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Women in the Word – Salome


Moretto_da_Brescia_-_Portrait_of_Tullia_d'Aragona_as_Salome_(detail)_-_WGA16231Salome is not one of the women in the New Testament that one is likely to hear mentioned frequently.  This lady was a follower of Jesus and had the honor of being among the first to learn of his resurrection.  Prior to that, she cared for his needs in Galilee.

The fact that only her name was known is very important.  To God, your name is important, even the number of the hairs on your head are taken into account, meaning God has designed each person and knows them well, even what is hidden. Continue reading

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The Other Joseph


Most Christians are familiar with Joseph of the Old Testament and his coat of many colors.  In the New Testament we learn of another Joseph, of Arimathea.  He was the disciple of Christ who requested from Pilate that he be allowed to remove the body of Jesus to his own tomb.  However there is another Joseph that gets little attention from the average Christian.  In a recent message by my Assistant Pastor,  I myself became more aware of this man.

The first thing that we learn when we begin a study of this man is that there is no record of anything that he may have spoken……..no conversation at all……………not even a reference to anything he may have said.  Irregardless, his life was a shining example of which men of today can be challenged.  Studying his life gives us opportunity to examine our own walk with the Lord to see if any of his attributes are lacking within ourselves.

This man was the son of Jacob, and the soon to be son-in-law of Heli, the father of Mary.  In the beginning of the Book of Matthew it is written that Joseph was espoused to Mary when he learned that she was with child.  Knowing that the babe was not fathered by him, it would have been lawful for him to publicly humiliate her, even to have her stoned.  Instead, Joseph, being a just man, was not willing to make her a public example and was thereby minded to put her away privately.  The Bible is silent on any conversation that Joseph may have had with Mary in regards to her pregnancy.  For sure there may have been all sorts of thoughts going through his mind.  His flesh may have wanted to lash out in anger, hurt and disappointment.  There is nothing in the Word to indicate that Joseph responded in any manner but that of a God-fearing man.

V0034598 The angel speaks to Joseph in a dream. Engraving by F. MorelJoseph was a patient man, not given to jumping  to conclusions.  He may have looked upon this scenario as a testing of the Lord, thus prayerfully seeking guidance from His Heavenly Father.  A wise decision indeed,  because shortly thereafter,  an angel of the Lord appeared unto him and reassured Joseph that the child which was in Mary’s womb was  truly conceived by the Holy Ghost.  Joseph, being obedient to the will of God, took Mary to be his wife.  The Word of God records that Joseph was a man of self-control in that he did not know his wife until after the birth of Jesus.

The fact that God entrusted His only begotten Son into the hands of this man, as Jesus’ earthly Dad says volumes about the righteousness of Joseph.  Joseph was ‘hand picked’ by God because he was trustworthy.  It is ironic that millions of Catholic’s worship Mary and have little regard for her son let alone her husband.  Joseph’s life and calling, although not worthy of worship, should be an inspiration to all.

The Gospel of Luke records the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.  Their offering was two turtle which indicates that Joseph was not a wealthy man but he was rich in integrity and righteousness.  It was not long after this that Joseph received a second visit from the angel of the Lord, warning him to flee into The Flight into Egypt by Rembrandt Panel 1627 TouEgypt because of Herod’s decree to slay all the children two years and younger.  Joseph was a protector of his family by leaving in the nighttime to take his family to safety.  He more than likely used the stars to guide his journey which reveals he was a learned man in the area or astronomy.

In due season, the Angel appeared unto Joseph again to return to Israel, because those who wanted to slay Jesus were dead.  However, once Joseph learned that Herod’s son reigned in Judea, he became concerned for the safety of his family.  The angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph the fourth  time, instructing him to turn aside into Galilee. He took his family and dwelt in Nazareth.  Still there is no documentation in Scripture that he shared the vision or the other three with Mary, his wife.  It may well be that by having knowledge of the scriptures that Joseph would have realized that  prophecy had been fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene”.

JosephAndJesus159x200 Jesus is referred to as the Carpenters son in Matthew 13:55  We can rest assured that Joseph taught Jesus the skills necessary to be a good carpenter.  Spending many hours together in their workshop would have given them ample opportunity to form a close bond.  It is built within a man to teach his son the skills which he himself has honed over the years.  Joseph was most likely eager to teach the child the art of carpentry.  Perhaps in later life, Mary would gaze upon the furniture that her husband and son had built together.

murillo_holy_family_detail_250x249Some Bible historians believe that Joseph was an old man when he took Mary to be his wife.  These same men also believe that Mary was as young as twelve when she conceived of the Holy Ghost.  In Bible times it was not unusual for a maid to be married at such a young age.  We notice in Scripture that after the Lord turned 12, Joseph was no longer mentioned, for whatever reason.

