In Search of Wisdom

In Search of Wisdom 2

Women have a knack of being mysterious, but perhaps none so well as the Queen of Sheba. She is a woman surrounded in adventure, wealth, and legendary tales; but what does the Bible really say about her? What historical evidence outside of the Bible has been discovered and what can we learn from this woman of the Bible?

First, where did the Queen of Sheba hail?

Queen of Sheba came from modern day Yemen (South Arabia) and was the queen leader of the Sabeans (or Sabean Civilization). Sheba was known as a kingdom ruled by queens.

She is mentioned in the Koran and also in Ethiopian history, specifically the area of Seba or Meroe. One explanation for this is that her wealthy kingdom, the wealthiest in the Ancient East, extended to the Horn of Africa in the land of Seba. Seba and the region of Ethiopia is known even today for its frankincense industry. Perhaps this is where the Queen harvested the frankincense as a gift for Solomon? However, even today Yemen is also known for its Frankincense industry so the ties of the Queen of Sheba to Meroe or Ethiopia are unclear at best.

Here is a wonderful documentary to learn more.

Why did she travel to Israel?

The Queen of Sheba was a Gentile queen of a pagan nation. We can read in scripture that she was attracted by the fame of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth. She associated this wisdom with the Name of Jehovah (1 Kings 10:1). Next, she came to learn. She came with questions to test the king. Her questions for the wise king most likely concerned trade, agriculture, industry, kingdom rule, and a host of other questions which we can only speculate about (i.e. creation, his God …).

What did the Queen of Sheba’s quest uncover?

After viewing the riches of Solomon’s kingdom, the efficiency and efficacy with which it was run, the rulings of this wise king, and listening to the answers to all of her questions, the Queen of Sheba proclaims that she had only heard the half of what she now witnessed of this man and his kingdom. (1 Kings 10:4-9)

What gifts did the Queen of Sheba bring King Solomon?

Spices, gold and jewels. (1 Kings 10:2, 10) Two of the spices that the Queen of Sheba bestowed on Solomon were frankincense and myrrh. Both were used for medicinal purposes. Frankincense was also used in the sacred incense (Exodus 30:34-38; Lev. 2:2) and myrrh was used for perfume and for embalming the dead. Theses spices along with gold were also presented to Jesus by the wise men from eastern lands. (Matthew 2:1-11)

Today we too can offer gifts such as these to the giver of all wisdom, God.

  • Consider our offering of fragrant spices as outlined in 2 Corinthians 2:15.
  • Jewels: “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)
  • Gold: “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world”. (1 Peter 1:7)

The parallels for the Gentiles coming to salvation in Christ Jesus are seen in the account of the Queen of Sheba as well as the wise men’s visit to Jesus. The Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon and the wisdom of God he shared with her foreshadow the salvation that Christ would make known to the Gentile nation. What the Jewish nation rejected would be shared with the Gentile people.

Did the Queen of Sheba convert to follow God?

The Queen praised Solomon and his Lord for the wisdom which God gifted Solomon with. Further, Jesus, when asked by the Pharisees for a sign that He was who He claimed to be, gave only the sign of Jonah and the Queen of Sheba:

The Queen of the South Shall rise up with this generation at the judgment and shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42, emphasis mine)

Let’s take a closer look at the words of Jesus. “The judgment” Greek “krisis” refers to the final judgment which is also used in Matthew 10:15, “ Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment (krisis) than for that city.”  (“That city” is referring to vs. 14, the one that does not receive a disciple.)

“Shall condemn” Greek “katakrino” from “kata,”against, and “krino,” to judge, to pronounce sentence against, condemn. This term is also used in Hebrews 11:7: “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

In each of these examples which used the same Greek words, “the judgement” was referring to the final judgement, and those standing in the place of judge where followers of God. This lends me to believe that the Queen of Sheba converted to be a follower of Yahweh after her visit with King Solomon. Further, 1 Corinthians 6:2, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” It would not be logical for a pagan queen to stand in judgement over others at the final judgement.

