Saturday, March 30, 2013

Solomon-The Three Rebels

By Mary Vee
I Kings and Proverbs 8:12-36

From Hadad's Scrolls

When I was a little boy, the Israelites came to Edom, my country. Their captain, Joab, ordered his men to bury the dead Israelite's. After he finished his work he rose up with vengeance and attacked our nation with full force. The army stayed for six months wiping out every man in Edom. 

I alone escaped with the help of my father's officials. 

I could not have escaped without their help, not far anyway. I was only a boy. We fled through Midian, Paran, and on to Egypt. Once we arrived my father's officials asked to speak with the Pharaoh. There they requested safety. 

The Pharaoh treated us kindly. He gave me a house, land, and food.

During the days that followed, I managed to please the pharaoh. He gave me a sister of his wife, Queen Tahpenes, to marry. We had a son and named him Genubath. Tahpenes raised our son in the palace with Pharaoh's other children.

Then one day I heard king David had died. His captain, Joab also died. I knew I could safely return to my country, Edom, without being harmed.

I asked Pharaoh for his permission to leave. Understandably he didn't like the idea of letting his grandson and sister-in-law leave Egypt. Once I return to my country, I plan to repay Israel. I will raise up an army against them.

From Rezon's Scrolls

My name is Rezon, I am the son of Eliada. I fled from my master Hadadezer, king of Zobah. I have gathered many men to join my rebellion. I remember when king David attacked Zobah, destroying the army. I am my rebellion moved to Damascus. We took control of the city. I dedicated my life to causing trouble for the Israelites as long as Solomon lived. I understand another also causes trouble, one called Hadad. I won't bother him as long as he and his army leave us alone.

From Jeroboam's Scrolls

My name is Jeroboam. I am an official of Solomon's court and an Ephraimite. Solomon praised me for my work when filling in the gap in the city wall and promoted me, putting me in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph.

One day, as I walked out of the city of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah stopped me. He wore a new cloak. We stood there alone. Ahijah took his cloak off and ripped it into twelve pieces. He set them on the ground and said, "Take ten pieces for yourself. The Lord God of Israel says, 'I will tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give ten tribes to Jeroboam. For the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, however, I will give one tribe to Solomon's son so that David, my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem.

'I am doing this because they have sinned against me and walked away from me by worshiping Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites. They have not walked in my ways nor have they done what is right in my eyes, or kept my statues and laws as David, Solomon's father did.

'I won't take the kingdom from Solomon, I will take it from his son.

'You Jeroboam will rule over all that your heart desires. You will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right inmy eyes by keeping my statues and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I build for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.' And that was the end of the Lord's message to me."

When Solomon heard what the Lord said, he tried to kill me. I fled to Egypt, to the house of king Shishak and stayed there until Solomon died.

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photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com

1. Who were the three men who rebelled against Solomon?
2. What nations were they from?
3. Why did God allow the rebellions?

Proverbs 8:12-36


“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
    and I find knowledge and discretion.
 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
    and perverted speech I hate.
 I have counsel and sound wisdom;
    I have insight; I have strength.
 By me kings reign,
    and rulers decree what is just;
 by me princes rule,
    and nobles, all who govern justly.[a]
 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.
 Riches and honor are with me,
    enduring wealth and righteousness.
 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
    and my yield than choice silver.
 I walk in the way of righteousness,
    in the paths of justice,
 granting an inheritance to those who love me,
    and filling their treasuries.
 “The Lord possessed[b] me at the beginning of his work,[c]
    the first of his acts of old.
 Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
 Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
 before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
 When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
 when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established[d] the fountains of the deep,
 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
     then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his[e] delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
 rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.
 “And now, O sons, listen to me:
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
 Hear instruction and be wise,
    and do not neglect it.
 Blessed is the one who listens to me,
    watching daily at my gates,
    waiting beside my doors.
 For whoever finds me finds life
    and obtains favor from the Lord,
 but he who fails to find me injures himself;
    all who hate me love death.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Solomon- Bad Decision

By Mary Vee
I Kings 11, Proverbs 8:1-11

From the Scrolls of A Servant of Solomon

I am sad to record these events.

My king, the one the Almighty God put on the throne to govern our great nation, Israel, has gone against God's commands. 

