There are many mothers in the Bible. Some led righteous lives and served God; while others were rebellious toward God’s authority. The demands placed upon women and mothers by ancient cultures were generally rigid and burdensome. Yet each mother featured in stories of the Bible met her own life challenges in surprising ways. Take the first mother of mankind, for example: Continue reading →
¹Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became the king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. ²He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. ³In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah re-opened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them.~2Chronicles 29:1-2 NLT
The Word of God contains many warnings to rebellious nations (and to leaders of nations) that turn their hearts away from Almighty Jehovah. One example can be found in the Old Testament of how the Lord dealt with two kings who fell short in their service to both the nation of Judah and to their Covenant-God Jehovah.
King Hezekiah was a highly respected monarch who pleased God by tearing down the pagan worship centers in the country. He restored Temple worship of Jehovah and declared national observance of holy festivals such as Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This may not seem like such a big deal to us now, but at that time in history, the previous King Ahaz was so evil that he had actually closed the Lord’s Temple! Hezekiah showed great faith in restoring God’s Law in Judah coupled with fervent positive action to get the Lord’s work done.
As a result, the Lord forestalled judgement upon Judah when King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed to Him for deliverance from invading Assyrian King Sennacherib in B.C. 713. Sennacherib not only besieged Judah with the plan to take over Jerusalem; he also mocked the God of Israel in the process. The Lord sent an angel who destroyed Sennacherib’s entire army. Sennacherib returned home to Assyria in defeat and was assassinated there by his own two sons.
The Lord blessed Hezekiah for his devotion, piety, and faithful reforms. Hezekiah became extremely wealthy. Evidently while in the process of building banks, warehouses, and water dams, King Hezekiah fell into the sin of pride. Oh, haven’t we heard about this sort of problem before? Jehovah was patient with Hezekiah, and healed Hezekiah on his death bed when Hezekiah repented and prayed; granting Hezekiah fifteen more years of life. The Lord gave a famous sign to King Hezekiah of the sun going backwards ten degrees as proof of Hezekiah’s healing and that it was from the Lord (2 Kings ch20).
Wouldn’t we think that Hezekiah would be thankful to receive the miracle of life plus such a splendorous and powerful sign sealing God’s promise?
However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart. ~ 2Chronicles 32:31NLT
13Hezekiah received the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything … there was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. 14Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?”
Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”
15What did they see in your palace?” Isaiah asked.
“They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own – all my royal treasuries.” (Emphasis added)
16Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord: The time is coming when everything in your palace – all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now – will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 18Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.”
19Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.” ~ 2Kings 20:13-19 NLT
Did you catch that? It is okay to kick that cursed can down the road to future generations as long as judgement is delayed and served upon the children! Isn’t that a lot like what is going on in America today?
King Hezekiah reminds me of another king that served Israel named Solomon. Solomon started out great by pleasing the Lord as he built God’s Temple in Jerusalem and asked for wisdom instead of riches …
But they both turned away from Jehovah through the sin of pride as they gained wealth and stature. Eventually the unrepentant actions of each brought national judgement to succeeding generations whose citizens lost their freedoms to foreign invaders. That means not only being physically enslaved to conquering governments but also means being barred from the freedom to worship the one true Creator God, Jehovah.
9”The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” ~ Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
Next time we will take a look at Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh’s, reign over Judah. It should be interesting to compare father and son monarchies, and possibly gain clues about what may be in store for our own nation in these end times …
Tired of living a powerless life? Is being part of the “I’m OK-You’re OK-Anything Goes-Kumbaya” church getting you down? Well, God wants us to be living victoriously. How?
The Apostle Paul writes a letter to the church at Ephesus about Christian living and then expands his directives beyond the believers at Ephesus to include the whole world! (US!) How amazing is that?
Paul says the only way we can be confused, powerless, or snared by temptation is when we do not connect with God through His Word. During his imprisonment at Rome (AD. 60-62) he wrote:
¹ºFinally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. ¹¹Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. ¹²For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. ¹³Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.~ Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV
What “evil day” is Paul is talking about?
