How to Be a Godly Woman – Esther’s Example

I want to be a godly woman, a woman whose life has been visibly impacted by the gospel message. This type of life brings glory to God, and that is a Christian’s purpose.

I want that for your life as well.

Let’s be women whose lives please God. Let’s be women who respond with humble obedience to the Good News that Jesus gave His life for our salvation…

Ok, whoa. Time out. Let’s stop here. This sounds great and all, but what does it mean? HOW do we live godly lives? It’s great to want to, but how do we live it out?

We’ll look to God’s word for examples.  Queen Esther, a Jew who became a queen of Persia, showed herself to be a godly woman many times throughout her story in the book of Esther in the Old Testament.

Image Credit: KnowingJesus.com

God gifted Esther with a personality and beauty that won her favor with many people she met in her life including the King of Persia, who “loved her more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight…so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen…” (excerpts from Esther 2:17, ESV)

Even more impressive than being able to make the king fall in love with her, was Esther’s faith in God. Her faith propelled her to act on behalf of her people when her uncle Mordecai discovered a plot against them. When Mordecai uncovered the plot, he shared that knowledge with Esther, asking her to go to the king and beg him to help the Jews.

Truthfully, Esther was fearful at first.  She knew that taking matters into her own hands and speaking to the king before he called for her company would mean certain death.  (There was a law that said no one, not even the king’s wives, could go to the king unless he summonsed them).  She initially told her uncle she couldn’t help.  However, he reminded her to trust in God’s providential timing and to fulfill her personal calling.  In Esther 4:14b, Mordecai points out to Esther, although indirectly, that God made wife to the king of Persia during a very specific time and for a definite reason – so He could save His children, the Jews, through her.

Image Credit: faithit.com

Esther showed herself to be a godly woman in her response to the request from her uncle.  She chose to trust God’s will for her life and to take courage and do what was right for God’s people.  She said, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat and drink for three days, nights or day.  I and my young women will also fast as you do.  Then, I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Basically, she said, “Bring it on. I trust God’s will for my life and His timing.  I choose to bloom where I’m planted.”

But seriously, this is what we learn from Esther about how to be godly women: godly women submit to God’s will for their lives, like Jesus’ mother Mary didThey also trust God’s providence and His timing, and they are willing to work for God’s kingdom in their places of influence.

Godly women yield to what God has planned for us. We say yes to where He leads us. We allow Him to carry out His will through our lives. We are productive for the Kingdom in the places God puts us. Submitting to God involves trust in who God is. It involves confidence that He is sovereign and good and just. Again, this sounds good, but how exactly do we get to this point? Pray. Ask God to help us do this. Ask God to have his way in our lives. (Then be ready to yield when He directs you). Listen. How does God respond to your request? Where does He say to go? What does He say to do? Read. Go to scripture and read about other godly women for more examples of holy living. Talk. Seek out women who are leading godly lives. Consider why you think they’re godly? What about their lives leads you to believe they are living a life pleasing to God? What behaviors do they model? Ask them to describe times in their lives when God has required them to submit. Find out what obedience to God looks like and feels like in their experiences. Respond.  Do what God directs you to do.  Live the way He has told you to live.  Turn away from the things He tells you to turn away from.  Be productive for the Kingdom of God in your places of influence. This isn’t something that will happen in a day or two. This will take repeated time alone with God in prayer and in reading His word. This will mean praying daily for God to help you submit to His will…even after you think you’ve submitted, pray each day that God will help you submit to Him that particular day. I passionately encourage you to pursue a deeper relationship with God in this way.  Submit to His will for your life.  Adorn the gospel with your behavior.  Let the world see how your faith has impacted your life.  Be joyful and act on what is right in the places He has put you. Guided Prayer: Father, Thank you for sending your Son to die for me. Thank you for making a way for me to have eternal life with you. Thank you for pursuing me and for bringing me to yourself. I want people to see that your sacrifice has impacted my life. I want people to see that you have changed me. I am your servant girl, Lord. I believe that you have me in this place at this time for a purpose.  You created me for this.  You have shown me that I can trust you. I want to submit my life to you, Lord. I don’t know what that looks like, but you do. I don’t know how to do it, but you do. Help me to do it, Lord. Help me to yield my plans and my agenda and my schedule and my to-do list to you. Make me humbly obedient. Make me your servant girl every day of my life. Amen

 

 

Thoughts – Does it say that in the Bible?  See – https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/biblical-say-bloom-youre-planted/

What If You Had Been There?

