Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zacchaeus...


Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.  He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see...

Zacchaeus was a Jewish tax collector who collected taxes for the Romans at Jerricho.  He accrued great wealth from his custom enterprise.  Jericho, was a significant center of commerce and sat along a major trade route connecting Jerusalem with the lands east of the Jordan.

In his Gospel, Luke records Zacchaeus' encounter with Jesus.  Because he was so small he climbed up in the tree to get a better view of Jesus. Jesus stopped under the tree and called him down, then invited himself to go home with the publican for the night.  Zacchaeus repented and followed Jesus, promising to return to those he cheated and took from fourfold, along with giving to the poor. Later on he became the bishop of Caesarea.

From Zacchaeus' life we can learn:
-No matter how small we are Jesus knows where we are and sees us.
-Jesus will forgive us of our sins if we repent and turn our lives around.

Zacchaeus story can be found in Luke chapter 19.

'And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.'  Luke 19:2

until next time...nel

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yahweh...


A name of the Hebrew God.  In the oldest biblical literature (12th–11th centuries BC), Yahweh is a typical ancient Near Eastern "divine warrior" who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies; he and Israel are bound by a covenant under which Yahweh will protect Israel and, in turn, Israel will not worship other gods.

By early post-biblical times, the name of Yahweh had virtually ceased to be pronounced. In modern Judaism, it is replaced in reading with the word Adonai, meaning Lord, and is understood to be God's proper name and to denote his mercy.  Many Christian Bibles follow the Jewish custom and replace it with "the LORD".  Yahweh is not found in the King James Bible.

The KJV uses "LORD" to translate the divine name in most instances. The KJV translators used the name "Jehovah" whenever the name Yahweh was found under one of the following three conditions:

1. When YHWH is used as God’s personal name.

2. When God’s name is repeated as "Jah Jehovah."

3. When God’s personal name is part of a place name.

'Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.'  Isaiah 12:2

until next time...nel

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xerxes...


There is not a lot of information available on Xerxes.

He was a Persian king, also know as Ahasuerus and possibly Artaxerxes.  He was the son of Darius the Great, and successor to his throne.  He married Esther.

The name Xerxes does not appear in the King James Bible or the New Revised Standard Version.  It appears 31 times in the New International Version.

until next time...nel

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Woman...


There is no bible character name that starts with the letter W. Therefore I am going to reference Woman.

God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam.  While he was sleeping God took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh and he made a woman.

God styles and equips men and women for various tasks, but all lead to the same goal - honoring God.  Man gives life to woman; woman gives life to the world. Each role carries exclusive privileges; there is no room for thinking that one sex is superior to the other.

'And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'  Genesis 2:23

until next time...nel

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vashti...


She was Queen during the reign of Ahasuerus. She was removed from her duties when she refused to show herself to the guests at a royal banquet.  Since she or Esther is unknown in secular history, many have suggested that they were inferior wives or concubines who were simply dignified with the title 'queen.'  Persian custom dictated that the kings would ordinarily eat with their legitimate wives, but when they wanted to 'riot and drink,' they would send their wives away and call in their concubines. While this citation is often used to support the judgment that Vashti was called because she was only a concubine, the opposite conclusion better explains Vashti's refusal to come. 

Her husband the king wanted her to appear with just her royal crown on and Vashti refused, she did not want to show herself in front of all these drunk men.  The king was furious and Vashti was dismissed.  Her behavior should serve as an example for all the women in the kingdom.

The story of Vashti can be found in Esther 1:9-19.

'On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vasti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.'  Esther 1:10, 11.

until next time...nel

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Uzziah...


Uzziah was the king of Judah for a time.  Uzziah is the name he is called in Chronicles, but in Kings he is known as Azariah.  Azariah may have been his given name and Uzziah a throne name taken upon his accession.  He came to the throne at age 16, after the death of his father, who was assassinated.

Uzziah was a capable, entergetic, and well-organized person, with many diverse interests.  The Lord blessed him in all of his undertakings, so he prospered. He was known to do right in the eyes of the Lord.

He pleased God during his early years as king. He was a successful warrior and city builder.  He was very skillful in organizing and delegating.  He reigned as king for 52 years.

