April 27, 2022
Lesson 6 of 6
The last person the Samaritan Woman expected to see was a Jewish man at the well. This was her quiet time … that one moment in the day when she could get away from the stench of her sin … that one moment she didn’t need to worry about women mocking her … telling her how cheap she’d become … telling her she was no good … she was filth … many swearing to have nothing to do with her.
As she marches forward in the noonday heat, she’s encouraged to go one more step before resting at the foot of the well. After propping her back against the hot bricks, she hears footsteps then a massive shadow blots out the sun. She tries to make out the individual, but she can barely see his face. Overwhelmed, hairs raising on the back of her neck, she wonders who he might be and why is a Jew at the well at this time of the day? Will he insult her? Will he permit her to draw water and return home without incident?
It must have been an awe-inspiring encounter.
What if the Samaritan Woman had restricted the coming Messiah to that of a King donned in fine clothing with a scepter in his hand?
Where is the plan for salvation for her? How does she answer the call? Would she recognize the Savior?
We are a wretched generation, always looking for signs and wonders to prove God exist, only to disprove the very wonders we used to validate him. Forever changing our expectations to bigger and grandeur benchmarks.
Isn’t that exactly what the Pharisees and Sadducees did to Jesus? If only you would perform a miraculous sign. If only you would rescue yourself Jesus and come down from the cross, then we would believe. And when he didn’t … Ha! Look at Him! He can’t even save himself. (Mark 15:29-31)
It takes faith to believe Jesus is the Son of God. It takes faith to believe in the one you cannot see.
Just like us, the Samaritan Woman believed and relied on herself for too many years. Told herself a million times, I can handle it. Marrying one man after another in search of happiness. Never reaching her goal. It wasn’t until Jesus spiritually rescued her that she was able to leave her sinful world behind and find rest in the Christ. Can you imagine what it must have been like … how invigorating it must have felt to tell the man in her bed to BEAT IT!
You have pursued careers, worked tirelessly in your home, are well-read; and have lost more friends than you care to admit, leaving you lonely and abandoned. Some of you don’t know what to do with yourselves and are walking aimlessly through your journey on this earth. Several of you are people-pleasers, always living in fear of not making everyone happy.
Though the Samaritan Woman wanted to be loved and at peace, time and time again love and peace eluded her. She was an over-achiever, a perfectionist who was convinced if she perfected her methods the right man would come along and things would be good. She was trapped in the same old sinful patterns year after year; trapped in her own schemes to be like those around her–married with a family. Her sinful behavior placed her on a collision course that would delve her deeper into the abyss. Never ever self-reflecting long enough to make needed adjustments. Probably marrying the same kind of man every … single … time.
We’re all like hamsters on a running wheel …. running, running, running … going nowhere fast.
The Messiah has a message for you:
“I, who speak to you, am he.” (John 4:26)
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
When was the last time you were at the well?
Has the world overcome you?
Are your hands in too many fires?
Is your husband wearing you out?
Have family issues become too much to bear?
Who is this Messiah who offers you redemption? (Read Isaiah 53:1-2)
Do. You. Know. Him?
Let the Word of God describe him for you as Jesus claims to be God in this passage:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (John 10:27-33)
Jesus is described again in Hebrews 2:14-18:
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
During your prayer time, also read Romans 8:1-39.
These passages of scripture describe our Lord, explain his character, and expresses his profound love for us.
Jesus in all his magnificence was both man and God.
I describe him this way:
His humanity, coequal with yours
His divinity, exposed everything
His power, unlocked death’s chamber
His spirit, alive among the dead
His words, everlasting life
His ascension, endless hope.
The Samaritan Woman didn’t know any of this. Not at the time.
But later … after her encounter with Jesus at the well, she did not hesitate to cry out the Messiah’s message. She couldn’t help herself. She didn’t stop to question if people would believe her or not. She didn’t contemplate the man left in her bed. She didn’t hesitate to leave her water jug behind. And she didn’t think once about the rumors that might spread about her talking … once again … to a strange man.
The Samaritan Woman was on a mission. A spiritual mission. And nothing would hinder the delight she found in the Lord.
When was the last time you visited the well and engaged in a conversation with God?
If you keep dissecting the conversation between the Samaritan Woman and Jesus, you will notice a battle between worldly concerns and spiritual fulfillment. Physical thirst v. spiritual thirst.
Notice how the intrigue of their conversation deepens the moment the Samaritan Woman makes a plea for this living water Jesus offers her.
“The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’ ‘I have no husband,’ she replied. Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.'” (John 4:15-18)
Why would Jesus change the subject from living water to a question about her husband?
For there to be reconciliation to our Holy Father, the Samaritan Woman had to become aware of her sin so that awareness would bring about repentance.
Are you aware of your sin? Have you repented?
Turn to Ezekiel 14:6. It reads:
“Therefore, say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!'”
Let’s read Romans 3:19-24:
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Also, in Acts 17:30, it reads:
“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”
No matter how ignorant or well-meaning this woman might have been, the way to salvation is the same for everyone. Don’t get caught up in this idea of people being good and dismiss the biblical truth that all are lost if they do not turn away from their wicked ways, repent, and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 1:18-20)
Let me ask–Why is the gospel good enough for you to obey, but insufficient for others? Why move God’s commands like a slide-ruler because you’ve run across a very good person? His rules are what they are. No one is given a free pass because of their goodness. Everyone has sinned. (Romans 3:23)
I have another question: Would the Samaritan Woman fully understand the kind of water Jesus was offering had he not made her recall her sinful life?
I don’t think so.
Attention had to be drawn to the way she lived and contrasted with what Jesus had to offer her.
Did she immediately understand?
No. He had to reveal his divinity by exposing his knowledge of her life.
And it was then that she became amazed at his words and believed.
Divine healing begins when your soul is laid bare and fully exposed during your confession. This is a shameful experience. Once you repent from the heart and obey God’s instructions to be baptized into Christ, divine healing covers you in forgiveness and righteousness. Once God’s truth pricks the puss infecting your soul, you will experience healing and peace. You have no more hurdles to cross. No more tap dancing is required. Excuses are no longer needed to cover your nakedness because you are constantly covered by the blood of Jesus.
Like the Samaritan Woman, you rejoice and become so giddy with excitement that you can’t wait to tell all who will hear of the salvation you received.
The Samaritan Woman didn’t come seeking this living water. She came to a well constructed by her forefathers–an earthly and traditional place–to draw upon water to quench a physical thirst. Jesus came to quench a spiritual thirst … a thirst her soul had been craving for many years … a thirst that could not be satisfied with physical water.
When was the last time you engaged in a conversation with the Lord and drank from his everlasting water?
What do you seek? To recapture your traditions? To safeguard them?
Think on this: If the woman at the well had been too focused on Jesus being a Jew, she would have run away from him before he spoke a word. If she runs, she misses the message. If she misses the message, she misses an opportunity to drink his everlasting water.
More often than not, we come to God with open hands and open mouths, wanting more … failing to spend time in thanksgiving. We prop ourselves up with outside stimuli and engage in conversations that trigger a competitive spirit. We have a knack of trading his spiritual gifts for stingy tithes. Giving him only ten minutes out of a twenty-four-hour day. We’re rebellious. Disgruntled. Ungrateful. Pious. Complainers. Gossipers. Too self-reliant and self-righteous to acknowledge all blessings come from God.
God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to shed his blood because lambs and bulls and pigeons could not take away man’s transgressions. God allows you to give from the heart rather than tie you down to a tenth of your earnings. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. He paid a debt he did not owe. We owed a debt we could not pay.
He is our living water. He paid your debt.
Let me read God’s comforting words to you.
First, hear his warning to the wicked, in Romans 1:18-32:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Now, to the saved, … Read Hebrews 2 on your own time because it goes hand-in-hand with Hebrews 3. Hebrews 3 reads:
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
“So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.
“‘Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.'”
