Proverbs 31 Woman in Action

This is Jan Verhoeff, and I’m co-authoring a book with fellow business connoisseur and startups master, Kevin Cullis, and during a recent discussion, he asked me to write a segment about “the art of womanliness in business.” Following is a short portion of the book – the reveal of the study portion – I’m using as insight for my writing. I thought you might enjoy it.

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I can hear the masses roaring with laughter here, as I consider the concept Kevin Cullis has asked me to write about… The Art of Womanliness in Business. If you know me, this concept may bring you to immediate tears or, it may send shock waves through your body at the very idea. But I do have a perspective on this model that may surprise a few of you, or disgust others. Either way, I’m diving in…

Before I go to my personal views on the matter, let me head you off at the pass with a glimpse of the Biblical Profile of a woman.

Yeah, that trusty old Proverbs 31 woman works every single time… And I’m going there.

Let’s go straight to the basis, with details from the King James Version – because that’s what I prefer to study.

King Lemuel speaks these words as he was taught by his mother. I don’t recall any discussion in the Bible about King Lemuel’s father, whether he has a living one, or was raised with a father or not, although the conceptual husband is mentioned in this passage. But he has a very wise and understanding mother, who raised him and taught him well the value of a good woman.

She tells him, according to verse 2 “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” Then she further reminds him that men should not to partake of strong drink, or wine, because they might forget the law, or endanger themselves with perversion.

Her wisdom appeals to the strength of a good man, one she esteems and respects, for she knows exactly how he was raised, she raised him herself. And he took well her counsel, carried it through his life and shared it as we have seen in these words.

virtuous womanThen, he offers an excuse for those who might deserve strong drink. Those who are at the end of their lives, or those who are impoverished, sad, and indisposed of life, as they should be allowed to forget their troubles.

King Lemuel asks, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” And he places the value of a good woman above gemstones, rubies. He values women. Particularly obvious here, he values his mother, a woman who can be trusted by her husband.

If King Lemuel had a living father, he proposes that his father can trust his mother, the woman who gave him birth. And he goes further to extol the virtuous woman, who will do good and not evil all the days of her life. (Let it be known here, that she raised her husband’s son to be King, to carry on the family name in a virtuous and profitable manner.)

King Lemuel acknowledges that his mother considers the fields. She visits the fields, assesses their value, and purchases the fields. Then, with the fruit of her own hands, she plants vineyards. She is a strong, capable woman, who builds her own strength and obviously takes good physical care of herself. She gathers food, provides meat for her family, and for her maidens. She’s obviously a hunter when she needs to provide food.

The story continues, revealing her ability to work hard, creating product, services, and merchandise which she sells to provide wealth for her family. She works long hard hours, for her candle remains lit into the night, and she arises early in the morning. This woman who raised King Lemuel offers help to the needy, and provides well for her family. She fears not the winter, for her family is well dressed in scarlet. For herself, she is adorned in tapestry, silk and purple.

Her husband is well known at the gates of the city. He’s perhaps a political figure as well? A wealthy man, capable of leadership, and he is well known by the elders in the community. (Presumably by this portion of the passage, King Lemuel has a living father.)

This woman, the mother of King Lemuel, makes fine linen. She’s known to be honorable, strong, and wise. Wisdom comes from her lips, and she speaks the law in kindness. Her gentle voice resounds through the community as she is heard by her people. She is not idle. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her daughters are virtuous and excel in their lives as well.

This woman doesn’t have to extol her own virtues, for she is known at the gates of the city for her wares, her fruits, and her wisdom. She is a woman of virtue, celebrated by many.

The Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of means, of business, of professionalism, and mostly of wisdom. She’s educated and wise. Men who know her appreciate and extol her value, they look to her for wisdom, and she leads her children, her maidens, and her household to levels of wealth and success celebrated by others.

Are you a Proverbs 31 woman?

Do you know Proverbs 31 women?

Please do take a moment and share your stories below. I’d love to hear more about virtuous women who model the Proverbs 31 woman’s lifestyle.

