as it sounds, many of my blogs begin in my mind with no introduction, title, or
even a theme. But I feel God as He moves my spirit in His direction. Some ask
how I know when I’ve received a message from the Lord. It’s a moment in time…
sipping my first bit of coffee. Relaxing in my sweats, my spirit will begin to race,
and just like that, a title and theme arrives in a telepathic message. I know
it sounds odd, but…
God is working on my tomorrows
isn’t a greater gift from the Lord than to help and encourage those who need or
stay in prayer. No words can express my deepest humbleness as our Father
addresses life’s daily situations. He brings the right people into our life
when we keep with the rhythm of His great plans for us. God can work out the
events of your life into a great masterpiece.
God is working on our tomorrows
wife and I met a wonderful woman this week who I can now call our sweet, new
friend. As Christian and godly as she is, she may not comprehend how she is
helping to do God’s mission on earth. It’s humbling to observe certain people as
messengers for our Lord. Yet, they are unaware they are being used for the
glory of God’s sole purpose. She is an amazing widow enthralled with helping me
and others. I, too, enjoy her walk with the Lord. Living alone with memories of
a wonderful world she once shared with her husband Charles, little does she
know, she gave me hope. She uses her talent as a core gift to serve the Lord’s
God is working on our tomorrows
spirit now moves within her, too, as she watches the waves break against the
seawall. Ideas swelled through her mind and found their way to her conscious being.
Barely awake, she wrote me a note, “I have ideas for you to undertake.” This is
how God works on your tomorrows! He uses other Christians who crave sharing the
Bread of Life. God knew how much we needed to meet this wonderful lady. Now a
communion of kindred spirits, she has become part of His higher plan.
God is working on our tomorrows
cannot explain, short of writing another book, how the last few days of my life
were an act of God. His timing is impeccable! Who would think, because of
prayer, He’d be working on my tomorrows? As you allow God to take control of
your life, He places those angelic people in your world to envision the shared
dreams. You must come to a place of commitment with the Lord to experience His
highest gifts. Trust in Him!
God is working on your tomorrows
To everyone with hopes and dreams – remain in prayer. Faith is the engine that generates toward the will of God. We serve an amazing Father, so seek if you have not, and pray in the sight of fear. Your devotion will become your very best friend, as you, too, will see… God is working on your tomorrows.
Let us pray,
Caring heavenly Father, I come
before you on this day because I want to seek Your will for my life. Lord,
rather than following my own direction in life. Because I know that in my heart
I can stray from Your chosen path.
Father, I want to be successful
in what I turn my hand to. For this reason, I want to do everything as unto
YOU. So on this day, I come to place the desires of my heart before You. I also
want to ask that in Your grace You will forward the plans I have for my life,
in a way that is best pleasing to You.
Guide me Lord in the way of Your
choosing. Father, as I lay before You the hopes and dreams of my heart, which I
would dearly love to fulfill. Instead, I surrender them all to YOU, praying
that you will lead me in the path that is best suited to carry out Your best
work in me.
Last weekend the world suffered an incredible loss of talent. As Kobe Bryant’s helicopter lay smoldering at the foothills of the mountains, people gasped in disbelief and choked back tears. Social media and our television sets covered the headlines to report on the death of nine great lives. It will forever change the surviving families as the Lord anoints them with hope and peace.
And the God of all grace, who
called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little
while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10
Facebook posting caught my attention about this tragedy, and it sparked me to
write today’s message. The posting spoke of the horror Kobe must have felt in
those last seconds when he recognized they would all die.
is the inevitable destiny of mankind. It’s not a pretty sight or an engaging
act for those left behind to pick up the pieces. Most people never want to
think about this unpleasant topic until faced with a funeral or a deadly
illness. Yes, it’s scary to think only Jesus could conquer death as He rose
from the dead. Our loved ones submit to their fate, and we are assured their
body will never walk on this land again, unlike Jesus… yet the irony is
not sure of the other passenger’s backgrounds on the helicopter, but I know
Kobe Bryant was an active Catholic. He attended mass and Holy Communion hours
before the crash, at an Orange County church. Much of his tumultuous past was
shaded in gray. Marital discord and loss of sponsorships plagued him for many
years. But, just like of all of us, he had sins to conquer before the Lord. He
knew only God could forgive him, so in 2003 he turned to the church for
consolation and hope.
love for the welfare of mankind surpassed all dignity. In December, he
witnessed a horrible car crash in Newport Beach, California. Videos captured
the moment he ran to the cars and pulled everyone to safety. He stayed by their
side, speaking comforting words of love until paramedics arrived at the scene.
