A friend reminded me recently God uses opposites. He often works in the contrasts. Marriage is hard that way sometimes, isn’t it? God working in our lives, bringing us into a covenant relationship with a… More
From the moment God made Eve, He had special plans for women. Even when her own act of disobedience brought about the discipline of her Creator, God, He was gracious – He made her a mother! The miracle of having a child, the honor and great privilege of motherhood, was her Father’s loving hand once more giving her life. After reading Eve’s story, it is no surprise to find, throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, Jewish women taking part in much of community life. From commerce and trade to Temple worship, women were held in high regard. Proverbs 31 is but one place lending us a peek into the active life of a godly woman. She looked well to the ways of her household, and could be found to be a willing worker, even active in selling linens to merchants and in the buying and selling of land. And, above all this, she feared the Lord, served Him and her family – these were her most precious attributes of wisdom and kindness.
A glimpse into the lives of other Old Testament women of faith as well only solidifies the reality Jewish women were active in their community of faith. So, one might ask this question – as I did when studying the life of Christ’s mother, Mary – why did the early first century life for women look so different than their foremothers of the Old Testament?
It seems quite certain the subtlety of Satan present in Eden has been active through the years post-Eden, even through today. The Jewish people have been on a journey for centuries, from the Flood to slavery to exile to the Diaspora and the years that followed. First-century Mary grew up in a society deeming women “less than.” Although Jewish women were, in theory, esteemed, it was in private, not publicly. Jewish women were to be homemakers and lead quiet lives of prayer and holiness, but not in open concert with the men in their community of faith. They could hear a sermon, but most likely, they were to not ask questions nor voice opinions. According to Jewish history, Mary most likely would have had to stay in the “Woman’s Court” when she went to Temple. She would not have dared venture past its confines. According to all the research and reading of the Scriptures I have done thus far, I believe Mary was a young pauperess, probably in her teens, when she was betrothed to marry Joseph. She lived out her normal days in Nazareth – a tiny nothing of a town in the corner of Galilee. According to the world around her, Mary was ordinary, nothing too special at all.
God thought differently.
Her Father God trusted her character.
He knew she would question yet surrender.
He knew Mary would know the Scriptures (even if she had been discouraged from gaining any learning or education.)
I know I may take liberties here, but I imagine Mary listening daily to her father and the other men quote and talk over the Holy Scriptures.
At that time in history, it would have seemed revolutionary (and offensive) for a Jewish woman to speak and interact with a Priest/Rabbi, let alone have a conversation with one of God’s messengers from Heaven. Nonetheless, God sent Gabriel to Mary first instead of her espoused, Joseph. Think of this considering what we have learned about first century Jewish culture. From the onset – before Christ was even in Mary’s womb – God challenged culture and traditions made by man (and not God.)
Let that sink in.
This common girl from Nazareth, and her surrendered faith, gave birth to the Rabbi of rabbis, King of kings, the Messiah – Jesus – our Savior. When I think of what she must have thought the day Gabriel told her what was to come, my mind goes crazy with questions. But one question I will ask her one day in eternity will be this, “did you ever falter or doubt?” I know me – tiny steps forward in faith and giant leaps backward in doubt and fear. I simply cannot fathom the call on Mary’s life, what it must have been like to raise the Son of God, knowing He was also your Savior.
Can you imagine?
In Luke’s account of Mary’s life, we see she was bewildered by Gabriel’s greeting and could not fathom what he was saying to her. She was a virgin; how could she have a child, let alone be mother to the Son of God?! Yet at the end of their conversation, Mary’s surrendered faith was the foundation upon which God built the rest of her life.
Trusted by God. Highly favored by the Creator. Unlearned and young, Mary was wise beyond her years. She knew to trust in the Lord with all her heart and not lean unto her own understanding of things. Mary’s astounding and sweet story sheds grace on my own inadequacies. It brings truth. And with that truth, freedom. Mary is teaching me a thing or two about how God uses the foolish things to confound the wise – especially when we surrender all to Him.
Today I had more than a few thoughts about the circumstances surrounding our lives. I had more things whirling around than I could write, so I decided to video-blog them. But, what unfolded was me videoing and deleting until…
“Be still” came into my heart and I read the words of Proverbs 16, and thought about James 3:17.
The following video was the product.
