Noah’s wife

coHP - noahs wife

In the known world prior to the flood, scripture tells us that there was only one man who walked with God.  One man!  What would it have been like to be married to that one Godly man?  The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Noah’s wife, but I’d like to believe that in order for Noah to remain faithful to the one true God for 500+ years, he needed the support of a Godly wife – a woman who feared God, who valued her husband’s heart for God, who reinforced his choices to obey God when everyone (everyone!) else in the world rejected and rebelled against Him.

As Noah’s helper, what would it have been like to watch him work 120 years on the project of building the ark?  Did she ever question it?  wonder at the enormity of the size (one and a half football fields!), the cost or availability of materials?  the plan to gather, house and care for all those animals on board?  Did the Lord reveal Himself directly to her to bolster her own faith?  to direct her, personally, as she supported and encouraged her husband?  to give her His Words of truth to cling to when nothing made sense?

It is easy to get lost in the possible details of their real, every-day life.  Although we might safely guess that it was a very lonely path that God called them to walk, many of our thoughts would only be supposition, at best.  So I am reminded to ask myself, “what do we learn about GOD from their story?”

He is a sovereign God who calls us into circumstances that are beyond human reasoning… and often with little explanation.  BUT He goes with us every step of the way, directing us and enabling us to meet the challenge He has given us.  In the midst of the storm, He knows we will find Him faithful and will experience a sense of victory through Him with which nothing else can compare!

Many times, that perfect path, that displays His power and His love so vividly, comes with great personal loss to us.  But He meets us there too, gently and persistently reminding us that nothing (NOTHING!) we ever lose while following Christ can compare to what He longs to give us.  In God’s economy, we will *always* trade UP!

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Noah and his wife and family lost everything in the world they had known, but they experienced God’s preserving care through unthinkable circumstances, witnessed the very first rainbow (we can believe it was beyond breathtaking!!!!!), and were in the position to see the brand new beginning for the world God had created… and all this at 600 years old!

THIS is the God we are getting to know a little bit better.  May we trust Him more – even when find ourselves in circumstances beyond human reasoning – even when He calls us to action in ways that make little sense to those around us (or even ourselves!) – even when we feel like our world in crashing down around us or we feel that we have lost everything we have ever known – may we trust that He has an ultimate plan to preserve and bless and rebuild us in ways that we don’t want to miss, in ways that will reveal more of Himself to us!  May we trust that His hand is at work in mysterious yet magnificent ways – for He is absolutely worthy of that confidence!

Read more here! – Genesis 6, 7, and 8 – Psalm 37 – Isaiah 25:9 – Jeremiah 17:7-8 – Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, You work in mysterious ways.  Isaiah 45:15 – Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10

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the little things

 

True confessions ~ it is almost the end of January and I am just now giving our house a good cleaning after the joyous and festive months surrounding Christmas!  Three weeks into this new year and I am still trying to get back to our “normal” routines, to re-establish any semblance of good, healthy habits.  Right along with those neglected things is unrushed time with my open Bible and a notebook!

I am thankful for the suggestion a few months ago to leave my Bible open on the kitchen table, inviting me to sit down, if only for a few minutes each day, to take in God’s Word.  In these busy days, it is often just a few verses that make their way past my distracted brain to linger on my heart.

Today was slated as my long-overdue cleaning day!  And to get this enormous job done before meeting buses in the afternoon, it takes a full-day, all-out commitment!  But before I started, I felt the nudge from God’s Spirit to sit down at that table and receive some nourishment from Him.  I cannot live today on yesterday’s meals – the truth is that I need to eat every couple of hours or I get dizzy!  My spiritual health is just as dependent on something fresh and sustaining every day – several times a day!

God is so faithful to meet me when I make the feeblest attempt to choose Him.  The few verses I read this morning have stayed with me as I’ve puttered from room to room today:

Matthew 5:6 ~ Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

He is reinforcing what I already know to be true… my hunger and thirst for Him is more important than any other need!  When I pay attention to that need and make the good decision to feed my soul with His Word, He will fill me!!!  Not just a snack or stress eating to keep me moving, but full, healthy, nourishing spiritual food!

Matthew 5:8 ~ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

When I earnestly seek God, He will reveal Himself to me!  As I read His Word and spend time in conversation with Him in prayer, I will get to know Him, His heart, His desires for me and His eternal plans.  That bigger picture will change my perspective on anything I need to tackle today.

Psalm 48:14 ~ For this is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide, even unto death.

