Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tamar’s Story: An Advent Study

By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Annie Spratt


“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,” ~Matthew 1:1-3a



There are only five women listed in the genealogy of Christ as found in Matthew 1, and the first

we see named is Tamar. The whole of Tamar’s story is contained in just one chapter - Genesis

38 - with verse six being the first time the Bible mentions her: "Judah got a wife for Er, his

firstborn, and her name was Tamar.”


Judah “got a wife” for his son. Enter patriarchy, one of the cultural mores where it is normative

for a father to go out and “get” a wife for his son, regardless of whether the two people know

each other, love each other, or even want to marry. But marry they must, for a male heir has to

be produced.


Following the announcement that Judah has procured a wife for his son, we read in the very

next verse that Er is struck down by the Lord for his wickedness. Tamar is now childless and

husbandless and, per the patriarchal norm, is sent back to her father’s house.


Tamar’s Faithfulness


The rest of the story reads like a tragic drama. According to the cultural norms of the day, Er’s

brother is required to marry Tamar and try to produce a son with her on Er’s behalf. Instead of

living up to his responsibility, he refuses to father a son on behalf of his brother and is

consequently struck down dead. Judah now has one remaining son, Shelah, whom Judah

promises to Tamar as a husband once he (Shelah) is of age (see verse 11).


As we continue to read, we next find that Judah’s own wife dies, and, after he recovers from

the worst of his grief, he goes on a journey to a place called Timnah. By now, much time has

passed, and Tamar has never been given to Shelah in marriage. Instead, she remains in her

father’s house, a rapidly aging widow.


When Tamar hears of Judah’s travels, she decides to meet him on the road to Timnah, wearing

the disguise of a prostitute.


Tamar’s Hope


This is the point in the account where many people wrongly begin to judge Tamar. She has not

been working as a prostitute, but has been in her father’s house the whole time. However, out

of a sense of duty and responsibility to preserve Judah’s family line (now that two of his sons

are dead, the remaining one has not married, and he has no grandsons), she disguises herself

as a prostitute and positions herself in such a way that Judah will certainly stumble upon her

while on his journey.


Tamar’s desire is to provide an heir for Judah. Though horrifying to our Western minds, what

Tamar does is actually a very selfless move on her part. To be sure, the judgment does not

belong on the head of Tamar, but rather on the head of Judah. We find him traveling on a

journey when he stumbles upon one he thinks is simply a prostitute by trade and decides to

hire her for sex. It’s pretty easy to see who the sinful one is in this story.


In a culture where Tamar is viewed as worthless unless she furthers her father-in-law’s family

line, Tamar has hope and sees this as her grand opportunity to hold up what she considers her

side of the bargain. Judah, however, just wants to have his physical needs and desires met.

In fact, we see Judah admit this himself later in verse 26 when he says, “She is more righteous

than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah. Verse 26 ends with these words: “And he did not sleep with her again.”


Hope for Women Today


Maybe you don’t live in a patriarchal society wrongly being told that your worth is found in

whether or not you are a mother. However, you may very well be facing something in your life

right now during this very Advent season that has left you feeling rathe hopeless - perhaps a

job loss, unmet desire, unreached goal, unfulfilled dream, loss of a loved one, abandonment,

financial stress, or health crisis. Whatever it may be that has left you feeling as if there is no

hope to be found for you, look up!


Don’t fix your eyes on your problems and your (perhaps many!) reasons to be lacking in hope

this season. Instead, fix your eyes on Christ, the Author and Finisher of your faith (Hebrews

12:2) - the One who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and brings good out of it

all (Romans 8:28).


Tamar’s story was one of hopelessness, trial, disappointment, loss, broken promises, and

betrayal. In the midst of it all, however, God was still at work. A baby was born to Tamar - a

baby who would be in the very lineage of Christ, the coming Messiah, just as Tamar herself

would be.


So, no matter what you are facing today, remember that today is not the end of your story. God

has a purpose and a plan. Just think what He could accomplish through you and the portion of

your story in which you currently find yourself. There is always reason to hope when we have

Christ!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Your Goodness & Unfailing Love

 By: Joanne Viola

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life …”
(Psalm 23:6, NLT)

 As we look all around, we see hard times hitting so many – illness, unemployment, bills falling behind, isolation, and loneliness. Yet the psalmist reminds us, beckons us to say boldly of the Lord, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life!”

How can we say this with confidence?

When we know our Shepherd intimately, we know with assurance His heart towards us, His sheep. We know He is the One who holds our future and nothing can touch us apart from His permission.

We recall and declare:And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)

As we look back over other times of difficulties, we remember there has not been a problem, nor any circumstance, where He did not cause eventual good to come out of the pain. Hindsight always reveals His hand at work and in complete control.

It simply comes down to one simple statement most of us learned as children: “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

I love the picture the psalmist has portrayed through the use of his words. God’s goodness and unfailing love pursues us all the days of our lives. This should impress upon us that He pursues or follows us with intention, and that intent is to overtake us. In Jesus’ own words: 

My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
(John 10:10b, NLT)

As we walk in and experience the goodness and unfailing love of our Shepherd, may we also share His goodness, His unfailing love, and His many blessings with those around us.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
(Proverbs 11:25, NLT)

And may we ever give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and unfailing love towards us!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever."
(Psalm 136:1, NLT)

 

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash



 

 

 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Developing A Thanksgiving Lifestyle

by Elizabeth Stewart                  


Thanksgiving Day is this week! I believe that thanksgiving should be more than something we focus on for one day a year. For that reason, I have made a "tradition" of repeating this post about a simple way to make thanksgiving more than just a holiday. I believe it should be the lifestyle of the believer.