Be still is often the Lord’s admonishment to me because I’m such a talker. I need to slow down and listen more, not only to my Father but with others as well.
I pray this will be a blessing to your heart.
Click the link below to watch today’s video blog, Be still…Be kind…Be Firm.
Sometimes I forget just because I have not literally seen His face, audibly heard His laughter or physically sat at His dusty, divine feet, does not mean I have not truly experienced His goodness.
If I would only be still, and look at my life through the kaleidescope of faith, I would see Him more clearly.
The little hands that work so hard to write their letters perfectly just to hear their teacher say, “Wow, great job!,” is His voice whispering, “I have called you to do an important work.”
My Savior’s sweetness can be felt when a precious little one takes a break from her lunch just to come give her teacher a hug.
The Holy Spirit’s grace abounds as this writer’s pen flows with words of wisdom and encouragement that can only come from the heavenly place where living water flows endlessly.
My Father’s loving arms embrace me when my friend sends me a text to say, “Hey, I just wanted you to know I miss you and I’m thinking of you, always,”
And, how about the calls and texts from my baby brothers that make me smile and laugh with such sincere joy? That is a taste of what it must have felt like to walk next to Jesus as a friend and brother.
My list could go on and on.
The myriad of ways God shows Himself present and active in our lives is beautifully variegated. Oh that I would be more open to see the subtle, yet profound, truth – ordinary moments become extraordinary in the presence of the King.
Lisa Harper is an amazing Bible teacher and a Spirit-filled speaker. Her book, Believing Jesus, is what the Lord has used to stir my heart tonite. The book of Acts is going to be an incredibly moving study, I’m sure.
Join us and share all that the Lord does in your life too!!
I look forward to hearing from you!!
“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.” Tozer’s words echoed within me as I sat down to listen as my Father introduced me to His precious daughter, Abigail. This woman and her faith, what a powerful display of humility, grace, and wisdom. Aside from the fact she is one among only three women in the Holy Scriptures to be singled out and noted for their outward beauty, she is a woman noted for her inward magnificence as well.
The Lord says of his daughter that she was “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance…”
Her life had certainly not been a fairy tale while living as wife to Nabal. No two people could have been more antonymous than they. The Lord described Nabal using the Hebrew words qâsheh and râ‛âh, meaning he was cruel, grievous, hard-hearted, obstinate, rough, stubborn and troubled, evil and wretched. A deeper word study reveals Nabal was most certainly a beastly and cruel man. Abigail was described with Hebraic words such as, ṭôb, śêkel, yâpheh and tô’ar which are the exact opposites (and then some) to Nabal. In detail, Abagail was noted to be beautiful on the outside and one who had a favourable countenance. She was bountiful, cheerful, joyful, kind and most pleasant. This sister of grace was known for her intelligence (by implication of success;) discretion, wisdom and her pleasant ways were her testimony.
Now can you picture her life?
She walked in a path directly opposite from her spouse, yet aligned perfectly to Her Creator’s will. She sought hard after the ways of her God, and as one commentator states, “manifested a love stronger than death.”
As I continued to read from the pages of history, it was becoming increasingly clear Abigail was a sweet peacemaker whose life modeled the ways of her Lord. Her words were gracious and seasoned with salt, and she looked well to the ways of her household – she was trusted. The events that unfolded around her were not of her making, she could not control how her husband behaved. Yet when her servants came to her with the grim news of Nabal’s insolence toward King David, Abigail was quick to respond. All the King had asked was for a show of kindness and Nabal, in his churlish and evil way, refused David and his men kindness, respect and decency. Needless to say, the King was furious. Nabal had provoked the wrath of King David and, had it not been for Abigail’s prepared and appellant faith, Nabal and all of his household would have been destroyed. Her discernment in withholding her thoughts and actions from Nabal until the next day show wisdom in placing her trust in God alone.
As she quickly loaded the donkey with more than enough food and drink for the King and his men, take note of how humble, appealing and encouraging she was when finally reaching the King.
“She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him….Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.”
-I Samuel 25:24-31
In the history lesson taken from the book of I Samuel, chapter 25, it is revealed Abigail is a woman of patience who cloaked herself in the love of God. She “put on kindness, mercy, humility, gentleness and patience,” and pre-dated Paul’s exhortation to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” What an amazing moment in history, where faith in God from the Old Testament marries the sweet teachings of the New Testament.
