Thursday, May 1, 2008

Elizabeth's Story

Ha – I loved the comment about me being awhile since I went to Starbucks! I did meet TonyaT for coffee, and if you could meet her in person, I know exactly what you’d say about her: “She is so sweet!” That was my impression after our coffee. Then a couple days later I saw a woman we both happen to know and she said, “I heard you had coffee with Tonya – isn’t she so sweet?!” Yep. I wished I could’ve talked longer with Tonya but my daughter got sick that day and I had to go put on my nursing hat for a few days.

Meanwhile, some good conversations have been going in the comments while I was out getting caffeinated and being a nurse. Someone wondered if I minded that – not at all! I say, “Pour yourself a glass of tea, pull up a chair, and join in the conversation anytime.” I love to see women making friends, sharing their thoughts, bearing their hearts, discussing the Bible, and trading helpful advice. That is precisely why I want to continue going through the women of the Bible together. I smiled when I read Connie’s comment: “This study is helping me to "talk" more and I'm finding it easier to share outside of our study.” That’s terrific. Ready to talk about Elizabeth?

The stage has been silent and the curtains drawn since the book of Malachi ended with these words:

"Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6)

Roughly 400 years later, Luke opens the curtains on the New Testament with Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah standing center stage. Elizabeth is a daughter of a priest, and the wife of a priest. Her whole life has been dedicated to observing the Lord’s commandments, and the gospel writer calls her “upright in the sight of God.” She had found favor in God’s eyes.

She is virtuous woman, from a religious family, married to a pious man and she pleases God. There was one perplexing problem here – she was barren. The ability to have children was seen as a blessing from God. And on the flip side, the inability to have children was seen as a disgrace. Elizabeth and Zechariah’s “baby situation” was probably fodder for endless conversation and speculation among her family, neighbors, and friends.

Her husband was one of several thousand priests. He would serve for two weeks out of the year at the temple performing the daily sacrifices as required by the law. This particular time he was chosen to be the priest to enter into the sanctuary of the temple and offer the incense to God –considered a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

So at the appointed time the other priests and worshippers waited outside praying while Zechariah enters alone to pour the incense (a special combination of ground spices and salt) onto the fire. Much to his surprise, Zechariah discovers he is not alone in there! An angel appears by the alter of incense and says:

"Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (Luke 1:13-17)

The angel is essentially telling Zechariah that his years of prayers for a son are being answered (and telling us this child is the prophet God said 400 years ago would come!). But Zechariah could not see how this could be – he was a little bit old for siring children, meanwhile Elizabeth was well past menopause age. Zechariah tells the angel as much.

The angel responds to the man’s doubt saying, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” Only the highest officials in a royal court could stand in the presence of the king - everyone else was required to bow low, so Gabriel was letting Zechariah know this was as good as from God Himself. He tells the man that due to his doubt, he will be unable to speak until the child is born. When Zechariah finally emerged from the Temple, unable to speak, it was clear to all that something momentous had happened.

Imagine you are Elizabeth. Your husband goes away for a week on business and comes home unable to speak – at all. He scribbles on a notepad about meeting this angel. And he wants you to come to bed with him and try to conceive a child. What is your reaction? Elizabeth lies with her husband and conceives!

When she realized she was pregnant, Elizabeth went into seclusion – meaning she stays at home and does not receive any visitors. The Bible doesn’t explain why. Was she nesting? Was she plagued by morning sickness? Was her aged body having a hard time adjusting? Was she waiting until she was “showing” so that no one could doubt her when she said she was expecting?

I don’t know what the reason was with Elizabeth, but I do know that this part of her story reminds me of a period in my own life. Before God brought me into public ministry with P31, he called me into a seclusion of sorts. He had me step out of all other leadership and ministry roles I was in, and simply focus on Him ... until further notice.

Unlike Elizabeth, I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what was coming. I just knew I needed to obey what I believed He was telling me to do and leave the rest to Him. But that decision was not without some agony. I would have to leave a ministry I was head of at the time without a leader – a ministry I dearly loved. I would have to say “no” when other opportunities to get involved with things came my way.

The people-pleaser in me didn’t like letting people down or saying “no” but thankfully, the God-pleaser in me won out. I stepped down from my ministry “post” in January and experienced an immediate sense of personal revival. Five months later, I met Lysa TerKeurst of P31.

After Elizabeth’ seclusion, her young cousin Mary comes to visit her. She too was pregnant – with the Christ child. When the two women come face-to-face to greet each other, John leaps within Elizabeth’s womb. He effectively announces the arrival of Christ, from the womb! The Holy Spirit rests on both women and their babies, and Elizabeth understands the deal. In fact, she is the first to declare Jesus is Lord! The two women spend the remaining months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy together. That’s a good thing because she probably needed someone to talk to who could actually talk back!

Then the baby boy was born and oh what a joyous occasion that must have been! But a week goes by and Zechariah doesn't get his voice back. He claims the angel struck him mute and that the angel said he would get his voice back once the child was born. I wonder if there was also some anxiety following the birth over Zechariah's continuing state of muteness.

On day eight it is custom to have the baby circumcised and named. Elizabeth is getting pressure to follow tradition and give the child a family name. Elizabeth knows this is not what Gabriel said the baby’s name would be. She knows her child is to be set apart, including by name. Thankfully, she chooses to be a God-pleaser rather than a family-pleaser and insists on naming him “John.” The family then turns to Zechariah, expecting him to give the child a family name. Since he could not speak, he asks for a writing tablet - a small wooden plaque with a wax surface. With a stylus, he scratches a single sentence, “His name is John.”

Immediately, to the amazement of the onlookers, Zechariah regains the use of his speech. A skeptic no more, his first words are in praise of God. I bet the sound of his voice silenced that room in amazement. However, probably not for long! Once again, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s “baby situation” would be the fodder of people's conversation and speculation as they wondered what kind of great man John was destined to become.

We don’t hear about Elizabeth after this. Given her age, it’s likely she didn’t live to see her son reach manhood. Some Bible scholars suspect a sect of monks may have taken John in after his parents’ death. We don’t know. We do see John as a person who is wholly set apart … even strangely so with his seemingly unkempt appearance and fondness for eating insects. He showed little regard for anything but fulfilling his purpose spoken by Gabriel. I like to think that in her years with him, Elizabeth taught John what it says about him in the last chapter of Malachi. I also like to think she instructed him to give this job of preparing the way for the Lord first place in his life. She was a great example for John ... and for you and me.

Tell us what you learned in reading about Elizabeth!

59 comments:

  1. hi rachel and yall

    I have been keeping up with all the studies on the women in the bible though i don usually say i did it.It has been very insightful and beneficial.
    Rachel, thank u for sharing that story of being hidden by the Lord for a season in time.Its a huge emcouragement.The Lord has been telling me recently to jus soak and rest myself in him.I am a very fast paced person and enjoy ppl and also serving him in ministries.Right at this moment i am being obedient to him and have turn my focus on him and let go of some of the ministries that i enjoy serving.Its difficult but necessary.But hearing you go thru it encourages me to also face what the Lord has for me and to wait at his feet and worship him.
    This study is also helping me in learning more bout God. Thank You God for Rachel O
    Sheena, Malaysia

    ReplyDelete
  2. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    Hello everyone. Although I haven't posted for a while, I have been having a most enriching time of my life ever since we started studying these women in bible(and the men linked with them). I thank the LORD for Rachel O as leader and every other sister that has contributed, commented, prayed etc. May His perfect will and purpose be fulfilled in our lives collectively and individually. Amen.

    In our day and age, angels no longer appear to us directly to give a message from God. (Or do they?) First question - Can I get insights from your personal experiences how one hears directly from God. For example, those who have experienced that "strong still voice" - is it to be literally taken that you precisely heard a voice OR that an idea / thought / plan or strong impression came to mind after seeking the LORD in prayer?

    Second question - how does one decipher whether its a message is
    from God and not the enemy trying to derail us?

    Thank you and God bless....
    Vickie - Nigeria, West Africa

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rachel,
    This is an exciting story. I can not imagine how Elizabeth felt finding about her pregnancy at this stage of life. And the response of her baby when Mary came to visit confirming it all--she must have been "walking on air" to be such a vessel for God!!

    I was very interested in your comments about her time of seclusion. The bible isn't clear about why she went "into hiding". I feel as if I am to entering a "time of quietness". I have been in the same two ministries in my church for 7 and 10 years. I am tired and feel kind of "bored". I have resigned from one ministry and the other I am finished the end of summer. I, too am a people pleaser and feel as if I must jump right into something else. After reading Elizabeths story and your comments I am looking forward to a time of focus on JUST GOD and let him lead me. I ask that you would pray for me to have patience as I wait for his lead. Thanks for making time for this bible study---eventhough some of the stories are familiar there is always so much more to learn from them!!
    Kim from PA

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Everyone,
    First to Vickie, I decide which voice it is by asking myself, Does it benifit the Kingdom? Does it line up with Gods word? and if it would benefit someone, would the devil want to be helpful? Line it up with the word and follow the Holy Spirit in you. No peace No God.

    Now on Elizabeth, as always Rachel you paint a wonderful picture of the story of this event and the persons involved. I thought about Zechariah's mouth being shut, and thought oh there are times it would have benefited me to have that happen, but I guess I am supposed to exercise that fruit of the spirit- self control. I wish it had told more of the relationship that Elizabeth had raising John, but I guess if you look closley at John you can see a reflection of how he was raised.
    I love the part where he leaped at the sound of Mary's voice. It shows the bond that he had with Jesus did start when they were still in the womb. God tells us that he knew us while we were still in our mothers womb, that gives me a little more to ponder.

    I am so enjoying the stories, some I've read before and some I haven't but none in this detail. The more we dig into Gods word the closer I feel to him. To know his word it to know Him.

    I may have more to say after I read some more comments and reflect. Thanks Rachel hope your daughter is feeling better.