Imagine you’re Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, Mary the mother of James, or any of the woman who closely followed Jesus and were there in Jerusalem during Holy Week.

Image Credit:
WordPress Blog

Focus on Jesus, the one you followed, talked to, learned from, believed in, loved…

Now see him snatched from the garden by torchlight.

See him dragged around the city and subjected to illegal trials.

Now he’s beaten and spat on. See his bloody and broken body.

See him on the cross.

Now he’s dead. See his body wrapped in cloth and laid in a cave in the side of a hill.

All is lost. How can this be? You don’t understand. Were you wrong to follow him? You were convinced he was going to save you, but he couldn’t even save himself.

Now, the angels say he’s alive!

Now he appears before you – whole, healthy, breathing, eating, speaking!

Now he tells you to go, teach, baptize, and make more disciples.

See him lifted from the mountain and watch him be carried into heaven.

You have been saved. Everything he said is true. He is alive. He is the Christ!

Now you are sure.

Now you will tell everyone you meet about what he did to free people from sin.

Now you will live the rest of your life for him.

Then, you will spend eternity with him…

On this Maundy Thursday, spend time in quiet with Jesus thanking him for the sacrifice he made for you. If you haven’t been following along with us as we focused on Holy Week during the month of March, here are the reading lists:

What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died

What Happened The Week Before Jesus Died – Triumphal Entry

What Happened the Day Before Jesus Died

What Happened the Day Jesus Died

What Happened Three Days After Jesus Died

What Happened Three Days After Jesus Died – Resurrection and Ascension*

{If this is your first “What Happened” post, go back to the introductory post for the survey of the major events of Holy week that we’re doing together on Servant Girl Stories during March. Then, read the post detailing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Next, read the post about the night before Jesus died. Finally, read the post describing Jesus’ trials and crucifixion. After that, you’re ready for this post}.

The women find Jesus’s tomb empty. Image credit: 1stbiblical blog

As early as possible on the first day of the week, you gather with the other women to take more spices to the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed.

Nicodemus and Joseph already covered his body in myrrh and aloes before binding him and laying him in Joseph’s tomb three days ago. But the women agreed to take more spices as soon as the Sabbath was over, and you want to go with them.

One last chance to be near Jesus.

It seems right that he should be honored this way.

The sweet aroma of the burial spices forces you to confront the truth – their scent is meant to cover the stench of a dead body as it decomposes. Jesus is dead. You are going to anoint his dead body with these spices. You have helped anoint dead bodies of loved ones before, but you never really noticed how the spices smelled. Not so keenly as you do now. But the odor is overwhelming. Your eyes burn, and your nose and throat sting.

Thinking of him and how much you loved and were devoted to him, hot tears pour from your eyes again. You haven’t stopped crying since Friday. Since you witnessed his gruesome death. Something you will never forget for the rest of your life.

You still cannot believe the teacher is gone.

Quietly, you and the other women gather the spices and make your way to the tomb. You don’t look at each other. You don’t speak to each other.

How can he be dead? You ask yourself for the millionth time. How could someone that good… be gone?

On the day he removed the demons that possessed and tormented you for so long, you vowed to follow him to the ends of the earth.

You just never expected the end to come so quickly…and in Jerusalem.

“How will we move the stone?” Someone asks, snatching you back to the present.

You’d been blindly following the group in a trance of disbelief, despair, and devastation.

How will we move the stone? You wonder, your forehead furrowing. Panic begins to rise. We must be allowed to anoint his body! You think as your heart begins to race. Blood pounds loudly in your ears.

From the front of the cluster of your friends, Joanna gasps loudly and stops so quickly that Salome bumps into her and you bump into Salome. The other women behind you crowd close.