Some of his weaknesses and mistakes include:
-He developed a prideful attitude due to his great success.
-He tried to perform the priest's duties, in direct disobedience to God.
-He failed to remove many of the symbols of idolatry in the land.

From Uzziah's life we can learn:
-Lack of thankfulness to God can lead to pride
-Even successful people must acknowledge the role God has for others in their lives.

Uzziah's story is told in 2 Kings 15:1-7(where he is called Azariah) and in 2 Chronicles 26:1-23. He is also mentioned in Isaiah 1:1; 6:1; 7:1; Hosea 1:1; Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:5.

'In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.'   Isaiah 6:1

until next time...nel

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Timothy...


Timothy was Paul's convert and companion. He first appeared as Paul's disciple whose mother was a believer, but his father was a Greek.  His mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois were Christians.  

Timothy became a believer during Paul's first missionary journey and accompanied him for his other two journeys.  Timothy was a respected Christian in his hometown. On several occasions he was Paul's special representative. Timothy and Paul had a close bond, he probably knew Paul better than anyone else.  Timothy was almost like a son to Paul.  Timothy received two personal letters from Paul.

Timothy did have a few weaknesses or did make a few mistakes which include:
-He struggled with a timid and reserved nature.
-He allowed others to look down on his youthfulness.
-He was apparently unable to correct some of the problems in the church at Corinth when Paul sent him there.

From Timothy's life we can learn:
-Youthfulness should not be an excuse for ineffectiveness.
-Our inadequacies and inabilities should not keep us from being available to God.

Timothy's story is told in Acts, starting in Chapter 16.  He is also mentioned in Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10-11; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19; Philippians 1:1; 2:19-23; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; 2:3-4; 3:2-6; 1 and 2 Timothy; Philemon, Hebrews 13:23.

'Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.'  Hebrews 13:23

unto next time...nel

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Silas...


I have to remember I am writing about Bible Characters, not my sweet grandson Silas James, who is 17 months old.  :)

Silas was a respected leader in the Jerusalem church. He represented the church in carrying the "acceptance letter" prepared by the Jerusalem council to the Gentile believers in Antioch.  Silas remained in Antioch where he joined Paul on his second missionary tour. While in jail with Paul at Philippi, he continued to praise God and sing songs of praise.  Silas was a writing secretary for both Paul and Peter.

From his life we can learn:
-Partnership is a significant part of effective ministry
-God never guarantees that his servants will not suffer
-Obedience to God will often mean giving up what makes us feel secure.

Silas' story is told in Acts 15:22 - 19:10.  He is also mentioned in 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12.

'And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.'  Acts 15:40

until next time...nel

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Rahab...


She was a heroine of the battle of Jericho. Following Moses' death, God told Joshua that he and his people were to cross the Jordan River and occupy the land of promise.  Joshua sent two spies ahead to observe the opposition, in particular the city of Jericho. The spies quickly found their way to Rahab's house, which was perhaps an inn and/or brothel. She apparently was a prostitute.

When word quickly was received by the king of Jericho, he demanded Rahab fess up to the spies whereabouts. She admitted she had seen them but claimed they had left at nightfall, when the spies were actually hiding on the roof of her house underneath the stalks of flax. After the king's search party was gone she told the spies her reasoning for what she did.  She feared the God of the Jews, believing that he would surely give them victory.

In turn the spies agreed to save Rahab and her family.  They were to hang a scarlet cord in their window. Needless to say they were the only survivors of the battle. They were led to safety under Joshua's command, by the men whom Rahab had saved.

Rahab became the wife of Salmon and mother of Boaz, thus an ancestor of Jesus.

Rahab's strengths and accomplishments include:
-One of only two women listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews
-She was resourceful, and willing to help others even if it was at great cost to herself.

From her life we can learn:
-She did not let fear affect her faith in God's ability to deliver.
-She is an example of good works and justification.

Rahab's story is told in Joshua 2 and 6:22, 23. She is also mentioned in Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; and James 2:25.

'By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.'  Hebrews 11:30, 31

until next time...nel

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Queen of Sheba...

