Isaiah 1 Part 1–Isaiah the Prophet

When my mom would get really mad at me for some behavior, I displayed; she would make a statement that was crushing, “This is not how we raised you!” As she compared my life to the standards and actions, she thought important–I not only failed to measure up, but, my actions did not even vaguely resemble the behaviors of what I was taught. Isaiah opens his book of prophecy with a Father’s message to Judah.  The message was that simple, “You look nothing like the chosen people that I freed and gave the land.  What is worse, you look more like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
 
Not a great way to start a discussion.  As Isaiah proclaimed from God–“Dumb oxen know their masters. Donkey’s know where they live and to whom they belong!  Sadly, you do not even pretend to know you are a chosen people; you are sinful through and through.  This is not an error in judgement or a behavioral mistake–You have simply walked away from your heritage. 
 
The result, you are laid to waste, your lands are laid to waste and your nation is laid to waste. What a waste!
 
For us, look at our nation. It sadly looks nothing like what was intended by our founding fathers. From an outside view, you cannot even recognize the heart of the nation. We have become like every other society that fell into disarray. We have minimized God, family and selflessness and replaced it with materialism, selfishness, distrust, and dissention. We look nothing like the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” 
 
Like Judah, we are laid to waste, and our land is laid to waste.  We need to repent, humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways. There needs to be a priority on getting unity back into our country, after all, we are the “United States of America.” 
 
It starts in our individual lives and slowly works its way out.  As we become others focused, the behavior spreads.  Then, before you know it, people care for each other, and those issues that divide can finally be addressed with reason. 
 
Only then, will we as a nation begin to look like the people we were raised to be.
 
God Bless You

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

The Wickedness of Judah

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children[a] have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.

Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.

If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching[b] of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

2 Kings 20 Part 2–Who Cares What Happens–After I’m Gone?

After his healing, Hezekiah was feeling great and confident in his kingdom.  God had promised him 15 years of life and protection from the Assyrian attacks.  So, when the Babylonians sent Him a get-well gift and came to visit, Hezekiah was more than happy to show them all around the kingdom, the armory, the treasury, and the temple.  So, when Isaiah asked the king what the Babylonians saw of the kingdom, Hezekiah told him they saw and know everything about the kingdom.
 
Isaiah told the king that because of the king’s willingness to give unfettered access to foreign spies, the kingdom would be carted off to Babylon and some of his very own kids and grandkids would serve as Eunuchs in the Babylonian King’s palace. 
 
The reaction was amazing, Hezekiah was pleased. WHAAAAAT?!? Hezekiah responded–that is good, because won’t there be peace and security in my lifetime! Hezekiah was not concerned about the foolishness of his actions; he was clinging to the promise that God was going to give him 15 years and peace and security. In this king’s mind, after he was gone–who cares.
 
We must not be concerned about our own interests; we must also care about the interest of others.  Hezekiah was focused on Hezekiah and really did not care about what happen outside of his interests.  He was proud to show off His kingdom and He was desolate about his illness.  There was no desire to prepare for a coming invasion or to train his successors to trust and follow God–so they could also live under God’s protection.
 
As we review our lives, let us not only focus on our needs and concerns; but, let us focus on those that we touch and those that come after us. Paul said it best, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2 3-5
 
God Bless You

12 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness. 13 Hezekiah received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the fine olive oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”

“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.”

15 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”

“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 18 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

19 “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”

20 As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 21 Hezekiah rested with his ancestors. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.

2 Kings 19–Please Welcome Isaiah

The prophet Isaiah is first mentioned in the Bible as the Prophet during the reign of Hezekiah.  Hezekiah was a good king that sought the Lord.    In this story, foreign kings are plotting the invasion of Jerusalem.  Hezekiah calls upon Isaiah to pray for them and to seek God’s will regarding the battle.  Isaiah had been in the role of God’s prophet for 40 years by this time.  
 
