Honor vs. Shame – The Woman

      Searching His Word
       Seeking His Heart

We thought about shame and honor last week in the incident with Jairus, the synagogue ruler. Right in the middle of that situation came a woman who had had a bleeding problem.

Jesus is already on his way to the house of Jairus, but the woman follows close behind in the middle of a packed crowd. She is sure that if she can just touch Jesus the healer, maybe she will be healed of this terrible condition that has plagued her all these years.

At last she finds an opening, reaches out, and touches the edge of his robe. Instantly, she feels something stir inside her body, something warm and healing. She feels a surge of energy that she hasn’t felt in years. As she moves back away from the crowd; her spirit soars in gratitude.

Suddenly, Jesus stops and looks around.

“Who touched me?” Luke 8:45

Peter points out that many people are all around him, pressing in to follow him, but Jesus is emphatic.

“Someone has touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.” Luke 8:46

(This is the only time that Jesus makes such a statement recorded in Scripture.)

For twelve years the woman has dealt with this bleeding problem.  She has suffered weakness, separation from her family, and community shame. The law declares that no one is to touch her or anything she has touched. It is as though she’s like a leper.

No doctors have been able to help her, and she is depleted of what little resources she has had.

Her great joy in being healed turns to fear as Jesus questions who touched him. Should she slip away and hide? Should she freeze and wait for him to move on?

She decides that she must confess what she has done and falls trembling at his feet. Her story rolls out as she describes her years of agony, pain, and defeat, but the victory of Jesus’ healing.

Jesus lifts her up and says,

“Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48

Jesus has brought honor as he acknowledges the faith of this shamed woman, even as he is on his way to help a prestigious man of the community. Jesus lifted her from shame to honor. Wouldn’t we like to know the “rest of her story”?

Have you ever done something you’re ashamed of? Perhaps you were intentionally unkind or made sinful decisions. Or perhaps, like this woman, you endured an incident that was not of your own making. Or perhaps you suffered from a family relationship.

Jesus has the power to forgive, heal, and restore. He wants more than anything to find you reaching out in faith. He will take your hand and lift you from shame to honor. 

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying unto you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'” Isaiah 41:10

Reach out to Him today.

~ Joyce ~

 

Honor vs. Shame – Jairus

     Searching His Word
      Seeking His Heart

In the last three weeks, we have been looking at the way Jesus included women: in His teachings, in His parables, and in His healings. These male/female incidents were brought to my attention in a recent Bible study about “Jesus and Women” by Kristi McClelland.

In our western world, we think right or wrong. We weigh things on the scales of justice, a horizontal outlook, so to speak.

In the eastern world, they have a vertical outlook, shame vs. honor. In that context, Jesus practiced biblical justice which happened when the honorable reached down to the shameful and restored their honor—vertical thinking.

Let’s watch Him do this with both a man and a woman in Luke, chapter 8.

Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum, is in distress because his twelve-year-old daughter is deathly ill. Some of Jairus’s friends are not too keen on Jesus and His teachings. Were they among those who peered in on the dinner at the house of the new convert, Matthew? Perhaps one of them had ridiculed Jesus for eating with “sinners.”

Jairus is desperate for his ailing daughter. He has seen and heard about the healings of Jesus, and so this heart-sick father, this important community figure does the unthinkable. He falls at Jesus’ feet, pleading for help. How shameful.

Jesus prepares to go with Jairus when He is interrupted with another emergency (which we will cover next week.)

Just as Jesus is again ready to proceed with His trip to Jairus’s house, someone (maybe one of the disapproving leaders) comes from Jairus’s house to report,

“Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” Luke 8:49.

Ouch! How cold and calculating that feels. Sounds like they’re thinking Jairus’s pleading and bowing has put him to shame. Let’s shame him some more.

Jesus gives encouragement to Jairus.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Luke 8:50

When they arrive at the house, flute players are playing their nasally mournful tunes, neighbors are hovering about, and the hired mourners are wailing in loud shrills. As Jesus and Jairus make their way through the noise and confusion, Jesus commands them,

“Stop wailing. She is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. Luke 8:52

I find this astounding. These fake mourners go from wailing to laughter and ridicule within a moment.

Jesus proceeds into the house and heals this beloved daughter.

Let’s not miss the fact that while Jairus showed humility and belief, he had been laden with shame from his friends and neighbors. In justice and righteousness, Jesus reached down to lift Jairus from shame to honor. 

Let’s take note that He can do the same for you and me. We can be weeping in our worlds of discontent, anxiety, indecision or whatever brings us to our knees. When we humble ourselves before Him, the Lord can lift us up out of the murky clay and bring us to a place of honor in his sight.

May it be so for you today.

