Friday, September 15, 2023

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Anonymous Women - Samson's Wife

The plot of this story is dark and deceitful, like something Francis Ford Coppola would use in a "Godfather" movie. The characters in this story are quite colorful as well as the story line. An arranged marriage, that the groom's parents had to make happen, even without their approval. An arrogant, entitled young man who likely was spoiled rotten by his older parents, yet whose life was ordained by God. The subject of this story is of a young Philistine woman, whose family were enemies of the groom's family, and her father was probably an opportunist and saw this as a win for his family.

As tragic as this story ends, we discover in the beginning that this was all a part of God's plan to begin the eradication of a people who ultimately wanted to destroy the very people God had promised Abraham. It says in Judges 14:4, "But his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel." (NKJV)

 The story begins in the Philistine town of Timnah. The first time we hear about Timnah, is when Judah, Jacob's son encounters his daughter-in-law, Tamar (Genesis 38). When she gets word that her father-in-law is heading into town to sheer his sheep, she decides to retaliate for not being given to his last son Shelah. Judah thought she was "bad luck" because both of the sons she had been married to, died. She decides to disguise herself as a prostitute and sleeps with Judah. She ends up pregnant and when Judah finds out she's been prostituting herself and is pregnant, he sends for her and in verse 34, calls for her death by burning her. This is interesting as we fast forward into our current story in Judges.  

Samson's wife is from this same town. It's located at the northern border of of Judah near Beth-shemesh in the Sorek Valley. In modern day Israel it is Tel Batash, an access point from the coastal plains through Shephelah to the central Judean mountains.[1]  It essentially is where the tribe of Judah settles after entering the Promise Land in Joshua. Remember the tribe of Judah is who God sends His very own son through. It’s imperative that the Philistines are removed as they are constantly at war with God’s people. The remnant of these people are known today as the Palestinians. They occupy Gaza as well as some parts of the west bank in Israel.

Women may not have had a voice to speak up as they were used as objects to be traded. We see this often throughout the scriptures. For example, Lot traded his daughters to be raped so his house guests would be safe (Genesis 19:8). But women did have one tool in their tool box of character and that was manipulation. She was obviously beautiful as she was pleasing to Samson (Judges 14:2). Her father saw this as an opportunity and brought in 30 groomsmen to be a part of the wedding. Samson, as arrogant as he was, used this to flaunt his power. He shared a riddle and promised these men 30 linens and a change of garments of clothing. These men must have been desperate for some clothes as they used Samson’s wife, actually threatened her by telling her they would burn her with fire along with her father’s home if she didn’t find out the answer (Judges 14:15). This is when she used her womanly ways, out of the fear of death, to manipulate Samson to tell her the answer. It says she cried saying “You hate me! You don’t love me! (Judges 14:16)” We obviously see Samson’s kryptonite as he does not do well with nagging as later in his relationship with Delilah.

One of the questions we ask here is, did she love Samson? Obviously, she didn’t trust him as he posed this riddle and wouldn’t tell her the answer so she had to manipulate him. She may have not really wanted to marry him, but her father encouraged her as it was good for their people since Samson was Hebrew. The fact remains, she's probably really afraid of what might happen to her.

Nothing about Samson in this story leads us to believe that he’s a devout, God-fearing man. Because he lived among the Philistine people, he had probably conformed to many of their ways. He is someone who lives by his flesh and even though was raised under the Nazarite ways, defiled himself over and over again. His desire for foreign women was a weakness for sure. His pride was definitely bruised by the actions of his wife when he realized he was tricked. He left her in a fit of anger and went back to live with his parents.

His wife was then given in marriage to one of the groomsmen. This obviously means that she and Samson never consummated their marriage as in those days women who were not virgins were shamed and put to death. Instead, her father gives her to another man. Later, Samson, in all of his arrogance returns, and of all things, to sleep with his wife (Judges 15:1-5).

When he discovers she’s no longer his wife, he retaliates and destroys the crops of the people there. This is when we see the true colors of the Philistine ways. There is no allegiance to their own people. They kill Samson’s wife and her father anyway by burning them (Judges 15:6).

Samson again takes revenge on these people and slaughtered them all. He left to Etam and stayed in a cleft of a rock. Three thousand of the people of Judah go to him to hand him over to the Philistines. They were afraid of the Philistines and didn’t understand why Samson would cause trouble for them. These two “families” were always at war. This is why this sounds like a plot in a Godfather movie.

