Thursday, January 20, 2022
Thursday, January 13, 2022
* Have you ever felt as if your life had been completely ripped away from you?* Ever felt that everything near and dear had been stripped away?* Have you ever felt that even your identity was stolen from you, and now, you are a complete non-entity?* In fact, have you ever felt that you were nothing more than a poker-chip? A pawn in someone else’s game of life?* Have you ever been made to feel devalued? Insignificant?* Worse, have you ever felt invisible?* And, on top of invisible, completely unheard?* Ever felt trapped...forced to go where you didn’t want to go; to do things you never wanted to do? Enslaved?* Have you ever felt completely alone?* Have you ever longed for compassion and come up empty...every. single. time?* Have you ever felt completely hopeless, as if hanging onto life by a single thread (and even that thread seemed to be unraveling in front of your eyes)?
Thursday, January 6, 2022
While Scripture wasn't clear about what happened between David and Bathsheba, we do know exactly what happened with David's daughter, Tamar.
Here is her story:
In the course of time, Amnon, son of David, fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom... Amnon became frustrated on account of his sister... So (he) lay down and pretended to be ill. When the King came to see him, Amnon said...”I would like my sister Tamar to come...so I might eat from her hand. Tamar brought the bread she prepared to him, and he grabbed her. “Don’t my brother! Don’t force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You’d be like one of the wicked fools...” But he refused to listen...and since he was stronger, he raped her. Then Amnon hated her more than he had loved her. “Get up and get out!” He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of here and bolt the door after her.” Tamar put ashes on her head, tore the ornamental robe she was wearing, and went away weeping. Her brother Absalom said, “Be quiet now, my sister...don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother’s house, a desolate woman.
Monday, December 27, 2021
It's an unlikely New Year's passage, the one above...
...the story of Anna.
(Anna the Prophetess, by Rembrandt)
She's one of the handful of people who recognized JESUS at infancy.
I am intrigued by these three verses, where God wrote Anna's biography to inspire us...
Not at first read, maybe...but;
it's obvious, the Almighty uniquely set apart her life for this one moment in history.
I'm deeply challenged...
I find Anna's story startlingly ApPrOpRiAtE as a New Year dawns;
As I contemplated this brief account, the Lord gave me a WORD (well, let's make this plural, a few "words") with which to enter 2022.
I'm always curious as I await a New Year how He will challenge me to live in the next season.
More so with 2021 running down to a close with the new-year-clock.
(Anna the Prophetess, by Rembrandt)
The Holy Spirit, through Dr. Luke's pen, sums up all of Anna's earthly years right here in verses 36-38.
Actually, that's a lot of ink for a New Testament woman!
(Anna the Prophetess, by Jerry Bacik)
Here's what we know about Anna:
1) The Jewish community knew her as a prophetess. Anna inspired and encouraged others with the words the Lord placed on her heart. Her mouth was her ministry, and she wasn't afraid to speak the words of the Lord. She often spoke of hidden-things, things revealed to her, either by inspiration, or birthed in dreams and visions (Olive Tree Enhanced Strong's Dictionary: prophetis).
Anna was a truth-teller, not necessarily a future-teller. Yet, here, Anna's prophecy shows up in the giving of thanks, as she proclaimed to those who were in the temple that day, "Here is the Redemption of Israel! Wait for Him NO MORE!"
Anna's boldness in being God's mouthpiece is exactly how people described her (just as Luke did). They knew her to point others to the hope of their future redemption! Anna always looked forward knowing her Redeemer was nigh...
Imagine her JOY when she knew she had no further to look!!
(Anna the Prophetess, in brown on the right, depicted at Jesus' dedication, author unknown)
2) We know the name of Anna's dad: Phanuel (this is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Peniel, meaning "the face of God.") Perhaps her father had a story to tell, like Jacob in Genesis 32, where he, too saw the face of God and lived to talk about it. I find this random fact interesting, since Anna herself comes face to face with God (God-the-Son held in the arms of his earthly mother). This moment in time presented Anna her Phanuel-moment!
The Lord honored Anna's faithfulness by revealing Himself to her. Years ago I was told that God honors those who honor Him. Anna's story is a testimony to that little platitude.
3) Anna arose out of the little known Northern Tribe of Asher. Asher is often called The Lost Tribe, because most of the people from Asher were assimilated into Syria when the Northern Kingdom was taken captive. Very few of them returned to Israel....but Anna did. This one little fact assures us that
Anna was a survivor. Whatever life threw at her, Anna made the most of it.
(Icon of Anna the Prophetess, at the Basilica, where her remains are held)
4) Anna was widowed at a very young age (probably married as most girls were around the age of 14), by 21 her husband had passed away, no doubt leaving her childless. At this point, she had either lived another 84 years following his death (which made her about 105 according to most commentaries)...or she was 84. Fact is, she was old and had been focused on her ministry a long time. Instead of looking for another husband to fulfill her, Anna chose a life of dedication to the Lord. Because she was a known prophetess, she probably had a room along the outside walls of the temple (rooms were reserved for temple priests, prophets, and other assigned workers).
Hers would have been a hard existence as a woman dwelling in a man's world. But, day and night, she stayed in the temple living out her calling...purposely focused...looking forward never backward with regret or remorse.
5) One last thing that has to do with Anna's "forward-focus." Anna filled her time with worship, prayer, and fasting.
Anna did the hard work of a life committed to her Lord...
Yet, this I know, when the Lord, Himself, has been the sustainer of a soul (as He was for Anna - widowed, barren, undoubtedly poor, living a meager existence in the temple), these things -
worship, prayer, and fasting - are a source of Great Peace to the GIVER.
In Anna, I see a life of contentment and peace no matter the situation surrounding her.
So, as I sit on the cusp of 2022 (🎉🎉🎉), it's my desire to renew my commitment to the Lord with longing that my life reflects an Anna-heart...
I, too, want to:
...speak truth and encourage hope in others; to live as an overcomer (no matter what 2022 may throw at us, welcome the obstacles as opportunities for presenting Jesus); fulfill God’s purpose; stay forward-focused; re-commit to trusting the Lord fully; and always point others to the Savior...until His face I see!
One day, we will see Him face to face, and like Anna, will give thanks to God for His remarkable gift of grace!
Perhaps this year!
Who knows, maybe my life (and yours) is uniquely set apart for such a moment in history???
How will people describe us?
I'd like to be known as Anna was known; to be as faithful as Anna, always forward-focused, looking and waiting for my future redemption....
I still believe #adventisnear!
P.S. Disclaimer. If this seems familiar to you? Well, this blog post was last year's New Year's entry; but, I needed to re-read it as a refresher.
These are still my Words to Live by for 2022.
Anna's story matters for all time!
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
As promised...here's part 2 of Mary's story.
I want to remind you: Mary was not someone special.
She was a woman of flesh and blood, just like you and me.
To acquire a healthy heart in the midst of difficult life circumstances is not always easy, but she reminds us that it is possible!
No one can say Mary lived an easy, comfortable life - the Roman government put constant pressure on the Jews to conform to the will of Caesar; tax collectors continuously raised taxes, leaving their countrymen financially poor and living a hand-to-mouth existence; and, religious leaders hypocritically forced the Law, while not obeying it themselves...
Along with all this, she'd been recently betrothed - an arranged marriage, with a man, who, it turns out, treated her with honor, kindness, and love.
But....the results of a healthy heart always lead us to the very purpose of our creation: to bring glory to God as we enjoy relationship with him.
There is no greater gift I could wish for you this Christmas season!
So, let’s dig in... What more can we learn about Mary?