The Great Tribulation

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how close we are to the period of time referred to as “The Great Tribulation”. I believe that, during this 7 year period of time, we will see the earth revert back to the time of Judges in our relationship with God. You see, we are told that “He that letteth with let, until He be taken out of the way. And, then shall that wicked be revealed…….”

This is a representation of the Holy Spirit in the church. When the church is raptured (taken out of the way), the antichrist will be revealed and the tribulation will begin. When that happens, there will be no further Christian leadership on the earth. The Holy Spirit will not work through Christians in guiding others to the Lord, as He does now, and this is why I believe the Lord will speak to those remaining on the earth through Judges sent to guide and lead folks to the Lord, before it is too late, and the Lord returns in final judgement.

Because of that, I believe it is every Christians’ duty to review and study Judges to see how things might be during the tribulation. It will be far worse than anything in Judges, and the calamities will all be of Biblical proportion. Persecution of those who accept the Lord as Truth, during this time, will be severe, and most will have to starve or be beheaded, should they refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast.

So, I am going to do another teaching on the Book of Judges, and invite you all to join. I am posting the introduction at the end of these comments and, depending on how many of you decide to join me, I will cover a chapter a week, and take questions and comments.

There is one exception: If anyone begins to become belligerent or post inappropriate comments, I will simply delete the comments and block them from the teaching page.

Judges can teach us many thing about how to live, how to remain committed to our beliefs, and how to prepare for those things to come. The main thing we can do is to pass along this wisdom to our family and friends. Even if they do not accept the Lord in time to make the rapture, they will be better prepared to handle those things to come. There are some amazing stories in Judges. Most folks know about these heroes of the Bible, but some are far less known than others. For example:

The third Judge, Shamgar, is mentioned very little, so we know very little about him. There’s only one verse devoted to him in Judges, and just a mention of him in the song of Deborah (who was the first and only woman Judge).

After him the [third judge] was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: he also delivered Israel.

The ox goad was a pole, about 8 foot long, that had a sharp metal end, with which they would prod the oxen, as the oxen were plowing. This was to keep them going. Some of these ox goads were as much as 6 inches thick. It would take a pretty strong man to wield one of those ox goads. This guy did it. With it, he killed six hundred of their perennial enemies, the Philistines.

Later, we will see that Samson killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. This guy was of the same style as Samson, even though we get little information about him. We know his name is Shamgar, and we can see he is an interesting character. He is strong, and God used him to deliver Israel. Too bad we don’t know more about him. He was special, because God called him and used him.

2017 – Book of Judges

In the history of Israel, and the Middle East, many of the kings followed the pagan practice of offering children as live sacrifices to the pagan gods. I fear for our nation, because we have made such a strong move in that direction. With the kings of Israel, like Menessah, it all began with his walking in the ways of the kings of Israel, making these molten images for Baalim.

Man has always found himself worshipping the sexual body. With some of the rituals associated with such worship, the result was unwanted pregnancies. The sexual reproductive worship was practiced as the worship of Ashorem. The sacrifice of the unwanted children was done to Molech. This is all very similar to how premarital sex has become an accepted practice today, and abortions are the mechanism to rid the unwanted pregnancies. In our time, we have seen a tremendous liberalizing of our attitudes towards sexual relationships. We now sacrifice the unwanted pregnancies to the god of Molech. We call abortion the more humane way, because the child is destroyed while it is still in the womb being formed. We don’t give it the opportunity of ever being born, as though it is less sinful then, than it would be later. I cannot be convinced of that, and I believe that this nation will have to answer to God for this worship of Molech.

He offered his own children unto the pagan god, Molech, the god of pleasure. Burning his own children alive was meant to somehow show devotion and love unto Molech. This was their form of abortion in those days. Whenever you open the door to pornography, and man’s passions, and sensual desires are aroused, you then have that pressure towards promiscuous sexual relationships. It follows a pattern, and promiscuous sexual relationships lead to unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancies lead to pressure for abortion, or the getting rid of the product. In those days, they had not the sciences of abortion, as we have today, thus they would bear the child, but then they would take the baby and place it alive, in the fire.