In the end we see God use Samson in a powerful way against the Philistine people. The scripture says, When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. 16 Then Samson said:

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey
I have slain a thousand men!”

17 And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi.

18 Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the Lord and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?” 19 So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. 20 And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” (Judges 15:14-20, NKJV)

It’s a tragic ending for Samson’s wife and her people. But as noted in the beginning, it was all a part of God’s plan. Sometimes, in our own lives, bad things happen. We don’t understand how a good God can allow it. God’s ways are not our ways nor His thoughts, our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we read these stories, it reminds us that God is not limited in who He uses or how He can accomplish his plan. His plan was to establish His people (the tribe of Judah) so that his one and only son, Jesus could be born to redeem the sin in the world. The One who would save all of mankind from an eternal burning. A world where two families, the Jew and the gentile, could be called sons and daughters. This story may not have a happy ending, but it is important to God’s big story that would bring a victorious ending for all of mankind.

Scriptures to extinguish lies!

Proverbs 26:27, NLT:  If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead.


Genesis 50:20, NKJV: But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.


Psalm 46:10, NKJV:  Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!


Genesis 2:24, NLT:  This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.


1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV:  Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”


John 10:10, NKJV:  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.



*This information was compiled by the R.E.A.L. Women Bible study out of Hills Church in Laguna Hills, CA.  





Saturday, September 9, 2023

Bring It On!

I've been thinking about this for a while, especially as I read about Jesus' life. But Jesus encountered demon possessed people pretty regularly. It's got me wondering how many people we encounter every day that are demon possessed. Especially in today's world with addiction so prevalent. When one is under the influence of a substance, this is an open door for an evil spirit. Not to mention some of the demonic movies that are out there. I just think how many young preteen girls played, "Bloody Mary" and "light as a feather" at their slumber parties. Messing with the supernatural and thinking it was for fun, including me.
This is troubling to me as I read Jesus encountered these people often. To be honest, I'm not looking for it. But it has me seriously wondering, how many people attend church that have demonic influence? It doesn't have to be scary either. Just a person who is bound to something. To some degree, I don't think we recognize it because the Church/body of Christ in general is so divided on theology.

Luke 9, Jesus sends out his disciples with his power and authority to cast out all demons, heal all diseases, and to tell the people about the Kingdom of God. (Luke 9:1-2) This is quite out of the norm for those of us who follow Jesus today. Why are we not seeing people set free and healed on a regular basis? Why are we so hesitant to share about the Kingdom of God? Is it the fear of man? The media sure does a good job of shaming Christians. On the other hand, some Christians, because they are out of practice, have brought this shame upon the Church as well with their "church hurt" message.

Jeff says that Sunday services are practice and the other six days of the week is the game. As I'm reading more and more news articles of people leaving the church, it's disturbing as most of these people who say they are Christians, are not at practice. They are playing the game without a strategy nor are they supported by a team. Jesus never sent out his disciples alone, they were always paired. How in the world are we ever going to help set the captives free if we ourselves are separated from the flock? I saw this post the other day and this is so true! (posted photo) There are many followers of Jesus wandering out there--alone that are not in unity.

As I read the headlines, these days are truly what Isaiah 5:20 says, "What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter." This is really weighing on my heart this morning. I'm sharing this today because as the body of Christ, it's time for us to stop "playing" church and get to "practicing." It's time we "be" Jesus and start following His example freeing people in His name! I think people look for the wrong things when searching for a church. We always want what "serves" us. If you aren't in a church currently, maybe you look for a church where you can "serve." Your gifts might be just what they are missing.
Jesus didn't either "lure" people into the Kingdom. I'm afraid the Church has lured many which is why we don't see the power that He said we have. Nor the unity. The luring creates a place of comfort (serving the flesh) rather than a place of transformation (serving like Jesus). The church should be "drawing" people in because Jesus is the focus!

I personally want to be better at this. If you are reading this and need prayer, DM me and I will be glad to pray with you and for you. It's time for you to stop listening to the lies that you can't change. Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) He was talking about himself. He is the truth and life. (John 14:6). Jesus loves you and He came to give you abundant life. (John 10:10)

Friday, June 2, 2023

Pouring Salt in the Wounded


Sixteen summers ago, Jeff and I had the opportunity to go to Israel with our Foursquare family. One of our stops was at the Dead Sea. One of our friends warned us that it should be called the “Sea of Unknown Cuts and Scrapes.” We laughed, but when we actually got into the water, it was completely true!!!

