UNITY IS SIMPLE, IF CHALLENGING

Read the Bible out loud and together.  It is like a miracle, or supernatural.

It’s taken years to grow in our understanding of Scripture: but how did we get where we are?  We have read the Bible together, Eric and I, out loud, together for forty-five years.
We started in the beginning, on our honeymoon.  We sat in a shady slope by a river in North Carolina as we began a tradition.  We stopped the car, both got out and sat in the shade.  We each had a Bible, and each read a chapter in turn, aloud.  It was beautiful, we were happy.  We continued that tradition as we reared three sons (except now we had more readers).

Eric is now retired, the kids are gone, my part time volunteering and jobs in the past.  We never stopped the tradition.

We look forward to it more than ever.  We’ve created habits that give me reason to get up every morning:  We get up and make the coffee; we sit on the porch and sometimes chat, sometimes Eric journals.  It’s a connection that we cherish.  Then we go inside and read the Bible (aloud) together, then breakfast.   After that he is to the computer or woodworking.  I am to my day.

When our sons were home, we used to read the Bible after dinner; it was about half an hour each day.

Today, as we read in the Book of Luke, it became clearer that the Scribes and Pharisees were hypocrites.   It became brilliantly clear that Pilate was right when he knew “that for envy” the Elders, Scribes and Pharisees delivered up Jesus to be crucified.   More and more as we read and discuss  (two of Luke’s long chapters this morning) things resonate, go deeper, become clearer.   It’s most every day now that something is more real and understandable than ever.

One of us may have a thought to clarifies the text, the other might add to it.  What happens then?  Something new comes to the surface that never would have otherwise if we were alone, reading silently.   Together both of us are mulling a third thought.

What is happening?  The Bible is going to my head, his head, into my heart and soul, into his heart and soul,  More and more, like a supernatural fix, we think alike: unity is nearer.

Don’t you think God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are interested in this practice, this journey, this habit.  I think so.  Yes, Scripture teaches love, unity, humility.  You might just be brought to your senses quickly if you dare to become proud.  “For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

I highly recommend this habit.

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IT’S ALWAYS BEEN: THE REBELLIOUS KILL THE INNOCENT

You can be sure that the cruelty done to the innocent children aborted in the womb and justified as “women’s health” will take us down a very dark path to a cruel future.

When God creates a child, he places them in a hidden place:  in the mother’s womb.  When the woman destroys his creation, God does not look the other way.  King Manasseh went too far until it was too late:  “for the innocent blood that he shed:  for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.”  (2 Kings 24:4)

When we allow the murder of children at the ninth month of gestation, will we soon allow the murder of a child at one minute?  At one week?  At one year?

Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”.  (Matthew 19:14)  We see Jesus treated children with respect, defending them in their powerlessness.  He picked them up in His arms and blessed them.  Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the focus Jesus had, and still has on children.  He rebuked the disciples for forbidding the children to come to him:  his priceless creations, vulnerable, powerless, in need of love, care, teaching, guiding, respect.  They are beautiful little people created in the image of God.

How stunningly different from the attitude of the Creator of these little ones is the evil force that is bent on killing them today.

How can this be!  Killing the fruit of the womb.  Only God creates life.  God said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” Cain’s response was, more or less, “How should I know! Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Then God said, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.”  If a mother and (hopefully) father are not the child’s keepers who are?  Certainly the government is not if it permits such murder.

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MURDER OF THE INNOCENTS

There is a violence continuing in our Country, this evil is not new. Murdering the defenseless has been a tactic of evil power through history.

No one knows how many male children were murdered by Pharaoh, the Egyptian King. The reason? He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we . . . ” and so every newborn male was thrown into the river . . . until God stepped in by two midwives, Shiphrah, and Puah, who would not cower or cave!  They came up with a plan:  they defied the King.  Moses and many more were saved alive from the evil agenda of the most powerful man in Egypt.  This determination to violently control a nation is described in Exodus 1.

Interestingly, just this morning my husband, Eric, and I read the eighty verses in Luke One.  God worked again through two women, Mary and Elisabeth who were cousins.  Elisabeth was an old woman.  She bore the baby, John the Baptist, who would announce the arrival of Jesus, Savior of the world.  And Mary, a virgin, of course, bore Jesus, the Son of God.

Later, another evil King would mass-murder the innocent . . .  “Then Herod . . . sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16).  Notice how this resembles the Pharaoh.  The greatest Power, Creator Of The Heavens And Earth overruled and protected His Son, Jesus.  Joseph and Mary escaped into Egypt and for a few years lived there until Herod was dead.

What is happening when evil seems rampant? What is God doing today, with the rush of evil:  the abortion of the innocents in the United States?  I know what we should do.  Stand up and speak up and pray and ask God for mercy.  We are alive and powerful as Christians.  We have the Holy Spirit to give us courage and power.

