Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Week Nine - The Vamp

Beside the Well
    As securely as Ruth is an example of the one-in-a-thousand good women, Delilah stands as the diametrical opposite.
    I’ve seen these women, haven’t you?  Those who seem bent on using their feminine wiles to destroy men, to create gain for themselves, or to have power?
    We see them in movies, on political stages, and in our communities.  It creates such shame in my heart when I see them at work.  I am most alarmed, however, when I see men goggling along behind them either enamored by their looks or too afraid to oppose them.
    Let’s look for just a moment at their ploys.  Like Delilah, they use looks to allure.  They appeal to a man’s need for appreciation bolstering his self-image.  Then, with tearful pleading and persistent nagging, they get their agenda completed.  They are deceitful and vexing but, just as in the case of Samson and Delilah, they seem to have a captivation that keeps their true motivations hidden until it is too late.
    Not only can we read of Delilah’s example, but another interesting study is the Lord’s description of the daughters of Israel in Isaiah 3: 16-26.  Here the Bible goes into detail painting a picture of brazen women who use their feminine wiles and fashion to justify their haughty, prideful lifestyle. 
    Then, if you take time to read the description of the daughter of the King in Psalm 45:9-17, you will see another picture of feminine beauty.  But this woman, who is “all glorious within,” is praised and blessed forever.
    Do you see two differences?  The heart attitudes are different.  One is full of self and pride, the other is one of honor and joy.  The outcomes are different.  The daughters of Israel had a great time dressing up and showing off, but because their agenda was one of rebellion, it came crashing down under God’s judgment.  The daughter of the King also dresses beautifully, but her agenda is one of honoring her father and considering others around her.  Like Ruth, she receives the promise of generational longevity.
    When we read the story of Delilah, I think we see that her heart attitude is one of pride and self-centeredness.  She has a hidden agenda and uses her wiles to destroy Samson. Most likely, she, too, perished that day in the fall of the coliseum.
    I think Delilah’s story warns us about using deceit to accomplish our goals.  I don’t want to be the type of woman who uses all sorts of tricks to get my way.  I want to be honest and upright.  I want to be a person who can be trusted and not one with a hidden agenda.  I want my example to be a shining light for those coming behind me.
    So, that means keeping a check on my goals.  I look to see that they are not self-seeking or about gaining power or recognition.  I listen to hear the Spirit’s warning signals and re-direct my expectations to come in line with God’s word. I want to be honoring to the Lord and uplifting toward others in my family and relationships.
               Which type of woman do you want to be?  A Delilah or a Ruth?  What type of woman do you want your daughter to be?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Week Eight - Straight Out of a Movie

Beside the Well

     The story of Rahab reads like a movie script.  Spies, a threatening army, fear for family safety, and a courageous act all make for a most intriguing plot.  It’s a mix of a thriller and a rags-to-riches story.  But I doubt Rahab saw it that way!
     While her profession as a prostitute may have put food on the table, she risked her life and well being in such a career. But also, it put her in places to hear secrets and know the movings of the city. 
      No doubt she had heard of the exploits of the Israelites.  She might have even encountered the earlier spies as they searched the land.  She had probably heard how the Jordon had opened for them to march into Canaan. She may have been told of this strange group of escaping slaves observing the Passover in the plains of Jericho for the past forty years.  And, no doubt, she was aware of the impending attack and saw the fear that gripped the leaders of Jericho as they shut up the city.
     Rahab, a woman very capable of taking care of herself, refused to allow the situation to cause her to resort to tears and fears, as Lynn Cowell said, “Rahab put down doubt so she could pick up faith.”* She started making moves to come inline with the great God she had heard so much about.  Instead of cowering, she rested her cause in the God of the Israelites.  You can almost hear her saying to herself, “Who knows but that He might have mercy?” Eventually, her act of faith saved not only herself, but also the spies, and her extended family.
      It makes me wonder.  What do we do when faced with fearful things?  Do we hide in doubt cowering and crying because we don’t know what to do?  Or, do we pick up faith and bring our emotions and actions in line with God?
     Rahab’s decisions placed her into the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, but we must remember—there was no Hebrews 11 when she put down her doubt and picked up faith.  She moved forward with nothing but a knowledge of the God of the Israelites.  And God honored her faith.  He will honor yours as well.   How does your script read?

