Sep 18

Too Old or Too Young? Day 4

When was the last time you read Luke 1 from the Bible? I’ve always loved this story, but this week when I read it in Ein Karem, Israel was my favorite.

Ein Karem is most likely the birthplace of John the Baptist. Today it is a cute little neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem. Because it is believed that this is where John was born, it is quite a popular place!

In Luke 1 some pretty amazing things happen. A few days ago, we visited Ein Karem and read Luke 1 while sitting right outside of a place named “Mary’s Spring.” That’s Mary, as in the mother of Jesus.

First of all, we don’t know that Mary ever frequented “Mary’s Spring.” It never says in the Bible. What we do know is that a spring or well (source of water) was the most important place of any village. It was a popular social gathering place. This is where women went daily to get water. It was also a place to catch up with friends and hear what’s going on around the village. It’s very likely that both Mary and Elizabeth (see Luke 1) came to this spring on a regular basis.

Mary's Spring IsraelThis is the spring today. Supposedly it has never changed.

Across from the spring is land that is not flat, it’s more of a hill that goes down. In Biblical times it was all vegetation. Did you know that vegetable gardens need the spring water, so they are planted lower? That way the water can run down the hill or mountain and into the gardens. Vineyards, however are planted higher. Just a little random information for you incase you are planting vegetataion or a vineyard. 😉

Here are  few highlights from Luke 1. If you haven’t read this passage of Scripture in a while, check it out. You’ll get much more from it if you read it yourself than what I’m going to share here. I’m only touching on a few things.

Did you know:

  • Mary and Elizabeth were cousins (relatives).
  • John the Baptist and Jesus were not named by their by mothers. Both of them were named by the angel Gabriel, sent by God.
  • The angel, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband. Zechariah doubted the news the angel brought him. “Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.'” (verse 18)
  • The angel, Gabriel also appeared to Mary, Jesus’ mother. Mary had questions (“I’m a virgin how can this be?” verse 34), but she did not doubt. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (verse 38)
  • Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, was older. Well beyond child bearing years.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, was young … and unmarried. Considered by most to be too young. (Can you imagine the talk around the village about her?)

We have two women, opposite ends of the spectrum. Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist who would go and prepare the way for Jesus. Mary gave birth to Jesus, Son of God, who go and save the world.

Don’t ever say you are too old for God to use you.

Don’t ever say you are too young for God to use you.

Instead, how about let’s say,

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.

 

Something to Think About

Do you ever find reasons that cause you to believe God can’t use you? In the name of Jesus, get those out of your head right now. You are never too old or too young (or too __________) to be used by God.

 

Melissa
Sep 16

Into the Cave, Day 3

CaveEntranceIsraelHey Blog Friends! How are you? I hope you all are doing great!

I’m here on Day 3 of the Proverbs 31 John Study in Israel and I’m SO EXCITED for what I have to share with you today!

Before we begin, I invite you to read Psalm 57. Make note of the introduction to this Psalm at the top of the passage. You can read in your Bible or click here.

When David wrote this, he was hiding in a cave from Saul.

Here’s a brief history leading up to Psalm 57:

From Bible.org: When he was a teenager, David had been anointed as king to replace the disobedient King Saul. Then he slew the giant Goliath and was thrust into instant national fame. But King Saul’s jealous rage sent David running for his life. He spent the better part of his twenties dodging Saul’s repeated attempts on his life.

1 Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV)

“David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.”

Are you following me so far? David was hiding from Saul, along with 400 other “distressed or discontented” people in the cave of Adullam. It is here that he became a leader and friend to them. It is here that they began to trust him. It is here that David began his ministry.

Today, near the border of Israel and Palestine, our group of 13, hiked up the mountain to this cave.  It’s not a marked place, not a tourist attraction like many of the other Holy Land sites.

The entrance (see picture above) was small and the cave was dark, but because our leader, Arie, had been there many times, we felt safe. (Even though there was a hyena inside. Yes you read that right. He scurried off thankfully.) Once inside, Arie reminded us of the story of David and this cave from 1 Samuel 22 and Psalm 57.