supported seven charities and fourteen causes. His dedication to children and
their future was always at the front seat of his life. There is a lesson to be
learned from Kobe about compassion and spreading God’s love!
practicing Christians should always be ready for their inevitable destiny. If I
were a betting man, I’d place a wager Kobe prayed, like never before, in those
last few seconds of his life. God heard his prayers because He, too, grieved
the unjust execution of His Son, Jesus. He understands our pain. But, the Lord
is rich in mercy, and He opened His arms to all those passengers on the
is part of living – it is our fate set in stone by Adam and Eve. In my opinion,
though, nothing is sadder than the death of an adult who never accepted Christ
into their life before their mortality. As Jesus taught us, we are to confess
our sins, pray for forgiveness, and never return to them. If we commit these
deeds, we are assured of living with our Father in heaven. Christians should
rejoice in knowing God has lovingly addressed our need for forgiveness. It
clears the way for those we leave behind, and they can celebrate our eternal
life with Christ.
comfort in knowing God is the one in full control of our lives. He pre-planned
our birth and death. Nothing and no one on earth can change our fate. It is
futile to place blame for a person’s death because it was our destiny from the
very beginning of life. Take solace in knowing physical death is just the start
of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a better way to
celebrate a good Christian’s life!
May the surviving families of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Payton and Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan rest in peace in the arms of our Lord.
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Beloved Father, You made it big for me Yesterday; Can I thank you enough? Never! You are so good; Grant me the grace To thank you! I pray for more blessings; And the grace To use them for the glory Of your name. Amen!
in life, our faith in God waivers in and out. We might roll our eyes when confrontation
is before us and shun the real strength we prayed for in difficult times. But then
we return to the very spot we waivered from in the beginning. Our Almighty God always
remains with us, though, with welcome arms and forgiveness of our bad decisions.
night my eyes were opened a little wider by a word God whispered to my
conscience. I woke in fear of trying to comprehend His message. So I picked up
my Bible for protection and tried to find the meaning of the word He sent me. As
many knows, I’m a man of great faith. I’m not a Bible scholar by any stretch of
the imagination, but I do my digging when times like this are derived from God.
I tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke to me, you must know this word is written
in scriptures only three times. It was used in the Old Testament in 543 B.C. by
Samuel. He, too, was a man of great faith who led the Israelites to a battle with
the Philistines for over forty years. The Israelites lost twice, but then
Samuel looked to God and set up an Ebenezer between two mountains. He said, “Lord
God, You are my stone of faith, my rock I shall not break.” (1 Samuel) Scriptures
say, “The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw
them into such confusion that they were defeated by the Israelites.” From
that day forward, Ebenezer became the name of an altar for God to protect the
the bigger question is, why did God send me the word Ebenezer? Is it
because I, too, am fighting two personal battles, and God came to tell me it
will be Ok? Is it to inform you that your struggles are being watched over by
the Lord? Yes, all the above is true! Remember, your enemy is not greater than
God. He can make miracles occur with a stroke of His hand.
word for the day, Ebenezer, is the moment you realize you could not have
made it through the fires without God’s help. Your faith is like a stone, and
only God can bring you through these impeachable battles.
Ebenezer is as powerful of a word today as it was with Samuel in the Old Testament. We all bear our crosses, and as Christians, we must realize it is only God who protects us. Our awesome Father will come to our rescue in times of need. All you have to do is humbly pray for His help. May your Ebenezer be an altar as it was for Samuel. God bless.
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back at my younger years, I never understood much about life. Why do trees blow
in the wind’s direction? Why do the leaves turn in the autumn chill? Why does the
sun raise in the east and not the west? My mother tried to explain, “it was the
way God intended, long before I was born.” I think she was right! I never
questioned what she said, although I never understood it. But, actually, the
principles of life is what she was trying to preach to me.
“His divine power
has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
2 Peter 1:3
up fast after Pop passed, and life made a sharp turn. My brother and I rarely
agreed on anything. Respect was an unheard word, and I learned early on there
was a code to follow… be it God, family, or honoring those you love, but it
came with a price. Endured hurts showered our feelings for each other.
early in life that somehow, there is a code of ethics we must follow. It is
where our Lord holds us close to Him, and we pray He guides in the right
direction. His Word teaches us to persevere through our trials and afflictions.
In return, we lovingly give our heart to Him, for He is our Savior. This sets
the motion of life on the correct path.
Honoring the past and now looking forward to the
future, we should praise our parent’s wise advice. Teach our future generations,
God is the common denominator of respect – respecting yourself and others, even
when they do not deserve it. You can find something to admire in anybody if you
look hard enough, for each of us have amazing potential. It is a code of ethics our Lord expects from His
“We ask you,
brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and
admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be
at peace among yourselves.”
