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 2 of 6
February 9, 2022
God has shown he is more than capable of doing great things through sinful people. He is magnificent, glorious, and his perfect plan of salvation reconciles the penitent to himself. His very nature exposes our sinful state. Rather than recoil at our nakedness, he lets us know Imperfections Don’t Alter His Plan to love and care for us.
Whoever he chooses to use for his purpose, be reassured no one comes perfectly packaged together.
Like us, Leah is flawed, and so is her family–parents, in-laws, grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, alike.
Inside Leah’s story are the complex dynamics of two families whose distinguishing traits are a lot like your own. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you might yearn to read a story about better people.
There are none.
Perhaps there’s a slight tendency to suggest God should have shaken his head in disgust and moved on to Plan B.
That’s not what he did.
He chose deceivers, liars, and thieves–jealousy linking these terrible idiosyncrasies together like glue.
One of the greatest lessons learned from this story is Leah and Rachel can’t sin their way out of the path God has laid out for them. No amount of bickering, stealing, manipulating, or lying can sway God from carrying out his will for mankind. Yes, some will be saved; some will be lost. After all, there are rewards for the saved; doom and destruction for the disobedient.
Like the contrast between the obedient and disobedient, there’s a striking differentiation between Leah and Rachel.
Leah had weak eyes, and from her moaning and groaning, you witness her low self-esteem. Can you blame her? She was abandoned. Chosen last. Unloved. Excluded.
Rachel was a shapely woman, beautiful, and strong–her strength very much in line with her duties as a shepherd.
Are we saying Leah’s story is all about outward appearance?
Let’s not kid ourselves. God is not shallow minded. He doesn’t make decisions based on appearance. He rightly judges the mind and heart of man.
Perhaps what we need to do is dig deeper … go behind the scenes … return to the beginning to uncover the depth of understanding necessary to appreciate what God is saying in Genesis 29-31.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …
He made every kind of animal, beast, creeping things, and fowls of the air … male and female he made them … commanding all to populate the earth after their kind.
In the beginning …
One Wife. For Life.
Let’s imagine Leah whimpering, praying, and crying out to God for love. Share in her agony as travelers enter her father’s home, sitting around a fire, everyone ignoring her. Leah’s tendency to shy away goes unnoticed. Excluding herself from decisions is never questioned. To please his guests and attract a husband for his daughters, Laban sends for Rachel, insisting she lay down her staff and leave her sheep to serve his guests. He’s assured the men will cast flirtatious glances at Rachel, but she is not interested and serves the men in haste.
Once Jacob arrives, everything changes. Rachel is smitten by his presence. So is Leah. And before Leah has a chance to showcase her domestic abilities to make blankets and cook stew, Jacob watches Rachel’s every move. Leah sulks. Wishes she was as beautiful … as strong … as pleasing to the eyes as her sister.
Somewhere deep in her gut, life for her has ended. The handwriting is on the wall. Jacob will marry Rachel, taking her away and leaving Leah to her hopeless end. She’ll never marry. She will die a lonely death while weaving blankets for her father … while cooking for her hungry brothers … while thirsting for what she can never have–a family of her own.
When Jacob asks for Rachel’s hand, it stands to reason that Laban had to meet with his daughters to share his deceitful plan to marry Leah to Jacob. How else can this deception unfold? This didn’t happen in a vacuum, right? They had to know. They know the scheme is wrong, and Leah had to feel bad about it. What is she to do? Entangled and sucked into a web of right and wrong, there’s something about her father’s devious plan which prevents her from speaking up. The lie they’ve woven will help her escape the void in her life … that emptiness too deep to touch … too large and all encompassing to grasp. This chance at marriage is the glimmer of hope she desires. Taking a stance for truth will leave her wanton, and any hope for a family will be wiped out.
Against her better judgment, Leah says nothing to her father; less to her sister; her familiar look of timidity masking fear eating away at her soul. Her hands tremble as she fastens her earrings. Her knees weaken as servants tug and meticulously wrap scarves around her waist. It’s a struggle to be joyous while preparing for her wedding … Rachel’s wedding. Hard to ignore the tears puddling in her sister’s eyes.
She loves and hates her so.
At this moment, Leah loves Rachel more than ever. She’s drawn to memories of her teenage sister looking up to her … how she taught little Rachel to weave her first blanket … how she watched the toddler’s first reaction to stories of Noah and the Ark … how she rescued her baby sister from a snake which had made its way inside their home.