They’d burn it, cremate it.

Our courts opened the doors for pornography, when the Supreme Court said that they were unable to define obscenity. Because it was an indefinable term, it was the result of the influence of existential philosophy. Existential philosophies declare that there are no absolutes, what may be obscene to me may not be obscene to you. If there are no universal morals, or universal standards, then you cannot have a true definition of obscene. So, the court, buying into the existential philosophy, declared “We cannot define what is obscene”.

Their inability to define obscene, opened the door to all types of sex magazines with explicit types of sexual pictures, designed for the purpose of arousing and inflaming a man’s passions, stirring a person in a sensual way. When someone gets involved in pornography, there is a satanic force and power that gets hold of them. It is the worship of a pagan god! In the old days, they called it Ashorem. Paul said, “They that sacrifice to these idols, are actually sacrificing to demons”. When you start getting into these things, a demonic hold comes upon your life, and you develop a desire for more and more. Soon, just a female form standing there nude isn’t enough. You begin to search for something that is a little more tantalizing, and enticing, and arousing. The pornography becomes worse, and it deepens its hold on your life, until you become a slave to it. At that point, you are led into all types of perverted sex, for any sex outside of a commitment within a marriage vow, is perverted sex. Pornography is a perversion of God’s intention for the purpose of giving to us the capacity of sex, and giving to us the enjoyment of sex, and giving to us sexual drives. God gave this to us for the purpose of creation of a beautiful intimacy between two persons who have committed their lives to each other. “For this cause a man shall leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife, and they two become one flesh.” God’s purpose, God’s design, is to create a beautiful unity, an oneness, to create total intimacy between the two in a sacred relationship. Homosexual and lesbian relationships are a perversion of what God intended. Any use, outside of that God intended purpose of the bond, and intimacy of marriage, is a perversion! That leads to unwanted pregnancies.

The next thing the courts decided was that anything that consenting adults wanted to do was alright. They obliterated all of our laws against adultery and against homosexuality. They got rid of all of those laws, meaning anything that consenting adults want to do is permissible. Suddenly, we began to have hundreds of thousands of unwanted pregnancies. The court was then obligated to rule that abortion is okay, if a woman desires it. And we began to sacrifice our children to the fires of Molech. Millions of babies each year, in the United States alone, have been sacrificed on the altars of Molech. For this, God brought the nation of Israel into judgment. For this, God brought the heathen nations into judgment. For this, God will surely bring the United States, and our world in which we live today, into judgment.

You cannot just go on continually defying the laws of God, and thinking that you’re not going to have to pay! There’s a price for this kind of licentiousness, as this nation will surely discover. “He caused his children to pass through the fire.”

Now, with that said, I believe that we are indeed living in the last days. There are no events remaining, which have to occur, before the Rapture of the church and the beginning of the Tribulation period. During the Tribulation period, I believe we will see the world, especially Israel and the Middle East, fall back into the time of the Judges of Israel. In fact, we are told that there will be “two witnesses”, who will prophesy for 1,260 days, before being slain in the street. They will have their bodies remain in the streets for 3 ½ days, and we are told that “those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”

After the 3 ½ days, they will rise and ascend into Heaven in a cloud while the world watches. I believe these two are actually Elijah and Enoch, because they both went to Heaven without tasting death, and I believe their role is similar to the role played by both the prophets and the judges of the Old Testament. At this time, the “time of the Gentiles” will be over, and the Jewish folks will have their eyes opened to the true Messiah, Jesus. These two men will be here to witness to the world, and specifically to the Jewish nation, of the fact that they rejected the one true Messiah in Jesus, and bring them into repentance and acceptance of their error.

So, because there is coming a return to the times of the Judges, I felt it appropriate to again provide teaching notes on the book of Judges, for anyone who wants to take the time to read them. I did this last year and it began well, but folks fell off, as other things in their lives kept them from the study. I will set up a group called “Judges-2017” and open it to anyone who wants to let me know they have an interest. That way, if you miss one of the chapter teachings, or fall behind, you can go to that group and read the notes on your own schedule. I know you will find a study through the Book of Judges not only informative, but satisfying.