IN CLOSING, I want you to know it is possible I will never get to teach you again, and I want to leave you with these words in hope you will never ever forget them: No matter what evil comes your way … no matter what form it takes, OBEY the Lord our God with all your heart and soul. Let nothing … and I mean, NOTHING come between you and God, and don’t let anything separate you or stop you from serving God. People will hurt your feelings. DON’T stop worshiping with the body of believers because of them. People will talk behind your back. DON’T retaliate. Answer kindly. They will sabotage you. If they want your position, give it to them. They will sometimes try to physically harm you. RUN for your life. Or give it up if it leads to their salvation. But don’t you dare, ever stop obeying the Lord God Almighty. He desires obedience rather than sacrifice.
Second, from this day forward, as you read scriptures, read God’s Word as if you are there in the scene with our forefathers, feeling what they felt, standing in their shoes. Dare to imagine yourself between each and every line of the scriptures you read. It’s okay to be uncomfortable for your uncomfortable feelings can often lead you to repentance. Be bold. Ask questions. Rid yourself of fear. Speak truth. Be holy.
Third, stop being lazy about researching the Word of God. Don’t skim over words you don’t know, customs you’re unfamiliar with. Look them up. Use more than one resource. The internet is often filled with erroneous information that “sounds” true, but isn’t. (For example, research when Jacob married Rachel and compare the internet’s answer to the Word of God.)
Fourth, self-reflect. The scriptures are written to teach and guide you. If you don’t self-reflect, you are assuming you’re good. The scriptures can’t offer encouragement to those who think they need no encouragement. Take on a submissive posture as you read God’s Word and let the scriptures teach, and guide, and admonish you. It’s okay to feel guilty after reading the Word. Your guilt is an opportunity to repent and get in line with God’s teachings … it’s an opportunity to obey the Father.
Fifth, look at your trials and tribulations from a different vantage point. Spiritual closeness with God cannot be attained without struggles. Count your struggles as a blessing for those same struggles will cause friction, cause you to cry out to God, cause you to wait on the Father, cause you to persevere; and when perseverance has finished its work in you, you will be mature and complete… lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Sixth, stop judging one another. For those who sit in judgment are no longer working out their own salvation but sitting in judgment of those who are.
Seventh, pray without ceasing. Pray for understanding. Pray for wisdom. Pray for the brotherhood of believers.
The good news gave the Samaritan Woman heart palpitations and made her leap with joy.
Where is your joy?
Is it wrapped up in where you will eat lunch today? Or will you allow the Word of God to spiritually fill you?
Has someone barged into your life, leaving you to feel inadequate? Or perhaps your competitive spirit has caused a great chasm in your relationship with your sister in Christ and you can no longer love her deeply and put her above yourself.
Some of you have worked your fingers to the bone and can’t or won’t do anymore. Growing weary will only afford Satan the opportunity to disrupt your spiritual peace. God’s Word encourages you to steal away and rest. Stop being hardheaded and rest. (Hebrews 4:9-10)
Remember, all that we do, we do in the name of the Lord. (Colossians 3:17)
Listen closely and cling to God’s love for you:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, AND BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you ...” (Isaiah 43:2-5)
IN SUMMARY, here’s what we have learned today:
- 1. You are not hungry and ready to rush off to have lunch with your friends. You are spiritually thirsty. Seek the Lord your God with all your heart so you can be refreshed and not turn into dry dead bones.
- 2. Nourish your faith by reading and meditating on scripture.
- 3. Let nothing steal your joy–not death, trials, or tribulations.
- 4. Regardless of your circumstances, God wants you to repent, remain in prayer, and be obedient. Obedience is better than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22)
- 5. Self-reflect. Examine yourself and see if your behavior lines up with the Word of the Lord. Remember, even if you don’t say anything wrong, your body language and demeanor can convey strong, negative messages. Ladies, soften your demeanor. Smile more. Be joyous.
- 6. Don’t believe the enemy. Don’t give in to the lies. God loves you. Wait on him and he will give you the desires of your heart. Wait on the Lord.
- 7. Rethink how you solve your issues. Seek God’s guidance first. Then wait upon the Lord. (Pslam 27:14) When going through trials, read as many scriptures as you can about our patriarchs who pleaded with God, then had to wait on him. You will begin to see that God always answers prayers. Wait on the Lord.
- 8. Add to your list of needs – prayers of ADORATION. Take time to adore God.
In short, we have learned that obedience pulls at God’s heart-string. Your obedience makes him happy. Being a good person doesn’t cut it because no one is good.
It’s been a joy to come before you to share God’s Word. This experience has forced me to dig deep into the Word and pray for understanding. I’m like you, one of simplicity; a woman who loves the Lord our God with all my heart and soul. Thank you for your patience and your love.
May our God who knows all things grant you peace and safety.
Donna B. Comeaux
one woman out of billions who loves God Almighty
Lesson 5 of 6
April 6, 2022
The Asherites were the most blessed among the tribes of Israel and settled in the western and coastal lands of Galilee. Their rich and fertile land was filled with wooded hills and orchards, and they were known for their olive oil which they provided to Israel in times of scarcity. Think about it–this one tribe had the capacity to fulfill all of Israel’s need for olive oil. This little bible nugget won’t mean much to you unless you know how many Israelites crossed the Jordan River into Canaan. There were 600,000 fighting men, excluding women and children. And they didn’t settle in one place; they were stretched far north as Asher to as far south as Kadesh-barnea.
Like most Jews in the Babylonian era, in the days of the Assyrian king, they were taken captive. But not all were enslaved. The Assyrians weren’t blind. They saw how fertile the land was and took full advantage of it by leaving thousands of Israelites behind to farm it. Over time, after those in captivity were released, many scattered across the globe. Several tribes can be traced from Ethiopia to India. Others returned to Jerusalem. And that’s where we find Anna, the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Asher, the eighth son of Jacob and Leah’s maidservant, Zilpah.
During the time of Jesus, life was not favorable to widows. Some were destitute and left to beg in the streets. After reading Anna’s tribal history, I don’t get the feeling she was in this same predicament.
Being from the tribe of Asher … being a faithful and godly woman, I would caution you about looking upon Anna as someone in financial duress. This was an exceptional woman, spiritually and physically. If you will keep her story in context with the miraculous birth of Jesus and John the Baptist, it’s not too farfetched to conclude God’s miracles extended to Anna–and not only to Anna, but Simeon as well. Simeon is the righteous man who after proclaiming he had finally seen and held the Christ-child, he said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: …” (Luke 2:29-30)
Think of what this proclamation meant to them.
You have any idea how long God has been silent? Do you have a clue how long the people of Israel have been waiting for the Savior?
It’s been 400 years of silence from the end of Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament writings. And from 63 BC to 476 AD the Roman Empire entered and ruled over the Israelites.
When you’ve been oppressed that long, you are in dire need of a Savior.
If we read the Bible without researching, we miss the significance of these silent years. We tend to gloss over these years because we anxiously want to move on to more profound events in the Bible. We don’t realize these silent years are powerful moments in time. We don’t understand a change is about to take place.
After being under the mighty rule of Rome for many centuries, and growing accustomed to God’s agonizing silence, the people are desperate for relief. It’s not because they are being taxed in astronomical proportions, or weighed down with heavy rules and regulations. It’s because they are enslaved, their God is silent, their freedom gone, and nothing they own is really theirs anymore.
To complicate this time period in which they lived, the Jews are bombarded with soothsayers, false prophets, witchcraft, sickness, diseases, schizophrenia, demonic possession, theft, and disloyalty. (This is the result of disobedience.) Like our street-corner evangelists who preach “the end is near,” the Israelites had their fair share of fake prophets shouting promises of the coming Savior, and emboldened and arrogant enough to claim to be the Savior himself.