His choice to marry Pharaoh's daughter was not a good one. And worse yet, in the following years he loved other foreign women, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonian, and Hittites. The Lord strictly told us not to marry anyone from those nations because they would turn out hearts to their gods.

Still, he went against what he knew to be right and loved seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred other women.  Just as the Lord said, those women led him away from God's commands.

Gradually Solomon grew old. His heart no longer was devoted to the Lord his God as his father, David's heart had been. He, I hate to say this . . . but he worshipped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 

Surely the Lord was deeply displeased and angered.

On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech, the detestable god of the ammonites. He did the same for all his wives so they could burn incense and offer sacrifices to their gods.

My heart ached. This was wrong.

The Lord said to Solomon: "Since this is the way you are going to behave, and have not kept my covenant and decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of the people serving under you.

But, for the sake of your father, David, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will carry out my punishment upon your son. And then, for the sake of David, I will not tear the entire kingdom from him.

I hope I don't live to see the day this happens.  


Author's note: Following the stories to come, sections of Proverbs will be given.


Proverbs 8:1-11  The Call of Wisdom

Does not wisdom call?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
    at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
“To you, O men, I call,
    and my cry is to the children of man.
simple ones, learn prudence;
    fools, learn sense.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
    and from my lips will come what is right,
for my mouth will utter truth;
    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to him who understands,
    and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver,
    and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is better than jewels,
    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

Proverbs 8:1-11 from the ESV version

*****************
1.  What did Solomon do wrong?
2.  What did Solomon do differently from his father, David?
3.  What punishment did God give Solomon?
4.  What is wisdom?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hudson Taylor-Money From Heaven

By Mary Vee


From the Notes of J. Hudson Taylor


My servant, the one who left Shanghai with me and later disappeared, never showed. After asking several people on my way back to Shanghai, I learned that my servant had stolen the last of my belongings and ran away. 

Each person I asked urged me to press charges against my servant. "Have him arrested, thrown in jail."

My stomach churned. It didn't seem like the right thing to do to me. The man's soul was worth far more than the return of my few possessions. Once convicted, the prison guards and other prisoners would beat him. 

I chose, instead, to send him a letter. Perhaps my words would stir his conscience. 

I wrote: "At first I made up my mind to report you to the police. You know the severe punishment you could have received. But a verse from the the very Bible you helped me carry came to my mind. "Return good for evil." Because of this verse I have not told the police. You, my dear servant, will be the one who suffers for stealing my belongings. There is a greater punishment from God for those who steal. I freely forgive you and urge you to repent of your crime and return my possessions. I will teach you about God's love."

Upon my return to Shanghai, I stopped by the post office hoping there would be mail for me, preferably money. I didn't have anything left after giving the last of my funds to mail boat captain to pay for my passage. Neither did I have a place to stay or any belongings. 

I'm not exactly sure why I didn't feel sorry for myself or get angry or run around begging for help. I just stood in line and prayed for God to help me. Maybe He would whisper something about my situation to the heart of someone back home. Someone who would send money for my support.

When my turn came, the postal worker recognized me. He reached back to the counter and picked up two envelopes. "Here you are Mr. Taylor."

I held my envelopes like a treasured possession and stepped out of the way. Once I found a private corner I ripped open the envelope hoping to discover a miraculous provision from God. Inside I found a letter from my faithful giver, Mr. Berger. I looked back inside the envelope and found forty English pounds! Forty! Praise God. This money would buy new medical supplies.

I ripped open the second envelope. This one came from George Mueller. He sent an encouraging letter and a commitment to help support my missionary work in the future. I checked the envelope again and found forty English pounds. Forty more! This alone more than compensated me for the stolen furniture and my other possessions.

Praise God. 

Both these gentlemen sent the money well before the thieves had stolen my belongings. And God enabled the funds to arrive on the very day I needed them.  These envelopes truly delivered money from heaven.

My next plan is to wait a week or so for the waters to rise in the river and try to sail again. This time there should be enough water to sail all the way to Ningbo where my missionary friend, Dr. Parker lives.

I feel . . . so blessed.

J. Hudson Taylor
Missionary to China
Blessed by God

Do you have any questions?


Photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Solomon-Celebrating God's Blessings

By Mary Vee
Psalms 71:1-19


photo taken by Mary Vee


Following a visit from the Queen of Sheba, Solomon broke out in praise to God. He understood the blessings God had given him. When you are in a time of awe, think of this passage so you too can praise God.








