you sat on the floor and played Barbies. They WILL remember taking walks and picking dandelion bouquets and jumping in puddles. They WILL remember baking cookies and making mud pies and snuggling. You are the center of their universe right now. Take it from me. There will come a day when they will think that you know nothing. They will think they know better. They will want to explore the world...without you. It goes so fast, mom. It goes so fast.

I wish I would have learned this earlier on. I wish I would've been the kind of mom that I am as a "Gigi" now. My furniture has irremovable fingerprints on it from my granddaughters. So what? Windex on the mirrors can come out when they go home, or, God forbid, can be used the next morning. When I was a young mom, I wanted everything to be perfect and didn't take enough time to have fun with my kids. Give them the gift of you. That's all they really want. You may have to step away from all those hours on the keyboard. I believe that Satan is using the Internet as the 21st century means of distraction. Your presence in your house isn't enough. You need to be PRESENT for your children.

Model for your children a true faith in and love for God. Love their father and model that love in front of them. Small PDA's are completely appropriate. It lets your children know that all is right with their world when mom and dad are in love. Love them with your time, your wisdom, your humor and your whole heart. One day it won't matter to them whether or not they lived in a mansion or a bungalow. It won't matter what kind of car you drove. It won't matter if they took fancy vacations or had designer shoes. What they will always remember is you. You were always there for them. You loved them with all your heart. You were willing to sacrifice anything for them. You were Mom and you were the best.

I am so thankful for what God has done with my children. I'm still waiting for some seed to harvest, but I'm confident that He who began a good work in them will carry it through to completion. I am so anxiously awaiting the joy of watching my grandchildren grow in God's purpose for their lives. And I want to be a part of that. I sit on the floor now and play Barbies. I make silly faces and sing and dance to the Fresh Beat Band. Dora has even taught me some Spanish. We bake cookies and go for walks. Oh, young mom, don't wait to be a Gigi before you do these things. Do them now!

You will never do it perfectly, but I can share with you from experience that it's amazing how God can redeem all of our mistakes. His grace and His grace alone is so much more immense than it ever has to be.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #199

