Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
1 John 4: 15
“‘God is love; and it is good, as it is true, to think that every sun-ray that touches the earth has the sun at the other end of it; so every bit of love upon God’s earth has God at the other end of it.”
Mark Guy Pearse
Today’s Study Text:
“Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, close beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria; and after these things, Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near my house. I will give you a better vineyard for it or, if you prefer, I will give you its worth in money.’ Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you.’ And Ahab already depressed by the Lord’s message to him came into his house more resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.’ And he lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would eat no food. But Jezebel his wife came and said to him, ‘Why is your spirit so troubled that you eat no food?’ And he said to her, ‘Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, give me your vineyard for money; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it. And he answered, I will not give you my vineyard.’ Jezebel his wife said to him, ‘Do you not govern Israel? Arise, eat food, and let your heart be happy. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.’”
“The Attack by Jezebel” Part 1
“A man (or woman) might as well hope to fight a swarm of flies with a sword as to master his (her) own thoughts when they are set on by the devil.”
How do my thoughts control my behavior?
What guards do I have upon my mind?
“We are to control our thoughts rather than have our thoughts control us.”
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind (by its new ideals and its new attitude), so that you may prove (for yourselves) what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect (in His sight for you)” (Romans 12: 2, Amplified Bible).
Here in Transformation Garden, we have what I call a theme text. It is from the passage above in Scripture, Romans 12: 2, that the name of our website was conceived.
As I’ve shared with you before, I’ve always loved gardens, ever since I was a little girl and my grandma took me out into her backyard and let me use a small shovel and spade as I worked along beside her, digging, weeding and planting in grandma’s beautiful vegetable and flower garden. So it was easy for me, when thinking about what I’d call our website to want to include the word “garden” someway.
But as I reflected on what my hope and prayer was for what this site would convey, I began to think about the reasons I loved gardens so much. And repeatedly I came back to the word “transformative.” Whenever I came away from a “season” in the garden, I felt refreshed, uplifted, and encouraged.
It is this background that should help you understand why the “Garden” is named “Transformation Garden.” As Paul explained so eloquently to his Christian friends in Rome, when we dedicate and commit our lives, “our bodies, our members, our faculties as a living sacrifice, consecrated and well pleasing to God,” we will, as he wrote in verse 2, be transformed. Our entire mind is changed, not by our own ability but by what God does for us as we spend time with Him.
Maybe you are wondering what Paul’s New Testament words have to do with a vineyard in Jezreel that bumped–up against Ahab’s palace. Well quite a lot, in fact. There are several distinct lessons which come straight out of the Biblical record from the experience in Naboth’s vineyard and they tell us a lot about not only who Jezebel was but how she thought and how she behaved. I will even go so far as to say that the story of Naboth’s vineyard has more to do with Jezebel than any of the other supporting characters. With careful thought and in-depth study, this foray onto Naboth’s property shows us very clearly how a Jezebel, whoever they are, works to get their way through the use of the mind and the hand.
Let’s begin by looking at the way the Bible tells the story for as we have found out, truth begins and ends in God’s word. As we do, here in the Garden, we need to study closely the events which surround the request of Ahab to try and get Naboth to sell him his vineyard.
Author William J. Petersen calls Ahab’s palace in Jezreel his “winter palace.” And from the Biblical record, we find out that a gentleman named Naboth owned this choice piece of property containing a vineyard which bumped up against the king’s home. Possibly this piece of land may have been close to the royal kitchen for we read in 1 Kings 21: 2 that Ahab said to Naboth, also a resident of Jezreel, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near my house.”
Before we get upset with King Ahab, by jumping to the conclusion that he wanted to take over this plot of ground by “imminent kingship,” we need to keep reading for the author of 1 Kings 21: 2 points out the fact that Ahab offered to either pay a fair price for the land or he even went so far as to propose that he would give Naboth an even better vineyard in place of the one he owned.
Nearly as soon as this proposal was made, Naboth answered, ‘No,’ and with good reason. Unlike today where big banks rip-off the poor and unsuspecting and where some of the rich can amass fortunes preying on those who can’t defend themselves, during the time of Israel, God laid out a “fairness doctrine” that protected everyone from predatory financial behavior. It is recorded in Numbers 27: 8-11:
“And say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and has no son, you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. If he has no daughter, you shall give his inheritance to his brethren. If he has no brethren, give his inheritance to his father’s brethren. And if his father has no brethren, then give his inheritance to his next of kin, and he shall possess it. It shall be to the Israelites a statue and ordinance, as the Lord commanded Moses.”
