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Well, I have been remiss in writing here, but I am so happy to report that God has helped me to be faithful in my 30 day commitment (post-Bible Study). If you did an encouragement… here’s what I have to say, straight up! It’s never too late. You can start 30 days today. 🙂

Here’s what I’m doing…. as an experiment and as a promise to my time with you and this study over the past 3 months…

1. I pray the Lord’s prayer in first person. That’s been very powerful.
2. I proclaim the wonders of God through various Psalms passages I selected. There are so many ways to speak of His glory in the Psalms: Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name!
3. I pray Ps. 26:2, asking the Lord to reveal my sins/transgressions from the previous day and ask for forgiveness. That has been very healing.
4. I then pray Ps 25:4-5 before I begin to read and reflect on the Word.
5. I decided to start in the New Testament again and I am working my way through Matthew. I am taking my time, reading short passages as the Lord leads, summarizing them and then writing an affirmation and application of the verses. I am also writing “notes” as the Lord reveals truths I had not thought about before. Then I pray Ps 16:11a (“You have made known to me the path of life.”)
6. And finally, I pray for myself (if I feel there is a need still), for my family, friends, church, community & nation … as the Lord leads.

In 23 days, I have reached Matthew 10:4.
Here are just a few thoughts I’ve written in my new prayer journal:

  • From the story of the Magi, Matt 2:1-12, I heard the Lord ask me, “What do you seek?” and I answered, “I seek You, Lord… give me a star to follow!” (And really, give me the courage to follow You.)
  • When Joseph and the Magi were warned in a “dream” to flee, they understood God meant NOW. For me, I understood Him to say, “do it now.”
  • From Matthew 3:1-12 – If water baptism is a symbol for the forgiveness and washing away of confessed sin … brought to the surface, won’t the “fire baptism” that Jesus brought remove the deeper sins embedded in the fabric of our beings?
  • After anointing, comes challenge. (Jesus, the dove & the desert)
  • Temptations are customized to our weaknesses. (see Matt 4:3-11)
  • Healing the body is “symbolic” of Jesus’ ultimate goal of healing the soul. Always pray for the healing of the sick. (Matt 4:12-25)
  • To incorporate the beatitudes … woo! too much… so much truth, so much to consider. So the Lord gave me a break: Pick One! so I picked Mercy!!!!! It is my only hope.
  • The natural state, as a Christian, is to “shine” … if I am not shining, then I am preventing it. I am blocking the light with my own choices. Lord forgive me. (Matt 5:13-20)
  • Are we really to “be” perfect… or is it a call to stay on the road to perfect… the narrow way. (Matt 5:43-6:6)
  • The essence of the Lord’s Prayer: glorifying God (who He is), accepting God’s plan for our lives, asking that our basic needs be met, asking forgiveness for our sins and mistakes, and finally asking for protection and deliverance.
  • Worry is an unacceptable way of responding to God’s love and care. We are, instead, to see His “place” (environment) and His essence that rules over that space.
  • We must always remember “what” we are seeking. In the end, whatever we seek, is still Christ, in the end. (Matt 7:7-14)
  • I must tend to the tree. (Matt 7:15-23)
  • The sermon on the mount is essence of being a Christian.
  • Enough for now… I’ll share more later.

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Our meeting brought some new faces. I just want to remind everyone again that this bible study is a low-stress affair. Come when you can… read here what you missed. Add your thoughts through the comments or just lurk. This is God’s time no matter how you slice it.

We began our wisdom study in earnest, having been introduced to wisdom first through the character of Abigail. we began a review of wisdom with Proverbs 1.

Wanting to get some introductory material together, I was intrigued to discover a few “facts” that I shared with the group. But before I share those, I want to remind you all that Solomon received wisdom because he asked for it. Throughout this process, we must remember, daily, to ask God for wisdom. God is faithful and He will deliver!