#199 "Dust, Dirt, Cobwebs and a Yoke"
May 18, 2011
"Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing-grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God." (Joel 2: 13-14)
My calendar says it's May and by all accounts it's spring. You wouldn't know by the weather. It seems like it's been raining for months and the temperatures refuse to rise above 60* for any length of time. Nevertheless, spring time is upon us and for many gals it means two horribly dreadful words...Spring Cleaning. Aargh! I know.
We've been holed up in our warm and toasty houses for months. At least those of us in the North have. For you Southern girls, I repent of bitter envy right this moment. The sun hasn't been as bright. The windows are dingy and the light doesn't pour over those things we haven't done around the house all winter long. But when we turn the page and it says May....all of a sudden we can see every dust bunny, every dust ball, every cobweb and every speck of dirt that's been building up. Am I right? Anybody?
Now, I'm very good at concealing the blemishes around my home. If I ever was privileged enough to have you over, you would say that I am an excellent housekeeper. Things are neat and tidy, dusted and vacuumed. But oh girlfriend, don't look too close. In the corners, in the closets, and in the rafters, are unholy things of epic proportions. And I see each and every one of them, now that spring is here. I can choose to ignore it all. I can choose to just keep on keeping the outward appearance of my home presentable to the naked eye, or I can choose to deal with the stuff that's hidden away in the corners; the dust, the dirt and the cobwebs. You may not know it's there, but I do.
Our hearts are exactly the same way. Years ago, God instructed His people through the prophet Joel to rend their hearts, not their garments. He didn't want them to perform an outward expression of their sorrow over sin so that everything looked good on the outside only. Here's how one commentator describes what is involved in "rending":
"A penitent rends and "rips up by a narrow search the recesses of the heart, to discover the abominations thereof," and pours out before God "the diseased and perilous stuff" pent up and festering there, "expels the evil thoughts lodged in it, and opens it in all things to the reception of divine grace."
Maybe you need to read that paragraph again. It's pretty strong isn't it? That is the condition of your heart. That is the condition of my heart. There are abominations, diseased and perilous stuff, and evil thoughts festering in our hearts. Our inner recesses have lived too long in the winter. Might I suggest to you that spring is here and it's time to do some cleaning; some rending?
We sure do a good job at cleaning over the tops don't we? We talk Christianspeak; we go to church and read our Bibles. With the naked eye, we appear to have it all together. We look like we're obedient, faithful, holy disciples of God, but what kind of dirt has been building up in our hearts over the long winters of our lives. Maybe months or even years of grime and sin and disobedience have accumulated in the one place that God deems more important than any other part of you...your heart.
When I preached at a local churches' food pantry, a man used to come each week who was a cross dresser. He asked to be called by a woman's name, when he was clearly, well, a he. He was kind, he was friendly, but he was in so much pain. As I preached the messages, there were countless Saturday mornings when his eyes would fill with tears. One of the pantry volunteers was discussing him with me one morning, going on and on about how weird he was and what we could do with him, not to mention his total lack of fashion sense. This particular day it was as if the Lord took over my mouth and said these words:
"He's really just like the rest of us. He just wears his dysfunction on the outside for all to see."
We can be so good at keeping our dirt and sin and dysfunction hidden from the outside world. I submit that we can be so good at keeping it hidden even from ourselves. We don't face our flagrant disobedience to God's commands. As long as we're doing some of the Christian stuff, we refuse to admit that there are things in the corners and closets of our hearts that need a good cleaning. There may even be things that we thought we conquered years ago, but are still there waiting to be pulled out by the roots. They are still causing us to behave in destructive ways. We just don't know it because we just don't face it. We clean ourselves outwardly, over the tops, so that we appear neat and tidy. But inside...
God is interested in the neglected, hidden corners of your heart. He knows that your disobedience isn't doing you any good. He wants what's best for you and He can't give you His best if you're not allowing Him into every area of your life and heart. He wants to set you free. He has a plan and a purpose for your life, but it may be on total hold until you're willing to let him into those places no man has gone before and do a deep, deep cleaning.
Would you be willing to submit yourself to the white glove test of God? Don't you want all of the dirt, the filth, the wrong attitudes, the hurt, the sin, the wrong motives and ugliness OUT OF THERE? If you ask you will receive. When I asked, I received. God has been shining His light on the darkness that resides in my heart. It's not a pretty sight. The things that I thought I had under control...not so much. What an enlightenment to find that I was still letting old things determine my thoughts and my actions. I am allowing Him to do a total housecleaning in my heart. In the spiritual sense, I'm pretty beat up right now. But in a good way. God will never show you your sin and condemn you for it. Convict you? You bet your sweet bippy, He will. But the thing about God, the thing that makes me love Him so, is that there is no condemnation. None. (Romans 8:1)
I believe that God will never give the go-ahead to the fulfillment of His ordained destiny in our lives until He believes that we are ready. If you have a vision yet unfulfilled, it may be time to submit to the inspection of the living God. Let Him have His way with you. Obey what He tells you, even if people disagree with your decisions. It's obedience to Him that will lead you into His plans and purposes for your life. Other people just want you to do things their way for their own reasons. Make up your mind to win the approval of God, not men. (Galatians 1:10) Your future is at stake. You can live your life looking all put together on the outside and go nowhere. Or you can submit to God and let Him do His work in you and walk right into His glorious inheritance. He will deal with you tenderly, but deliberately.
As I've been going through this myself, familiar words of Christ came to me like fresh, cool water on a hot summer's day.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)
Allow God entrance into the deepest recesses of your heart. You think it's hard, I know. But it is so worth it. And you are never alone. Jesus will be there with you every step of the way. He will tenderly shine His light on what needs to be exposed and by His Holy Spirit He will empower you to walk on, a changed person.
His yoke is easy. And you know the one thing about a yoke, friend? Where there's a yoke, there's always a Someone on the other side, helping you carry it all the way.
Living the Word along with you,  

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #198

#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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