Leah bit the inside of her lower lip, releasing a salty, metallic pool in her mouth–a reminder of what she was about to do to her sister. She can no longer look at Rachel who is on her knees smoothing Leah’s garment. “Don’t give in,” Leah says to herself. “This is my only chance. Rachel will one day marry. She’s strong. An excellent shepherd. Beautiful. Men love the sight of her. Even in simple wedding clothes, she’s more beautiful. I’m nothing. If I wait, there won’t be a second chance for me.”
So, beauty and hate, like vinegar and oil, separate these two, and Leah digs in deep to claim the day as her own. During the wedding ceremony, through her colorful veil, Leah sees the joy in Jacob’s eyes, hears the laughter of satisfaction in his voice. On their marriage bed, she’s pleased with his satisfaction, his declaration of love, his promise to give her children.
But during the night when Jacob has long gone asleep, Leah remains focused on the sound of sheep off in the distance; highly alert to movements across the land; skittish with the uneasy stillness that comes later in the night. Desperately, she pines for the darkness to remain, to veil her, unrelenting to the dawn. It seems like moments after their wedding daylight bursts forth and snatches away every ounce passion. Harsh rays of light begrudgingly reveal a stark reality, one she will not soon forget. Something bitter, and rotten, and foul is about to unfold. Suspicions of a boisterous uproar is about to disrupt her joy, and never ever will it return to her again.
Unexpectedly, Jacob stirs. Reaches for his bride.
When he discovers the family’s deceitfulness, Leah is forced to accept the awful consequences for her failure to speak truth. She’s convinced it is punishment … a death sentence as her father declares Rachel will marry Jacob at the end of Leah’s bridal week. Out of all the possible repercussions from her deceit … their deceit … this is the most dreadful.
Unable to contain her anger, many heated battles with her sister ensue. Tearful days elongate sleepless nights. Nothing pacifies the loneliness which finds a home in the center of Leah’s soul. Nothing soothes her longing for Jacob.
If I’m writing this script, which I’m not, I think at this point I’d get out my red pen and do some heavy editing to recast these misfits. They are not turning out to be good examples of God’s people. In my mind, they ought to be law-abiding followers, anxiously waiting on God to unfold his plan, and less tempted to take the bull by the horn.
However, if they followed my idea of how they should conduct themselves, I’d be pulling the log out of their eyes and keeping it wedged in my own.
What are we to do when we encounter people like this? People like us?
If that’s the case, I should be the first to go.
I’m just like them.
And so are you.
God is a stickler about his commandments. Wouldn’t you if you had taken the time to sit on a mountain with Moses to write each and every law? He didn’t write these laws for his good pleasure. He wrote these laws to keep you from harm and to reconcile you to him. He’s also a stickler about how we treat the weak and feeble; the old and frail; the lost and abandoned. God did not like Jacob having more than one wife. And neither is he pleased with Jacob’s favoritism toward Rachel.
Yet, he doesn’t rewrite either of their stories. He allows their deceitful ways to play right into a script he’s already read.
He sees the whole picture.
What appears right and good, pure and perfect can often be misleading. The opposite is also true. What seems dysfunctional, ill-fitted, and misaligned can be the very thing God uses for his purpose.
Let’s look at a video clip to prove my point.
[NOTE: Begin video at precisely 4:27 minutes; end at 5:35 minutes. Return to the beginning of the video and run for 35 seconds.]
(This video is having issues pulling up. Just click on the link above to get to Youtube to see it.)
If you saw Itzhak Perlman (It Zok) on the street for the first time, your first reaction would be, “Oh my, that poor man.” But as you watched him on this video, in his element, unaware of his physical limitations, you immediately expected a grand performance from a well-fitted individual. It wasn’t until you watched him struggle to get seated that you gained a new appreciation for what he “can” do with that tiny violin, rather than what he “couldn’t” do with his legs.
Imperfections Don’t Alter God’s Plan. They ENHANCE THEM. REVEAL them. EXPOSES God’s greatness, power, glory, and goodness.
Leah isn’t looking at what God can do for her. All she sees is what he’s “not” doing. She doesn’t have the love of her husband or the comfort of children to sustain her.
Like for so many of us, there’s a large schism separating Leah’s feelings from spiritual reality. She’d rather focus on her hatred toward her sister than find hope in God’s promises.