The Hebrew word for wisdom is in the feminine tense and as such, is translated throughout Proverbs as “she.” Some years ago, I know there were some gnostics who took the idea of a “holy feminine” or “Sophia” or “goddess worship” much further afield that I intend to go. But that’s not to say that the feminine isn’t important. Let us not fearfully throw the “baby out with the bath water.” We are women and we need to champion that which IS feminine in the bible and to continually find meaning. We must be willing to look outside the box… to think creatively… to fulfill our own destinies in Christ… like Abigail, choosing courage to act under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In ancient cultures, wise men and women came from a group of people who had developed life skills. They were the precursors to our modern day social and natural scientists. They were observers of life… of people… of nature. Wisdom could be learned. Soon, these wise ones expanded their observations about life and began making observations about wisdom itself. It is in this spirit, that many of the proverbs were written. The literary form of the proverbs is a specific type called parallelism. Proverbs were intentionally created to succeed in a verbal society … to be spoken and remembered and passed down. The proverbs are really a “collection of a collection” of proverbs and should be read in groups topically. They might “save us from a lot of trouble” but remember, the better part of wisdom is knowing how to live in the “midst” of difficult circumstances. For more background on the Proverbs, see http://www.cresourcei.org/biblestudy/bbproverbs1.html

When I asked in what areas we were looking for wisdom, the resounding theme was relationships: children, husbands, extended family, colleagues at work, neighbors… the list went on. And in these relationships, we are looking for better decision-making, wise words, and insight.

In actuality, the first 8 chapters of Proverbs are the instructions and speeches that summarize the entire book. The proverbs themselves are the detail. In chapter one, the purposes for studying the Proverbs are laid out: wisdom, discipline, insight, prudence, right-living, fairness, knowledge, discretion, understanding, and the “fear of the Lord.”

We talked a lot about the “fear of the Lord” – this phrase has been around for a long time and we have all learned various interpretations of it. Some of the definitions include awe, reverence, and respect. I believe, this respect, or reverent acknowledgment of God … a sovereign God… is the beginning of wisdom. As little children before God, we have much to learn and we must remember that God is God… and there are no circumstances that are not under his will.

I was fascinated by verses 8 & 9 which referred to the “garland for the head” and the “chain about the neck” as symbols of instruction received. What is interesting to me is that these objects can symbolize victory and beauty, but if we rebel against the instruction, they can feel like the chains of a prisoner.

The next 10 verses leap into the warnings of enticement away from instruction. This is an important point. Clearly, wisdom has a high value and once we begin this journey, the enticements will come quickly. But what are the enticements for a 20th century middle class woman? One very good suggestion was “gossip.” Remember, if we are seeking wisdom in relationships, what better way to “ruin” that path than to twist those relationships through the wringer of gossip, backbiting, and judgment? We also discussed other enticements like the love of “stuff” and worldly pleasures or things the world advertise as important.

One question I did not remember to ask was, “What is the most powerful temptation in your life?” and as a follow-up, “What would you lose by yielding to it?” and “What would you GAIN by yielding to it?” Think on these things this week.

Our next meeting is March 15th. Email me if you need directions. We will continue in Proverbs 1:20-33. I plan to continue through Chapter 4 and then move to another character to apply what we’ve learned.

Prayer requests: For Mark’s mother, Dorothy; Kathleen’s daughter Kristina; Marcie’s daughter traveling; Chris’s husband’s retiring.
Praises: Marriage on an upswing for MaryC.

Our second meeting on Thursday, Feb 15th, although smaller than our first night, brought together lots of dialogue and revelations.

I Samuel 25: 19 – 44

We all agreed that Abigail didn’t tell her husband of her plan to intervene because he would probably stop her and be quite angry as well. This moment of NOT telling her husband was a specific choice to disobey (by omission) her husband’s desires. Her belief in the right thing to do (and undoubtedly her relationship with God) gave her the courage to step out and act on her own. Many conservative writers have tried to “talk away” this truth but I do not think that is wisdom. We, as women, need a full range biblical examples. This example shows that wives, even “Old Testament” women, are not obliged to sit back in the face of evil or foolish judgments or actions.

This is not to say that Abigail chose this way easily. We still see her as “human” and undoubtedly she journeyed to face an angry David with some fear and doubt. But, we also believe she was filling the role of the Prov. 31 woman in her household and was determined to do what she could do to save them.