Queen of Sheba

She was a woman of great wealth, beauty, and power.  Most biblical scholars believe that Sheba was either in Ethiopia or Yemen. It is clear that Queen of Sheba ruled alone.

The Queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to confront Solomon with some hard questions regarding his relationship to the Lord.  But the king had no problem answering her questions because God had granted him the gift of wisdom.  She was impressed with Solomon's answers, hospitality and the reputation that preceded him.  You can read about this in 1 Kings Chapter 10.

The Queen of Sheba is mentioned again in the New Testament only by an alternative title, the Queen of the South.  Jesus refers to her, reaffirming her historical personage, as a means to illustrate the point that, despite being originally pagan in belief and Gentile in race, the Queen of Sheba recognized the truth and reality of God, unlike the religious leaders who opposed Jesus.  As such, they would be condemned for their ignorant and defiant nature.

From Queen of Sheba life we can learn:
-Like King Solomon, believers are to show evidence of God's favor in their lives, whatever their role, profession, or environment.
-The reputation of believers should precede them by their godly words and actions.

'And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.'  1 Kings 10:1

until next time...nel

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Priscilla...

Priscilla and Aquila

Where you seen one of them, you seen the other.  A Christian couple who were friends and possibly converts of the apostle Paul during his ministry at Corinth.  They became an outstanding husband/wife team who ministered in the early church.  They are always mentioned together in the new testament.  

They were originally from Rome then moved to Corinth, then Ephesus supporting themselves by tentmaking while serving Christ.  Priscilla and Aquila were Paul's loyal friends and trusted coworkers.  They accompanied Paul to Ephesus and remained there after he returned to Syria. They used their home as a place of worship for Christians to gather.

Lessons we can learn from their lives are:
-Couples can have an effective ministry together.
-The home is a valuable tool for evangelism.
-Every believer needs to be well educated in the faith, whatever his or her role is in the church.

'Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus. Who for life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.'   Romans 16:3, 4

until next time...nel

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Othniel...


Othniel was the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.  Later in life Othniel married Caleb's daughter Ashcah.  Their marriage resulted in two sons.

Othniel was a Judge of Israel.  He delivered Israel from the tyranny of Cushan-rishathaim, and who earlier distinguished himself by capturing Debir.

Caleb offered his daughter Achsah to whoever could conquer Debir.  When Caleb gave her and her land as a present, Achsah asked for a water source and was given the upper springs and the lower springs.

At a later date Othniel delivered the Israelites from the oppressive Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia.  The Israelites had served him for eight years on account of their sin.  When the people cried for relief, the Lord raised up Othniel.  When he delivered them, he was described as someone that the "Spirit of the Lord came upon".  

After the war Othniel became a hero in the eyes of the Israelites. Furthermore he succeeded in reforming them and restoring their fellowship with God.  He was selected as Israel's new leader.  He is likewise denoted as the first and best judge.  The effects of his work as judge lasted for a generation.  Israel was at peace during the forty years of Othniel's reign until his death.

Lessons we can learn from Othniel:
-We need to put our trust in the Lord and He will lead us and help us.
-The Lord will use you for good things if you are willing

'And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.'   Judges 3:11

until next time...nel

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Nebuchadnezzar...


Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest Babylonian kings over Babylon.  He was known as a builder of cities.  He is described in the Bible as one of the foreign rulers God used for his purposes.

One of Neb's downfalls was he thought of himself as a god and he was persuaded to build a gold statue that all were to worship.  This was a large human statue that was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide.  Failure to worship the image would incur death by fire.  The three compatriots of Daniel refused and were thrown into a furnace from which the Lord delivered them unhurt.  In Daniel, chapter 3 we can read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  His weaknesses included he became extremely proud, which led to a bout of insanity. He also tended to forget the demonstrations of God's power he witnessed, he was a slow learner.

We can learn the following lessons from Nebuchadnezzar's life:
-History records the actions of God's willing servants and those who were his unwitting tools.
-A leader's greatness is affected by the quality of his advisers.
-Uncontrolled pride is self-destructive.