Psalm 72 
Solomon's Psalm

 Give the gift of wise rule to the king, O God,
    the gift of just rule to the crown prince.
May he judge your people rightly,
    be honorable to your meek and lowly.
Let the mountains give exuberant witness;
    shape the hills with the contours of right living.
Please stand up for the poor,
    help the children of the needy,
    come down hard on the cruel tyrants.
Outlast the sun, outlive the moon—
    age after age after age.
Be rainfall on cut grass,
    earth-refreshing rain showers.
Let righteousness burst into blossom
    and peace abound until the moon fades to nothing.
Rule from sea to sea,
    from the River to the Rim. 
Foes will fall on their knees before God,
    his enemies lick the dust.
Kings remote and legendary will pay homage,
    kings rich and resplendent will turn over their wealth.
All kings will fall down and worship,
    and godless nations sign up to serve him,
Because he rescues the poor at the first sign of need,
    the destitute who have run out of luck.
He opens a place in his heart for the down-and-out,
    he restores the wretched of the earth.
He frees them from tyranny and torture—
    when they bleed, he bleeds;
    when they die, he dies. 
And live! Oh, let him live!
    Deck him out in Sheba gold.
Offer prayers unceasing to him,
    bless him from morning to night.
Fields of golden grain in the land,
    cresting the mountains in wild exuberance,
Cornucopias of praise, praises
    springing from the city like grass from the earth.
May he never be forgotten,
    his fame shine on like sunshine.
May all godless people enter his circle of blessing
    and bless the One who blessed them. 
Blessed God, Israel’s God,
    the one and only wonder-working God!
Blessed always his blazing glory!
    All earth brims with his glory.

Amen and Amen

************
from the Message paraphrase

1. Why are Psalms are included in the Bible? Give as many reasons as you can, at least three.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Solomon-The Queen of Sheeba's Visit Part 2

By Mary Vee
I Kings 10, II Chronicles 9


From the Queen of Sheba's Journal


I am standing in king Solomon's magnificent chambers. He escorted me to a chair. 

I had many questions to ask about science, philosophy, music, and government. He answered every question I posed, no matter how difficult or strange it seemed. The more questions I asked the more I thought to ask. 

Wise men had come from far and wide to hear Solomon speak, and now I understand why. If what I had heard was a mere sample of what their God knows, as Solomon says, he and his people truly are blessed. 

Solomon gave me a tour of his palace, the food on his table and all the guests he'd invited to share the meal with him. The attendants dressed in regal robes, the cupbearers, the burnt offerings sacrificed at the temple of the Lord. In all truth, I became overwhelmed and didn't know what to say.

At the end of the tour, he took me back to his justice chamber and asked if I had anymore questions. 

"No," I said. "But I want to tell you this. The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But, I didn't believe it until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me. In wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. 

"How happy your men must be! How honored your officials must be who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom. Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."

I presented him with the gifts I brought. The gold, spices, and stones. Solomon told me he had never received so many spices ever before. It made him really happy.

King Solomon gave me more gifts in return than I could have dreamed. 

I wanted to stay longer, but had a country of my own to care for. I ordered my guards and servants to pack. We needed to go home. 

But I will never forget what I learned from King Solomon. Nor will I forget what his God has done for His people.

********************************
photos courtesy of christianimagesource.com

1. What did the Queen of Sheba think about King Solomon's answers?
2. What did Solomon show her in the city?
3. What did Queen of Sheba tell Solomon about the reports she had heard.
4. The Queen gave Solomon __________.
5. Before she left, Solomon gave her what gifts to take home?
6. Who did the Queen of Sheba think gave Solomon his wisdom and wealth.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hudson Taylor-The Good Samaritan

By Mary Vee


From J. Hudson Taylor's Notes

I was not the good Samaritan in this even I am about to tell you. I would have liked to have been, but it seems this missionary journey had one main person to minister to, me.

Last time, I mention hiring a Chinese worker to carry my few remaining possessions, a bed and a few other things, to the port where I planned to take the next ship north. He stole my belongings and sold them.

With nothing left, I turned back wanting to go to Shanghai. I walked for miles and that evening slept on the steps of a temple. Three thieves kept watch for my eyes to close and attempted to steal my money throughout the night. They gave up in the early morning, giving me only an hour to sleep.

