Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zipporah

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio



Exodus 2: 21 Then Moses was content to live with the man, 
and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.

 ....he sat down by a well.

There are many examples of meetings at wells found in the bible. A well was where you went to find a wife. The young maidens would have to get water for the mothers for the house as well as to water the animals. In the desert regions the wells and water sources were controlled by priest/kings sometimes called the shepherd kings. There were codes of conduct regarding hospitality shown to strangers, travelers, or resident aliens who settled in a community. Communities grew up around a viable water source. You can do with out a lot of things but water is not one of them. It was really a matter of life and death in many cases for those traveling through the deserts. 

A host was to provide at very least water, food and shelter to a stranger. A stranger was to accept what was offered. It was an insult to the host to not accept what was offered. It was an insult to the guest to not provide standard hospitality. We see this in the story of Jesus where the woman washes his feet with her tears. The host in that case had not provided the customary service of washing the feet of the guest. Luke 7:36-50 Simon the host has not provided water to wash the feet of Jesus or oil to anoint his head.

Our bible woman today is Zipporah who becomes the wife of Moses. 
Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew man. Moses was part of the Pharaoh's household where he had been adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter who found him floating in a basket in the river while she bathed. 
It is a rich story that you can find starting in Exodus 2. 

Moses fearing for his life flees to Midian and he sat down by a well.  
There he meets the 7 daughters of the priest of Midain. He helps protect them from a bunch of shepherds who were giving them grief at the well. He drives them off and draws water for the girls to water their flock. The take him home to their father Reuel, later he is called Jethro which is more of a title meaning excellency. 

He is a son of Esau and Basemath amazing there's a family tie here. Did Moses just pick a random well or did he head to Midian knowing he had family in the area. It was probably the providence of God being that he was raised in the Pharoah's household and probably did not know all that much about the family and it's relations. I happen to think the family tree and how things connect is interesting. So here's the verse where we find out that Reuel is Easu's son. It may be that is the Sr. Reuel and the one who is Zipporah's father is a son or grandson named after him. In any case the there is family heritage to be traced. 

Genesis 36:4 (NKJV)
4 Now Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel.

Zipporah is a no nonsense kind of gal as we see in Exodus 4:24 And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” 26 So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!”—because of the circumcision.

Maybe you are wondering what just happened. Moses has seen the burning bush and has decided to go back and free his people from Egypt. On the way the Lord is going to kill him. Hmmm wonder why. It would seem that he had neglected to do the proper circumcising of his son and some how Zipporah figured out what needed to be done in the nick of time. I think she is the only woman to have preformed a circumcision. It was kind of a guy thing.

Before you rush off to get circumcised so God won't decide to kill you. Let remind you that God was always much more concerned with you heart then removing a flap of skin from a male organ.

Jeremiah 4:4
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”

Deuteronomy 30
6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love theLord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Colossians 3:11
where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
 Romans 3:29-31 (NKJV)
29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

So Zipporah is truly zippy and a quick thinker. Her name means bird. She does fly to rescue her husband and son. 
Its not clear how much of the 40 years treck she was part of. It seems she may have gone back to her home in Midian.  In Exodus 18 Jethro (his title of excellency)brings the family to visit Moses. He is amazed by how God has delivered Moses and the people from Israel. 

10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

It is not clear if Zipporah and the kids stayed or just visited. Moses was a busy guy. There are  Gershonites who are put in charge of the fabric of the tabernacle. Not sure if this is Moses son or perhaps a Levite relative he may have been named after. It would appear they returned and lived among Israel and were counted among the Levites. 
14 Now the sons of Moses the man of God were reckoned to the tribe of Levi. 1 Chronicles 23   15 The sons of Moses were Gershon and Eliezer. 16 Of the sons of Gershon, Shebuel was the first. 17 Of the descendants of Eliezer, Rehabiah was the first. And Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very many.  

So we have come to the end of the A-Z for this year. I hope you have enjoyed these posts. I could probably come up with more on Zipporah but I have this growing stack of books I need to read, thanks to my pastor and my dad. I am blessed by the wonderful supportive people in my life. I still have a few more books that have been strongly suggest that I read but I think I will finish this stack first. I even have math books on Linear Algebra and Precalculus, yikes flipping through them I will probably need buy the dummies guide to math as well and work my way up to these. I stopped with math at making change and balancing the check book. 

I do write and post Monday thru Friday and this is actually my 485th post so there is no shortage of good stuff to read here.  In July I will have been at this for two years. I am delighted by the new followers who have joined us during this years A-Z challenge a little sad that we did not make it to 50 followers, but who knows the day is not over. 

Thanks to all of you who posted encouraging comments during the A-Z I am thrilled when people participate and interact. 

Prayer:
I pray Lord that you would bless each of these readers and blog followers. That they would be like trees planted by a water source. Let their roots would go deep into your word and cause their lives to magnify you because they have chosen to be doers of the Word. I bless them each with a hunger and a sense of wonder that will allow them to discover the riches and hidden treasures in your Word. Stir them to rise up and be overcomers and campions in their generations. Let them make a difference for your Kingdom for your honor and glory. Amen
Thinking I'll start into Psalm 119 tomorrow it should take us through the month of May. 
See you tomorrow. 





Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yahweh's Beloved

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Well only 2 more letters to go for this years A-Z blogging challenge.

