The Uniqueness of Motherhood
The Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting) is valued as priceless because it is unique. It can be argued that it is the most studied and appreciated piece of artwork ever. In a way, the painting was a unique mother’s day gift. The woman in the painting is Lisa Gherardini. Lisa was from a well-known family known through Tuscany and Florence and married to Francesco Del Giocondo who was a very wealthy silk merchant. It was her husband who commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to complete the work just after the turn of the 16th century. (c. 1504-1519) The work was to celebrate the completion of their new home and the birth of their second son. (Of course, Mother’s Day is unique to the US and was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia)
The Mona Lisa is unique for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons, of course, is the artist himself. Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the most recognized artist in the world. Not only was Da Vinci an artist, but he was also a scientist, inventor, and a doctor. Another reason for its uniqueness is the medium used to create the work. The Mona Lisa is an oil painting, with a cottonwood panel as the surface. It is unique in that most paintings are commissioned as oil on canvas, but the cottonwood panel is part of what has attributed to the fame of the painting. Because of the medium used for the image, the Mona Lisa has survived for six centuries without ever having been restored. The last unique feature I’ll mention about the Mona Lisa is the detail with which Leonardo da Vinci painted her hands, eyes, and lips. These anatomically correct features are one of the identifiable marks of this period of history in art.
The Mona Lisa is not without her enemies. Twice in the 20th century alone she was attacked. Once, in 1956, she sustained severe damage when attacked with acid by a vandal. That same year, another vandal threw a rock at her, removing a chip of paint from near her elbow. It was later painted over. The Mona Lisa now rests safely in the Louvre in Paris, France under bulletproof glass as a means of protection.
By now you may be asking, “What do all these facts about art have to do with Mother’s Day?” Well, in an even greater act of creation than Leonardo painting the Mona Lisa, God created mother Eve. Just like the Mona Lisa, Eve’s value and uniqueness, like ALL mothers, is derived from her creator. She is unique in that God selected just the proper medium with which to create. And create He did! What beauty! What value! The details in her hands, eyes, and lips not only surpass the Mona Lisa, but they become more defined, beautiful, and valuable as the years pass.
Motherhood, like the Mona Lisa, is not without her enemies. Popular culture is doing its best to throw acid and rocks at God’s masterpiece. Motherhood, like the Mona Lisa, must be protected. There is no need to change even a single brush stroke of the Master’s hand. Motherhood was created on purpose, for a purpose. It is unique. It is priceless.
Hope. Without it, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. God knows we can’t live a life of joy in this world without hope. The author of Hebrews describes hope as an anchor. What a wonderful analogy! When you are having extreme troubles with your spouse, your marriage is said to be shaky. When your business is experiencing difficult financial issues, your company is classified as shaky. Marriages end in divorce and businesses close their doors because they have no anchor. Without hope, life is shaky at best.
Today (Wednesday, March 12th, 2014) we examine a case study of Abraham. Our text, Hebrews 6:13-18, is an object lesson in hope. These next two lessons, that will complete our study of chapter 6 of Hebrews, will change your life. They give the objective reason for hope. I promise! Don’t miss them.
I invite you once again to the Patriarch Project weekly Bible study. Every Wednesday at 11:45 AM and again at 6:00 PM MST (Arizona time), we study the Bible together. We study the Word of God for one simple reason…HOPE!
Please join us in one of three ways. You can attend the Bible study in person; you can login via GoToMeeting; or you can visit our blog and watch the sessions anytime at www.patriarchproject.com.
We are located at 138 S Hamilton Place, Gilbert, AZ 85233. If you would like to attend the study via GoToMeeting, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request an invitation.
The evolution of Valentine’s Day has followed a course similar to the evolution of Santa Claus. It began with legends surrounding an obscure saint (actually, there’s more than one St. Valentine) from early Christian history that oddly morphed over the centuries into something else entirely. Then it exploded into a pop culture and commercial phenomenon in Victorian England (thank the Brits for greeting cards, flowers, and “confectioneries”), with the United States quickly jumping on the bandwagon.
No one knows for sure how a February 14th feast day commemorating a martyr(s) came to be a celebration of Eros love. It’s possible that when 5th Century Pope Gelasius l abolished the ancient Roman pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia (celebrated on February 15th), it ended up just meshing with St. Valentine’s Day. All we know is that “Volantynys day” abruptly shows up in a romantic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century and it’s been with us ever since.
So what should Christians make of today’s Valentine’s Day?
As much as purely possible! Valentine was a saint and Eros is not Cupid’s domain. It’s God’s! Christians should be the most unashamed, exuberant celebrators of romantic love there are, and the strongest guardians of God’s design and boundaries, because God made it for us to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17)! And God, the greatest romantic in existence, has designed it to give us a taste of the greatest romance that will ever exist, of which all Christians will experience.
Be Drunk with Love!
