Monday, May 26, 2014

Bible Study: Jochebed

Last week I started sharing a Bible Study titled: "Strong Women of the Bible".  You can find the introduction here.

Exodus 1:8-22;2:1-10 Numbers 26:59  Hebrews 11:23
Jochebed is the mother of Moses.  She lived during a very terrible time in the history of the Hebrews.  Jochebed and her family lived as slaves for the Pharaoh of Egypt.  The Hebrew slaves in those days were used to make bricks, by hand, and to build beautiful cities for the king of Egypt.
"And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:  And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage..." Exodus 1:13-14
We, in our modern day, do not know anything about the life of a slave, except for those things that we read.  Slaves were totally at the mercy of their masters.  They had no say over their own lives or families, and could be beaten or killed without question.  The independent culture of today cannot comprehend the reality of this kind of life.  This is where we find Jochebed.  As if the life of a slave wasn't terrible enough, Pharaoh made another decree.  All male babies born to the Hebrews would be killed.
"And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river..." Exodus 1:22
 Can you imagine?  To give birth to a boy and have him stolen from you and killed, and you could do absolutely nothing about it!  How terrible it would be to be so helpless, and not be able to protect your child.  It would seem in the face of these insurmountable circumstances, it would be easy just to give up.  Whatever happens will happen.  There is nothing that can be done about it.
So, what about Jochebed?  Here she is, a woman, a slave, living at the mercy of Pharaoh and his taskmasters, but a woman that trusted Jehovah, and made a decision to not be helpless, not to give up hope but to protect her child by risking her own life, and by putting him in the hands of an Almighty God.
"And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months" Exodus 2:2
Here is where she risks her life.  She hid her newborn for 3 months.  What do you think would have happened if one of the Egyptian taskmasters had discovered this baby?  Certainly the baby would have been killed, and Jochebed and her husband probably would have been killed too.  By the way, why would you want to save your child, if he was destined for a life of cruel bondage as a slave?  Jochebed could not see the future.  She did not know that her baby would one day lead the whole nation of Israel out of that bondage, but she understood that God had a purpose for his life.  God, who gave her a boy, when it would have been so much easier to have had a girl.  But, this is where her trust in God came in.
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah 1:5
In the country where we serve, people want sons.  Many will come forward in a meeting to ask us to pray that their unborn child, is a boy.  Even those who profess to be Christians are tempted to end the life of their unborn child, when they fear they will have another girl. In industrialized nations many will opt for an abortion when they are told their child may be diseased, or suffer during their days on this earth.   I am always saddened and sickened to hear these stories.  God, who is the Giver of life, has a purpose in the life of every boy and girl that he sends into our families.  To end the life of our child because they may not be the son we think we need, or they may suffer in this life, shows our lack of trust in the sovereignty of God.  Jochebed got a son, when a daughter would have been better (humanly speaking). She got a son that would live a life of suffering and bondage.  But she must have realized that her child was " heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward". Psalms 127:3  So it is with every child that the Lord sends to us.
The day came when Jochebed realized that her baby could no longer be hidden.  But this mother was not ready to give up, she was just getting started!  "And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink." Exodus 2:3  What was she doing here?  She was using her God-given intelligence to move forward.  One phrase that I use often with my kids is: "You have a brain, so use it!"  When a crisis comes or a decision has to be made we can't let fear paralyze us into inaction.  Doing nothing would have cost the life of her child.  Also, interestingly enough, it is not Jochebed's husband that is following through with this plan.  We are not told where he is or what he is doing during this time, but he is not mentioned.  I will tell you that many times on the mission field when I have been faced with trouble, a crisis, or a time that a decision needed to be made, my husband has been in a remote village with no cellphone reception.  Please understand I am in no way down playing the role of a husband and father.  My point it that we cannot always wait for someone else to make the decision or take the action.  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally..." James 1:5
At this point, Jochebed is placing her child in the hands of God and trusting Him for the outcome.
 "And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him." Exodus 2:4
Some have suggested that Jochebed knew that the daughter of Pharaoh would come down to bathe at this time every day.  I don't know that I agree with that statement, but we have no way of knowing.  But, why would she think the daughter of Pharaoh would save her child?  She could have very well thrown him into the river herself!  Miriam was there watching, to see what would become of him.  Jochebed had no way of influencing the outcome.  Her child was totally in the hands of God.  We can see here the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6.  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."  Jochebed trusted in the Lord to direct her path, from the first day of her child's life, when she hid him, until this day when she let him go.
What is the end of the story?  The daughter of Pharaoh found the baby, and had compassion on him.  His sister said she would find a nurse for the baby, of course it was his own mother.  Who, but God, could have brought about such an outcome?  Jochebed received her baby back into her care, and was paid to raise him!  Exodus 2:6-9  During those precious years that she had her son, Jochebed nurtured him in the things of God, so that later, the man Moses became the leader of the nation of Israel.  The one who led them out of slavery.  In the book of Hebrews it is said of him:  "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of  Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season".  Hebrews 11:24-25  Moses, not the son of Pharaoh's daughter, the son of Jochebed, a strong woman.

What are some principles we can take from the life of this strong woman?
1. She did not give up hope.
2.  She risked her life for the life of her child.
3.  She understood that God has a purpose for every life.
4.  She used her God-given wisdom to act, when necessary
5.  She placed her child into the hands of God.
6.  She nurtured her child in the things of God, so that he, one day, made the decision to reject the world, and follow the leading of God in his life. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bible Study: Strong Women in the Bible (Introduction)

Two evenings a week I lead Bible Studies for ladies.  One is on Tuesday nights in Chandigarh with the ZCFC Chandigarh fellowship, and the other is on Wednesday nights in Mohali with our college girls.  Both of these Bible studies have been keeping me busy with preparation.  I usually don't use the same study with both groups.  Mainly this is because I feel the needs are different in each group, and I try to keep that in mind when planning what to study.  Right now for the Chandigarh fellowship, we are studying purity.  The Mohali group is studying "Strong women of the Bible".