    Blessings to all,
    Lynn - OR

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good Morning Everyone!

    My thoughts were taken by the different reaction that Mary and Elizabeth had when told they would bear a child versus the reactions of some of the other barren women. For example, Elizabeth knew she was past the child-bearing age, yet she believed what the Lord had told Zecheriah because of her statement, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!

    Mary, also knew it was impossible for her to get pregnant in the "human" way since she was a virgin, yet she believed what the angel said, she just asked how? I am not feeling she was doubting, it seems she was probably wondering how it would happen. I imagine,as a virgin, she was a little scared? to be chosen for such a task as carrying the Lord and Messiah. What are your thoughts?

    Mary says, "I am the Lord's servant," "Let it be to me as you have said." I think she saw the task as doing the Lord's will. It's all about the attitude of the heart. Are you going to fulfill the purpose God has for you?

    The other ladies we have studied that were barren did not have a good "heart attitude" at first because they doubted God.

    Please share your thoughts on this. Did anyone pick up on this? That seems to be the point I got from this passage on Elizabeth.

    Plant Lady

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good morning! It was so good to hear from Rachel again! I am not insinuating anythng negative but I was hoping and even praying that everything was okay with you and your family, Rachel.

    I felt so blessed this morning seeing and feeling with my heart Zachariah and Elizabeth's situation. Ordinary people living ordinary lives trusting God literally and extra ordinary things happened! Not that profound maybe yet so glorious because of that God we live for and trust.

    I need to mention how beautiful I have felt the loving responses to Sylvia's post and question. I appreciate the positive way many have encouraged us to find a church where we can grow spiritually and that our eyes have got to be on Jesus, not on the people and all the hurts and problems 'they' can cause. But, I must say, I have had to shudder to think of going to a church how often? and not have anyone ask me my name or talked to me in a freindly way. I have determined in my heart to not ever let that happen when I sit beside someone (in church) whom I don't know.

    I would like to say yet, to Vickie's question about how to know if a message is from God or not--God's messages do not contradict His already written word which is the Bible. If we neglect or ignore what He says in His Word we set ourselves up for deceit--not unlike the situation of the FLDS in Texas. One thing that really helps me is to know that God knows my heart, He knows the real me inside and I can trust Him to work things out for me. My part is to be open to Him, tell Him what I feel (frustration, hesitation, the struggles, the doubt, the wanting to, the not knowing...) but to truly WANT to know what He wants for me. It does take effort on our part--to seek His face. Hearing about Rachel's example of being in seclusion for a time is so encouraging--. We need to remember that our relationship with God is the most important.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey everyone, Welcome back Rachel, we missed you!! Hope that your daughter is feeling much better!

    This another awesome story, how I would of Loved to be Elizabeth, I too could not have any children, and found it very hard to except for along time, The Lord telling me to "relax in time my child."
    But I never got to have the child, infact I knew my chances were gone 8 years ago when I had to have a emergency hysterectomy. But I wasn't still seeing what he was showing me, I had my son, My hubby's son, he became my step son, I will never forget the day I finally realized I had a Son. I was jumping up and down shouting, thanking, crying,thanking the Lord, I know my step son thought I was losing my mind, but then he also saw the joy he had given me and cryed with me and said he was proud to have me as his mom too.

    I LOVE my SON I have, and feel truly blessed.

    Yesterday one of our ladies from the church had a baby boy, she called me 3 hours later, I felt so honored, the baby came 3 weeks early, she was in alot of pain, begging for me to come and pray for her, but I was working so I went after work and was able to calm her down on the phone, When I saw her baby of course I was in all! Beautifulllllll Baby. I was so happy for them! Then I asked if I could hold the baby, "newborn" wowwwww so her friend handed me the baby, at the same time my hubby says she has never had a baby, and my friend said I kinda figured that, and then her friend oooo no you must see the rest of the baby and started unwrapping him showing me all his little toes, everything it was truly exciting to me, how they shared this beautiful child with me, then as we were leaving, she kept asking me to come over and help take care of her baby, I felt trulyyyy honored, and she lives around the corner from where I work. So I believe I will be making some trips to visit.
    I know what our Lord has for me to do. "See I have many Sons & daughters..."
    The Lord has also told me to step out of my ministries and to focus more on him, I have stepped out of all except one, I am having a hard time with that one because it's the womens ministry, and the ladies have begged me not too or and some of them would drop out, that it is because of me they are there, So I have talked with my Lord about this and he is helping to direct me with this situation. I have asked one of the ladies there to plan next months meeting, lets just see how this goes!!, I bet it will work out just fine!

    As with everything Patience is the key!
    I can say Elizabeth is one beautiful Lady and so blessed to have a Fine son like John. I know how proud she must of felt. Just like me with my SON Nickolas.

    Yes these studies are so full-filling, the insight's I am getting are so rewarding, because I am learning so much more about me.

    Thank You again & always Rachel.
    Thank You all for your comments that I learn from you as well.

    Blessings to Everyone!
    Sharon/Florida

    ReplyDelete
  8. Welcome back Rachel. I hope your daughter is feeling better. Family is important and should take precedence over other things in our lives. We have only one chance at helping to shape the lives of our children and that happens only if we are there with them when they need us the most.

    The story of Elizabeth is so awesome. I cannot imagine the feeling of being chosen by God to bring a child into this world (especially at her age) who would be the forerunner of the Mesiah. She must have been very close to our Heavenly Father to have been chosen for this beautiful task.

    As I have told some of the others, I did a card ministry through my church for about 6 years. I have had a lot of surgeries on my neck and just last May on my back. I never felt I could do anything for God because I was not talented in anything. I walked in my husband's shadow for years (he sang solos, was in the choir, musicals at the church and we traveled with a gospel quartet for four years). In 1999 I had to quit work and the Lord led me into the card ministry which was awesome. After the surgery in May I lost the passion that I once had for this ministry and feel there is something else God wants me to do. Maybe starting the blog. As I so often have prayed about things I felt impressed to do, I've always told the Lord that if He would open the door I would walk through it. That has happened several times. In Jeremiah 29:ll it says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I keep this in my billfold.

    I have finally put what I call My Family Legacy on my blog. I hope you all will visit and read it. One lady asked if she could print it out. Anyone who wants to do that has my blessing. There's a song "If I could Help Somebody ... my living shall not be in vain." I will post this on my blog.

    I have enjoyed reading all of the comments and especially Rachel's who always makes everything sound so simple a child could understand it.
    Thanks to all of you and of couse Rachel,
    AliceE.

    ReplyDelete
  9. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    I find this bible study has been keeping me in the Word on a regular basis and I am so glad for that.

    I always use to think that women were not considered important as the Bible never listed the female decsendents that were born, only the males, in the book of Genesis. But after reading through and learning about these important women, I realize that God does look upon us a important and loved in His eyes. Thank you Rachel for getting us to learn about these woman of the Bible.

    To Vickie, I just wanted to share what I believe to be be very important when you believe you are hearing a message from God. You will know it is from God when someone else confirms what He has told you. For example, a person could come up to you and tell you that they received a message and the message was for you. This could be confirmation of what God was telling you. Just a thought.

    Laurieann from Canada

    ReplyDelete
  10. Greetings All

    I have had the opportunity on many occasions to read about Elizabeth and the birth of John, but never was I able to understand why he kicked when Mary spoke, but now the revelation comes, and I don't know why she was hidden, but I could sure give many reasons, one just to stay away from the doubtful people. I enjoy this ministry group and studying on The Women of The Bible, it has truly helped me to understand why we go through so much and even though there is a battle we still remain to hang in there. Rachel I am so grateful to God for using you and for your obedience in following His lead, I pray many blessings over you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Rachel, it is good to have you back and I pray your daughter is well. Thank you so much for this ministry! You truly have a gift to
    translate and turn these bible verses into understandable stories.
    I have learned something new with each study (not only from you but all of these wonderful women from around the world)
    Thank you so much for your time and this forum!
    Karen in central OR

    ReplyDelete
  12. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    Hola, PLEASE HELP!

    I am trying to put a comment for this story but nothing comes out. I enjoyed reading it but right now I am going through some problems that does not let me concentrate. I want to ask for your prayers. My daughter, 13 years old, is having suicidal thoughts. How difficult to put this down. I never thought this could happen to my family. We, my husband and I, are leaders in our church and we have brought up our daughter in a christian atmosphere. The Lord is #1 for us. What has happened? She seems to not know how to channel disappointments and hurt in her life. I have a good open relationship with her. She confides in me lots of her feelings but it seems to frustrate her when she can't let her feelings out. She is currently seeing a psycaiatrist but I am so worried for her. Please pray, for her and for me. I need wisdow from above to handle this situation!!!!!!!!!!!! What comes to mind is the question - Why!!!!!!!!!! Please Pray For My Family and especially my DAUGHTER!!!!!!!! LORD HELP ME TO NOT BE AFRAID. DON'T LET NEGATIVE THOUGHTS DESTROY MY OWN SANITY! AND LET ME REST IN YOUR WISDOM!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. To the lady who requested prayer for her daughter. I just wanted you to know that I have prayed for you and her. The scripture that comes to mind is found in Isaiah 59:19....."When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him." Also, James 4:7 "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." As Christians we have the authority to tell the enemy to flee in the name of Jesus and he has to go. I have had to do that many times with my youngest daughter. Her's was a different situation but it works. I will continue to pray for you and your daughter. God will lead you.
    AliceE.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Praying for you and your daughter!
    I am so sorry that you are going through this, I pray that the lord will put a shield around her and protect her from the devil. And that the lord will comfort you as well.. I will get in agreement with all here on this site.
    god bless you

    ReplyDelete
  16. I missed you guys... Elizabeth was very faithful in deed. I have always loved to hear about the virtuous woman and someone you always do a great job in "setting the picture for us to see it". I am assuming John had to be in his late 20s when he began preaching, right? Love you all :0

    ReplyDelete
  17. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    I appreciate you Lynn, Pauline and Laurieann and feel blessed by your insights. I also feel the Holy Spirit at work because I opened by mailbox moments back and read these comments from the "Girlfriends in God" devotional. I would like you to read this because they reinforce what you have shared with me. Here goes:

    "Yesterday we looked at how we discern if the voices we are hearing are form the world or from God. When I talk about "voices," I am not talking about audible voices, but that inner voice that affects our thinking and our doing. Let's examine more about how to detect if the voice is from God or from the world systems.