On the Desiring God blog we tackle, with blood-earnestness, the issues of sexual sin, the scourge of pornography, the anguish of same-sex struggles, and the complexities and difficulties of marriage, dating, and singleness. We all know the crucial need to guard ourselves, our children and each other against our indwelling, sexually broken depravity and a culture that shoves illicit sexuality in our faces every day.
But just for a moment, let’s not dwell on the dangers and disappointments of Eros. Let’s simply savor the purely intoxicating joy that God intends for betrothed and married lovers!
Yes, intoxicating. That’s Bible-talk for romantic love:
Friends, drink, and be drunk with love! (Song of Solomon 5:1)
Be drunk with love! I would say that’s a sweet imperative. The Bible doesn’t want us to drink in moderation when it comes to loving our lover. We are to drink deeply and become inebriated.
Like the Best Wine
So in that sense Valentine’s Day is a good day to get drunk. And a good place for some wine tasting is in the Song of Solomon. One read and it isn’t surprising that this wild drinking romp through the vineyard of betrothed (pre-consummated) and marital romantic love makes it one of the most controversial books of the Bible! Here are some of its wine samples:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine. (Song 1:2)
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine. (Song 4:10)
He brought me to his banqueting house (literally “house of wine”),
and his banner over me is love. (Song 2:4)
I came to my garden, my sister, my bride. . .
I drank my wine with my milk. (Song 5:1)
Your navel is a rounded bowl
that never lacks mixed wine. (Song 7:2)
Your mouth like the best wine.
It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
gliding over lips and teeth. (Song 7:9)
The taste of God’s Eros is like the best wine — even better! (There was more to Jesus’s first miracle than we first thought (John 2:1–11)!) And it’s meant to be drunk freely.
Married lovers, have you lost your taste for this wine? If so, go to the Song together. Walk back through the vineyards. Have foxes gotten in and spoiled them (Song 2:15)? It may be that for you this Valentine’s Day is a moment when you resolve together to “awaken love” (Song 3:5). Flowers, cards, and confectionaries won’t do that. Love awakens when you revel in each other.
Husbands, read sections 4:1–5 and 7:1–4. Hear the Song’s groom salivate over his bride’s eyes, hair, teeth, lips, cheeks, neck, breasts, feet, thighs, navel, belly, and nose. Let your lover hear your delight in her body!
Wives, read 5:10–16 and listen to the bride savor her groom’s locks, eyes, cheeks, lips, arms, body, legs, and mouth. Let your lover hear you luxuriate out loud in what you admire.
Hear again God’s invitation to you:
Friends, drink, and be drunk with love! (Song 5:1)
God wants married lovers to experience deeply, and future married lovers to anticipate, the full-orbed sensual and spiritual pleasure of erotically loving another embodied soul. And he designed this intoxication to occur within the safe chamber of marriage because forbidden intoxication can kill (Proverbs 5:15–19, 20–23).
I Am My Beloved’s and My Beloved Is Mine
But of course there is much more to the Song of Solomon than a celebration of marital Eros. In it is woven the mystery of the Great Romance:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31–32)
Because of this, the Song can be savored by every Christian. The deepest drink, the most wonderful inebriation Eros can provide any husband and wife in this age is only a copy and shadow of what’s to come. No Christian will miss out on the real thing.
At the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we drink the real wine with our Groom and enjoy an intimacy with him that we had only previously known in metaphors, then we will really know what was meant by “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Revelation 19:6–8; Matthew 26:29; Song 6:3).
And then we will all know what true and wholly pure intoxication is.
Publishing Note: Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God. www.desiringGod.org Copyright 2014 John Piper. Used by permission.
The Joy in Responsibility
(An In-Depth Study of Hebrews)
Consider Jesus, the faithful Apostle and High Priest
Let’s take a look at a favorite Christmas hymn: O, Come All Ye Faithful!
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem. Come and behold him, born the King of angels; Refrain: O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord. O come all ye faithful: Hebrews 2:16-17 Jesus was first faithful and makes a way for us to join the faithful! Joyful and triumphant: Hebrews 2:14-15 No longer slaves to death and sin. O come ye: Hebrews 3:1 Consider this Jesus! Behold him, born the King of angels: Hebrews 1:13 Jesus, reigning victorious King And now the refrain: O come let us adore him ADORE: Shepherds (Luke Chapter 2:20) Smell like manure, not incense Magi (Matthew Chapter 2:10-11) More like wicked wizards than kindly kings ACKNOWLEDGE: Roman King (Matthew Chapter 2:3) Wanted Jesus dead. Jewish Religious Elite (Matthew Chapter 2:4) Really wanted Jesus dead! LIFE APPLICATION: This Christmas, do you adore Jesus or simply acknowledge him? (Hebrews 2:1)
The author of the book of Hebrews is speaking to the church when admonishing with the words…consider Jesus. It is a catalyst for self examination. Our hope must rest in this Jesus who is greater than Moses. It allows the option of listening to the heavenly calling and sharing in all that it has to offer. We have Jesus, Apostle and High Priest, bringing God to us and us to God.
