Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jehoshebeath - A Woman of Influence

In our fast paced world where nothing stays the same and no one has enough ‘time’ .. it is hard sometimes to focus on the important things of life that do not change.
It is hard to feel that we can make a difference when we see the tsunami of evil invading every aspect of our society.  We see hearts growing cold and life becoming less and less valued.
But God is not diminished, He is not out of control,  He is not frustrated that His plan is not working out – in fact, the opposite is true.  God’s promises are still true, God is still totally in control, His plans for His children as viable and important as ever they were.


 Is that your question ?  Do you sometimes feel there is nothing that God has called you to do that will make a difference, nothing important enough to even be noted or remembered?
God has given us His word, and He declares that in it is written all we need to understand Him and His ways and to find comfort and guidance in every area of our lives.
He oft ‘teaches’ us through the stories of people who have gone before.  Though they may have lived thousands of years before our time, their situations, the difficult circumstances of their life or the evil around them is oft picturing our own  times.  And we can find answers in their stories that apply to our questions.

Have you heard of Jehoshabeath?  Probably not.  Yet she is immortalized in the pages of our scriptures.  Let me take the facts recorded in II Chronicles 21-23, and read between the lines fleshing out the scanty details we are given, so  that we can ‘feel’ Jehoshabeath’s life and recognize the example she is to us.

Jehoshabeath  was  the daughter of a King and the granddaughter of a King.  We would imagine that her life would have been the sheltered life  of an adored princess, filled with affluence and luxury and servants. 
 But it  wasn’t.  
She was born into a very dysfunctional home. He father, Jehoram,  was evil, feared/hated by all who knew him.  The kind of father you would wish on no child.  Her mother, Athelia,  was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, brought up to think and do what was evil and wicked.

Jehoshabeath, growing up, would have suffered the attitude, reactions and whispers of people who recognized her as the daughter of the hated king, and having  a mother  even more evil than her husband. 

Jehoshebeath  was a tender-hearted girl who loved the Lord.  We wonder how she was able to stay pure of heart and soul living in a home where evil ruled.
I wonder … was Jehoshebeath named for her grandfather, Jehoshaphat?  Did she have a special relationship with him and learn about God at his knee?

When Jehoshaphat was about to die, he divided his wealth among his sons but left the throne to his oldest son, Jehoram.   Jehosebeath was about 13 years old when her father was established as King in Jerusalem.
The first thing Jehoram did upon taking the throne,  was to secure his position by killing all of his brothers.   I can’t help but feel the shock and horror that must have filled young  Jehoshebeath’s heart to witness her father coldly murdering his own brothers. 
Jehoram was  a wicked king,  not following his father’s godly example,  but rather following the council of his wicked wife, Athelia.   

Jehoshebeath must have feared every day what would happen next …  what violence would invade her fragile world.

God stirred up the Philistines and the Arabians to come against Jehoram because of his wickedness.. They came and ransacked the palace taking his possessions and his sons ,carrying them off. Only the youngest by the name of Ahaziah, Jehoshebeath’s brother, escaped. 

Soon after, the invasion, Jehoram,  came to the end of his eight year reign.  God struck him with a horrible, painful condition of his intestines and he died.  His ephitaph was that “to no one’s sorrow, he departed.”  
Did Jehoshebeath mourn her father’s death?   I don't know,  but I think she would have been afraid of what her brother and his mother would do now.   Jehrom’s only remaining son, Ahaziah, took the throne with his mother beside him.

Sometime either shortly before her father died or shortly after – we are not given the time- something very unusual happened in Jehoshebeath’s life.
God was watching over her and had an ‘escape’ planned for her.  Marriage … That in itself is not unusual but what was very unusual was WHO she married.  She married a priest by the name of Jehoiada, who was about 50 years older than Jehoshebeath.

A princess never married a priest!  It was not done. And a priest marrying the granddaughter of Ahab and Jezebel? Never…  I don’t know how God worked circumstances to make it happen – just this once!  … Maybe He spoke to Jehoiada and told him to marry the beautiful young princess who faithfully came to the temple to pray and to bring her sacrifice.  Maybe Jehoiada reminded Jehoshebeath of her grandfather and she longed to ‘be safe’ with someone who loved God as she did.
What we do know is that God had His eye on this girl…  guarding, guiding her through her life because He had a purpose for her to fulfill.