Nebuchadnezzar's story is told in 2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 21-52; and Daniel 1-4

'Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.'  Daniel 3:24-25

until the next time...nel

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Mary...


I am not talking about just any Mary, but Mary the mother of Jesus. She was a young Jewish virgin, probably from the tribe of Judah.  During her engagement to Joseph was discovered to be pregnant.  She was due to her submission to the Holy Spirit.  They first lived in Nazareth of Galilee, then traveled to Bethlehem, to report for a census.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  To escape Herod they fled to Egypt shortly after Jesus was born.

There is not a lot of information about Mary. She was a concerned mother as we can see in Luke 2:48:  'And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.'  When a wedding took place in Cana, there was no wine, but she trusted Jesus' abilities.  Mary had several children that she took care of; Jesus, James, Joseph, Judas, Simon, and daughters.  

When Jesus was on the cross his mother was there.  He asked 'the beloved disciple' to care for her in grief.  And the disciple took her into his home.  After the resurrection Mary and Jesus' brother were among the disciples who experienced the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.  That is the last time Mary, mother of Jesus is mentioned.

Mary was the one human who was with Jesus from birth to death.  She was willing to be available to God.  Mary knew and applied Old Testament Scriptures.

From Mary's life we can learn:
-God's best servants are often ordinary people who make themselves available to him.
-God's plans involve extraordinary events in ordinary people's lives.
-A person's character is revealed by his or her response to the unexpected.

Mary's story is told throughout the Gospels. She is also mentioned in Acts 1:14.

'When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.'   John 19:26-27

until next time...nel

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Lot


Lot was Abraham's nephew who was also born in Ur. His grandfather Terah took care of him when his father died. He went with his grandfather and his Uncle Abram to Haran. After his grandfather died he joined Abram in the journey to Canaan and eventually to Egypt then back to Canaan.

When they returned from Canaan they had to find separate areas to live, there were no longer room for their flocks and herds because they had increased as such a large quantity. Abram gave Lot his choice of areas and Lot chose the fertile plain of Jordan.  Lot became involved and influenced by the corruption of the cities and took up his residence at Sodom.

Four Mesopotaminan kings ended up carrying off Lot and his family and possessions. When Abram heard this He launched into action and recovered all the prisoners and their belongings north of Damascus.

Lot was called on by two angelic visitors in Sodom to slow down his departure from the doomed city.  The homosexual attack on them illustrated the depravity of the city, and Lot's willingness to sacrifice his daughters shows how the corruptness was rubbing off on him.  Lot was unwilling to leave Sodom, his son-in-laws would not accompany him and his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

His own daughters got him drunk and had relations with him resulting in the birth of two sons.

Lots weaknesses and mistakes include:
-when faced with decisions, he tended to put off deciding, then chose the easiest course of action.
- when given a choice, his first reaction is to think of himself.

From his life we can learn:
-God wants us to do more than drift through life; he wants us to be an influence for him.

Lot's story is told in Genesis 11-14; 19. He is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:9; Luke 17:28-32; 2 Peter 2:7,8.

'And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set without the city.'   Genesis 19:16

until next time...nel

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Korah...

Korah the Levite

Korah is the third son of Esau, and Oholibmah, daughter of Anah was his mother.  He was a popular leader and was a very influential figure during the Exodus.  Korah was considered one of the chief men of Israel.  He was one of the first Levites appointed for special service in the Tabernacle.

Korah was a cousin of Moses, their fathers were brothers.  He was jealous of all the special attention and authority that Moses and Aaron received from God, because he was just a Levite.  Korah convinced 250 other Levites to join him in his rebellion.  They were destroyed by fire from the Lord. Korah and two others were swallowed when the earth mysteriously opened up.

During Korah's life his weaknesses and mistakes were:
-Failed to recognize the significant position God had placed him in.
-Forgot that his fight was against someone greater than Moses.
-Allowed greed to blind his common sense.

From Korah's life we can learn:
-There is sometimes a fine line between goals and greed.
-If we are discontented with what we have, we may lose it without gaining anything better.

Korah's story is told in Numbers 16:1-40.  He is also mentioned in Numbers 26:9 and Jude 1:11.