As a result, the rivalry between these two sisters is unleashed with fury. Their love for Jacob puts them at odds with one another and increases their determination to win their husband’s affection.
We quarrel with one another because we are struggling to measure up. Our comparisons to one another grows out of control. We’re blinded and unwilling to recognize that every single time you align yourself alongside another imperfect individual, the result is a slightly curved measuring rod. No matter how much you tap that yardstick to get it straight, that curve remains.
Because: Imperfection + Imperfection = Imperfection
We create quite a bit of misery and trouble for ourselves when we choose to live a life based on our comparisons to someone else. And let’s not ignore the hatred and bitterness soon to follow.
Spiritual truth is this: God turned Leah and Rachel’s fierce competition into a blessing. He wasn’t pleased with the way they behaved. He didn’t like it. But he wasn’t confined by it either.
Months after God opened Leah’s womb, she became a delighted and proud woman. She now had bragging rights.
She names her firstborn, Reuben, then says:
“… because the Lord has seen my misery.” (Genesis 29:32)
She conceives again and names the second child, Levi, and says in deep agony:
“… for surely my husband will become attached to me now.” (Genesis 29:34)
Can you hear the desperation in Leah’s voice? She has two healthy sons, children she always wanted, and she’s still not happy.
The third time Leah conceives she names her son, Judah, and declares:
“This time I will praise the Lord.” (Genesis 29:35)
What has happened to Leah?
She changed her focus — from Jacob to God. Though this transformation took some time, Leah continued in her spiritual growth.
Whining over Jacob’s inability to love her was getting Leah nowhere. She turns to God, her everlasting peace … the one who does not fail her … the one who truly knows and loves her.
Why didn’t Leah turn to God four sons ago? Think on this for a moment.
It’s true–Leah was never favored by Jacob. She lived most of her married life selling and buying back the services of a husband who didn’t affectionately love her.
I can’t imagine coming to you and using a cake of figs or a roasted lamb, or mandrakes to bargain for my husband’s bed for the night. That’s just crazy to me. God’s original intent has always been “one” wife for life. If he wanted man to have two wives, he would have made another woman to work alongside Adam and Eve.
And mandrakes? What in the world are mandrakes?
Let’s take a look at this video.
In this video, you can see mandrakes are fleshy, green-colored (unripe) berries that have an outward texture a lot like a nectarine. They are barely two inches in diameter. They grow from September to April and bloom glossy green and violet flowers. They have medicinal benefits: alleviating stomach ulcers, colic, constipation, asthma, hay fever, convulsions, arthritis, whooping cough; trigger vomiting, sedate, reduce pain, jaundice, inflammation, varicose veins, depression, spasms, arouse sexual desire, and controls maniacal behavior (wild or maniac).
Their roots are a lot more interesting than the edible fruit. The roots and leaves are poisonous. In ancient days, witches and sorcerers boiled the roots. This sweet-smelling root is intoxicating, having aphrodisiac and hallucinating properties often used to charm or stimulate fertility. In other words, it’s a modern-day Viagra, of sorts.
If you wanted to exhibit more sinister behavior, all you had to do was pull up the root, rather than WAIT on God, boil these roots, and allow their narcotic properties to intoxicate your victim.
Could Leah and Rachel have done such a thing? It’s not too far-fetched. They are idol worshippers, and there’s no telling which idol practices they used to sway the outcome they desired. They are bent on having the attention of their husband who is about 84 years old. We know from their bickering back and forth that these two women would have gone to any length to have children. When they couldn’t or didn’t have babies in a timely manner, they concluded God needed extra help, using their handmaidens to do just that–Help.
Help, however, was not what God wanted.
He wants OBEDIENCE. If that means WAIT on the Lord, then I suggest you WAIT on the Lord. Otherwise, like Leah and Rachel, you will cause yourself a lot of heartache and misery.
Flawed people have flawed thinking, and each time we try to lend God a hand, we end up making a mess of things. It doesn’t occur to us to be still. What seems sensible and right to us is far from what God intended.
Why didn’t Leah turn to God the moment her father concocted his deceitful plan against Jacob?
Why are we flawed in this same way? Something to think about.
Many years pass and everything has changed. Jacob’s family has grown. His flocks have increased as well.
Strange how that happened.
