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.



Friday, March 3, 2023

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional: Anonymous Women Bible Study - Rachel's Midwife

A gem cutter is called a lapidary. They consider all the various cuts to a gem as well as seeking to enhance its brilliance, and lessen its flaws and imperfections. This has been the journey of our study on these women who are unnamed. Their particular role is vital to God’s bigger story and each one of us bring a different facet as we chisel away at the story through our own experiences about these anonymous women.


This is the case with Rachel’s midwife. Her story revolves around Jacob’s clan. She came from Paddan-aram which is modern day Iraq and Syria. She is only mentioned in four verses (Genesis 35:16-20), but her story actually begins when Jacob takes his wives, children, and the rest of his household and livestock to head towards his father’s home. They settled for a bit in Bethel. Somewhere in that time, Rachel conceives and it’s not until they begin the final leg of their journey, she goes into labor.  Sometimes we hear stories of women giving birth in a taxi, car, or ambulance. But Rachel was riding on the back of a camel. The thought of that while in labor and after a birth is not appealing to any woman. That makes delivering a baby in car with soft leather seats and privacy not so bad.


The job of a midwife was important as there were no physicians at that time. They were skilled in their work as they were technically and emotionally trained. They most likely learned this skill through other midwives. They not only coached the mother through the birthing process, but also gave her prenatal care and cared for the child post birth. They may have been single women and had never experienced childbirth for themselves because of their responsibility to the mothers and children they cared for. Because of the importance of the midwives throughout the Old Testament, God blessed them for their sacrifice. It is likely that after God gave Moses the law, that they were outcasts as they would be considered unclean due to the blood they were dealing with through the childbirth, and in this midwife’s case, the death of Rachel.


This midwife was an important part of this story. She was probably there when Joseph was born. But this birth was different. She saw that Rachel was struggling through labor. The delivery was hard. She could see that Rachel was in such pain that maybe she feared the baby would not survive so she encouraged Rachel to bond with him, to make eye contact. When Rachel saw her baby son, in her last breath she named him, Benjamin, which means son of my right hand. (In the Jewish tradition, the right hand was a symbol of strength). She spoke a name over her baby that she clearly was not experiencing in that moment. Did she name him this because of the encouragement of the midwife who was at her right hand, to bond with her newborn son when she was at her weakest? This midwife was present during these two major life transitions, the birth of one life and death of another. All at the same time. This also added more responsibility to her role in Joseph and Benjamin’s life, as she was likely the one to help raise them since they had no mother.


This is story does not have a happy ending. In fact, it leaves one wondering why God would not heal Rachel. In a previous chapter, when Jacob flees under the cover of night from Laban’s oppression, Rachel steals her father’s idols and keeps it a secret. When Laban discovers they have left and his idols are missing, he goes after Jacob. When he reaches Jacob’s clan, Jacob confidently tells Laban that he nor anyone in his group has the idols. He goes so far as to cursing death upon the one who stole them (Genesis 31:32). He had no idea his favored wife had taken them and hid them. This is an important reminder to be careful what you speak. Words are powerful!


A midwife’s role was to encourage the birthing mother to “let go” and allow herself to become a conduit for this great force to flow through.[1] We see this job as a very important one, not only in this story, but in our own lives. Her encouragement to Rachel was needed in this time of tragedy and trauma. We see through these four verses the necessity of a “spiritual midwife” in our lives. As women, the power of words can shape us for the good or the bad. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Studies have shown women speak more words in a day than men.  This means words are the main ingredient into women’s emotional well-being. As spiritual midwives, we can become life coaches to one another to encourage and help one another accomplish God’s purpose in His great story. We have the ability to help another birth what God has placed in them.


A midwife brought comfort during the time of intense pain. We can bring encouragement to each other during intense seasons. Think about Rachel’s birthing experience. There were no epidurals, no medical tools, IV treatments, and surely the woman giving birth was not quiet. The groans and blood-curdling screams could probably be heard throughout the camp and the only way to ease the pain was the coaching and encouragement of life-giving words the midwife offered. There was a grace upon her to see the birthing mother through to the end.


