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Saul, Saul, Why persecutest thou me?

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Oh I just love the Book of Acts so much! It stirs my soul to act and to share!

Every time I read Acts Chapter 9 I like to try to place myself in Saul’s shoes. Reading it this time, I was so blessed to be able to discuss Saul’s conversion with my sweet hubby, Ron. The excitement was thick in the air as the Holy Spirit moved and we talked about how Jesus spoke to Saul and what Saul must have experienced and what thoughts must have went through his mind when Jesus spoke to him and chose him to do His work in the early church. We shared how we would think and react if it were us.

SIDE NOTE: Let me tell you ladies, if you and your soul mate are not sharing time together in God’s Word, you are truly missing out on one of God’s greatest blessings! As we grow together in our walk with our Saviour, it not only draws us closer to our Lord, but closer to each other in our marriage relationship as well. After Jesus, my Honey Bunny is my very best friend. There is nothing like it on this earth! But isn’t that what God’s Word says it should be – Genesis 2:22-24 “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, (and dare I say, his family? Are we to abandon our families? Of course not, but the husband and wife are now one, and each will definitely and rightfully take precedence over the rest of the family.) and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And in Ephesians 5:31 “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” Sometimes we women think we need other women, we like to call our besties, to talk to who ‘understand’ when we need to vent or rant and won’t judge us. I have learned the truth to be that more times than not, that is an excuse for women to meet and gossip and say hurtful things about others behind their backs, and justify it by saying we just need to vent. When we have aught against another, we are to take it to that person or leave it up to the Lord, whichever He leads us to do. If we are blessed to be married to a man who is a truly Godly man, he will call us on our back-biting and offer to pray with us for God’s direction in the matter, and support us in doing the right thing. And, of course, it does go both ways.

Okay, so I must needs get back to the point at hand. 😉 I just had to share what God is teaching me in this matter, and what a blessing God gives us when we place our husbands at the head of our homes as God intends and allow His Holy Spirit to mingle in both our spirits together.

So, in Acts Chapters 6-8, we read how Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost preached truth to the religious leaders and he became the first disciple to die for the cause of Christ. Saul first shows up in Acts Chapter 8:1 tells us that “And Saul consenting unto his death…” What a truly powerful testimony Saul/Paul had to lead lost souls to Christ! And each one of us who has been saved from hell by the sacrifice Jesus gave on the cross has a testimony to do the same. Telling others what Jesus has done for us is the best way to win souls to the Saviour!

Acts 9:1-31

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.(Saul was highly educated – Acts 22:3 “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” He became what they called a Zealot who persecuted Jesus’ church/followers. He was deceived by the jealous religious leaders about who Jesus and His followers really were, and he believed that he was doing God’s work and was zealously devoted to it.)

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: (Can you even imagine!)

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (WOW! The thoughts that Saul must have had! Here he and his soldiers are marching along on their mission to round up any of Jesus’ followers whom he considered dissenters stirring up trouble. Suddenly, a bright light and the voice of the Lord Jesus confronts him. Was it the power of Jesus’ voice that threw him to the ground or the sense that this was a divine presence from God? Maybe both.)

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? (Saul called Him Lord. He must have thought, “This is surely the one and only Supreme God of Heaven!”) And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (As soon as Saul realized that what he had been doing was against God’s will, he asked what the Lord wanted him to do.)

7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. (God had literally blinded Saul perhaps as an awakening to how the religious leaders had blinded him to the truth. I am sure by now, Saul is considering how he had been so deceived all of his life.)

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (He most probably had so much remorse about having wrongly persecuted and killed so many of God’s children. I would find it unbearable.)

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. (What a merciful God we serve!)

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. (Everyone knew who Saul was and how he was zealous to persecute Jesus’ followers even to death. I am sure any one of us would have been pretty scared too, “But Lord, you know how this man’s goal in life is to persecute and kill your people. If I show myself to him, won’t he take me in too for beating and prison, maybe even death?)

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (God had sent Jesus to his chosen people, the Jews first, but they rejected and crucified Him. Now He chose one Saul to go to the Gentiles and teach and preach what Jesus came and did for the whole world. God knew that once Saul knew the truth, he would be just as dedicated and devoted to God’s true work as he was to what he wrongly thought was God’s work.)
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. (And maybe there would be times that Saul would think on what he would face for the rest of his life as part of the consequences for how he had wrongly persecuted God’s church. Who knows, just a rambling thought. But we know that God’s enemy is the ruler of this world and all those who live as this world are God’s enemies as well, and will persecute God’s chosen ones.)

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. (I am sure Saul had to have some alone time with God’s Holy Spirit and close disciples to help him in turning his thinking around.)