One need only read of the events that could have cost Nabal’s household their lives to see the actions of this sweet daughter of God were clothed in love and humilty. Abigail, fearfully and wonderfully made was a woman of beauty, prudence and grace.
Abigail must have known a little something about storing up treasures where moth and dust do not corrupt, about those eternal jewels thieves cannot steal – and, about the faithfulness of God to be a rewarder of those who have the faith to diligently seek Him.
Her convictions and meditations in the ways of the Lord must have been her most valued inheritance, for she walked in them and lived in a manner pleasing to Him. And, in the end, He brought her to the palace of the King. Abigail was a woman after God’s own heart, it is only fitting she ended up the wife of a King described this way too.
Eugenia Price said this of gracious Abigail, “Only God can give a woman poise like Abigail, and God can only do this when a woman is willing to cooperate as [she] did with Him on every point.”
Abigail’s life and witness have challenged, rather, beckoned me, to walk closer to my Maker, for He is my true love. She has encouraged me to take a look inward and sit before the Lord, asking this question, “How do I actively treat those who are unkind?” And, on an even more personal level, her life begs the question, “How do I respond to my spouse when I don’t like him very much?” I most certainly do not live with a man such as Nabal, and for this I am increasingly grateful. However, do I clothe myself as Abigail did, with love and mercy when he behaves in an unkind way? Or, do I feel vindicated when I behave in an unloving manner toward him? Is it possible to muster an appellant faith, and am I willing to intercede on his behalf to the King? When I go to my closet, do I find a wardrobe of love, humility, forgiveness, kindness and wisdom or selfsihsness, envy, impatience and self-righteousness? I am most certain the later can be found hanging there ready, but oh that my King would remind me to outfit myself with the first instead.
There will be many times in our lives when we are faced with the nastiness of human selfishness, anger and frustration. I am not, by any stretch, suggesting God says we are to be abused by another person’s behavior, I am simply saying He calls us to be kind in the we handle them in return. When we choose to turn away from hurtful situations (and nabalish (my word) type of people,) we should pray to walk in a manner worthy and pleasing to the Lord. This speaks volumes to the world around us of the love of Christ which compels us to regard one another with a heart fixed on the One who gave His life for us all.
In encountering Abigail on the pages of HiStory, I am finding myself inspired to pray for my spouse more earnestly, and to yield to my Savior more readily. One woman’s faith marked the pages of Scripture with a fragrant grace and purposeful poise, and is changing my life for the better.
I began my author’s journey a few years back, only dreaming of one day getting to know different women of faith (and writing about them.)
In January of this year, the Lord impressed upon my heart 12 sisters of faith (from the Old and New testaments) to open my life up to. He has placed them on my heart faithfully every day, calling me to learn more the beauty of how He uses our unique personalities (and walks) to influence and mold our individual faith.
God is, after all, the Creating Personality, as A.W. Tozer said in his precious book, The Pursuit of God.
I must give a shout out to my “Isaiah-til-we-are-100” friend, who encouraged me to jump in and kick-start the introduction process to these astounding women of faith. She challenged me with this text – “Tell me how Priscilla’s faith inspires you?”
Honestly, I thought I knew a little about her already, however, as with any individual, there are personality layers, and if you want to get to know them, you have to spend quality time with them. Therefore, I asked our Father to introduce me to his precious daughter in a way that would change me for the better, and I know this is just the beginning.
Priscilla was an amazing woman of God. It is evident her husband was sure to trust in and depend on her. I have no doubt he knew her worth was greater than all the rubies in all the world.
She was always mentioned alongside her husband, whether it was in the family business of tentmaking, the mentoring and discipling of Apollos, giving the Apostle Paul a home, hosting Church in her home, or in being willing to lay her life on the line for the sake of the gospel and her friend.
One commentary made this statement, regarding the quietly humble and faithful discipling ministry of Priscilla (and her husband Aquilla,)
“If we cannot be great, by God’s grace we may be the means of making others great.”
She willingly and graciously partnered in the gospel – being a woman poured out for Jesus. She is only mentioned a handful of times, but what an impact one woman’s faith – in the hands of her Father – made!!
She was humble, steadfast, hardworking, and a wise servant of Christ as she aided in furthering His gospel and building the Church.
After spending a little time with our Father, and meeting Priscilla in a brief encounter through the Word, I believe what inspires me most is that her companion style faith was genuine and steadfast.