'And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to-morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.'  Numbers 16:5

until next time...nel

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Jezebel...


Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, who was King of Sidon.  She became the wife of Ahab, who was king of the northern kingdom of Israel. She then became the Queen of Israel.  She exerted a strong influence over the life of Israel, as she insisted on establishing the worship of Baal and demanded the absolute rights of the monarchy.  

Her efforts to establish Baal worship in Israel began with Ahab's acceptance of Baal following their marriage.  He followed her practices by building a house of worship and altar for Baal in Samaria, and by setting up a pole for worship of the Asherah. While Jezebel organized and supported large groups of Baal prophets, housing and feeding large numbers of them in the royal palace, a campaign was underway to exterminate the prophets of God.  To meet this challenge God sent Elijah to prophesy a drought that lasted three years.

When Jezebel found that the Israelites fell down in tribute to God and the prophets of Baal were slaughtered, she flew into a rage and threatened Elijah's life.  Elijah fled for his life into the wilderness.

Because Ahab desired Naboth's vineyard and he himself understood Naboth's right to retain the family property, Jezebel did not see it this way, she felt they deserved whatever they desired.  She arranged to have Naboth falsely accused and executed, leaving the vineyard for Ahab's taking.  Because of this evil crime Elijah pronounced a violent death for Ahab and Jezebel, a prophecy which was ultimately fulfilled.

As we can see Jezebel was for her own, she was quite selfish.  She did not worship the true God.  She believed kings and queens could rightfully do or have anything they wanted.  She used her strong convictions to get her own way.

From her life we can learn:
-It is not enough to be committed or sincere. Where our commitment lies makes a great difference
-Rejecting God always leads to disaster

Jezebel's story in told in 1 Kings 16:31 - 2 Kings 9:37. Her name is used as a synonym for great evil in Revelation 2:20.

'But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.'   1 Kings 21:25

until next time...nel

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Ichabod...


Ichabod was the son of Phinehas and the grandson of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh. Phinehas and his brother Hophni died in battle with the Philistines who captured the Ark of the Covenant and took it away from Israel.  Upon hearing this terrible news, Eli fell backward off his chair and broke his neck and died. Phinehas' pregnant wife went into labor and bore a son.  Her name is never given.  

She did not give her son a family name she called him "Ichabod."  The meaning of his name is: "The glory is departed."  She confirmed that by repeating the lament, "The glory is departed from Israel for the ark of God is taken."
In spite of her husband's immorality and godlessness, she died a martyr to her firm faith in Jehovah.  This woman represents many a God-fearing woman who, in spite of a shameless and godless partner remains true to divine realities.  Disappointed and crushed though she was, because God's honor was her honor, no word against her worthless husband left her lips, nor did she utter any complaint against God for theah of her dissolute priestly husband.

You can read about Ichabod in 1 Samuel 4:19-22; 14:3.

'And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.'   1 Samuel 4:22

until next time...nel

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Hannah...


Hannah was the wife of Elkanah from Ephraim's tribe.  For years Hannah prayed annually at Shiloh for a son, whom she vowed to dedicate to the Lord.

The Lord answered her prayer, and she called her son Samuel.  When he was about three, she dedicated him at Shiloh to the service of the Lord.  After that Samuel lived with Eli the priest and was visited by his parents on their annual pilgrimage. Samuel became one of Israel's greatest judges.  Hannah had 3 more sons and 2 daughters. 

Early on Hannah struggled with her sense of self-worth because she was unable to have children.  Hannah was fervent in worship and effective in prayer.  When Hannah made a commitment she was willing to follow through no matter what the cost.

Lessons we can learn from Hannah:
-God hears and answers prayers
-Our children are gifts from God
-God is concerned for the oppressed and afflicted

The story of Hanna can be found in 1 Samuel 1-2.

'For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:  Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.'  1 Samuel 1:27, 28

until next time...nel

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Gideon...


Gideon was a farmer, a warrior and a judge.  He was the son of Joash and father of Abimelech. They lived at Ophrah, the valley of Jezreel.

