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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Bold Women in the Bible

When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they marveled and took note that these men had been with Jesus.

-Acts 4:13 (Berean Study Bible)

Boldness. The word in the Greek is “parresia.” It means freedom of speech or confidence. So, the word has to do with confidence in what we say.

There were many bold women in the Bible. I put together a short list that I thought would encourage some of us when we speak. Some of these women were bold in their actions as well. If her name is highlighted, you can click on it and go read where I have written more about her story in another post.

Tamar -Genesis 38

Tamar's story is found in the book of Genesis. While we might not agree with her actions, nevertheless she was bold in securing her rights that were actually set in place by the law. She is also the first woman listed in the genealogy of Jesus. (See the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1.)

Deborah-Judges 4

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.-Judges 4:4

Deborah led men in the book of Judges. She was the only female judge in Israel that is listed. To lead an army and be a judge would require some boldness.

Rahab-Joshua 2Rahab was a prostitute that hid the two spies when they came to spy out Jericho. She helped them escape and her family were the only ones who were saved when Jericho was destroyed.

Jael-Judges 4
Jael was also included in the same story of Deborah. She risked her life and is the heroine of the story. When the enemy invaded her house, she used a hammer and tent peg to end his reign as an adversary.

Naaman’s servant girl-2 Kings 5

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said.

-2 Kings 5:1-4

Phoebe-Romans 16Phoebe is one of the women listed in Romans chapter 16. Paul said she was a deacon at the church of Cenchrea. It is widely held by many scholars that Phoebe was the one who delivered the epistle to the Romans to the Church at Rome. Not only would that have been a dangerous journey during the time, but it was a very important letter!

Mary of BethanyMary is found in all four Gospels, always sitting at Jesus’ feet. She was ridiculed on multiple occasions, first by her sister and then by other disciples for her actions. She was brave and set a precedent for what women in the Church should be like now.

Martha-Luke 10, John 11
Martha was brave in her outspokenness in her conversations with the Lord. In Luke 10, she refers to him as Lord, but in an extremely exasperated and sassy way. Jesus answers her statement but does not rebuke her boldness. In John 11, we see her have a monumental theological conversation with Jesus that is pivotal in our understanding of Jesus and who He is.

Women in Luke 8
There is a list of women in Luke 8 that supported the ministry of Jesus out of their own financial means.

Priscilla -Acts 18
Priscilla and her husband were both companions of Paul. She is said to have “risked her life for the church” and on one occaision corrected another male believer in his theology, albeit privately.

Lydia-Acts 16
Lydia was the first European convert in the book of Acts that we know about. After her conversion, she boldy invites Paul and his team to come and stay at her house, if they consider her a Believer in the Lord.

In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul writes to Timothy,

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

That is the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who lives inside all Believers. He gives us boldness, just like he did Peter and John.

The book of Acts is still being written. The Holy Spirit wants us to continue to proclaim Jesus with boldness, as women, as men, as the Church.

May you continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus,


Women in the Genealogy of Jesus

Did you know that there are only 5 women listed in the genealogy of Jesus? Don't you think that is interesting? I mean, men cannot have babies, right? So, why did God choose those five women to include?

The first woman tricked a man named Judah into sleeping with her, and God gave her two babies out of the union. Her name was Tamar. When one of the babies is born, the midwife ties a scarlet thread on his wrist, and is the first time we see the scarlet thread in the Bible.

The second woman was a prostitute named Rahab in the city of Jericho. She hid two spies, and helped the people of God. Her household was saved through the process. We also see the scarlet cord in her story.

The third woman was an outsider named Ruth. She was a Moabite. They were wicked people, but she followed her mother-in-law to be with the people of God. God gave her a husband who was, amazingly, the son of Rahab. I wonder if Rahab and Ruth ever met??

There has been much controversy surrounding the fourth woman. She was married to an outsider. He was a Hittite, but he was part of David's army, and mighty men. My personal belief is it wasn't her fault. (The prophet Nathan backs me up.)  David took something that wasn't his, and thus an adulterous situation ensued. Bathsheba's name isn't even mentioned in many translations in Matthew's genealogy. It just says the wife of Uriah the Hittite. But God took their story, and redeemed it, and out of the union of David and Bathsheba came Solomon, who was also called Jedidiah, or loved by God.