In God’s law of fairness, property was held within the family unit, passed from generation to generation. Naboth not only knew this, he followed God’s command. By even selling or trading with the king, it meant what had been provided by God for the financial stability of his family, would be overturned just so a Baal-worshipping king could have what he wanted.
After hearing the response of, “No,” King Ahab turned toward home in a huff. In fact, when he got to his house, he went to bed in a snit, turned his face away and refused to eat. This was a major pout session. Poor Ahab! All tied up in knots because he didn’t get his way. The only thing left for him to do was stomp his feet and roll on the floor hollering, “But I want it, I want it!”
Here is where the clever queen enters the picture again. Jezebel had most likely dealt with the king’s tantrums before. She knew the signs. She’d had to clean-up after the pliable Ahab previously and so she went to work -- first on Ahab’s mind. I can just hear her at work, “Now, now dear. Don’t fret yourself. Who is the king, anyway? Who is holding all the cards? Who is in charge? Not Naboth dearie. You’re the one who has all the power. Now you just leave it to me. I’ll take care of everything!”
This was music to Ahab’s ears. He didn’t have to worry about a thing. Problem solved. And in the end, he’d get what he wanted after all.
Now, here’s the critical part of today’s lesson for when Jezebel stepped in to work over Ahab, where did she start? With his mind! And for one moment, I want to take you back to a day in another garden in a place called Eden. This time the “evil one” wasn’t named Jezebel. Oh, this could have been the name the fiend was called but instead this deceptive, alluring “Jezebel” was called “the serpent.” And the target was a beautiful woman named Eve, a perfect woman, indeed. The wily serpent knew he had a tough job ahead of him, but just like all Jezebel’s or devil’s or serpent’s, he knew where to strike first! He went straight for Eve’s mind with his tempting words: “Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he (Satan) said to the woman, ‘Can it really be that God has said, you shall not eat from every tree of the garden?’” A thinking question for the mind to consider! However, if this question sounds like you’ve heard it before, you have:
Jezebel: Who is limiting you? Who is keeping you from doing or becoming all you want?
Serpent: Who is limiting you? Who is keeping you from doing or becoming all you want?
In the world of Jezebel’s and Serpents, anyone is fair game. Their attacks are straight-forward, “Let’s go for the mind!” And this is exactly where they begin. They play with our head by using insinuation and flattery.
Jezebel: Who does Naboth think you are?
Serpent: Who does God think you are?
However, the questions that strike at our reasoning soon become loaded with flattery that drips with sweetness like warm chocolate ganuche.
Jezebel: “Do you not govern Israel? You’re the big-shot here dear. Hop-up, Sweetie! Eat and let your heart be merry!”
Serpent: “You shall not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” (Genesis 3: 4,5)
All the Jezebel’s and their duplicates who confront you and me, have the same routine -- first they go for our mind -- our thoughts -- the way we think and reason. Then once they’ve poisoned our mind they know full-well our actions will soon follow.
It was this way in the Garden of Eden when Eve encountered the serpent and it was this way when Jezebel ruled over a no-spine husband and a pliable people who paid no heed to God’s word or His way. What a lesson for us today! Beware of Jezebel -- she may be disguised on the outside but inside her goal is the same, to get what she wants at any cost -- even if it means our demise!
While there have been times in my life when the story of the seduction of Eve by a dazzling serpent disguised in a tree led me to nearly scoff at the seeming gullibility of a perfect pair in a perfect garden, as the years have passed, I have come to recognize that many times, I’ve let a serpent, in the form of some Jezebel, flatter me and inspire my arrogance. I’ve been led to think that my power is great enough to get me what I want. Sadly, I found myself falling under the spell of Baal worship, no different than God’s children at the time of Israel. How thankful we can be for the call from God, “How long will you waver? Choose you this day whom you will serve.”
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny!”
“Enlighten our understandings with knowledge of right, and govern our wills by Thy laws, that no deceit may mislead us, no temptation corrupt us; that we may always endeavour to do good and hinder evil. Amidst all the hopes and fears of this world, take not Thy Holy Spirit from us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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