The book of Judges covers the historic period of the nation of Israel from the time of the death of Joshua, to the beginning of the rule of the kings of Israel. We don’t know just how long a period of time that God actually used judges, but most scholars agree that the period of time was between 300 and 400 years.

During this period of history in Israel, there were thirteen different judges, who God raised up in those times of spiritual weakness. When God raised up each judge, Israel would see spiritual revival. During the time of spiritual revival, God would give Israel victory over their enemies. Eventually, each time, the revival would fade, the folks would turn to false gods, and the nation of Israel would fall into captivity. You can see that the nation of Israel was in a bit of a roller coaster ride, because there were 13 judges. This means there were 13 revivals, 13 falls into sin, 13 periods of captivity, and 13 periods of deliverance from the oppression of the enemy. There are vast and valuable lessons to be learned from the book of Judges. I plan to cover each chapter in Judges, one lesson at a time, so that we can all see some of the valuable lessons to be learned from this period of history in Israel.

For those of you who are students, or regular readers of the Bible, you will recall that the book of Joshua began with the words “Now after the death of Moses.” The book of Judges begins much in the same way, with the words “Now after the death of Joshua”.

It is interesting that the book of Judges does not follow a precise chronological order. It begins with the words “After the death of Joshua”, but the death of Joshua is actually recorded in Chapter 2. It also goes back to pick up a little of the book of Joshua, including Caleb’s capture of the city of Hebron.

I invite any and all of you to simply request to join the Facebook page “Judges-2017”. I will also post my teaching notes on each chapter on my regular page, but I would encourage you to go to the group page to post regular discussion on each of the lessons, including questions about the text. I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability and knowledge.

Anyway, I will create the page tonight, and will add any and all who wish to join over the next week or so. Then, we can do a chapter a week for 21 weeks, or work and a slower or faster rate, as desired by the group.

Just my invitation to share my thoughts in a 2017 study of the Book of Judges!

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Historically Speaking

History teaches us that, when times get tough, we call upon the Lord. He hears us, blesses us, and we prosper. With the prosperity, we begin to find other things that take up our time, and God becomes secondary to our lives. Soon, we are actively worshiping things, creating our own idols, and our hearts forget our God. Because we turn from Him He turns from us, and we begin to seek our own destruction. At some point, we reach the bottom, and we again begin to seek God. And, each time, He answers and reminds us of the simple truth that only He is the true God, and only He can bless us. Then, sadly, we begin the cycle again.

The Bible tells a similar story of the History of Israel. They followed the same process, and because of their failure to maintain their faith, they failed, time and time again. In fact, the Book of Judges details their failings, with God sending judges to bring them back out of captivity 13 separate times, only to have them fail, fall back into captivity, and revert back to God to save them.
Food For Thought
Come on folks, wake up!

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Reasons to Support Israel

The other day, a friend asked me why I was always so totally supportive of Israel and why I felt it so important that America stood by Israel in all things. Well, my normal response is simply that God’s promise to Abraham still stands today that He will bless those that bless Israel and He will curse those that curse Israel.

The response I got was a bit unsuspected. They felt that the Israel of today was not the same as the Israel of the Bible. The problem with that type of thinking is that folks just don’t study the Bible completely. You can’t just pick and choose and quote those things you agree with, while ignoring all the other text.

You see, if you read it from cover to cover, you will soon see that God is using Israel as a guide to those of us looking for His return. Israel was scattered throughout the earth as a punishment for rejecting Jesus the first time. Just before His return, we are told that the generation that sees the gathering of Israel back to its land will see the return of the Messiah.

In 1948, a miracle happened. Israel was again allowed to gather into their land. Since then, the land has been flourishing. This is the gathering prophesied about the restoration of Israel:

““On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the LORD who does this thing.”

““Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.””