Interestingly, Hezekiah was seeking God on behalf of the people not on his own behalf. Also, Hezekiah was angry that the foreign king blasphemed God–not that the Kingdom was at risk. So, he sent the note to Isaiah to pray for the people.  Isaiah did as he was asked; but he also quickly reassured the king that God, not the armies of Hezekiah, would defeat the foreign king.  
 
It had to have been difficult to be God’s man in a Godless kingdom.  Most of Isaiah’s service was just that. He began after the death of Uzziah–a great king that ended very poorly as a Leper and outcast. and served 4 kings, and dying at the hands of Manasseh, a very evil king.   Hezekiah was the lone king that sought the Lord and, as such, he had a great reign. Isaiah a prophet for 40 years was glad to serve him and glad to pray.
 
In our world, we are asked to serve God whether conditions are ideal, or they are not.  Our responsibility is to seek the Lord in whatever circumstance and follow His lead. In this journey, we need to stay focused upon who we are in Christ, and whose we are in the light of eternity. We need not be strong and then give up at the end–like Uzziah, nor do we need to ignore God and take control of our own destiny like the other kings.  We, like Isaiah and Hezekiah, need to seek God and allow him to battle for us.
 
God Bless You 

When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore, pray for the remnant that still survives.”

When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”

Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall

20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the Lord has spoken against him:


22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers
you have ridiculed the Lord.

25 “‘Have you not heard?
Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
into piles of stone.
26 …

27 “‘But I know where you are
and when you come and go
and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me
and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
by the way you came.’

29 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:

“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.

“The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

32 “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria:

“‘He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it.
33 By the way that he came he will return;
he will not enter this city,
declares the Lord.
34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’”

35 That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

Numbers 11–Do not worry Joshua; God’s Got This

One great attribute of a loyal leader is that leader’s faithfulness in all circumstance.  The people of Israel were simply wanting a variety of food.  Manna was growing old.  Now, not having personally tasted manna, it is hard to explain its flavor, texture or nutrition.  Suffice it to say, it was sent by God–so, it had to be good.  What’s more, these folks ate it for 40 years–daily, so I am thinking it was pretty tasty.  In today’s adventure, however, the people were sick of Manna, sick of Moses, and sick of following.  So, Moses asked God for meat, and he asked God for help.  
 
God told Moses that he would give the people meat and he would set up elders for Moses.  70 men were chosen as elders and anointed with the spirit of God to help Moses lead.  2 of the men that were appointed  went off on their own and started prophesying calling attention to themselves.. Joshua, Moses assistant heard of the two men and ran to Moses to warn him of these men’s attempt to call attention to themselves. Joshua was afraid they would take over the leadership of the people.
 
Moses calmed Joshua’s fear.  In effect Moses said, “Joshua, Do not be jealous of others for me–God appointed me and as such, I have nothing to fear–and neither do you.  When God puts a leader in place, it is God, and not men, that control the length and tenure of that leader.  What a great lesson for Joshua.  He would have to face many situations where his decisions would be unpopular.  He could do so knowing it was God and not the people that decided who and how Israel would be led.
 
As we lead in our lives, we too must understand that God and not man controls the world.  In dark days like these–we have to remain confident that God will bring us through. It is not the politicians that will carry the day; and, we need to grasp that.  Time will bear out that all the loss and sadness of these days will prepare us for the days ahead. If we will seek the Lord, He will give us what we need to make it past this period, and on to the next adventure.  We cannot fear for our leaders, we have to simply trust our Lord.  Moses understood that and taught the principle to Joshua. That is what made Joshua a confident and amazing leader.
 
God Bless You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone. 18 And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?”’” 21 But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ 22 Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?” 23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”

24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.

26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

2 Kings 5 Part 1–Just Trust God and Do What He Asks

Elisha the pragmatic prophet…The king’s mighty warrior Naaman was a leper, So Elisha told the leperous warrior to go and dip 7 times in the Jordan. He had no agenda, he wanted nothing in return and gave a straight forward direction for a complete cure.  Namaan was so mad. He wanted pomp and ceremony.  He wanted a fuss. So when Elisha gave a direct cure–Namaan griped until he completed the task and was cleaned.  He was then very pleased and grateful,  But, again, for Elisha it was all in a days work.
 