 It was really eye opening to me the day I stumbled upon Deuteronomy 28:47, (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition), in my Bible reading. In this verse we find out that one of the reasons that God's people were living a less than life was "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of mind and heart in gratitude for the abundance of all with which He had blessed you." Gratitude is important to God and it's life changing for us.  Ann Voskamp, author of the book One Thousand Gifts, writes, "Give thanks if you are joyful is, in reality, to be joyful give thanks." Did you notice in that verse in Deuteronomy how, to God, both our joyfulness and our gratitude are not only important, but connected? 

So, how do we become a more grateful, thankful person?  How do we make thanksgiving a lifestyle? I've found that one simple habit has been life changing for me in making me a more thankful person. Before Ann Voskamp wrote her book she blogged about her habit of gratitude journaling, of writing down at least three things that she was grateful for each day.  She encouraged her blog readers to do the same, and then once a week we would write blog posts filled with our weekly gratitudes and link it up on her website.  I began gratitude journaling due to her encouragement in 2009 and have been writing down at least three things I am grateful for every day since.  I've now journaled almost fourteen thousand things that I am grateful for in the subsequent years.  This simple practice has helped me to see, in the hardest of times and in the best of times, that God is always faithful and there is always something to be thankful for.  Thanksgiving has become a habit! It really is that simple. If you want to develop a more thanks filled lifestyle, why not give it a try?  All you need is some sort of simple notebook or journal, a pen and a willing heart!

Friday, November 20, 2020

5 Meditation Verses for a Thankful Heart

 


By: Sarah Geringer 

Do you have a thankful heart? Meditating on verses of thanksgiving can help you develop thankfulness, no matter your circumstance. Use these NLT verses during your meditation time to learn the benefits of having a thankful heart. They are ideal for preparing your heart for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. 


And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to Him. 

1 Chronicles 23:30

Develop a habit of thanking God at the beginning and end of each day. This practice will give you greater peace and joy!


The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. 

Psalm 28:7

Reciting God's names are a great way to cultivate thankfulness. Recounting his good and faithful acts in your life will inspire your praise.


 

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. 

Psalm 50:14


Thankfulness can feel like a sacrifice when you are tempted to worry, fret, fear or complain instead. But by intentionally choosing to thank God in those moments, your thanksgiving is a sweet-smelling, precious sacrifice to your Lord.


I trust God’s love forever and ever. God, I will thank You forever for what You have done. With those who worship you, I will trust You because You are good. 

Psalm 52:8–9

Thanking God on a regular basis increases your trust in him. As you trust him more, your faith will grow stronger. Thankfulness is a key to spiritual growth.


Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. 

Colossians 3:17

Thanksgiving is an act of obedience to God. It honors him and reminds us that he is first in our lives, that he is good, and that he keeps his promises. Your regular acts of obedience in thanking God will draw you closer to him.


I encourage you to write out these verses on sticky notes or 3 x 5 cards to meditate on them throughout the week. Want a free printable of these verses? Download it HERE!


If you enjoyed this post, please share on your favorite social media site using the buttons below.


Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and God's peace to you,





Photo from Canva.com




Thanks to BibleGateway.com for easy scripture navigation!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Spiritual Starvation

 By: Shari A. Miller

I don’t know about you, but I am not a morning person. As I walk in the footsteps of someone who is terminally ill, it can be very painful to get out of bed in the morning. My whole body aches, my feet at times are wrecked with neuropathy. When my feet hit the floor it feels like 1000 little needles are jabbing into my feet, as if they are waking me up to a new day.  This morning my son said I looked like a penguin walking around the house. I kind of chuckled when he said it, but he was right. Until I’m able to get woken up and have taken my proper medications, things just don’t go that well. 

My brain also doesn’t function at 100% when I first wake up. Sometimes my brain feels a little bit like scrambled eggs until I’m able to get my morning started.  Once I've sat and had my breakfast, and had some time to get acclimated to the day, things go so much better.

  

The same thing happens with the spiritual side of our day. We need to wake up, spend time with our Savior in prayer and reading His Word. When we do, our day goes so much better and we are ready to face the day. However, my days sometimes get started later then normal and I miss this important part of my day. After all these years I'm ashamed to admit it but yes, sometimes it happens. What about you? Does this ever happen to you too?


"But he answered, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." - Matthew 4:4


At the time I find it easy to make excuses like, "Oh, I'll do it tomorrow" or "God won't mind, He understands what I'm going through." Well, the truth is God does not condone being put last. He wants every part of us, nothing less than 100%. When we fall into the trap of not spending time with Him we are heading towards....spiritual starvation.

I know that we've probably heard what I'm going to say a million times before, but that doesn't make it any less important. Plus, it's always good to be reminded of it. As Christians, it is of the utmost importance that we spend time in God's Word. It's important to let the other things go that we think are so important and make Him the most important thing in our lives.

My favorite time of day to spend time with God is in the morning. Not only am I getting physically fed in the morning but I'm also getting spiritual fed. If I forget to spend time with God I feel like I'm lost during the day. I haven't connected with God and asked Him to walk with me in all that I do. I haven't hid His Word in my heart so I'm lost when trials arise and I don't have Scripture to look back on and to glean from. Just like we need to be physical feed, we also need to be spiritual feed everyday. That way we can face the day with Jesus by our side.


"With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." - Psalm 119:10-


I want to challenge you friends to rise every morning with Jesus first and foremost in your lives. Make a commitment to God. Draw near to Him and I promise you that He will draw near to you as well.