The final verse in this part of scripture states:

“I will plant them in their land, and NO LONGER SHALL THEY BE PULLED UP FROM THE LAND THAT I HAVE GIVEN THEM,” Says the LORD your God.”

Israel is home to stay. No nation is going to overthrow then, and nations that rise against them will fall. God is truly involved. If you don’t believe it, you need to study a bit.

Jesus told us about it, also. When discussing the disbursement of Israel, He said:

“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

We are currently in the times of the Gentiles, and will be, until the church is removed from the earth.

He went on to discuss the signs of the times.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Jesus finished by speaking a parable about Israel. Israel is referred to many times in the Bible, as a reference to a fig tree.

““Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.””

We are encouraged to know that seeing Israel restored as a nation is THE MAJOR SIGN that has been missing from all past generations yearning for His return. We have been blessed to see that event.

He finishes by telling us the importance of watching for the signs.

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Well, I don’t think I need to explain any further, why I am so supportive of Israel. They are there to stay, and God is on their side. I choose to support my God.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Bible Study in Judges

The other day, I watched a video of some of the violence occurring in European countries, caused by the massive influx of immigrants from Islamic nations. Murders, rapes, and terrorism is running rampant in these areas. With opponents of extreme vetting putting up every blockade possible to stop the necessary actions to insure against the wrong type of immigrant gaining access to this country, we may soon be in the same boat as many of our European neighbors.
Thinking on this caused me concern about things that might happen in America, which would have been unimaginable just twenty years ago. My thoughts went back to a teaching I did several years ago about a tragic story in the Book of Judges.

In Chapter 19 of Judges, we see what seems to be a familiar story. It is similar to the story of the angels of God, who went to warn Lot to leave Sodom, at least the circumstances are very similar.

We are told that there is no king in Israel. It was God’s intent that He be the king over His chosen nation, so that they can be like no other nation on the earth. This was a period of anarchy in Israel, as everyone was pretty much doing what they thought was right in their own moral character. They had a philosophy similar to that of America today, “If it feels good, do it!” Israel had rejected the rule of God, and thereby the law of God.

We begin the story with a Levite, who was living in the area of Mount Ephraim, and he took himself a concubine from Bethlehem Judah. Now, a concubine was a wife, but without all the privileges of a wife. The woman was unfaithful to the man, and went to her father’s house in Bethlehem Judah. After 4 months, the husband went after her, to her father’s house, in hopes of reconciliation. He brought with him, his servant and two donkeys. She invites him in, and her father is overjoyed to meet the guy.

He stayed for 3 days, and tried to leave several time, but the father-in-law kept delaying them, so they stayed for two additional days, and even got a late start on the day they finally left. It’s about 5 miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. At the time of this story, Jerusalem was occupied by the Jebusites. In fact, it was not until the times of King David, that the city was taken from the Jebusites and occupied by Israel. Now, because it is getting late, the servant suggest that they stop in Jerusalem for the night, but the man says that he does not want to stay in a place not occupied by Israelites.

So, they traveled another 2.5 to 3 miles past Jerusalem toward Ramah. It was too late to make the full journey to Ramah, so they stopped in Gibeah, about the time the sun was setting. Gibeah was occupied by the tribe of Benjamin, Israelites.

Now in those days they didn’t have motels, where you could pay a fee and spend the night. A major part of life then was hospitality. It was extremely important to them to be hospitable to travelers. Even in our present day, the Bedouins have strict rules concerning hospitality. If you receive guests into your home, you are honor bound to shelter and protect them, for as long as they are under your roof. It doesn’t matter if you hate them so badly that you wish they were dead, you can’t mistreat them, as long as they are your guests. As long as they are under your roof, you are honor bound to entertain them, to treat them like royalty, and to defend them. Not to show hospitality was a great sin. So, the people of Gibeah were not hospitable to this man, his wife, and his servant. They were sitting in the streets of the city, because no one took them into their house for lodging.
Now, this old man, who was also from mount Ephraim, came in from working in the fields and began to talk to the man about where he was from and where he was going. The man told him of their travel to Bethlehem Judah and that they were on the way home, but no one offered to lodge them. He explained that he had adequate provisions for his group and his animals, but the old man insisted that he be allowed to lodge them for the night.