Today, the morning speaker talked about wounds and scars. As I listened, the Holy Spirit reminded me of that experience in the Dead Sea. As I sat in the room of “salt” (Jesus calls us salt--Matthew 5:13) I realized why sometimes gathering with the Body of Christ can be painful. It’s often a reminder of your wounds that maybe aren’t as prevalent when your living your day to day life. I wonder if that is why so many people won’t step into a church? I wonder if that’s why so many pastors disengage from relationships? The pain they have experienced by others was so cutting, that those wounds, when touched by salt, are remembered.

The one thing we forget about the Dead Sea is that people from all over the world seek it for healing skin disorders. This is why it’s important to move past the pain. After a while, you don’t feel the cut anymore. Instead it begins to heal. I want to encourage those who have abandoned the church to try it again. And pastors who have retreated from people to engage again. It might hurt the first few times, but over time, your wounds heal and then you will be the salt that heals another another wounded soul.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Anointed to Be King


Like a million other curious people, I got up in the early hours of the morning to watch the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla. I've always be fascinated by the royal family and since I wasn't around for Queen Elizabeth's coronation, I thought I would be a part of history. King Charles is the oldest king to take the throne. The other "first in history" is that his oldest grandson was in attendance and was a part of the ceremony. I know I won't be around to see Prince George crowned, but how beautiful to see three generations in this sacred ceremony.
It's not an accident that my devotions today was from 1 Samuel 16 when Samuel anoints David as the king of Israel. God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse who had 8 sons. Samuel was hesitant because if the current king, Saul had gotten wind of this he would have been killed. But God told him to go because the next king was one of those 8 young men.
As anyone who was in Samuel's place, would choose the obvious to be king, Eliab, who was the eldest. As we know the tradition of monarchy is the eldest is always first in line. But not this time. God had something else in mind. As verse 7 says, "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)
Instead, God chose the youngest, who wasn't even in the line up. Jesse had to send for David, who was out working in the field caring for the sheep. When David arrived, the Lord said, "This is the one; anoint him. (1 Samuel 16:12) Then in verse 13 it says, "So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with he oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on..." (1 Samuel 16:13)
As I read this, I flashed to just a few hours before reading this passage what I had just witnessed of King Charles anointing ceremony. With millions of viewers from all over the world peering in to watch, this portion of the ceremony was private. It is such a sacred part that no one except those who are anointed are allowed to participate.
This made me think of the moment that Jesus was standing in the Temple reading from the book of Isaiah. He says to the public, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19, NLT) Jesus didn't have a ceremony like this when he claimed these words. He IS THE ANOINTING. The only one who can bring freedom, healing, and hope to the world, to this day. 

Once King Charles was crowned, I realized that the day Jesus takes His throne here on earth, like the millions watching this ceremony, the Bible says every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7). But not only that in Philippians 2:10-11 it says, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." And just as King Charles included people of other faiths to participate, one thing is for sure, when Jesus returns ALL faiths will be watching and ALL Believers and nonbelievers, will know who the one true King of all kings is--Jesus Christ! I can't wait to be a part of that history! Hallelujah, and AMEN!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Anyonymous Women - Manoah's Wife/Samson's Mother

There’s something to be said for being at the right place, at the right time. Have you ever experienced one of those divine appointments? Especially when it would seem that everything going on around you was out of your control.


This was the case for Manoah’s wife. Her story begins in Judges chapter 13. She is also known as Samson’s mother.  Her name is never mentioned in the Bible, but what a great woman of faith she was. She was remembered as one of the 23 truly upright women in the Bible, yet her name is never mentioned. Some Jewish Rabbis have referred to her name being Eshet, Zleponi or Zlelponith, which means “the shadow falls upon me.”  In one of the names she has one “L” and in another name she has two that shows she saw the angel of the Lord twice. When “El” is used in a name or in her case “L,” this is a reference to the name of God. It is said “the third time’s a charm” because when she took her husband to the place where the angel was, she saw him for a third time. And any time we see the angel of the Lord appearing in the Old Testament, this is considered the preincarnation of Jesus.