The Beloved by Margot Cioccio 
Yahweh is the Hebrew name for God. God's name was so holy that was only written but never spoken, instead they took four letters (Yod Heh Vav Heh), translate that into Roman you get Y H W H. Because it was considered blasphemous to utter the name of God it was only written and never spoken.

I am going to make this post short and hope that you will take the time to listen to the songs and to search your heart to see if there are any places in your heart that need to change. Are there any places that make Jesus sad because you have locked Him out, or not believed that it is in His power to help you to overcome in that area.


Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.



I found this song called Yahweh by Hillsong featuring David Ware. I thought since we are all most to the end of this challenge it might be to take some time to worship and praise the one who created each of the individuals I have written about this month. It is a good time to thank him for to insights and revelations we have received from the Holy Spirit.

http://youtu.be/9tZ1fWz4fAE


http://youtu.be/8YiBrLrYfb0


He is Yahweh
http://youtu.be/5hg6rwGwDCY


This one called Search Me YAH says search me and see if there is anything that saddens you. You might want to take a look at the rest of Psalm 139.
http://youtu.be/x6PcIYmHX28


I want to remind you that you are Yahweh's Beloved. He loves you and desires for you to draw near Him. He has a good plan for your life and longs to help you better understand who he has created you and called you to be as His child.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Xis for Xerxes' New Queen

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

I have been doing a lot of soul searching today. I have been using my own version of creative therapy. I got a blank sketch book and a black sharpie marker and some colored markers. There is stuff that gets locked inside of us that we just can't seem to put our finger on. I hate the unsettled feeling of not knowing where I'm heading. I feel the stress of it when I am between major projects. This is a major life change of direction - let me tell you it has been unsettling.

This one is a little out of control
Anyway I have included some of the drawings that I have done as I have been trying to wade through the swirling sea of possibilities. You will notice that the drawings are not dark and hopeless but they feel a bit out of control and there is a swirling sense of change and a fair amount uncertainty.  Anyway this is a journey to discover God's path for me.  I'd love to have this figured out yesterday. Seems it is a process. 

I'm the kind of person who locks stuff away, then I throw away the key and the path back to those places is often long forgotten and overgrown with weeds. I find it almost takes a trigger of sorts to even get back to most memories. 

For years I have approached life by looking around at what needs to be done and trusting God to help me do it. The problem is that I have a lot of skills as a result and it is now very difficult for me to see what the real gifts, passions, talents and calling actually are. I have probably ended up doing things that perhaps God had intended for others. I have allowed faithfulness and loyalty to trump anointing a calling. Now tools like spiritual gifts tests are kind of messed up for me because I have done so many things. I score pretty high across the board which in the end does not help one to narrow the focus of their life. 

At this point I am probably most interested in Art Therapy but it takes a Masters Degree and I would have to finish my Bachelors Degree first. It will be interesting to see how well three years worth of credits from thirty years ago will transfer. I did apply today to one school that offers a Bachelors in Christian Counseling.  They seemed to think any work I had done that was above a C should transfer. I recall doing mostly A and B work, well except in math and logic.  So my thought is that perhaps I could employ a very creative art approach to my Christian Counseling practice.  The Christian Counseling path would take me 2-3 years to complete. 

I've been asking God for new dreams because the old ones are broken. 

I found a quote I liked today. "At any point, an artist can change the painting. So can you. You are the artist, the designer, of your own life." ~ Gerrie-Ellen Johnston

My other thought was Massage Therapy and adding to that practice creative art things to help people with stress and problem solving. That is a 9 month program. 

At almost 52 the idea of going back to school for 4 - 6 years for a Masters Degree would put me at age 58 to start may new career. If one hopes to retire by age 65 that leaves me only 7 years to work and pay back loans if I don't get grants and scholarships. 

So I probably should have been thinking this way by age 30 but I've been busy helping people and trying to support my ministry endeavors with art work sales and music lessons. Maybe you've noticed I'm pretty stubborn and don't give up on things easily. Actually I have a tendency to pick things that are on the brink of failure and try to save them. Why? Because people say it can't be done and I do like a challenge. Those things have made me stronger and from an eternal perspective I have made a difference in the lives of many people. Just nothing that translates or looks like much on to a resume.  

So anyway today I was supposed to write about Xerxes New Queen - please tell me you know who she is. It is a real Cinderella story. The King must replace the previous Queen who I wrote about for letter V. He decides to invite the most beautiful women in the realm to the palace and he will choose one to be his new queen. So a beautiful young Jewish girl lives with her uncle. It seems her parents have died. She does not have a fairy god mother to fix her up with a bibbity bobbity boo wave of the wand. But her uncle encourages her to go but not say where she is from. She of course it the belle of the ball and does become the new queen. It is a tremendous story of courage that can be found in the book of Esther.  There you have it, Esther is our bible woman of the day. I encourage you to check out that story if you've not read it for yourself. 

I have one more drawing in my transparant approach to blog writing. It is what I will call the poison flower of fear. These will all make great activities to use in my coaching / counseling at some point. You will notice my box of fear is really not that big. I've worked through most of these things at this point and I generally recognize them when they raise their ugly head. I've traced most of it back to its roots and have figured out why those things are issues for me.

I guess at this point I don't want to live behind the walls of my own making. I would rather be transparant about my struggles. I have been surprised to find that lots of other folks struggle with the same stuff and its somehow helpful to know we are not alone. 

Anyway I was praying on Friday and the Lord said go get a sketch book and markers and start doing these drawings. 
Some are things I see in my head others are things that start with words and then images grow up around them. 