She was a true partner in both marriage and in ministry. What a beautiful picture of her unique faith.
The quiet, yet profoundly influential, life of Priscilla, resonates with my teacher-heart.
The children placed under my care are the future, what a privilege to learn from this woman of faith about being compassionate and gentle in the way I mentor and teach the truth of His love for us.
Our Creator knows us – He knitted us in our Mother’s womb and called us to do anointed things for Him. He will use our uniqueness to design our faith. And, He most assuredly will use one woman’s faith in the most marvelous of ways!
Corrie Ten Boom’s advice to “let God’s promises shine on your problems” touches my soul because life (and our personalities) are full of messiness. Nonetheless, the sweet promises of God infuse the messy with His power to redeem and create beauty from ashes. It is easy to forget just how big our Father is, and how He moves in the icky.
Psalm 139 beckons us to trust there is nothing He does not know about us, there’s no place we can go that He will not be, His thoughts about us are infinitely more precious than we can comprehend – He created us with purpose, knowing we would messy (and forgetful.) He loves us deeper than imaginable.
For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord , You know it altogether. (Psalm 139:4)
What a thought – He knows what I’m going to say and He still lets me speak. He challenges me and keeps me inspired to write – in spite of me. He knows everything about me, He goes before me and blesses me with His presence always. His hedge of protection is beyond my understanding – such knowledge is too wonderful for me.
He knows I will, inevitably, mess up and say the wrong things and stumble around trying to articulate His truth into an encouragement. Yet still, He sharpens me to be used by Him – wow, me as an arrow in the quiver of the Prince of Peace.
I am dumbfounded at the call of Christ and how He uses the broken to share His love and goodness.
He longs to use the uniqueness of His children to accomplish His purposes – one person’s faith can move mountains – don’t forget that.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. (Deut. 30:19)
Today I have been reminded how fortunate I am – and how powerful choice is.
Life, marriage, relationships – all require a choice.
…a choice to love (even when it’s hard,)
…a choice to serve another (and not yourself,)
…a choice to respect the process (especially when it’s a slow one,)
…a choice to share the bad along with the good (we all have both in us,)
… and a choice to see the good around you (it’s a matter of perspective,)
…a choice to walk by faith (and not by sight.)
…a choice to live in gratitude (even while walking through a valley.)
There are people around the world who have had the privilege to live life in freedom stripped from them. They are not allowed the opportunity to marry whom they choose, or work where they want to. Many folks cannot speak freely without fear of imprisonment or death, yet they choose to rise above it and courageously live in joy and not bitterness.
Choice. A tiny, but life-altering, word.
I pray to be reminded swiftly if I should begin to see this game-changer as anything less than a blessed gift.
May my choices have the purpose of Christ behind them,
be infused with surrender to His will,
and sparked by servant-hearted motives.
Oh, that I would always choose life, as the Scripture encourages me to do.
It was a late-into-the-night kind of experience when the Lord brought me to a soul moving passage of Scripture five years ago. I remember sitting in the middle of my bed crying and begging God to speak to me- to show me what I should do. The battle between my spirit and sinful flesh ensued through the night – weeping – negotiating – reasoning – reckoning, and in the end, when the sun began rising, resolving to surrender.
It was a life-changing and sorrowful place of truth and wrestling. I struggled with the letting go of what I thought I wanted and moving into what He had ahead for me.
As I read Deuteronomy chapter 2, I heard His heart for me – “Stop going in circles around a mountain you were never meant to conquer, Tonya. Don’t settle for a meager cup of soup simply because you’re hungry, wait for the feast that is your birthright.”
Yet, letting go isn’t always as easy as it should be, especially when the soup tastes yummy – nevermind indigestion it gives you later. How thankful I am God doesn’t give up in His pursuit of my complete heart.
What a treasure it is to know He is righteously jealous for me. What? Me? And just like that, I am stunned by His grace all over again.
Just like with the children of Israel, He has watched my every step. He has blessed me and kept me – all 48 years of my life – and He promises to always be with me, and to bless me.
He knows my trudging through the wilderness seasons, He allows them for my good. And even when I cannot sense He’s there, He remains steadfast in His love for me – always.