Laban, the mater of trickery, convinced Jacob to continue to work for him, and as payment he’d give him all black, spotted, and striped sheep. On his way home, Laban must have laughed his head off and called Jacob an idiot. Over ninety percent of Laban’s flock is white, and the ten percent that were blemished he separates from Jacob so they can’t be accredited to Jacob as his own. Let me be clear — Laban was bent on having Jacob start with nothing and end with nothing. Laban is absolutely sure God is blessing him as long as Jacob stays with him, and Laban plans to milk this train for as long as he possibly can.
God, however, saw Laban’s crafty ways. What Laban didn’t know was he couldn’t out-fox the Father.
When the sheep come to drink water from the well, Jacob would strip slivers of bark from poplar, almond, and plane (sycamore and chestnut) trees, creating a striped pattern in each of the branches. He’d place them in water, letting the healthy and strong ewes eat the twigs and drink the powdery substance that emitted from the twigs and into the water. To distract the healthy ewes, he faced them toward the blemished sheep who also came to drink water from the same well. The blemished animals served as a distraction for the healthy ewes who drank from the trough. While drinking from the trough, male sheep came from behind and mated with them.
This passage puzzled me, so I dug deeper to find the answers to my nagging question: Why is Jacob putting striped twigs of poplar, almond, sycamore, and chestnut trees in the water?
Poplar, almond, and plane (chestnut and sycamore) trees have medicinal value and are known to cure inflammation, uterus infections, promote health and fertility, and fight off infections. During a scientific study, scientist separated sheep equally, feeding half the sheep with the medicinal properties found in these branches; then feeding the other half of the sheep with regular feed. The sheep fed with the medicinal properties from the tree branches increased in weight, were healthier, and produced more multiple births (twins) than the sheep who were not fed with the medicinal properties of the trees.
To this day, the medicinal properties found in these trees are used to feed sheep and other animals.
Does this mean God did not miraculously increase Jacob’s flock?
Of course not.
Keep in mind God used the wind and fire to hold back Pharoah’s Army and to keep them from killing the Israelites. God used creepy things to pester the Egyptians. He can use anything he chooses to attain his goal. He’s God of the universe, over the living and the dead, over the firmaments and the earth.
Jacob eventually sees there’s no end to his uncle’s dishonesty. He’s ready to go home, but patiently waits for an opportunity to escape.
By early spring, the time is right.
It’s sheep shearing time.
Let’s look at this video clip on sheep shearing.
Begin video at 4:05 minutes.
Laban has an enormous herd of sheep, and Jacob calculates sheep shearing will keep Laban and his servants busy for several days.
Sheep shearing season is a festive time of year. People all over the region come to settle debts and celebrate their profits. The wool is sold, but some is set aside to be cleaned and woven into blankets, clothing, and saddles. Women were busy extracting lanolin from the wool, carefully placing it in jars to later use it as moisturizers to be sold at market. Revelry and boisterous laughter are heard throughout the city, along the hillside, as everyone is in high spirits because of the profits they will receive from the wool. Marriages are hastily conducted. Slaves steal off in search of freedom.
It’s a great opportunity to get away.
Because Laban has an enormous herd of sheep to be sheared, Jacob concludes he’ll be long gone by the time Laban realizes he and his family have escaped.
And so it came to pass that Jacob left Laban’s household.
There’s a penalty for their dysfunctional behavior?
A stressful family unit.
Jacob doesn’t appreciate Leah for many years. Her beauty never intensifies. He could no more expect Leah’s beauty to increase any more than we can expect Itzhak Perlman to walk without crutches. Matter of fact, we appreciate the violinist even more because of his handicap.
Despite all this, Jacob is blessed. So is Leah.
What does Leah’s blessings spiritually mean?
Though Leah wasn’t Jacob’s first choice … though he made her feel abandoned by favoring her sister, Rachel, God remembered and blessed a whole nation through her.
God never forgets the abandoned.
Reminds you of what verse?
“So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16)
Take a look at us … here at this church. We are a big congregation. Not as big as some mega churches, still we’re large in number.
Here you sit. One of many. A dot. Insignificant. Nameless.
And yet, God knows you by name.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
In the beginning, I’m sure Leah felt like you … like she was left on an island.
See, if you believe you’re on an island, then you’ll act as if you’re on an island.