After they had eaten and drank, they were making merry, when the men of the city surrounded the house and beat on the door. They asked the old man to bring out the man, so that they could have homosexual relations with him. In response, the old man went out to them and told them not to do this wicked thing to the man, because he was a guest in the old man’s house.

This scene is very reminiscent of what happened in Sodom. If you will remember, the two angels of the Lord came to Sodom, on a mission from God to destroy the city. This destruction was because of the wickedness of the citizens of Sodom. The two angels were received by Lot, into Lot’s house, and were his guests, and therefore his responsibility. In the evening, the men of Sodom circled the house and demanded that Lot send these two men outside, so that they could actually have homosexual relationships with them. God destroyed Sodom because of this sin, and here we see the same thing happening, this time in an Israelite city, among the tribe of Benjamin. The same heinous sin that perpetrated the destruction of Sodom is now happening among God’s people. The moral decay into which the nation of Israel had sunk is obvious and evident in this story. The homosexuals of the city are so brazen as to openly parade themselves in the streets of the city, and demand their rights, which are not really rights at all. The old man recognizes it as wickedness, as folly. He begged them “Don’t do this wickedness, don’t do this folly.”

Because of the custom of hospitality, and because women in that culture and time had very little rights, the man did something that is quite unthinkable to us, today. It’s difficult for us to relate to this, because our culture is so entirely different. IMHO, our culture has been vastly affected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One thing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has declared, and has promoted, is equal rights. Christianity recognizes women as equal with men, in the sight of God.

You see, in Christ there is neither male nor female. We are all one, together in Him. The New Testament of the Bible has done so much to elevate the place of the woman, giving honor to the woman, and demanding respect for the woman. Now, as the years of Christian influence has affected our culture, we have such a high regard for women.

Sadly, as the pagan influences begin to prevail in our society, we see women again being degraded by a society that is trying to erase Christ, Christianity, and the Christian influence. Women are again being looked upon as objects for men to lust after. Pornography has added to the exploitation of the woman’s body, effectively degrading women, and planting seeds of lust in both men and women. The woman’s place of honor, respect, glory, and modesty is rapidly disappearing. If this trend of erasing Christ from our society continues, and the influences of religions such as Islam are allowed to forge their way into the base of our society, women are quickly heading on a straight track to where they once were, looked upon as an object for the gratification of a man’s sexual lust.

Then, the story takes us to a place that is even more difficult for us to understand. The man offers his virgin daughter and his concubine to the men in place of the man they are requesting. He is willing to sacrifice his own daughter. This is a grand example of a world without the influence of Christianity, a world without a king, a world without moral law, without moral principles to govern. The man recognizes this horrible sin, and he tell them “but unto this man, do not so vile a thing.”

So, these men took the traveler’s concubine, and they raped her and abused her all night. In the morning they released her, and she came and fell down at the door of the man’s house. When he arose in the morning, he opened the door and saw her fallen down, with her hands on the threshold. Did he help her? Did he check to see how she was? No! He just told her to get up, so they could be on their way. She didn’t answer, so he loaded her on his donkey, took her home, and then cut her into 12 pieces with his knife and sent one part to each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Now, this story ends with the following statement “And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.”

So, the message sent out to all of Israel was: “Hey! Look at this evil deed that has happened in an Israelite city. This has never happened before, since we became a nation. Consider this, speak your mind, and let’s get together.”
Most folks, who read this story in the Bible, simply write it off as an interesting (or, weird) story, with no real moral. I have a bit of a different take on it.

First, I see it as a necessary story, to assist us in understanding the times in which Judges were being used, if not only to show us what terrible sins and depraved lifestyles with which they had to deal on a regular basis. When we read about how a city of Israel has become so depraved in their way of life, it makes it a bit easier to accept the actions of a Judge, like Samson, using the jawbone of an ass to slay 1000 Philistines.