The Lord will always guide me!  He is eternally unchanging, eternally faithful.  His plans are perfect and when I am overwhelmed, He is the One who will set me on the right path and help me weed through today’s demands to find the ones that He has called me to accomplish.  I can trust His choices!  Not just today, but every day of my life on earth!

So as I dusted furniture and wrestled our old and dying vacuum cleaner through the house today, these are the little things (which are actually BIG things!) that played over and over again in my heart:

You are the God who fills me with Your righteousness.

You are the God who enables me to see YOU!

You are my life-long, trustworthy Guide.

It simply amazes me that one good decision to sit down at the kitchen table and drink in 3 verses of God’s Word led to a day of not-always-pleasant chores tackled from a different perspective – appreciating the quietness in the house to linger over these few aspects of our great God.  May I be drawn to His truth and His heart again and again as I leave my Bible open on the kitchen table!

still waters

watch and learn

It was a gift with strings attached… literally!  For Christmas, we gave our 12-year-old son a free-standing basketball net for the driveway.  In addition to the luxury of shooting hoops right here at home instead of waiting for a ride to the park, the net needed to be assembled!  So as parents we thought this was a wonderful investment, to encourage a little father-son bonding over this construction project.  To our twelve-year-old, this was just “strings attached.”  But on the day set aside to build the basketball net, he joined his dad in the garage to tackle the enormous box of parts.

It didn’t take long in the sorting of those parts for our son to grow bored and impatient, looking my direction more than once and mouthing the words “help me!”  Being the consummate cheerleader, I just smiled wide, gave a hearty thumbs-up and carried on with my own chores.

When my husband went to look for a tool inside, our son sneaked around the corner of the garage to where I was clipping bushes in the yard.  He exhaled utter exasperation, “he wants me to “help him” but there’s nothing for me to do!  This is taking forever!!!  And I was hoping to go to a friend’s house to play video games today.”

“Bubba,” I said, “some things are more important than video games.  Your dad works long, hard days and you don’t often get this time to spend with him.  He’s been looking forward to working on this project with you.  Hang in there – it will be worth it!”

He didn’t look convinced, so I continued, “how do you think Dad even knows how to build that basketball net?  how to use those tools?”  He shrugged and kicked the dirt, “I dunno.”  “Those were Pop-Pop’s tools.  When he was your age, Dad spent Saturdays working with Pop-Pop on all sorts of projects.  He watched him work, he learned how to build things, how to fix things… and along the way they talked about life.  Dad learned a lot from Pop-Pop.  Stay with Dad.  Enjoy this time with him.  You might learn about more than just building a basketball net.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  david and dad

Despite a second exhale of exasperation that instead of a rescue he got a mom-speech, our son went back to the garage and resumed his role as “assistant.”  As the hours went by (yes, it took hours!), I was thrilled to hear truly happy, positive chatter coming from the garage.  My boys were learning to work together!  My son (who can be easily intimidated by my 6-foot and sometimes intense husband) was learning how to talk to his dad.  He read the instructions, gathered the necessary parts and tools, anticipated the next move, and asked a lot of good questions.  He watched his dad closely and expressed concern and support when the job seemed more difficult than expected, “are you OK? ..  can you get it? … how did that happen?  … what should we do now?”  Every once in a while, he was invited to work the tools himself, to tighten a bolt here or measure a piece there, to make his own contribution to their building project.

I smiled as I watched my husband.  He honestly loves these projects – the chance to leave number-crunching and spreadsheets behind for a day to work with his hands, using those tools with so many precious memories of his own dad.  Sadly, he sometimes gets easily frustrated and almost disgusted, too.  But not that day.  He smiled!  He had a little more pep in his step.  It was JOY!  It brought joy to his heart to see his son interested and engaged, learning skills and knowledge he was so eager to pass on to him – just like his father did.

When it was all done, the two of them stood back to look at the new net standing tall and strong in the driveway.  Our son had forgotten all about the time and the delayed video game plans.  He let out a little surprised laugh, “I can’t believe we built that!”  With a playful jab of an elbow and a wink, my husband simply said, “I always tell you – watch & learn!  You’ll be amazed at what we can do!”

basketball net

My mind made an instant connection to another father-son story we had been reading that week in the Old Testament – about Abraham & Isaac in Genesis 22.  Isaac may have been about 12 years old, maybe a little older.  His father needed his help with a very difficult assignment from God – to offer an unusual burnt sacrifice.  As they had likely done many times before, they gathered supplies, walked together to the site of the offering and maybe talked about more than just this sacrifice along the way.  Isaac asked good questions.  Hard questions.  And Abraham taught him lessons he had learned from his heavenly Father.  Abraham had grown to trust and unquestioningly obey the one true God.  He confidently told Isaac what he knew to be true ~ “God will provide a lamb for the burnt sacrifice.”

