Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
Acts 4: 13
“O hearts of love!
O souls that turn like sunflowers
to the pure and best!
To you the truth is manifest;
For they the mind of Christ discern
Who lean like John upon His breast.”
John G. Whittier
Today’s Study Text:
“When the Queen of Sheba heard of the constant connection of the fame of Solomon with the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.”
1 Kings 10: 1
“Lessons Taught By the Lady From Sheba” Part 1
Lesson #1 – From the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.”
Matthew 7: 1, 2
’’By what measuring stick do I judge those around me who do not have the same point-of-view as I have?
How do I judge those whose religious beliefs are not the same as mine?
How do I put into practice each day the words of Jesus found in Matthew 7: 1, 2?
“Be quick to judge yourself and not to judge others.”
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Today, we begin a 10-day study on the “Lady from Sheba,” as I like to refer to this foreign queen who came to visit the legendary King Solomon. To say there’s a lot we can learn from this gracious woman would be an understatement.
As we begin to dig deeply into the lessons God has for us from the life of the Queen of Sheba, I want to lay out for you what I have uncovered as I’ve researched this unique woman.
Biblical scholars and historians provide some illumination on the geographical location which gave this lady her name.
Sheba is considered to be a country in southwest Arabia, which in our current day is a country called Yemen. The region where the country of Sheba lay was the mountainous and fertile part of Arabia. Genealogists of the Bible regarded “Sheba”, (most likely one, two or three different individuals had this name), as the source of the country’s name as well as the descendents’ name which was the Sabeans.
The country of Sheba was known for gaining its wealth by controlling the perfume and incense trade. And as we delve into the generosity displayed by the Queen of Sheba, we’ll recognize the fact that her country of origin was flush with gifts which underscore what history shares with us.
It was in the 10th century B.C., when the Queen of Sheba, propelled by a longing to find out about, not only the wisdom of Solomon, but the God of heaven and earth who had bestowed upon Solomon such wisdom and prosperity, came to Jerusalem bearing gold, precious stones and spices which she exchanged with King Solomon.
It is here, for today, that I wish to stop for a moment to reveal the first lesson we find taught to God’s daughters and sons around the world in the 21st century, by the “Lady from Sheba.”
Throughout David’s reign as King of Israel, despite his moral failing, there was no question that the one and only God of heaven and earth was the Lord God of David’s life. In fact, there was no greater longing in David’s heart than to build a house of worship where his heavenly Father’s presence would dwell. But having been a man of war, or as the Bible tells us, a man of blood, God gave the task of building a Temple to David’s son, Solomon. As we studied several weeks ago, this became, in the first half of Solomon’s time on the throne of Israel, his all-consuming passion. Building a house of worship to God was the singular purpose of Solomon’s life. Knowing that this was his goal, we find that rather than excluding other leaders in surrounding countries from helping him with this enormous undertaking, King Solomon chose to engage King Hiram and other leading figures outside of Israel to bring the best the then known world had to offer, in completing the Temple to honor Jehovah. I want to add, this was initially for one reason only -- and that was to bring glory -- exceptional and unique glory -- to the name of God. And this is exactly what happened!
We are told in our study text for today that it wasn’t just the brilliance of Solomon that drew the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem, but it was also Solomon’s connection with the “name of God.” How beautiful is that! After reading this fact I asked myself, “Would someone who is not a follower of the God of heaven and earth, be drawn to me because they had heard of my connection to my heavenly Father and of His special blessing on my life?” I ask you, “Could the same be said about your life -- that you have a heavenly connection which others want to share in?”
King Solomon could have “shunned” the “Lady from Sheba.” She was from Arabia. She wasn’t an Israelite. She was a non-believer. A foreigner. A heathen, as some might call her. Yet, Solomon did not disregard this Queen. Instead, he welcomed her to the heart of Israel -- Jerusalem -- the city of David.