In conclusion, we citizens of the 21st century continue to have many questions much like the Queen of Sheba in the 10th century BC. Today we must continue to be wisdom seekers like the Queen of Sheba and be willing to pass along what we have learned as disciples of Christ to make more disciples so that the gospel may go forth and multiply.

Continue your search for wisdom,

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Will I Be in Heaven?

 Will I Be in Heaven

Many people believe that they are “good people.” Failing to compare ourselves to God, we can always find someone worse than us. Like Pilate (See Matthew 27 :24-26), we wash our hands of Jesus blood when our pride says, “I have not sinned, I am a good person.”

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

~Romans 3:23-24

So if no one is truly good, then who will be in Heaven?

Jesus did not drink the cup of God’s wrath for good people. Rather, when sin entered the world through Eve and Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good people ceased to exist. All people thereafter became fallen, sinful, lost people separated from their Creator by our sin nature. Christ drank the cup of God’s wrath against sin so that fellowship between God and man could be restored for eternity.

Do you have a hard time thinking of children as sinful? Consider, we are sinful from birth because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. One example of children’s sin nature, we do not teach children to lie, but rather to be truthful even when consequences of punishment are at stake.

Christ’s sacrifice is not a blanket forgiveness for all people. His blood sacrifice provides forgiveness of sins for those who repent, turn from their sin in confession and action, and believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~Romans 10:9-10

In Matthew 27:25, the priests and onlookers shouted out that Christ’s blood be on them and on their children. However, His blood is on each of our hands as we have all sinned against God.

The only way to Heaven is through faith and forgiveness in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Following our conversion experience, the act of putting our trust in Christ to save us and repenting from our sin, our lives tell the story of our eternal change:

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. (1John 3:7-10)

 

 Thank you dear friends for joining me on this final post in the six-part series on Heaven. I dearly look forward to His return and the beginning of eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth. Until then, we will live in our temporary home with an eye to the eternal.

God bless you and keep you,

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What Activities Await in Heaven?

What activities await in heaven

The children followed, somehow able to move against the thundering flow. Nothing like this was possible in the old world.

“Further up and further in!” Were the words spoken? Or were their hearts shouting from within?

They reached a golden gate that suggested the beginning of an even greater discovery.

~C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Many a cartoon has depicted heaven as a place where we will sit on clouds of white and strum harps for eternity. However, the God who created the universe, galaxies,  and starry hosts, in addition to carving canyons, raising mountains, and flooding grassy plains with wildflowers seems a bit more apt to consider an eternity of harp playing even more mundane and pointless than we would.

God is the greatest artist, most well-known author (the Bible is the number one best selling book of all time), the all-knowing scientist, judge of all, and Master of the time, space, and matter He created in every way.

Because we are created in the image of God, we are then able to create, design, and imagine even in our fallen state. The New Heaven and New Earth will contain elements of the earth we now know: art, worship in music, song, and dance, perhaps building, decorating, designing, and instruction.

Simply because we will know God for who He is and comprehend His greatness and majesty in a way that is veiled to us at present doesn’t mean that we will know every craft and trade and possess all knowledge to complete jobs. Perhaps in Heaven we will learn new trades by which we can benefit our heavenly society and magnify God.

While the absence of crime, death, and decay will necessarily delete some jobs from Heaven (physicians, dentists, police and firefighters), not all levels of judiciary are swept away. Consider, many verses concerning heaven state that the saints will rule the universe, judge the angels, and that the Lord will appoint the rulers and authorities of heaven in accordance with His will and our faithfulness. (See Mark 10:40, Luke 19:11-27, 1 Corinthians 6:3

All this talk of jobs may have you thinking that Heaven may instead be a place of all work and no play. Nonsense!!! I should hope not. I must tell you that I am looking forward to heavenly recreation as well. Hiking, kayaking, sports, and horseback riding may be just a few of the recreational enjoyments that await. One difference in heaven is that our work will not be toil but an outward working of enjoyment and worship. An outworking of our mind and body minus the hope deflating struggle we battle spiritually and physically on fallen earth.