It all begins with our belief system and our daily interaction, or the lack thereof, with the Father. If our spiritual belief system is not strong enough, our potential to spiritually fail goes up. We act as if we need to be cornered with no way out before we look UP in search of God. We have this tendency to converse with everyone on the planet, seeking help by any means necessary until we exhaust every avenue available to us before realizing the Father knows us best … before realizing all we need to do is ask him for what we need, then wait on him.
Your belief system is like a battery. As long as your battery is charged and in good working order, you function just fine. If you stray away from the Word, your spiritual battery is slowly sapped of energy.
Get in the habit of checking your spiritual charge, or you’ll wake up one day and not know or understand how you fell in the pit.
On some level, Leah finally understood the Father loved her.
How? How did Leah know God loved her?
Since her trickery has whittled down and she’s had all the babies she can have, there’s no need to compete with her sister anymore. At some point, Leah became wise, slowed down and focused on matters of importance–spending time in contentment with God and being thankful.
Leah had a lot to be thankful for.
This is Leah’s real story.
From this woman’s womb, a nation was born.
The bad things that happened to her and by her did not negate God’s love for her.
She was abandoned AND God blessed her.
She was unloved AND God loved her.
She was alone AND God gave her six sons and a daughter to raise.
God even made provisions for Leah’s burial.
Rachel died first, while giving birth to Benjamin and is buried beside the road to Ephrath (pronounced–Eff wrath), which is called Bethlehem.
Leah dies later and lays in a burial place Abraham bought from Ephron, the Hittite. Before Jacob dies, he instructs his sons to bury him next to his wife, Leah.
Did you hear that?
Think on it.
Before Jacob marries Rachel, he marries Leah, first. A week after he marries Leah, he marries the woman of his dreams–Rachel. Out of tradition and hardship, come a blessing.
Here at this place, you might be unnamed. You might feel insignificant among these massive amount of people, but you are not forgotten. You are not being ignored. God sees and hears and knows your pain. He feels your loneliness.
We may feel left out, but IT’S A LIE! Don’t believe it. You are a child of the King. You are not forgotten. You are not less than anyone else. You are not more than anyone else. You are included. Set aside your worldly status, your financial gain, your emotional turmoil, your neglectful parents, your bullying co-workers, and your abusive spouse, and reflect on God’s truth–
“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 43:4-5) [Emphasis mine.]
Don’t be fooled: your real family are those in the body of Christ … those in heavenly places … those who are at rest waiting for your arrival.
Don’t allow your circumstances to define who you are, but rather who you belong to. You were bought with a price. Don’t waste his blood. Let it cover you … drench you … pour all over you. Allow God’s grace to be active within you. Do not fight the Holy Spirit. Obey him. Listen to him, for,
“He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come.” (John 16:12-13)
Leah was not perfect.
GOD IS PERFECT.
Not one speck of darkness can be found in him. He’s come to save us and cover our sins … to clothes us like he clothed Adam and Eve.
Think on this:
Above the Ark of the Covenant is the Mercy Seat (the lid), and underneath the Mercy Seat are Aaron’s staff, tablets of the Ten Commandments, and bowl of manna. God is hovering over the Mercy Seat and a law we could not keep. Without Christ being the Mercy Seat, we are forever separated from the Father. But Christ as the Mercy Seat is our perpetuation — our go-between to get to the Father. Come to God’s Mercy Seat. Give up your manipulative behavior, your white lies, and your bad attitude, your political view, and everything that separates you from Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the saints. Come rest and let God’s Mercy be enough.
We can’t perfect our way out of our struggles. Imperfections Don’t Alter God’s Plan for you.
IN SUMMARY, what have we learned?
- Our failures have no power over God’s purpose for our lives.
- We are to be in full obedience to our Father, but dotting every “I” and crossing every “T” shouldn’t be our full focus. We are not called to legalism. The Mercy Seat — Jesus Christ covers our failures.
- Sharpen your listening skills. By listening to the Holy Spirit, you are reassured he will “never” steer you wrong.
- Don’t minimize God’s power to miraculously turn your plans into a blessing.
- Though most of the time we make choices according to the flesh, God is not confined by them.
Father-God, help us to listen … to really listen to the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. We know you love us, but we often need to be reminded just how much you love us … how you continue to sacrifice for us. Help us remain OBEDIENT and walk in your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Donna B. Comeaux
Another woman out of billions who love 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.