Gideon was like many of us he doubted his own abilities.  God appeared to Gideon as an angel.  He told him that he was a mighty warrior and the Lord was with him.  Gideon did not believe in himself and put the Lord to the test 3 different times.  

Gideon prepared a meal for the angel and he touched the meat and unleavened bread with his staff, and the rock they were sitting on spewed fire, consuming the offering.  Gideon then put out a fleece, asking God to cover the fleece with dew overnight, but leave the ground around it dry. God did so.  Then Gideon finally asked God to dampen the ground overnight with dew but leave the fleece dry.  God did this as well.

God had chosen Gideon to defeat the Midianites so he was patient with him.  The Midianites had impoverished the land of Israel with their constant raids.  Gideon gathered a huge army but God reduced it to 300.  That night Gideon gave each man a trumpet and a torch concealed inside a pottery jar.  At his signal, they blew their trumpets, broke the jars to reveal the torches, and shouted: " A sword for the Lord and Gideon!"  God caused the enemy to panic and turn on each other. Gideon called out reinforcements and they pursued the raiders destroying them.  The people wanted to make Gideon their king but he refused.

Even though Gideon was slow to believe, once convinced of God's power, he was a loyal follower who obeyed the Lord's instructions.  He was a natural leader of men.

Lessons we can learn from Gideon's life:
-God calls in the middle of our present obedience. As we are faithful, he give us more responsibility
-God expands and uses the abilities he has already built into us
-God uses us in spite of our limitations and failures
-Even those who make great spiritual progress can easily fall into sin if they don't consistently follow God

The story of Gideon is told in Judges 6-8.  He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:32.

'And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.'  Judges 8:23

until next time...nel

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Felix...


Antonious Felix to be exact. Felix was the Roman procurator or governor of Judea for a few years in the time of the early Christian Church.  Felix like so many other emperors of that time was a corrupt and brutal man.  The period of his rule was marked by internal feuds and disturbances, which he put down with severity.

The apostle Paul, after being apprehended in Jerusalem, was sent to be judged before Felix at Caesarea. Occasionally seated with Felix during the course of the trial was Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Agrippa.  She had accepted an invitation from Felix to leave her husband, the king of Emesa, to become his adulterous wife.

Paul was brought before Felix to answer charges against him after the riot in Jerusalem.  After a five day delay, Tertullus, spokesman for the Jews, and others arrived to state their charges. Felix put off a decision until he could hear from Lysias, the tribune. In the meantime Paul was placed in limited custody. Felix hoped to obtain bribe money for his release. As a result, Paul was detained for two years, during which time he and Felix often conversed. The apostle's message of "justice, self-control, and future judgement" alarmed Felix greatly.

'And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.'   Acts 24:24, 25

There is no record of Felix after he was succeeded by Porcius Festus, the next Roman procurator (governor) of Judea.

until next time...nel

Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Ezekiel...


He was a priest by training but a prophet by God's call during Israel's Babylonian exile. He was a descendant of the influential priestly family of Zadok.  He received and shared unusual even bizarre visions that were very vivid and delivered powerful messages. His messages reminded the people of the sin that led to their captivity but also offering hope of national restoration.

During the time of Ezekial's ministry, it was a period of great prophetic activity.  Ezekiel joined the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel and spoke to the nation's needs at the time of the Babylonian captivity.  It was an era of upheaval and uprooting for the southern kingdom of Judah. Ezekiel became a tough and courageous man so he could reach a hard and stubborn people.

We can learn the following lessons from his life:
- Even the repeated failures of his people will not prevent God's plan for the world from being fulfilled.
- Each person's response to God determines his or her eternal destiny.
- God has people through whom he can work even in seemingly hopeless situations.

Ezekiel strongly teaches personal responsibility:
'Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.  But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right. Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.'   Ezekiel 18:4-5,9

Ezekiel's story is told in the book of Ezekiel and 2 Kings 24:10-17.

until next time...nel

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D is for Dinah...

Dinah was Leah’s youngest child with six older brothers. Leah was Jacob’s first wife, Laban’s daughter.  They lived at Shechem, in the land of Canaan.  The Bible states Dinah went to visit the daughters of the land.