As we chipped away at this “gem-of-story” that is inserted in the bigger story, we discovered the important role we are in each other’s lives. For example, a diamond in natural form is imbedded in coal and it has to be chipped and chiseled. It is then placed on a device called a dop where it is cut by another diamond. Only diamonds can cut another diamond. Only women can help other women. We understand the female emotional and physical make up and God places us in each other’s life to help us to become as brilliant as He intends for us to be.


It’s not a coincidence that God told Abraham that he would have as many sons as the stars in the sky. Stars look like diamonds on a black velvet backdrop. It was the job of the midwives to make sure that promise was fulfilled so generations later, the Morning Star, Jesus could be born and shine above all others and bring abundant and eternal life to ALL of God’s children. Our job as spiritual midwives, is to make sure we help speak the life of the Holy Spirit into others so they may be born again. Our job is to train the next generation in this skill so the birth of new Believers can continue from generation to generation until the promise of Jesus’ return is fulfilled.


Encouragement to focus on while!


Proverbs 21:21 (NLT) - Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.


John 10:10 (NLT) - The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.


Psalm 71:20 (NLT) - You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. 21 You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.


Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) - Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.


Psalm 34:4-5 (NIV) - I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.


Psalm 89:9 (NIV) - You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

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

[1] - Midwives


Friday, February 17, 2023

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

The story of Lot’s wife in today’s world might be considered for a movie script. It’s disturbing to say the least. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but it does teach us once again, the importance of obedience to God’s commands. To begin her story, we need to learn a little bit about Lot, where he was from and who he was as person. If he was a television character, he might be a guy a bit like Eddie Haskell from “Leave It to Beaver.”


Lot’s story begins in the place of Ur where both he and Abram were from. Abram had a brother, Haran who was Lot’s father. When God called Abram to go to a new place, as any good uncle would, Abram takes his nephew on the journey. Lot's father died so Abram may have included Lot as a son since he didn't have one and took him with him.


They set out and traveled all the way to Egypt. After leaving Egypt, they settled in Bethel and Ai region. Both men had become wealthy along the way. But things got complicated between the Abram and Lot’s herdsman so they decided it was time to separate. Abram gave Lot the first choice of choosing where he wanted to live. He chose the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley, which was like a well-watered garden (Genesis 13:10). This was where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located. Looks can be deceiving as beautiful as this area was, it is noted in the Bible the people were wicked (Genesis 13:13). This is a case of “the grass ISN’T always greener.” 


Eventually a war broke out between the kings of the region and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah lost the battle and the people of these two cities were captured. This is interesting as Sodom was a great city with 15-foot thick walls of protection. A place where people felt safe and secure. It was a center for arts which brought wealth. Abram got word and set out to rescue Lot. Abram not only freed Lot, but the women and other captives which is why it’s possible this is when Lot met his wife (Genesis 14:16).


Lot’s wife was possibly a Sodomite. According to some Jewish rabbis, her name may have been Idit (Edith). They may have had 4 daughters as the scripture says they had sons-in-law. We know 2 of the daughters were virgins. It is possible that she was a worldly woman. Especially having grown up in the midst of wickedness. God’s law had not been given yet, so people once again were living without restraint. As some women would respond with unexpected company, she may not have been happy about having the two angelic visitors. It is thought that she only had enough food preparations for her family. It’s also thought that salt was an ingredient she lacked and she went to neighbors asking for some.[1]


As we know God gave Abram, now known as Abraham, a head’s up as to the destruction that was to come to the two cities. This just may be the original story of “A Tale of Two Cities.” Scripture tells us that there were no righteous men. Abraham couldn’t believe this was possible, especially since his nephew was living there. Lot and his family had favor because of Abraham. God said He would bless anyone who blessed Abraham (Genesis 12:3). He pleaded with God not to destroy all the people, so God said we would not destroy it for the sake of 10. Could this have been the number of people in Lot’s family? (Lot, Idit, 4 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, and 2 betrothed sons-in-law).