When Abigail finally reached David’s entourage, she immediately prostrated herself before him. She showed him right away that she was coming to him in full surrender. We had quite a discussion over vs. 24 where she says, “… Upon me alone let this guilt be…” This feels very uncomfortable, if taken at face value. One possibility is that there is purpose and maybe even power in “accepting” guilt of a husband’s actions… after all, we are told in Genesis 2:24, that a husband and wife are “one flesh.” Is it possible that a mate can do this and as a result, come before the Lord and call on the power of the God to forgive this sin? This seems like an exciting possibility until we were confronted by some of the deeply painful sins like sexual abuse and pornography. How can a mate even begin to “tolerate” such a burden?

In the end, we all decided to travel a different understanding of this passage and assume that Abigail was being “clever” in her language to put off David’s anger. In fact, it could be called a “girl trick” because many of us have used it. She goes on then to actually insult Nabal, calling him a fool. Simons says, “A simple person does evil because he does not know wisdom; a fool does evil things because he hates wisdom.” In other words, a fool is one who “chooses” to sin. I believe Abigail was just confirming that Nabal showed, again, his true character. And as such, David shouldn’t “lower” himself to that level. She may even be implying, that she, who is wiser than Nabal “should” have seen the inevitability for what happened at the camp and she accepts guilt for not stepping in sooner…. perhaps. Something to consider.

With verses 26 – 31, we have a beautiful passage where Abigail appeals to David on several levels. First of all, she immediately declares, as though David as already decided, that now, David has been prevented from avenging with his own hand and taking on unnecessary “bloodguiltiness.” She also implies that Nabal deserves to die for his actions and she includes in her “blessing” that all of David’s enemies should have the same fate as Nabal should (Wesley). She continues to speak blessings on all that God has in store for David’s future.

This blessing touched us all on several levels. As one of us put it, she exemplified how a blessing of this kind is actually “speaking healing into wounded places.” We all agreed that there is great power in these blessings and in our own lives, we should be doing the same. Think about the possibilities of speaking over our children, our mates, our friends, and even our enemies, words of hope and expected manifestations of right choices. This is not to be mistaken with the “name it and claim it” mentality, but a verbal anointing. We also agreed that these words were God inspired. We cannot forget that Abigail was aware of God’s plan for David…. she was in tune with the times and she was in tune with the Lord.

And lastly, she says, “remember me.” This small request comes with an expectation …. first of all, that her words are true and when David goes on to become the King, that he remember this day when a woman made a difference in his life.

Richmond summarizes that Abigail appeals 1) to David’s conscience to live free of blood guilt, 2) to forgiveness, since we all have choices in how we live and act, and 3) to faith, since David must rely on God to move powerfully in his life. Interesting to me, that David, my “saving” himself with a wise choice, he saves many lives.

David is checked. He recognizes God in Abigail’s words and relents, for he even says in vs 34, “… God… Who has prevented me from hurting you…”

I also believe that Abigail came to David with a symbolic atonement for the actions of her husband. She offered the lambs and goats… and she offered herself. If David had not relented, he could have chosen to kill her and I believe she was offering herself in lieu of her household.

Once Abigail returns to the camp, she does not tell her husband until the next day, since he was too drunk to even hear her story. Nabal’s end is told briefly, he is first struck “as a stone” which we interpreted as a stroke and 10 days later, he died.

Does God strike Nabal for Abigail’s sake (for her actions) or for David’s sake? In the end, we decide it was for David, his anointed, knowing that by fulfilling Abigail’s prophetic words, she would benefit as well.

In the final verses (vs 41), after David has called her to him to be his wife, she says, “let your handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” We had several interpretations, but the one I liked best was that Abigail was confirming that she would serve his household faithfully just as she served Nabal’s household (and as noted earlier, she was clearly beloved by that household).

Now, there is only one final question… How do we respond to this story? How do we apply all these ideas and truths to our own lives? What is God saying to us? I have asked the group to comment on real life applications… for in my mind, if we don’t take the stories to heart, they remain only that, stories.

We are all “walking stories.” We are an expression of God in this world. And there is a reason that Abigail’s story is captured in scripture.