It is not easy to entrust your children to someone else.  God entrusted Joseph with a great responsibility in being the earthly Dad to His only begotten Son.  In view of all of the unexpected events in his life I wonder if perhaps Joseph clung to Proverbs  3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

He was Her Prodigal?


She stood there with the other women in the throng of people who had gathered to witness the event.  Her countenance was heavy, her heart was full of grief and sadness.  The noise and shouts of the crowed were drowned out by the overwhelming ache she felt within her heart. With her head bowed, her thoughts journeyed back to his boyhood days remembering the  joy and excitement which he had brought into their lives.  The lad was the apple of his Dad’s eye, they went hunting together,  fishing and even assembled weekly with others to worship God.  The couple had great hopes and plans for the boy, but alas he fell into the wrong crowd.  Now she was standing there watching her unrepentive son face the consequences for his sin.

She was not alone, yet she felt all alone.   She knew her God was there with her;  but there was also another lady standing near, whose son was sentenced to the same type of punishment.  The reddened tear-stained eyes of the women were focused on their respective sons.  Perhaps there were times when they had eye contact with each other; maybe they occasionally grasped each others hand in a comforting ‘I understand your pain’ grip.  So many thoughts whirled with in her mind…………..perhaps if only she………

Her son was brought up in a home that worshiped God.  He knew right from wrong, but…………..her thoughts came to a 01050180  crucifixionsudden halt………..her ears picked up on a nearby conversation…”What did he do?”   “Did he murder someone?”  “Was he a thief?”   She glanced at the woman beside her, she could see the intense hurt within her swollen eyes. and then it dawned on her…………..he was innocent; a man condemned to death because he was hated by the people.  They are saying that he claimed to be God!  Is He indeed the promised Messiah?

With a renewed understanding the women once again turned and gazed upon the three crosses.  Her son was on the right; the other woman’s son was in the middle.  His name was Jesus.  The crowd grew silent, there was a conversation between those who were being crucified.  She strained her ears to listen.

She heard one of the malefactors say, “If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us”  And then, her son spoke,  “Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?’  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss.”  As she watched in amazement she saw her son turn toward this Jesus and say, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  Excitement began to fill her heart, is she hearing what she thinks she is hearing?  Can it really be?  All of her doubts were wondrously eliminated once the words of Jesus fell upon her ears.  “Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Her son repented!

This is perhaps the most profound ‘death-bed conversion ever recorded.  This once sorrowful mother of a prodigal son, left that day knowing that he had repented and was with Jesus in glory.  Can you just picture her walking with Mary, together toward their respective homes.  Their souls most assuredly were filled with the wonder of the miracle that just took place at the 72964_501275086580399_349589349_ncrucifixion.  Yet, how much more would they rejoice in just three short days!

This event has been recorded as the Greatest Story ever Recorded.  Jesus was born to die upon Calvary for our sins.  He became sin for us;  He knew no sin.  It began in that manger where he was wrapped in the swaddling burial cloths, a foreshadow of  His Father’s will for Him.  My friend, Jesus ended his earthly life doing exactly what He was called to do – save the Lost.  The thief was saved just  prior to his soul being taken into eternity.  There are two lessons here, maybe three.

1.  We need to continue doing the Lord’s will for our life until He comes again, or takes us home

2.  God gives us every opportunity to repent of our sins while we are alive and remain.

3.  Keep praying for your prodigal………….It may well be that salvation may come to that lost soul.

Nicodemus – Searching for Answers


Nicodemus190x239My mental picture of Nicodemus depicted this leader of the Jewish people as a relatively short man with a muscular build.  He seemed to me to be a man up in years,  educated with a caring countenance.  The photo at the right could be more in tune to his true physical appearance, but irregardless, it is his spiritual nature on which we must focus.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, we are introduced to Nicodemus.  John tells us that he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the high court in Israel.  In addition to being learned in the Old Testament Scripture, Nicodemus  possessed a wise inquiring mind and was not satisfied with the legalism of the Pharisees.  He could not rest until he found the truth which he badly wanted to understand.  Although he seem to be a courageous man, Nicodemus personally sought out Jesus during the night.  Perhaps he discerned that he would have a greater opportunity in talking with Jesus alone while others slept or as some scholars believe, he was fearful of being seen by the Jewish brethren.

The Lord welcomed Nicodemus and understood that he came to him not as a ruler to discuss the affairs of State, but as a man concerned about his soul.  Jesus immediately began to share with him the necessity of being born again.  Even though he misunderstood what Jesus was teaching, Nicodemus acknowledged his ignorance, which showed the Lord his desire to be better informed.  Needless to say, our New Testament friend was somewhat perplexed.  How could a man be born again when he was old?  The Lord went on to explain the two births, the physical and the spiritual, emphasizing once again that man needed to be born again in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  How can these things be, asked the inquisitive Nicodemus?