As I reflected on this gesture of kindness, my mind was carried to the words of Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, found in the book of Matthew in the New Testament. In a clarion call to suspend the harsh judgment we often apply toward others, Jesus asked His followers, especially, to “judge not.” I’ll add, there were no exclusions to this command. Jesus didn‘t say that you were off-the-hook if the people you disagreed with were not Christians or had some other behavior you deemed in-appropriate. He just stated, “Judge not!”
So often, I think that as Christians, we have somehow come to the conclusion that if we don’t “call-out” behavior we think does not follow the “guidelines” established by whatever religious banner we choose to fly over ourselves, that we are compromising our values. I’d like to turn this idea upside down and offer this perspective. If what I have to share with those around me, who may believe a different way than I do, doesn’t make them feel more loved, more included, and more accepted, then I‘ve completely missed the point of Jesus’ earthly ministry for His work was wrapping His arms tightly around those whom His’ society turned their backs on and tossed out like yesterday’s garbage.
Several months ago, here in Transformation Garden, a girl wrote me. She shared some very personal details about her life. And then she asked me this question, “Will you pray for a person like me?” I wanted to weep that she even felt she had to ask a question like this. But having been rejected by so many who wore the label of “Christian,” she evidently thought that perhaps I wouldn’t want to pray for her. Thankfully, I could tell her that here in the Garden, we pray for everyone -- because the God of heaven and earth -- your Father and mine -- loves each of us as though there was only one of us. And when His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, He brought with Him His Father’s heavenly love that is big enough to embrace the worst of us!
Recently, I read a story that really hit home with me. I live in a town known for a great deal of New Age philosophy. In fact, over eleven years ago, when Jim and I moved here, a friend, rather mockingly asked, “Oh, are you New Agers now?” I told her, “No, we are Christians.” But then I went on to tell her about all the wonderful individuals God had led us to meet -- and one of the women is a devout Buddhist. Every time we go to lunch, inevitably, the conversation turns to things spiritual. But what took me by surprise was when I was asked, several years ago, to do a reading on Good Friday, at our local library from my book, When A Woman Meets Jesus. My friend showed up, unannounced. Furthermore, she was the last to leave, walking with me out to my car. And she shared that in her house, growing up as a child, there was no Bible. But she said to me, “You know, Dorothy, after hearing tonight about the way Jesus treated and loved women, if I had heard stories like that in my childhood, I would love Jesus like you do.”
As I told you, it was my experience with this friend that became the reason the following story struck such a cord in my heart:
“A mother living in Japan called the head mistress of a mission school.
‘Do you take only beautiful girls in your school?’ she inquired.
‘Why, no! We welcome all girls,’ was the reply.
‘But I have noticed that all your girls are beautiful,’ the woman exclaimed.
‘Well, we teach our girls to love our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and He gives them a look of holy beauty,’ replied the missionary.
‘I myself am a Buddhist,’ the mother noted, ‘I do not want my daughter to become a Christian. Yet, I should like her to attend your school to get that look on her face,’ was the reply.”
The first lesson we can take away from the “Lady of Sheba” is that when we choose not to judge another by our own standard, but instead, allow God’s heavenly love to radiate through us and around us, we will become an illuminating presence that draws others, as 1 Kings 10: 1 tells us, the Queen of Sheba was drawn to visit Solomon. Why? Because of his “connection with the Name of God” (The Message Bible).
“Do not be angry that you cannot make others as you would wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
Thomas á Kempis
“I want that adorning Divine
Thou only, my God, canst bestow;
I want in these beautiful garments to shine
Which mark out Thy household below.”
“Here is a plain strip of canvas. Before it stands the master painter. ‘Do you see the golden sunset?’ he asks. ‘Trust yourself to me and I will paint its glory in your face.’ And the canvas says, ‘I am coarse in texture. I am scant in size. I do not see how you can fill me with the glory of that sunset sky.’ And the master says, ‘Yield and you shall see.’”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.