    In the New Testament, there are three words for "world." One refers to the "world" as the collective group of people that God loves. We see this in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The other two refer to the "world" as our enemy, as in John 15:19: "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." This same reference to the "world" as an enemy is found in I John 2:15-16: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world -- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boast of what he has and does -- comes not from the Father but from the world." In both of these incidences, the "world" refers to "the organized system of temporal values that are opposed to the life of Christ in the believer." The human systems oppose God's purposes -- man's wisdom apart from Christ.

    From the time we are born, we are programmed by the world around us. From movies to media, education to entertainment, and friends and family, we are pushed to fit into cultural norms and expectations. As long as we are in the world, we will have the tension of discerning whether the wooing we hear is from God or from the world. Again, the only way to discern between the two is to know the truth found in God's Word.

    It's not simply knowing the Word of God, albeit that is the first step. We must believe it as well. That may seem like a strange statement; however, there are many Biblical scholars who know the contents of the Bible back and forth, up and down, but don't truly believe in God's power through those words. "This is the victory that has overcome the world," John wrote, "even our faith" (1 John 4:4).

    When Paul wrote to the various churches in the New Testament, he wanted to make sure they knew his wisdom and his words were from God and not the world. "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Library shelves bulge with books on philosophy and self help diatribes. Magazine racks are weighed down with the latest new age wisdom which changes as quickly as each new issue is printed, and television talk shows clutter the airwaves with weak attempts at mental and spiritual health. It is the sick tying to heal the sick, the blind leading the blind, and the lame trying to teach the mental cripple to walk. What we don't need are more new ideas. What we do need is a new life. We need God."

    Thank you all!
    Vickie, Nigeria

    ReplyDelete
  18. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    I am praying for your daughter and for your whole family as well. I will continue to lift ya'll up.
    Blessings and prayers ~ Christi

    ReplyDelete
  19. Please be assured we are praying for your daughter.... Satan has a hold and he must be defeated and only through prayer will he be... You are not in the hands of blind fate but in God's hands...We will be praying for a hedge of protection around you and your daughter.....Please Father God, send your warrior Angels for this child's protection...through Jesus, Amen We are with you girlfriend...

    Psalm 9 9-10... "The lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in time of trouble. Those who know you name will trust in you, for you Lord, have NEVER FORSAKEN those who seek you....

    ReplyDelete
  20. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    Will continue to pray for your 13 yr old, "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind".

    I can see that there have been lots of responses to your questions Vickie but I also wanted to add something simple that I read on a devotion the other day re discerning if something is from God or the enemy...when thoughts and ideas are from God they will inspire us and when they are from the enemy they will condemn us.

    Thanks to all for all that you share!

    Thanks Rachel for your commitment to all of us!! xx

    ReplyDelete
  21. What struck me about Elizabeth isn't really too much about Elizabeth at all. I guess it is, but I also am really enjoying the Holy Spirit as He lays fresh insight on the doorstep of my heart. What I picked up from this is that God is God, and He is prepared to do His work through anyone who is willing to put Him first. And it definitely isn't in the way we would even imagine. But it's always better than we could have imagined. God chose Elizabeth to carry His messanger. God chose Mary to carry His Son. Neither one of them were woman of prestige or power. They simply were completely willing (sanctified) to the Lord's Will. Lord, sanctify me!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Trying to leave a post. Thought I did this morning, but don't see it and it's been probably 5 hours. Just trying to see if this posts.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Just left my tried to post a comment and don't see it. Well I think I know what I did wrong so will repost what I wrote this AM. Sooo glad I saved it.


    Good morning,
    I have been studying with all you ladies but posting for only the 2nd time. I had been wanting "more" out of my bible time. Not just to read to say I had it done. Along came Rachel's invitation in one of my Encouragement for the Day. It's a God thing that I read that one. Sometimes I get busy and end of deleting some.

    I too was concerned but relieved when I saw that Rachel had not posted since last Thursday. My husband and I were gone for the weekend to a marriage retreat with our church. We enjoyed our time together and had some much needed heart to hearts, but I was hoping I wouldn't rush through to study the women Rachel had discussed while we were gone.

    I will write about Elizabeth at the end of my post, but have a prayer request. While at the marriage retreat my heart was breaking for our daughter and son-in-law. They are separating. My son-in-law is even buying a house, refusing to live in an apartment. While I am grateful they are being very congenial about it, if they didn't have children 5 and 7, it would be easier. They have been married 8 1/2 years and they almost separated a year ago. My son-in-law, while believing there is a God and knowing that Jesus died for his sins, says he "isn't in that space right now". I've read how you all have prayed for each other and I am asking the same. I love my prodigal son-in-law. While not knowing all the details I sometimes wonder if he is wanting to relive his early years feeling he missed out by being married young. They were both 21. I am putting it in God's hands and have shared with my friends from Celebrate Recovery knowing that they keep the rule of confidentiality. Please remember them in prayer!!

    Elizabeth was an easy read. Not like most of the women we have been studying. How wonderful to have grown up in a religious home, married a pious man and lived a Godly life. A very saintly sounding woman. No wonder God choose her. Also, being Mary's cousin it puts the two women in contact with each other to share their good news. They knew of each other's character. With many people doubting Mary and the news of her "virgin" pregnancy, Elizabeth would believe her having had this experience in her life. What a wonderful time they must have had together. Mary didn't have the prying eyes of disbelieving neighbors and Elizabeth, being farther along could talk with Mary about what to expect.

    I thank you in advance for your prayers. I look forward to the comforting thoughts like the ones I have seen you bless others with who are hurting.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Vickie,
    My experiences are usually the latter of your two comments, and I like the way you put it....a strong impression, an idea in my head. I believe people can still hear audibly God's voice, but I haven't heard of too many that have. My dad had an awesome experience once with his mom who was very sick and bedridden. An angel appeared to them. I get the chills every single time he tells the story or I even think about it, and that happened well over 25 years ago.
    After time with God and earnestly seeking His plan for the situation I am dealing with, I will just feel a real strong peace or direction that I know is the right thing to do. I also know what is the wrong thing because I feel real uncomfortable about it.

    I think the way to know if it is God or it is the enemy trying to trip you up is to compare what you are "hearing or thinking" with Scripture. If any part is out of line with God's Word then it is not from Him. The enemy prowls around like a lion waiting to devour us...but He is more about condemnation, guilt, inadequacy, where God is longing to accept, love, inspire you to change and be more like Him. He is a jealous God and wants your praise, but I believe He longs for us to love Him and His ways encourage us to be the person He wants us to be. Not that His discipline isn't painful sometimes, but it is for the purpose of molding us to be like Him, not for the purpose of making us believe we are worthless (that's what Satan, the Father of Lies does.)
    Sorry to ramble on....just my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Just wanted to clarify what I meant when I wrote: With many people doubting Mary and the news of her "virgin" pregnancy, Elizabeth would believe her having had this experience in her life.

    After rereading my post it sounds like I meant the Elizabeth had a similar experience to Mary's. I didn't want to imply that I thought Elizabeth had a virgin pregnancy too. I was referring to the experience Elizabeth had with her husband Zechariah's meeting with Gabriel, her late in life pregnancy that the angel Gabriel told Zechariah about, and of course the resting of the Holy Spirit on both the women would have convinced her what Mary said was true.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Elizabeth,
    Old barren tired and now pregnant and her husband can't verbally communicate with her. Being a woman and having a strong desire to relate and connect with others it must have frustrated her not being able to communicate with her hubby. It was a blessing from God that Mary could visit, connect and help her with daily task in the later part of her pregnancy. What a joyful time they must have spent together being filled with the Spirit and developing life. I have been blessed on occasion with a Spirit filled connection with another woman. It is a time of truly relating at a heart level and growing in intimacy with God and one another.
    Thank you Jesus for the hearts of women.
    Katrina in Colorado

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dear Anonymous,

    Nothing is so scary as fear for your child. My prayers are with you. God loves us all and will fight for us all. He is pleased to be our intersessor. Some verses below I use to remind me that God loves to love us and to include our children as a part of his blessing. I hope they help to comfort you.

    Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;" (NIV)

    Acts 2:39 - "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (NIV)

    Psalm 127: 3-5 "Behold,children are a gift of the LORD,
    The fruit of the womb is a reward.
    Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
    So are the children of one's youth.
    How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
    They will not be ashamed
    When they speak with their enemies in the gate."

    Of course as everyone else has said, trust in the Lord always for he is mighty to save, and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him. He will meet you where you are.

    CA mom, I am praying for you too and your "prodigal" son-in-law.

    ReplyDelete
  28. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    For Vickie,
    Just wanted to post that I agree with what what the others are saying: that you will know that God is speaking to you, directly or through another christian/circumstances if it is backed up in God's word. Also love the verse in Philipians 4 v 8 'whatever is ...true, think on these things'. Write the verse out in full and put it up somewhere you can see it every day - it will help you to be aware of your thoughts, and whether or not these are from God. Banish anything which is clearly not, eg self-doubt, guilt, second-guessing etc, and you will gradually begin to change your thought life and renew your mind, taking each day (or hour or minute sometimes!) at a time.
    Love to you all.
    Lesley Northern Ireland

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you all for your comments and your prayers. Thank you Rachel for your email. You are right that I should wait and also respect my husband's wishes. I will let you know how things go. I did sign up to do the Divine Experiment at the church (Undistracted seeking of God's Face for 21 Days). Has anyone else done this program?