Back in history, when another wicked King, Manasseh, killed innocents, there came a time when the Lord would pardon it no more. “Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh according to all that he did . . . for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon,” (2 Kings 24:4)

The whole Country was held accountable . . . if we do not turn around, will we be destroyed?

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CONFIDENCE BRINGS THE INSPIRATION

The secularists are shouting their mantra, their hateful words; they hurt women, men and children.   I see them on Facebook, in the news, on videos and find it hard to listen to.  They are shouting, screaming, loud, secular, godless verbiage.

Truth is more powerful than lies.  I challenge you; let us step up:  “speaking the truth in love . . .” (Ephesians 4:15).  We are Christians, believers in Jesus and his power to save us and change and sanctify us, to set us apart for His Holy service

Why do we, privileged, smart, gifted Christian women suffer from self-doubt and wonder how to proceed?  It is because the powerful, equal yet opposite importance of who we are has not been lifted from Scripture and spotlighted.  I think of it as:  “The Doctrine of Women in the Bible.”  This understanding does not bring arrogance, or rebellion.  It brings confidence, inspiration.  It has been waiting in the Bible for us to discover.  The Holy Spirit has written about us, “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.  And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)  “Everything” means, well, EVERYTHING.  It includes men and women.  It is the beginning of your significance and your story and mine.

After reading through the Bible (I mean through and through it, for seventy-six years)  I have come to believe in the absolute authority of it.   Everything turns out the way our Creator, Jehovah God, says it would.  We can and should depend upon its promises and warnings for our best life.  And there is no demeaning or control imposed upon any person, any woman, any wife, in the Bible.

How does a twenty-first century woman accept this verse:  “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord:  whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” (I Peter 3:6).  Too often the attitude of obedience is taken as an inferior position.  But Sara was not inferior; she gave Abraham respect because she wanted to give him respect.  If your husband is a good man the LORD, JEHOVAH allows him to step into the role of your protector.  We fear literally anything to do with obedience or submission to our husbands because the Scripture has been misinterpreted and abused.  But sometimes husbands are not good men.  Selfish men made women subservient to men . . . God never did!  In the beginning God made them male AND female and both together were the image of God. (Genesis 1:27).

Here is the powerful point:  we should not be “afraid with any amazement” (emphasis mine) because God shows up when we have faith in His words to us.  God works in the heart of a man when a woman . . . a strong, cerebral, sanctified woman . . . immediately approaches her LORD in her head and heart.  Right at this juncture is her confidence and inspiration:  “If God be for us, who can be against us.” (Romans 8:31)

It is vital, important to compare spiritual things with spiritual . . . one verse, passage, chapter with another.  God will not be “understood” with casual glancing at His Holy Word.

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YOUR POWER

At about fourteen years into our marriage the old Dodge was still around, a six-cylinder motor working on five.  We lived as far West as our city goes from Eric’s workplace.  The drive straight East into the sun on Route Fifty took him an hour every morning.  When he got there his days were filled (like many men) with high pressure and low praise.  He came home straight toward the western sun every evening.  The sun visor was long gone, so his cap worked as a visor.  Ten years he commuted in that old car.  The air conditioner never worked.  He was hot and sweaty and grumpy when he arrived home at night.  Exactly how hot that old station wagon became on a ninety-five degrees day I never knew, but he was in need when he arrived home.

He walked into the house with his fair Swedish skin always more red than normal on those days.  For a while I took offense at his “attitude”; wasn’t he glad to see me? But as I grew more unselfish, I grieved for his suffering.  I began to understand that I could do something about it.  I could make coming home his highlight for the day. I met him with iced tea and a hug and a smile.  I began to pour out my complaint to God about that car.  We did finally save enough to buy a newer old car; one with air conditioning, electric windows, radio and tape deck.

Compassion will bring pain, because you will feel the pain of your husband (and of those around you).  Allow it.  The grieving, the brokenhearted, the poor, the sick, those who are afraid or lonely and our husbands’ sometimes silent pain are real.  Your husband needs you.  You are his other self, the very touch of God to him.  Whether he shows it, or even knows it, he needs something beyond himself, someone who makes him the most important person in the world.  Will it be you, his wife?

Your compassion grows strong when your heart is warmed by enduring adversity together.  It ends up as a gift from God.  Years later, as I think back on the hard times, I know that they are key to how I appreciate Eric. He and I are grateful, very grateful that our prayers were answered, and the Lord has brought us to a place of togetherness in our thinking and with deeper love.

If your man will reach high and go far, it will be because you believe in him. Learn to believe in his designated place.  Tell him so.  Encourage him when he fails.  Your house can be the place he looks forward to, because you are there.  As the song says, “… it’s her warm loving that keeps me returning again and again.”   And as the Bible says, “…the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” (Prov.31:11)

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