*(, Sept 25, 2017)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Week Seven - Gail-eeze

Beside the Well

           I have always had a bad habit of reversing my words or saying right when I mean left or up when I mean down.  Sometimes use the wrong name of a town or the wrong time when giving instructions.  I’m a mess!  My husband and children have learned to speak Gail-eeze.  But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when I am trying to get something across and then realize I have been using the wrong descriptive word.  I lay it down to a touch of dyslexia, but as I get older, I fear dementia!  Oh, that will drive us all crazy!
               As we think about Hannah today, I believe we can feel her frustration as she pours out her heart before the Lord in words she cannot even utter aloud.  In great anguish of soul for the persecution she was enduring and her deep desire for a child, she kneels at the altar knowing God is her only hope.
               Then, the priest comes with a snide comment that must have cut her to the quick, “How long have you been drunk?  Stop drinking, woman.”
               Immediately defending herself and trying to explain the misunderstanding, she feels dismissed as the priest replies, “Go home.  God will answer your prayer.”  He didn’t even ask what that prayer was.  He didn’t seek to give her comfort or encouragement, just a curt comment, which I believe was his pat answer.
               But God answered her prayer and brought it right back to the priest when she showed up a few years later to keep her vow.  Don’t you think Eli wished he had paid more attention years ago?  His sons are grown, and now he has a small child to raise in the temple.
               One of the comforting things about Hannah’s story is that she seems to hold no resentment.  She was content to have given birth to Samuel and willing to keep her vow.  Her prayer in chapter two of 1 Samuel is a beautiful expression of her confidence.  “There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee; neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2). 
               Hannah’s confidence was not in Eli, it was in God.  Though man misunderstood her; God understood her heart.  He knew her sincerity and her need.
               That tells me that even when I don’t know the words to pray, even when my heart is broken, even when I think I’m not making sense, the Holy Spirit will interpret for me.  That is exactly what is promised in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
                I’m so glad God speaks Gail-eeze!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Week Six - Something Worth Seeing

Beside the Well

             Ruth’s name means worth seeing.  I love that definition because it reminds me of the worth in Ruth’s story.
               But before we look at Ruth’s life, let me drift away for just a bit.  One of the saddest things I read in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 7:27-28, “Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.”
               And what does that mean?  One Bible commentator said Solomon was looking for someone who could help him in his search for satisfaction.  He could only find one man in a thousand, but he never came across even one woman who could provide the fulfillment for which he was searching. 
             Another commentator made note that Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines, so he interprets the verse to say that none of his wives brought him fulfillment. 
               Charles Swindoll says, “Perhaps the reason this occurred was because his preoccupation with sexual intimacy robbed him of the opportunity to experience the deep joys of marriage with one mate.”  (p 73, Living on the Ragged Edge, Charles Swindoll)
               For whatever reason, Solomon found it hard to find the Proverbs 31 woman his mother described.  She set the bar very high preparing her son for seeking a wife.  I don’t know of any woman who meets all those standards without exception, including myself.
              However, though Solomon said a good woman was hard to locate, our Lord made sure to record several in Scripture.  Elizabeth, Mary, and Priscilla, to name a few, all point us to the qualities necessary as women of God.  Qualities like faith, submission, obedience, and service revealing that the Proverbs woman can be alive not only in the women of the Bible but also in us today.
               Ruth is another of these women worth seeing. In her story, we read of a young Moabite girl who fell in love with the God of the Hebrews and behaved herself wisely in every instance.  Though she had been widowed at a young age, desperately poor, and a stranger in town, God moved in a miraculous way making her a progenitor of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He found her worthy.
               “Lord, let me be that one in a thousand.  May I be found faithful and live a life worth seeing; bringing honor to Your name.”

NOTE:  As I start 2019, the blogs in Beside the Well, are a collection of excerpts and thoughts from my forthcoming eBook, Bible Women.  I hope to have it ready later this year.
               The book will be a more complete study of the twelve Old Testament women from these 2019 blogs.  There will be a basic textual chronology and devotional thoughts, but also an outline with Scripture references for those wanting to use them for study or teaching.
               Please pray with me as I work toward this completion. I’d encourage you to go to the Beside the Well blog site and become a follower, so you don’t miss out on any news!  and please share the blog with those around you!