    Don't you wonder what Elizabeth and Mary would have talked about during their visit together? How wonderful that God provided this special support for Mary.
    -May God bless you all richly.

    ReplyDelete
  30. LaTonya/FLMay 01, 2008

    I learned to TRUST GOD! I learned that not believing and trusting GOD (doubting HIS word) was kind of dangerous and had consequences(i.e.Zechariah becoming mute because he didn't believe the prophecy of Gabriel). It is interesting that you mentioned your story about being hidden for a season. I was a teacher (the only one) in the New Converts/Members ministry, but have recently stopped. I also feel GOD drawing me closer and closer to HIM by me getting deeper and deeper in HIS word and my prayer life.

    Vickie-The "strong still voice" usually is from within. It is very hard to describe, but I also feel an overwhelming feeling of unconditional love and peace that surpasses all understanding. My message is usually a word from the bible (scripture) that ministers and encourages me with whatever I am going through at that particular time.

    Anonymous w/ 13 yoa daughter: I speak LIFE over your daughter in JESUS' name. She SHALL LIVE and not die. Whatever hurt or pain that the enemy is trying to use to destroy her will be healed by the blood of JESUS. No weapon formed against her shall prosper. This evil meant for her bad SHALL be turned for her good. I declare HEALING in her mind, spirit and soul in JESUS' mighty name. She has total victory. This test will become a testimony and GOD will get the glory. Amen!

    CA mom: "what therefore GOD hath joined together,let not man put asunder" Matt 19:6 I will pray GOD's will for your their marriage and reconciliation. Know GOD has the final say in this matter. GOD please give CA mom insight and wisdom concerning this situation. Also, place your mighty hand on this marriage. Bring these two closer not only to one another but to you oh GOD. I touch and agree all will be well. In your holy name I pray, Amen.

    Rachel: Hope your daughter is fine and that GOD has surrounded her with his healing angels. I pray GOD just rains blessings upon you for obeying HIM with this bible study. How it has changed me. Totally. Mind, spirit, and soul. I have developed an appetite for his word more and more since the beginning of this study. Thank you so much for hearing the voice of GOD.

    Thank you ladies for your sisterhood and sweet spirits! GOD bless you all and meet whatever needs you may have. With the love of GOD
    LaTonya/FL

    ReplyDelete
  31. Elizabeth was a woman of faith...a true believer. she believed what the angel of God spoke to her husband concerning them having a son. God spoke it and she believed it. Her seed was the forerunner for Christ. Then she has a visit from Almighty's mom, Mary. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, John leaped in her womb. When the presence of the almighty (even as a fetus), enters the room...something happens...Elizabeth was filled w/the holy spirit. When we believe and stand on what God has spoken, miracles happen. That has been a struggle for me...believing inspite of what i may hear, see, or feel. (sidebar) God recently revealed something to me...where i believed i was truly hearing from Him and i found out it was a lie from the enemy. I thank God for the peace he's given me. i was surprise because i thought I would be devasted by the news but God gave me peace and showed me that he is revealing those things hidden. i haven't given up on the promise...because, i know in his timing, it will surely happen. But, what he's teaching me is to trust him in every aspect of my life...and that He can't lie. For those who may be going through trials...and i'm sure all of us at some point or another....is going THROUGH it...we can take comfort in knowing that we're more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. God loves us and He's perfecting everything that concerns us. Thanks Rachel again for this bible study and for the prayers. Blessings to "US"(forgive me teachers--LOL) mighty women of God...LAMPLIGHTERS for Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thank you Rachel O. for starting this Bible Study. I have learned to grow more into God's word. I look forward everyday to read what you and others have to say.

    Thank you ladies for sharing your thoughts and your request for prayer.

    Please pray for a friend of mine that was just diagnose with bowel cancer, and received bad news today that the cancer has spread to her liver. She is starting chemo next week, and needs prayer that a miracle will be perform in her body. Pray that she will feel God's healing touch upon her body and that the cancer cells in her body will disappear. Also pray that she will sense God's presence and feel peace upon her. Pray for her family will she goes through this season of her life.

    I know and believe that the Great Physican is here and he can touch that cancer. I believe not only will He heal her, but that He will also touch the 13 year girl and free her and give her Mom wisdom to help her daughter.

    ReplyDelete
  33. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    God really impressed apon my heart how important it is to have Godly friends and how He wants that for us.

    Just like the wonderful friendship He blessed Elizabeth and Mary with. I thank God for the friendships that have been made here. It is obvious how important it is to God for us to have friends that we can share our joys and sorrows with and also have friends to encourage us and keep us accoountable and pray for one another.

    Thank you Lord for all of these Godly women and I ask that you bless each and everyone of them. In your Precious Holy name, Amen!

    Blessings ~ Christi

    ReplyDelete
  34. AnonymousMay 01, 2008

    First of all, I am praying for all of you who have left prayer requests. May God be with you all and give you peace.

    What really impressed me about the reading had more to do with Zechariah. The angel told him that God had heard his prayer. I could be wrong, but judging from Zechariah's disbelief, he probably stopped praying for a child a long time ago. I think that I would have assumed that God had already answered my prayer with a "no", and would have given up hoping and praying for a child.

    This is encouraging to me right now because my husband and I have been praying for direction in regards to his job situation for about a year now. He is not happy in his current situation, but he doesn't know what else he wants to do. I have felt mostly silence from the Lord on this, and it has been frustrating to feel so out of control of a situation. I want to support my husband in whatever he decides to do, but he isn't sure what God wants him to do. It is just encouraging to be reminded that no matter how long it takes to get an answer, we will get one. I just hope I don't have to wait quite as long as Zechariah and Elizabeth! :) But perhaps we are in a time of seclusion or quietness before God reveals the next stage in our lives. I have always believed that God has a very special purpose for my husband in his music - he is such a talented singer/songwriter/worship leader. Perhaps we are being prepared for something during this time of silence.

    Thank you Rachel and all you ladies for your insights and for sharing your hearts and listening to mine.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Evening Friends,

    Rachel, glad you are back. I was "concerned" when we didn't hear from you for several days. Hope your little one is doing well now. We never want our children to be sick, but it does feel good to nurse them. A few weeks ago my 27 year old son called and asked me to make him some chicken soup ( he had the flu). So I left work early and made a trip to the city to baby my baby. Loved every minute of it! (except seeing him feel bad)

    About Elizabeth - this is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I'm so glad we studied this one. I received so much more insight from everyone's comments. I just love how John lept in his mother's womb when he heard Mary's greeting. Jesus was being praised from the womb while he was in the womb... Awesome!!

    Anonymous, I will be praying for your 13 year old daughter and your family. You made a good decision to post your prayer request on this sight. I will never forget all of the wonderful women responding to my request for my son. He is doing better than he has in 10 years. Praise and glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!! Turn your fears over to the Lord. Let Him know that you are going to love Him and Praise Him no matter the outcome. I have a little prayer I got from a devotional or Joel Olsteens book that I say everyday. I want to share it with you

    Dear Lord,
    You promised me in Psalms 91 that you will give your angels charge over us and that no evil will come near our household. I thank you that my Children/Grandchildren are supernaturally protected and that you are guiding them and watching over them. Father, you said that we are the head and not the tail. I thank you that my children/grandchildren are blessed and that they will excel at all they put their hand to.
    In Jesus Name,
    Amen

    ca mom,
    I will be praying for restoration of your daughters family.

    Love you all,
    Dana

    ReplyDelete
  36. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    thank you everyone for your amazing comments and words of encouragement! Elizabeth is definitely a patient and trusting woman. I can only imagine the joy that John brought Elizabeth. It is also neat to think about the role she played in preparing John for his future ministry. What an important job! :)

    My heart became very burdened for the lady whose daughter is struggling with suicidal thoughts. I can not imagine how difficult this is for you and your family! I will definitely be praying for you, your daughter, and your family. I am going through a book with a girl from my church called Lies Young Women Believe and the truth that sets them free. The book is written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Cresh. The book has been awesome so far! I know that your daughter may not be interested in reading a book, but I felt led to share this information with you! You will be in my thoughts and prayers!

    God Bless,

    TonyaT

    North Carolina

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love the story of Elizabeth in fact I name my child after her because I had her kind of late in life compared to all my friends. I love Elizabeth because she was filled with the Holy Spirit and because I believed she had great faith. Like Rachael I beliived she contributed a lot to teaching John about God's plan for his life in fact I just finish writing an article for the church newsletter that states how I believed she helpped him know God. I may post it on my blog a little later. This helps me to anwser anonymous question I found Rachael words to be confirmation for my article and truly believe the Holy Spirit was involved which supports the comments you get confirmation you are hearing from God as well as things line up according to His word.
    I will be praying for all who requested, Be blessed ladies I think this is an awesome group of ladies filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

    ReplyDelete
  38. i'm so glad i'm involved in this study! it has been giving me many insights i would get otherwise! thanks, rachel, for doing it!
    i really enjoy elizabeth's faith. i cannot imagine giving birth when her body was dealing with being, well, old. i have read before that a woman who is pregnant is basically taken over by the baby growing in her womb so that must have been really exhausting for someone already exhausted in age. her faith is quite impressive especially with how she raised john to be! john was quite an intriguing man and that can only be as a result of how his amazing parents raised him!!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    I love the way God always seems to choose the impossible - an old woman and a virgin become pregnant! This reminds me that God's ways are not our ways. What does God have in store for us? I'm sure it is more than we can ever dream of - Your will, not mine, Lord!!

    Lori

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hello all,

    The thing that most touched me in this biblical history was the fact that an unborned child could be full of the Holly Spirit! How I want that for my own kids ... from the womb is no more possible, but still, I pray that they can be full of the Holly Spirit just from now, in their childhood.