“Look!” Joanna’s voice is barely above a whisper.

Glancing past the women in front of you, you see it. But you don’t believe it. You squint and blink against the sun just beginning to rise over the tombs.

The stone has already been rolled away…

The empty tomb/Image Credit: istockphoto

Readings for the fourth week of March

*As you read each account, note similarities and differences.  How does each writer describe the events?  How are they similar and how are they different?  How do the different perspectives give you a fuller picture of the event?

**Always pay special attention to the things Jesus said/direct quotes.

***When you’re reading, try to imagine the scene in your head: see the people, hear the sounds, inhale the smells. Visualize the events happening as clearly as something you’ve witnessed with your own eyes. For example, with the arrest in the garden, see the soldiers’ torchlight dancing off their armor, hear the worried voices of the disciples as they realize what the soldiers have come to do…imagine you are there in the scene as it unfolds.

Sunday – Jesus resurrects and appears to various people. 

READ:

  • Matthew 28:1-20
  • Mark 16:1-9
  • Luke 24:1-53
  • John 20:1-31

Other Accounts of Jesus’ Appearances after His Resurrection

Optional Reading

READ:

  • John 21:1-25

The remaining 11 disciples speak with Jesus before he ascends.  Soon after that, the disciples return to the upper room (where the Last Supper was held) for a prayer meeting. 

Jesus ascends into heaven. Image Credit: pinimg.com

Optional Reading

  • Acts 1:1-14

Everything we have read about Jesus’ Passion week should point us to Jesus, the cross, salvation, and penitence. It should make it even more grateful for what he did and what it means in our lives.

During the week, reread the verses as many times as possible. Try to read them in different translations as well. Also, read commentary on these verses. Listen to them on a Bible app that will read them aloud. This will help you visualize everything and write the events on your heart. Journal your thoughts on the questions to consider above. Share our survey of events with a friend so you can discuss together what God is showing you as you pray and read.

I pray the Lord will show you something fresh in these familiar stories as you prepare your heart for His resurrection.

Image Credit: elevatechristiannetwork.com

How have you been impacted by studying accounts of Easter events in the 4 Gospels? I would love to hear about your experience reading about Easter week.

*Along with the Bible verses listed above, the following articles helped inform the narrative at the beginning of this study:

https://www.gotquestions.org/anointing-spices.html

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/678-the-sweet-fragrance-of-a-subtle-argument

https://godasagardener.com/2016/03/25/aloe-and-myrrh-wrapped-body/

What Happened the Day Before Jesus Died – Passover and Prayer in the Garden*

{Read the introductory post for the survey of the major events of Holy week that we’re doing together on Servant Girl Stories during March. Then, read the previous post – detailing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.}

The Jaffa Gate – Jerusalem/Image Credit: holy-landpilgrmage.com

Two things made it clear that the Passover Celebration was at hand in Jerusalem – extra Roman soldiers and extra sheep. The increased presence of soldiers was to quell uprisings that threatened to flare up as the number of people in the city swelled close to 2 million (and since Jesus had made his presence known earlier in the week). Pilate didn’t want to have to deal with any overzealous Jews.

As for the sheep, they would be ritually sacrificed and eaten during the Passover meal.

When Peter and John arrived in Jerusalem Thursday morning, the streets were jammed with people making their last-minute preparations for the evening’s Passover meal. With the city’s population at about 6 times more than normal, the two men were concerned they wouldn’t be able to find the place Jesus had chosen to eat the meal. He had sent them into the city early to prepare it, giving them instructions about who to find and what to say.

Fortunately, it did not take them long to locate the person Jesus told them to look for: a man carrying a water jug. This man stood out from the bustling crowd since it was usually a woman’s duty to fetch the water.

Peter and John followed the man through the packed streets until he entered a three-story house. Once inside, they greeted the owner of the house and said, “The Teacher wants to eat the Passover meal in your guest room.”

A Proposed Site of the Upper Room – Jerusalem/Image Credit: steemit.com/travel

The owner showed them up the stairs to a large, furnished, upper room. There, Peter and John began preparations for the meal.