Consider the following words of King David:

In Your presences is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ~Psalm 16:11

God has the best yet to come for us in Heaven as perfect relationship and dominion over His creation will be restored.

The God who created us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) will not cancel this purpose when he resurrects us to inhabit the new universe (Luke 19:11-27). ~Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Perhaps you will spend time in study seeking what the scriptures have to say regarding Heaven and the activities that await. Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, sections seven and twelve go much deeper on these subjects if you would like further reading. He also has multiple quotes from other resources that will direct you further in your study.

Looking forward to all that awaits us in Heaven,

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God’s Grace, Our Grief

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I may be intimately acquainted with only my own grief and sorrow, but Jesus is acquainted with the sorrows of all mankind.

There are moments when I stop to ponder rampant human trafficking, people dying of unclean water and unsanitary living conditions, children dying of malnutrition, or simply the plight of a young child whose mother is yelling and belittling him in a McDonald’s restaurant. In those moments, I look at the fallen world and weep as Jesus wept.

However, more often I chose to look away, or look only long enough to give my money and not my energy in prayer, my sympathy but not my savings, my pity but not a passion for Christ-centered, gospel-driven change.

Please join me over at iBelieve today for the rest of the post.

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Evaluating What Remains

Unpacking Christmas Evaluating What Remains

We return our decorations to their storage boxes to conclude another Christmas past. Upon evaluation of what remains, alongside the pine needles and glitter specks, I find wonder.

The wonder for Christians post-Christmas continues; the decorations are laid to rest year after year but our Savior lives on.

We pack away temporal Christmas treasures symbolizing peace, love, joy, and eternal hope; yet, eternal life is the gift that remains. No one can put a lid on the true meaning of Christmas because inexpressible light and joy promises to live on in the hearts of believers until such a time for His second coming.

The wrapping paper and boxes are disposed, the gifts received, and a few presents returned and in it all is this: The gift was given just over two thousand years ago and His is the gift which gives eternal.

As we embark on a new year, it is with the knowledge that no present brings peace and no gift brings reconciliation except the Christ whose birth we celebrate each year.

We stand on the threshold of a new year remembering His promises: Jesus will return and until such time He rewards those who live with faith and earnestly seeking Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Happy New Year, dear ones. I look forward to seeking our Savior with you in the year to come.

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Enter Here…With Eyes Wide Open

 Hannah's Flower Photo 3

Hannah's Flower Photo 2

Flower by Hannah

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:34-35)

Following Jesus’ time in prayer, the disciples told him, “Everyone is looking for you.”  And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:37-38)

Jesus designated time alone in prayer and as a result, it could be conjectured, that Jesus’ vision for his day’s work or even so much as his life’s purpose was sharpened and redefined.

Prayer can sharpen our vision for the purpose of life, in general, and our day specifically.

I want that kind of prayer discipline. The setting aside of time and space to draw closer to His kingdom and converse with Him as face to face. In order for me to experience this type of prayer life I must purpose a few things:

  • To go to bed on time so that I can wake up on time.
  • To make preparations in advance to draw away with God to a desolate place. This could be the quiet of the dinning room before the children are awake or  the still of the earth at dawn. Either way, preparations must be made so that responsibilities are not neglected.
  • I must quiet my soul and have His word on hand to meditate on. Bringing along cards or the Bible to read aloud Scripture to  meditate on God’s truth will provide another source for the Holy Spirit to speak to me as I aim to commune with Him  in prayer.

This week our son, Joshua, has been praying aloud more with our family. The interesting thing about Joshy’s prayers is that he will pray with his eyes open as he thanks God for all that he sees, but then close his eyes as he makes his requests known to God. “Thank you God for rocking chairs, curtains, toys, this John Deer, trucks, and shirts. I pray God you give me more toys and make more shirts for Ernie because he doesn’t have anymore. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

How God must delight in the heart-felt thanksgiving of a little child!

This weekend, I want to slip away to a quite place alone and pray with eyes wide-open to all of God’s blessings before me. Then, in heart-felt petition make my requests known to God. Perhaps you will purpose and do the same?