WOMEN OF THE BIBLE
January 2022 – May 2022
It’s been two long years. Too much death. Too much confusion. Too much heartache. Too many outside noises disrupting my spiritual peace.
I want a new beginning. For that to happen, I must get rid of my god-complex.
You see …
I’m a deep thinker. I don’t take things lightly. Don’t know how. I’m serious most of the time. Sensitive. Always problem-solving. Always gathering information from what’s going on around me. Proactive most of the time. If I miss something, as I often do, it’s because I’m focused on a perplexing issue I must get under control. (OUCH! There it is! That god-complex again. We’ll discuss this later.) Needless to say, I like puzzles–piecing unfamiliar things together as if I’m smart enough to see the whole picture. I also love wearing four different hats at once. BUSY.Busy.busy is the name of the game, right? I enjoy finishing your sentences—even if I do so inside my head. But I like surprises. Love giving.
Am I saint?
Because God constantly cleanses me from my sins and purges me from my egotistical attitude … humbling me … warning me that he’s the one who planned out my salvation … not the other way around. He tells me through his Word — I AM. NOT. HIM.
I’m not, you know.
There’s only one God.
And I’m not him.
Like Eve, I want to be. I want to be one step ahead. I want knowledge. To be “in the know.” I want to scold and manipulate and correct and encourage to the nth degree so people will do what’s right. Did you catch that narcissistic need to control? I wear myself out trying to be what I’m not—perfect. I know I can never do enough … that my works won’t get me near the heavenly gates. I’m in a terrible predicament. I want to save the world, but sometimes find myself bumping into walls and unable to find a way out.
I thought I knew it all. I thought I was GOoD. I never used that exact language, but the end result to my pathetic and vigorous struggle speaks louder than words. (If you don’t believe me, count the number of times I’ve used “I” in this blog.)
Recognize my dilemma? Flesh v. Spirit?
Why does everything need to center around me?
Why can’t I be more like Christ? To serve rather than be served?
It’s a battle, isn’t it? Flesh v. Spirit.
We all fight it.
How did this fierce war for our souls begin?
It first occurred in the garden … initiated by the serpent … the evil one.
How do we win the war?
GET EQUIPPED for it. Put on spiritual armor and prepare for war.
We don’t sit in a corner and pretend we are not in the fight for our spiritual lives. We don’t cry day in and day out and do nothing. We don’t wave our hands in despair, as if we have no hope.
We prepare for battle, STAND OUR GROUND, and FIGHT.
- Know the scriptures one chapter at a time.
- Surround yourselves with god-fearing people.
- Know your weaknesses because the enemy sure knows them.
- Pray without ceasing.
- Obey. OBEY. OBEY. Scriptures were not written for entertainment. They were written to reconcile you to God and encourage you to stay in the fight.
Beginning Wednesday, January 19, 2022, we will study WOMEN OF THE BIBLE here on my blog.
This study is a repeated lecture from our Ladies’ Wednesday Morning Bible Class which I will co-teach every two weeks through May 4th.
I will pull back the curtain and help you imagine standing in the middle of the ancient world to experience what these women went through. By doing this, you will quickly discover they were no different than you and me. Their lives will provide more encouragement than you ever imagined. I will dig deep and ask thought-provoking questions in hopes of getting you to self-reflect—to take inventory of your spiritual walk with the Lord and seek his guidance to get closer to him.
Prepare your hearts and minds by reading scriptures on the following seven women:
January 19th Eve
February 2nd Leah
February 16th Abigail
March 2nd Gomer (through Hosea’s eyes)
March 23rd Mary, Mother of Jesus
April 6th Anna (the prophetess)
April 20th Woman at the Well
May 4th Summary of what we’ve learned
At the end of this written lecture, there will be a section for comments. Feel free to express your likes and dislikes about the lecture. I will use the information as a learning tool to improve my lectures.
More than ever, we are in for the fight of our spiritual lives. Time is growing short for the evil one and he’s desperate to snatch us from God the Father. At the very least, he’s determined to make us miserable (diseases, heartache, disappointment).
DON’T LET HIS TACTICS WORK ON YOU!!
“… If God is for us, who can stand against us?” (Romans 8:31)
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
Together, we will encourage each other to stay in the fight.
After all, in the end, we know who wins!!
by Donna B. Comeaux
one of many women who love the Lord our God
December 30, 2021
***More details will be given in the first lesson to help equip you for this spiritual battle for our souls.