During this dreadful spiritual drought, the chief priests added laws to Torah and required more than the people could bear. Oppressed on all sides, the Jews are worshiping without their heart and soul spiritually connected to the Father. They are faint of heart, feeling like a desperate people with no hope. Those in control have no qualms about selling their pigeons and lambs and doves at a high price to the poor. They, too, have lost their spiritual connection to the Head and feel no shame or guilt.
This was the era in which Jesus had arrived.
Imagine how chaotic their place of worship had become–filled with people coming and going–rarely anyone sitting in a peaceful state to absorb the meaning of Torah. Romans ruled. Jews constantly on guard. Unrest, prevalent. People scared. Watchful. Nervous. Rebels angry. Itching for a fight to take matters into their own hands and rescue their people from slavery.
Anna was brave. Amid all this chaos–Roman soldiers lurking nearby … Pharisees and Sadducees correcting … scolding … taxing … working both sides of the political spectrum–Anna was focused. A lot of things were against her. To stand up in the temple was a no-no for a woman of any age, but she did it. To be such a loudmouth in the temple, near the temple, would draw attention to herself and the Roman soldiers might inquire, possibly have her locked up, thrown out, or beheaded. They were touchy — these Roman soldiers — they didn’t like the Jews stirring up trouble. The Jews outnumbered them. The Jews might band together and overtake the Roman soldiers. Any skirmish, any sign of trouble, would make these sensitive and skittish Romans over-react.
Still, Anna stood up and proclaimed the Lord’s arrival.
In the midst of adversity, have you ever stood up for the weak? Have you dared to shut down negative talk and gossip? If you didn’t, what does your silence indicate? What does your silence say about you?
What if the Roman soldiers had heard Anna’s proclamation?
Jesus to rule Jerusalem? You mean, this baby will grow up and some day rule Israel?
Any of the Roman Emperors would have rushed to the scene, snatched the child, and not hesitate to kill him on the spot. Even hundreds of years earlier, had the Roman rulers heard of such a king, they would have bribed the chief priests and given them anything they wanted just to know Jesus’ lineage so they could wipe the tribe out.
But that didn’t happen. That wasn’t Jesus’ story. His death would come later, at a time he, and he alone would dictate.
Here is a woman who is not only spiritually knowledgeable but physically ept–with enough stamina to preach with enthusiasm about the Christ that out-bolstered any man alive at the time. In this era, healthcare was limited to the very rich, and in a worse-case scenario she should be on her deathbed. If we were to read the text without knowing Anna’s age, we’d see a vigorous, dedicated, and healthy woman. But seeing that she is old, there’s no doubt Anna is challenging us to preach the Word of God no matter our circumstances.
If an old woman can stand up and proclaim the Lord, what’s wrong with you? What’s keeping my mouth clamped shut? Age has nothing to do with it. Dedication and Devotion does.
Speaking of age — let’s address Anna’s age.
Calculating her age may have a great deal to do with the Bible translation you use. For our purposes today, I want you to take as many translations into account as possible because the language, the punctuation, and the wording can make a huge difference in the way we interpret Anna’s age. If you disagree with my assessment, please don’t let it overwork you. This isn’t extremely important. Just keep in mind that Anna, no matter what her age, was very old. (See commentary: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/ )
Luke 2:36-38 says Anna had been widowed for 84 years. If Anna married at the young age of 17 and had been married for seven years at the time her husband died, then she is estimated to be 24 years of age. When you add the 84 years she’s been widowed to her 24 years, that would make her approximately 108 years old when she sees Jesus. If Anna was 12 years of age when she married she would be approximately 103 years old.
That’s a lot of alone time.
Take a closer look at Luke 2:36-38 one more time and let’s examine seven things that stand out about Anna.
- 1. First of all, she’s a prophetess (a rare position for a woman as compared to the number of men who held this role; I can account for only two others that the Bible specifically addresses as prophetesses)
- 2. Anna is also a young widow who has committed herself to the Lord, and her commitment only gets stronger with time
- 3. Anna also never leaves the temple
- 4. She worships day and night
- 5. She fasts and prays all the time
- 6. She doesn’t fail to give thanks upon seeing the Holy One of God
- 7. Finally, Anna speaks about Jesus to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem–in other words, she prophesies about the coming Redeemer.
FIRST, let’s address Anna’s status as a prophetess.
If someone stood in this room and prophesied, the first thing all of us would say, “Well, my goodness. Where did she come from? What was that all about?”
It would be so out of the ordinary, we would have a hard time believing the prophetess wasn’t drunk, or out of her mind. Reminds you of which story in the Bible?
… like Eli supposed Hanna was drunk. (I Samuel 1:13)
And yet, the Bible clearly tells us in I Corinthians 14:1-5:
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For the one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”
Why is accepting the spiritual gift of prophesy so hard?
For way too long we have been exposed to so-called prophets who are not prophets. We’ve been led to believe profound utterances and noises–which have turned out to be just that, noises–are signs of prophesy, when they are, in fact, not. There is no edification of the church through noises. There are no words of encouragement to lift us up through noises. What we’ve received instead is division, not a spurring to worship and glorify God in spirit and in truth.
Yet, the Bible calls us to be open and accept prophesy. As intelligent people, we need to constantly remind ourselves what the Bible means by prophesy. In I Corinthians 14:1-5, prophesy is understood, it’s encouraging, and it offers consolation. Those familiar with scripture are hesitant to accept the spiritual gift of prophesy. In order to get to a spiritual place where we can accept prophesy, I must ask an important question. Are we so anchored deep in tradition that we cannot be obedient in this spiritual area of our lives?
I dare say there’s not a person in this room who would have accepted the likes of John the Baptist. Can you hear him? A loudmouth shouting from the hills. Dressed in animal skin. Wild, wooly hair. Looking like he needs a bath. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, you and I would have stood at a distance, arms folded, wagging our heads, and mumbling, “How ridiculous,” under our breaths.
Here it is 2022, and we can hardly stand looking at a woman walking down the aisles of our congregation covered in tattoos. How can we expect to accept John the Baptist sitting next to us today with half of his wild hair brushing against our shoulders, or his locust breath preaching repentance?
As you sit there self-reflecting, are you not liking your reflection? You shouldn’t.
I’m not liking what I’m seeing either. But I must ask myself …
What’s the opportunity here?
Let go of religious tradition and change your heart to one of submission and repentance. (And by the way, I have no idea what that will look like for you.) But if you let go of your tradition, that would mean we would need to be open to God’s direction. If I’m open to him, he might pull me away from my comfort zone. On the other hand, if I don’t follow his lead, it might be harder to purify and refine me pure as gold.
Here’s an important question for you: Do you want to grow, or do you want to stay comfortable? Do you want a close relationship with God, or do you want to hold on to tradition and have everything remain the same, sound the same, and people act the same?
I know. You don’t want to change. You like things just fine the way they are. I get it. You don’t want to work that hard. I hate change, too. I HATE IT!!!! I don’t like to move from place to place, house to house. I don’t like anyone moving my furniture. I don’t like things out of place. I. DON’T. LIKE. CHANGE. — HATE. IT!
But here’s the thing: The word “grow” is in direct contradiction to the word “tradition.”
Keep that in mind.
Babies don’t remain babies. They grow. They change. They mature. They age. They die. They spiritually live again. Keeping your world the same as it was in yester years is a lot like asking your spiritual self to remain in its infant state. Is that what you really want? Do I honestly want to stifle my spiritual growth by remaining in a state of infancy, or should I feed on the “meat” of the Word and grow spiritually healthy?
What if Anna had made the choice to remain in an infant state and not proclaim Christ? What if Anna had not taken a risk, stepped out in faith, go against the grain to proclaim, “Folks, Christ is here?”
SECOND, Anna dedicated herself to worshiping God.
It’s hard for some of us to get up at 6:15 for Sunday morning worship. I mean, “Who gets up this early–besides Grandmother.” Can’t I sleep another 45 minutes? I do. Guess what happens. I wake at 9:50. Hurry about. Then remember, “Oh, I can watch service on Youtube.”