Second, and most importantly, is the fact that the nation of Israel, who had such rules regarding hospitality towards guests, could also be the home of such perversions. A whole lesson could be taught on the way this story could relate to how sin can come into a nation and destroy it from within.
Hmmmmmm! Is it possible that our own nation has already become indoctrinated into such perversion? Billy Graham was once quoted as saying “If God doesn’t punish San Francisco, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology!” Imagine the sin and perversion that may rear its ugly head, when an event, such as the Rapture of the Church, suddenly removes all obstacles in the path of satanic forces!

2 Thessalonians 2

The Great Apostasy

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Wolves at the door…

Wolves at the door

The struggle is real…

An American election can be controversial, and generally there’s some logic on both sides of the argument. This was a different year, and not one I care to repeat. However, as the continuum flows and our New President prepares to take office, the wolves are barking at the door.

One of my favorite passages speaks of a time when the wolves are knocking at the door, and the shepherd warns his flock. He talks about taking heed over yourselves and your flock, whom the Holy Ghost has made you overseers. In this particular section of the Bible, Acts 20: 28 – 34, the author is speaking to pastors, leaders in the church. But in this present day, in the days where the wolves threaten to cause grief among the people, among the flock, the author says men shall arise and speak perverse things, drawing away the disciples for a period of three years.

Three years…

Have we not experienced the pull of evil men separating God’s chosen leaders of his flock from the truth, from the people?

I believe it’s time to claim God’s promise of Grace which will build us up…

28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

Verse 32 says, ” I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

God’s promise is just as true now as it was then. He promises his word, the Bible, which is filled with Grace, to build you up and give you an inheritance among all men which are sanctified.

We must pray for God’s grace to fill us, build us up, and provide for our inheritance – Heaven.

And yet still… As a part of our inheritance, we are invited to pray for our nation, for our souls, for health, and we are granted answers to our prayers.

Jonas 3

God sees your heart. God sees your soul, and how you choose to live. God knows whether you’ve asked forgiveness and repented of your sin.

You don’t have to be perfect, come to God where you are and ask him to forgive you for your sin, and renew your heart for Him.

Be a man after God’s own heart.

 

 

A Standard Will Rise Up…

friends over coffeeIn recent days, I’ve struggled with the presence of friends who are non-believers, not that they are around me, I love them dearly, but with the consistent double standard that is pushed by them. At first, I thought it was just me, that since I choose not to be offended by their demands to be ‘respected’ and frequently offer them respect, but then during a recent conversation, I realized the double standard that comes from them, always.

After a discussion where I related my view of having ‘no God’ as being ‘we live and the we don’t’, one friend shared her view that we are a continuum of existence. While she believes there is something higher – a creator of sorts – her belief that we are energy and the energy continues in nature as part of a creation that is bigger than us. We (as people) are insignificant, and the ‘energy’ that is eternal, is the important part of our existence in her frame of reference.

She said that my believe in God, and that God sent his son to die for me (salvation) is egotistical, because I think I somehow matter more than other life forms. I have no problem being called egotistical, let’s set that right immediately, because I do believe that God created in Human Beings a SOUL and that SOUL lives for eternity. If we are believers, trusting in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our SOUL will live on in Heaven. That is MY belief and I have found that belief in the Bible. I stand firm on the foundation of my faith, the BIBLE.

My problem came from her lack of respect for my belief when she then asked, “If I hadn’t accepted Christ when I was younger, believing as I do now, where would you think I will spend eternity?”

The idea that you can ‘accept Christ’ and then stop believing in Him, doesn’t work for me.

If you don’t believe, if you can’t set aside your selfish indulgences enough to have faith in the Word of God, how can you THINK on any level that you are Saved by the GRACE of God?