We can only guess that Isaac was learning to trust God as well.  When the excruciating part of the assignment came – to offer Isaac as the burnt sacrifice! – we do not read that Isaac resisted.  Instead, he followed his father’s example.  He trusted and obeyed God.  In His faithfulness, God provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice that day and spared Isaac, reiterating the covenant blessings to Abraham and to Isaac.  I wonder if that was the day when Isaac encountered the one true God in a deeply personal way for the very first time, not just from his father’s testimony.  He was learning to hold the tools of faith and trust in his own hands and work the bolts, wrestling through the hard parts.  In the end, he heard the covenant promises of Almighty God extended from Abraham to himself!  He may have looked back on that day and said in amazement, “I can’t believe we did that!”  And Abraham may have appropriately said, “watch and learn… WITH GOD all things are possible!”

The really cool thing is that this account of Abraham and Isaac is a beautiful picture of an even greater story unfolding ~ of God the Father and His own Son, Jesus.  It was at the age of 12 that scripture records that Jesus was “about the Father’s business.”  [Luke 2:49]  Even at a young age by most standards, Jesus was already committed to accomplishing the work His Father gave Him to do.  We read that He often went aside to a quiet place to talk with His Father, to learn from Him and to be guided and strengthened by Him.  He asked hard questions too: “if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”  [Matthew 26:39, Luke 22:42]  When the excruciating part of His assignment came, Jesus did not resist.  This time, in His faithfulness to us, God did not spare His own son, but allowed Him to be our sacrifice!  In His faithfulness, God provided His Son as the Lamb to be offered in our place.  God’s eternal covenant promises are now extended to usEternal life is our Savior’s extravagant gift to us – with NO STRINGS attached!!!

In that covenant relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus now invites us to learn from Him everything that the Father has given Him, just as He taught His own disciples:

Father, the Words you gave to Me I have given to them… I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are One… I have revealed You to them, and will continue to do so…”  [John 17]  ~  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” [Matthew 11:29].

“Looking unto JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith,” [Hebrews 12:2], we can imagine His Spirit tenderly encouraging our hearts:

“Walk with Him.  Work by His side.  Learn from Him.  Watch what He’s doing and join Him.  When something doesn’t make sense or you’re not sure what to do, ask Him!  Everything the Father has given Him, He will share with you.  It brings joy to His heart to spend this time with you, to teach you, to see you so interested and engaged in the Father’s business.  There are jobs for you to do, too.  He wants you to hold His truth in your own hands and know its reality on a personal level as you see it work the nuts and bolts of life.  Watch and learn – you will be amazed by what He can do!

Read more here!  … Genesis 22 – Luke 2 – Matthew 14:23 – Luke 5:16 – John 17 –    Romans 8:32 – Matthew 11:28-30

EVE

This past summer I thoroughly enjoyed a study with shereadstruth.com, walking through the pages of scripture and getting to know various women in the Bible.  What were their stories?  How did they encounter Almighty God, stand in awe of Him and yet find Him intensely personal?  What can we learn about God from their experiences?  What can we learn about ourselves?  What a joy to look for the Lord’s Presence in their lives and find Him in our own!

Our family has joined many others in the new year, starting at the beginning of God’s story, reading Genesis!  So our lovely lady for today is EVE.

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God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  ~ Genesis 1:27

 Then the Lord said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  ~  “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.”  The man and the woman were naked and they felt no shame.  ~ Genesis 2:18, 23-25

 The serpent said, “Did God actually say…?” ~ the woman said, “but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”  ~  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  ~  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid from the presence of the Lord God.  ~  Then the Lord said to the woman, “what is this that you have done?… in pain you will bring forth children; your desire will be for your husband and he shall rule over you.”  ~  The man called His wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.  And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them.  ~  Genesis 3, selected verses

Eve was perfectly created by God, in His image, with a special role that only she could fill, a helper perfectly suited for her man.  She felt no shame, no insecurity!  She and Adam walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day.  She was the delight of her Creator and the delight of her husband.

Then the devil entered the picture and cast doubts in her thinking.  “Did God actually say…?”   I can only guess that she was taken aback.  No one had ever suggested the idea of questioning what God said, whether He meant it, what exactly He meant by it.  Adam and Eve had been abundantly provided for in their garden home and obeying their Creator had resulted in only good things.  But the serpent was crafty and wiggled his way into Eve’s head.