~ Joyce ~

 

Male/Female Parables

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

In a day when men so dominated, Jesus spoke to them but also acknowledged the needs and thoughts of women. Let’s consider some of his parables.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were picking at Jesus with many complaints. 

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2

This was a left-over complaint from the time Jesus had eaten at Matthew’s house with Matthew’s “sinner” friends. The idea of witnessing to the lost did not seem to be a concern for these law-abiding, self-satisfied leaders.

Jesus told them a parable.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? . . . he says, ‘rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep’. . . in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons. Luke 15:3-7

Immediately after that illustration, Jesus taught with another parable. This time he addressed the women in the crowd. Imagine how their ears must have perked up.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and looses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully for it? When she finds it, she says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is rejoicing of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

On another occasion, some were complaining that while John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples often fasted and prayed, Jesus’ disciples did not fast. Jesus said,

“Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them; in those days, they will fast.” Luke 5:34-35

In other words, no need to put the old ways on the new thing that God is doing through his Son. Think of it this way,

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins.” Luke 5:37-39

The men were aware that new wine must ferment which makes the skins expand. If you put new wine in old skins that have already expanded, the wine will burst open the old skins. New wine, new skins, new ways.

And for the women in the crowd, Jesus gave another parable.

“No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one.” Luke 5:36

The women knew that the old cloth would easily rip away and certainly wouldn’t match! No, Jesus had come to bring new thoughts, new ways of looking at things, deeper concepts, loving hearts, and they were not to be cluttered with old dictatorial thinking. 

Once again, he spoke to all, acknowledging even the thoughts and concerns of women—elevating them from a place of shame to a place of honor.

And he continues to reach out to us all, male or female, rich or poor, timid or social, plain or beautiful. He brings honor to our servant hearts.

~ Joyce ~

Healing – Men and Women

 Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

We continue our search into the way Jesus was fair in his dealings with both men and women—rare indeed in a day when women were basically second class citizens.

Early in his ministry, Jesus began healing people with diseases and maladies of all sorts. One day, as Jesus amazed them with his teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum, a demon-possessed man stood up right in the middle of Jesus’ message. The man cried out at the top of his voice,

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Luke 4:34

Jesus dealt firmly with the situation.

“Be quiet! Come out of him!” Luke 4:35

The evil power of the demon threw the man down and left him. Now the people were amazed, not only with Jesus’ teaching, but also with his power and authority.

In the next verses, Jesus leaves the synagogue and goes to Simon Peter’s house. His mother-in-law is suffering with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her.

So he bent over her and rebuked the fever and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. Luke 4:39

Soon, people were lining up to seek healing on into the night. You can bet that included both men and women.

Our second paring comes in chapter seven of Luke. By this time, word of Jesus’ healings had reached many ears, including that of a Roman centurion. The beloved servant of this centurion was sick and about to die, so the centurion sent word to Jesus asking him to heal the man.

When Jesus had walked part way there, the centurion sent a message saying he was not worthy for Jesus to come to his house,

“. . . just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Luke 7:7

. . . Jesus was amazed and said, “I tell you I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Luke 7:9

(Only twice does Scripture record Jesus being “amazed.”) When the men returned to the house they found the servant well.

Immediately after this happening, Luke records that Jesus and his followers went to the town of Nain. They came upon a funeral procession. The young man in the coffin was the only son of  a widowed woman.

When Jesus saw the mother—

. . .  his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Luke 7:14

A wealthy Roman soldier and a poor widowed mother, a demon-possessed man and a feverish mother-in-law, male or female—the thing Jesus saw was their need.

Do you have a need for healing? Physical healing? A spirit that has gone stale? A mind that is confused? A heart that is breaking?

Perhaps like David, you want to pray,

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows the way. Psalm 142:3

~ Joyce ~

 

Biblical Men/Biblical Women

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

As we look through the Scriptures, we see that it was definitely a man’s world. We will see in the next few blogs how Jesus raised women out of their lowly estate to give them value. Coupled with that, we will see how the Mid-Eastern mind works compared to our Western mind.

You will be amazed at how Luke couples a man’s experience and a woman’s experience in many of his accounts. You will likely know these stories, but like me, you may not have seen them as two in one.

It starts even at Jesus’ birth. You may remember in my recent Christmas blogs how the angel Gabriel came to both Zechariah and to Mary.

Gabriel is named only in the Old Testament book of Daniel and here in Luke. To Zechariah he says,

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, . . . Luke 1:19

Then to Mary.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth . . . to a virgin pledged to be married . . . Luke 1:26-27

God sent his great warrior angel to an old faithful priest, but also to a young simple maiden. Both had a major role to play in God becoming man. One would sire the forerunner and the other would bear the Savior.