Maybe you are stuck - most people don't function from their creative side of the brain so you might be surprised what answers you find there if you sit down with paper and makers. Anyway I am finding this process to be helpful and I am feeling much more hope and peace where I was previously feeling anxious and discouraged. 

I liked this quote from the International Art Therapy Association

"For that reason art therapists are trained to recognize the nonverbal symbols and metaphors that are communicated within the creative process, symbols and metaphors which might be difficult to express in words or in other modalities. Art making is seen as an opportunity to express oneself imaginatively, authentically, and spontaneously, an experience that, over time, can lead to personal fulfillment, emotional reparation, and transformation. This view also holds that the creative process, in and of itself, can be a health-enhancing and growth-
producing experience."

Friday, April 26, 2013

W - Woman, Witch, Whore,

The Salem Witch trials are an example of mass hysteria. 
The names we are called witch, whore, woman...

How we see ourself effets what we will do with our lives. If we believe we are without value we will compromise to fill the needs in our lives. Those things don't really fill the need they simply numb the pain and perhaps calm the fear.

Beautiful and smart women of God have been trampled upon by the church and society for countless generations. We have been the pearl that has been too often cast to the swine. The message we often receive is that we are not to speak in church. We are to remain hidden and covered away from the view of weak men lest we make some holy man stumble. We have believed the lies and we have thought we were created to be servants and helpers to men who supposedly have the true calling of God. 

It was a woman who was last at the cross and first at the tomb. It is a woman who reached out with great faith and touched the hem of Jesus garment and was healed. It was woman outcast at the well who heard Jesus and went on to evangelize her entire community. It was a woman who gave birth to our savior. It was a woman who poured a year worth of wages of a costly perfume called nard over Jesus. It is a woman who washed his feet with her tears. It is a woman who was commended for sitting at his feet to hear him teach rather than engaging in the busyness of the meal preparations. It is a woman prophetess who recognizes the savior come in the garb of a wee babe. It was a woman who built a church with a sewing needle and who's work with the widows and the poor was so vital that God caused her to rise from the dead. It was several wealthy women who believed so fully in Jesus that they took their resources and supported Jesus and the disciples. It is time to shake off the mantle of second class citizen of the kingdom and to begin to walk as one who is called by God to be part of a kingdom of priests and kings. To be ambassadors for His glorious kingdom. 

You were not created to be a door mat. You were created from the rib of Adam to walk at his side as his equal not his subordinate property. The Holy Spirit moving in you is the same Holy Spirit that moves in men. The one who saves you is the same one who saves men. We both, men and women possess the treasure of God in earthen vessels.

So W is for Women and women have been called some pretty bad things, like witch and whore. Some actually are those things but sometimes we throw out slanderous labels for those who are different from us. That old woman down the street is called a witch because she is a bit eccentric. The girl who dumped you is a whore because maybe because you are jealous and hope to hurt her with name calling. Well and then there are the goddesses who practice temple prostitution. Can you be a goddess if you are homely? To many of us have tried to look like Barbie dolls and think there is something wrong if we don't look like one.  

There is one witch in the bible in 1 Samuel 28 - King Saul consults her because he can no longer hear from God. This is a great story and there is a lot we can learn from it. King Saul has had the prophet Samuel with him for years, who has been his intermediary with God. What do you do when the people you have trusted to hear from God and discern his will are dead. King Saul is a tormented person. He has spent years chasing David all over the country side. God has taken his hand off of King Sauls reign because he got impatient waiting for Samuel and do the before battle sacrifice. He decided he didn't need a preist and could roast the sacrifice as well as the next guy. Problem was that kings were not appointed to offer the sacrifice and he overstepped the boundaries of his calling and God given authority. At this point he is a seriously troubled man who is desperate to know God's will for the issuing battle. He has an idea - he could get a medium to conger up the prophet Samuel and he could ask him from beyond the grave what he should do. 

Here's the problem you can't conger up those who have gone to their rest in the Lord. So he gets a familiar spirit that plays the part of departed Samuel. He pretty much tells him he and his son will die and battle and the kingdom will be ripped from his hands and given to David. Terror seizes him and he falls to the ground. He has been fasting because he is anxious about the battle and does not know what to do.  The witch makes him dinner from her fatted cow, probably for fear that the king might die in her home, which would be pretty bad for business, especially since Saul had put to death or driven away most in her line of work.    

Saul accepts the words of the ghost of Samuel and does not repent or turn to God for help. He has resigned himself that God has departed for him. So rather than question the words of the apparition, he sets of to see them fulfilled.  Quite often when people consult familiar spirits they think they are seeing results but they have set themselves on a course of self destruct and the familiars are all to happy to orchestrate things to give themselves credibility. 

So let me stop and say if you are having trouble hearing from God here are a few things to check.
1. Does your life belong to Him. (My sheep hear my voice... John 10:27) 
2. Your life belongs to Him but you have walked away to do your own will, your own way. Its kind of hard to hear the still small voice of God if you are heading away from him. 
3. God has given you an answer but you don't like it and you are trying to wrangle a different answer then the one you have been given. 
4. Have you stopped to listen or do you just bring a long list of stuff in your prayer time. 
5. Or you have not followed his previous instructions. Quite often that is where people get stuck. They think they can follow God in a smorgasbord kind of way. Picking and choosing what is convenient rather than doing what God has given you to do. ( This one was one of the reasons Saul could not hear God. He had not done what he had been told to do. He was supposed to utterly destroy the Amalekites. Instead he keeps the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord as spoils of the war. Oh and he brought back the Amalekite king whom he was supposed to have destroyed. Even so he feels he has obeyed the Lord. This story is in 1 Samuel 15.  
"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”  

So enough on witches. Consulting them is a bad plan.  I think you can go look for the whores found in the Bible on your own if you so choose. I thought this video was eye opening and most women struggle with self esteem issues and generally feel less than beautiful. We have been so programed by our cultural stereotypes of the classic beauty.  Each and every person that God has made is unique and wonderful. We need to help each other see God's wonderful design most of the time we can see it in others but not in ourselves. 



