faith, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Welcome to the Table

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’”

(2 Samuel 9:1, NIV)

When David had finished uniting his kingdom and defending his country, he thought again of his beloved friend, Jonathan. Longing to show kindness in his friend’s memory, he calls for a search to be done. Does Jonathan have any family that he could look after?

After interviewing a few people, David discovers that Jonathan does still have some family left, a son by the name of Mephibosheth who was crippled in a fall when he was just a small child.

So, David orders for Mephibosheth and his son to be brought to him. Typically, new kings would completely destroy the family of the previous king. 

These executions would be carried out so that no one from the family would come to assassinate the newest king. That means that when David called for Mephibosheth, the crippled man was probably anxious. 

He expected a sword to greet him. Instead, he’s given a position of favor within the kingdom. In many ways, this is a story of what happens to Christians. Jesus rescues and restores us to a right relationship with Him, allowing us to dine at the table He’s preparing in Heaven. 

God, You have invited this beggar to eat at Your table and shown me kindness I don’t deserve. Thank You for Your amazing love. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Moms: Mother of Israel

“Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.”

Judges 5:7 (NIV)

Deborah was a judge in Israel. As a judge, she was a spiritual leader for the nation. One day, she called a man named Barak, who God had called to be a military leader, and shared with him that what God had revealed to her. God commanded Barak to take an army and defeat the Canaanites – specifically, their commander Sisera.

At this time in history, the Canaanites had been oppressing the land of Israel. The Israelites had tried to fight against them, but they were defeated and unable to reclaim their freedom.

So, when Deborah issued the command to Barak, he didn’t want to carry it out. He proclaimed he would only go into battle if Deborah herself were willing to come with him.

“Certainly, I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.

Judges 4:9 (NIV)

Deborah wasn’t just a prophetess. She was also a courageous patriot who fought for her nation. Her story illustrates that women can be fierce mothers even if they don’t have children of their own.

God, please give me courage in the middle of my battles. Let me remember Who I’m really fighting and honor You through it all. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

Book Reviews, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days to Understanding the Bible – Day 9

30 days to understanding the bible day 9

Yesterday, we talked about the Judges Era–the period of time in which God’s people were governed by men (and one woman) known as judges. But, if you remember, all was not rosy. In fact, most of it was pretty stinky. The Hebrew people had it really rough, mostly because they chose to disobey God.

Here’s a look at the review of what we’ve learned so far.

kingdomreview

So, do things get better for the Israelites in their next period of history, the Kingdom Era? No, they really don’t. Check out this storyline summary.

kingdomstorylinesummary

As Anders puts it, “the Kingdom Era was a very turbulent time with many ups and downs.” When a righteous king ruled (which wasn’t very often), things went really well for the nation of Israel. When an unrighteous king ruled, things went really badly…and this eventually led to the nation being exiled.

See, the thing we need to remember is that God never wanted the Hebrew people to be ruled by a king. He wanted to be their king (and He wants to be ours too). But they saw how the other nations around them all had human kings, and they decided they needed to have one too. So, God gave into them and gave them what they wanted. We know how that turned out, right?

The first king was Saul, who seemed to start out trying to do what God wanted him to do, but he sure didn’t end that way. The next king was David who, despite his flaws, really was a man after God’s own heart (God said so), and he was a righteous king. His son Solomon started out being righteous, but, like Saul, he ended badly … and so did his kingdom. It ended in civil war.

After Solomon’s death,  Israel experienced a nasty civil war that resulted in the kingdom being divided into north (Israel – 10 tribes) and south (Judah – 2 tribes, Judah and Benjamin). I love how Anders condensed all this information in an easy-to-understand explanation. I really, really got it easily and quickly. Now I know what the Bible writers really mean when they talk about Judah. Yay!

I underlined a lot in this chapter, but I learned a lot too. Pretty cool!

Here’s a look at the end-of-chapter self test. Be sure to check out the map.

 

Tomorrow, we’ll look at what ultimately happened after Israel (and Judah) continued to disobey God. He sent judgment upon them in the form of capture and exile. So, get ready to learn more about another dark period in Israel’s history.

