I love the Bible. I love to study it. I love to be changed by it.
I am linking up today, a day late, with the fantastic (and disciplined) Kelly over at Mrs. Disciple. Really. She is amazing.
Today’s Yesterday’s Friday Five was 5 Favorite Bible Stories. I had soooooo intended to get this done yesterday, but then I accidentally took two Tylenol PM’s instead of regular Tylenol, and my afternoon was a little fuzzy.
But Kelly is grace personified, and she won’t mind if I finish today.
So, here I go.
1 Kings Chapter 22. A few years ago I wanted to get to know Elijah and Elisha. We dug into 1 & 2 Kings at Tuesday Night Bible Study. During that time, I “met” Micaiah, son of Imlah.
This section of the Bible is heavily influenced by the evil King Ahab and his notorious wife Jezebel. In 1 Kings 22, Ahab (King of Judah) is partnering with Jehoshaphat (King of Israel) to try to defeat Aram. Before they go into battle, they ask the prophets if it is wise. ALL of Ahab’s prophets of Baal were celebrating and predicting victory. But Jehoshaphat asked if there may be just one prophet of the Lord to ask.
Ahab’s response to the question is his life’s motto: “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.” 1 Kings 22:8. (Say it in a whiny, petulant “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT” voice. It helps.)
Evil is defined as anything Ahab doesn’t like. Sound familiar?
Micaiah, after being told to just agree with the other prophets, doesn’t. He tells Ahab the truth: not only will he lose, but he will die if he proceeds.
Ahab, true to his character, tells his guards to throw Micaiah into prison, feed him bread and water sparingly, until he (Ahab) returns from battle. As if threatening the prophet with discomfort would change God’s truth…
Micaiah says, “‘If you indeed return safely, the Lord has not spoken by me.’ And he said, ‘Listen all you people.'”
I love this because:
- God’s truth is not validated by people’s belief. It just is.
- Those who hear it spoken are marked by it, whether they want to be or not, and should pay attention.
- He is unflinchingly willing to pay the price for his belief. There is no wailing or gnashing of teeth recorded.
Spoiler alert: Ahab died.
Philippians 4:2-3. In this tiny little passage, “I urge Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are also in the book of life,” is me.
I am Euodia. Or perhaps I am Syntyche.
I humbly acknowledge that my history is speckled with conflict, often in serving the Lord. Women can be so hard.
And I am a woman.
This little ditty in the New Testament gives me hope because:
- Conflict happened THEN! WITH PAUL’S PEOPLE!
- Paul does not take sides or belittle the women. He encourages people to help them be united.
- Paul edifies and validates them, as women, in service. I believe the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, values women.
- Their conflict, according to these verses, does not erase them from the book of life. Whew. That’s a good thing for me.
Life is messy, even when the apostle Paul is personally involved.
Numbers Chapter 16. If you were to ask me why, Biblically, I am a complementarian I would not refer immediately to 1 Corinthians or Colossians. I would pour us each a cup of coffee and open the Bible to where it tells us all about Korah’s rebellion.
The Tabernacle had been finished. Each of the twelve tribes of Jacob had been assigned places and responsibilities for God’s house. They had been counted. (Except for the tribe of Levi. God said not to count them.) They were no longer slaves in Egypt, but were also not in the Promised Land.
If you browse the chapter titles from Exodus to Numbers 16, there are some indications all was not going smoothly. “The People Complain”, “The Quail and the Plague”, “The People Rebel”, and “Moses Pleads for the People” just to name a few. Change is hard.
Chapter 16 opens with this: “Now Korah…took action.” Rising up in anger before Moses, complaining that Moses and Aaron gave themselves the “unique right and responsibility to represent the people before God, exalt[ing] themselves.”-John MacArthur. Korah, as a Levite, already had significant responsibilities in/for/with the Tabernacle, but wanted to be a priest.
Priesthood was designated for the line of Aaron. (Numbers 3:10)
Korah found others who were angry at Moses for other things and incited a revolt, convincing people that God had given the better thing to other people.
Korah’s rebellion did not end well for Korah. He and his compadres were swallowed up by the earth and taken to Sheol.
Uhhhhhh. No thank you.
Do I believe that God has given the better thing to men? Or do I believe that God has given a different thing to men, in order to prevent chaos?
Whenever I begin that conversation in my head…“so and so has something better; God gives these people more,” I try to remember how dissatisfaction and comparison worked out in Numbers Chapter 16. Then I reaffirm my trust in God, remembering that mine is the responsibility to do what He has given me well, and not to worry about what He has given anyone else.
It doesn’t make me less than anyone. It just makes me, me.
Satan bugs me. Several years ago, I went through a very difficult time in ministry. Conflict abounded. I loved how I was serving, but not the person over me in service.
I was learning more than ever and bonding with women as we had real, deep conversations about applying God’s truth to living daily life. But the fiery darts rained down endlessly; I was constantly jumping through hoops in order to maintain a place in ministry.
I hated it.
It was during that time that Luke 31:22-23 was seared into my soul:
Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
That situation did not end well for me. After I left, it did not go well for the people left behind. Sometimes Satan gets a victory.
That verse reminded me that Jesus was still on my side, and that sifting actually separates the wheat from the chaff. It results in a higher quality substance.
I turned again. I am encouraging my sisters. And Jesus is still on my side.
The 3:16’s. One of these days I will teach a Bible Study on the 3:16’s. John 3:16 is the most widely known Bible verse, but the rest of them are really, really good as well. Genesis 3:16 is pretty key to the whole story, but I am going to focus on Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
This verse terrifies me in a holy way. I don’t ever want to be lukewarm. It is also followed, in verse 19, by, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
Whenever I am spiritually tepid, I know I need to start with repentance.
I am exceedingly grateful for God’s word and how it is radically revolutionizing my life…these are just 5 ways of the many with the promise of more to come.