If you did not get the video - click on the post title to go back to the blog site and you can see the video there.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vashti

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Today's A-Z bible woman is Vashti. Her name means beautiful. She is the ultimate trophy wife. Her story is found in Esther 1:10-12

Esther 1:10-12 (NKJV)
10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him."

I don't think this is about woman who has submission issues. I think this story is about a woman who finally had enough of the abuse, and was tired of being valued simply for her beautiful body.

Now stop and think, what woman would have a problem appearing at a banquet dressed in her most beautiful gowns and her crown. Most women today probably only dressed like that on their wedding day. What the heck was her problem?

Here's what I think was going on she was married to King Ahazuerus who liked to throw drunk parties. About the time he and all the fellow nobles were really head spinningly drunk he would send for the beautiful queen Vashti. There is a word that I think was dropped from the text some where along the line in an attempt to make this story a bit less crass. I think it should read "to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing only her royal crown." Vashti, had been through this humiliation before walking out to be oggled and groped in the drunken orgie like atmosphere. I think she finally had had enough. She knew full well that her decision would likely cost her her life or to be banished.

Ester 1: “Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen’s behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media will say to all the king’s officials that they have heard of the behavior of the queen. Thus there will be excessive contempt and wrath. 19 If it pleases the king, let a royal decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered, that Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small.”

I think she was simply way ahead of her time and was one of the first women brave enough to stand up for her human rights and her dignity. Later Esther must stand up to the king for the rights of her people fortunately for her - the king was not drunk and heard her concern.

Sometimes standing up to abuse and a system that is corrupt costs us everything we have spent our lives working to achieve. Perhaps it somehow paves the way for others and little by little changes are made.  In that moment Vashti's life changed forever. Every dream she had ever had vanished in that instant. So you don't think I'm completely out to lunch on this one. The Reformation Study bible has this to say. "Reasons for Vashti’s disobedience are not given in the Hebrew text, though early Jewish interpreters explained that she was commanded to appear naked, wearing only her crown, or that she had some disfigurement. "

I suppose you could say ...Look how far we have come - look at the freedoms and rights that women enjoy in our society. But then I find statistics like what follows and I am saddened. 

Lets just look at sex trafficking: The oppression of women continues in full force to this day.

"Sex trafficking is 90% women and girls.
Over 50,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year.
Asian women are sold to North American brothels for $16,000 each.
2 million children are forced into prostitution every year. Half of them live in Asia."

Human Trafficking of U.S. citizens within the U.S.:

 244,000 – Number of American children and youth estimated to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, in 2000.

o Source: Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001. Study funded by the Department of Justice.

 38,600 – Estimated number of an approximate 1.6 million runaway/thrownaway youth at risk of sexual endangerment or exploitation in 1999.

o Source: U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. NISMART Series: 2002.

 12-14 – Average age of entry into prostitution
o Source: Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in

the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001."

Here's another I found:

"Beauty Standards:

42% of American girls in grades 1-3 want to be thinner. 80% of 13 year olds have attempted to lose weight. Fast forward to older women, and 2.8 million American women have had botox injections, almost 400,000 have had breast augmentation surgery, 456, 828 have had liposuction. In 1997, 2 million cosmetic surgeries were performed, while in 2007, 11.7 million cosmetic surgeries were performed. 91% of these surgeries were performed on women. Women in the US feel the need to have their bodies cut, reshaped and mutilated in order to conform to prevailing standards of beauty. Women are oppressed by the onslaught of media and advertising that objectifies their bodies.

Sex, Domestic Violence and Rape:
In terms of the global sex trade, an estimated 50,000 women are trafficked into the US each year. The USA is both a destination country for trafficking, as well as a source country. This means that American women ARE kidnapped, or otherwise coerced into the sex trafficking industry. Women are often lured into the sex trade under false pretenses; being hired as waitresses or maids and then forced into prostitution. This is not just a problem for developing countries. It is here, on our own soil.

In the US, 23 women a week are killed by intimates. This has held steady for more than a decade. 74% of women murdered from instances of domestic violence were murdered after the woman left the relationship, filed for divorce or got a restraining order. Our government has failed to protect women from abusive partners, and band-aid solutions like restraining orders are proven to be, ultimately, ineffective. Until we start taking domestic violence seriously on a legislative level, this percentage will stay about the same. The only country with more women known to have been killed by domestic violence than the US is Russia.

up to 700,000 rapes occur in the USA each year. 18% of American women have survived a rape or attempted rape. In 2001 39% of rapes were reported to the police. 81% of rape victims are white, 18% are black. Fortunately, marital rape is a criminal offense in the USA."
~ Published in Feminism Politics on March 6, 201


So what do you do? Do you sit by quietly while all around you people are suffering? Do we just huddle in our churches and agree that the world is going to hell in a handbag and wait for the rapture?  Or do we look for ways to make a difference in our world?