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
God’s eloquence sustains life for all his creations. I’m humbled by His magnificence and shutter at His being. Remember, if it weren’t for His ever-presence in our lives, we would remain in the absence of His grace. Let us worship His name!
My faith in you, O Lord, Is the source of my strength; I have full trust in your power; I know there’s no power Greater than yours; I know you always stand By those who depend on you; I know that each time That I run to you, You are always there for me; To protect me; And every time I call on you, You cater for my need. That is why I am confident, And bold; And courageous; I am sure of great things In the years ahead; If not the months or weeks Or days ahead. Thank you for granting me The grace to trust Fully in you.
What makes a woman powerful? Is it money, fame, a political
position, or is it an Oscar-winning actress? Any of these attributes may be
true in today’s society, but not in biblical days. Many excellent examples of
strong, influential women grace the pages of the Bible. Now two thousand years
later, everyone may find much wisdom in the biblical females. Use them as a
guiding tool in your personal lives and to develop a relationship with God.
Did you miss the first two parts of this series? Click HERE for Part One. Click HERE for Part Two.
Joanna the Apostle (also known as Junia)
Joanna does not have a specific story as some other women
in this series. In fact, her life is pieced together by many scriptures
throughout the Bible, but what an influential person! She was an upper-class
Jewish woman in 1st century Palestine. Her grandfather was Theophilus, the High
Priest in the Second Temple, in Jerusalem.
The earliest mention of Joanna was in Luke 8:3, where she
is referred to as the wife of Chuza, a steward to Herod Antipas. They were
married when she was very young, and they both maintained jobs in Herod’s royal
household. I’m sure this placed Joanna in a very unpopular category with
ordinary Jews. One of her husband’s duties was to make sure everyone paid their
taxes to Herod.
Like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, too, had demons in her body.
She was often curious about Jesus and His miracles. Would He cleanse her as
well? On the days she traveled away from the royal household, she would sit as
a bystander and listen to His sermons of parables. One day, Jesus directed his
attention to her and spoke with conviction. As the healing miracles of Jesus’
power tell, He knew she was possessed, too, with infirmities…and so He healed
Joanna gave a lot of money to Jesus and His disciples. She
was wealthy, well-connected, and influential, so she was able to protect Him in
subtle ways. She became instrumental in the success of His mission. In this
biblical age, it was scandalous for a woman to be financially supportive of a
man, much less a female who came from King Herod’s house. But, she took the
risk, even though she witnessed her employer, King Herod, behead John the
At some point in Joanna’s marriage, she becomes single
again. One can only imagine the reasons why this happened – perhaps Chuza
divorced her, or was he murdered for his position in the royal home? The Bible
does not state a specific cause. But, Joanna was in the ranks of the Galilean
poor with no social standing or financial security, but she held her head high,
turning her life to serve Jesus.
She memorized the Lord’s parables and joined Jesus in
storytelling among the poor villages along with a few other women. Many of
their listeners were rejected for their conversion to Christianity, so Joanna
could sympathize with their feelings. Indeed she was inspired by Jesus’
teachings. She traveled as far as Rome, being a witness to the Lord. She was
eventually named an Apostle.
It is spoken in scripture Joanna and Mary Magdalene
prepared the cloths to wrap Jesus’ body after His crucifixion. She was also a
witness to the empty tomb after His resurrection. Her love for Jesus was deep,
and she served Him faithfully until the end of His life.
What made Joanna a powerful woman?
Joanna was brave and proud. She faced public
condemnation by becoming single and leaving a royal household, but she held her
head high amidst the turmoil and confusion. I’m sure her conversion to
Christianity was a radical change too.
When she lived among the elite and wealthy, she gave her
money to Jesus and the disciples. She was generous to a fault. Her high
values didn’t place wealth on personal belongings, but rather to God.
Joanna was inspiring because she transitioned from
an aristocratic woman to a humble servant during her life. She didn’t mourn the
loss of possessions but became a witness to the strength of the Lord. Money was
a means-to-an-end to serve others.
Jesus healed her ailments because he recognized the self-power
she had inside her to change.
Her stewardship to Jesus and the Gospel was
uncompromising, and in return, He blessed her with grace.
After Jesus’ death, Joanna became a traveling missionary.
It is implied that if she died outside the Holy Land, they brought her body back
to Jerusalem. In the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, they adorned
Joanna a saint.
Imagine if suddenly your body just appeared as an adult.
You are facing another human who looks different, and his name is Man.