That is “NOT” dedication.
I am convicted by Hebrews 10:24-25:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Notices what sticks out the most in this verse.
“… and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Planning is involved for the first day of the week.
I need to plan to worship.
I need to go to bed earlier.
I need to pray for a peaceful night’s sleep.
I need to be diligent about getting up at the appointed time so I can prepare my heart and mind and soul to worship–on purpose.
You see how we can turn something as simple as going to worship into an arduous task? Our struggles with obedience are endless. Let’s fix this.
Personal Story —
We were led and baptized into Christ on April 1, 1975. After we became Christians, we were on fire for the Lord. My husband and I stood on OU street-corners preaching the word; grabbed hold of fellow students and opened up scriptures; set up Bible studies; called our local preacher in Norman, Oklahoma, at two and three in the morning in search of scriptural answers to our questions, or to appease our curious minds and thirsty souls for more of God’s Word.
Sometimes we’d miss morning worship because we were too tired. (Probably because we stayed up too late playing cards.)
We’d get together for cards again, and during our fun times, we’d discuss the error of our ways. So, we came up with a plan. We called each other every Sunday morning and encouraged one another to get out of bed. If we stayed up late playing cards, we agreed we’d get up and go to church no matter how tired we felt. We were submissive toward one another during those phone calls, heeding the call to get up and stay true to our word. After a year past, those phone calls were unnecessary.
It helps to have spiritual relationships with people who love the Lord.
It helps more to love God Almighty.
To be enslaved to my friendship with this couple is good in the beginning, but it would not sustain me over a long period of time. I would need to grow up and stand on my own two spiritual feet and ante up. God needed to be my anchor. Not my friends.
The Bible should convict you. It should trouble you. It should lead you to admit your failures. And if you allow it, it will help you confess your sins before God. If you ask, God will help you develop a plan to address your issues. Follow the plan.
My spirit is so filled with conviction when the Holy Scriptures reveal the error of my ways that all I can do is shake my hands like they’re on fire.
The truth hurts.
And it saves.
I thank God for his Word because it makes me aware of my failings; makes me desire to be a better servant; places me in a submissive posture.
And though it hurts … though it is convicting … though it is uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because God is near during my moments of conviction. Where else would he be? He’s the one convicting us. He’s the one giving us the answers to our questions. He’s the one providing help for our infirmities.
What’s the opportunity here?
Stop running from your convictions and sit still before the Holy One and recommit to serve him in whatever area of your life that lacks attention. Don’t avoid repentance. Don’t avoid confession. Don’t run from correction. God disciplines those he loves. It is truly love when God calls you out. He’s saving you a lot of heartache.
THIRD, Anna never leaves the temple.
The temple was a holy place for the people of God to gather and worship him. Over time, this holy place became no more than brick and mortar. New Testament Christians are members of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ of which Christ is the head. When we look at Jesus’ body being the holy temple that embodies his sisters and brothers, how can we possibly leave it?
In many ways.
Recently, I had a conversation with a dear sister in the Lord that disturbed me. Years ago, she remarried outside the body of Christ. Somewhere along her new journey, she decided to leave the church for the growing affection of another.
How did this happen?
Could have been a need to please her husband.
Could have been a matter of convenience–separate cars going in separate directions; two people never able to worship together, but want to.
What’s my point?
Jesus is at the bow … guiding your spiritual journey … giving directions … telling you where to turn … how fast to go … when to slow down and wait … what to say or not say.
If you fail to follow his instructions, you will be left behind or possibly fall out the boat.
Watch yourself!!!! Your first responsibility is to keep yourself blameless. Faultless.
I Timothy 4:14-16, reads:
“Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery (body of elders – definition mine). Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (emphasis mine)
What’s your opportunity here?
Listen and follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. He was given to you as a guide, a comforter, a teacher, an interpreter, and as an intercessor for your prayers. Listening to him will lighten your load and cause the world to ponder, and perhaps envy the hope within you. Do not forget what the scripture says in John 16:12-15:
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore, I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
What peace there is for those who belong to God and obey him from the heart.
FOURTH, Anna worshiped day and night.
Okay, I will confess. When I first read this, I envisioned Anna on her hands and knees all day and all night. I immediately rubbed my arthritic knees and back, and thought, “How in the world did she do this?”
Spiritual reality set in and I later understood the commitment it takes to focus on sincere worship. The fruit in this pudding is not time. It’s quality. When the Bible says, “all day and all night,” I get all bent out of shape. My mind goes ballistic! I think about my valuable time. I’m important. I can’t possibly stay on my hands and knees all day. I’ve got things to do. Who will do the washing? The cooking? The ironing? The grocery shopping? I’ve got to have some ME TIME, right?
If you think Anna was exempt from taking care of herself, think again. At 84 or 103–depending how you calculate her age–most, if not all of her family is dead. She would need to rely on the kindness of neighbors for most of what she needed. Let’s face it, Anna had to bathe, eat, and interface with neighbors, even if it were for only a moment.
Because of her dedication to serve God, and him only, I suspect there wasn’t much time for frivolous talk. That’s one way to stay clear of gossip, isn’t it?
There are too many examples in God’s Word of people who have dedicated themselves to service and worship for me to declare I can’t do the same.
Amid much adversity, Nehemiah rebuilt the City of Jerusalem. People plotted against him. Wanted to kill him. Nehemiah not only rebuilt Jerusalem despite hardship, he also stood before the people of Israel and reminded them of their sin against God, urging them to turn to God and worship him only.
Barren and without an heir, Hannah prayed continuously for a son and promised to dedicate him to God. And she did. From Hannah’s womb, came the prophet Samuel.
Abraham, son of Terah, was 75 years old when God commanded he leave Harran for the land of Canaan. Abraham served and worshipped God until he died … through ALL adversities, especially when asked to sacrifice his only son.
These commitments took discipline. And discipline never fails to produce perseverance; and when perseverance perfects its work in you, you will lack nothing. (James 1:4)
In Hebrews 12:10-13:
“For they disciplined (speaking of our parents – my explanation) us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”
What’s your opportunity here? What’s your challenge?
Regardless of your struggle, I suggest you begin with prayer.
You might say, Anna didn’t have the distractions we have today. It’s not possible to spend that much time in prayer.
Who’s telling you that?
Where you get the idea that you cannot devote your life and time to the Heavenly Father?
Think it’s ridiculous?
Okay. Let’s say it’s ridiculous. Then why are you here? Why pick up your Bible and bring it to worship if you don’t plan to use it, place notations in it, or highlight it?
I tell you what’s ridiculous — Playing church is ridiculous! It’s a waste of time.
But you can’t deny that I’ve now placed you in a precarious position. You are confronted with the choice to improve your worship and prayer time, or you will choose to harden your hearts and do the exact opposite, remaining in the same lifeless rhythm as before.
Too often we read about Abraham, Joseph, Mary, Samuel, Hannah, Nehemiah, and Anna and sit back and “wish” we could be as dedicated.
YOU CAN BE! God says you can. Anytime God commands you to do something, he’s commanding what you “CAN” do. He NEVER asks you for the impossible. NEVER!!
If this is true, how will you go about retracing where you’ve been so you can plot the error of your ways? How will you set out (like Abraham) to change and be obedient to our Heavenly Father?
HOW will you do that?
You know you need to make a change.
HOW. WILL. YOU. DO. IT?
Begin with prayer.
Because no one knows YOU better than the Father. I can encourage you, but I can’t be with you every day to hold you accountable. I don’t know your weaknesses. And I won’t always be able to know when you’re lying to me. The church can pray for you, but they can’t make you do anything. You, and only you, can change you. God offers and leaves the door open, but you must walk through it.
You may stumble through the doorway. You will sometimes bump the wall. But only you can choose to get up again and start fresh “every” morning. Every morning, for the rest of your life, the Word of God can produce in you the godliness God intended.