I will leave you to ponder Isaiah 58 and consider how you are doing on God's kind of fasting.

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Uriahs Wife

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

According to 2 Samuel 23 Uriah the Hittite was the 37th of David's mighty men. He had been with David since the early days when He was establishing his kingdom.

You may have already guessed but there are no women with names that begin with the letter U.

He is a Hittite, according to christananswers.net "Hittites were a people with yellow skins and ‘Mongoloid’ features, whose receding foreheads, oblique eyes, and protruding upper jaws are represented as faithfully on their own monuments as they are on those of Egypt, so that we cannot accuse the Egyptian artists of caricaturing their enemies.
So quickly who is the wife of Uriah?

Need another hint?
She was the daughter of another of Davids mighty men, Eliam



I am going to assume you have figured out who todays bible woman is at this point. This painting was painted by Rembrant in 1654. Many artists have painted her and generally the moment in time that they depict is while David has spied her bathing on her roof. Rembrant picks a moment a little later in time. I suppose she was a slow bather because in Rembrants painting she has received Davids letter. Will she obey and go to the king or will she reamin true to her husband. I still contend that she was a woman on a mission. She is not some mamby pamby woman she is a force to be reckoned with and she later assures that her son succeeds David as king.

So here we have David - who is called a man after God's heart except for this one major blot on his other wise steller service to God as king. Here's a guy, who as king can have any available woman in the kingdom and his choice of other kings daughters as well. Rembrants painting is certainly a beautiful woman but not an ideal beauty. She looks like a real woman. Anyway I hope I have not offended anyone by having a painting of a naked woman. It is a Rembrant after all and it hangs in the Louvre. Here's a video about the painting if you need a little bit of art history today. 
http://youtu.be/wsL4Uh0BrQw

Here's when the trouble starts.
2 Samuel 11:1 "It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem." I suppose that is when trouble starts for any of us - when we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. 

So David has become established enough at this point that he can send his mighty men and his army and he can indulge in the pleasures afford to a king.  They are out slogging in the mud and the muck of battle and he is home at the palace. He must have had a lot on his mind because it was late in the evening and he was out on his roof enjoying the night air and the local view. I have to wonder if this story is really just about a lustful king but perhaps it is about a woman who saw a path to power and set her heart to seduce a king. 

It seems that both were repentant, though we only hear David's side of the story. It would seem that if she were unrepentant that she might remain barrin. Even Davids wife the daughter of Saul disparages Davids public display of worship to God and she becomes barrin. Bathsheba on the other hand is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. I suppose in this sorry story that there is hope for all of us who are broken and messed up. 

This painting is one from the Book of Hours a French painting from the fifteen hundreds shows the whole story of David's sin.  


Maybe she was just a pretty woman who obeyed a powerful king. Maybe like Rembrant supposes she did stop and consider the consequences. We don't really know from the text. There does not seem to be much hesitation. She never says "Oh no my king, I am a married woman." Once her husband is dead and buried she waists no time moving to the castle. I think those some women may play dumb and work over time to allow men to feel superior, most generally get what they want. You know the old saying. "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I think she was a woman who knew what she wanted. She wanted power and influence. She a Israelite woman had been married off to one of dad's fighting buddies. I doubt he was the great  love of her life. Women in those days were used to secure territories and to form alliances between powerful families. It was not about love she was a pawn in someones chess game. Maybe she became infatuated by this wonderful king and began to plot and plan how she might meet and marry him. 

Was she raped, or taken advantage of by the king or was she willing and complicate in these acts. Perhaps even this was all part of a plan for power and her bathing in view of the king was pre meditated. We can't tell from the text. Maybe its a measure of my own heart that I think this whole bathing thing was a premeditated plan to get noticed by the most powerful man in the land. 

Well I am out of deep thoughts for this post so I leave you to ponder these questions on your own. Perhaps it had been God's plan all along for her to be the mother of Solomon and Nathan and part of the family line of Jesus. Perhaps the problem is not in the destiny that she had but in how it came about. In all likelihood a man like Uriah was probably going to die in battle without having to have carried his own death sentence from the king.   Sometimes we think we need to help God and our foolish choices and sinful behaviors can make a mess of something that God may already have in the works. We easily become impatient when God does not answer our prayers as if they were a food order at McDonalds.   

What things have you tried to take into your own hands and make happen according to your plans and time tables rather than trusting God with you present situation? 
There are things that I, like you must lay at the foot of the cross. Sometimes the difficulties in our life are the agents that turn us more fully to Jesus. We need to be careful that we are busy with the kingdom work that he has for us at this time and not like David who found himself at home when the rest of his men had gone to war. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tabitha who built a church with a sewing needle

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Acts 10:15




Acts 9:36-43
Dorcas Restored to Life
36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

Today we have a woman who's creativity and service managed to sew her way into the pages of the bible and into history. She is not called a widow or a just mentioned as a woman in passing. She is called a disciple. She is one who whole heartedly follows Jesus. What's more she is famous in the region for her kindness to the widows and the poor. She is known for helping the marginalized of society in a time when there were no real safety nets for built into Roman and Greek societies. Many people turned away from their families when they became believers. This would leave them without land, work or income. Many became beggars who were trusting God to meet their needs for their daily bread. For many the cost of following Christ was huge because they lost their standing in their family or with the family patron. "A ptochos, however, refers to a person reduced to begging, that is, someone who is destitute of all resources, especially farm and family. One gives alms to a ptochos. A penes, who has little wealth yet has “sufficiency,” is not called “poor” in the same sense of the term.