Everything around is magically beautiful. Objects called trees stand taller
than yourself, and the ground is green with grass and shrubs.
God spoke to them saying they could eat from any fruit of
the trees except for the tree of good and evil in the middle of the garden. God
warned them if they ate from the tree, they would die. This scenario is precisely
the one Eve faced on her creation day. I wonder what her thoughts were at this
As she walked through the shrubbery, she saw a slithering
serpent who spoke to her. (Genesis 3:1-6, NIV)
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in
Eve responded, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the
garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the
middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”
“You will not certainly die, for God knows that when
you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing
good and evil,” the serpent retorted.
The fruit on the tree looked delicious, so she picked it
off the stem and took a nibble. Then she handed it to the Man who also took a
bite of the irresistible fruit. Their eyes opened wide when they realized they
were naked. Ashamed and embarrassed, Adam and Eve pulled fig leaves off of the
trees, sewed them together, and covered the most intimate parts of their body.
Suddenly, they heard footsteps walking in the garden, so
they hid, in fear, among the trees. The Lord God approached them and asked why
they were hiding. Adam spoke first… “I was afraid because I was naked; so I
God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you
eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam and Eve
hung their heads down.
Adam answered, “The woman you put here with me—she gave
me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then Eve responded to God, “The
serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13 NIV)
God sternly faced Eve and said, “I will make your pains
in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to
children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
(Genesis 3:16 NIV)
Then the Lord God said to Adam, “Because you listened
to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must
not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil
you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and
thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of
your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it
you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19
The Lord made garments of skin for them to wear and moved
Adam to the east side of the Garden of Eden, where he would work the land for
food. Adam and Eve procreated, and a son, named Cain, was born. Later, another
son, Abel, was born. As they grew older, their children learned to struggle,
working in the fields.
Eve realized the curse God placed upon them, for life was
a battle. Childbirth was unbearable, and then she endured the death of her son,
Abel. The Lord punished Cain for killing Abel and placed him in the land of
Nod, east of Eden, to become a wanderer. We must do what is right before God or
reap the consequences.
Many misunderstandings about Eve swirl throughout the
generations and since the beginning of mankind. She is held responsible for the
sin of humanity by eating the forbidden fruit. Some believe she ‘enticed’ Adam
to eat it, too. However, there isn’t biblical truth to this statement. The fact
is, Adam did not have to take the fruit and eat it, but he did, knowingly aware
of the consequences.
Eve is mislabeled with names such as “the devil’s gateway,”
“temptress,“ and “wicked persuasion.” My response to any of those unwarranted
titles come from this standpoint – Eve did not know of evil, nor Satan and his lies.
How can she be singly be held accountable for the fall of mankind?
What made Eve a powerful woman?
Eve was the first woman, no other before her.
She is “the mother of all living,” for she is the
beginning of humanity. Eve represents the maternal potential of adult
women. She proclaimed the sons she gave childbirth to were created by man and
Eve was created with a pure heart, and her only
knowledge of life came from Adam and God.
Created in God’s image, Eve carries the feminine qualities of the character of God. Her power of being a woman teaches us mankind cannot exist without ‘womankind.’
Eve’s powerful story wasn’t so much about her good
qualities, but what she taught us about life and a relationship with God:
Disobedience to God leads us to follow our own will, thus
unfortunate consequences. She believed Satan rather than God. How many of us,
today, act on impulse versus praying to God for the correct answer to problems?
When we compromise God’s Word by blocking out or changing
the parts we refuse to hear, it becomes a means to continue sinning.
If we do not resist sin when it presents itself, we will eventually give in to the temptation.
Next Sunday will be the final two women in this series. Be sure to join us!
What makes a woman powerful? Is it money, fame, a
political position, or is it an Oscar-winning actress? Any of these attributes
may be true in today’s society, but not in biblical days. Many excellent
examples of strong, influential women grace the pages of the Bible, and I will
review two a week for the next four Sundays. Our ladies, now two thousand years
later, may find much wisdom in the biblical females. Use them as a guiding tool
in your personal lives and to develop a relationship with God.
The last point I want to express is “behind every
successful man is a strong and wise woman.” So true of these most powerful
women in the Bible! I hope you enjoy my review.
Mary of Magdala lived in a comfortable village of many
Greeks in Galilee. They depicted her as a prostitute in town. According to
scriptures, the single Mary Magdalene had a serious sickness caused by ‘seven
demons,’ so many people assumed she was a fallen woman. But, in biblical times,
certain illnesses such as schizophrenia, blindness, heart disease, and epilepsy
were thought to be demonic. The Bible is unclear what her specific situation
was, but bible scholars agree she was not a prostitute.