She and Manoah lived in the town of Zorah, just about 13 miles west of Jerusalem. It is located in the Judean foothills. It is a town where the Amorites had inhabited, but the Philistines were more prominent at this time. Manoah was from the tribe of Dan and his wife was likely a Judahite. The foothills of Judea is likely where both the tribes of Dan and Judah lived. She was a righteous woman, a perfect woman, and considered Jewish royalty being from the tribe of Judah. Unfortunately, she was barren and a barren woman was shamed as it was thought she had some hidden sin.


It was during this time Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so He handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for 40 years. (Judges 13:1). This seemed to be a bad habit that God’s children had. It didn’t take them long to disobey Him after settling in this new land of milk and honey. Just before Joshua died, God had him tell the people that if they worshiped and served other gods, his anger would burn against them, and they would quickly vanish from the good land he had given them. (Joshua 23:16) Today, God’s promise rings true. This city is covered over by centuries of dirt. They call these buried cities Tel’s in Israel. It is now called Tel T’sora and it is being excavated. What they have found are tombs, caves, cisterns, and two winepresses.[1] Keep this in mind as we unfold this story.


This barren woman was who trusted God and obviously God trusted her, was considered a social outcast by Jewish tradition. She was humble, which is probably one of the reasons God chose her. Manoah on the other hand may have been the opposite. He too may have been considered an outcast since he had no children. This disappointment may have made him skeptical and even a bit arrogant to compensate for his shame. He may not have believed he was worthy enough to be visited by an angel. She and Manoah were in different places in their faith. One might consider them unequally yoked.


When the Angel appeared to Manoah’s wife, he said to her “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” (Judges 13:3-5) She immediately ran to her husband and told him this and he did not believe her. So much so, he prayed to God and asked if the man could visit him.


This righteous woman knew, without a doubt this visitation was an angel of the Lord. She didn’t question him. She listened and took to heart what he had said to her. This shows us the purity in her heart and the trust she had for God. Most of us would either think we were crazy or losing our minds if we were to be visited by an unearthly being. But not her. We see throughout the Old Testament angels interacting with mankind so this would seem to be a normal encounter. The last time we see this kind of encounter in the New Testament is when Paul is blinded on the road to Damascus. This time it is Jesus, himself.  After the Holy Spirit was sent to live in us, we no longer have these messengers to bring us good news. That’s because we now HAVE the Good News living in us and like the Tel’s in Israel, if we could clear out the debris of life, we would be able to hear Him speak clearly and often.


Manoah’s prayer is answered, but not in the way he had asked. Instead the angel of the Lord shows up, once again to his wife and she then runs to get him. He runs back with her and even asks if he was the man that spoke to his wife the first time. He doesn’t even realize he is an angel. The angel responds, “I am.”  Does this response sound familiar? It’s what God called Himself to Moses at the burning bush. Manoah asks the angel how he is to raise the child after he is born. The angel replies by telling him to be sure his wife follows the instructions he gave her. She’s not to eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food. (Judges 13:13). They were to raise their son as a Nazirite. Nazarites were holy people. They were to abstain from wine and all other grape products, such as vinegar and grapes. They were to refrain from cutting their hair. They also were not to become ritually impure by contact with corpses or graves even those of family members. (As described in Numbers 6:1-21). This is where we see what has been excavated today, tombs and winepresses. The Amorites and Philistines worshiped pagan gods. Possibly even tried to conjure up spirits of the dead. We know later that King Saul did this when he went to the witch of Endor to talk to Samuel after his death. This area was probably a thriving vineyard and the wine may have been a common drink, like water. God knew when He went to Manoah’s wife, she would be obedient to keeping herself pure as she carried this child who was to be one to deliver the people from the oppression of the Philistines. The Nazarite way was like fasting, it was taking a vow to symbolize separation and dedication to the Lord.


Manoah still didn’t believe this “man” was an angel until after he asked his name. The angel replied “It is too wonderful for you to understand.” (Judges 13:18). Whose name is wonderful? That’s right Jesus’ as described in Isaiah 9:6. It wasn’t until Manoah built an alter on a rock and sacrificed a young goat and grain offering and as the flames shot up toward the sky, the angel of the Lord ascended in the fire, that he realized they had just seen God. He said to his wife they will certainly die. But this woman of wisdom responds back to him, “If the Lord were going to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn’t have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.” (Judges 13:23) Jesus did say, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 6:8)