One historian says of the ptochos: “The ptochos was someone who had lost many or all of his family and social ties. He often was a wanderer, therefore a foreigner for others, unable to tax for any length of time the resources of a group to which he could contribute very little or nothing at all.” Thus the “begging poor” person is bereft of all social support as well as all means of support."~ Jerome H. Neyrey

Tabitha was so known for her good deeds and her care of the poor. The widows come to Peter weeping and showing him the things she had made for them. Why he does not simply do a funeral for Tabitha kind of stretches me. Peter prays for her and says "Tabitha, arise" and she comes back to life.




We don't know Tabitah's economic status. It is likely that she was a widow since there is no mention of her husband. She was able to sew and did practical things to help others. Sometimes we get the mistaken idea that we need to become a great teacher, or evangelist, or some really special gift like prophecy to really do great things for God. In this example Tabitha is a disciple who has put the teaching of Christ to work in her life in practical ways. She may not have had great resources to draw upon but she had a needle and tread and some skill at sewing and what she could do was make garments for those in need.




You may not think you have a lot to offer to Jesus in ways to serve and benefit the kingdom. Dorcas had the gifts of compassion and mercy and she expressed it through making clothes for the needy.

We don't hear what becomes of her after she is raised from the dead. We know that she used her tallent for good. We also know that her name was not a Jewish name it was Hellenistic or Grecian. Peter has not begun going to the Gentiles. It is not till chapter 10 he has the vision of the unclean and clean animals in the sheet.


"15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again."



Then the gentile people in his midst are filled with the Holy Spirit.


Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.



I have to think it had to have shaken Peter a bit that God would raise a common, likely gentile woman from the dead. Up till that point the mission was to convert Jews. How can you argue with God about who he choses to raise from the dead and who he fills with His Holy Spirit. Sometimes we want to keep God in the box of our particular religious paradigm. Peter was content to minister to Jews but then God started to move among the Gentiles. In Peters mind those Gentiles were like the unclean animals in the sheet. “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” The Holy Spirit had moved in the heart of Tabetha and she was well known for her good works and charitable deeds. There is still a church in that area. She was one of the key players in its formation, her kindness put the place on the biblical map, where it still stands to day. She built a church with a sewing needle.
What gift might you use to build up the church where God has placed you?



You may feel your talents and gifts to be very common and ordinary but if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you he will take your common gift and multiply it to feed the multitudes, in much the same way as Jesus did with two loves and fishes from a young boys sack lunch.

“What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Acts 10:15

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Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Sapphira

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
Source: jtbarts.com via Margot on Pinterest


Galatians 6:
Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

God is not mocked
The story of Sapphira shakes our view of a warm fuzzy Jesus. Instant judgement at the hands of God. Yikes. We are told in the 3rd commandment to not take the Lord's name in vain. That verse is not about cussing but about being true to your own word. Swearing an oath before God and in his name is serious. For more on your "Yes and No" click those words for a good message by Rob Bryceson

Sapphira's story is found in the book of Acts 5. We can't really talk about Sapphira with out talking also about her husband Ananias. The two must have noticed the attention that others particularly a guy named Barnabas was getting. You need to flip back in your bibles to the end of Acts chapter 4. The believers where sharing everything. They sold what they had and used it to help support the whole group. They were living in true community. In Acts 4: 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet."

I'm sure he was commended for his willingness to share and to give such a big gift to the community. We don't know a lot about Ananias and Sapphira except that they had land, decided to sell it, held back some of the proceeds for them selves and yet claimed to lay the whole amount at the apostles feet.

Some important things to remember. No one forced them to sell their land, no one forced them to give the whole amount or any amount. Theres is an act of greed and deceit not one of sacrificial giving. They wanted the attention that other givers were getting, they wanted to look like they were great givers but still have the security of their own funds. 

Acts 5:But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 

So this story caused great fear back in the day and it should make each of us shake ourselves to ask what the heck happened to bring about instant death at the hand of God. Lest you think it was just a natural thing like a heart attack the story goes on and the same thing happens to Sapphira a few hours later.


Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

We struggle in sin all the time and yet God is merciful, allowing us time to change, heal and be set free. God is generally very patient and long suffering with each of us. So what is it about the actions of these two people brings on His instant response? 

God was moving among the people in pretty powerful ways. There were miracles, healings an people getting set free from demonic oppression. I don't think Ananias and Sapphira were new believers. I think they were among those who were drawing close to God who was moving very powerfully among the people. I think their willing and planned out sin simply removed them from God's protection. In that instant there was nothing insulating them from Gods power and they got zapped. I don't think it is so much that God suddenly judged them or poured out his wrath but more they stepped away from his protection and life giving presence in a place that was pretty highly charged up with God's power.

I think we need to go back and look at other instances of instant death found in the Bible. I will give you verses to the stories rather than re-tell them in this post. They are worth further study and consideration.

Nadab and Abihu Aaron's son's are careless with the holy things of God.
They don't burn the right mix of prescribed incense before the Lord. God's fire comes down from heaven and burns them up as well. (Lev 10:1-7; 22:9) Aaron their father is not even allowed to leave the tabernacle because he has the holy anointing oil on him. He is warned if he leaves to morn them he alos will be struck dead. Yikes - right. This is what God says about the incident.  
‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”



Korah's rebellion - Numbers 16

Summary of Various Incidents - Psalm 106

I thought we would take a look at some things that provoke God.

