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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley Dig-a-Bit Podcast

Glorying in Rebellion (Authority M11E01)


Dig-A-Bit is a weekly mini Bible study with Cindy Colley. It supplements the Digging Deep Bible study for women. In this episode, Cindy discusses how some may glory in rebellion against God. For more information about Digging Deep, visit TheColleyHouse.org.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

  • I Corinthians 5, 6
  • I Timothy 3, Titus 1, Acts 20:28

LINKS:

RESOURCES:

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep 2019-2020… Make Plans, Influence People

I’m finishing up the final proof today of our new DD study that will begin on September 1st. This year, we will be announcing the topic during the weekend portion of Polishing the Pulpit in one of the ballrooms and on our livestream. I hope you’ll plan to join us whether you are in Sevierville, Tennessee for this event or at home viewing on your device.

I’m thinking this might be the best year yet (perhaps with the exception of the Shadows study) to invite your non-Christian friends along for the year of immersion into a study they will not soon forget. Like in previous studies, I’m praying there will be baptized believers, living faithfully for Him at the end of the upcoming study. It’s rich…not because of my small part in it, but because of its origin: God’s Holy Spirit.

Here’s a paragraph, on that note, from its introduction:

Let me go ahead and say that I believe this study is Holy-Spirit infused. I do. I believe when we are delving deeply into the Word of the Holy Spirit and putting that Word into our hearts as we study, that we are becoming ever more filled with the Holy Spirit. I believe that the God-breathed Word (2 Tim. 3:16) is the enabling force that bears in us the fruit of that Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). I believe He dwells in us that way. 

I hope you’re planning to join us in September. I hope, if you’ve previously started, but not ever finished a study, that this will be the year you make it to completion. (But, whatever portion you do, you’ll be blessed.) Most of all, I’m hoping that, whether you choose Digging Deep or you choose to dig deeply through some other study in the Word, you will be deeply in the Bible this year. If you’re digging deeply, daily and directionally, you’ll be discovering, doing, and dispensing His Will more than you ever dreamed possible.

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #5: Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls)

It was an extremely hot day when our weary little group looked over at the caves of Qumran. From our vantage point, we could see several of these caves where, preserved inside jars of clay, were discovered in the 1940s, 50s and 60s copies of many ancient texts. Most relevant to us was the fact that portions of every single Old Testament book, with the exception of Esther, were eventually found within these caves. 

It all started  in 1948, when a bedouin shepherd boy (a teenager), in an attempt to find a lost goat, tossed a rock down into a cave, to try and determine if there was life in the cave. The sound he heard from the cave was not the bleating of a goat, but rather the shattering of glass. The breakage was heard all around the religious world!

The significance of these manuscripts produced exultance in those who rejoice at all further evidence of the authenticity of the scriptures and it produced scorn in those who claim that the Bible is uninspired. This is because the copies of the Old Testament writings were about 900 years older than any known existing copies prior to 1948. 900 years!

The Isaiah scroll was the most complete Old Testament scroll found in the caves of Qumran. Almost the entire book of Isaiah was found. Amazingly, when compared to the manuscript that was previously known as  the oldest one (written about 900 years later), it was very close to exactly the same text…word for word. Remember, we are talking about documents originally copied by scribes between the years 68 BC and 250 AD!

Our God has said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words shall not pass away.” We, as His people believe we have the inerrant, plenarily inspired Word. But even the skeptics were aghast at the number of Dead Sea scrolls that contained Biblical text, the amazing way they were preserved, and the striking evidence they produced that what we are reading today is indeed the same text that was written by the original penmen.

As you can imagine, once the shepherd sold his new-found treasures (the first scrolls found) to an antiquities dealer (for about 28 dollars) and the world slowly caught on to the news about the scrolls, archaeologists wanted to dig  (and they did, finding 800-900 documents and over 50,000 fragments, along with what many believe was a “writing room”). Discoveries led them to believe that the documents were written and preserved by scribes of the Essenes, one of four distinct Jewish groups of the Roman period.  As conflict and war in the middle east interrupted the excavations, Jordanians seized the scrolls during the 6-Day War and kept them for a time. The government of Jordan is still attempting today to lay claim to the scrolls. 