Confidence comes not from making life choices that seam to work well, but making choices that come from time spent with the Lord. Confidence comes when we know this Jesus as… in history past as the once-for-all perfect sacrifice; in times present as the Ambassador of God the Father; and in the future as one who keeps all of the promises made to the church.
Consider Jesus is not just an evangelistic term used to present the Gospel to unbelievers, but a life long requirement for every believer.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-23 and answer the following questions:
In Paul’s example to the Corinthian church who is the building (those who plant) and who is the builder (the one who gives growth)?
What will be the difference between building on the foundation with wood, hay and straw or gold, silver and precious stones?
What is the main idea in regards to receiving the offered rewards?
A key to having Joy in Responsibility is confidence. If you see the future as hopeful it is much more common to experience joy in that which you are responsible.
Therefore, if you lack confidence, the joy of which we speak will be missing from your life. The problem may be as simple as misdirected hope. Placing your hope in the next big business deal, our nation’s economy, or your own intelligence and abilities, could be the source of your lack of confidence; and rightly so. None of those things are perfect.
Along with the author of Hebrews, I am asking you to CONSIDER JESUS. Can’t find joy in this season of joy? Consider Jesus! Lack confidence in your future? Consider Jesus!
Redirect your hope. Consider Jesus. That’s why we study the Word of God together.
Join us each Wednesday at 11:45am or 6:00pm. Or visit our blog site and watch the recorded study sessions. www.patriarchproject.com
We will continue our in-depth study of the book of Hebrews and seek to find the Joy in Responsibility!
The Bible goes to great lengths picturing Israel under the rule of its kings. 1 & 2 Samuel, Kings and Chronicles detail the victories and ultimate failures of each monarch. Most of the kings were so wicked that it’s difficult to see any good in their reign.
To think that Israel began with only God as it’s King, and because they desired to be like other nations, they rebelled against the Lord’s Kingship and adopted earthly sin-filled kings. Each king led the people from bad to worse with short periods of revival toward God few and far between.
After reading these accounts I found myself wondering, “God why did you do it this way? After all, You were King! Why allow mortal man to take over the rule of your people?”
It wasn’t until I heard one of my favorite teachers speak on the matter that I understood. It’s so simple that often times Bible students miss the main reason why the Bible goes to such lengths to tell us the accounts of the kings. It’s easy to get lost in the details of these remarkable stories.
After reading through 1 & 2 Samuel, Kings and Chronicles one should walk away with one main point in view; NO EARTHLY KING WILL DO. That’s it. It’s that simple. The reign of the kings of Israel was a litmus test. Its result; REJECTED! Proof that sinful man cannot be the Messiah.
Hebrews 2:17 says, Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
As we studied yesterday, we see Jesus in His humanity being tested through suffering just like us. This was His litmus test. Its result; ACCEPTED! Proof that the God-Man Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
He is not ashamed to call us brothers! What a great salvation! We are loved and accepted in a family made perfect by our Victorious Older Brother, namely Jesus. What a great salvation!
Read John 13:12-20 and answer the following questions:
How did Jesus identify himself to the disciples?
How did Jesus’ act of washing the disciple’s feet reflect his mercy and faithfulness toward them?
Would Jesus do, and does Jesus do the same for you?
Being understood is profound. For example, in a marriage when your spouse understands you, despite all your shortcomings, the relationship thrives in many areas. And, being understood, the rough areas of the relationship prove to be a launch pad for improvement. My wife and I have been married for over 33 years. That’s a long time to study each other.
In recent years I have noticed how my wife makes adjustments in our relationship based on my many shortcomings. She can make these adjustments and avoid consequences because she understands the areas of life in which I don’t do well. Seeing her do this alerts me to the troubled area and allows me to consider making a change for the better. (sometimes I do better than others)
Most people have a fear of the unknown. We don’t know where change will lead, so we struggle to stay where we’re most comfortable.
However, being understood, and knowing we are understood, releases us from fear. Think about it; what if my wife asked me to make a major change in life. Knowing that she understands me empowers me with a confidence to move toward change. I believe it is as powerful as knowing she loves me and wants what is best for me.
Now, take this idea of being understood and apply it to your relationship with Jesus. As we continue our study of the book of Hebrews we are introduced to this same concept in our relationship with the Savior.
Hebrews 2:10 reads, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (ESV)
We are going to see, as our study continues, that God the Father saw it fitting that Jesus suffer just as we do. In this verse it states that Jesus is leading us to glory. He is not leading us as one who doesn’t understand the way we suffer with sin and fear and doubt. However, He does lead us as one who was perfectly victorious over the things in which we fail daily. Jesus understands us! He is sympathetic to our plight and at the same time victoriously leading us through it.
I find great Joy in the Responsibility that is mine when my Benevolent King, my Sympathetic High Priest, my Victorious Older Brother, namely Jesus, leads me to glory with an understanding heart.
I look forward to our time together next Wednesday December 4th. Have a Happy and Wonderful Thanksgiving!