Rather than taking these new questions to her Creator, or even to her husband, she acted on impulse.  “Well… it looks good!?  Maybe this serpent has a point.  It’s just one piece of good-looking fruit.  What harm could it bring?”  Sadly, not only did she disobey God’s instruction and ate what was forbidden, she was Adam’s helper… she helped him to some forbidden fruit too… and he also ate.

They immediately knew that something drastic had changed.  They now saw themselves and everything around them differently – and most tragic of all, a new feeling of panic caused them to hide from the presence of the Lord.  Their perfectly stable and lovely relationship with God had been dramatically interrupted.  They were no longer comfortable facing Him.   Sin had separated them from a holy and righteous God.

They soon learned that they could not hide from God.  In true mercy, He pursued them.  He asked them to name their disobedience.  He did not accept excuses.  He judged them rightly.  The consequences of sin would be deeply painful.  In severe mercy (a mercy so severe, a severity yet merciful), God put them out of their beautiful garden home, preventing them from eating of the tree of life and living eternally in their sin-marred state.

He put them out of the garden, but He was never far from them.  We don’t read any more about them walking with God in the cool of the day – an adjustment I can only guess would have been very, very sad.  But chapter 4 in Genesis leads us to believe that they still looked to God for help, prayed to Him, acknowledged His hand upon their life, and His gifts to them in each of their children.  In the immediate sense, He also clothed them.  Animals’ blood was shed to make coverings for them.  He covered their shame.  He provided for their need.  He met them where they were, marred by sin, and graciously provided in ways only God could.

So, what do we learn about God?  What do we learn about ourselves?

He is Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, creator of man and woman.  He made us in His image!  He made us uniquely, with distinct characteristics and special roles to fill.  He desires a close relationship with us, to walk with us every day!  He gives us instructions to follow that will protect us from harm and keep us in a place where we can enjoy the abundance of His provision.  When we make choices that separate us from Him, He still pursues us.  He leads us to confession and repentance.  His judgment against our sin is just, and consequences are severe and painful.  But in His mercy, He steps in even then, especially then, to provide for our needs.  What we are incapable of doing for ourselves, He does for us!  Sin is costly – it leads to death, blood is required to make atonement, to provide a covering for shame – but it is a price He is willing to pay to redeem us, to restore a close and growing relationship with us.

new creationGod’s Son, Jesus, offered His own blood to cover our shame, to pay the penalty for our sin, to restore a right relationship between us and our Creator God.  In Christ, we are a new creation, clothed in garments of salvation!  We once again enjoy the opportunities Eve enjoyed – to feel no shame, no insecurity, to display the glory of God, to bring delight to His heart.

Our freedom and confidence has nothing to do with us and everything to do with our Creator and Redeemer… getting to know Him better will help that confidence to grow and help us to truly rest in His perfect plans, trust and obey His instructions, and enjoy being in a place where we can receive His very best provisions for us!

 Listen to the Lord who created you… the One who formed you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name;  you are mine.”  ~  Isaiah 43:1

For further study ~ Genesis chapters 1-4 – Hebrews 9:22 – Ephesians 1:7 – 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Isaiah 61:10

 

true beauty

 

A few days ago was my sister’s birthday.  She stepped bravely across the threshold into “50-something” two years ahead of me.  Although I have always loved birthdays and the chance to celebrate (and I do mean CELEBRATE!!!) unique and special people on the one day of the year that belongs exclusively to them, aging is not always fun.  It can be hard.  It brings new joys but also new challenges.  And for some, the “big 5-0” is one of those birthdays that is harder to genuinely embrace and celebrate!

Like many other women, young and old, my sister and I have had our share of chats through the years about body image.  In our culture, it is a full-time job to tune out the constant barrage of what our body size and shape should be, how our faces should look, what clothes are most complimentary and fashion-forward, which hair styles are most attractive.  Aging makes it harder and harder to keep up with so many real or perceived expectations.

Thankfully, my sister and I also share a love for Christ and a firm foundation in His truth that quiets those loud voices all around us.  We have enjoyed the opportunity on many occasions to remind one another where true worth and value are found.  We are marvelously and wondrously exactly who God made us to be and our greatest goals and aspirations of becoming the best version of ourselves should come from only one place – from our Creator!