Book Reviews, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days to Understanding the Bible – Day 8

30 days to understanding the bible day 8

Earlier, we talked about Joshua. He was a pretty cool guy, and he led Israel very well. But after he died, things just kind of fell apart. The Judges Era was a really dark period of Jewish history. As Anders remarks in his book, “They had lost their spiritual moorings, and … ‘everyone did what was right in his own eyes.'” I think it’s really sad that this, the darkest period, directly followed one of the brightest periods–that of the conquest.

Unfortunately, the Judges Era was a long one–spanning about four hundred years.

Here’s a review of what we’ve learned so far, as well as our current storyline summary.

There are four major subjects covered in the Judges Era: Judges, Rebellion, Cycles, and Ruth (I guess Ruth just fits in time-wise; I don’t remember any judges being mentioned in that book). There are also four major judges Anders identifies: Deborah (there she is – one of the earliest judges was a woman!), Gideon, Samson, and Samuel (I didn’t realize he was a judge as well as a prophet!).

Anders also identifies a series of seven cycles that can be found throughout the book of Judges: sin, conquest, repentance, deliverance, and freedom. But remember: this is a cycle, so just as soon as Israel gains its freedom it sins and finds itself being conquered again. As I said, there’s some pretty heavy stuff that goes on in this book.

But then, following Judges, comes Ruth. Anders calls this a “refreshing contrast” to the darkness and sin of judges. As he says, “Her story is one of love, purity, and commitment.” And it’s totally true!

Here’s the self test for this chapter. As I said before, these keep getting longer and longer.

I learned a lot in this chapter. Obviously, I didn’t know very much about the book of Judges, even though I have read it before. For instance, I never really knew that the judges were military leads more than they were legal arbiters. I just assumed a judge then was the same as a judge now. How wrong I was!

Tomorrow, we’re going to take a look at the Kingdom Era. This is another part of the Bible I’m not too familiar with, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot. How about you?

Book Reviews, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days to Understanding the Bible – Day 5

30 days to understanding the bible day 5

Yesterday, we began a more in-depth look at the major sections of the Old Testament with the Creation Era. Today, we’re covering the rest of the book of Genesis – from chapter 12 to chapter 50.

Anders has termed this section of history the Patriarch Era. This is the portion of text that focuses on the birth of the nation of Israel, from father Abraham to his great-grandson Joseph. There are some fascinating stories contained in these chapters, so if you haven’t spent a lot of time reading the end of the book of Genesis (or the beginning, for that matter), I highly recommend you start today. I read the book through at least once every three months. Genesis tells you how it all began, which is important for a better understanding of how it’s all going to end.

But even though I’ve read the book of Genesis through several times, there were still some things I learned in this chapter, which is pretty cool!

As is the case with most of the other chapters in this book, we start with a review to see how much we remember about what we’ve learned.

reviewofcreationera

Then Anders transitions right into a storyline summary of the Patriarch Era. I have to admit I’ve never thought of the Hebrew people in quite this way before – they were chosen by God TO REPRESENT HIM TO THE REST OF THE WORLD.

God had already hinted at His solution to the problem of sin in Genesis 3:15. The Savior who would crush the serpent’s head would come from the Hebrew people, the descendants promised to Abraham.

patriarchsummary

Also, note the reference to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers above … two locations we learned about in a previous chapter. You can bet there’s another map coming up. I’ll show you in a minute.

This chapter also includes a brief description of Abraham and his descendants through which the Messiah would come (Isaac, Jacob/Israel, and Joseph).

timeoftrialsparksspirirtualhnunger

Joseph’s death transitions us into the Exodus Era. But look at that last sentence I highlighted above. The bondage the Hebrew people found themselves facing increased their spiritual hunger. God sent the trial so they would look to Him for rescue.

This reminds me a lot of Romans 5:3-5 (NASB): “…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Even in our struggles, we can hope in the love of God. If we look to Him, He will help us.

As is the case with the other chapters, this chapter ends with a self-test, so you can solidify the new (and old) information you’ve learned in your mind. And look–there’s the map I was telling you about earlier! It shows the movement of Abraham from Ur to Cannan, and then the Israelites’ movement from Canaan to Egypt.

 

I have a feeling in the next chapter we’ll be talking about how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt (with some miraculous help from God). Stay tuned for that. It’s going to be awesome!

Have You Missed Any Previous Posts in This Series?

Here’s a complete list of what I’ve read and posted so far, just in case you need to catch up.

The Structure of the Bible

The Geography of the Old Testament

The Historical Books

The Creation Era