Tag Archive | Jerusalem

July 27 Transformation Garden

 

“Unto You, O Lord, do I bring my life. O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You.”
Psalm 25: 1,2
Amplified Bible

“Lord, You are my lover,
My longing,
My flowing stream,
My sun,
And I am Your reflection.”
Mechtild of Magdeburg
(1207-1292)

Today’s Study Text:

“She came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels bearing spices, very much gold, and precious stones.”
1 Kings 10: 2
Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION:

“Lessons Taught By the Lady From Sheba” Part 2

Lesson #2 – From the words of Jesus: “Give, and there will be gifts for you; a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap; because the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”
Luke 6: 38
N.J.B.

“It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.”
Psalm 112: 5
N.R.S.V.

“Generosity”: Magnanimous. Liberal in giving. Bounteous. Marked by abundance.

“A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away, the more he had.”
John Bunyan

What does the word ‘generous’ mean in my own life?

In what ways do I feel I could be more generous in my life?

Are there other ways than just “giving” money that I can show a spirit of generosity?

“A cheerful giver does not count the cost of what (she) gives. (Her) heart is set on pleasing and cheering (the person) to whom the gift is given.”
John of Norwich

INSPIRATION:

“The truly generous is the truly wise, and (she) who loves not others, lives unblest.”
Henry Home

I love this familiar Persian Proverb:

“What I kept, I lost;
What I spent, I had;
What I gave, I have.”

What true words, for it is what we share throughout life’s journey that not only blesses the recipient, but also showers abundant blessings upon the giver as well.  And this becomes an important element in today’s study, as we come to the second lesson we can learn from the “Lady From Sheba.”

Because of her desire to find out more about the wisdom of Solomon, and as was revealed yesterday, in the God who he served, she decided to make the long, arduous journey to Jerusalem to see if what she had heard about Solomon was really true.

But here’s where Lesson #2 shines out immediately. The Queen didn’t arrive at Solomon’s doorstep empty-handed. She came bearing gifts.

While there are some scholars who note that there was a huge potential for a political alliance between the Queen of Sheba’s country and Israel, the idea that she would arrive with gifts would not necessarily be out of the ordinary. However, if we take the Bible as it is written, which we do here in Transformation Garden, the key reason noted in 1 Kings 10 for the Queen’s visit was her desire specifically to learn from Solomon. And to zero in more closely on her special aim, she wanted to find out more about the God he served, the God who had blessed him so abundantly with wisdom and understanding as well as bountiful prosperity.

We find that as the Queen’s caravan arrived in Jerusalem, there were camels laden with “spices, much gold and precious stones.” There’s every indication that the Queen of Sheba came with an over-abundance of gifts, and I asked myself, “Why?”

First, she may have wanted to impress Solomon with her own wealth and that of her country.

Second, indeed, she may have wanted to use these gifts as “carrots” dangling before Solomon, hoping to draw him into a trade alliance.

However, since I’ve read the entire story of the “Lady From Sheba,” I’d like to offer a third reason she came bearing gifts and it is simply this — she was a generous-hearted person who came to Jerusalem with an unselfish heart and not an empty hand. Just as the Magi from the East arrived at the manger of the baby Jesus bearing gifts, so the Queen from Arabia came to learn about the God of heaven and earth and from an open and inquiring heart, she generously shared the bounty with which she was blessed.

What an important lesson for you and me to take away from this God-ordained encounter between an Arab Queen and an Israelite King.

Recently I read words from a writer who noted that in today’s modern society, we have replaced the spirit of generosity with a word we call “charity.” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not demeaning charitable giving in the least. I’ve worked for literally hundreds of charitable organizations in my 30-year career. I’ve witnessed first-hand, the tremendous benefits which come to “givers” and “receivers” who share in the blessings provided by unselfish hearts that serve.

But how often I’ve wondered, just what the consequence would be, if generous hearts were so prevalent and gave with such unfettered abundance that there was no need for organizations to have to pay for the costs associated with funding complete departments in their organizations with staff whose job it is to do nothing but ask for money.

In the life of the Queen of Sheba, I find an individual who gave without being asked. And I’ll even go another step further. We find throughout the Bible, that while the word “generous” or “generosity” is not used, both in the Hebrew and Greek, a word used by Webster’s Dictionary to define “generosity” is used over-and-over, and it is the word abundance, which in the Hebrew means majesty and greatness and in the Greek means abounding copiously or in large quantity.

Interestingly, in the Old Testament, the word “abundance,” which can mean generosity, is not used to denote God’s ability to give us wealth and make us live on “Easy Street.” Instead, this word is used to define God’s mercy, His long-suffering nature and His unfailing kindness. And I’d like to interject, this was exactly why the Queen of Sheba made her lengthy desert trip to Jerusalem. She wanted to get a glimpse into the life which God envisioned for those of His children who had open hearts and generous spirits like hers.