Make the choice. Make the change. Pray for it. Follow God’s lead.
FIVE and SIX — Anna fasted and prayed and gave thanks for the Holy One of God.
You have probably heard me say it before — we get so caught up with asking God for what we want that we don’t take enough time to ADORE him for who he is–the GREAT I AM.
Please don’t hear me say that you shouldn’t make your requests and petitions known before God. You should tell God whatever you want to tell him. You serve Him. Not me. But I encourage you to spend just as much time, if not more, ADORING GOD.
In the COMMENT section of this lecture, request a copy of scriptures devoted to ADORING GOD and I’ll send it to you. When you receive them, read them during your prayer time.
SEVEN, Anna can’t shut up about the Lord.
This gets me excited.
When was the last time you met someone on fire for the Lord? Do you wake up at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning and go, “Woo-Hoo! The Lord is here!”
Isn’t that exactly the way we should feel in the early morning hours? There needs to be a thanksgiving on our lips and a song in our heart from the moment we rise until we lie down in the evening.
God is gracious enough to allow me to see one more glorious day, so we should sing songs of PRAISE!
I admire Anna’s boldness.
Think she cared what people thought of her?
Oh, my goodness, she was probably antique as the pillars holding up the temple, people walking by her as if she was one of them. Only sojourners thought she was insane. Everyone else was accustomed to such outbursts, for there were many who proclaimed the coming of the Christ just like there are those today proclaiming the end of the world. These sojourners probably looked in amazement–because of her excitement … because of her boldness–not because of her proclamation.
Soon, they would come to know the Truth when he walked the earth, going from village to village, painstakingly preaching “he is the living water.” Only those anxiously looking for the Lord, who have faith, believe he is the Christ–the Son of God.
To everyone else, he’s another prophet who is about to get what is coming to him. He’s another prophet who will fizzle away in time, leaving them with nothing but a shattered faith, and dwindling hope.
None of this dampens the Truth. The Truth is herald throughout the countryside on a swift wind. Everyone hears about Jesus. Some believe. Some don’t. Some are healed. Some are not. Some see. Some remain blind. Some rejoice. Some look upon him with disdain.
Isn’t it the same way today? Some landing on fertile soil. Some landing on rocky soil, never taking root.
Anna was a prophetess. A bold one. A woman with a one-track mind. GOD was on her mind day in and day out. She spent every waking moment serving and giving thanks to him. He was her mission. He was her goal. He was her salvation. He was her food. He was her strength.
She didn’t have time to criticize, patronize, ostracize, horrify, desensitize, and marginalize those who preach the Word of God.
No one had to tell Anna how, when, or where to serve God. She served him everywhere, all the time. Her service to God meant more than the title, PROPHETESS. To be in his service was who she was from a young age until she was an old woman. Nothing … Nothing knocked her off course.
If fills me with great joy to know Anna left us an example of how to persevere through arthritic conditions, feeble knees, political and social unrest, and still serve the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul. Circumstances shouldn’t determine our faith. Our faith should determine how we handle our circumstances.
Spiritually handle your circumstances with the Sword of Truth!
This is the freedom our Father talks about. His yoke is easy. He’s laid it out for you. He’s drawn you a roadmap. He’s given you an instruction manual. Read it. Do it his way. Because … in Christ … when you read and follow his instructions, love his decrees, magnify his name, pray in ADORATION of Him, sing in the Spirit, testify, prophesy, understand his glorious nature, ENJOY his bountiful love, and ACCEPT with all thanksgiving his endless mercy and grace, FREEDOM IS YOUR!!
With this FREEDOM, we can’t help but shout … PRAISE GOD ALMIGHTY IN THE HEAVENS!!
Today, you can become a woman like Anna. Someone who worships God no matter what anyone tells you, what they accuse you of … if your skin is darker, lighter, or you’re pale as a ghost … no matter your financial status, education, political affiliation, or if you live in a rent house, townhouse, boathouse, three-story house, or a $3B mansion.
You see … that hardworking machine pumping inside your chest … that large mass inside your head … Your heart and mind is what God examines. He doesn’t give two figs about earthly wealth. HE CARES ABOUT YOU!
What we need to do right here and right now is examine ourselves to make sure we’re in the will of the Father. Every word you utter matters. Every thought you have matters. The way you treat your sisters matter. The words out your mouth; the way you treat the brotherhood is a reflection of your relationship with the Father. If there’s spiritual interference between you and the Father, there will be division and skirmishes within the body of Christ. And when that happens, you can almost assuredly trace it back to selfishness, self-centeredness, and pride.
So, gather your pencil and paper and map out your day, putting God at the top of your list. Set your mind on him and be dedicated and committed to the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
MAKE TODAY A DAY OF CHANGE.
Pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
BE OBEDIENT!! Even when it hurts. Even when it’s uncomfortable.
Worship. Every. Day. Live it. Be Holy.
So, what have we learned?
- Be Discipline
- Be Deliberate and Worship on purpose
- Create a plan
- Ask God’s blessings over your plans
- Give thanks and ADORATION
- Live out the Word even when it’s uncomfortable
Serving him with every fiber of your being is of utmost importance, because by doing so, we not only build a close relationship with the Father, but we encourage others to do the same.
May our God who knows all things grant you peace.
by Donna B. Comeaux
My only credentials: one in a billion women who love the Lord our God
Thursday, February 3, 2022
|“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4|
Every hour of every day we pray the pandemic will disappear. We’re tired of living in a carbonated bottle that’s about to explode. People are angry, disgruntled, pumping their fists out of car windows, yelling obscenities, pointing accusing fingers, arguing over any and everything that matters to them.
No one is compromising.
Most mornings we wake agitated. The last thing we heard before going to sleep was the nightly news.
We have no control over the world.
However, WE CAN CONTROL OUR OWN LIVES.
It’s your life. Take it back! Consider each day a new beginning. The world may be blazing all around you, but you can choose to engage in a deep reading of God’s Word. God is with you, using his rod and staff to direct and comfort you. There may be days when you don’t feel God’s presence, but it doesn’t mean he’s not with you. HE IS. He’s holding you. Believe it!
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me a sense of peace. Refill my mind with the holy scriptures.
IMAGINE God lending you a hand as he lifts you from your knees and places you in his loving arms.
READ Isaiah 41:10
Donna B. Comeaux
One woman among billions who loves the Lord our God.
Lesson 1 of 7
This lecture I presented on Eve goes much deeper than the video you are about to watch. I will go deep and as I do so, you and I will discover many things we never considered before today. But I assure you the learning process will prove: we are all like Eve to one degree or another.
During this presentation, I want you to come with me into Eve’s world to discover God’s faithfulness–even when we are not. I will ask thought-provoking questions to stimulate self-awareness so you can spiritually examine your walk with God. Not your neighbor’s walk. Not your family’s walk. Not your spouse’s walk. Not your preacher’s walk. But YOUR walk. My goal isn’t to leave you with warm fuzzies, but rather, to spiritually convict you to repent. I’m hoping the conviction you feel will lead you to have a deeper love, a deeper affection, and a deeper commitment to Christ.
To prepare for this lesson, I sat down and placed myself in the Garden of Eden to presuppose Eve’s struggle with good and evil–listening intently to what was said and what was going on around her. By doing this, I was able to relate to Eve’s dilemma and the wrong choices I’ve made along with the repercussions that ensued.
So, let’s go to the Garden of Eden and see what things we have in common with Eve, and the dilemma she finds herself in.
IN THE BEGINNING …
Imagine a place of perfection … the environment is pleasant; food is plentiful; work is a joy; having babies is painless; clothes are unnecessary; long pleasure trips are a waste of time. Everything around you is quite lovely. You have a bird’s eye view of majestic mountains, giant creatures, and all the zoo animals you can stand. Matter of fact, there’s no need to dig up dead dinosaur fossils. There are more than a hundred of them walking all around you. And you’re not afraid. Fear isn’t a part of your vocabulary. Every living creature God created are plant-eaters, not people-eaters.