These days have been odd and challenging, yet they are no different, in many other aspects, as they were 5 years ago. I still seem to head my own way, thinking I am right, and then My Father speaks to my heart, “Stop going in circles, turn your face toward me and walk on – there are better things ahead.”
This time of year has always held a different kind of feel for me. On one hand, I enjoy celebrating my precious Momma – she is truly one of a kind. She is fierce and strong, yet tender and humble. She is a warrior princess who battles the enemy many many times as she journeys this life as the King’s beloved daughter. Of course, I take delight in praising Him for choosing such a beautiful soul to be my mother.
Mother’s are this wonderful gift of grace, and I feel this grace wash over me every time I talk with mine.
Yet, this time of year has the power to make me keenly aware of what I (seemingly) missed out on because of my barrenness. I understand what it is like longing to hold a child in your arms and know they are yours only – the desire to have a child rise up and call me blessed, to say, ‘I love you Momma” or, when he’s older, tell me I’ve always been his “valkyrie” (my brother says that about our mom.)
But here’s the thing, with each passing Mother’s Day season, I grow ever more grateful it is God who directs my path and knows my deepest desires. As the years have passed, I see more and more being a mother doesn’t always happen the way we envision it.
My brother’s children, my husband’s daughter, my nursery babies, my friends’ children, and the students I teach have filled an empty space I never thought would feel full. Each time I hear, “Aunt Tonn Tonn, you’re the best Aunt Tonn Tonn in the world,” my barren womb receives divine healing. The Sunday mornings I hold newborns and play with toddlers, my childless arms are completely full. When I listen to a Kindergartner pray, my lonely mother’s heart isn’t so lonely anymore. Seeing “Step Mama” (with a heart) on my girl’s phone makes my heart smile so big. With every teen girl leaning in for advice, prayer, and a hug, my Father’s compassion fuels my spirit.
Just like Hannah, I can honestly say of all the children God brings into my life, “For this child, I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of him.” I have been so blessed.
He molds miracles into reality and our dreams into life. We can depend on Him, He is faithful to give us the desires of our heart when we are trusting Him alone.
So, one day when I am older and do not have children and grandchildren gathering all around me to celebrate Mother’s Day, I will still be able to look back over my life and say thank you God for giving me a Mother’s heart – I sure did enjoy using it! I can only pray I used it well.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the sweet and beautiful women who mother the world with their love and grace. Bio-moms, adoptive moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, aunts, teachers, nursery workers, big-sisters – all of you – we celebrate all with a mother’s heart, you are a gift of God’s grace, and we are thankful for you!
Have you ever wondered why some days seem extra-ordinary and some just seem a little less? I have. Yet, the more I age, the more I seem to long for those days which are, to others, a little less grand. I don’t think I realized my need for ordinary until I watched a sunrise that was not colored with hues of majestic proportions. I had never noticed how wonderfully comforting it could be to experience a sky filled with the simplicity of basic colors – and fewer strokes from the Master’s paintbrush.
So often I stumble when I allow my heart to tread the waters of “less than” because the world tells me to be special means we must live a life filled with only majestic sunrises and sunsets. To take the most beautiful snapshots and display them for everyone to “ooh” and “ahh” over seems to be the #goal. And, I am not only speaking of the physical photographs, but I am also talking about our lives and how we live them out before one another. It is our natural desire to be noticed, to be validated by others.
But what about the subtle colors we may quietly illustrate with? The lovely strokes of kindness, meekness, gentleness, self-control, joy, love, peace – all painting the way we react, the way we move. These are the simple, yet glorious, pigments that color our lives into the beauty God longs to see.
I believe we have things a little mixed up. Most definitely, God is grand, and His beauty is most assuredly more wonderful than our human eyes or hearts can comprehend. Nevertheless, we do not have to be living lives of extraordinary proportions for Him to view us as beautiful, for He already sees us that way – from the moment we begin to grow in the womb.
It is when we reach the place in our lives where Jesus is our portion, our Redeemer, that God sees us as Holy, for then when He looks upon us, He sees His Son’s righteousness shed over our humanity. Now, that is spectacular!
Our Creator’s eyes roam all over this earth, seeking to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose lives are painting even the most elementary of portraits for Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) So, the next time I see the subtlest of sunrises or simplest of sunsets, I pray He reminds me the beauty of the ordinary is glorious to Him. What a gift it is to trust He sees me with perfect vision and knows my heart.