In doing some study for today’s devotional, I was led to the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, and I wondered to myself if it was wisdom like this that he shared with the Queen of Sheba:

The profit of the earth is for all; the king himself is served by the field and in all, a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields. He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance with gain. This also is vanity, (emptiness, falsity, and futility.)
Ecclesiastes 5: 9, 10
Amplified Bible

What we come to understand from the Queen of Sheba is that a generous heart, a giving hand, and a spirit of unselfishness brings untold joy to the bearer of gifts. Please remember, it is not the size of the gift, it is the act of giving which releases a torrent of blessings in our lives. Jesus made this profoundly clear, when one day, at the Temple offering bucket, He witnessed a small gift being put into the “treasury.” This is how Mark tells the story in Mark 12: 41-44 (Amplified Bible):

“And (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich people were throwing in large sums. And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites, the smallest coins, which together make half of a cent. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘Truly and surely I tell you, this widow has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury. For they all threw in out of their abundance, but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had — even all she had on which to live.”

As Sir Henry Talor so eloquently penned, “He who gives what he would as readily as he throws away, gives without generosity, for the essence of generosity is self-sacrifice.” These words mirror those spoken by Jesus and are a clear call to each of us to cultivate a heart of generous giving in our own lives.

“You do not have to be rich to be generous. If he has the spirit of true generosity, a pauper can give like a prince.”
Corrine U. Wells

AFFIRMATION:

“We let the world overcome us; we live too much in continual fear of the chances and changes of mortal life. We let things go too much their own way. We try too much to get what we can by our own selfish wits, without considering our neighbour. We follow too much the ways and fashions of the day, doing and saying and thinking anything that comes uppermost, just because there is so much around us. Free us from our selfish interests, and guide us, good Lord, to see Thy way and to do Thy will.”
Charles Kingsley
1814-1875

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional is posted everyday, Monday through Friday on Facebook, too.

My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian.  You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508.

 

Advertisements

July 26 Transformation Garden

“They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4: 13 K.J.V.

“O hearts of love!
O souls that turn like sunflowers
to the pure and best!
To you the truth is manifest;
For they the mind of Christ discern
Who lean like John upon His breast.”
John G. Whittier

Today’s Study Text:

“When the Queen of Sheba heard of the constant connection of the fame of Solomon with the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.”
1 Kings 10: 1
Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION:

“Lessons Taught By the Lady From Sheba” Part 1

Lesson #1 – From the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.”
Matthew 7: 1, 2
Amplified Bible

’’By what measuring stick do I judge those around me who do not have the same point-of-view as I have?

How do I judge those whose religious beliefs are not the same as mine?

How do I put into practice each day the words of Jesus found in Matthew 7: 1, 2?

“Be quick to judge yourself and not to judge others.”
Author Unknown

INSPIRATION:

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa

Today, we begin a 10-day study on the “Lady from Sheba,” as I like to refer to this foreign queen who came to visit the legendary King Solomon. To say there’s a lot we can learn from this gracious woman would be an understatement.

As we begin to dig deeply into the lessons God has for us from the life of the Queen of Sheba, I want to lay out for you what I have uncovered as I’ve researched this unique woman.

Biblical scholars and historians provide some illumination on the geographical location which gave this lady her name.

Sheba is considered to be a country in southwest Arabia, which in our current day is a country called Yemen. The region where the country of Sheba lay was the mountainous and fertile part of Arabia. Genealogists of the Bible regarded “Sheba”, (most likely one, two or three different individuals had this name), as the source of the country’s name as well as the descendents’ name which was the Sabeans.

The country of Sheba was known for gaining its wealth by controlling the perfume and incense trade. And as we delve into the generosity displayed by the Queen of Sheba, we’ll recognize the fact that her country of origin was flush with gifts which underscore what history shares with us.

It was in the 10th century B.C., when the Queen of Sheba, propelled by a longing to find out about, not only the wisdom of Solomon, but the God of heaven and earth who had bestowed upon Solomon such wisdom and prosperity, came to Jerusalem bearing gold, precious stones and spices which she exchanged with King Solomon.

It is here, for today, that I wish to stop for a moment to reveal the first lesson we find taught to God’s daughters and sons around the world in the 21st century, by the “Lady from Sheba.”

Throughout David’s reign as King of Israel, despite his moral failing, there was no question that the one and only God of heaven and earth was the Lord God of David’s life. In fact, there was no greater longing in David’s heart than to build a house of worship where his heavenly Father’s presence would dwell. But having been a man of war, or as the Bible tells us, a man of blood, God gave the task of building a Temple to David’s son, Solomon. As we studied several weeks ago, this became, in the first half of Solomon’s time on the throne of Israel, his all-consuming passion. Building a house of worship to God was the singular purpose of Solomon’s life. Knowing that this was his goal, we find that rather than excluding other leaders in surrounding countries from helping him with this enormous undertaking, King Solomon chose to engage King Hiram and other leading figures outside of Israel to bring the best the then known world had to offer, in completing the Temple to honor Jehovah. I want to add, this was initially for one reason only — and that was to bring glory — exceptional and unique glory — to the name of God. And this is exactly what happened!