All you need to do while living in this perfect world is not go into the middle of the garden and touch or “… eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
God’s ONE and only command.
Think about that for a moment.
Adam and Eve had only ONE command to follow. Just ONE.
How many of you have heard of the Torah?
The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament. It was written by God through Moses. This is one of the many reasons why Moses was up in the mountain with God for so long, during which time the people were making a golden calf.
Which five (5) books are they?
In Hebrew, the books are: Be’reshit, Shemot, Va-yikra, Be-midbar, and Devarim–all of which correspond to our English Bible as: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
The Torah has 613 commands1 — 248 positives (do’s) and 365 negatives (do not’s).
THAT’S A LOT OF RULES!
As I tried to wrap my mind around the Jews having to succumb to such restrictions, I couldn’t help but recall the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1. They were found blameless by God, though they hadn’t received the one thing they wanted–a child.
The political uproar from the oppressive Roman Empire was the main stumbling block for the Jews, giving them reason to grow anxious for the Messiah. If the political atmosphere wasn’t enough to concern them, low wages, high taxes, and pressures from the religious sect to adhere to every word of the Torah made life almost unbearable.
The thought of having to pay government and religious taxes is absurd to us, but in addition to the Herodian government taxing the people’s crops, they collected a “head tax”–a denarius for every male over fourteen, and female over twelve. This amounted to a day’s wage. Then there were road taxes (tolls) and port taxes2. The Pharisees also imposed a religious tax, taking a tenth from the people to support the priests and other various causes.
Despite this hardship, God found Zachariah and Elizabeth BLAMELESS.
… during a time when religious leaders (the Pharisees) were dead set on binding the people to 613 laws.
… during a time when the world … their world was in chaos.
… during a time when Zachariah and Elizabeth were late in years and without a child.
I’m sure Adam and Eve would gladly follow God’s ONE command if they had another shot at it.
But let’s face it. Adam and Eve didn’t obey God’s ONE command. And though you and I can make the choice to be more like Zachariah and Elizabeth, we are forever repeating Adam and Eve’s mistakes.
What’s so complicated about God’s ONE command anyway?
God is thorough. He tells you what you can have. He tells you what not to do. And he lays out dire consequences if you are disobedient.
What else you need to know?
A few years ago, my daughter-in-law sent us a video of our four-year-old granddaughter. This darling little girl was dressed in a cute red and white striped Santa outfit with a Santa hat on her head. My daughter-in-law and her mother placed red candies in a jar then set them on a table, specifically instructing my granddaughter not to touch them. This giggling four-year-old nodded with glee, but the moment everyone left the room, she placed curled fingers to her face, stared at the jar for half a second then gobbled up two or three candies.
There’s something exciting about the naughtiness of breaking rules. We laugh at these little infractions until a price needs to be paid.
In the garden, Satan dismissed the consequences of disobedience, sowing seeds of doubt by twisting God’s words around to say, “Did God really say, …” (Genesis 3:1) Then later lying, “You will not surely die, …” (Genesis 3:4)
Can you hear him whispering out his lies?
He does this over and over again. Never changing his tactics. His strategy is indeed monotonous, but effective.
Satan has whispered in our ears for so long that he’s worn down our spiritual defenses, turning our spiritual boldness into a lulled sense of complacency.
No doubt, Satan sported a sly grin as he tempted Eve, peeping through tree branches to get a good look at her, choosing his words carefully to spur doubt, alert to any indication of success.
For as long as I can remember, I surmised it wasn’t Eve’s fault. She didn’t know what Satan was doing. After closely examining scripture and listening to Eve’s response, you’ll see my defense of her doesn’t hold up.
"We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." (Genesis 3:2-3) [Emphasis mine.] Is Eve without excuse? Is she? No! What were her options? Challenge the challenger. How? By responding to Satan with this: "Who are you to question God? Let's summon the Father and see what he has to say about your proposal." Instead, Eve placed Satan's offer on a scale beside God's command, and her growing desires pulled the scale in her favor. She should have heeded God's warning. When we are confronted with new ideas that are not aligned with scripture, more often than not, we fail to question the source of the new information. Unfortunately, we become too lackadaisical about going to the Word in search of Truth. We need to admit the obvious! Eve knew what God had said word-for-word and understood the penalty for disobeying him. Yet, where does she find herself? In the middle of the garden. As I studied this scene in Genesis, I got the sense the evil one begins his conversation with Eve at a distance from the fruit, enticing her to move from her place to examine it. I see this unfolding at a snail's pace. It's a deliberate, methodical act. There's time to think and break down the have's and have not's. Time to walk away. Time to consult her husband. Time to call on God. Tell me ... Have you ever left your place and drifted away from God? Ever wonder how you got so caught up in a world of deceit? Ever get mad and frustrated about your pull to the dark side? Anger is a God-given emotion with a God-given method on how to handle it. Anger exercised outside of God's will provides a nice opening Satan uses to slip inside your head. He tells you what you want to hear, feeds your anger, lingers to appease your desire, your sense of righteousness then questions your commitment. If he stays too long, he becomes familiar... less threatening. Then, day by day, you lose your way home. We should ask God to rebuke him, but like Eve, we listen. Spin it. Replay his ideas in our minds and mold and reshape them until they are tailor-made to our needs. I meditated on Genesis 1-3 then speculated why Satan didn't threaten or physically harm Eve. Why disguise himself to be something he's not--a negotiator--when in fact, he's a fallen angel doomed for destruction. He's your first ventriloquist. None of the animals could talk. He's also the first prosecutor to lose in God's court of law on the pretense of having a strong case. Satan disguises himself because it falls within his character--he's the father of lies. He's not about to show himself as he really is. He doesn't physically harm Eve in any way because (1) he's not after her physical body. He's after her soul and the soul of her offspring and is using this opportunity in the garden to milk all he can from Eve; and (2) since Adam and Eve hadn't crossed the threshold of sin, Satan is limited in what he can do. He's a master of disguise--masquerading like an angel of light--and at this point, all he has at his disposal are disguises and twisted words. Don't lose sight of what's most important here: one of the most powerful things God gave man was freedom of choice. Satan's goal is to take away that freedom and enslave you. To have you DIE with him. I speculated about something else. Why did Eve listen to someone with whom she was unfamiliar? Ooooh, now here is where paying close attention to scripture is important. The Bible says, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made." (Genesis 3:1) He was familiar! Did you notice Eve was never afraid of him? She had seen him before. The Word describes him as a wild animal, crafty (deceitful, sly, cunning, skillful in evil schemes). During Satan's discussion with Eve, he awakens her desires, emphasizing she can have what only God possesses--the knowledge of the tree of good and evil. To sweeten the pot, he throws in the idea of becoming wise as God. Let's break this down. If you become wise as God, then you intend to be like him. And if you're like God, what need do you have of him? Did Eve think this through? I know you're tempted to let her off the hook, but DON'T. Eve thought it through carefully. Satan didn't ask, "... Did God really say ..." just to be asking the question. He questioned her so she could indeed repeat what God had said, so he could use it against her at a later time. He planned to whip her with guilt over what she had done. He would later make her feel unworthy of love, powerless, insignificant, mess up the family system God had set up and make her think she was first ... she was in control. His plan was to dilute woman from her godliness to the point of despair ... to make woman chase the man's leadership role to the point of exhaustion. Eve's doubt and questioning of God would become a nightmare. Listen to Satan's persuasive half-truths: "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5) Satan takes the truth and delicately weaves it into something that feels good and sounds even better but is vastly different from what God had said. Soon, doubt is his foot in the door and victory is on the horizon. In the meantime, God's angels are not wielding swords in front of Eve to make/force/cajole/persuade her to obey. Neither does Satan have any power to strangle or threaten her. Free Will is exactly what it implies--FREE. WILL. God won't make you do anything. Neither can Satan. Satan can't even share some of the fire he's under. Only he is feeling the heat. But he sure wants you to join him. The evil one can only entice Eve. That's his limit. And it's enough. The second Eve succumbs to Satan's devious scheme, you know she had to feel rotten about it. The effect of disobedience is immediate. Imagine the darkness ... the unmovable heaviness anchored to her soul. Guilt. Shame. Fear. Running. Hiding. Heart pounding and racing out of control. She and Adam trying to fix it by covering themselves with leaves ... unable to repair the damage. How would you feel if you had brought sin into the world for the first time? Consider how you may have brought sin upon your family. Perhaps you manipulated your family's finances so you could get new furniture; or buy new clothes; or take a needless and expensive trip ... only to later wake up one morning to an upsetting telephone call. You're now in financial hardship. You can't hide it. Your family suffers, or worse, your marriage ends in divorce. Perhaps a family member has become a drug addict and resolved to stealing and ends up in prison, embarrassing you, your family, ruining your good name and reputation. Sin is serious business. And it effects the whole family. In Joshua 7, we read about the sin of Achan. You will recall Joshua is leading the people of Israel to the promise land, and they need to take Jericho. God promises them victory. Joshua sends men to fight the enemy, but the Israelites are defeated and men die. Joshua tears his clothes and lays prostrate on the ground, crying out to the Lord. Joshua 7:10-15, reads: "10The Lord said to Joshua, 'Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their possessions. 12That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. "13Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow: for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them. "14'In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. "15'Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!'"