I have used some Bible study books in the past, but I usually revert back to making my own outlines.  Even when I use a book, I just use it as a base, and then branch out from there. 

For our recent Bible conference I taught 4 classes for the ladies.  When praying and studying in preparation for these classes, the Lord really impressed something on my heart, and gave me a study of the women of the Bible, different than what I had done before.  When leading a Bible study or ladies class, the teacher should be sharing what they have learned in the past, or what the Lord is currently teaching them, and that is exactly what happened for me with this study.
So, about once a week on this blog, I am planning to share with you some points or highlights of this Bible Study, "Strong Women of the Bible."

Strong Women of the Bible (Introduction) 
Most of the time in churches, and family conferences, we hear the verse about women being "the weaker vessel".I Peter 3:7  That is very true, women are, generally, weaker emotionally and physically. This verse is instructing husbands about the support and strength they need to be giving to their wives.  But, on the other hand, this verse does not say that women are to be "weak".  I am not advocating that women be overbearing, loud, and obnoxious, far from it. This sinful world is full of sickness, disasters, heart breaking realities and fearful worries.  We, as women, many times walk in the middle of trial and hardship.  During these times, falling apart and being weak and helpless will not help our husband, children, family, or church.  Think about the women that you know personally.  Who would you want to walk beside you during a crisis?  Why would you choose this person?  If someone was walking through a crisis, would they choose you to walk beside them?

Ephesians 6:10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might
II Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Psalm 144:12  ...that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace

Stay tuned for a look at some women of the Bible who lived through terrible trials and crisis, but were strong for the Lord, and even in the midst of their personal fire, they changed their world.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A couple pictures

Yes, we believe in close fellowship...literally. This was prayer meeting last night.
Where are you, Ethan?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Come visit???


I started writing this post and edited it more than once.  One of my daughters (the one who can be as sarcastic as her mom)  asked why I changed it, "It was funny before".  Well, when you use sarcasm in conversation people can tell by your tone and expression that you are being sarcastic, when you write, it is easy to be misunderstood.  So, here is the post (minus the funny stuff a.k.a sarcasm).

We have been on the field for over 12 years, and in that time we have had a grand total of 2 visitors from the US.  One was a pastor from a supporting church (2003), and the other was a family that we had never met (2007). Both of these times  were exciting and memorable.  We still talk about them. We have invited a lot of people to visit us here...a LOT.  We usually get a typical reaction.
1.  A chuckle of disbelief..
2.  A laugh of amusement.
3.  A shake of the head.
4. A rude response
5.  A positive response...for someday.
I admit, when we ask someone to visit and get one of these responses, or they just look at us as if we are crazy, it hurts.  How would you feel if you invited someone to visit you, and you got such a response?  This is where we live, where we work, where we serve.
Why do we want visitors?
We get lonely.  This is probably the main reason.  Any field can be a lonely place.
We would like to share our home and the city we call home, and those that we work and live along side, with those that we love.
We would like people to see what we see and experience what we experience on a daily basis. You will definitely be able to more intelligently pray.
We would like someone to understand, more than can be understood through our stories.
A fellow missionary wife wrote a blog post that got me to thinking along these lines again.  I have thought this way many times through these years, and she expressed it so well.
I will link her post here, and hope that it gets someone to thinking about why we continue to ask you to visit us.
I really wish they understood
I really hope you understand.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A close family

One of the hardest things about being on the mission field (I'm speaking for me personally), is being on the other side of the world from my family. 

One of the hardest things about furlough, are the inevitable good-byes that must be said when it's over. 
When my kids were younger, it used to bother me that it didn't really bother them to say the good-byes.  They were too young to understand that it would be years before we were together again. They seemed to look at me and wonder "What's wrong with Mom?"   Now that they're older, we all cry together.
The last night before returning to the field we spent with my parents and my brother's family.  My kids are best friends with their cousins.  They really are.  When they get together, even if it's been years, they act like they've never been apart.

I will not open the door to that private time with the family, but it was hard.  But, my Dad made some comments that have stuck with me, since that sad day.  He said, "We need to be thankful. Not everyone has such a close family, or a family that loves each other and wants to be together like we do. We are blessed. And there are so many ways to stay in touch, skype, texts.  We can still stay close as a family."
Thanks Dad, you are right, as usual.
So, today I am thankful for my family.
That they love and serve God.
That they love each other...even while they aggravate each other;-)
That they have always supported so many ways.
That they never say "Don't go"...they just say "Follow God, but we will miss you"
That they are always just a phone call away.
Yes, I am thankful, and we are blessed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I admit...I am excited

Those of you who know me well will understand and appreciate this post...those of you who don't know me that may wonder why I am excited.
Those of you who have ever left all that you know, all that you love, and all that is familiar to live in another place that doesn't look, smell, feel, or taste like anything you've ever known will understand and appreciate this post...those of you who have not had this may wonder what the big deal is.
When we first came to the field in 2001, the city that we lived in had no American all.  No McD's, no Pizza Hut...nothing even remotely familiar to us.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, and it really isn't, but sometimes it feels like a big deal.  We got used to not having these things available, but whenever we get back to the US..we thoroughly enjoy the treat of eating familiar, comforting food.  Since those early days, we have moved to a new city, and within the last few years many places have opened up here...McD's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominos, KFC. won't believe what we found..on the 3rd floor in the back of the Food Court in a new mall that opened recently.
It's only 15 minutes from our house, on a road that we travel at least once a week.
This could be dangerous...
But it will definitely be very delicious!