Shechem was the Hivite prince of the area; he saw her and was drawn to her.  While Dinah’s brothers were away tending their herds, he lay with her and defiled her.  He immediately was drawn to her and wanted to wed her.  He put in his request to marry her to Jacob. 

Jacob’s sons were furious with Shechem and plotted revenge.  They agreed to the marriage according to their terms, which was that all the Hivite males be circumcised.  Hamor the father consented.  While all the men of the city were incapacitated from their surgery, Dinah’s brothers, Levi and Simeon led a massacre in the city and killed every male and took the women and children into custody.  The brothers excused their action as a just retribution for one of the Canaanites having treated their sister as a harlot.  Simeon and Levi were later cursed by their dad.

Jacob was afraid of what would happen to him and his household and God told him to Arise and go to Bethel.  Because of God’s help they were not attacked by Shechem’s neighbors.  The Bible does not mention Dinah again.

This story is found in Genesis 34. 

'And the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and defiled her.'  Genesis 34:1,2

It seems as with all sins this could have been avoided. We need to remember once a sin is committed it cannot be undone.  We need to think of the long-term consequences of our actions.  Thank God for Jesus who forgives us of our sins if we only believe and ask Him.

until next time...nel

Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Caleb


Caleb was the Israelite son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and the older brother of Kenaz. He was a Scout, a soldier and a shepherd during his life. Caleb was one of the 12 spies that Moses sent to the land of Canaan to survey the land.

Caleb and Joshua were the only two spies who were able to enter the Land of Canaan or the Promised Land. This was after wandering around the desert for 40 years as a punishment from God.  This punishment was given because of the Israelites complaining about food and water, rebellion against Moses and their hesitation to enter Canaan because of the powerful people already living there. 

Caleb was not afraid to voice his opinion in favor of conquering the land even though he was the minority.  Even if he was faced with obstacles he expressed faith in God’s promises.

We can learn from Caleb’s life:
-Majority opinion is not an accurate measurement of right and wrong
-Boldness based on God’s faithfulness is appropriate
-For courage and faith to be effective, they must be combine words and actions
-God hates sin and punishes it.  We can be thankful that Jesus took that punishment for us.

Caleb’s story is told in Numbers 13 – 14.

until next time...nel

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Boaz


Boaz was a wealthy farmer who lived in Bethlehem.  Boaz was an ancestor of Christ and a wealthy relative of Ruth's father-in-law Elimelech. He was a successful and shrewd businessman but still was sensitive to those in need, especially caring for his workers. He had a keen sense of responsibility and integrity.
Boaz was attracted to Ruth when she was working in his fields. He asked who she was and when he realized she had been faithful to his relative Naomi, he took several steps to help her. He told her she could eat and drink with his servants, and told his reapers to let some handfuls of grain fall on purpose for her. The barley that Ruth gleaned she took home to Noami.
Boaz married Ruth and became the grandmother of Jesse, who was the father of David. Jesus Christ descended from David.
Boaz' story is told in Ruth.

'And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.'  Ruth 4:9, 10

We can learn from Boaz that God often uses little decisions to carry out his big plan.

until next time...nel

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Andrew...

It is the first day of A to Z Challenge.  I did not participate last year my excuse was things were crazy but they are still crazy, so we are going to forget the excuses.  I was having a hard time deciding on a theme, because themes keep me better focused.  And I have promised myself I was going to study and get into my Bible a more so I have decided to use Bible characters as my theme.  There are so many that we are familiar with but then there are those that we do not know a lot about.  So praying the Lord blesses you as well as myself and I will learn something new through this endeavor.

A is for Andrew

Andrew became one Christ's 12 apostles.  Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter and the son of Jonah.  He was born in Bethsaida in the province of Galilee and was a fisherman like his brother Peter.  Andrew first appears in the New Testament as a disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew left John and found his brother Peter when he realized that Jesus was greater. They both became a disciple of Jesus.  (John 1:25-42). They continued to fish and during that time received a definite message to follow Jesus and become fishers of men.

'And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.'   Matthew 4:18 - 20

Most information about Andrew comes from the Gospel of John.

until next time...nel