God hates disobedience and will not allow it to go unpunished. The Bible says his anger “burned.” A price needs to be paid for disobedience and Achan’s entire family paid a heavy price. They all died.
Like Adam and Eve, Achan brought sin upon his entire family. The consequence was death. Joshua brought Achan and his whole family before the Lord, took them to the Valley of Achor, stoned them, burned them then placed a heap of rocks over them. Then the Lord our God turned away from his fierce anger toward Israel.
God punished Achan … without hesitation … weeding him out tribe by tribe, clan by clan, family by family, man by man.
He punished Satan … without a stutter.
He punished Eve … without considering her as a weaker vessel.
He punished Adam … without considering his excuses (“… the woman you gave me …”).
YES! We should have reverent fear of the Lord our God.
But he also sacrificed an animal … an innocent animal to clothe them … because he loved them … because he refused to abandon them.
Before the Fall of Man, there was no shame or guilt or lying or hiding or fear. After the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve are like the world is now–sinful, emotional, fearful, guilty, liars, manipulators, pretenders, unrighteous. And God sees it all! From the moment Satan became victorious in getting Eve to eat the fruit, he’s been in her head … in her ears feeding her lies ever since.
Consider this question: if he’s not in her ear, then what was the point? Why tempt Adam and Eve if his aim isn’t to spiritually destroy them and pay them a daily visit to break their commitment to God? Another way to look at it: what else does he have to do? He’s got all the time in the world to torture them … and us.
So, the guilt over what Eve had done stayed with her, hindering her ability to fully accept God’s grace and forgiveness. She must have had bad days when her struggle was almost unbearable, pushing God’s forgiveness to the side, overcome with sadness over the burden she’d placed on the world and on her children.
Everything is all messed up now. Their family dynamics is going down the tubes. Where there was joy, there’s sadness. Where there was praise and worship, there’s depression. Where there was understanding, there’s confusion. The good life is behind them–on the other side of the angel who is wielding his sword back and forth to keep them out of the garden. After being kicked out of the garden–their original home–their new surroundings are far removed from where life began.
The bottom is up.
The top is down.
Nothing is the same.
As far as Satan is concerned, the destruction of God’s family has begun. He literally hates God’s family … God’s authority … and he will butt up against it every chance he gets.
Let me show you what this raging war against good and evil looks like in our society.
From the time you rise until the time you lie down, you are busy feeding, listening, ironing, taxi driving, performing as counselor-in-chief, acting as judge and jury, teaching, scolding, storytelling, healing, coordinating, volunteering, studying, tinkering like a repairman, attempting to juggle numbers as an accountant, and spiritually encouraging everyone in your path.
To combat our weariness, we read the Bible on our phones, on the computer, CDs, DVD, televisions. There’s no time to sit and meditate. We’re guilty about short-changing God, so we get busy feeding, listening, ironing, taxi driving, performing as counselor-in-chief, acting as judge and jury, teaching, scolding, storytelling, healing, coordinating, volunteering, studying, tinkering like a repairman, attempting to juggle numbers as an accountant, and spiritually encouraging everyone in your path.
And the cycle continues.
Like Eve, we want to be like God.
You might respond, “But that’s not my intent.”
We want to manage and manipulate and control everything, right?
We think all of our “busyness” will spiritually save our family … make everything perfect at church … at work … at home.
Where did we get this idea that we needed to be god to everyone?
In the garden …
From the serpent …
And we still haven’t stopped this obsession to be a god.
Case in point —
Lately, I’ve watched my life spiral out of control. My need to bear the weight of my family’s spiritual growth sometimes overtakes me.
Let me be clear: These are grown people I’m trying to spiritually care for, not young children.
I pray day and night for them as if our lives depend on it.
I wring my hands as my anxiety grows.
There is nothing my family can discuss with me without me expressing God’s will for their lives. I give examples. I warn them. I press them to read their Bible. “Pray,” I say.
Not much has changed.
I have one family member who doesn’t read the Word because of a silly notion that they have it all under control; all you need to do is think things through very carefully. You see, like Eve, they are wiser, more intelligent; they’ve got a handle on the situation.
My family’s not spiritually growing. At least, that’s my take on it.
I want to help them. I can’t. But I keep trying.
I’m exhausted all the time.
Why do I feel so much weight on my shoulders?
I’m the oldest.
I’ve taken care of them all my life.
I cooked for them. Bathed them. Disciplined them. Encouraged them. Listened to their heartbreaks. Took them in and put a roof over their head. Cried with, and, for them.
I’m convinced I must live out Christ so I don’t lose them to the evils of this world.
There’s only one problem with my conviction.
WHO. MADE. ME. GOD?
GOD IS GOD — I AM NOT!
Is there any place in God’s Word where he overloaded his people with responsibility?
Do you think Eve ever felt like making up for what she had done by trying to help her offspring stay clear of sin?
I’m sure Satan was in her ear all the time, reminding her it was a lost cause to help them, reminding her of the decision she’d made. I’m certain she battled guilt for a little while before concluding she needed to completely trust God. As her trust increased, like us, her spiritual growth evolved. Her growth didn’t leap into being. It didn’t happen overnight. It took time.
God never intended for us to take on responsibilities that weigh us down to the point of desperation or exhaustion.
Okay, but isn’t it right to be a good example for those around me?
At what cost?
Our obsession to save family is rooted in distrust and we’ve forgotten the scriptures that read:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:3-6)
My behavior contradicts God’s commands and dilutes the words of encouragement found in scriptures. Peace goes hand-in-hand with your trust in our Holy One and does not bring about anxiety.
If I’m wringing wet with sweat because fear and anxiety have overtaken me, waiting on the Lord won’t be an option for me. My fretful state will sidestep the written Word of God and increase my vulnerability to Satan’s craftiness. It won’t be long before I’m listening to the wrong voice and making the wrong choice.
A daily diet of God’s Holy Word subsides all fears.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
You and I will, no doubt, encounter every human emotion known to man, but these emotions shouldn’t be in control. No matter how you feeeeel about your circumstances, be obedient.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Another passage reads:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14)
These scriptures lay bare the true war raging in our spiritual bodies–a lack of trust and confidence. Confidence requires belief. Our beliefs are challenged by evil spirits, but these evil spirits can’t hold us down unless we loose connection with the Head (God).
I warn you! Don’t lose your connection to God.
