There are so many noble and notable women in scripture and throughout history, but there are always those who stand out because of their sinfulness and dedicated intent to do evil.
One such is surely Jezebel. She was the daughter of a Baal worshipper and gave over her life to serving this false god and getting the people around her to do the same. She hated the God of Israel and also His prophet, Elijah.
She tried many times to take Elijah’s life and God had to protect him from her evil intentions. She wanted control and to have the opulent things of this life, so she managed to marry Ahab, the evil king of Israel. Ahab was weak and Jezebel was adept at getting him to do whatever she wanted.
Jezebel pursues evil to such an extent, that her own false prophets were killed, and members of her own family were given up to the pleasure of the fake god, Baal.
Jezebel painted her face and decked herself out with the richest of clothes. She reflected the wantonness in her worldly heart and her desire to make herself in her own image.
She was not loved… Some of her servants threw her out of an upstairs window and she fell into the street, splattering blood everywhere. No one would pick her body up, so the dogs of the city ate her. At least they ate her except her skull, feet and the palms of her hands…
A bloody, violent and God-forsaken death…
Mary Magdalene was born in Magdala, a town of great immorality and idol worship. She lived a life of depravity, making her living from pandering to others. She may have been a prostitute, but her life was certainly far from God ways, without love and a with settled hardness of heart. She also had seven devils living in her body, and the outworking of this for her peace and rest, would have been too dreadful to write.
Mary was trapped in a life so dreadful, with no opportunity to get out. A slave to sin and the power of Satan..
But one day she met Jesus. She instantly recognised Him and her heart longed to be free from the sin so that she could relate to him. Jesus reached out to her, forgave her for every sin, and set her free from Satan’s vile grasp… No one else could or would do this for her.
O how she loved Him… She followed Him everywhere and gave of her earnings in business to support Jesus and the disciples. She adored Him because of what He had done for her and because of who He is. She poured vastly expensive perfume over Him, something no one else had ever done before or ever again. She watched Him die, refusing to leave him. She was there when they took him down and put Him in the tomb.
Mary was the first to see the risen Lord, such was His love for her. What a privilege…
What is the difference between these two women? Both sinful and stuck in a life of vice and depravity.
The difference is that Mary met the Lord Jesus. She was found by Him, and released from her bonds. He changed her and set her free. She confessed her sin and was forgiven everything.
This is the only thing that makes a “good” woman…. this is the only power that can change us and release us from our sinful selves and make us able to please God…. The power and love of a Saviour who suffered in our place, is what makes the difference.
Surely there is a time and place for seeking the help of others. Does God not work through others to carry out his will?
King Asa, king of Judah, fortified all his towns and cities to stop anyone from entering or leaving his territory. He had a shut-down policy on immigration. Then he took the precious items from God’s house and from his own palace, and gave them to the king of Aram to pay him off and stop him attacking Judah, but also to over-ride the treaty with Baasha, King of Israel. Bash was attacking Judah and Asa decided to use political measures to secure his territory.
Aram, started to over-come Israel, Baasha stopped his building and Asa commandeered all the stones for himself. Asa regarded this as his right to the spoils of war.
The Seer, Hanani spoke against Asa.
“Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.”
Asa had tried to manipulate events and people, and had stopped trusting in the Lord his God, and so he becomes friends with Aram and got some things he wanted. But at what cost?
Hanani reminds Asa of God’s past faithfulness…
“Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand.”
Asa appears to have forgotten this, or has left off his usual devotion to God and is now relying on himself.
Now we have an amazing statement, a promise to the faithful believers who are totally committed to the Lord…
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Asa has missed the boat. He has committed himself to godless liaisons and so now there will be consequences for him.
“You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
You would expect Asa to repent…but he didn’t. He was furious and threw the Seer into prison and oppressed some of his own people. How foolish we are. When we find ourselves on a wrong course. Surely we would turn back, relent and change…but we often don’t. Such is the foolishness of the human heart (even one that believes) that it will insist on a course of action, even when it is self-destructive.
God tried again… He sent Asa a serious disease that affected his feet. Even so, he would not seek the Lord’s help and remained stubborn to his dying day. He put his trust in the doctors and not in the Lord his God.
As we read this passage, we can see where Asa went wrong, but it is more difficult to see where we go wrong in our lives. We can pass judgement on the mistakes of others, but not see we are doing the same thing. God sent Asa godly Hanani to help him, but he refused.
Let us not be so foolish to ignore God’s provision and carry on in a godless attitude. Forgetting God is not wise, whether it is a mistake, or purposefully. If we remain unchanged and unchangeable, we miss so many blessings- and the opportunity to walk with God by faith.
The man on the cross… Why is He there? Does it mean anything? Does it mean anything to us?
We see him there hanging halfway between heaven and earth. We see that broken body. We see that face which cannot be distinguished as any person in particular and see those wounds – so many without number. Nails puncture His hands and feet, pinning Him to the wood and that spectacle, hung up so all can see.