We are told in our study text for today that it wasn’t just the brilliance of Solomon that drew the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem, but it was also Solomon’s connection with the “name of God.” How beautiful is that! After reading this fact I asked myself, “Would someone who is not a follower of the God of heaven and earth, be drawn to me because they had heard of my connection to my heavenly Father and of His special blessing on my life?” I ask you, “Could the same be said about your life — that you have a heavenly connection which others want to share in?”

King Solomon could have “shunned” the “Lady from Sheba.” She was from Arabia. She wasn’t an Israelite. She was a non-believer. A foreigner. A heathen, as some might call her. Yet, Solomon did not disregard this Queen. Instead, he welcomed her to the heart of Israel — Jerusalem — the city of David.

As I reflected on this gesture of kindness, my mind was carried to the words of Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, found in the book of Matthew in the New Testament. In a clarion call to suspend the harsh judgment we often apply toward others, Jesus asked His followers, especially, to “judge not.” I’ll add, there were no exclusions to this command. Jesus didn‘t say that you were off-the-hook if the people you disagreed with were not Christians or had some other behavior you deemed in-appropriate. He just stated, “Judge not!”

So often, I think that as Christians, we have somehow come to the conclusion that if we don’t “call-out” behavior we think does not follow the “guidelines” established by whatever religious banner we choose to fly over ourselves, that we are compromising our values. I’d like to turn this idea upside down and offer this perspective. If what I have to share with those around me, who may believe a different way than I do, doesn’t make them feel more loved, more included, and more accepted, then I‘ve completely missed the point of Jesus’ earthly ministry for His work was wrapping His arms tightly around those whom His’ society turned their backs on and tossed out like yesterday’s garbage.

Several months ago, here in Transformation Garden, a girl wrote me. She shared some very personal details about her life. And then she asked me this question, “Will you pray for a person like me?” I wanted to weep that she even felt she had to ask a question like this. But having been rejected by so many who wore the label of “Christian,” she evidently thought that perhaps I wouldn’t want to pray for her. Thankfully, I could tell her that here in the Garden, we pray for everyone — because the God of heaven and earth — your Father and mine — loves each of us as though there was only one of us. And when His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, He brought with Him His Father’s heavenly love that is big enough to embrace the worst of us!

Recently, I read a story that really hit home with me. I live in a town known for a great deal of New Age philosophy. In fact, over eleven years ago, when Jim and I moved here, a friend, rather mockingly asked, “Oh, are you New Agers now?” I told her, “No, we are Christians.” But then I went on to tell her about all the wonderful individuals God had led us to meet — and one of the women is a devout Buddhist.  Every time we go to lunch, inevitably, the conversation turns to things spiritual. But what took me by surprise was when I was asked, several years ago, to do a reading on Good Friday, at our local library from my book, When A Woman Meets Jesus. My friend showed up, unannounced. Furthermore, she was the last to leave, walking with me out to my car. And she shared that in her house, growing up as a child, there was no Bible. But she said to me, “You know, Dorothy, after hearing tonight about the way Jesus treated and loved women, if I had heard stories like that in my childhood, I would love Jesus like you do.”

As I told you, it was my experience with this friend that became the reason the following story struck such a cord in my heart:

“A mother living in Japan called the head mistress of a mission school.

‘Do you take only beautiful girls in your school?’ she inquired.

‘Why, no! We welcome all girls,’ was the reply.

‘But I have noticed that all your girls are beautiful,’ the woman exclaimed.

‘Well, we teach our girls to love our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and He gives them a look of holy beauty,’ replied the missionary.

‘I myself am a Buddhist,’ the mother noted, ‘I do not want my daughter to become a Christian. Yet, I should like her to attend your school to get that look on her face,’ was the reply.”

The first lesson we can take away from the “Lady of Sheba” is that when we choose not to judge another by our own standard, but instead, allow God’s heavenly love to radiate through us and around us, we will become an illuminating presence that draws others, as 1 Kings 10: 1 tells us, the Queen of Sheba was drawn to visit Solomon. Why? Because of his “connection with the Name of God” (The Message Bible).

“Do not be angry that you cannot make others as you would wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
Thomas á Kempis

AFFIRMATION:

“I want that adorning Divine
Thou only, my God, canst bestow;
I want in these beautiful garments to shine
Which mark out Thy household below.”
Charlotte Elliott

“Here is a plain strip of canvas. Before it stands the master painter. ‘Do you see the golden sunset?’ he asks. ‘Trust yourself to me and I will paint its glory in your face.’ And the canvas says, ‘I am coarse in texture. I am scant in size. I do not see how you can fill me with the glory of that sunset sky.’ And the master says, ‘Yield and you shall see.’”
Author Unknown

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional is posted everyday, Monday through Friday on Facebook, too.

My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian.  You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508.