Leah’s Love/Hate Relationship

 

Love-Hate Relationship

Leah and Rachel were two women who shared both a father and a husband, but they did not share their husband’s love. And yet even this tragic love triangle is going to show us something beautiful about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look.

Genesis 29:16-18  And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah was tender-eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well-favored. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, “I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.”

Commentators do not agree on the interpretation of “tender-eyed,” but one thing we know for sure: Leah’s physical appearance was unimpressive, especially compared to her stunning sister Rachel, so it’s no small wonder that Jacob was attracted to the younger sister.

Love vs. Hate

There is evidence in Scripture which suggests Leah had fallen in love with Jacob. After all, he had already lived with the family for seven years. She had been around him, had seen him at work and at play. Perhaps she had prepared meals for him and had delivered them out to the field. To him it was merely an act of sisterly kindness, but to her it was an act of love.  Continue reading

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Grace Greater Than Our Sin

skyline-drive-in-autumn

by Julia H. Johnston (1911)

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
What can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today. [Refrain]

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive? [Refrain] Continue reading

Be Thou My Vision

 

 

4x6 04 Cascade 04translated by Mary E. Byrne
versified by Eleanor H. Hull

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
Thou ever with me, and I with Thee, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my Breastplate, my Sword for the fight;
Thou my whole Armor, be Thou my true Might;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, be Thou my strong Tow’r,
Raise me to heaven, great Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun,
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

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Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931) was born in Ireland. She translated this 8th-Century Gaelic poem in 1905 while working as a researcher and writer for the Board of Intermediate Education in Dublin. Years later, Eleanor Hull, a writer of English history and literature, put Ms. Byrne’s prose translation into verse form and included it in her book of poems, The Poem Book of the Gael. The melody is a traditional Irish tune.

Are you as thankful as I am for the work that these women did to make this beautiful hymn accessible to us? It has also been translated into other languages as well as English. The truths taught about our great God in these few lines are timeless.

The older I get, the more I realize the Christ is all. He literally fills more and more of my vision, just as the songwriter spoke of. This is not something that happens automatically, but is a consequence of daily walking with Him, getting to know Him, letting Him change me and conform me into His image. Every morning I must die to self so that I may live for Him. I’m not talking about some strange ritual or morbid habit, but just a denying of my own stubborn will. Am I always successful? No. But God is always forgiving. When I fall, He picks me up, brushes the dirt off my knees, and helps me start again.

Christ is all. He is sufficient for everything, for every need in every situation. Period.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

Credits:

Information from hymnary.org

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1990. p. 90.

Photo taken at Narrows Falls, Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, 2013

 

Rebekah Started Well

 

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The story of how Rebekah came to be Isaac’s wife is truly remarkable, especially to me, since I do not come from a culture where arranged marriages are common. Isaac’s father, Abraham, had come to dwell in a land far away from his people, in a land where he was a stranger. Isaac was of an age to be married, and Abraham wanted to choose a wife from among his own people for his son. So he sent his oldest and most trusted servant back to his hometown in the land of Mesopotamia to find a bride for Isaac. The servant was given strict instructions to bring her to him, for Isaac must not return to the fatherland. God had called them to a new place, and they would stay where God had led them. The servant swore to Abraham to obey all that he had commanded, and he took ten camels laden with provisions and gifts and went on his way to seek a bride for Isaac.  Continue reading

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Flowers (23)

by E. A. Hoffman (1887)

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

REFRAIN:
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

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Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929) was an ordained minister who served many years in various churches and chapels in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He also edited fifty hymnals and wrote more than 2,000 gospel songs in his lifetime, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

The story behind this song is a rather interesting one, and it actually starts with Anthony Showalter, the composer. He was well known for his singing schools in local churches in Georgia, and he was fond of keeping in touch with his students as the years passed. One particular evening he received two letters from former students, both of whom had recently lost their wives. Mr. Showalter immediately sat down and searched for a verse of Scripture to send to comfort them. He chose Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” As he meditated on the verse, the following words came to mind:

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Mr. Showalter sent his replies to each of his former students, then he took out an additional piece of paper and wrote a letter to his hymnwriter friend Elisha Hoffman, telling him of the chorus he had just come up with, but saying that he did not have the stanzas to go along with it. Mr. Hoffman promptly wrote three stanzas and sent them back to Mr. Showalter, who then supplied the music, and a new hymn of comfort was born.

God, the eternal God, is our support at all times, especially when we are sinking into deep trouble. There are seasons when we sink quite low…. Dear child of God, even when you are at your lowest, underneath are the everlasting arms. —Charles Spurgeon

Credits:
Information from hymnary.org

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 218-219.