At least, every day has the potential. Spiritual warfare exists today just as it did in Paul’s time. Unless a believer makes a deathbed confession, repents, and accepts Jesus as Savior, it is highly unlikely that any living believer escapes daily spiritual attack or testing. Don’t try to face evil alone! Get prepped up! Verses 14 through 20 give more detail about God’s armor:
Wrap Truth about our waist
Righteousness is our breastplate
Wear shoes of the gospel of peace
Faith is our shield to douse the flaming arrows of Satan (ABOVE ALL in importance)
Salvation is our helmet
God’s Word is our sword of The Spirit
Pray in the Spirit to persevere and be watchful toward all the brethren
See, if we don’t read our Bibles, we won’t recognize evil when it comes sneaking into our lives, our church, and our nation. We will not watch and pray for Jesus to return soon for His church. We will follow the world and fall into sin. We will not recognize Truth; our shoes will carry us away from situations of sharing our faith and toward sharing gossip or other sin. We will forget to pray; therefore, we will be weak and unfit for duty as God’s ambassador. We may lose our ability to speak boldly against satanic alignments. The list goes on …
Sometimes we can feel defeated or powerless. That means we are human. That is why our Father God has given us all we need for defense. Prepare according to His Word and then take the matter to Him!
“Heavenly Father, all praise, Praise, PRAISE TO YOU TODAY!!! Even though nothing is working for me, I have girded myself with Your whole armor as best as I know how. I read Your Word, and pray for understanding. The enemy seems to follow my trail and won’t be shaken. I turn around now and just face the evil day in Your strength. Help me to stand. Thank you in the Name of Jesus (Yeshua), Amen!”
Just as God promised, all two hundred seventy-six persons aboard the doomed ship are saved! The natives are friendly, and help the soggy sailors build a fire on the beach, as it is cold and rainy. They let Paul’s party know that the island is called Malta!
Luke records that the natives are UNUSUALLY friendly. I wonder why? Perhaps some of the foodstuffs and boat gear has been washing up on the beach during Euroclydon and they are in a happy mood. They may think their gods are favoring them with more surprises from the sea for their entertainment … or exploitation.
No sooner does Paul gather wood for the fire than he is bitten by a viper, which scares the locals. Paul just shakes the snake into the fire, and the Maltese immediately expect Paul to succumb to the venomous attack. They suspect the prisoner Paul of being a murderer or something. He must be deserving of such horrid judgement. But Paul is not harmed.
So now he must be a god!
This is so true of humans even today. Idol worship still makes no common sense.
Anyway, the mayor of the area, a man named Plubius, courteously invites the shipwrecked crew into his home for three days. Plubius’s father is sick with fever and dysentery, so Paul prays and lays hands on the man. The man is healed, and the good news spreads across Malta. If there are any lingering suspicions of the foreigners in their midst, all doubt is now erased. Is this further proof that Paul is indeed a visiting god? Here come the island’s sick and diseased. Their sicknesses are healed, too.
Of course, Paul does not allow the Maltese to worship him as a god. He ministers to the entire island about Jesus and many become believers.
Why do I believe that there were many saved at Malta because of the witness of Paul?
Because that is what Apostles are instructed to do by the Master, Jesus (Yeshua). And throughout the Book of Acts Prayer for the sick and Laying on of Hands leads to Healing and that leads to Belief in Jesus and Salvation in Him – it’s a heavenly formula!
12And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people … 13Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. ~ (Peter) in Acts 5:12-15 NKJV
God even uses resurrection of the dead to reach people for salvation in Jesus. Take the instance of Jesus raising Lazarus; or the Apostle Peter at Joppa:
Tabitha (Dorcas), who was a Christian disciple, took sick and died. Other disciples knew that Peter was staying at Lydda, which was not far from Joppa. Two men went to Peter and asked him to help.
39Then 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. 40But 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; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. ~ Acts 9:39-42 NKJV
There are many other scriptural examples of what I think happened on Malta. Enjoy your Bible study and research! God makes sure that His Gospel is going out to every people, nation and tribe. Paul is an obedient servant of Our Lord. He knows that his destiny is Rome and time is short …
I want to talk about today. The Gospel message is still going out and it is as strongly received by lost people as it was in the day of the apostles. People all over the world are still lost in sin. They still worship idols, are sick and tormented by devils. They still need hope and salvation. The same formula still works: Pray for the sick, Lay on hands, let people experience the raw Power of the Holy Spirit Heal folks, Cast out demons, or Raise the dead. The darkness of Africa is being lifted in this same way and Belief in Christ is working over the whole continent. HALLELUHAH!!!
“Praise and thank you Jesus, for lighting that fire in Africa and across the world! Amen! Amen!!”