Readings for the second week of March

*As you read the various accounts of each event this week, note similarities and differences.  How does each writer describe the events?  How are they similar and how are they different?  How do the different perspectives give you a fuller picture of the event?

**Always pay special attention to the things Jesus said/direct quotes.

***When you’re reading, try to imagine the scene in your head: see the people, hear the sounds, inhale the smells. Visualize the events happening as clearly as something you’ve witnessed with your own eyes. For example, with the arrest in the garden, see the soldiers’ torchlight dancing off their armor, hear the worried voices of the disciples as they realize what the soldiers have come to do…imagine you are there in the scene as it unfolds.

Thursday, morning – Jesus and his disciples prepare for the Passover meal in the “Upper Room.” 

READ:

  • Matthew 26: 17-19
  • Mark 14:12-16
  • Luke 22:7-13

Thursday, after sunset – Jesus and his disciples eat the Passover meal in the “Upper Room.” 

We see the Last Supper in our minds with the men sitting in chairs at a table (because this is how much of the artwork depicts it). However, the Bible describes the men as “reclining” at the table. The above image is more like how they would have sat to eat the Passover meal. This was customary for this culture at this time. Image Credit: lessonsnblessings.com

READ:

  • Matthew 26:20-29
  • Mark 14:17-25
  • Luke 22: 14-23
  • John 13:1-30 – John’s gospel does not describe the meal in the Upper Room, but it provides the only account of the Master washing the feet of his disciples after supper. 

Consider this:

  • Scripture and prophecy predicted Jesus’ death, so we know God ordered these events. However, Judas is still responsible for his part in betraying Jesus to the religious leaders (see Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22).  How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty with human responsibility – the fact that God is in control of all things, but we are still held responsible for our actions?  (Read also Genesis 50:18-21; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28, Acts 18:9-11, and 2 Timothy 2:10 for other scripture references that affirm God’s sovereign ordering of events while at the same time pointing to human responsibility for those events).

Thursday, late in the night and into early Friday morning – Jesus and some disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested.

Olive grove in the Garden of Gethsemane – Jerusalem/Image Credit: beinharimtours.com

READ:

  • Matthew 26:30-56
  • Mark 14:26-50
  • Luke 22: 39-53
  • John 18:1-12

Consider this:

  • Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ arrest give details about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.  (ESV translations are used here) – Matthew 26:37-38 describe Jesus as “sorrowful and troubled” and “sorrowful even to death.”  Mark 14:33, 34 uses the terms “distressed and troubled,” and Luke 22:44 describes him as being in “agony.”  These are strong descriptions, but maybe the original language can give us an even clearer picture of Jesus’ state of mind in the garden.  Use the Blue Letter Bible app, your Bible’s commentary or other source to look up the original Greek words for “sorrowful,” “troubled,” distressed,” and “agony” as they were used in these specific verses.  What do these words mean?  What insight do they give you into Jesus’ emotions at that point?  Why does he feel this way?
Jesus arrested in Gethsemane – Image Credit: biblestudy1.com

During the week, reread the verses as many times as possible. Try to read them in different translations as well. Also, read commentary on these verses. Listen to them on a Bible app that will read them aloud. This will help you visualize everything and write the events on your heart. Journal your thoughts on the questions to consider above. Share our survey of events with a friend so you can discuss together what God is showing you as you pray and read.

I pray the Lord will show you something fresh in these familiar stories as you prepare your heart for His resurrection.

*Along with the Bible verses listed above, the following articles helped inform the narrative at the beginning of this study:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-jesus-celebrated-passover-11555685683

https://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/Jesus%20Last%20Week%20in%20Jerusalem.htm

https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/passover-in-israel-past-and-present/

https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney1/6-jesuss-last-journey-to-jerusalem/the-last-supper/

What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died – Triumphal Entry

{Read the previous post – an introduction to the posts I’ll be sharing this month as we lead up to Easter}

It’s midday on Monday, springtime in the city of Jerusalem. People bustle in the streets, preparing to celebrate the Passover. You’ve been observing the feast your entire life, commemorating the night the Angel of Death passed over the houses of your ancestors and killed all the firstborn in Egypt.