Her brother when he took the throne followed the example set by his father and did wickedly according to his mother’s advice.  God sent Jehu against those remaining of Ahab’s household and all were killed.  Ahaziah hid himself, but Jehu found him and killed him too.
When Athelia heard that her son was dead, she immediately set about to kill all the royal heirs – which would have included her grandchildren.

Someone quickly informed Jehoshebeath what Athelia was doing – or had ordered someone else to do -  and she reacted quickly.
Jehoshebeath snuck into the palace and snatched up her one year old nephew, Joash,  and his nurse and hid them in a bedchamber in the temple.
She and her husband Jehoiada became the only parents Joash would ever know. They  loved and protected him, treating him with kindness.

For six years Athelia ruled.

Then one day, when Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada gathered together men of the tribe of Levi and armed them.  They surrounded Joash as he was taken out of hiding and brought to the temple where he was publically crowned, given the law, anointed and declared king to the shouts and cheers of the people.
Athelia , hearing the tumult and shouting came to the temple to see what was going on. When she saw the boy Joash standing by the  temple pillar, she shouted “Treason, treason!”  but no one stood with her.  Jehoiada commanded that she not be killed in the temple but that she be taken outside and killed. 
And so Joash reigned for 40 years over Judah, listening to and following the godly counsel of his father Jehoiada.  And the people had peace.  I find it interesting that Jehoiada lived to be 130 years old ... so that he could advise Joash for his 40 year reign ..  and maybe to be a husband for Jehoahebeath as long as she needed him?   Even Moses only lived to 120. 

Jehoshebeath’s name means “Jehovah is my oath” .  A very significant meaning.  It was through Jeshoshebeath that God was able to keep His oath/promise to King David , that there would always be a descendant to sit on his throne, until the Messiah came.  If Jeshoshebeath had not rescued Joash, all of David’s descendants would have been killed. And in rescuing him, she brought him under the godly influence of herself and Jehoiada. 

I admire this woman we seldom look at. I love how she stayed true to God, kept her faith in Him, turned her back on the luxury of the palace for a simpler life in the temple.  She rather married a godly man than a prince or man of wealth. She also proves to us that we do not have to be bound by our circumstances or the sin of our parents. 
I also hear her speak  that if God had a purpose for her … He has a purpose for everyone of His children …  Not a one of us is unnecessary in His kingdom, not one life is without meaning.  No matter how dark it looks around us, how hopeless – as it must have for young Jehoshebeath – we know that God is watching over us, guiding us according to His good purposes and covering us with His love and grace.

 "(God), who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began ...  
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. .....  
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. " 
- II Timothy 1:9, II Corinthians 9:8 , Romans 8:28 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Misplaced Anger

I love my hummingbirds and make sure their feeders are kept full of sweet nectar. 
But I often feel hurt, because they don't seem to appreciate me at all even though I am providing them with a constant reliable source of food - as much as they can drink !!  
Again, today I took the feeder down to refill it and I could hear one of the hummingbirds clicking behind me, scolding , angry that the feeder was GONE !!  It was less than a minute before it was once again hanging in its place and he was again at the 'flower' enjoying its sweetness. 
I thought .. "Silly bird, why can't you trust me? 
Why can't you recognize that I am the one taking care of you. " 

But then, I wondered ... "God is that what your children are like too?  Do we hurt your feelings too because we do not trust you?"
As long as we are enjoying the fullness of life and  eat of its sweetness, all's right with our world and we are happy and thankful. Our praise to God flows easily from our lips.
But then come the times where suddenly the sweetness is gone and a vacuum gapes in dark caverns where before we enjoyed life. The things we took for granted are suddenly gone, and we don't know where we will find another fountain to drink from. The unthinkable happens -  that unexpected curve in the road, that experience that cuts to the quick, that shock that leaves us adrift.
And then, though God speaks softly to us,  we ignore His voice and blame Him instead.
We cry out ,
 "How could you let this happen to me? 
 How could you let me suffer?  
Why did you not prevent this disaster, this tragedy, this difficulty, this pain?" 

Just like my hummingbird, we never consider that maybe God is 'refilling' our bottle.  Maybe the 'break' in our life is needful for the 'best' that God has planned for us. Maybe God is wanting us to refocus  on Him, because He notices that we are being distracted by things that would take us from Him.
Just as I was perfectly aware of what my hummingbird needed and was providing it, so also God is perfectly aware of what I need and is in process of providing it.