Move forward forty days after Jesus birth. Mary must go to the Temple to offer sacrifice for her purification. Being poor, her offering would be two pigeons or two doves.

Mary must also present her baby to the Lord, as it is written in the Law—

“Every first born male is to be consecrated to the Lord.” Luke 2:23

Now we meet our next pair, Simeon a priest and Anna a prophetess. Both are older; both have longed to see the Messiah.

It had been revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. On the day Mary and Joseph came to the Temple, Simeon felt compelled to go to the Temple courts. As he lifted up 40-day old Jesus, the Spirit of God fell upon him and he declared,

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.” Luke 2:29-30

84 year-old Anna had a seven-year marriage until her husband died. She spent the rest of her years at the Temple worshiping night and day, fasting and praying. She stepped into this scene precisely when Simeon made his declaration.

. . . she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38

No doubt this gave Mary much more to ponder in those early days.

So from the beginning, we see men and women playing important roles in the life of Jesus.

Male or female, what is God’s role for you this week? It will not likely be as dramatic as these, but He has plans for all of us. Don’t miss your opportunity! 

~ Joyce ~

 

 

Tandem Bike Story

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

As we pedal into the new year, I thought this story I resurrected from my files would be a perfect beginning. Enjoy!

The Tandem Bike Story (Author Unknown)

  At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited Heaven or Hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I recognized his picture when I saw it, but didn’t really know him.

  But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike; and I  noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.

  I don’t know just when it was He suggested we change places,  but life has not been the same since I took the back seat to Jesus, my Lord. Christ makes life exciting. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

  But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, through rocky places, and at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, “Pedal!”

  I was worried and anxious so I asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand.

  He took me to people with gifts that I needed,  gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

  I did not trust Him, at first, with control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly through scary passages.

  I’m learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places; and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful companion, Christ. And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says . . . “Pedal!”

Hmm, there’s that matter of trust. It seems that the Lord has had to bring that topic around to me yet again this year. How many times must I relearn? So I turn once again to one of my favorite life verses—

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Let’s go on a bike ride!

~ Joyce ~ 

JOY – the Shepherds

    Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Shepherds? Dirty smelly shepherds? What are they doing in this story of the birth of the Son of God? After all, they’re not even fit to testify in a court of law.

Of course, Temple leaders were glad to purchase their sheep for Temple sacrifices—and earn money in the process when they sold the sheep.

Yet, these keepers of the flocks are the very ones to whom the angel appeared to bear the news of the Savior.

Imagine the shock of those shepherds when they were aroused by the brilliant light of the angel on that dark, sleepy night. Like other angelic visitations, the shepherds were startled.

“Do not be frightened,” the angel said. “I bring you good news of great JOY. Today in the town of David [Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

“Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah.” This is big stuff, my friends. The shepherds may not have been learned men of the ancient texts, but they did know what this meant.

Now just to make a more human connection for them, they were given a sign to help them see for themselves. (Note—it was not the star. That was given to the Magi.)

“You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

As if they weren’t totally awed by this angel, a heavenly host of angels appeared, filling the skies with more brilliance, declaring their praise to God and peace to those who believe.

We don’t know if the angels suddenly disappeared or flew away a few at a time. But when they were all gone and it was a dark night again, I wonder if the shepherds sat stunned for a few moments wondering if they really saw what they thought they saw. 

A light bulb may have flipped on in one of their minds as if suddenly remembering the sign. “Let’s go down to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” Imagine their hearts pumping as they took off in a run.

Where would they go? I’d say manger to manger, looking for a baby. No one else would put a newborn in a feeding trough. So, if they found a baby in one of these stables, that would definitely be the one.

When they tip-toed quietly into the stable, they told their story. This wasn’t the dazzling JOY they had experienced on the hillside. No, this was heartfelt, fall-to-your-knees kind of JOY that brings tears to your eyes.

They left the stable and spread the word of all the things they had seen and heard.

. . . and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:18

God sent the news of His sacrificial lamb to the shepherds of lambs. Years later, Jesus declared himself the good shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

The shepherd to lead you, the sacrificial lamb to save you. Blessed be his holy name. Merry Christmas.

~ Joyce ~

JOY – the Angels

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Let’s contemplate JOY among the angels. We’ve already been introduced by name to one angel—Gabriel. 

Gabriel is named only in one other book—Daniel. There, he interprets Daniel’s vision of things in the future. Michael is another named angel. Many other angels go unnamed in Scripture, but we hear of most of them as messengers throughout the Old and New Testament.

Only one angel appears at first to the shepherds. That alone would be overwhelming out in the field at night to these simple men.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:9

Perhaps God reasoned that one angel would be all the shepherds could manage at first. Even then we see the Lord’s glory emanating from the angel. I’m picturing a glow or some kind light.