20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (He wasted no time in sharing the Good News of Jesus and what He had done in his life. What a testimony Saul had!)

21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (Oh, but of course they would do that! Jesus’ teachings were a threat to their power.)
24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (I am sure God revealed their plans to Saul and the disciples.)

25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (The apostles were the 12 who were closest to Jesus when He was here. There were many disciples who followed Him and taught others who He was.)

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. (The world hated Saul just as it did Jesus.)

30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. (Praise God! Saul was no longer seeking to lock them up and kill them!)

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in God's Truth

 

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Do we treat our husbands as the God-given gifts that they are?

I find it totally disgusting how this world and today’s media demean the heads of our homes. Our husbands are a gift from the Lord, if we have first sought God’s will as to whether this man is God’s chosen mate for us. Many of us have had to learn the hard way the heartache and irreparable damage to all concerned when we seek our own will and jump into a relationship based on lust or “love at first sight.

When God brings the man He has chosen for our life-mate into our lives, that man truly is a gift from God, and he ought to be treated as such. To us women, a man is the most complicated of all God’s creatures to understand. (I know we hear men joke all the time about how they will never understand us women, and that is true also. 😉 )

He has high expectations for himself – when he fails to attain his dreams, he experiences emotions that he finds hard to handle. At times he may be afraid of rejection – comparison to another man, the inability to satisfy his wife. He may feel inadequate, insecure, frustrated, and helpless as he faces the challenges of life. During these times of vulnerability, our husbands desperately need us to understand and be his helper – “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18) He needs acceptance, appreciation, and affirmation.

A Godly husband will show respect for his wife in the way he treats her. This begins with his thought life – “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” (Proverbs 23:7) and it moves to his lifestyle – “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) then to his communication – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) Because women are great responders, we generally will respond to efforts or lack of efforts from our husbands. This give-and-take is part of the mystery in human sexuality.

Just as God extended acceptance to all people in that He did not wait until we were worthy of His love – He simply loved us first – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) A loving wife will want to treat her husband as if he is already the person God desires him to be. That is the greatest encouragement we can give him.

  • A husband needs to have and deserves to have the respect of his wife – “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
  • A husband needs and deserves our appreciation. This means that we should recognize his worth, and hold him in high regard and respect. Notice how his face lights up and his chest bursts forth when we express how grateful we are for our life with him, his faithfulness, his hard work, and how he provides and cares for us. God has laid on my heart many times to let my Ron know how thankful I am that God brought him to be my life-mate and how he completes me. It is the truth and he needs and deserves to hear that from time to time.
  • A husband also needs affirmation. We should want to speak kind words to our husbands – “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26) We enjoy assuring our husbands of our love and devotion to only him –  “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:11, 12)
  • A husband needs sexual fulfillment and sensitivity on the part of his wife to this need – “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  • A husband needs a home to which he can go for comfort and peace – “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Genesis 24:67) I can sense immediately when my husband has had a trying day at work. I try not to hit him with any challenges I may have had, but ask him how his day went. I see instant relief as he lets our a slight sigh and shares his day with me. It is not always about challenges he had. Many times he loves to share pride in how he overcame some obstacle that no one else had an answer for.
  • A husband needs to find his wife attractive and to be proud of her “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” (Proverbs 31:28, 29) He needs to share mutual fellowship and fun with her. After all, our husbands are our best friends.

We ought to consider our husbands as a precious gift from God, and treat them with sensitivity, tenderness, and love. To meet his needs requires time–listening, touching, doing kind deeds, and creativity in doing the acts of love. When we do those actions, we will also receive in kind from him – “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Godly Women

 

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Enter Evil

Illuminated parchment, Spain, circa AD 950-955...

 

Okay, we know how God created Eve out of Adam’s side and placed her in the beautiful garden paradise to be Adam’s help meet. Everything was provided for them and they walked and talked with God daily. They were pure and innocent until – Enter Evil!!

This entry will show the character of the serpent and what he may have looked like, and the consequences he and Adam and Eve would face because of their actions. It will include the first time God commanded wives to submit to their husbands. I will also give suggestions as to how Eve could have done differently, and how we can avoid giving in to temptations today. Let’s have some fun and do a little imagining as well.

Genesis 3:1-3 “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2. And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3. but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it (note for later), lest ye die.”

I believe the snakes in the Garden were very beautiful to look upon before God cursed them. Do you really think that Eve would have stopped to talk with a slithering, hissing snake as we see them today? I also believe that he had legs giving him the ability to walk around instead of sliding along on his belly. Envision with me, if you will, that crafty creature leaning on one elbow against a tree, his feet crossed, with his tail waving hypnotically from side to side as he entices the first woman.