At some point in her life, Mary met Jesus in one of the
many villages He ministered to, and He healed her afflictions. She became an
immediate follower and a leader of a group of women who traveled with Jesus and
helped to support His ministry. Only a strong, self-confident woman would be so
brave to spread the Gospel in biblical days.
Jesus had two groups of people who accompanied Him – a
group of men led by Peter the Apostle, and a group of women led by Mary
Magdalene. However, according to religious tradition, females were meant to be
seen and not heard, but Mary, in controversy, was very close to Jesus. Just as I
wrote in the past, God chooses people to be His disciples that we least expect
to reach this broken world. Mary was one such example. Her great faith earned
special attention from Jesus.
On the day they crucified Jesus, Mary Magdalene, along
with two others, stood at the base of His cross and watched Him breathe His
last breath. Her heartbreak must have been unimaginable! In the Bible passages of Luke 23 and Matthew
27, Mary prepared Jesus’ body for burial by making a spice anointment for the
linens. She observed from afar as they placed His body in the rock tomb. Mary
visited His burial site every day as if waiting… did she know something?
In the early morning light, the following week, Mary visited
the tomb. As she sat and prayed an earthquake erupted and forced the rock away
from the entrance of the grave. Mary jumped up to look inside, and it was
empty! Suddenly, God’s angel appeared before her.
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
With tears streaming down her face, Mary replied, “They
have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Suddenly a voice from behind her spoke, “Mary! Why are
you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
Not recognizing the face, she said to him, “Sir, if you
have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him
away.” He responded with, “Mary!” It was Jesus standing before her.
She dropped to her knees, grabbed His hands, and said in Hebrew “Rabbouni!” Jesus told her not to hold on to Him because He had not ascended to the Father yet. Instead, He ordered her to go tell the disciples he was resurrected.
Mary ran to them and announced, “I have seen the Lord.”
It is interesting that in a society where women were held
in low regard, Christ showed Himself first to a woman. Mary loved her Lord, and
she was His truest, faithful follower.
What made Mary Magdalene a powerful woman?
She taught us to live courageously and faithfully for Christ. Jesus set her free by eliminating her ‘demons,’ and instead of going about her own life, Mary worked for Him. Even when she faced difficult times, and people called her hopeless, she allowed Jesus to work through her.
Mary was more loyal to Jesus than His own disciples. They hid as Jesus was led to His crucifixion, but Mary stayed with Him. She also anointed His linen with spices.
Mary was given the honor of being the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection. She was very important to Christ, or He would not have revealed Himself to her before the other disciples. It may be safe to comment Jesus changed the way women were viewed in society.
Mary teaches us that even if our lives are in terrible disarray, it is never too late to find hope in God.
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends and His apostle, ostracized her work as a disciple. In the Gospel of Thomas, he said, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of the Life,” but her strength of character and love of God gave her the courage to move forward. Today, she is often called the first woman evangelist.
What happened to Mary Magdalene
after Jesus’ resurrection? Much controversy exists about this topic. One theory
suggests fourteen years after the crucifixion, she was put into a boat by Jews
and set adrift without sails or oars. The boat landed in southern France where
she lived in solitude in a cave.
Another theory claims she
accompanied John to Ephesus, where she died and was buried. Some say she
evangelized Provence, France during her last thirty years.
A recent book titled The Lost
Gospel even claims Mary and Jesus were secretly married and had two children,
but someone’s imagination was a little overextended.
Today, in the Russian Orthodox
church, they know her as the patroness of sinners and penitent women. One of
the world’s best-known monuments is the Church of Mary Magdalene in East
Hannah is an inspiring and
wonderful story of humanity and all its flaws. No one is the leading character
in the story of their own life.
Elkanah lived in the Ephraim
hills of a small town thirteen miles to the northeast of Jerusalem. He practiced
polygamy through his Levite religion. Hannah was his first wife, and he adored and
loved her, doting on her every need. But, she was infertile, and his family
name needed to be honored with children, so he married another woman. Peninnah
was envious of the love Elkanah had for Hannah. She cruelly taunted Hannah to
tears each time she gave birth to their ten sons, and Hannah lost her sense of appetite.
One day, Hannah traveled to the
sanctuary, and she spoke to the priest about her inability to have children.
Her soul was crushed as the tears flowed down her lovely face. She dropped to
her knees before the altar and prayed.
if you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you’ll quit neglecting me and
go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely,
unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.”