What can we learn from this amazing woman of God? She truly is a woman who without an education or even status, had favor with God. We know of another woman who had God’s favor and that was Mary. She had been chosen to birth the ultimate Deliverer, Jesus. It’s possible in God’s big story, this story was a foreshadow to the Hebrew people of how the Messiah would be recognized. Both women were unlikely to have a child, one barren and one a virgin. Both whose faith stood out among others as well as both being from the line of David who was from the tribe of Judah. Another story closely related to this is the birth of John the Baptist, who also was to be raised under the same restrictions as a Nazirite, but he would be filled with the Holy Spirit before his birth. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple, like Manoah he had some doubt and because of this he couldn’t speak. Think about that, he couldn’t even tell Elizabeth what happened and that she was going to have a baby! But when Elizabeth discovered she was pregnant she recognized God’s kindness and gave Him glory for taking away her disgrace. (Luke 1:25)


God desires to partner with us in His plan for mankind. He doesn’t want us to live in shame or be buried in our mess. His desire is for us to thrive and live as holy people. Only Jesus can make us holy, but our part is to live lives that are pure, humble, and faith-filled like Manoah’s wife. God has given every one of us, including men, to birth to something that will ultimately lead others to the Living God. As we have seen throughout scripture God loves to use the most unlikely people who have the most challenging situations to do great things through. Manoah’s wife teaches us that when we live with an open and pure heart, God WILL show up and not just once, but all the time. He wants us to trust Him completely for everything. He wants to remove our shame so we can live in His glory.


This chapter concludes with her giving birth to a son, just as the angel of the Lord had promised. She named him Samson which means “like the sun.” The scripture says the Lord blessed him and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him.  What has the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, been stirring inside of you? We are living in a time much that is much like in the days of Judges when people are doing whatever they want and think is right, even if it’s evil in the eyes of the Lord. It’s time for us to live with pure hearts so we can lead those around us to Jesus. He is The Light in the darkness, the One who sets us free!


Scriptures for daily heart cleansing!


Philippians 4:8 (NIV): Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


Proverbs 20:9 (NKJV): Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin”?


Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV): Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.


Psalm 51:7-15 (MSG): Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home. Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise.


Psalm 85:7 (NKJV): Show us Your mercy, LORD, And grant us Your salvation.


Psalm 23:6 (NKJV): Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.


Deuteronomy 28:9 (NKJV): “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.


John 18:9 (NIV): This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”


Hebrews 10:22 (NLT): let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.


*This information was compiled by the R.E.A.L. Women Bible study out of Hills Church in Laguna Hills, CA.










Friday, April 7, 2023

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Anonymous Women Bible Study - Moses' Mothers

In 1956, Hollywood produced a movie that airs every year during Passover. It was directed by Cecil B. DeMille called The Ten Commandments. The cast is full of famous and well-known actors. Names such as Yul Brenner, Charlton Heston, Yvonne DeCarlo, Anne Baxter, and Vincent Price to name a few.

The cast of characters found in Exodus 2 of the Bible's version aren't so recognizable. In fact, they aren't named at all. We find out a couple of the names later on, but as we begin unpacking the three women in this story, we see one common characteristic, courage.

The first woman mentioned is the birth mother. She's a Levite and we know she has a daughter who is between the ages of 7 and 15 and another son who is 3 years old. Their names are revealed later. Jochebed, the birth mother, whose name means God's glory and her daughter Miriam, which means beloved and is the oldest form of the name Mary.  The third woman's name is never mentioned in the Bible, but Jewish Rabbis have given her the name Bityah, which means "daughter of Yah" after the Israelite God[1].

Moses was born around 1526 B.C.[2] and at that time Pharaoh had declared an edict that all male babies were to be thrown into the Nile river (Exodus 1:22). As we look at Moses' birth mother, she is a bold woman who was selfless and was willing to make the sacrifice of letting her infant son go that his life might be spared. She hid her pregnancy along with hiding him after his birth until she could not hide him any longer. The Bible says when he was 3 months old, she placed him in a basket made of papyrus reeds, sealed with tar and pitch to waterproof it. She and her daughter, sent the infant baby down the river by faith that he would be found. They put the baby in the water expecting God to do something.