    I take example in Elizabeth's live in orther to be a mother that can teach and lead my two sons to perssue God's path.

    Many Blessings to all (sorry for poor English)

    Ana (Portugal - Europe)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Good morning ladies,
    I don't have time to post my thoughts just yet but wanted to ask for travel prayer. Were leaving for the weekend and looks like were going to be traveling in bad weather. Thanks to you all. I've written down everyones prayer requests and will spend my time on the road praying for each of you.
    God Bless and I'll chat with you all later.
    Tommie (Ky)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Debbie in Goose Creek,SCMay 02, 2008

    Wow, Rachel! I love how you retold that story about Elizabeth. Thankyou!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hey CA MOM,
    Hang in there!
    Our God is able to do more than all we could ask or imagine according to his power (Eph.3:20). I have been praying this prayer for two years. My sister and her husband have been wading in the trenches of divorce for two years. Me, my mom, and my sisters have been fervently praying that God would restore the love they once shared.
    Yesterday, we reached a break-through. My sister has admitted infidelity, among other things and began talking to her husband. They are on a new path of restoration and believing God for complete healing. They, too, were married by the age of 20 and have two boys ages 8 and 5. We serve a BIG GOD! I never gave up hope in knowing that God's timing was perfect and it would come to pass.
    I believe God was preparing them, and will use their testimony to help others.
    Don't give up, remember where our help comes from.
    I will be praying for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  44. To the mom who requested prayer for her daughter, please know I am praying for her and your family. I pray that God will hold her in a big hug, standing between her and danger.

    Debby, ND

    ReplyDelete
  45. Rachel,
    Thank you, and thanks to all of the other ladies that are praying for all of us. I needed this so much this morning when I read it.

    I am like a lot of the other women here, I too have stepped back off of leading some groups these past 2 months at my church. I have had a peace since doing that. I've spent more time studying God's word than any other time in my life. I want God to lead me and not Me leading myself.

    I can't imagine Elizabeth's inner thoughts but I do remember the first time my babies moved when I was expecting them. It felt like a flutter and I remember being overwhelmed to tears thinking how God had blessed me and my husband with a life that I was carrying. I can remember sharing those moments with my husband and other family members. I'm sure Elizabeth and Mary shared some very special moments together, Elizabeth mentoring to Mary. God does everything in his own time.
    Did God know Elizabeth and Mary would be pregnant together? Did Elizabeth give up hope of having a baby? God's plan is always on time. Not on Elizabeth or Mary's time, or on Sharron's time. God has a plan for each of us.

    I have applied for a new job, better money, more time off with benefits. The job I have now is good but with no time off and no benefits. I've been praying for the door to open and had an interview last week. I've been praying for God to direct me and give me a peace about this new job. I know God has a plan for me and it will be in His own time.

    I'm a very impatient person and want things to happen instantly. I needed to read all of these bible studies on these women and see how God worked in their lives and it did not happen for them instantly.

    Thanks again for the comments from each one and please pray for me and this job application.
    Thanks,
    Sharron in Louisiana

    ReplyDelete
  46. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    Ladies,
    I would like to get your thoughts on fasting. Today I am fasting for the first time. At our church we have started 10 days of prayer to the Pentecost ending on May 11 th, Pentecost Sunday. We are during this time to be in prayer for our community and its leaders as well as out nation and our leaders. Our pastor asked us to consider fasting a day this week along with other things to get us ready.

    I really felt that God was telling me this morning, "this is the day". I tried to talk myself out of it but I really felt he is/was calling me to fast today. I don't know anything fasting but I know I must be obedient. I would love ya'lls insight an prayers.

    Blessings ~ Christi

    ReplyDelete
  47. This may be a really long post, and I apologize if it is too long. I don't know too much about blogging, so I hope this doesn't mess up the posting board because it is too long. This information came from a web site. www.new-life.com Thought it was helpful.

    Going Faster
    in the Christian Life

    BIBLICAL FASTING
    -- WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO DO IT

    Let's begin with a little quiz on the subject of fasting:

    Who was the first person who fasted in the Bible?
    What was the longest length of time of a fast?
    Who were the three people who fasted for 40 days each?
    Do you fast on a periodic basis?
    Now you probably knew that Moses was the first recorded faster in the Bible. And perhaps you also knew that the longest time of fasting was for 40 days. You may have even guessed all three of the men who fasted for 40 days. [The answer is in the section below entitled "Some Biblical Principles on Fasting."] But the last question is a bit different from the first three. It may even be a little threatening, because it involves an evaluation of our life - not just head knowledge of Biblical facts. If you are like me, I would try and squirm out of it by asking what you mean by "a periodic basis." But we should not avoid the question. This fourth question is very important. Even more important than the other three.

    Fasting has been out of vogue for at least 150 years. In the twentieth century church, the idea seems alien to us. God's Word assumes that fasting will be a regular part of a Christian's life. Yet for most of us, it's not. If we were to make a study of fasting in the Bible most of us would find ourselves very challenged about this neglected area of Christian discipline. I'd like to encourage you to do something about that problem. But before I make that challenge I want to talk to you about what fasting really is, some Biblical principles on fasting, and some of the appropriate occasions for fasting according to the Scripture.


    A Word About God's Provision of Food

    I don't know if you ever thought much about a Biblical perspective on food. 'Why did God give us food?' 'How are we to think about food?' 'Can we enjoy eating?' The Bible gives us answers to these questions. According to the Scripture, food is given to us as a gift from God for four reasons. Food is given to us for:

    Enjoyment -- The variety of tastes found in creation is not an accident. God gave us such a wide variety of eatable types of food and a highly developed taste system, so that man would find pleasure in eating. Sometimes Christians, especially when we have been raised in more legalistic churches, have a hard time believing that we are allowed to enjoy anything! But we are! Food is meant to be a source of joy (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25; 5:18). And so are a lot of other things in God's creation. We are allowed to enjoy our food.

    Sustenance -- Even in the garden of Eden, Adam needed food to sustain his life and give him energy to do the tasks God had assigned him. Plants were given to Adam and Eve for this purpose: Genesis 1:30. Later on animals were given for the same purpose: Genesis 9:3. Both plants and animals are God's provision for our nourishment.

    Fellowship -- Genesis 18:1-8 gives us one of the first examples of fellowship and food. All through the Old Testament the people of God came together for fellowship over food. God made food for fellowship. He even commanded that some of the sacrifices offered to Him at the temple were to be shared with others. These were communal meals -- meals in which the whole community sat down and ate together (see Deuteronomy 12:6,7,18). Families still find a resource of love, fellowship, discussion, and understanding when they come together to eat.

    In fact, in my childhood home, the dining table was one of the few times that we were all together as a family. The meal became a focal point for conversation, communication, discussion and teaching in our household. That's the way God intended it.

    The Family of Christ still breaks bread together in the Lord's Supper and one of the purposes of the Eucharist is for fellowship (1 Corinthians 10:17). In Revelation 3:20 Jesus Christ's fellowship with believers is described as a meal. And at Christ's second coming we all get invited to a banquet (Revelation 19:9)! Food was made by God to bring us together.

    Worship -- Food also is a source of worship. We should be very conscious of the fact that food is a gift from God (Matthew 6:11 & 1 Timothy 4:3b-4). In fact, Paul says that every bit of food "should be received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:3). Hence, every meal becomes an occasion for thanksgiving. When we put food to our mouths at the beginning of the meal (Acts 27:35) and when we sit back in our chair with satisfaction (Deuteronomy 8:10), our natural reaction should be Godward gratitude. According to the Bible food was created to be a source of thanksgiving and worship.

    The Bible tells us that food was given for four reasons. God has created food for the purpose of enjoyment, sustenance, fellowship, and worship. Yet God also has a place for fasting in our lives. But before we find out where that place is, let's see exactly what the Bible means when it talks about "fasting".


    What Biblical Fasting is Not

    Some people take even the most pure of religious exercises and twist it to their own ends. Fasting is one of those religious acts which people have often misunderstood and misused. So let's be sure that we are clear on what Biblical fasting is not:

    (1) A Physical or Psychological Discipline -- God never tells people to fast as a purely physical discipline, i.e. dieting for the purpose of making the body beautiful or for some other physical benefit. I'm not saying that dieting is wrong -- only that this is not found in the Bible. Dieting may or may not be helpful to you personally, but the Bible never encourages "fasting" for that reason alone. When the Bible uses the term "fasting" it has spiritual goals in mind -- something very different than Weight Watchers or Low Carb diets.

    As a side comment, let me add that you need to be careful of using Biblical fasting as a spiritual smoke screen for problems such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. In the case of bulimia, fasting was never meant as a preparation (or a penance) for gluttony. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are usually evidences of deeper emotional needs which can be met through the help of a competent Christian counselor. Don't "spiritualize" what is really a need for emotional healing. Seek help from those who care.

    Of course, I am not denying that fasting can have physical and psychological benefits. At age 34 I began putting on weight around the middle. I grew 20 pounds in one year. Since I have been fasting on a regular basis the weight gain has stopped and I feel and look better. But I don't fast to keep my weight down. I fast to seek God.

    Additionally, many Christians testify to possessing a greater amount of discipline in their lives once they began fasting on a regular basis. The discipline of conquering the desire to eat transfers over to other areas. This is a helpful by-product of fasting, but should not be an end in itself. God never encourages fasting for solely discipline or self-denial reasons. Some of the monks and spiritual hermits of days-gone-by used fasting in this manner. But that is not a Biblical reason for fasting. God has a higher purpose in mind for fasting.

    (2) A Manipulative Tool -- Sometimes fasting is viewed as an attempt to twist God's arm or to win His approval. But God doesn't respond to pressure. One group of people in the book of Acts tried to get God on their side by manipulative fasting: "In the morning some of the Jews made a plan to kill Paul, and they took an oath not to eat or drink anything until they had killed him. They went to the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders and said, 'We have taken an oath not to eat or drink until we have killed Paul'" (Acts 23:12,14). But God did not hear their prayer and their plan did not work.