GOD IS GOD — I AM NOT!
Remember, we are presupposing Eve is like you and me … experiencing every emotion known to mankind — guilt, shame, doubt, feeling unworthy and insignificant — all brought on by disobedience.
With that in mind, I want you to listen closely to this next scripture.
After deep meditation, it has encouraged me to make changes in my spiritual walk with the Father.
Philippians 2:12-18 reads:
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose …”
Tell me — Is Paul encouraging them to “continue to work out [their individual] salvation with fear and trembling …” or is he saying they should work out the salvation of others?
You mean, I’m responsible for me, and you’re responsible for you?
But I thought we are to be a light to the world?
Indeed, you are.
But to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling means you must go through a spiritual process (spiritual growth, if you will) on your own so your love, faith, and trust in God is forever evolving and increasing.
How do you expect to do that for someone else?
No matter how guilt-ridden Eve felt for her mistake in the garden, she, like you, had to come to realize four things:
- She must confess her sins;
- Ask for God’s forgiveness;
- Submit herself to God; and
- Remain obedient.
Notice something even more important in this scripture:
“… for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose …“
Let me get this straight — if God is working in me to will and to act, why am I so exhausted all the time?
If Moses was admonished for trying to do too much, and Moses is so much greater than I, could I learn from his mistake?
That stirs up another question: Am I in full obedience when I have too much on my plate?
NO! You are not in full obedience when your plate is too full.
The Spirit who lives in you is not one of chaos, confusion, or quarrels. He doesn’t run late or is always gasping for air. Neither will he weigh you down with responsibilities you can’t carry. And he’s sure not going to tell you to do something that’s not aligned with scripture. He only speaks what he hears from the Father.
So, what drives me to take on so much?
Too often we say, “I can’t trust anyone to do it right.” Or, “I can’t rely on anyone.” Or, “No one will volunteer.”
Trying to convince us that you’re Little Miss Perfect and nothing will go wrong if you remain in control is preposterous. Here’s the thing: you don’t really believe that and neither do we. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes things just need to fall. — Donna, how can you say such a thing? — I can boldly say this because the fact of the matter is this: GOD IS ABLE even when you are not.
We’ve all sinned.
We all make mistakes.
No one is immune.
What good is it for you to carry the weight of responsibility for someone else if they are fully capable of fulfilling their own obligation to the Lord?
How can someone gain from spiritual growth if you’ve taken away their opportunity to rely on the Father?
You’re not only hindering their spiritual growth, but you’re also stealing it. Stop being a thief!
I believe Eve was finally encouraged through God’s forgiveness and grace. She didn’t hide in a cave of depression or allow guilt to drive her father away from the Father. Yes, she wrestled with guilt, but she won the war. This woman of God went on to raise her family, live in submission to her husband, and walk in full obedience to the Father.
Let’s face it, like Eve, we make mistakes. Sometimes we head in a direction detrimental to our spiritual, psychological, and emotional growth. Some of these wrong turns have all the right landmarks to lead us home, but we fail to pay close attention to the detours up ahead. It’s not until we’ve gone too far that we realize we’ve made a wrong turn.
Many roads look the same, sisters, but they don’t all lead home.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Not long after God showed me that I was not trusting him to answer my prayers for my family, and after a tumultuous week of one family issue after another, I sat my family down and sternly told them that they needed to spiritually grow up and be responsible for their own salvation.
That was May 2021.
It’s now January 2022, and I’ve got a new issue. I’ve become a problem within the solution. Just like I took over God’s job to oversee the spiritual growth of my family, I’m also trying to take control of the solution.
Sin in the garden continues. We are in constant spiritual warfare. Like Eve, I’m trying to be like God. A war rages in all of us and we need the Father to steer our ship or we’ll loose our way.
It’s unfortunate, but opportunities to work out our salvation come during hardship. I had to bump into a wall before concluding that if I was ever going to win this battle of trying to be like God, I must put several safeguards in place.
- If my sorry does not lead to repentance, then my sorrow is worldly and it will not bring forth the godliness and holiness God desires. In other words, avoid getting tangled up in wishing and hoping and regretting what you’ve done. REPENT! Then let God fix it. Ask God to give you spiritual peace and confidence as you live with the consequences of what you’ve done. Because, believe me, there’s always consequences for our sinful behavior.
- Think twice before I act out of anger or haste. My next move can and will effect my entire family and it may take years to recover from poor decisions. Keep in mind, some family members may never recover.
- Humble myself before the Lord, pray for forgiveness–for me, and for others. (I John 1:5)
- Believe in all I ask of God.
- Consider each temptation to “fix” my family as an opportunity to trust in the One who can. This is a crucial step. Do whatever you need to do to remember it.
- Adore God. Offer praise of thanksgiving. Sing to Him. Your adoration of Him will reestablish and reaffirm your trust in the One who can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. (This is beautifully written in Ephesians 3:16-21.)
- Repeat No. 5 above.
So, what have we learned from this lesson?
- There are no substitutes for obedience. Learn from Eve’s mistake. Obey the great I AM.
- We are like Eve … still fighting guilt and shame. And like Eve, we can overcome. If Zachariah and Elizabeth can be obedient in a turbulent world and be found BLAMELESS, so can we. It’s doable. Believe it! (Read: I Thessalonians 5:23 – “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”)
- Obey from the heart.
- Mistakes aren’t the end of the world. Eve picked up the pieces, repented, trusted God, took care of her family, and lived a long full life. Eve believed and trusted God.
- Shift your focus. Work out your own salvation and pray for the salvation of others. This is worth repeating several times a day.
- At every opportunity preach the Word.
- God’s forgiveness is far-reaching, and he doesn’t forget to provide for you.
IN CLOSING, I want to reemphasize we are all replicas of Eve in some way. Our efforts to maintain a spiritually balanced life is a work in progress that won’t come to full fruition until our Father calls us home.
Please, don’t be weary. “… the battle belongs to the Lord.” (II Chronicles 20:15)
GOD IS GOD — I AM NOT!
We don’t need to carry so much weight. God is strong and powerful and able to make your burdens light.
All you need to do is PREPARE FOR BATTLE.
Buckle the belt of Truth around your waist.
That means: God’s word of Truth offers spiritual FREEDOM.
On your chest, put on the breastplate of righteousness.
That means: Guard your heart – Proverbs 4:23.
Set your feet in blocks of the gospel of peace.
That means: Be ready to preach Christ – I Peter 3:15.
Take up your shield of faith to extinguish the evil flaming arrows.
That means: Guard against doubt.
Firmly place on your head the helmet of salvation.
That means: Protect and guard your mind – Romans 12:2.
Tighten your grip on the sword of the Spirit.
That means: Hold on tight to the Word of God.
The next time you’re in the fight of your spiritual life, imagine hearing the trumpet of the Lord. Yes, imagine it.
STAND FIRM and keep your position.
WAIT! Don’t draw your sword, yet. You must wait on the Lord.
Know there’s an Army all around you.
Can you see them? (No, don’t look at me … at your family). Look Up!
The Army of the Lord is waiting for God’s command.
THE FATHER IS ABOUT TO FIGHT FOR YOU!
The Father is about to fight for you!
Did you not hear me?
The Father is about to fight for YOU!
And I guarantee, you won’t leave the battlefield with a scratch on you.
by Donna B. Comeaux
The Park Church of Christ
1The 613 by Archie Rand (11 September – 13 October 2018). Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art – James Madison University. https://www.jmu.edu/dukehallgallery/_images/000_banner.JPG
2The Political and Religious Structure in Jesus’ Time. St. Mary’s Press Essential Quick Charts: Bible Basics (2007) by Gary Dreier – 2010 Saint Mary’s Press – Living in Christ Series – Document # TX001327.
LESSON 2 has been rescheduled for posting on February 9th. Our Wednesday Morning Ladies’ Class was canceled due to inclement weather. Thanks for your understanding.