The great lesson of Elksha was that he did not do God’s work for any reason other than to please God.  He did not need stuff, he did not seek fame.  His reward was to honor God.  He had Elijah’s power and then some. He had already raised the dead, feed the hungry and now healed a leper–it always was simply to honor God.
 
If we could follow the Lord, selflessly as Elisha did–then we would see God do amazing things; and we could take joy in seeing God being honored.  We can be sure that God will be honored, and He will bless his chosen.  We must only walk humbly and seek Him. The Lord will make sure we are exalted in His time and in his way.  We can never outgive God or out honor Him. The more we try, the more He  will blesses us. Elisha’s servant failed to see that, He became greedy and paid a huge price.  It is critical for us to simply trust and follow the Lord. If we will, we can rest assured that God will bless us mightily.
 
God Bless You

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

I Kings 4 Part 1–Elisha Highlights God’s Provision

I love Elisha’s style. A widow approaches Elisha.  She is completely distraught. Her husband died and left her poor and in debt.  Her creditor was in route to take her sons in payment for the debt as slaves.  She was heartbroken, hopeless and completely without options…well, except one. She came to God’s man and told Elisha her trouble and need.  Elisha, the pragmatic prophet, went right to work–“Go get all the jars you can put your hands on. Do not be shy and do not be lazy. Ask everyone.”  She does as he told her.  She gathers jars and jars.  He then tells her to take the little olive oil she has, and start filling the jars.  She does.  In that moment, God provides an ulimited supply of oil.  She continues to pour until the last jar is copmpletely full.  Then the oil stops flowing.  Elisha then tells her to sell the oil and pay the debts. Then use the rest to live from then on.
 
Once again God shows His miraculous ways in very simple fashion.  There was no pomp or ceremony. Elisha did not demand a special recognition or sacrifice.  He simply led the woman back to the provider and her faith caused an amazing thing to occur.  In that, she was saved and her family was kept in tact.  We need to have that same faith that looks around, assesses a situation, and allows God to do what he does best–protect, prepare and provide.  There need not be any drama, ceramony or special recognition–only the faith to ask God for our needs and then the faith to trust Him to provide.  Elisha never had a doubt and the widow would never doubt again that God does provide.  We need to have that saame faith and confidence–God will provide, that is simply who He is! Jehovah Jirah.
 
God Bless You

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

Esther 4 Part 1–Esther Wants to Help

When Esther heard that her uncle was trapesing around Susa in Sackcloth and ashes, well, she was beside herself. Afterall, He was the uncle of the queen–that was not proper.  From Esther’s perspective, things could not be better.  She was in love, with a King who loved her and had made her his queen. Once an orphan now the 1st lady of the Persians.  What she did not know was that her entire nation had an expiration date, thanks to Hamaan.  An irreversable law was in place that allowed for the genocde and looting of an entire people. Her hubby signed that law into place, without even knowing it affected his new queen.  She sent her best protector to help her poor crazy uncle, but what she would soon learn would turn the world upside down.
 
Our lives touch so many others. We cross paths daily with those who we affect without even trying.  We must stay sharp, seek God and be prepared to intervene with prayer, encouragement, our skills and our wallets to assist those that are in a struggle. If, however, we are blind to what is going on, we may miss the opportunity to turn the world upside down.  That is why we must remain ready to give an account and be ready to serve. God is always there and will prepare, protect and provide for what we need to fill that role.  Help me Lord to be sensitive to my opportunities to serve.
 