    Using fasting in a manipulative way was done by the people in Jeremiah's day too. God said, "Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burn offerings and grain offering, I will not accept them. I will destroy them with the sword, famine, and plague" (Jeremiah 14:12). Fasting didn't move God one iota.

    We must never think of fasting as a hunger strike designed to force God's hand and get our own way! We don't need to strong arm God. God is good (Psalm 119:8) and eager to answer our prayers. He is generous (James 1:5) and eager to give us 'good things' (Matthew 7:11). Don't use fasting to try to push God into a corner. Maybe God would rather let you starve and join Him in heaven!

    (3) A Hypocritical Religious Exercise -- By Jesus' time fasting had become a very important part of the Jewish life. Perhaps overly important would be a better way of saying it. Based on Luke 18:12a, we know the Pharisees fasted twice a week. The Talmud tells us that this was on the 2nd and 5th day (Monday and Thursday). Why those days? According to the Pharisees it was because Moses went up on Mt. Sinai to get the Law on the 5th day and returned on the 2nd. At least that's what they said.

    But if you look closely into Jewish history, you find another possible reason for the Pharisees fasting on Monday and Thursday. Market day in the city of Jerusalem was on the 2nd and 5th day! Everyone from the countryside came to town on those days. It was on these two days that the Pharisees chose to hold their fasts. They would walk through the streets with their hair disheveled; they would put on old clothes and cover themselves with dirt; they would cover their faces with white chalk in order to look pale; and they would dump ashes over their head as a sign of their humility!! Fasting had become a "look-at-how-spiritual-I-am" exercise. It was a hypocrisy.

    Biblical fasting is not hypocrisy. It is not a manipulative tool. It is not a physical discipline.


    What Biblical Fasting Is

    First of all, let's look at the root word which is used for "fasting." The Greek word for fasting is nesteia -- a compound of ne (a negative prefix) and esthio which means "to eat." So the basic root meaning of the word simply means "not to eat."

    But what does this "not eating" food mean? Why did people in the Bible "not eat?" We find a clue in Leviticus 16:29. This verse says that fasting is synonymous with "afflicting one's soul." We gain some insight here about how the Hebrews viewed fasting. Fasting is more than just "afflicting one's body". It is "afflicting one's soul." In other words, fasting in the Hebrew mind is something my soul participates in. Fasting is denying my self. It is denying not only my own body, but also my own wants. It is a way of saying that food and my desires are secondary to something else. Fasting is "afflicting one's soul" -- an act of self-denial. But it is not only an act of self-denial and here is where the monks and hermits went wrong.

    Biblical fasting is "not eating" with spiritual communication in mind. How do we know this? Because Biblical fasting always occurs together with prayer in the Bible - ALWAYS. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast (Biblically speaking) without praying. Biblical fasting is deliberately abstaining from food for a spiritual reason: communication and relationship with the Father.


    Types of Fasting

    Let's take a look at the different types of fasting in the Bible, because I don't want you to feel overwhelmed by the thought of going without food for days and days. There are types of fasting that don't involve such a radical commitment. The Bible gives examples of many different kinds of fasting. (The terms "normal fast," "partial fast," and "radical fast" which appear below are not Biblical terms. They are entirely of my own making and simply a way to categorize the different fasts we see in the Bible.)

    The Normal Fast: There are very few rules when it comes to fasting. What you do is really between you and the Lord. There is only one fast command in the Bible and that was the fast on the Day of Atonement. This fast was from sunset of one day to sunset of the next (Leviticus 16:29;23:32). Since, people usually don't eat during the night that makes the fast fairly easy, since you can eat again in the evening before retiring to bed. According to the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: "The rabbis ruled that one could not eat a quantity as large as a date on this day...According to the Mishna, Yoma 8:1, on the Day of Atonement it is forbidden to eat, or drink, or bathe, or anoint oneself, or wear sandals, or to indulge in conjugal intercourse" (Zondervan Encyclopedia, vol 2, 502). Of course, this direction is not from the Bible, but perhaps we can look at that as a template for a "normal fast." So in this type of fast the person abstained from food and liquid for a period of one day (from sunset to sunset). This is a normal fast.

    The Partial Fast: In this type of fast, the emphasis is placed on restriction of diet, rather than abstaining completely from eating. Examples are: Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego eating only vegetables and drinking only water (Daniel 1:15) and later on when Daniel alone practiced a limited diet for three weeks (Daniel 10:3). Some people would argue that this isn't really a fast at all, but Daniel 10:3 does use the word "mourned" which is a Biblical occasion for fasting (see below) and a common synonym for fasting.

    The Radical Fast: This type of fast is one in which the person refrains from both food and water OR simply food (but not water) for an extended period of time. A radical fast can be harmful to your health and in most cases should not exceed three days. An example of a radical fast can be found with Esther and her household. Esther decided to fast for three days abstaining from both "food and water" both "day and night" (Esther 4:15-16). The rabbi Ezra and the apostle Paul also went without food and water for three days (Ezra 10:6-9; Acts 9:9). David is another example of a radical fast. He went seven days without food (but probably with liquid) as a plea to God to save the life of his child (2 Samuel 12:15-20). Fasts that extend beyond three or seven days can be found in the Bible, but these exceptions were based upon direct guidance from God or a supernatural ability given by God to complete the fast. Examples of these extreme fasts are: Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9-18 and Exodus 34:28); Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); and Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11).


    Why Fast?

    God said, "When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you" (Jeremiah 29:13,14). When a man or woman is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, they are demonstrating that they mean business, that they are seeking God with all their heart.

    Fasting is an expression of wholeheartedness. This is clear from Joel's call to the nation of Israel: "Yet even now," says the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting. . ." (Joel 2:12).

    Andrew Murray said, "Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything - to sacrifice ourselves - to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."

    How do you know when to pray and fast and when to just pray? That is not a question that someone else can always answer for you. But here is a principle: In God's word we always find fasting connected with a very troubled spirit or a very anxious heart before the Lord. So a reason for fasting is not something you choose on the spur of the moment. Rather the reason is a consuming one. In a sense, it's not something you choose, so much as something that chooses you, because it's that important.

    So why fast? To demonstrate that we are seeking God "with all our heart." Fasting puts things in proper focus. It is a physical way of saying, "Food and the things of this life are not as important to me now as (fill in the blank) ."

    Of course, denying yourself food to focus on God and His program shows humility. That is why fasting is also the equivalent of the phrase "to humble oneself before the Lord" (Psalm 35:13; 1 Kings 21:29; Ezra 8:21). When a person is really concerned about the things of God, he will humble himself. There will be times when he will abstain from the enjoyment of food to continue concentration and focus on that which is important to God.


    Some Biblical Principles on Fasting

    Fasting is Assumed by the New Testament: When Jesus spoke about fasting, he didn't say if you fast, but "when you fast" (Matthew 6:16). Our Lord assumes that Christians will fast. And from the rest of the books in the New Testament we know that they did.

    There once was an inappropriate time for fasting though: when our Lord was here on earth. During that time Jesus' disciples never fasted and that seemed unusual to the religious leaders and John the Baptist's friends. "Then the followers of John came to Jesus and said, 'Why do we and the Pharisees often fast for a certain time, but your followers don't?' Jesus answered, 'The friends of the bridegroom are not sad while he is with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and then they will fast.'" (Matthew 9:14-15).

    Now Jesus is no longer physically present with us. He will not be until His second coming. So until the rapture, our Lord knows there will be times when fasting is an appropriate response. He is not here and because of that there will be spiritual struggle, and tribulation, and a need to fast.

    The Occasion for a Fast is Voluntary: Fasting was looked upon as a very great virtue in the early church. In fact, they thought so highly of fasting that they inserted the term "fasting" into the Biblical text even though it wasn't in the original manuscripts (check various translations or margin notes for Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29; Acts 10:30; 1 Corinthians 7:5)! This emphasis upon fasting also caused them to do the very thing the Pharisees had done, which was to prescribe certain set times for fasting: twice a week on Wednesday and Friday!

    We need to be careful to avoid pitfalls of legalism like this. Surprisingly, a particular day for fasting was commanded in Scripture only once -- on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The fast on the Day of Atonement was connected with a deep mournful spirit in confessing sin. Now in the New Covenant, Jesus Christ has become our atonement offering, so we no longer even need to observe the Leviticus 16 Day of Atonement! In all the rest of the Bible there are no other Scriptures which command fasting at a specific time or on a specific occasion! None!

    So when should a Christian fast? When he or she feels the Spirit of God leading them to fast. The occasion for fasting is a totally voluntary decision. Some of the specific times when people in the Bible fasted are listed in the next section. But basically we can say a Christian may decide to fast whenever there is a spiritual concern or struggle in his or her life. Of course, there may be times when those in authority over us proclaim a fast, as was done by King Saul (1 Samuel 14:24) or Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:3). But normally and ultimately that decision is solely between us and the Lord.

    The Length of a Fast is Voluntary: When we were looking at a "normal fast" (see above) we noted that a fast was usually for one day. In addition to the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32) you can see examples of one day fasts in Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 1:12; and 2 Samuel 3:35. The Jewish day was counted from sunset to sunset, so this meant that the fast would be broken (that is, food could be eaten) after sundown. However, some fasts were longer. The fast of Esther continued 3 days, both day and night. At the burial of Saul the fast was seven days (1 Samuel 31:13) and David also fasted seven days when his child was ill (2 Samuel 12:16-18). The longest fasts we find in the Bible are for forty days: Moses (3 times -- Deuteronomy 9:9,18; Exodus 34:28), Elijah (once -- 1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus (once -- Matthew 4:2). The Biblical principle here is that the length of time you fast is determined by your own desires and the occasion or purpose of the fast. The duration can be that which the individual or group feels led to set. There is a great deal of freedom in the Lord here. However, the more common practice of a "normal fast" appears to be one day.