The next morning, my walk back to Shihmenwan proved more difficult than I realized. I had eaten much, hadn't slept, most of my belongings burned in the Shanghai fire, I needed medical supplies but couldn't get to Dr. Parker to get any, and now the last of what I owned had been stolen. I was tired and didn't feel well

I am not one to give up, but there are times when our human bodies can do no more. I pushed myself to reach the port in Shihmenwan and went to the boat office to purchase a ticket to Shanghai.

"I'm sorry, sir, there are no ships moving on the river. Look, see the boats trapped in the mud for lack of water to sail?"

"But there must be something. Anything." If her offered to let me ride in a canoe, I would.

"No one will be leaving today and probably not tomorrow either."

"Is there a boat going to the next port?"

"Not even Kashing." He answered. "The mail boat is all that moved and it already left." 

Over his shoulder, I saw a mail boat floundering in the water. It scooted along in the low water at a slow speed in the direction I wanted. "Hey! Hey Wait. Are you going to Kashing?" I pulled every ounce of strength left and chased the boat down the canal for a whole mile. "Wait, I say."


A worker on the boat answered. "We're not going to Kashing."

"But will you let me pay you to take me as far as you are going?" 

He scowled at me and said "No."

I couldn't take any more. I hadn't slept, eaten, rested, had anything go right . . . I wanted to weep like a child but didn't have the energy to do even that. My legs buckled and tumbled me to the ground.

Sometime later, I have no idea how long I slept, I woke and heard voiced. I opened my eyes and found a group of people standing around me talking about me. "He speaks the dialect of someone from Shanghai..."

I looked around at my surrounds and found myself on a ship. These people apparently saw me and felt sorry for situation, sent a small junk across the canal and brought me back to their ship. They gave me tea and food, removed my socks and soaked my blistered feet. I think God sent angels to care for me. After I ate and drank, I heard them calling out to smaller boats able to move in the low water. "Can you give someone a ride?" But none said yes.

Early that evening, the captain noticed a mail boat heading toward Shanghai. "Taylor, there is a mail boat!"

"Thank you captain, but I cannot afford to pay what they would charge for the ride."

The captain shouted to the mail boat anyway. "Where are you going?" 

"The port before Shanghai." 

I wish I could have ridden with them. They would dock only nine miles form Shanghai.

The captain leaned forward and said. "This man here is a foreigner from Shanghai and has been robbed. He doesn't have money to pay for a ticket. Take him to where you will dock and then hire transportation to carry him the nine miles. He will pay you in Shanghai. Look here. My boat is stuck. I cannot go anywhere. If you are not paid in full in Shanghai, I will pay what is due when you return."

Bless the Almighty God, the man said yes. The kind people helped me on to the mail boat where the only place I be required me to lay down. I slept most of the journey back to Shanghai and arrived August 9th.

God didn't just provide me with food and rest, He gave me good Samaritan's who had kind and warm hearts. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I have nothing to give, and nothing to live on. But since I am rested, have eaten, and witness the kindness of others, I have the strength to go on.

Please pray that God will put on the heart of someone to send the needed funds for my support.


J.Hudson Taylor

Do you have any questions?



Photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com

Research resources: J. Hudson Taylor, An Autobiography by J. Hudson Taylor; It is Not Death to Die, a new biography of Hudson Taylor by Jim Cromarty; Hudson Taylor Founder, China Inland Mission by Vance Christie; J. Hudson Taylor, A Man in Christ, by Roger Steer, and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Solomon-The Queen of Sheba Visits

By Mary Vee
I Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9

From The Queen of Sheba's Journals

Unbelievable. I had never heard of such a man who ever lived.

My messengers reported to me, this man, Solomon, King of Israel, had a relationship with the name of the Lord, and that his fame spread throughout the world, and his wisdom exceeded any man who ever lived.

I find this most remarkable . . . and unbelievable.

Yet, I heard more than one report attesting to this same information. Typically I trust my messengers to tell the truth, but this? The wisest man who ever lived is the king of Israel?

I then heard reports Solomon had been blessed with great riches, making him the richest man. And Solomon didn't keep the wealth to himself. He used it to beautify his country, build up the cities and make grand buildings.

In truth, it seemed like a story a fisherman might say about catching a large fish but losing it. 