“Hey there Eve,” His words rolled smoothly off his forked tongue. “Why don’t you stop in the shade of this tree and chat for a while? You’ve got nothing better to do. By the way, did you know that God lied to you when he said you would surely die if you eat from that tree over there? He knows that if you eat that fruit ‘your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil'” (Genesis 3:4, 5)

Remember, he was the most subtil of all the beasts the Lord had made. The Hebrew word for “subtil” is aruwm (aw-room) which means cunning (usually in a bad sense), prudent, and crafty. Satan’s single goal on this earth is to tempt us away from God. He uses his cunning nature to suggest doubts in our minds. He got Eve to doubt God’s goodness. He, ever so slyly, hinted that God was stingy and selfish because he did not want Adam and Eve to share in his knowledge of good and evil.

Now imagine what Eve’s response might have been, “Hmmm, you know, not only did he say we must not eat of that tree, but he said we are not to even touch it. How dare he keep such a lovely fruit from us? How could he deny us to be just like him? It is just not fair.”

Eve took that evil deceiver’s bait, hook line and sinker. Feeling cheated by God, she told her first lie! As I noted in the verses above, she added that God said they were not to touch the tree. This is what God actually said in Genesis 2:16, 17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17. but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” I do not see anything there about them not touching the tree.

Oh, I just had an epiphany! Maybe when Adam told Eve what God said, he added, “Do not even touch that tree!” because he already knew the woman well enough to know that her curiosity might get the best of her, so he wanted to scare her into obeying. Hmmm. Okay, it is just a joke!

Moving along, Eve was tempted and gave in, and she gave Adam of the fruit and he did eat. He must have thought, “she ate it and she is still alive, so what could it hurt?” We know what happened next. Their eyes were opened and they were ashamed and hid themselves from God when he came looking for them. I am sure God already knew what they had done and why they were hiding, but they needed to come to God and be held accountable.

When God confronted Adam he blamed Eve, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12) God turned to Eve and asked, “What is this that thou hast done?” She blamed the snake, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat”. (Genesis 3:13) It is very easy to justify our sin by pointing to someone else, but God knows the truth.

Because of his perfect moral character, God had to respond by punishing the guilty parties. He dealt first with the snake: Genesis 3:14, 15 says, “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15. and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” I don’t know about you, but I can totally relate to the “enmity between thee and the woman” part. I hate snakes.

Eve was next: Genesis 3:16 “”Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Hebrew for sorrow used here, “thy sorrow and thy conception” is itstsabown (its-tsaw-bone’) meaning worrisomeness, i.e. labor or pain.

For “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” the Hebrew word is etseb (eh’-tseb) – toil; pang; labour; grievous. I gave birth to both of my girls naturally, and I can totally say, that my labor was all of those things. I must interject that God is very kind in that as soon as the labor was over, so was the pain. I was immediately in awe with the precious gift of life that I was blessed with each time.

The first time that God put woman under submission to man: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. I used to think that this meant that woman would desire her husband, but there is much more to it than that. The word desire used here in Hebrew: tshuwqah (tesh-oo-raw) – stretching out after; a longing, from the original word shuwq (shook) – to run after or over; overflow. Woman will have a desire to run over her husband, but he will rule over (have dominion over; reign over) her.

SIDE NOTE: Saying that husbands shall rule over their wives in no way means that gives husbands the right to abuse their wives in any way.

I believe Ephesians 5:22-33 explains God’s plan for the husband/wife relationship best:

“22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 . For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

“25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26. that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. 27. that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30. for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

“31. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh. 32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33. Neverthless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

The word Submission is often misunderstood. It does not mean being trampled on like a doormat. Christ submitted his will to his Father. When we follow Jesus’ example, we are honoring him. As we submit to God, we become more willing to obey his command to submit to others. In the marriage relationship, both husband and wife are called to submit. The wife willingly follows her husband’s leadership in Christ. The husband puts aside his own interests in order to care for his wife.

Submission is usually not a challenge in homes where both spouses have a strong relationship with Jesus, and they are both concerned for each others’ happiness.

I believe it is now time to see how God chastised Adam for his part in this fall from grace. Genesis 3:17-19 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18. thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19. in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Wow. What more can I say?

Eve should have literally run from that serpent in the garden instead of taking up a conversation with him. In giving him her attention, she allowed herself to be led astray, and she forgot about all that God had given her. She began to focus on what he had forbidden instead of being thankful for his blessings. When we start to dwell on what God does not let us have, that is when we get into trouble. Instead, we must think of the many blessings and promises he has given us and be thankful for them.

Paul gave some great advice in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice evermore. 17. Pray without ceasing. 18. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in God's Love

 

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