You hear a commotion in the street ahead and follow the noise and other curious people until you come to a place where the crowd has stopped to watch a man riding by on a donkey colt. Some of the people begin waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks into the road for the donkey to walk over. They shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed if he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, ESV). Your eyes widen as you realize the man is Jesus of Nazareth! You’ve heard about his miracles and his teaching, but you’ve never seen him before.

You watch him ride slowly by and continue looking until he’s out of sight. Then, you return to your work, too busy with your preparations to realize that something life-changing is about to happen…

Image Credit: pinimg.com

Readings for the first week of March

*As you read the various accounts of each event this week, note similarities and differences.  How does each writer describe the events?  How are they similar and how are they different?  How do the different perspectives give you a fuller picture of the event?

**Always pay special attention to the things Jesus said/direct quotes.

***When you’re reading, try to imagine the scene in your head: see the people, hear the sounds, inhale the smells. Visualize the events happening as clearly as something you’ve witnessed with your own eyes. For example, with the Triumphal Entry, see Jesus on the donkey, hear the crowd shouting Hosanna…imagine you are there in the scene as it happens.

Monday, midday – Jesus enters Jerusalem.  It is springtime, and the city is preparing to celebrate the Passover.

READ:

  • Matthew 21:1-11
  • Mark 11:1-11
  • Luke 19:28-44
  • John 12:12-19

Things to Consider:

  • Why do you think it was significant that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey?
  • Some accounts say the people shouted “Hosanna” as Jesus entered the city.  Use the Blue Letter Bible app, your Bible’s commentary or other source to look up the original Greek word for Hosanna.  What does it mean?  What were the people saying?
  • What is the overall feeling of “the people” or “the crowd” (not the religious leaders) in the city as Jesus entered?

Tuesday – After spending the night in Bethany, Jesus returns to Jerusalem and cleanses the temple*.

READ:

  • Matthew 21:12-17
  • Mark 11:15-19
  • Luke 19:45-48
Image Credit: hearthymn.com

*Just a little piece of geographical information – Bethany is roughly a 2-mile walk from Jerusalem (cited in John 11:18. It would have taken about an hour to walk at a decent pace). Details from several writers show that, rather than staying in the city, Jesus went back to Bethany at night to rest. Some speculate he may have even stayed with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, his dear friends, who lived in Bethany.

{Optional Event and Reading}

Wednesday, midday – Jesus enters the temple in Jerusalem to teach and is challenged by chief priests and elders. 

  • Matthew 21:23-22:14 (Chapter 21 verse 23-Chapter 22 verse 14)
  • Mark 11:27-12:12 (see above)
  • Luke 20:1-19

Wednesday, evening – Back in Bethany, Jesus is anointed by Mary at dinner and Judas conspires to betray Jesus.

READ:

  • Matthew 26:6-16
  • Mark 14:1-11
  • Luke 22:3-6
  • John 12:2-8
Image Credit: pinterest.com

During the week, reread the verses as many times as you can. Read them in different versions of the Bible. Listen to the verses on a Bible app that will read them to you. This will help you visualize everything and really write the events on your heart.

I pray the Lord will show you something fresh in these familiar stories as you prepare your heart for His resurrection.

What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died?

The triumphal entry. The Last Supper. The Garden of Gethsemane. The illegal trial. Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

Image Credit: bible.com

It’s likely you’re familiar with the events. You’ve been to church or Sunday school or Bible school or youth camp. You’ve heard the stories. But have you ever explored them on your own? Would you like to get a fuller picture of what happened to Jesus in the week before He died and after His death and resurrection?

We celebrate Easter in 4 weeks (Sunday, April 4, 2021) , so let’s start now to prepare our hearts.

Over the next 4 weeks, I’ll post guided readings from the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – as well as questions to consider that will help you survey the events of Jesus’ Passion week – the week before he was crucified – through His resurrection and ascension. We’ll get a fuller perspective of the events of his last days in the flesh by reading accounts of the events as described in three and sometimes all 4 gospels. This allows us to do a side-by-side comparison and to contrast the information – not to find contradictions, but to give us a more well-rounded look at what took place.