In His wisdom, Jesus referred Nicodemus to the Old Testament account of the Serpent in the Wilderness, whereby giving him insight into the scriptures of which Nicodemus was much aware.   In comparing himself to the serpent in the wilderness, Christ was able to help this seeker of the truth to understand that only by looking unto Jesus, could a man be saved from the sting of spiritual death; separation from God, for eternity.  Jesus went on to comment that as man believeth on the saving power of the serpent to save him from physical death, man must now look unto Christ to be saved from Spiritual death.

The third chapter of the Book of John reveals these truths to man today.  Mans inability to understand what Jesus is saying is indicative of a fallen, sinful heart and has nothing to do with ones level of intelligence.    Even as Nicodemus knew the Scriptures quite well, we must realize as he did that knowing the Bible is not enough; one must believe in the Living Word. the Lord Jesus Christ.  John 1:1.

Although the scripture does not specifically state that Nicodemus believed in Jesus, we do know that his life indicated that a regeneration had taken place within his heart.  We learn in John 7: 50-53 that much to the frustration of his fellow Pharisees, Nicodemus defended Christ when he was being judged unfairly according to Jewish Law.    After his death, it was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who cared for the body of our Saviour, disregarding their own safety and reputation.   The anointing spices for the Lords body were provided mainly by Nicodemus, some 75#’s of myrrh.

In studying the Biblical biography of Nicodemus, one must admit that it is clear that once a person does accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior, old things do pass away; all things do become new.  My friend, as you consider this man’s life, let me encourage you to become a seeker of the truth.  The Holy Spirit of God will open your eyes that the god of this world (Satan) has blinded that you will be able to understand as Nicodemus did; you need but ask.  Let me close with that most precious verse:  John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in His name shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Behind the Scene Saint – Barzillai


Barzillai is not familiar to most Bible students.  We are first introduced to him when he is an older man in his eighties, having obviously aged gracefully.  This man of God did not succumb to the rocking chair syndrome, but maintained an attitude of service and self sacrifice to his God and to his fellow men.   Unlike some senior saints, Barzillai did not assertain the thought of retirement, instead he committed himself unto keeping on keeping on, one step at a time in his life’s journey.  Old age does not necessarily bring with it the frailties of mind and body which prohibit purposeful avenues of service.  Barzillai as we will learn, took advantage of the opportunities to be used by God in the lives of others in his old age.

The name Barzillai comes from the Hebrew meaning ‘made of iron.’  He was a wealthy man from Gilead who possessed influence, land, money and homes.  He was a generous benefactor who chose to help others when he saw a need.  These deeds of kindness were done out of  love, without expectation of reward or recompense.  What an example to all of God’s people who have the ability to meet the tangible needs of others.  His story begins to unfold in 2 Samuel 17:27.

King David had taken refuge in Mahanaim to rest and regroup from the weariness of fleeing the wrath of Absalom.  His entourage was more than likely hungry, tired, ailing, and discouraged.  His women and children, having lived the luxurious Palace life were not accustom to the rugged life in which they now existed.  Barzillai, who dwelt in that area, discerned that David was a man of quality and he honored the character that David exhibited.  Seeing the people were in need, we read in verses 28 and 29 of 2 Samuel 17, a list of all of the provisions that Barzillai and his two friends bestowed upon David and his entire camp.  They not only provided the necessities but also a few niceties also.  Barzillai did not have to be asked, he saw the need and he met that need.  This man was not a ‘senior hoarder’, desiring to stockpile his wealth for himself and his heirs.  He sacrificially gave, possibly knowing that it was from God whom his wealth originated.   Barzillai was not concerned about the personal danger involved in helping David; had Absalom been victorious in becoming king, Barzillai would have been slain for aiding David.  Fear had no place in the heart of Barzillai.  He obviously won a place in King David’s heart.

We see that a bond did seem to develop between David, and his benefactor. Barzillai allied himself with the King even though he had no political ties.  History records that the benevolence of Barzillai continued toward David.  The wisdom that David most likely received from Barzillai was an added benefit from this providential relationship.  David and his men had a need and God used Barzillai to meet that need.