As usual, when an angel appears throughout the birth story (and the resurrection account), the angel has to give assurance.

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Luke 2:10

Yes, joy for all the people around Bethlehem: great joy to the people who would be told about this in the surrounding area, and great joy to all Christians down through the centuries. 

The angel goes on to share that the Messiah, the long-awaited promised one, has finally come and the angel even gives a sign to the shepherds. (Next week!)

At this point something even more dramatic happens. The angels of heaven have known about this for centuries. Perhaps they, like many ancient Jews on earth, had long anticipated this grand event. And now, at long last, it has come to pass. 

This, my friends, calls for great celebration! A great host of angels make their appearance perhaps filling the sky over that hillside in Bethlehem. If one angel exudes glorious light from the Father, can you imagine the glow of a myriad of angels?

This host of angels is called army of angels in some translations. You do know that angels are not little fairy-like creatures. Some say  “saying” and some say “singing praises.” Two things are quite evident in their declaration. They are praising God (as they do regularly) and they’re announcing that peace has come to those who believe in this Son of God.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

One week to Christmas. Are you at peace in this busy week? Steal away. Join the angels JOY. Sing praises and allow His peace to flow through you. He will bless.

~ Joyce ~

JOY – Mary

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Today we will seek to find JOY in Mary’s life. Watch for the emotions she goes through.

Mary has been betrothed to Joseph, but is still living at home with her parents. She is a small town girl from Nazareth. 

For the second time, Gabriel appears. (See Joy – Zechariah and Elizabeth) He says to Mary,

“Greetings, you are highly favored. The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

As with others who have visitations from angels, Mary is “greatly troubled” by his words. So Gabriel says,

Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. Luke 1:30-33

Oh, my, that’s a lot to take in. She will have a child and he will be great.  Does she understand the other things from hearing her father talk about the throne of David and the house of Jacob?  Is she thinking prestige? Is she feeling honored?

No. I think we can say she is “confused.” She is still stuck on the first thing Gabriel said. Her question?

“How can this be since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

The angel explains,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

Does she understand that this is the promised one, the Messiah? Maybe. Maybe not, but it is an answer to her question. (Notice that Gabriel did not reprimand her question as he did with Zechariah. She was not doubting or asking for proof as he did.)

Gabriel goes on to say,

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37

Mary seems “resolved” at this point. She answers,

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38

Mary has been fearful, troubled, confused, and resolved. What questions plague her now as she is alone again? How will I tell Mama? Will she believe me? And do I even dare tell Papa? What will Joseph think? Will he disown me? Will I be stoned?

Mary travels all the way to Judea to visit Elizabeth. When she arrives, Elizabeth says,

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is the one who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:42, 44-45

I believe it was then that the Spirit filled Mary with JOY! She burst forth with a song much like Zechariah. Her words are in Luke 1:46-55.

As we wade through our life emotions, may we come to celebrate the coming of God in human flesh with JOY!

~ Joyce ~

JOY – for Zechariah and Elizabeth

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

As we approach Christmas this month, we will look for those who found JOY.

Zechariah and Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah, had reached old age without a child. Why think of them at Christmas? Their story sets the stage in Luke’s gospel.

Zechariah was born of the the priestly line, so twice a year Zechariah and other priests in his division took a turn to spend one week in Jerusalem. They did jobs in and around the Temple, cleaning the brass bowls and gold cups, etc. One of their group would be chosen by lot to enter the holy place.

On this occasion, Zechariah was chosen for this distinct honor to supply the incense before the morning sacrifices and after the evening sacrifices.

When he walked into the holy place for his special duty,

. . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. Zechariah was startled and gripped with fear. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and a delight to you, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Luke 1:11-15a 

The angel also said that this son was to take special Nazarite vows and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. He will bring many people back to the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah! Wow. Surely this made Zechariah rejoice with gladness. But, with doubt, he asked the angel,

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18

The angel let Zechariah know right away who he was talking to.

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to tell you the good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words.” Luke 1:19-20

The people outside were wondering why Zechariah was in the holy place so long. When he came out, he gestured trying to tell them what had happened. They realized he had seen a vision. 

We aren’t told Elizabeth’s immediate reaction, but we can imagine her great JOY after all these years of wanting a child. Obviously something miraculous had taken place. 

After she gave birth, the people assumed they would name the baby after his father. “No!” she said. “His name will be John.” The people questioned Zechariah. He wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.”

With that declaration, that obedience, he immediately was able to speak and he praised God. His JOY burst forth into a song, the words recorded in Luke 2:67-79.   

 When John grew to become a man, he was known as John the Baptist because he preached repentance and baptized many. He proclaimed the coming of the Messiah.

~ Joyce ~