Enjoy your weekend friends…giving thanks with eyes wide open.

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*All photographs courtesy of my friend, Hannah F. What a blessing to receive these in my e-mail inbox this week! Thank you, Hannah!

 

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Five Easter Books for Your Preschooler

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One of the ways we prepare for Easter in our home is through Christ centered literature. While we love the signs and symbols of spring in the beautiful flowers and precious animals that are God’s gift to man within creation, we like to keep the central message the new life in Christ.

Christ laid down His life so that we could take up new life in Him.

The book links below are targeted for preschool through second grade learners. Perhaps you would like to check these out at your local library or purchase them at your favorite bookstore. Happy Easter and may your celebration be rooted in Him.

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Great to use with the Resurrection Eggs available at your local Christian bookstore.

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To See Jesus

A little picture post here today. I invite you to hop over to IBelieve and check out my featured article, When Our Children Reflect the Gospel (click here). Sometimes to see Jesus, we must simply look to the actions of children…

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“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:34-40, NLT)

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A Walk With Our Savior

Almost two years ago I was confined to walking in chest level water for exercise. At the time I tried to learn as much as possible of the spiritual parallels for walking in the water.

This past Sunday evening, Ron and I were watching The Bible on the History Channel. In one scene, John the Baptist is preaching repentance and salvation, and also baptizing in the Jordan River. John’s cousin, Jesus, approaches him to be baptized (Matthew 3:12-17). The moment Jesus’ feet plodded through the water to fulfill all righteousness, it came to me:

Jesus walked through the waters of baptism before He walked on the water of ministry.

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For those who are in Christ Jesus, our conversion precedes our submersion (baptism) and our submission to the will of God begins with believers baptism.

So often people will question whether or not they are ready for baptism. When the Lord calls us to come and die to our old life, our sin nature, repentance followed by confession of His Lordship (Romans 10:9-10) leads to new life. As a new creature, our response is a life centered around the life of Christ lived in us. Walking through the baptismal waters is our first act of obedience and preaching of the gospel with our lives.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 17:24-25)

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In baptism we follow our Savior. In so doing we preach the gospel and walk with Him.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

~In the Garden, C. Austin Miles, 1868-1946

The act of baptism does not save us but is an outward declaration of our faith in Jesus. It is a picture of our dying to self to rise in new life in Jesus Christ.

As Easter approaches let us test ourselves to see if we are in Christ Jesus. If Heaven is to be our eternal home then Christ must be the Lord of our lives.

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I’ve begun to wonder if we haven’t romanticised Christmas.

The snow, the lights, hot chocolate and fur-fringed attire…I wonder if all of our man-made fluff hasn’t gotten in the way of the real heart of Christmas.

Christmas: a story that only God could craft. The Christ child born to a virgin and a simple carpenter from an obscure town.

Only the King of Kings, holy in all His ways, would write His Son into a story of simple obscurity and then cloak it in heavenly lights and angels heralding His birth to the poorest of the poor: nomadic sheep keepers seldom in the company of people much less the Son of the Most High. In a single night, royalty was tied to poppers, and peasants were afforded the honor of being the first to welcome the Messiah. And aren’t we all the least of these apart from our adoption in Christ?

Christmas is for all people: the rich, poor, the simple, the wisdom seekers, the joyful and sorrow-filled.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:10-11

The sights and sounds of the holiday are a welcome reminder of the reason we should celebrate our Savior all year long. The true gift is the One who was given.

I pray that this Christmas season will find us wrapped in thoughts of Jesus, grateful for the gift of salvation that He brings to all mankind; not pining after a nostalgic ideal that misses the mark of CHRISTmas… God with us.

Yes, partake in all the seasonal festivities as much as the Holy Spirit allows you freedom to do so. However, also steal away from the crowd as Christ himself did and spend time in private awe of The Gift, giving Him thanks and the glory due His name.

May we not rob Jesus the joy of worship in the season that celebrates comfort and joy.

Praising Him along with you this Christmas season and always,

 

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