Photo taken in Brevard, North Carolina, 2017

 

Martha: The “Perfect” Hostess

Busy Bee

Can a Type-A person learn to wait on God? You are familiar with Mary and Martha, right? Mary was content to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teaching and soaking up everything He had to say while Martha, our typical Type-A, was busy in the kitchen, preparing a feast fit for a king and fretting about not having enough help with it all. Oh, Mary had helped some, and perhaps the meal was nearly ready when she excused herself to the living room to sit with Jesus. She couldn’t help it if Martha decided at the last minute that they needed an extra vegetable, or that the dinner napkins were the wrong color and must be changed out. Those details did not matter to Mary. She wanted to spend time with Jesus. In the kitchen, she would just be in the way of her perfectionist sister, so she got out of the way.

But what about Martha? Don’t you think she also wanted to spend time with Jesus? Did she enjoy being “stuck” in the kitchen? Oh, to be sure, she loved cooking and entertaining. It was her forte. In fact, she was well known in town for her exquisite suppers. It’s not that she didn’t want to prepare the meal or set a fine table, but if only she could be in both rooms at once. The truth is, she had the perfect Guest in her home, and therefore she wanted her meal to be perfect—the setting just right, the food all delicious and hot and ready at the same time, the guests all comfortable, and the conversation all delightful. But she worked herself into a frazzle trying to make it happen. And by the time the evening was done, she realized she had hardly even cast a glance in Jesus’ direction. She had been so busy doing things for Him that she had spent very little time with Him. There had to be a balance, but how?

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King David was a lot like Martha. He too was a Type-A, a doer. In fact, King Saul was extremely jealous of him because the people had a saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands.” Yes, David was very accomplished, very talented, but he longed to learn to sit still and wait on God. Four times in Psalm 70 David asks God to hurry, and it’s a short psalm! Other times David does try to wait on God. I noticed this particularly in Psalm 69. “I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried; my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (v.3). He is waiting, but not very patiently. Others around him are more like Mary and have learned to wait patiently. David asks that he will not be an embarrassment to them. “O God, You know my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from You. Let not them that wait on You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek You be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel” (vv.5-6). As he progresses through his thoughts, he shows us that God has taught him a measure of patience. “But as for me, my prayer is unto You, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of Your mercy hear me, in the truth of Your salvation. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (vv.13,30).

Psalm 25 is also a psalm of David, and it is written from a position of rest. So to answer the question I posed at the beginning, YES, a Type-A person can learn to wait on God. David did. Read these first several verses of Psalm 25 and see for yourself.

Unto Thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in Thee:  let me not be ashamed,
let not my enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed:
let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Show me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me:
for Thou art the God of my salvation;
on Thee do I wait all the day.
Remember, O LORD,  Thy tender mercies and Thy loving-kindnesses;
for they have been ever of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions:
according to Thy mercy
remember Thou me  for Thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD:
therefore will He teach sinners in the way.
The meek will He guide in judgment:
and the meek will He teach His way.
All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth
unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Thy name’s sake, O LORD,  pardon my iniquity; for it is great.
What man is he that fears the LORD?
Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.
His soul shall dwell at ease,  and his seed shall inherit the earth.
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him,
and He will show them His covenant.
Psalm 25:1-14

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Let’s return now to our beloved Martha. Many things have happened in her life since that dinner when we first were introduced to her, but perhaps the most traumatic was when her beloved brother Lazarus took sick. Martha knew that Jesus had the power to heal Lazarus. She also knew that Jesus loved Lazarus (and Mary and herself). What she didn’t understand is why He didn’t come in time. Jesus’ heart broke to see her grief, but He met her right where she was, and He taught her a very important lesson.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now, whatever You will ask of God, God will give it to You.” Jesus said unto her, “Your brother shall rise again.” Martha said unto Him, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said unto him, “Yes, Lord: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:20-27).

This time when Jesus came into town, Martha had plenty of time to see Him, with no excuses, and Mary gave her space because she saw that her sister needed time alone with the Lord. Martha knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. She knew He had the power to heal the sick, and she knew that He would resurrect the dead at the last day, but she had not yet put two and two together to believe that He could resurrect her brother right then and there. It was too good to be true. Jesus tenderly and lovingly brought her to the place of understanding, then to prove His deity as much as to demonstrate His love, turned His attention to the tomb and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” The brother’s body received his life again, and immediately he was released and restored to his overjoyed sisters in the presence of many witnesses.

The third and final time we see this family together with Jesus is at another dinner. Again Martha is serving, but this time there is no complaining, but only joy, for this time Martha serves from a position of rest. The “perfect” hostess has been perfected. What made the difference? Martha has spent time with Jesus. We don’t know all the time they may have spent together, but we do know of at least that one private conversation they had just moments before He raised Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus greatly increased Martha’s faith. Many believed on Him that day, and Martha learned to rest. Wouldn’t you? Imagine being there, when the realization floods over your soul that the Lord of glory was not late after all, He was right on time! He had a plan—a perfectly marvelous plan to show His glory in a wonderful way. I’m sure Martha learned that day that she could trust Him implicitly for any situation, for any problem, and there was absolutely nothing too difficult for God.

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1 Peter 5:10  But the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

James 1:4  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

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You can read more about Martha here: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-45; 12:1-11.

Next week: Rebekah

“Busy Bee” photo taken in Brevard, North Carolina, 2017