    How You Spend Your Time While Fasting is a Personal Decision Too: My ideas about fasting were shaped more by the world and what I saw in the media than by God's Word. So I grew up with the idea that fasting was something done by cloistered monks in prayer cells, hermits in caves, and very spiritual people on sacred retreats. But that's not the way the Bible thinks about fasting. In the Bible, fasting often occurs as something you do while carrying on your everyday activities!

    Matthew 6:16-18 demonstrates this, since Jesus pictures a situation in which Christians are among other people going about their normal duties and activities. In fact, soldiers involved in the activity of warfare sometimes fasted (1 Samuel 14:24) as well as the sailors on the ship with Paul (Acts 27:33). There is a certain sense in which fasting, even in the midst of your daily activities, becomes a constant prayer to the Lord. And in the actual experience of fasting, a periodic pang of hunger can become a good reminder to send up a short "arrow prayer" for the particular thing about which you are fasting.

    What a marvelous freedom God gives us in the area of fasting. Jesus assumes that we will fast, yet he leaves the choice of when to fast, the length of our fast, and the decision of how we will spend our time while fasting completely up to us!

    Fasting Does Not Negate Our Responsibility to be Obedient to God: We cannot fast and pray expecting God to bless when there is known sin in our lives. Fasting does not impress God with our spirituality to the point that he ignores our disobedience. On the contrary, genuine fasting will always cause us to examine our hearts to make sure everything is right with Him.

    The people of Isaiah's day thought that they could fast in disobedience and God would hear them. But God said, "on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high". (Isaiah 58:3b-4).


    Occasions for Fasting

    'When is it appropriate to fast?' 'What types of situations should induce a fast?' 'What is a good Biblical reason for going without food?' The Bible has answers to those questions. We find seven occasions when the people of God fasted. God's people fasted in these situations:

    Mourning someone's death: We see fasting and mourning connected in 1 Samuel 31:13; 1 Chronicles 10:12; 2 Samuel 1:12; and 2 Samuel 3:35. In these situations fasting showed the sorrow that the people felt over the loss of someone God used in their lives. In fact, the custom of fasting in mourning was considered normal behavior among the Israelites. That's why the servants of David were so astonished when David got up and ate following the death of his son: "David's servants said to him, 'Why are you doing this? When the baby was still alive, you refused to eat and you cried. Now that the baby is dead, you get up and eat food?!'" (2 Samuel 12:21).

    When someone experiences the loss of a close friend or relative, they usually don't feel like eating. This is a normal, natural reaction in the initial stages of grief. It is a perfectly good reason to fast.

    Mourning sin, i.e. in repentance and confession: Examples of this are found in Deuteronomy 9:18; 1 Samuel 7:6; 1 Kings 21:27; Ezra 10:6; Jonah 3:5; and Acts 9:3-9. When people wished to demonstrate that they were serious about repenting from their sin, they fasted. Our willingness to sacrifice shows the depth of our commitment and in this case fasting is a pictorial way of saying to the Lord, "I care more about getting right with You, God, than I do about even my own life." So a good occasion for fasting is when we are truly grieving over our sins.

    A situation of impending danger; for protection: There are occasions when death or danger threaten us. We see from the Scripture that it is certainly appropriate to employ fasting as a means of receiving God's protection during these times. When Ezra was carrying a large consignment of gold and silver to the temple in Jerusalem along a route infested with bandits, he records: "I proclaimed a fast...that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a straight way for ourselves, our children, and all our goods" (Ezra 8:21,23,31). Other examples of fasting for protection are found in Jeremiah 36:9 and Esther 4:3.

    Direction: Fasting helps us find God's will. If we expect God to reveal his direction for our lives, we must put Him first. Often this means putting aside the fulfillment of our physical appetites, so that we can focus our attention on Him.

    We find an example of fasting for direction in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30. Three nations were coming against Judah to destroy them. King Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, proclaimed a fast for the whole nation and they asked the Lord what they should do. God heard their prayer and their fast and gave the people prophetic direction through one of the choir members! God told them what to do.

    Acts 13:2 is another example of direction being given by God during a fast. Here we find the leaders of the church of Antioch worshipping and fasting. The Holy Spirit used this occasion to tell the church leaders to choose Paul and Barnabas from among their group and send them out to spread the gospel among the Gentiles. So fasting is one of the ways we seek God's guidance and direction in our lives.

    Sickness: There are two examples in Scripture of fasting on behalf of those who are sick: 2 Samuel 12:15-23; Psalm 35:13. Both of these examples come from the life of David. In Psalm 35:13 David says, "Yet when they were sick, I put on clothes of sadness and showed my sorrow by going without food." David saw fasting as a way to ask God for physical healing in the lives of other people.

    The ordination of missionaries or church leaders: Fasting appears to have been a regular part of the ordination of church leaders and missionaries. We have already looked at Acts 13, the calling of Paul and Barnabas for missionary service. Verse 3 tells us that after they received this direction from the Lord, then they ordained them for missionary service by prayer, fasting and laying their hands upon them.

    We find the same thing later on in the book of Acts -- Paul and Barnabas fasted at the selection of the first elders for the new churches they planted (Acts 14:23). It would appear that fasting in these cases is a way of seriously seeking God's blessing, anointing, and power upon the leaders of the church.

    Special revelation: The final occasion for fasting is for special revelation. Exceptional insights from God were sometimes given to the prophets and others during periods of fasting. Daniel sought God with fasting to ask God to fulfill His promise to restore Jerusalem (see Daniel 9:9,18 and compare with Jeremiah 29:10-13). He received through the angel Gabriel a wonderful unfolding of God's plan for Israel. If we have sought God in vain for the fulfillment of some promise, it could be that He is waiting for us to humble ourselves by fasting and seek Him as Daniel did.

    Other examples of prophetic revelation during times of fasting are found in Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9,18; and Daniel 10:1-3. God decided to speak to these men while they were in the midst of a fast. For those seeking prophetic guidance or revelation today, God may also use the occasion of fasting to speak to them in a very unique way.


    What Will Be Your Response?

    As we look at the Bible it becomes evident that fasting was practiced more often than Christians usually practice it today. In fact, among most American Christians fasting is entirely neglected. I want to challenge you today to begin the practice of fasting. If you accept the challenge of God's Word to fast, I would like to provide some guidelines for you as you begin to make this a more regular part of your Christian life. The Lord will reward your efforts at fasting. Here are some individual guidelines for fasting:

    Reach a personal conviction on the subject through careful Bible study. -- Get into the Word on your own. See what the Bible really says about fasting. Check the things that have been said here, read the Scripture references listed in this article and the ones listed below, and go deeper.

    A physician's note: Make sure you are medically able to fast before attempting it. Some brothers and sisters that I know can only do a one-day partial fast. They drink different types of juice, but take no food or other liquid. God knows and understands their medical condition and does not expect them to harm their "temple" (1 Corinthians 6:19) in order to be spiritual. There are no rigid standards about fasting in the Bible that say you must do this or that.

    Begin with short fasts and gradually move to larger periods of time if you desire. If you've never fasted before, you need to start slow. Don't start with a three day fast!

    Be prepared for some dizziness, headache, or nausea in the early going. Most of our bodies have never gone without food for longer than a few hours.

    Break a prolonged fast gradually with meals that are light and easy to digest. Trying to gorge yourself following a fast will only make you sick and will leave you with an unpleasant memory of fasting.

    Enter with a positive faith that God will reward those who fast with the right motives. - Jesus gave this promise: "When you fast, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:18).

    Sometime during your fast, mix your fast with prayer, time in Scripture reading, singing, or devotional reading. Remember: fasting is not an end in itself. Seek the Lord, not the experience of fasting.

    Keep checking your motives concerning your fasts. Hypocrisy and spiritual pride can easily creep in. There is a reward for fasting, but only fasting done with the right motives (Matthew 23:28).


    SOME BIBLICAL REFERENCES ON FASTING
    TO GET YOU STARTED
    Ezra 8:21-23; 10:6
    Nehemiah 1:4
    Esther 4:16
    Job 33:19,20
    Psalm 69:10; 102:4
    Isaiah 58:6
    Daniel 9:3,20-23; 10:3
    Joel 2:15
    Exodus 34:28
    Deuteronomy 9:9-18
    2 Samuel 12:16,17
    Matthew 4:2; 6:16; 9:15
    Acts 13:3; 14:23
    1 Corinthians 7:5
    2 Corinthians 11:27,28
    Jonah 3:5,10

    ReplyDelete
  48. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    tate ~
    Thank you so much for finding this! I went "Googling" earlier and didn't have much luck so I really appreciate you posting this.
    Blessings ~ Christi

    ReplyDelete
  49. Tate,

    Your article on fasting was fascinating! I never thought so much about it and I feel truly enlightened. I see how important fasting was to the Jewish people and to the early church. I wonder why it was so neglected later especially in the American church. I think I will prayerfully consider adding fasting to my means of worship and communing with God.

    Thank you again!

    Your sister in Christ,

    Karen in California

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hi everyone

    I keep reading all the posts and I keep coming on ones that talk about either not being able to have children or hearing from God, probably because Elizabeth couldn't believe that she could be pregnant in such an old age.

    I feel so strongly that God has ordained this entire Bible Study about Elizabeth, and hearing from God. I am probably repeating myself but I wrote on my blog about my retreat from '05 and then tonight I went on to my blog and continued the end of the retreat before going on to this site. The two things I discussed were almost the same 2 things Rachel is discussing, being obedient with self control and hearing from the Lord. I am still really in a state of shock!!

    I loved that we have to guess that she went into probably seclusion for a while and that Elizabeth's baby even knew that Jesus was in Mary because "the Baby leaped in her womb".

    "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb" Think about it. Elizabeth was old and was well past the time to have a child and Mary conceived by an angel..this must of been so incredible to even believe something like this could happen to 2 woman so different...