It may indeed be egotistical for me to think that God would send His Son to live among men, give up His life on the Cross of Calvary, and then three days later Resurrect from the pit of Hell where He, the Son of God, paid the PRICE for Man’s SIN, and assent into Heaven where He will build a mansion and await for me, once I accept his Gracious Gift. I may be egotistical to believe that God did this for ME (and all others who believe in Him, and grow closer to Him daily). And if I am being egotistical in my belief, I will accept that as my right to feel so, given that I’ve humbly repented for my SIN and accepted God’s most Gracious Gift and by Faith chosen to follow God’s Word – the Bible – as my road map to Heaven.

I’m good with the egotistical part.

What I’m not good with, is the part where she presumes she’s going to Heaven, because sometime in her childhood, or younger days, she asked God into her heart and chooses (active choice here) not to believe that God gave His Life for Her. She’s making a CHOICE not to accept the Gracious Gift of God. Out of selfish choice, she’s made to refuse trust, based on Faith in God, because she feels like she has to KNOW all the details before she can believe in something so simple as the Creation and Salvation presented in the Bible over a few centuries of writings.

My belief in God comes from choosing to allow the words spoken in the Bible to be the PROOF necessary. Not only words spoken in the Bible, but those are enough to open the door to possibilities of truths that can’t be proven wrong by any other means… Why not believe in what has all appearances of being real – including current events, hinged on Biblical truths from centuries ago?

Believing doesn’t prevent me from having an open mind about scientific research, it just prevents me from falling into every sink-hole created by a new scientific vortex or black hole of variables that don’t really make any sense, and can’t be proven.

Yeah, I’m good with being egotistical enough to believe the Bible is God’s written ROAD MAP to Heaven. Because, in his infinite wisdom, more than a dozen decades ago, He inspired this verse, that offers so much meaning and hope for me today. “The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a STANDARD against ‘him’.” (Him, being those who rise up against Christians.) I’m a believer!

A standard against them...

Who Took Your Place?

God Bless America

One day, a man went to visit a church, He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said, ” I always park there! You took my place!”

The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, “That’s my seat! You took my place!” The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday School, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, ” That’s where I always sit! You took my place!” The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still he said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, “What happened to you?” The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, “I took your place.”

When you receive this, say a prayer.. That’s all you have to do. There is nothing attached. This is powerful. Just send this to four people and see what happens.. Maybe, just maybe, we can get the world to start thinking of who took our place.

Seek God First

The Great Iam. Iam God.

prayers go viral

“When life is too much and the load becomes heavy, pray.”

The message lifts me up to greater heights, and I know… I must leave it to God.

As my children grew, I experienced more than what I believed to be my fair share of struggles, and prayer became my constant answer. Those teen years when the battles were big, and I had to win – there is no option during those years for failure as a parent – you must win. I went to the battle in prayer first.

Sometimes the prayer was short, “God, help me.” But that was enough. God knew what I needed and he provided. Always my help in the darkest hour, God provided answers.

Now, my children are grown, and I send them out with a prayer to fight their battles. “God, help them.” Because I know he will.

A friend called yesterday asking about her daughter, and I prayerfully responded. Her daughter is mature enough to stand alone, yet her mother rushed to her side in a crisis, as parents often do. The daughter is taking advantage of mom being there, but in the wrong way. I lovingly recommended boundaries.

I knew at the time, that recommendation would haunt me.

Recommend nothing to others that you’re not willing to pursue on your own – as Grandma would say.

This morning, a childish game of fun triggered a bigger incident. I sat quietly at my desk allowing the program to play until the end, while I continued to focus on work. It wasn’t my party. I didn’t have to respond to the event. In silence I prayed for those involved and remained outside the situation, refusing steadfastly to get involved beyond prayer. After a lull in the storm, anger began to subside and life took on a less stormy look. I let a sigh of gratitude escape and glanced around the room. As peace once again took hold, I realized that God had stilled the stormy seas, and all was well.

Be still...I said nothing, and of me, nothing was asked. The storm clouds gathered, but I wasn’t in the eye of the storm. I was simply a bystander, waiting in prayer.

How often do we miss the opportunity to be still and know the great Iam. Iam God.

I know there are those who may say I’ve a typo in my meme, but the reality is that there is none… Iam God. In life, we must remember the great Iam.