So on the morning of her birthday, it made me smile deep to find this verse:

“you are perfectly beautiful because of My Splendor with which I have dressed you,” declares the Sovereign Lord. [Ezekiel 16:14]

 We are wrapped in HIS splendor!  God’s glory is what makes us radiant!  Hebrews 1:3 says that “the Son is the radiance [brilliance] of the glory of God, the exact imprint of the very character of God, the exact expression of His nature.”  Wow.  Our Savior dresses us in His own splendor so that we, too, can be an imprint of the character of God, an expression of His very nature.  How thrilling!!!

So as I logged on to send my sister a truly celebratory “happy birthday!!!” on Facebook, I was so thankful for the Lord’s gift of His own words to share with her:

“I was going to say “50 & fabulous!!” (which you are!), but then I found this verse that describes exactly why I think you are so fabulous ~ “you are perfectly beautiful because of My Splendor with which I have dressed you,” declares the Sovereign Lord. [Ezekiel 16:14] ~ you are a class act, always! but what makes you so beautiful is your heart for God and your loving service for Him, touching others with His truth and meeting their needs with His compassion. Our Savior has dressed you with His Splendor and there is nothing more beautiful than that!”

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May each of us catch a fresh glimpse of TRUE BEAUTY today as we behold Christ’s splendor – HE is the One who causes us to radiate His beautiful character and nature… and HE is the One who calls us perfectly beautiful!

His Presence will go with you

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And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you; He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.  ~  Deuteronomy 31:8

In the midst of joyous mingling at our wedding reception, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned to see my grandfather waiting to greet us.  Our wedding and simple reception were taking place in my grandparents’ chapel building – a modest but beautiful place where they had poured their hearts and lives out in faithful service to the Lord over a lifetime.  My grandmother had gone home to heaven just two years prior and after 60 years together, my grandfather seemed lost without her.

But on this occasion, he had a twinkle in his eye and a mission to accomplish!  My grandmother was known for hand writing little notes for us, always in gorgeous script and always graced with a healthy dose of God’s Word.  In his own way, my grandfather was determined to carry on her legacy and stood in front of us holding a little piece of paper on which he had carefully typed this verse (yes, he still used an old-school typewriter!).  He pulled me close enough to make his hearing aid buzz and looked both of us intently yet lovingly in the eye and said, “God’s Word is more valuable than any other gift I could give you.  No matter what you face in life together, remember that the Lord is always with you.”

granddad deut 31 8c   granddad weddingc

What my grandfather didn’t know was that I had already been pondering these precious words of promise.  In the busy days surrounding the wedding, I had gotten behind in my Daily Devotional Bible.  That morning I read the “wrong” day, but felt wonderfully encouraged by the thought that these words were the Lord’s gift to us on the day of our wedding.   Seeing that little piece of paper in my grandfather’s hand only bolstered my confidence that my God is One who will orchestrate every detail to meet us exactly where we are and deliver His Words that are so true and meaningful!  The Lord had brought us to this moment and He would lead us day by day from here.

d&w 98 01When taking a few pictures on the front steps of the chapel, we noticed a plaque on the corner of the building, commemorating the year it was built… there carved in stone was the year my husband and I were born!  I instantly remembered the words “He is the One who goes before you” and smiled to think that even the building where our wedding would take place was prepared for us from the time we were born!  Our God had gone before us… to prepare a building where my grandparents had worked so hard to pass on a legacy of faith in Christ, a passion for His Word, and loving, faithful service to Him.

This past week, many years later, I opened Daily Light and once again found this verse!  I couldn’t help but think that the promises that meant so much to us at the beginning of married life, mean just as much and more now, at the beginning of another year together.  Our God is eternally true and unchanging.  His promises are unshakable.  What a joy to appreciate them in fresh new ways as we re-discover them in new stages of life!

Each new year may hold the thrill of mystery, bursting with amazing possibilities and eagerly anticipated occasions and achievements – or it may seem more like thick ominous fog, heavy with uncertainty and concern.  Whatever lies ahead, we can rest in the knowledge that He is the One who goes before us.  He will be with us.  He will not fail us or forsake us.  We do not need to be afraid!

His Presence goes with us!  We are challenged not to rush ahead of Him or forget about Him, but to “never leave home without Him.”  Better yet, we are reminded to follow HIM and join Him in what He is already doing.  When fearful doubts hold us captive, we can rest in the confidence that He only leads us in the paths He has specifically and lovingly planned for us and He never intends for us to tackle any of it without Him.  He will go with us!

Whether we come aside from busy lives to hear His voice more clearly and be tenderly cared for in the hollow of His hand, or we step boldly forward in the path He has designed for us, the cover of His Presence is our sure and precious promise!

If Your Presence does not go with us, do not move us on from here. ~ My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.  ~  Exodus 33:14-15