The night before God was about to reign fire down on these two wicked cities, He sent two angelic visitors to warn Lot. This is where our story takes a sad turn. We see how evil these people were as they tried to beat the door of Lot’s house down to sexually violate these visitors. Lot knew better and tried to reason with these men, so instead he offered his two virgin daughters. What? Thankfully, the angelic visitors intervened. They told Lot to evacuate and get out as many family members as they could. Lot’s wife was probably shaken at hearing all of this, especially as she didn’t have time to pack. Unlike Noah’s wife who had time to plan, Lot’s wife did not. They were commanded to flee to the mountains and to not to look back!


Lot did not do his family justice because he didn’t obey the Angels instructions to go all the way to the mountains. As we read these Old Testament stories we find God takes men to the mountain top. He wants to bring us higher. Instead, Lot cut a deal to go half way. This caused Lot’s wife to stumble. We don’t know exactly what she was thinking, but if it was only Lot, the two virgin daughters, and her, that means her other daughters and family members were left behind and destroyed. Her disobedience by looking back not only caused her death, it created more long term and lifetime trouble for God’s people. Upon her death the two virgin girls thought it was a good idea to conceive children with their father so they could keep the family line going which is how the Moabites and Ammonites were born. They were enemies of God’s people and fought them on their way to the Promised Land. If the condition of Lot’s wife’s heart was bitter, it’s no wonder she turned to salt. As much as salt flavors with small amounts, too much can ruin a good dish. The decisions and disobedience of Lot and his wife changed what God for them - SALVATION.


The impact this story makes on our lives today is clear, God hates sin. God made a way for us to be free without having to drown or burn. All of us are subject to sin whether it’s of our own doing and/or someone else’s leading. We can become captives without even knowing it. All of us have experienced trauma of some kind at some point and when we bond to that we then filter everything through it. Our culture today wants to tell us it’s okay, that it’s our truth and that’s just who we are. God’s desire is for us to find healing, be set free, to look up and move forward. We can become secure in our bondage and God wants to save us from that. Lot’s wife’s only making it half way because of her husband’s choice and looking back in her own rebellion caused more trauma to her family legacy. Because of Jesus, we have the opportunity to change our own legacy by forgetting the past and looking forward to what God has for us in the future. He wants us to keep moving forward, leaving what we think is secure to the abundant living of salvation.


In closing, we can learn so much from Noah’s story and Lot’s. Even Jesus uses both Noah (Matthew 24:37-39) and Lot’s wife’s (Luke 17:28-32) stories as an example of the times we are living in. As we connect these two stories in God’s big story, it’s not a coincidence they were our first to study. We see God’s aversion to sin and His desire to eradicate it. In Noah’s story, God uses rain to destroy the whole earth. In this story God uses fire to destroy two cities. We can see God was trying to purify His creation. It takes water and fire to do that. After Jesus came, these two elements are used in our redemption story. We are baptized in water as a sign of new birth and we are baptized with fire, which represents the power of the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us and begins our transformation process, burning away the old ways. This is a sign and a wonder for sure! Let’s keep pressing forward and not look back so we can see the great things God has for us ahead.


Scriptures in the event of an evacuation:


Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NLT)- Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise.


Luke 9:62 (NIV) - Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”


Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) - Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)- For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.


Proverbs 14:12 (NLT) - There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.


Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) - “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.


Psalm 39:7 (NIV) - “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.


Psalm 42:5 (NIV) - Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.


Matthew 6:34 (NLT) - “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Psalm 28:9 (NLT) - Save your people! Bless Israel, your special possession. Lead them like a shepherd, and carry them in your arms forever.


Colossians 3:2 (NLT) - Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.


Romans 12:2 (NIV) - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 *This information is a summary of the study and observation the "Anonymous Women of the Bible Study" by the anonymous women of an online group out of Hills Church in Laguna Hills, CA. There are also women from other states in the U.S. who are participating that attend other churches. This is why we are called the body of Christ.