    I truly believe that the Lord is telling my spirit that someone who is reading this needs to pay attention and heed what God is saying to them. I don't know why but it's too wonderful that what I wrote and what Rachel is discussing are so similar. I was obedient to the Lord and I have to remind myself of those times or I tend to forget.

    When God reveals His plans, purposes, and seasons for our lives, may we say to Him with joy, "Lord let it be to me according to Your word! and may we do, with all of our hearts, whatever He asks.

    "Father, may the woman or women magnify you and may her spirit rejoice in God her Savior...Amen"

    Love Donna

    ReplyDelete
  51. AnonymousMay 04, 2008

    I also am enjoying all the readings and posting and of course
    Rachel. To anonymous who has the
    suicidal daughter, I can say I truly understand your situation.
    I have gone through the past 33 years in the dredges of suicide.
    That long ago, my husband commited
    suicide. Our children were 6, 9 and 14. My 14 year old escaped what was to come by having a tremendous support system through her school and her friends that carried her through the years of her high school and college. She is now a successfull wife, mother and has a wonderful carreer. ?sp?
    My other 2 children did not fare as well. They are both alcoholic and have had many, many suicide
    attempts. I cannot tell you, how many times, over the years that I have sat in hospital rooms, not sure if my children would recover or not. So far, the Lord has been taking care of them, when they were unable to care for themselves.
    They are adults now and I am old, however, I am blessed that they have been blessed. Each day gets better for them, although it took many years to get to this place. I have prayed and been close to God my entire life. I wish I had answers for you but I can only tell you that I have believed always, that maybe Gods will for thier lives, may not show in my time, but in his time. I had totally turned their lives over to the care of God, knowing that I could not possibly know what Gods
    supreme plan was. Along the way, I have certainly questioned and stuggled. But know, that God will never give you more than you can handle and also that I am praying for your daughter and your family, as are many others. God has blessed all of us who have been connected to Rachel's Bible Study. I know my life has been enriched. Thanks everyone!!
    Laura's Mom

    ReplyDelete
  52. TO the woman who is asking for prayer for her daughter...

    I'm sorry that I didn't read all the way down before I posted. Listen..please go to my blog and read my posting, it will bring you comfort. It isn't from me, it's from the Lord! Lately God has been speaking to me and I just have to write what He says. Don't ask God WHY..just ask Him for comfort. Since you are a christian and you know the enemy is trying to pull your family apart you need to go on your knees and pray in the spirit!

    Satan doesn't know spirit language, he also doesn't know our thoughts. He can't read your mind. This is not a battle of flesh and blood, this is a battle of darkness. I know that you have probably come against Satan a thousand times but ya know what? We have to stop giving that thing so much credit. He loves getting credit. We live in a world where kids minds are filled with crap from the internet and TV and they start stupid clubs and say stupid things. Suicide is a call for help from that person. I know I can't tell you what to say to her but I do know that God is in complete control. He knows out today, yesterdays and tomorrows. This is spiritual warfare and that is what you have to do!!

    "So in the name of Jesus, satan take your hands off of this persons child and release her from the grip of the world of darkness..she is not yours.. she is a child of the most high, the Heavenly Father, the Alpha and Omega. Father we ask that you calm this mother so that she can bring people in to intercede with her. And Lord we thank you for what you are doing and what you have done..and Lord as ask that all of us be obedient to you..without you there is nothing..Thank you Lord for these women of God and for being able to go online and worship and pray together for one another..in your fabulous name above all names, Jesus Christ, Amen..."

    God Bless you and I truly believe that what I am sensing is for you..

    Love Donna

    ReplyDelete
  53. AnonymousMay 04, 2008

    I love the story of Elizabeth, and admire her and Zechariah. After so many years of unanswered prayer, they are still righteous and are followers of God. (How many people turn away when they are dissapointed in God?)
    Rachel mentioned that Zechariah was "pious". I have to admit, I needed to look up the word, as I didn't know what it meant. Devout, God-fearing, holy and righteous were a few words used to describe it. So they were a wonderful righteous couple, serving God, aware that others around them may have been wondering what sin they had committed as they were without child. So many priests and Pharisees in those days were not righteous, but probably still had the blessing of having children. It must have hurt Elizabeth and Zechariah, and wondered why they were not blessed. Maybe they wondered if they did commit an unknown sin to still be barren. But they still remained faithful to God after all those years. What an incredible blessing to to be so publicly blessed after so many years feeling the disgrace! God brings so much blessing for obedience and faithfulness to Him! Their barren years were probably testing and training years for what God had in store for them. The fore-runner of the Messiah! I'm so glad that they remained faithful to God. They could have become hypocrites, living a double life like some of the other priests, but they chose to be true to the Almighty God. It encourages me to be truer to God, and not just to be obedient to Him in what I know to do, but also to seek Him and find out if there's anything else that I need to do that I may not be seeing already.

    These verses of Zechariah's prophecy spoke to me, (verses 74,75) as I use to be quite afraid of satan.

    "We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
    in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live."

    I am free to serve God, no matter what the enemy is doing. Choosing to put my eyes on Christ instead of giving in is what strengthens me.

    God bless!
    Connie, Canada

    ReplyDelete
  54. agape13c said...
    Elizabeth - beautiful name and beautiful woman. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to feel the child leap in your womb because the mother of my Lord had just come to visit me? What a time to have lived when Jesus was coming into the world. But what a time we live in too. We have the sure knowledge that Jesus did live in this world and did die to save us. We can say like Job 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. He has invited us to stand with Him and I am more than glad to accept.

    Janet
    Latrobe, PA

    May 02, 2008

    ReplyDelete
  55. Verse 6 says, "Zechariah & Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commanments..." The word "careful" stood out. Have I considered how to be more careful about my obedience? I confess my day can get so busy, I don't even give a thought to whether I'm being careful about my words and actions.

    Also, I agree with Connie - how many people turn away from God because of disappointments? Zechariah & Elizabeth surely experienced disappoint of a major kind, yet they remained faithful to God. It's obvious that they didn't sit around and wallow in self-pity, for their deeds, and obedience, were recognized in an honorable way. GOD gave these words to Luke to write for prosperity. He could have easily referred to them as "John's parents"; after all, John is the a lead character - the messenger sent to prepare people for the coming Messiah. Why describe his parents?

    This story is another affirmation that the Bible is GOD-breathed... Luke wasn't in the temple when the angel appeared to Zechariah, but God was. Luke wasn't with Elizabeth when the baby leapt, but God was. This story encourages me, even in the times of "waiting" God is there. I hope I, like Elizabeth, would be found righteous in God's eyes... even in the midst of my disappointments.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Hi,
    Vickie from Nigeria,I want you to know that Angels do exist and appear today to those who have the gift of discernment. I know this because there are youth in my church who have this gift and have seen many angels around and in our church, As for hearing God's voice and knowing his will; well for me the directions God gives me are internal, kind of like a strong conscience. There have been times that I heard the voice of God so loudly that I looked around to see who else was near me. I have no doubt this was God's voice because I know Him. See John 10:27
    So how do you know if this is God's voice and not the devil trying to deceive you ?? You first get intimate with God.Spend time quietly sitting with Him, reading scripture, praying and getting to know Him. You pray, you ask for wisdom, you see if what you are hearing agrees with scripture, and you ask those more spiritually mature whether this seems to be from God. I hope this has helped

    Now about Elizabeth, I wonder how long it took Zachariah to convince her to sleep with him. I don't know if I could have the same faith, mute husband or NOT! After all, they were both old and probably resigned to being childless. Then to have your husband come home mute and claiming to have seen an angel in the holy of holies ?!! I think I would be questioning his sanity, not wondering about this child to be..... And what a child! A herald of the Messiah with the anointing of the prophet Elijiah, consecrated from before birth!! I think Elizabeth went into seclusion because the realities of what was happening had her undone over and over again. Also this time of seclusion was a season for her to cherish her precious son before she had to share him with the world he was called to serve.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Hi,
    Vickie from Nigeria,I want you to know that Angels do exist and appear today to those who have the gift of discernment. I know this because there are youth in my church who have this gift and have seen many angels around and in our church, As for hearing God's voice and knowing his will; well for me the directions God gives me are internal, kind of like a strong conscience. There have been times that I heard the voice of God so loudly that I looked around to see who else was near me. I have no doubt this was God's voice because I know Him. See John 10:27
    So how do you know if this is God's voice and not the devil trying to deceive you ?? You first get intimate with God.Spend time quietly sitting with Him, reading scripture, praying and getting to know Him. You pray, you ask for wisdom, you see if what you are hearing agrees with scripture, and you ask those more spiritually mature whether this seems to be from God. I hope this has helped

    Now about Elizabeth, I wonder how long it took Zachariah to convince her to sleep with him. I don't know if I could have the same faith, mute husband or NOT! After all, they were both old and probably resigned to being childless. Then to have your husband come home mute and claiming to have seen an angel in the holy of holies ?!! I think I would be questioning his sanity, not wondering about this child to be..... And what a child! A herald of the Messiah with the anointing of the prophet Elijiah, consecrated from before birth!! I think Elizabeth went into seclusion because the realities of what was happening had her undone over and over again. Also this time of seclusion was a season for her to cherish her precious son before she had to share him with the world he was called to serve.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I thank all of you for your comments, questions, requests for prayer and help. I trust the Lord is with us on this adventure in studying the women in the Bible. God provides each of us daily with what He knows we need. Are we as willing to receive, embrace, and carefully obey Him? Let’s be encouraged by Elizabeth, and her cousin Mary. We don’t get all the details, so be assured that during the time of their respective confinement for each of their babies, they went through a lot, including their thoughts. They both released their sons to the Lord for His purposes. May we also release our children into God’s hands, praying continually for them in love.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I read it! Jo Ann/Denver

    ReplyDelete

Chime in.