When artists paint this picture they paint a loincloth to shade Him from this disrespect, but in reality he was naked on the cross open to all taunts of the people who stood below his cross. They all laughed, mocked, pointed insults, scoffed at this one man, the God and maker of everything to pin their own shame upon him. That shame was not his own but ours. Ours the blame along with the agony and the punishment for eternal sins. The bloody wood remind us of the payment for sins – things done against God’s holy law, not disregarded but paid for by this blessed man. He took it all for our sake so that we would never have to suffer… Not human, but the unhuman love of the eternal Son.
Still to this day He remains the rejected Saviour. Still a race of loved creatures, who continue to heap shame upon Him. The shame of ignoring, silent rejection and indifference.
But the suffering Saviour no longer suffers on that wooden cross, but reigns over all, glorified on heaven’s throne. Forever glorious and the Saviour of all who come to Him…
Human kind remains, heaping up shame upon themselves, until the day each realise the reality of their need and each gives up their shame and He bears it all away…
Stand at the crossroads.
As the Prophet Jeremiah foretells, our human society stands at the crossroads of its life and spiritual future. We face a decision that in many ways has already been chosen for us. There are four possibilities but only one that leads us to life. There are many and varied arguments as to the “right” way to go. The Book of guidance is not regarded by us in our well-educated days, even Christians seem to have the right to pick and choose which words are to be accepted and which can be discarded.
We appear to have gained a right to pass judgement on the historic and carefully preserved sacred documents, though we may never have even read them, never mind studied them. The outcome is that “anything goes.” There is no need to pay attention to what God says about my person, my relationship to Him and where I will go after this earth-life is over. God will forgive anything anyway and is not dogmatic enough to make demands on my behaviour and life choices. So our view of Him is tarnished…we imagine He is like we are…
As we stand there at the parting of the roads, open the book of books, and the way to life will become transparent as the Spirit breathes energy into our minds and hearts.
Turn backwards to the road you have been on, and you will live life on the terms of the past, destined to repeat its mistakes and folly. It is actually the direction that goes downwards into the night.
Turn to the right and follow the dead trail of rules and regulations, binding us in a bondage that will suck all our life away, and lull our souls into complacency..
Turn to the left and live for yourself, subjugating the Spirit and sateing desire for the bodily needs. Truth twisted to suit the soul confirming us in the folly, and so we are condemned to die.
Walk on. Follow the straight and narrow roadway that leads to life everlasting. A life filled with the Spirit of the living God, mind and heart renewed through repentance and faith in the only Saviour.
But we will not follow the book. Our minds become darkened and the pathway is murky and full of fear… Therefore there is no rest for our souls….
We deny the book. We fudge the reality of the crossroads and we stumble into darkness..
Who will stand at the crossroads?
Who will point the way, proclaim the book and call out the warning?
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
Galatians 5:22-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Ephesians 5:9 “For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.”
Revelation 2:7 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
1 Corinthians 14:15 “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.”
The Christian cannot do anything without the Spirit of God. Without the Spirit we are dead in sins and under the control of our wrong desires. There is no exception to this. When we first believe and put our trust in what Christ did for us on the cross, we get a new life and God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in us, every day, forever. Our desires change and we seek to walk with Him and conform ourselves to God’s ways. The power of the Spirit enables us to do this. Without this power we are dead.
The fruit of the Spirit is obvious, in that it is the opposite to the ways of this world. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are not bullish, brutish, rough graces, but the reflection of the gracious Spirit, and are often thought of as Feminine traits. They are not just for the Christian woman, but for every Christian. The male dominance does not appear here. We are to live in subjection to each other, in the way of truth and righteousness.
There should be a holy respect for each other and a recognition of the power of God in the lives of his people. There is no “ordinary Christian.” Every person that belongs to God will overcome self, sinful desire, temptation and the enemy who is Satan. They will overcome by the power of the cross and the shed blood of Jesus, who calls for forgiveness for His own.
The Spirit promises victory to every believer who overcomes in the Spirit’s power, and they will gain eternal life with God, where the true fruition of these graces will bloom in every heart redeemed by Christ, for ever in the eternal kingdom.
Our whole lives must be subject to the Spirit, and we must cultivate listening to Him, as we read the word of God. As we follow the obedience of the conscience and promptings of the Spirit within, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Spirit is not an impression or a feeling in the body or head, but the outworking of the deep understanding of the truth of God. He is a person, and is known as a person by all who humble themselves and seek his rich fruit, which propagates in their lives, and shows Christ to an unbelieving world.
Those who truly belong to Christ succumb to the work of the Holy Spirit and live in the delight of knowing His presence and power flowing through all of the person. The Spirit never contravenes the scriptures, nor can He disobey God. His nature is humble and gracious and this is also reflected in the life of the Christian, as we walk humbly with our God and seek to serve Him in all ways.
Anything that goes against scripture, is against the Spirit.