CavePsalm57We read Psalm 57 aloud by flashlight.

As we read I couldn’t help but get a little choked up thinking about David and the 400 distressed and fearful people holed up in there hoping Saul wouldn’t find them. I imagined them in this cave that I was now sitting in. I was reminded of David, with his many mess ups and mistakes in life. David, who wrote many times of his own insecurities and God’s greatness. David, a great king and leader. David, a man after God’s own heart.

Look at Psalm 57 again and notice in the first 4 verses, David is filled with pleas and cries to God. He’s reminding himself of God’s mercy, purpose, love, and faithfulness. It’s almost as though he needs reminding, possibly because he’s very afraid. Then something changes. It’s as if he takes his eyes off of his fear and circumstances and turns them towards God, the One he loves and trusts. He begins to praise Him beginning in verse 5 and continues his song through the end of the Psalm.

As we finished reading Psalm 57, our group began to sing beautiful praises to God. “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…”

Something to Think About

In Psalm 57:1-4, it’s clear that David was distressed and in need as he cried out to the Lord. Then, he remembered. His cries for help turned to songs of praise. I love David because he is so like us and we get to see that. How many times have you cried out to God when what you really needed was to sing songs or prayers of praise?

Ok, so that’s Day 3! Thanks for joining me during my time in Israel. I hope that somehow what God is placing on my heart to write is something that He can use to stir up something good in your heart as well!

***Side Note: Arie, a Jewish Believer & our teacher and leader this week, led us up to the cave. I will tell you more about Arie in another post. For now just let me say, his teaching of the Bible is extremely thorough, weaving Israeli historical facts with Biblical facts to explain the wonders of the Bible I formerly just took for granted. I feel like I’ve missed so much when reading and studying my Bible … up til now.

Melissa
Sep 15

Thirsty Again, Day 2

I began my day sitting on the front porch of my temporary home for the week in Israel. I don’t use the word perfect much, but this was pretty close to perfection.

QuietTimeSpaceInIsrael

I decided to read John 4 today. I began and got no further than the first story in this chapter, when Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well.

I’ve read this story so many times and as I read it today, I had to stop and consider something pretty serious. In fact, not to exaggerate, but it’s life-altering. Just wait, I think you will agree.

In John 14:13, Jesus clearly states (about the water in the well):

Everyone who drinks from this water will be thirsty again.

I put my Bible down.

I thought about the water I drink. No matter how much I drink, Jesus is right. I’m not ever satisfied. I’m thirsty again.

How many times do I turn to something else, when what I really crave and need is Jesus?

I guzzle to find satisfaction and contentment in:

  • my work
  • a good book
  • some delicious food
  • the people I’m with
  • exercise
  • bottled water
  • how important I feel

And that’s just for starters!

I note that some of these are good things. But good things don’t quench my thirst for very long.

Reading on in verse 14, Jesus continues with the answer, the solution to my never-ending quest for what will quench the thirst of my soul forever~

But whoever drinks from the water I give will never thirst.

As I closed my Bible and got up to head out for Day 2 in the Holy Land, I took a long drink from the Word, the living Word of God.  The “Word that became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” And if I keep drinking that, I will never be thirsty again.

Something to Think About

There is so much more to this story and I only highlighted a portion here. Check out the rest of story by reading John 4:1-42.

What are you thirsty for? Are you drinking from the water that guarantees you will never thirst? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Day 2 in Israel was filled with wonders, but honestly I’m still taking it all in trying to process it as I’ve asked God to give me a fresh revelation of His Spirit and His Word for today. I know I will be sharing this in the coming days, weeks, and probably months.

Search #P31JohnStudy and #P31Israel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more pictures from my trip!  And thank you for sharing in the comment section! Before I wrote this post, I read all the comments from my previous post and they seriously blessed me down to my core!

Alright, it’s bedtime here, so I’m out!  😉

Melissa