Disobedience 
Uzza and the Arc -  2 Samuel 6:3-8  The arc was to be carried on poles not a cart. It was not to be touched. Although Uzzah was simply trying to steady the arc and keeping it from falling but it cost him his life.

When reject his chosen leaders. 

Numbers 12:1(NKJV)
Dissension of Aaron and Miriam
12 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. It lead to her instantly becoming white with with a skin desease. Moses prayed for her but she still had to remain outside of the camp for seven days.
2 Chronicles 36:15-16 (NKJV)
The Fall of Jerusalem
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.

God is Provoked by Injustice 
God is Provoked by Complaining 
God is provoked by Idolatry

Ezekiel 16:26 (NKJV)
26 You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger.

2 Chronicles 33:6 (NKJV)
Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.

Jeremiah 25:6-7(NKJV)
6 Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.’ 7 Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the Lord, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.
Jesus paid the punishment for our sin but when we continue in deliberate sin, or take part in rebellion, complaining, injustice towards others God withdraws from us. "The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) When we choose sin, we are choosing to suffer the consequences of death. When we reject and push away God, who is the giver of life, we harm ourselves. “All who fail to find me harm themselves; those who hate me love death,” the Lord says in Proverbs (Prov. 8:36).

Well this is not a warm fuzzy message and I doubt it will be particularly popular.
We need to be careful about how we walk and live before a Holy God.
We have a tendency to forget His holiness in favor of his friendship, yet one is not separated from the other. Yes, Jesus is a friend of sinners but he is still holy. One does not carelessly play with electricity. If you stick your finger in a light socket and you are going to get electrocuted and could end up dead. Touch a hot burner on the stove you will burn your hand. Water is great fun to swim and play it but one can also easily drown in that same water. We are made right with a Holy God, because of Jesus paying the penalty for our sins. Judgement for those sins did have to be served by someone. That someone was Jesus.
 
                                                             Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
 









Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rahab and the red cord


A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
Joshua 2:17-19
New King James Version (NKJV)
17 So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. 19 So it shall be thatwhoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will beguiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his bloodshall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.

At the first passover the people of Israel painted the blood of the lamb over their doors and the death angel passed over them and did not take their first born.

The red cord of Jesus' blood stretchs through history we see it again in the story of Rahab. She shelters the Hebrew spies that have come to check out Jerico. She hides them in her home when they leave they tell her to put a scarlet chord out her window so when they attack she will be saved. She and all those in her house would spared from the coming destruction. Later she marries a prince of Judah named Salmon. This harlott become part of the family line of Jesus and His blood line is traced through her.

"If life is in the blood and only His blood gives life, we might trace the scarlet cord from before time, were that possible. Then we pick it up in Genesis. The promise that the woman's Seed shall overcome death and restore Paradise came to be fulfilled through Jesus' sacrifice and His resurrection. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 when he told his disciples about his death. He said that unless a seed fall into the ground and dies it cannot give life. (John 12:24)"~ Alice Linsley

So the way my brain works - I started searching where cord, thread, rope were used in the bible. There is a lot of red thread used in the Tabernacle. I found this interesting story about Judah and Tamar. 

Judah takes a wife for his son named Tamar. The son later dies and the custom is that a kinsman redeemer takes the wife and see to it that a child is born to pass on the deceased family line. Judah promises to give her another of his sons when the boy gets older. He does not keep his promise. Finally Tamar takes matters in her own hands dresses up like a harlott and waits for Judah. She asks what he will give her for her services, and he says he'll send a goat. She is a smart ducky and asks for something as a pledge till he sends the goat. Here's what she asks for in Genesis 38:18  “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.” According the the Reformation Study Bible a signet was " A cylinder seal, worn on a cord around the neck, was the insignia of a prominent man. He signed contracts by rolling the seal over the clay on which the contract was etched." The signet could be hung on a cord or also often in the form of a ring.

Well of couse when she is found pregnant there is a big stink but at that time she produces the signet belonging to Judah. She has twins and there is a scarlet thread in this story too. 28 And so it was, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first. 29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach beupon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez.30 Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah." 
Guess which one is in the family tree of Jesus? Go look in Matthew 1:2-6.
This post is going in a direction I had not quite anticipated. I've touched on Rahab and gone off chasing a scarlet cord, thread, rope and blood line. They seem to always mark something. For Rahab it protected her and her family.  In the case of Tamar she marks the first and the second born child. When we take communion we are marked by the blood of Jesus. During the Passover the people of Israel put the blood over the door. The scarlet tread is not only woven through history in the blood lines leading to Jesus but from there it fans out and becomes a brilliant tapestry in and through each of our lives.

He has marked and sealed your life, over you he places the scarlet chord of his precious blood. You are marked for redemption as well as kingly/priestly service before him. I look around and I wonder were are the champions of our day, will they rise up to become the king/priests they are called to be. Granted many of you are broken and wounded. It is time to do the work of allowing Him to heal and set you free. It is time to become his Champion of grace and mercy. It is time to get off the couch and the sick bed, to get strong in Jesus and go and do battle to rescue the oppressed, the least, and the lost.

We doubt the things he puts in our hearts to do and to be. You say to him, "I am too broken, I am too weak, all the confidence has been beaten out of me". I say to you that humility is a powerful force. Maybe you've been disappointed so many times, you don't know what to do. You need to recognize that it is not you, but Him working in and through you is. Champions need to find one another and cover each others backs because the armor does not cover the back. We as fellow champions must cover one another. We must stop thinking that the story is all about ourselves and realize it is His-Story and we have been woven into it together. Humility is a powerful force but even greater still is unity. When two stand together in Him it becomes a three fold cord that is not easily broken. 

Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 Champions are created to work in pairs. Jesus sent the disciples out two by two.Luke 10:1 "After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go."

Even in this story of Rahab you will notice that two spies were sent.
If you have been paying attention you will have noticed that the people that God uses are not perfect, steller examples of humanity. They are broken, messed up people like us. 


Personal Update : For those of you wanting an update on my current faith journey. On Friday I went to the Spokane Healing Rooms for prayer and the team that prayed over me felt I was right in step with Jesus. Then I visited Work Source and found out I need to go back Monday for an orientation. Next, I went to one of the local Universities, to get a catalog, and find out the enrollment process and next steps. 

I'm wanting to find something new to do that will not only provide a decent income to support my family but also be something that would be valuable for work on the mission field that might eventually help me get into places that are less open to the gospel. That missions part is a long way down the road, and probably will only be short term missions. 
So far some sort of nursing is in the lead but I am considering what other things might also work. My biggest concern with nursing is the math. I had a friend assure me that they would be willing to help tutor me if its over my head. Ha -  if it requires much beyond balancing a check book, I'm in trouble. I am blessed to know that I have family and friends who are being wonderfully supportive through this transformation process.  

Today I worked on closing my art and music studio spaces at the church and I began moving everything to a storage facility. It was a bit more emotionally difficult than I had hoped. At this point the new dream is still formative, fuzzy and filled with unknowns and uncertainty. I will probably look back and realize that being released from having to make a living with art, music and ministry will end up being a big plus. Today it felt more like the death of a loved one.  At this point I still have a lot of packing and moving to do, but good progress was made today. There were some hard spots but all in all I'm in pretty good spirits about this whole change process. I don't want to stay a caterpillar - its time to be transformed.  Maybe you need to allow Him to transform you as well. 

I have managed to put my house some what back in order from all the moving and shifting of stuff. My office work area looks better, since it now has my nicer studio furniture. 
So it has been a busy, productive couple of days. I would certainly appreciate your prayers.  



Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Queen Candace

Photo of what to look for to follow.
I want to first of all thank Arlee for featuring my blog on the A-Z site. What a blessing. I also want to welcome my new followers.  - Truly I am blessed and encouraged.

For my regular readers, Arlee Byrd the founder of the A-Z challenge featured my blog as one to help get over the 50 followers hurdle http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2013/04/quick-lets-do-something-now.html. So perhaps some of you who get this in your e-mail or just have me book marked, or catch my links on facebook would become a follower. I've put a screen shot of what to look for to become a follower. It is located on the right side of the blog page. Just click on the Join this site button. (Not the one in this photo). You will notice that presently while I am writing I have 26 wonderful followers. I'd love it if you would help me get to 50 followers and beyond. If you regularly read would you tell your friends and give them my blog address. http://devotionals-margot.blogspot.com/
If I have 50 or more followers at the end of this weekend I will put all your names in a hat and someone will win one of my mosaics. If I have 75 followers I will pick a 2nd winner and 100 I will pick a third. So don't be shy help put this blog on the map.  



So on to our post topic for today Queen Candace. There are a lot of interesting women in the bible. Some we know a fair bit about and others we are left to guess and have little more than their names mentioned in passing.

You may remember the story of Philip who meets the Ethiopian eunuch while traveling. He explains the scripture to him and the guy believes and is baptized. This eunuch was the treasurer to Queen Candace and had been in Jerusalem to keep the feast.

Candace is a name like Pharaoh that was a title given to a ruler. We do not know her actual name.
He eventually becomes to bishop of the church in Ethiopia and it is said that he converted the queen upon his return. These queens were true rulers there power to rule was not because their husband was the king.

I found this beautiful Ethiopian worship song that I though you might enjoy.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAX7PHVixkk

I also found a prayer for Ethiopia on a site called Pray Ethiopia!

“Almighty God, who has given us this good land for ours “Ethiopia”;
We humbly beg you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful
of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry,
sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion
into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your
Name we hand over the authority of government, that there may be justice
and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law,
we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”



Kandake which we have turned into Candace, means queen mother. I was reading that the kings were considered so holy they were treated as gods. The people were not allowed to touch them. As a result the queens were in charge of running things. These were very powerful women. Ethiopia was known as Kush and were descendants of Noah's son Ham who named his son Cush. Generally the land of Cush or  Kush was to the south of Israel.  Kush was the African superpower of its day, Egypt was a daughter that eventually became more powerful. These Kushite / Nubian people controlled the trade along the Nile.

European, white history has tended to try to make those nations white or light brown when they were a dark black, brownish red, beautiful people. I found a another wonderful video that took art relics of the Nubian and Egyptian people and also took photographs of similar looking people today. It might help you to have a mental picture of what Queen Candace and her people would have looked like.
 http://youtu.be/FlGf3dTnhMc

There is a later Candace who was such a ferocious leader that she and warrior that she turned back Alexander the Great.

We have a tendency as people to want to make Jesus in our image rather than being transformed into His. Lord forgive us for our prejudice and how we have treated people who are in anyway different than our own color or culture. Help us to remember that the kingdom of God is made
up of peoples from every race, tribe and tongue. We are a most beautiful variety.

Revelation 5:

And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; 

And we shall reign on the earth.”