In the meantime, Julius finds another Alexandrian ship that has wintered over on Malta, whose figurehead is the twins, Castor and Pollux. In three months it will bear them to Rome. Until then they must suffer the honor and island entertainment of Malta. What a nice break after all they had just survived!
Stay tuned if you are feeling the spark of the Holy Spirit and where it is taking us on this Voyage to Rome. There are plenty of twists and turns to this story left to be told. God bless and thank you for following
13When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.14But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.15So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. ~Acts 27:13-15 NKJV
Euroclydon is a violent Nor’easter – a Levanter, or Mediterranean typhoon. We’re not talking a few whitecaps here. No, this is more like Perfect Storm weather.
The captain sets a course a lee of a small island named Clauda. They scramble to bring the skiff onboard, as it is swamping off the aft tow line. Counting the waves, the more experienced crew tag a good one coming alongside and heave the skiff onto the deck. Off they go – cabling up the ship; but soon realize the ship is about to run aground upon the looming sandbars of the Syrtis.
Once I was in the Bering Sea on a crabber and holding watch with the skipper. We were running northerly about 10 knots heading to Unalakleet in a driving rain storm chatting about nothing much when I happened to notice what looked like waves breaking over a sandbar! I hollered and the skipper opened his side window to stick his head out for a better look. It was raining so hard the water was standing against the windows, blurring our vision. Nothing on the radar; I grabbed a chart and saw nothing noted; but in a shallow sea like the Bering, it’s common for bars to materialize and then disappear year after year. They go uncharted but vessels beware! Sure enough, we could hardly believe our eyes, but the boat was about to ground on a ghost bar! The skipper hit the jog lever hard port and reversed throttle, jarring our vessel into a change of course while throwing all loose parts and persons down onto the floor from the braking action. The boat shuddered once, then veered to port, nearly grazing the bar.
Likewise, Paul’s captain orders to strike sail in defeat of Euroclydon, and narrowly misses the Sartys. Off they go again; away from the Sartys Sands and into the hungry jaws of the tempest. After jogging up and down the Adriatic all night pitching and tossing to and fro; they lash each other to the deck to avoid being washed overboard by walls of water. The next day all unnecessary goods, cargo, and ballast are thrown into the angry sea.
The ship is far off course now and no effort to lighten the ship has eased their plight. On the third day in a last bid for survival, captain gives the order to throw all the ship’s tackle overboard. Without gear to assist, the crew throws it over by hand and fear begins to gnaw at their shrunken bellies.
Amazingly, for many days not much changes. Imagine the darkness. The skies are totally black. No sun by day, or moon nor stars by night. The sea is a dark, clawing hole. No light anywhere day after day. Wave after wave washes over the deck as the lurching ship threatens to roll over … but doesn’t.
Euroclydon reminds me of a bully grabbing someone and shaking them upside down until everything in their pockets dumps out onto the ground. If you have ever been on the sea in the grip of a serious storm, you know what I mean. The sheer power of a great typhoon like this little ship endured is terrifying and humbling. The keel visibly twists and groans while those on deck pray that it does not snap!
I wonder what Julius, the soldiers, captain, ship owner, crew, and the other prisoners are thinking by the first week of this storm? … The words hopeless, helpless, or defeated come to mind. They may be praying to their gods, who they must believe are very angry. How about by day ten? After that, it would most likely be downright fear. Only Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus would likely be praying and trusting in our Heavenly Father YHWH for deliverance.
Until next post we must leave our beleaguered group in the deathly grip of Euroclydon; which is still raging with no end in sight.
The season of giving and thankfulness is upon us – My favorite time of the year!
9bCling to what is good. 10Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; ~ Romans 12:9b-10 NKJV
Is that even possible in our society today?
Of course it is. And no better time than now. Tis the season to invite friends over for food, drink, and conversation by the fire. Give cheerfully – not expensively. Bake cookies. Be kind. Mend fences.
Some folks suffer from depression during the holidays and my heart goes out to them. It isn’t easy to be cheerful when your heart is heavy or the budget does not allow for much gift giving. Toss the materialism and enjoy giving the most valuable gifts: Time, love, laughter and hope. God does not want any to suffer pain or fear.
Be of the same mind to one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. ~ Romans 12:16 NKJV
Continue to pray for God’s strength while clinging to good. He is faithful and your example will bless others.