Image Credit: biblegateway.com

What to do before and during the study:

  • Pray to prepare your heart. Ask God to show you new information, something you haven’t seen before in stories that are well-known.
  • Read the listed verses. (Reread if you have time). If a verse or group of verses stands out to you, make note in your Bible or your journal.
  • Study words in the original Greek that catch your attention or that you’d like to understand better using apps like Blue Letter Bible.
  • Follow the cross references listed in your Bible.
  • Read commentary on the verses.
  • Pray some more.
  • Journal about what you’re reading and learning. About what stood out that you hadn’t noticed before. Note any questions you still have.
  • If you’d like to engage with me or other readers, comment on the blog or on Facebook when I publish the posts.
  • Reach out to me personally through the blog or through Facebook if you’d like to talk about anything.

As you read the gospels remember:

  • They highlight major events in Jesus’ life as he carried out his Father’s will.
  • They are historical writings – told by eye witnesses or collected from eye witnesses.
  • Most are organized topically rather than chronologically. (This is the way many people talked and wrote at the time. They grouped events together that were similar in topic – not necessarily based on the order in which they happened. This is why events aren’t always in the same order in the different books).

{The following are short introductions of each of the four gospels and their authors. Information is taken from the English Standard Version Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible}.

Matthew

Image Credit: Steppesoffaith.com
  • one of Jesus’ 12 disciples – an eye-witness to Jesus life. Matthew saw first-hand the things he wrote about because he was there – talking with Jesus, eating with Jesus, walking with Jesus, healing with Jesus, learning from Jesus.
  • a former tax collector – a Jew by birth – would have been familiar with Jewish law, the books we call the Old Testament, etc.
  • also called Levi
  • gospel written between late 50’s and early 60’s AD (after Jesus died)
  • Matthew’s purpose in writing down his gospel was to persuade Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Events are organized topically. Matthew’s gospel is known for not having events in the same order as the other gospels.
  • Although the exact way Matthew died is unknown, it is accepted that he was martyred (died for preaching and teaching the gospel). Many accounts say he was in Ethiopia at the time of his death.

Mark

Image Credit: flickr.com
  • not an eye-witness to Jesus’ life, but a close friend and companion to Peter – one of Jesus’ disciples. Mark was Peter’s writer – he wrote down many of the letters and things that Peter dictated to him. He is mentioned in Acts and other New Testament books.
  • also called John-Mark
  • He wrote his gospel mostly for Gentiles emphasizing discipleship, having a relationship with Christ, trusting God, and letting Jesus be Lord and Savior of believers’ lives.
  • gospel written in mid-50’s AD – likely in Rome while working with Peter

Luke

Image Credit: pinimg.com
  • a Gentile who converted to Christianity (the only Gentile to write any book of the Bible).
  • originally a physician/doctor from Antioch
  • a close friend of Paul’s
  • His gospel isn’t a first-hand account as he was not an eye-witness to the events he wrote about. However, he was known to have researched by talking to people who had been with Jesus and had seen the things Jesus did during his ministry.
  • also wrote the book of Acts
  • gospel written in 60 of 61 AD in Rome at the same time as Acts was written.
  • Luke wrote his gospel for Gentiles. He wanted people to know that the Good News was for everyone.
  • {interesting side note – Luke emphasized the central role of women in Christ’s ministry – he talked at length about the women who supported Jesus ministry with money or other forms of assistance}

John

Image Credit: bible.com
  • one of Jesus’ 12 disciples (His gospel is eye-witness testimony.)
  • the brother of James – also a disciple. They were known as the sons of Zebedee.
  • known as “the beloved” and “the disciple who Jesus loved.” {side note – From the cross, Jesus requested his mother Mary be cared for by John}.
  • time frame of writing is hard to pin down – some scholars say between 70 and 100 AD. Others say between 80 and 90 AD
  • gospel written well after the other 3 – Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as the Synoptic Gospels
  • John’s gospel supplemented and complimented the other 3 gospels. His account of the events added a unique perspective and fill in other details that aren’t found in the synoptic gospels.
  • Most scholars believe John was the only disciple to die of old age although he did spend time exiled on the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel.
Image Credit: zazzle.com

I’ll send out the first official readings tomorrow evening, but I wanted to share with you an optional reading to provide some more context for the next 4 weeks of study.