God’s timing is always perfect. I’m thankful that my childhood was the one era of time into which the scrolls were introduced. Why did God allow those scrolls to be hidden for 2000 years? I do not know all about His reasons, but I do know that the leading nations of the world, including the United States and European countries, were, in the 1950s and 60s, launching into an era of unbelief like no era they’d ever known; an era that would lead them to the widespread acceptance of the Darwinian theory of evolution and a swift resultant revolt against time-honored codes of morality. All the while, God was shouting from dry bedouin caves in the Judean desert, “My Word shall never pass away.” His providential timing is perfect! 

Looking at these caves made me all the more excited to visit the Museum of Israel, where I would get to see some of the jars and some of the manuscripts found in them. That post will come soon!

Qumran lesson: Jars of clay were the preservation vessels. There were treasures awaiting discovery in the jars of Qumran. God can use an ancient scribe in exile, a young shepherd boy and a lost goat to reveal His powerful evidence. While I know that we are not the inspired writers  (as in the passage below) who had the treasure in their miraculously empowered minds, He can still use you and me, in a sense, as jars of clay today, to put the preserved Word in the hands of those who desperately need it. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:7-12)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #4: Masada

The story of Masada is one of the most fascinating extra-Biblical Jewish/Roman accounts  of all of the history of the Bible lands. Masada means fortress and this old fortress is located on a very steep hill, overlooking the Dead Sea, in the Judean desert. Thankfully, today there’s a cable car that carries groups of tourists from a visitor’s center up to the top of the mesa. But once we arrived on the fortress, it was easy to forget that we were visitors from another century, The events of 74 A.D.preserved for us in the writings of Josephus Flavius, became fully accessible to our imaginations. 

Herod the Great built the fortress (or at least re-made it for his purposes) during the third decade B.C.; in other words, around the time of the death of Jesus. Herod was a lot of things, but, above all, he was taken with himself and wrapped up in His own quest for power, often even to the point of psychotic narcissism. One can easily see this self-aggrandizement when looking at the remains of his two palaces here at Masada. They were large and luxurious. 

We could see three connected terraces, his personal bath and remains of his large personal bedroom in the Northern palace. There was another very large bath, nearby, probably used for the senior Masada officials in the days of Herod. It’s hard to imagine the opulence of the tile Mosaics and the spectacular views if you’ve not witnessed them personally. 

The wall of Herod’s Masada was 1400 meters long and 4 meters wide with rooms built in between the two parallel walls. The water supply in this dry wilderness was secured by large cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. We were told that one large rain, which generally occurred twice a year, could supply enough water for Masada’s residents for three years.  A snaking path/staircase provided an arduous way for inhabitants to go up and down when supplies were needed.  Very hardy visitors (who have ninety minutes to ascend) can still go up and down that pathway.

Being in that spot and hearing the story created questions in my mind that will never be answered, but to say that it was stirring, doesn’t adequately describe it. Of course, we know that the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., killing tens of thousands (perhaps even a million) Jews. Shortly before this destruction and well after the death of Herod the Great, some Jewish rebels overtook the Roman garrison at Masada. When the temple was destroyed they were joined by Jewish zealots fleeing Jerusalem. These outnumbered, but resourceful Jews held out against the Romans for three years high up on this hill in the desert. It is said that they actually had enough supplies to have lasted them ten years. But the Tenth Legion of the Roman army, led by Flavius Silva, was at last, by building a circumvolution wall, then erecting a ramp of mud and stone, and finally transporting a battering ram up the ramp, able to breach the mighty walls on the western side of the great Masada. 

Imagine being one of those Jewish women inhabiting one of the former Roman homes while the Roman Legion inched closer each day as they slowly built their ramp up the side of the hill. Imagine savoring the days with your children, knowing that they were likely coming to an abrupt end, and very soon. Perhaps you had fled three years earlier from the home in which you were raised in Jerusalem, during the time when Titus conquered and bathed your home city in the blood of your kinsmen. Now, for three months you watch from the highest point in the desert, as the Romans, with a steely determination to extinguish the last of the rebels, construct the rams which will eventually crash through the walls of the fortress behind which you have spent the last three years.  You know that their plan is to come into Masada to kill every last one of the Jews who have become a close-knit community of about 960 people. As they get closer to the top of the hill, you can see that, as you suspected, most of the work is being done by your own kinsmen; Jews who were taken captive in the destruction. Perhaps you even recognize some of the ramp builders.