I must admit, my curiosity took a hold of me. If such a man had great wisdom, I wanted to hear him speak, and if he had such great wealth, I wanted to see the cities he built, and if this was all due to his relationship with the name of the Lord, I wanted to learn more. 

I decided to go and see for myself. 

As I would expect gifts from my visitor, I planned to take him such grand gifts to surpass any other he received.

I ordered my servants to pack the following: camels carrying spices, one hundred talents of gold, and precious stones, large quantities of spices. The next morning, my servants, guards, and I set out for Israel.

We journeyed to Solomon's city, the City of David. Immediately, I saw the reports were true. The city wall stood tall and in perfect condition. Solid and grand. We proceeded to the city gate and requested permission to enter. Once the Israelite guards realized who we were, they immediately granted us permission.

The city buildings had a majestic appeal, gold and cedar trees used liberally throughout the city. How grand. How rich. How their God has blessed them. The more we journeyed into the city the more my heart and soul became excited to meet King Solomon. 

High on a hill sat a magnificent temple building steeped in gold. It appeared new. The splendor took my breath away. What a magnificent structure, possessing a grandeur greater than any I had seen. This must be the temple Solomon built for the name of the Lord that my messengers reported to me.

The guards led us through the city streets to Solomon's palace. As we moved through the city streets I found myself captured in the brilliance of Solomon's kingship displayed in his city. The guards led us  to the final road to the palace and took us to the entrance. 

Before me stood three buildings joined together. I couldn't wait to see the inside and to meet with the king. Solomon's guards escorted my company into the palace.

And there I stood, amazed, in the palace of king Solomon. His God has given him and his people so much.

I have much more to tell you next time.

*******************
photos courtesy of christianimagesource.com

1.  The Queen of __________ heard reports about King __________
2.  The messengers said Solomon had a relationship with ________
3.  his _________ spread throughout the world.
4.  and his _____________ exceed any man who had lived.
5. The Queen of Sheba believed or did not believe the reports.
6. Where did the Queen of Sheba want to go?
7. What did she take with her?
8. What did she see?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Solomon-The Gifts God Gave

By Mary Vee
I Kings 4 and II chronicles 1, 9


A Servant's Journal


I have never heard of, nor seen a king like Solomon. God has blessed our king tremendously. He has given him gifts that surpass others. Let me tell you about Solomon, our king of Israel.

God has given Solomon wisdom. Not just for certain times or about certain topics. Solomon's wisdom exceeds the wisdom of all the men of the east, greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He is wiser than any other man.

How do we know? Many came to test him. Solomon proved wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite; Heman; Caldol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. Solomon's fame spread to all the surrounding nations.

People came from far away to hear him speak. Our king spoke three thousand proverbs, his songs numbered a thousand and five. He describes plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of  walls. He has taught many about animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Men have been sent by kings of all nations to listen to Solomon's wisdom.

Visitors bring gifts for our king. Solomon has received 666 talents of gold, not including payments due from merchants and traders, all the Arabian kings, and the governors of the land.

With the gold, King Solomon filled the storehouse with weapons fashioned from the gold. He made his throne with inlaid ivory and overlaid it with fine gold. A magnificent throne with six steps and on each side of the seat a lion stands. Twelve lions stand on the steps, one on each side of the step. No throne for any other king comes close to the magnificence of Solomon's throne.

All of King Solomon's goblets are gold and absolutely nothing has been made with silver, because, well, silver has little or no value. Solomon decorated our city with the gold he received, making this precious metal as common in Jerusalem as stones. He also used the great cedars of Lebanon throughout the city. 

Greater than all the king's possessions on earth, are the riches of my king, Solomon. People come from far all over the world to hear the wisdom God put in his heart.

Year after year, each person who has visited brings a gift: silver, gold, clothing, weapons, spices, and animals. 

How rich our country is. How privileged we are to have Solomon as our king. But greater than these, how blessed we are to worship God.

********
photo courtesy of christianimagesource.com

1.  How do we know Solomon was wise?
2.  Solomon spoke ___________ proverbs and __________ songs.
3.  Solomon decorated the city of Jerusalem with ___________ and _________
4.  Solomon was wiser than __________
5.  Solomon was richer than ____________
6.  Solomon had wisdom and riches because ________ gave them to him.