John 11 tells the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. The chapter ends with the Pharisees plotting to kill Jesus as the Passover week is about to begin.

John provides the only account of this event.

How To Be A Godly Woman – Mary’s Example

I want to be a godly woman, a woman whose life has been visibly impacted by the gospel message. This type of life brings glory to God, and that is a Christian’s purpose.

I want that for your life as well.

Let’s be women whose lives please God. Let’s be women who respond with humble obedience to the Good News that Jesus gave His life for our salvation…

Ok, whoa. Time out. Let’s stop here. This sounds great and all, but what does it mean? HOW do we live godly lives? It’s great to want to, but how do we live it out?

We’ll look to God’s word for examples. Jesus’ mother Mary, called “favored one” (Luke 1:28) by the angel Gabriel when he came to tell her about God’s plan for her life, is an exemplary model of a godly woman.

Image Credit: Olivetree.com

Gabriel said, “the Lord is with you! You have found favor with God…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (excerpts from Luke 1:28-33)

Man!!! That’s some overwhelming news to get from a stranger as you’re going about your daily business.

{Plus, Mary was probably about 14 or 15 years old at the time}!

However, Mary showed herself to be a godly woman in her response to the news from Gabriel. She said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a)

Image Credit: (incourage)

Basically, she said, “bring it on. I’m gonna do whatever you say.” 😉

But seriously, this is what we learn from Mary about how to be godly women: godly women submit to God’s will for their lives.

We yield to what God has planned for us.

We say yes to where He leads us.

We turn away from the things He says no to.

Submitting to God involves trust in who God is. It involves confidence that He is sovereign and good and just.

Again, this sounds good, but how exactly do we get to this point?

Pray. Ask God to help us to do this. Ask God to have his way in our lives. (Then be ready to yield when He directs you).

Listen. How does God respond to your request? Where does He say to go? What does He say to do?

Read. Go to scripture and read about other godly women for more examples of holy living.

Talk. Seek out women who are leading godly lives. Consider why you think they’re godly? What about their lives leads you to believe they are living a life pleasing to God? What behaviors do they model? Ask them to describe times in their lives when God has required them to submit. Find out what obedience to God looks like and feels like in their experiences.

This isn’t something that will happen in a day or two. This will take repeated time alone with God in prayer and in reading His word. This will mean praying daily for God to help you submit to His will…even after you think you’ve submitted, pray each day that God will help you submit to Him that particular day.

I passionately encourage you to pursue a deeper relationship with God in this way. Submit to His will for your life. Adorn the gospel with your behavior. Let the world see how your faith has impacted your life.

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Guided Prayer:

Father,

Thank you for sending your Son to die for me. Thank you for making a way for me to have eternal life with you. Thank you for pursuing me and for bringing me to yourself. I want people to see that your sacrifice has impacted my life. I want people to see that you have changed me. I am your servant girl, Lord. May it be to me as you have said. I am blessed because I believe you will fulfill your promises to me. You have shown me that I can trust you. I want to submit my life to you, Lord. I don’t know what that looks like, but you do. I don’t know how to do it, but you do. Help me to do it, Lord. Help me to yield my plans and my agenda and my schedule and my to-do list to you. Make me humbly obedient. Make me your servant girl every day of my life.

Amen

What To Do if You Want to Hear From God

Have you ever asked any of these questions:

  • Does God have anything to say to me?
  • Is God trying to tell me something?
  • How do I know if God is speaking to me?

The short answers are:

  • He does.
  • He is.
  • Learn to hear His voice.
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Yes. God speaks to His children in a million different ways and about many different things.

Why should we care about hearing from God?

That’s easy…so we can bring glory to His name by being obedient to His will.