We cannot out give God!  Although folks like Barzillai seek no reward or praise for their acts of benevolence, it is not surprising that the Lord does allow special honor to be offered to those who give out of their abundance as well as those who give sacrificially.  Barzillai was not an exception.  God records in 2 Samuel 19: 31-40 that when David returns to Jerusalem, that he invites Barzillai to come with him.  What a golden opportunity, to live in the Palace of the King!  David was so full of gratitude that he wanted to provide for Barzillai in his old age.   This was not a flippant invitation.  David wanted to honor his friend.  Alas, even though the pomp and circumstance of the palace was most appealing, it was not a lifestyle in which Barzillai would be comfortable.  You see, Barzillai was used to serving, not being served.  He saw that his impaired hearing would not be able to enjoy the music of the harp; his diminished taste buds could not enjoy the delicacies of the Kinds table.  In addition,  his mind was failing and sound advice would be found wanting.  Barzillai did not want to become a burden to the King.

Barzillai provided one last gift to King David.  He offered his son Chimham to go in his place.  The King accepted this sacrificial gift of his friend and before he left, David kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and returned him to his own place.  David’s fondness of Barzallai was so great that we find in 1 Kings 2: 7 that on his death bed he charges Solomon to shew kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be of those who eat at thy table.

What a plethora of lessons one can learn from the life of this Senior Saint.  Old age should be perceived as a golden opportunity to use our time and talents wisely for the Lord.  Let us press toward the prize of the “well done thou good and faithful servant” when we stand before the Lord.

 

Ackn:  Article inspired by Pastor Matt

Behind the Scene Servant – Benaiah


In His infinite wisdom, God designed man in such a way that each one has a specific genetic makeup to perform certain tasks with the skills with which the Creator has blessed.  Some are endowed with outstanding leadership abilities, while others perform superbly in the role as ‘followers’.  There are those who are brainy in mathematics and others whose curiosity lends them to be inventors who have provided the world with notable technology.  Perhaps the greatest gift and calling that the Lord has bestowed is men who are soldiers of the Cross, not only in preaching the Word, but also in defending the faith with military skills.  Scripture is full of men who are listed among God’s “the Few, The Proud. and the Brave”.  Indeed, there are some who because of their military accomplishments are esteemed with the “Special Forces” of the Lord’s ‘Marine Corps’.   Allow me to introduce to you the leader of one of God’s special forces units, a man by the name of Benaiah.

We begin in 2 Samuel 23: 20 where we learn that Benaiah, a man from the tribe of Ephraim, was the son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel; a priest and a valiant man.  There does not seem to be any record of Benaiah having a wife.  He came from a Godly heritage through not only his father, but also his grandfather.  These men were great leaders because they were skilled in following the commands of their authority.  Whether it be Jehovah or their earthly king, they submitted willingly and loyally to their authorities.  These men did not seek their own, they did not ‘fight for the microphone’; they just did their job and did it well.

Benaiah was  skilled in combat performance. It was not a surprise that his accomplishments soon gained the attention of King David.  Stories of Benaiah killing two very ferocious ‘lion-like’ men of Moab must have raised the eyebrow of the king, but perhaps not as much as his slaying of a 7 foot tall, muscle-bound Egyptian who carried an enormous 15 pound spear.  This spear is described as a weavers beam in 1 Chronicles 11, and Benaiah was only armed with a staff.  The spear was wrenched from the Egyptians hand by Benaiah, whereby he was slain. Benaiah’s  obvious lack of fear must have made an impression upon King David. especially when he heard that Benaiah had chased a lion into a pit during the snowy winter and then jumped into the pit himself and slew the beast.

David set Benaiah over his guard.  Although he was not one of David’s top three men, Benaiah fulfilled his responsibilities with reverence and faithfulness.  Because of their tremendous courage and bravery, King David chose 30 special warriors to be an elite force and placed Beniah as the leader.  It is recorded that at one time Benaiah had command over 24,000 men. The testimony of his devotion to God and to his king was so widely known that when Adonijah attempted to seize the throne from David, he did not bother to consult with Benaiah.

While on his death bed, King David learned of Adonijahs’ plot to seize the kingship and we read in 1 Kings 1:32, that he summoned Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah, the Priest, the Prophet and the Patriot.  Benaiah was David’s trusted and loyal soldier to the end.   Interestingly, David’s inner circle of the “three’ valiant men are not listed in this meeting.  Perhaps they were no longer, or perhaps Benaiah had ‘arrived’, so to speak.

Once Solomon was crowned King, he was blessed with the loyalty of Benaiah.  Without hesitation, Benaiah obeyed the orders to slay the leaders of the insurrection, Joab and Adonijah.  He later became the Commander of Solomon’s army.  Benaiah was a God fearing man, a warrior who lived life to the fullest, never complaining, never compromising or backing down in the face of adversity.  He was a man’s man.  His bravery and fighting skills earned him his honor  and a place in the Holy Writ as one of God’s behind the scene servants.

 

FYI:

Acknowledgment to Pastor Andy Douglas for his inspiration that led to the writing of this artile.