Before the year was out, Hannah
conceived and gave birth to a son named Samuel. She told Elkanah she asked God
for this son. Hannah also explained when the child was weaned, she would
present him before God, where he would remain forever. He agreed with her
The day arrived when Samuel was
no longer dependent on Hannah for nutrition. She took him to Shiloh along with
a butchered bull, flour, and wine and presented him to the priest, Eli. “I
prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have
dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life.”
Hannah and Elkanah dedicated their lives to God as they watched their son grow up among the priests. Hannah made Samuel little white robes cut to his size, and they took them to him. Eli often said a prayer over her on those visits, “God give you children to replace this child you have dedicated to God.” His blessings and prayers were heard as Hannah and Elkanah had three more sons and a daughter.
Today, we acknowledge Samuel as a
prophet by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, an equal to Moses. He wrote the story
of his life, including his mother, Hannah, in the Book of Samuel.
What made Hannah a powerful
Hannah’s main attribute was perseverance. She prayed for many years for God to give her a child. She had faith in the power of the Lord and never doubted He would answer her prayers. Hannah teaches us never to give up, even when we think something is impossible. Her faithfulness to the Lord bled into her son, who became a great man.
Her boldness, strength, and devotion were like no other for she was a mother who gave up her first-born to the Lord. I’m sure most parents would rethink this decision. But, Hannah recognized all things are God’s possessions, even our children. He honors parents with children as merely a gift, a temporary gift. We are to mold them in the ways of the Lord as a blessing to all nations. In Hannah’s case, because she fulfilled her promise to God, He blessed her with a legacy of five more children.
Hannah’s power is also demonstrated through a promise which she kept to God. Her integrity is in the commitment of handing her child over to God. She never went back on her word, for if she did, she might never have conceived any more children. God rewards us for loyalty.
Thank you, Hannah, for teaching
us we must trust in the Lord in everything in our lives. Life is not always a
bowl of cherries, but with persistent prayer, miracles can and will happen.
Dedication to the Master who created us, along with integrity, will reap you
blessings beyond your wildest imagination.
Hannah is buried in the Tomb of
Samuel in the West bank, beside her son Samuel, on top of a steep hill just north
of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot.
We hope you enjoyed Part One and will return next Sunday for two more powerful women in the Bible.
Paul and Barnabas
settled back home and enjoyed leisurely visits with the disciples. They
discussed their handpicks for church leaders in their first journey. They also
detailed how God used them to open the door of faith to people of all nations.
Excitement filled the air.
Not long after
their arrival home, some Jews from Judea appeared at Antioch (of Syria) and
insisted they must circumcise every man for eternal salvation. A fierce protest
ensued, so the church sent Paul, Barnabas, and a few others to Jerusalem to
settle the dispute. (Acts 15)
The Jerusalem conference
happily received Paul and Barnabas. They knew about the good works of the two
disciples. The meeting began, and it wasn’t long before they argued both sides.
After a long period of heated discussions, James (the brother of Jesus)
declared the decision. Non-Jewish people would not be burdened with
circumcision. A letter would be given, instead, to every male – ‘Do not get
involved in idolatry, guard the morality of sex and marriage, and do not serve
offensive food to the Jewish Christians.’
Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, reported the decision of the conference, and it relieved many – they were pleased with the result. It was time to return to their missionary work. Paul wanted to return to a few of his earlier churches to give them continuing encouragement. But Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways. Paul chose Silas, a leading member, and preacher of the early church, to make this three-year journey with him through Asia Minor.
LYSTRA/ PHRYGIA (Acts 14:8-16:40)
It was the fall of 51 A.D., and Paul and Silas arrived in Lystra. He met a disciple named Timothy whose excellent reputation preceded him. Paul took the young man under his wing and mentored him, but one stipulation applied before he could travel with Paul… he must be circumcised so he wouldn’t offend the Jews who lived in Lystra. Timothy became one of Paul’s most steadfast and trusted companions as they traveled from town to town, presenting the Gospel. Day after day, the congregations grew larger and stronger in faith throughout Lystra and Phrygia.
MYSIA to MACEDONIA (Acts 16:16-40)
The apostles went
to Mysia (northwest corner of Turkey) at the suggestion of the Holy Spirit.
They finally arrived in the seaport of Troas which sat on the Aegean Sea. Macedonia
would soon prove to be an eventful trip.
The night of
Paul’s arrival in Troas, he could barely sleep. He had a vision of a Macedonian
standing on the far shore yelling to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help
us!” Paul understood God’s message; He wanted Paul to settle into Europe,
so he quickly put his plans and map in place.
When they arrived
in New City, Paul and Silas walked to Philippi, the main city and a Roman
colony of Macedonia. They prepared the list of cities they would visit, which
also included Apollonia, Amphipolis, and Thessalonica.