The fifth woman was his mother Mary. Her name means bitter. She was a wonderful girl, out of whom came our Savior. But she was still in need of Him too. Grace comes along and redeems the bitterness.

So, back to my original question, why did Matthew, and the Holy Spirit choose to include just those women?

Wouldn't it be better to choose women who seemed upright, and didn't have any blemish on their record?

In reality those women just don't exist. I don't care how good you think you are, or how good other people think you are. We are all like these women.

These women are a picture of the church. They are in need of a savior. And when Jesus steps in, they are redeemed. We also need a Savior. Jesus redeems our stories too.

Many blessings ad you grow in grace and the knowledge of Him,

Friday, May 8, 2020

Five Minute Friday: Refrain

Today I am participating in Five Minute Friday, where a group of writers get together and free write about a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today's word is "refrain."

I looked up the word refrain because the image accompanying the prompt for Five Minute Friday was a set of piano keys. The first definition I found was a musical definition and had to do with repetition of a verse instead of a ceasing. I had always thought of refrain as to stop doing something. I like the musical definition better.

When I read the musical definition, I tried to think where you could see that in the Bible. And then I remembered a repetition in the Psalms, “his love endures forever.” So, I looked that up too. But what I found was interesting.

That phrase is not just in the Psalms.

When I looked it up, I found this, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his love endures forever.” It is not only found in the Psalms, but it is found throughout the Old Testament.

That phrase is also found in 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Jeremiah, and throughout many of the Psalms, and those are just the places I managed to locate it. It is repeated throughout the Old Testament.

When we think of the Old Testament, we often think of a harsh and angry God. But maybe that’s just because it is what we have been told, so maybe that is the way we are reading it.

But in 1 John 4, we are told that “God is love.” It is not something he does, but who he is. So, it is part of, and wholly encompasses his material makeup.

If he is love, then love naturally flows from him. And it endures forever.

It is a different picture than a lot of us have been taught or heard, and sometimes takes us a while for us to wrap our brains around. Maybe that is why the refrain of “his love endures forever” is there, to remind us.

Because we forget, and we need to have a constant reminder of who he is, what he is made of, and what he does.

We are loved.

And they sang responsively with praise and thanksgiving to the LORD: "For He is good; for His loving devotion upon Israel endures forever." -Ezra 3:11

Friday, May 1, 2020

Five Minute Friday: Distraction

Today I am participating in Five Minute Friday, where a group of writers get together and free write about a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today's word is "distraction."

Some of you might already know this, but some of you might not. My blog title is based on the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 where Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to him, but Martha is not.

In the story in Luke chapter 10, the Bible says Martha was distracted. What does that mean?

To me, distraction means letting other things occupy your attention. And in recent years, it means to turn away from something you were already doing.

Both of these definitions would make sense in Martha’s situation. She was definitely letting other things occupy her attention. She was trying to serve the house, which was a noble thing, but it was distracting her at that moment from the most important thing. JESUS was in her house. The Lord was in her house y’all.

Her motivation might have been correct, but he was in all essence just telling her to sit down, which leads me to my other point.

Maybe she had been sitting down listening to him. Maybe she had been in the posture of a disciple at one point, but had gotten distracted by something, and gone back to do things women were regularly supposed to do.

During the time of Jesus, and before women were not really considered disciples. In fact, they weren’t even allowed to speak to religious leaders in public. Shocking, I know. Nevertheless that is the way women were treated.

And then here comes Jesus, and flips all that on its head. So, Martha may have been distracted by what others thought of her, and she went back to doing what she thought she was “supposed to do.”

I think that can happen to all of us. Instead of going with what Jesus is really like, and what he says, we can let pressure from other people distract us from our mission.

Just a note, when we see Martha later, she has a super important theological discussion with Jesus. You can read about that here. She was no longer distracted, and she was the Martha the Lord meant her to be.

For more information about the stories in my post, check out Luke chapter 10:38-42 and John chapter 11:17-28 in the Bible.