Moses’ sister was also a young woman with a courage not typically found in young girls. Scholars have said she may have been between the ages of 7 and 15. Either way, her child-like faith gave her a boldness as she waited along the river bank to see if her baby brother would be found. Then, Pharaoh’s daughter just happened to show up. This girl had the courage to ask if she could find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. What wisdom for someone so young. Offering to help the princess by finding someone to care for him and giving him back to her mother. That’s a pretty brave and wise young lady. Jewish scholars believe that Miriam was one of the midwives[3]. As we understand now, midwives never married so it’s likely she never had children of her own. She was also named as one of the 7 female prophets.

What a terrible time to have a child as Pharaoh ordered Hebrew baby boys to be thrown into the Nile as soon as they were born. This probably meant that there were often dead babies found floating down the river. Why then would the Princess bathe there? Could it have been that she had compassion for these innocent babies that her father feared, and by using the excuse to bathe, hoped to rescue some? She had another kind of courage as she had defied her father’s orders by saving a Hebrew boy. Some scholars believe that she was in search of a child as she had no husband or child. Egyptian rule stated that a woman who was an heir to throne must have a son or husband in order to reign. It was a Kairos moment (the appointed time in the purpose of God) that she showed up at the right place at the right time. When she drew him out of the water, she named him Moses, which means to draw out of water. That gives us some insight of her heart to be a mother, by naming him, she's claiming him as her own.  God chose her to be his adopted mother. 

These three women were instrumental in this story. The act of sacrificial love that is seen through these two mothers is bold and selfless. The fact that Jochebed had to give her son up twice, the first time in letting him go to hopefully preserve his life and the second time sending him to live in the palace with his adopted mother, is an example of her trust in God to care for what was precious to her. If any one of them had been the least bit fearful, Moses would have become another casualty of Hebrew babies in Egypt.

Moses story begins after 400 years of the Hebrew people living in bondage and no interaction with God. Generations later there is a similar story. After a 400 year period when God was silent, and the Romans were ruling over God's people we hear of another ruler murdering baby boys. Herod, who was appointed by the Romans to be king of Judaea, ordered all of the baby boys to be killed (Matthew 2:16-18). He had gotten word the king of the Jews had been born. Once again, we see God’s hand guiding and leading people in a world of darkness. All those babies that died at the hand of Herod, just as the babies that died at the hand of Pharaoh, we casualties of evil. God sent His son to deliver His people once again. As history repeats itself, this would be a reminder to the Jewish people that this baby would deliver them once and for all.

As we come to the close of this story, we find God uses unknown women to preserve a nation. One a slave, one a child, and one a princess. No matter where you find yourself in this season, God has called you for a purpose. Whether it’s being willing to let go of expectations and trusting God, being available to be used by God for the purpose of others, or rescuing someone by leading them to Jesus and helping them grow, is really what our purpose is are all about. Building others up and encouraging them to become everything God created them to be. We may never become famous as the cast of actors in The Ten Commandments movie, but our role in God’s big story is more important than we think.

Verses that give comfort and courage:

Psalm 37:18-19, NKJV:  The LORD knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.


Psalm 30:1, NKJV:  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,


Psalm 116:7-9, NLT: Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!


Romans 8:1-2, NIV:  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.


John 10:10b, NKJV:  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.


Hebrews 13:8, NLT:  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


Proverbs 16:19, NKJV:  Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.


Psalm 106:4, NLT: Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me.


Matthew 11:28, NLT:  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.


John 14:1, NLT: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.


1 Peter 2:9, NLT:  But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.


Isaiah 66:12-14, NIV: For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.


 Compiled by the R.E.A.L Women Bible Study out of Hills Church of Laguna Hills, CA.







Friday, March 24, 2023

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Anonymous Women Bible Study - Potiphar's Wife

A “trophy wife” in our current culture is used as a derogatory or sarcastic term. The dictionary’s definition of this kind of woman is an attractive young woman who is married to an older successful man.[1] This is how we would describe our anonymous woman in this particular story.


In the U.S., we have built television shows around these types of women. One of the first television shows was called, The Real Housewives of Orange County.  A plot based around women who have everything their hearts desire, yet by the end of every season, one of these women finds herself in a divorce because she realizes that money can’t buy love. Our anonymous woman in this week’s passage is the wife of Potiphar. The way her life is described in Genesis 39 she would be a candidate for The Real Housewives of Egypt.


This woman is the Egyptian wife of Potiphar, who is a man of power. He is the captain of the guard for Pharaoh. He is well off and has a home that is well established. She would be considered today possibly as a socialite. She really had no responsibilities, not even in her own home. Her claim to fame was that she was the wife of an important and powerful man. Her accomplishments are so minimal, her name is not even mentioned in the passage. In Hebrew tradition, her name is Zuleikha which means fair, brilliant, and lovely and she is considered as a villainous.