Several days later
was the Sabbath, and the apostles strolled down to the river where there was to
be a prayer meeting. They sat amongst the women who gathered there and talked
with them. Lydia, a purple-dye textile dealer from Thyatira, was a good
God-fearing woman. She developed a lasting relationship with the disciples, and
they even stayed as guests in her home until they moved to their next location.
But, before the disciples left, Paul baptized Lydia and her family. Today, we
know her in the Bible as the first European convert to Christianity.
Some time passed,
and a discerning incident occurred in town. The disciples ran into a slave girl
on the street who was a psychic. She began following Paul around for several
days, sarcastically yelling to everyone, “These men are working for the Most
High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!”
Paul became irate
one day and turned to her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of
her!” And the spirit departed from her.
When the slave
girl’s owners realized their fortune-telling business was bankrupt, they
gathered many people together. They searched and found Paul and Silas and
viciously attacked them. The mob dragged the disciples by their feet into the
market square where the police arrested them for disturbing the peace. They put
Paul and Silas in a maximum-security cell with their legs clamped in round
other prisoners in the jail heard praying and singing of hymns. Paul and Silas
were clearly amused at their arrest. Then, without warning, the ground beneath
their feet started moving and shaking – it was an earthquake! The walls of the
jailhouse shook, and every door flew open.
Badly shaken by
the disruption, the warden fell on his knees before Paul and Silas. “Sirs,
what must I do to be saved?” The apostles stood shocked and examined his
in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” The warden took Paul and Silas home.
He bandaged their wounds and fed them a meal. In the morning hours, Paul and
Silas baptized the jailer and his entire family.
The next morning, the court judges sent word the apostles were free. Paul objected based on the principle it humiliated them in public and good standing Roman citizens. Surprised the apostles were Romans, the judges hurried to them and apologized for the mishap. It was time for the ninety-seven mile trip to Thessalonica.
THESSALONICA (Acts 17:2-9)
was an ancient and prosperous city of Macedon in northern Greece. It was a
major trade route with many cultures. Paul and Silas took refuge in a man’s
home named Jason, who was a Jewish Christian.
A community of
Jews inhabited the area, so Paul immediately preached in the synagogues, “this
Jesus I’m introducing you to is the Messiah.” The apostle won many of the
God-fearing Greeks. Mad with jealousy, the Jews gathered a group of brawlers
off the streets, and they hunted every street in search of Paul and Silas. They
broke into Jason’s house but couldn’t find the apostles, so they collared Jason
and his friends instead and dragged them before the mayor.
The Jews yelled
hysterically, “These people are out to destroy the world, and now they’ve
shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear! Jason is hiding
them, these traitors and turncoats who say Jesus is king and Caesar is
The crowd of people and the mayor were alarmed by their charges. Jason had to post a heavy bail while the case was investigated. In the dead of night, Paul and Silas slipped out of town, but not before contacting Antioch (in Syria) to send Timothy to Berea.
BEREA (Acts 17:10-15)
A more matured
Timothy joined the apostles in Berea, a city in northern Greece. They, again,
met with the Jewish community and were treated so much better than in
Thessalonica. The Jews were enthusiastic to hear Paul’s message, and many
converted to Christians.
After only three months in Berea, reports filtered back to the Jews in Thessalonica that the three apostles were in town. Another Jewish mob scene began, and with the help of Timothy and Silas, Paul was put on a boat and taken out to sea. When Paul reached Athens, he sent word back to Timothy and Silas to come as quick as possible.
ATHENS (Acts 17:16-34)
Paul toured the
city of Athens while he waited for Timothy and Silas to arrive by his side. The
city was full of junkyard idols. Paganism gripped the town and works of art
such as statues were pillaged. It was clear the Romans deserted the city. He
spoke with many of the locals and developed good friendships. His preaching of
Jesus and the resurrection was often met with sarcasm, but many were intrigued
too. “That’s a new slant on the gods. Tell us more!”
approached Paul to make a public presentation of “his God” at the Areopagus, a hill
west of the Athenian Acropolis, where the government council often met. He took his stand and faced the audience.
of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked
around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar
with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing
you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
Paul’s notorious speech on that day won the conversion of a few people and some Greek poets who attended the program in Athens. A successful trip it was but fifty-five miles to the southwest, Corinth was calling him.
CORINTH (Acts 18:1-11)
Corinth was a
thriving cosmopolitan city. Shortly after his arrival, Paul met Aquila and
Priscilla, who shared the trade of tent making with him. They were new arrivals
to Corinth too; since they were Jews, they were banished from Rome by the
emperor, Claudius. A friendship quickly formed between the three, and Paul was
invited to live and work with them. But
every Sabbath he was at the meeting place doing his best to convince both Jews
and Greeks about Jesus.