How do we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, when He speaks and what He says?

The answer to that question is both simple and complicated. The simple answer is – we have to be familiar with His voice.

The complicated part is HOW we become familiar with His voice. (But it’s only complicated because we make it that way).

We become familiar with His voice the same way we learn anyone’s voice: by listening to Him speak.

  • Walk and talk with Him.
  • Pray to Him.
  • Read His Word.

You probably know about those. If you’ve been to church or to a Bible study or Sunday school, it’s likely someone has told you those things. But there is another way to learn to hear from God, to familiarize yourself with His voice:

Work with Him.

That’s what Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3:1a – “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli”. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what Samuel was doing, but we know he was helping in the temple in some way. And one night, the Lord called to Samuel by name…

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I want that. Don’t you? I want to hear God calling my name. So, I want to know, How do we minister to God?

When we minister, we give help, serve, offer ourselves or our services. When we minister, we are sent to others, we supply something to meet a need, provide something, attend to someone, take care of someone, show care or concern for someone…

That tells me, if we’re ready to hear from God, we need to be in His service – attending to Him, caring for Him, helping Him. This means that we serve others. In serving others, we serve God. In ministering to others, we minister to God.

When we are God’s hands and feet in the world, when we work with Him, we will start to hear from Him. We will hear from Him and talk with Him so much, we will know His voice when He calls us.

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How can you serve God where you are right now? In your family? In your circle of friends? At your job? At your child’s school? Ask God to show you what to do, where to go, and how to minister to Him by ministering to others. Then, be ready to listen to what He has to say to you while you work.

Guided Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you for choosing me and making me your child. Thank you for desiring a relationship with me. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent your Son to die for me.

Forgive me when I don’t honor that sacrifice. Forgive me when I don’t glorify your name with my life.

Help me to bring you glory, Lord. Show me what it is you want me to do to minister to others. Show me how to care for you by caring for others. Show me where to serve. Show me where to help. Show me where to minister. I want to hear your voice, Lord. I want to be in service to you.

Amen

God Desires a Relationship

Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t figure out what. I stared at my reflection in the mirror. Furrowed my brow. Turned my face to the right and then to the left to look at different angles. Something was off…

Oh! No mascara! I’d been putting on make-up and stopped to eat breakfast with my daughter when she came downstairs dressed and ready for school. I must have stopped before I got to the mascara – the last step in the morning put-on-make-up-routine. I’m in the habit of putting my make-up on in the same order, and I guess since I stopped before I got done, I was thrown off. I didn’t stick to the routine, and it completely messed me up. I didn’t realize I missed a step, but I knew something was wrong when I looked in the mirror.

That’s how routines work. You do certain steps in a prescribed order. You follow a procedure. There’s a formula. Many routines become internationalized to the point that you don’t think about them – you’re on autopilot when you do them. Can you think of some of your daily routines that are like this? The only time you think about the routine is if you mess up somehow, like I did when I forgot my mascara 😉 Then you have to focus on the steps, really think about the procedure, to figure out where you went wrong.

Routines and rituals and procedures and formulas get us through life, don’t they? They’re helpful. They’re effective. They work. They’re safe.

It isn’t bad to have them and to use them…but our relationship with God can’t be like that. If we’re doing rituals or trying to follow a formula to get to know God, we’re going about it the wrong way. Focusing on the wrong thing. A ritual is all about the ritual. The formula is all about the steps. We’re trying to make something happen in a certain way for a desired result. When it comes to our relationship with God, though, our focus has to be on God. Who He is and what He’s done. We shouldn’t try to follow a set protocol to get to know Him. He isn’t interested in something we memorized to say to Him. He’s interested in our hearts. He’s interested in having a relationship with us. Relationships are more important to God than rituals.

Again, I’m not saying rituals are wrong of themselves. We have plenty of them in the Christian church. Tradition has its place – to help us remember. But, if all we focus on is the formula, we’re missing the friendship. If we relay on ritual, we miss out on the relationship – on the genuine, life-changing encounters with our Lord.

And I don’t want to miss that. Do you?

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