Zuleikha was likely a manipulative, spoiled, and deceptive woman who probably got away with murder, in this case a big lie. The scripture doesn’t mention whether or not they had children. It’s likely she didn’t otherwise she wouldn’t have had time to chase after Joseph. Even though Potiphar had given her everything she could ever desire, she wanted more. It could have been she felt neglected by her husband because there were likely many nights she was left alone due to his job and position. She may have felt unloved and this was her way of making her husband jealous.


A lonely married woman can be a ticking time bomb which is what we find in this story. She was probably used to getting attention by everyone. Then when a handsome young man that her husband trusts his household with comes into her life and he doesn’t pay her that same attention, well that’s when bomb goes off. After spending day after day with Joseph, she probably became emotionally attached because she shared her heart with him. We know women are emotional and this can trip us up. Then she gives in to her heart which is lust not love and she tries to seduce him. To her disappointment, he resists. We know when our flesh is told no, our sin nature craves it even more. Then one day, she goes in for the kill, and when she does, it back fires on her and Joseph runs for his life. Unfortunately for him, his robe was left in her hands.


We know that there are always two sides to every story. Surely Potiphar knew that his wife was like this. Scripture says that Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and he was successful (Genesis 39:2). So why then would he have believed his wife when she accused Joseph of raping her? Maybe, he didn’t want the wrath he would have experienced if he didn’t believe her so he threw Joseph under the bus. This accusation that was made against Joseph could have possibly given him a death sentence, especially since Potiphar had such high ranks with Pharaoh. Instead, he was thrown into prison. With the authority Potiphar had, he may have suspected Joseph was innocent and spared his life. On the other hand, Potiphar also may have not wanted to take responsibility of the situation because of his own pride and neglectfulness of her. He couldn’t let people know that he wasn’t taking care of his relationship with her. After all, he was protecting the country in his position as Captain. He couldn’t allow to people think he didn't care for his own wife.


Joseph on the other hand, respected God and his earthly master, which is why never gave in. God had a plan to preserve Joseph until his appointed time. Prison isn’t a comfortable place, but it’s possible God still needed to work on Joseph’s heart. God used Zuleikha’s downfall to keep Joseph safe until it was time for him to fulfill the dream God had given him when he was a teen.


We can learn so much from this story about our lives as a follower of Jesus. God provides us with what we need and still we can have eyes that lust after the world. Proverbs 31:27 describes a woman with godly character. It says, “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.” (NLT) Zuleikha had someone else watching over what should have been part of her responsibility, her home. When a woman is bored, or anyone for that matter, it can make for some big trouble. When we have nothing to care for, we are susceptible to temptation. God never allows us to be tempted beyond what we are able. He will always make a way of escape, just as He did for Joseph (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even a godly desire, when worshiped, can easily turned into lust. When we pursue the desire instead of God, the Holy Spirit in us may be replaced by sensuality and demonic influence.  If we are persistent in going after the desire instead of the desire-giver, we can be lead down the wrong path which can lead to death.


Jesus encountered many heartbroken, unloved women. He understands the heart of a woman and what she really needs. That is love not lust. Beauty, status, success, and things, don’t fill the hole in both the hearts of men and women. Everyone is tempted in this sinful world, but when we keep your eyes on Jesus and the word of God in our heart, we can have authority over any situation or sin.


Zuleikha was left standing with Joseph’s robe that was considered a symbol of authority in her hands. At that moment, there was one of two choices to be made.  She could have taken authority over her actions and told the truth. She could have taken responsibility for her life and become known as a woman of noble character. Instead, she accused an innocent man and likely never got what she desired from her husband, love, affection, and attention.  God gave us all the love we need through His son, Jesus. It’s in him we are complete, lacking nothing.  Therefore, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)


Resist temptation with authority:


Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.  


Luke 10:19 (NLT) Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.


Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV) Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so thou you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.


James 4:7 (NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.


Ecclesiastes 7:1a (NLT) A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. 

Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NLT) A wise person chooses the right road; a fool takes the wrong one.

Peter 2:9 (NKJV) then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgement.

 Compiled by the R.E.A.L Women Bible Study out of Hills Church of Laguna Hills, CA.