At long last Silas
and Timothy arrived and now he could devote his time to preaching, but
something was wrong. They persistently argued and contradicted Paul, so he
walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus. Titius was a God-fearing man
who lived next to the Jews’ meeting place. Paul assigned Timothy to be one of his
leading troubleshooters for congregational problems within the churches of
converted to Christianity, and with the Lord’s encouragement in the middle of
the night, Paul was successful in his mission. He stayed another year and a
half preaching while he also wrote two epistles to the church of Thessalonica. These
earliest apostolic letters today are known as First and Second Thessalonians of
persecution, once again, played in the forefront. The Jews campaigned against
Paul, hauled him into court, and filed charges of seducing people into acts of
worship that were illegal. Gallio, the governor, could not have cared less so
he let the charges drop against Paul.
Paul stayed a little while longer before he left Corinth with his friends, Aquila and Priscilla, at his side. He wanted to go back to Jerusalem to observe the Pentecost. They boarded a ship in the harbor town of Cenchrea and headed for Ephesus in present-day Turkey.
EPHESUS to CAESAREA (Acts 18:20-21)
Priscilla and Aquila got off the ship and stayed in
Ephesus. They pleaded with Paul to stay awhile longer, but he promised he would
come back soon. He left the ship briefly to preach to the Jews (the first
person to preach Christianity in Ephesus) and then returned to take a boat to
Paul disembarked in Caesarea and headed to Jerusalem where he greeted the assembly of Christians. It was a long three years, and it was time to go back to Antioch and rest.
Did you miss Part 1? Click HERE. Did you miss Part 2? Click HERE.
SUMMARY OF PAUL’S SECOND MISSIONARY TRIP
During this second missionary journey, Paul formed many
disciples from all backgrounds. He took a young Timothy under his wing and
mentored how to preach and exhibit patience, purity, and integrity. It was
important to encourage their congregations, or it will be lifeless.
In Philippi, Paul disciples and baptized a businesswoman
by the name of Lydia. She was the very first person to convert to Christianity
in Europe. Many Christian denominations today recognize her as a saint,
especially in the Orthodox church. A modern baptistry is located, today, on the
traditional site where Lydia was baptized by Paul. In, we have to wonder if he
had Lydia in mind when he wrote: “Not slothful in business, fervent in
spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
Paul developed a strong bond with the married couple
Aquila and Priscilla. He disciples them, and they eventually became a first-century
Christian missionary team. In some religions, we often think her to have been
the first female preacher or teacher in early church history.
He planted the church in Philippi during his second
missionary journey somewhere the year A.D. 49 or 50. His ministry was so
successful that even when he left Philippi, the Philippian Christians supported
Paul sending him monetary gifts at various times when he was in financial need.
He wrote about this in Philippians 4: 15-16:
“When I set out
from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and
receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me
aid again and again when I was in need.”
He loved them for their commitment to the Lord, and they
became his closest friends.
During the time they imprisoned Paul in Philippi, he
suffered mentally and physically, but he knew life was never truly hopeless.
God can rescue us from any trouble. We can note the earthquake which occurred
while he was in jail was not felt or observed anywhere else in Philippi –
another of God’s miracles.
Athens was a disturbing experience for Paul as idolatry
overpowered the beauty of this lost city. He wrote about it in the Book of
Romans claiming Gentiles and Jews are under divine condemnation, hopeless and
helpless, and in need of salvation. His Areopagus sermon was infamous, though,
because it was his first attempt to explain the nature of Christ to highly
cultivated philosophers. He emphasized the need to know God, rather than
worshiping the unknown. The part of his speech which covered “the resurrection
of the dead” was his kiss of death. The Greeks felt it foolish and impossible,
so they threw out Paul’s entire message. We can find his ministry teachings to
Athens in 1 Corinthians: Chapters 1, 2, and 3; Romans chapter 1; and Colossians
chapters one and two. Paul never founded a church in Athens.
Corinth, though many people were Greeks, they were more
worldly and from other parts of Greece and foreign lands. They were more
receptive to Paul and his message that the Savior was the highest expression of
love. He made it known there is no higher love than that which gives up a son
to die for their sins. It was a different psychological approach to those who
praised other gods. Paul successfully founded a church in Corinth.
I hope you are enjoying this series about Paul the Apostle. Next Sunday, I will conclude with his third and final missionary trip and the circumstances of his death. As many finds the Bible confusing, I pray I have shed a light and deeper understanding of the complexity of Paul.