Could I not be a little more trusting and patient, knowing that He does all things well? Knowing that His eye is always upon me, even when I don't 'feel' it.  Knowing that His thoughts are always for my good?"

"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience ...  but let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, wanting nothing."  James 1:3-4 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I can easily guess your response looking at my above photo .. "what in the world is that!!"

But if anyone dares to describe the little ornaments as ugly or worthless or anything 'less-than', my emotions will rise in defense,  resenting any criticism.

Why ?   Because to me the above little ornaments are beautiful with treasured value.
When my two  granddaughters were  toddlers, both under 3,  my daughter asked them if they wanted to make  something for me for my birthday.  Oh yes, they did.
She gave them a box of paint and brushes and  two little figurines to paint.
My daughter told me they sat for over an hour painstakingly, patiently painting brush stroke after brushstroke, intent on making their work perfect for their Nanna.  I will never forget the eager little faces when they so proudly gave me their gifts.
My heart melted - how I still treasure the little ornaments, and in 'my eyes'  the beauty is unsurpassed!

Often when I look at the little figurines, I wonder if God doesn't feel the same as I do.
When He looks at you and me, does He see us as worthless?  Does He see the flawed, imperfect brush strokes with which we have painted our lives?
Does He look at the 'gifts' of service we give Him and see them as so much 'less' than what He could so easily do better without us?
Or, do His emotions quickly rise up against anyone who would speak against us?   Does He see us as beautiful beyond description and are our humble offerings to Him precious because we are clothed with our faith/trust in Him?  Does He value what we offer Him as 'beautiful' , even when in human eyes it looks worthless, just because we are so loved and treasured in His sight?

" ....  the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes" I Peter 1:7

 "Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."  I Peter 3:4

"So shall the King greatly desire your beauty, for He is the Lord, worship him !" Psalm 45:11

The ultimate, unfathomable truth is expressed by Jesus Himself -- that the Father loves you and me as much as He loves Jesus !
John 17:20,23

Next time you look into the mirror,  or look into your heart, and feel despondent or discouraged at the 'little' you have offered to God, remind yourself of how God sees you and how He values what you give Him in response to His love for you.
If God delights in you and values your 'gifts' to Him,  does it matter so much what others think?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What's Wrong With This Picture

We recently stopped for lunch at a very popular Bistro called Bliss in Peachland.  They  have excellent  "made from scratch" soup, bread, desserts so I  recommend them as a good place to have lunch in you are in the area.

I ordered a bowl of soup - gluten free -  and a cup of coffee.  When my husband, with a smirk on his face, carried the tray with our order to our table and placed my soup and coffee in front of me,  I had to burst out laughing !
Something was wrong with the picture!!
The cup and the bowel were just NOT in proper balance regarding relative size!

I thought about this.  I thought about how we all adhere to a certain standard.  We expect things to be in balance. We are far more reluctant to move from what has been established as the rightful  'norm' than we would think.  We don't really think about it, until something jars our senses and alerts us to note that something is out of balance.

Regarding the size imbalance of my soup bowl and coffee cup, it was something that tickled my sense of humor, but it did no harm - it caused no inconvenience.

But sometimes things out of balance do hurt.
When  monthly expenses exceed  income.
When time runs out before I can meet a deadline or keep an appointment.
When there are more people than food to feed them.
When my fatigue is greater than strength needed to complete a task.
When I have miles to go and no gas in the tank.

But then my thoughts lifted to a higher realm.
Does God look down on me and see an imbalance in the cup and bowl of my life?

Does my bowl of God-time look much smaller than my cup of me-time?
Does my bowl of faith shrink in size when compared to my cup of anxious worry?
Is my bowl of forgiveness much smaller than my cup of harbored grudges?
Is my bowl of unselfishness out sized by my cup of selfish me-focus?
Is my bowl of love overshadowed by my cup of fear?
Is my bowl of generosity much smaller than my cup of greed?
Is my bowl of trust in God's truth insignificant in relation to the size of my cup filled with the world's  standards of right and wrong?

my prayer - "Dear Father, forgive me for where I have allowed  my cup and bowl to be out of balance, where I am more filled up with myself than with you.  Forgive me where I have not been careful to make the things of the Kingdom bigger than the things of this world.  Jar my senses, Lord .. show me the imbalances in my life and teach me to be pleasing in  your sight. I turn my eyes up to you, desiring that as I look I will reflect your love in my life. In Jesus' precious name, amen."