God Bless You

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Ruth 1 Part 2–How We Define Ourselves

One of the most difficult disciplines in life is the discipline of definition.  Each day, when one awakens, he/she is given the opportunity to define himself/herself.  Some define themselves by their appearance, others by what they have accumulated. Many, however, define their lives by the circumstances that they face.  Naomi was a woman that loved God.  Yet, life had dealt her a very difficult hand.  She lived in a foreign land, she lost her husband and her two sons.  She had two daughters-in-law that she cared for, but needed to send away–simply because she could not care for them.  Ruth, one daughter-in-law refused to part; and so, the two returned to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the women of the town asked is this Naomi (Pleasant)? Naomi replied, DO NOT call me Naomi (pleasant)…call me Mara (bitter).  Naomi had grown bitter under the weight of the circumstances.
 
In truth, it is very difficult to live a life that rises above one’s circumstances.  Day-to-day events and interactions often fill our thoughts and determine the paths that we take.  Once we are in a relationship with God, however, the Holy Spirit allows us to rise above our circumstances and become defined by who we are, and whose we are in Christ Jesus.  The apostle Paul told the Philippians, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance that I am in. Well-fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13. The Father knows the plans He has for us. Jer 29:11. He is never surprised by trials or tribulations. He provides the grace, strength, and direction to face what lies ahead. If we will trust Him, lean into Him and follow He will navigate us through life’s difficulties. Then, when we arrive on the other side, we can look back and see His fingerprints on each step along the way.
 
God Bless You

 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning

I Peter 3 Part 1–Wives and Husbands

Truly one of the most important roles in life is the roles we lead in marriage. Peter discusses the roles in a very specific and direct way.  First, he talks about how critical a wife is to the spiritual condition of her husband and of her family.  Peter tells wives that their respect for their husbands could be the greatest evangelistic tool in their toolbelt.  Men who see Christ in the lives of their wives are more apt to seek him.  In addition, as he talks about wives, Peter says for them to look on the inside and assure it is right before worrying about hair and make-up.  In short, there is so much beauty that Christ produces within us, that it will greatly outshine any outfit, jewelry or ensemble that can be assembled. 
 
Peter also speaks to the Husband.  Husbands are to treat their wives with honor.  Husbands are to lead with grace and realize the critical role their wives have in the family. Wives make the house a home and the group of humans a family.  It is not the role of master-servant, it is the role of CEO and COO.  Husbands are to lead and face the daily battles of provision and protection of their families and their homes. But, that is impossible without a person doing the day to day operation of the home.  With what is provided, wives raise the family and teach them decorum, survival, salvation, and socialization. Husbands that do not understand how critical their spouse is to the survival of the family fail in being the leader God calls them to be. I not only respect my wife and love her; I truly stand amazed at all she has accomplished despite me and my battles in life. She is amazing on all fronts and counts. As a family, we are not worthy of her, but, we are sure grateful that she is who she is–the Chief Operating Officer of this group.  She deserves all the respect and praise available but continues with or without it. Thanks, Wives and Moms (ESPECIALLY MINE) for all that you do!
 
God Bless You

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

James 2 Part 1–Loving Folks, Baggage and All

It is simply easier to love beautiful people. People that are wealthy, healthy and free of life’s baggage are often given preference and position. Those that struggle with life, with finances and have difficult journeys are often avoided and forgotten in the world.  James says the Church must be different! As a community, the Church must not show favoritism and it must take folks warts and all. That is the example the Lord showed by loving tax collectors and sinners of all sorts, healing the sick, crippled and dead. James is reminding the Church that it is truly our place to love people as they are and never look back. 
 
It is a tall order to simply love folks as they are. People drive us crazy. Their attitudes and actions may be maddening, but then the Church can be a part of seeking to save that which is lost. One simply needs to look at their own lives to realize we all have our own sets of baggage. That is why we must not serve as judges, but instead as a family to those with needs. As we do that, the communities we live in will grow strong and our hearts will grow rich. Selflessness will bring purpose and those touched will then touch others. We are called to be different. As a community, loving each other no matter what will set us apart from the rest of this selfish, biased world!
 
God Bless You

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.