When it becomes evident that the western wall will be breached and your life will be taken, you hear the decision that’s been made by the leader of your party of Zealots. His name is Elazar ben Yair and here are his words: 

Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice … We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.

So you prepare to die. 

According to Josephus, all the lives of all of the inhabitants were taken before the wall was breached. Fires were ignited and the Jews killed one another. Husbands bade their wives and children goodbye and then cut their throats.  Lots were cast to determine ten men to kill the remaining patriarchs of families. Then they chose one man to kill the other nine of those who were charged with the mass killing. Finally, that lone man committed suicide, as he had agreed before the killing began.

When the Romans finally and exultantly entered the mighty fortress to kill and plunder, they found no living people, save two women and five children who had hid in an underground cave. 

This account, recorded by Josephus, has recently been the subject of much scrutiny. Many believe the account was embellished and that not nearly 960 Jews perished at Masada. But, since his account is the only written account of the events of 74 A.D. at Masada, and since he was a successful historian, captured by the Romans and detailing history in the service of Rome (as well as being governor of Galilee), credibility is due his account. There’s much evidence to point to the fires and the suicides of at least some inhabitants prior to the Romans’ entry into the fortress. Of course, the massive ramp, the remains of which still exist, attests to the method of Roman entry. 

Sitting in the lavish synagogue, built there by Herod (not that he was by any means a devout Jew, but, rather, he built the synagogue for political purposes), I mused on so many facets of the tragic events that unfolded as the Jews’ last hold-out against the Romans lay under siege and finally was destroyed, as the enemy breached the wall and found the bodies of the self-slain Jews. I thought about the three skeletons that were found in the bathhouse—those of a man, a woman and a child. I walked through that bathhouse as I heard about the woman’s still beautifully-braided hair and the preserved sandals next to her. I listened as we were told about the bits and pieces of the man’s armor, probably taken from the Romans in an earlier skirmish by the rebel Jews. I pondered the ornately decorated room, in the Western palace, a palace that covered an entire acre…decorated with beautiful mosaics…the room that was likely the Masada throne room of the Herod. This was the same Herod who found it in his heart to kill the baby boys at the time of the birth of the Savior (along with the killings of several members of his own royal household, including his wife.) He vacationed and found refuge (at least physical refuge) here, at Masada. I contemplated the contrast between the lavish lifestyle flaunted by Herod in those two sumptuous palaces and the stench of death that greeted the Roman legion as they forced their way through the breach in the double wall. How much can change and how quickly in the fulfillment of the will of God!

As I heard about the events of 74 A.D. from the state of Israel in this Jewish national park, I naturally felt compassion for the Jews in this last hold-out atop this steep hill. The signs, literature and guides’ messages were all geared to elicit compassion and sympathy for the Jews of the mass suicide.  Anytime there’s death and suffering, of course, it’s grievous. 

But there’s one important aspect about what occurred at Masada that all Christians should remember. God had planned, since the inception of Israel, for the nation to be a vehicle through which Christ could come and through which Christianity could be born. The sweet redemption that we have in Christ, of necessity, called for the fulfillment of Judaism and the end of the law of Moses. The destruction of Jerusalem (and other outposts of organized Jewish nationalism) was the fulfillment of both Old and New Testament prophecies and signaled the end of the Mosaic era, ushering in the age of Christianity. 

Further, what happened at Masada was the punishment of God on a nation that rejected Him, over and over again. Israel was a nation that had enjoyed God’s favor and then committed spiritual adultery on numerous occasions. The ultimate slap in the face of God was the rejection of God in the flesh, the Messiah, by the very people God honored to bear the seed of the Holy Spirit to the world. 

John the Baptist had prophesied of the destruction of the Jewish nation only a few years prior, calling it the “wrath to come” and saying that even then (as he spoke), the “axe was laid at the root of the tree” (Matthew 3:7-10).   Matthew 24: 21 contains the Lord’s warning about the impending destruction of the Jews, saying that the upcoming tribulation would be greater than anything that had ever been or that ever would be. Masada was, though immediately a Roman conquest of a rebellious people, more importantly, the promised judgment of God on a people that had rejected Him over and over, most recently putting to death the very Son of God!

Masada was, as it were, the period at the bottom of the exclamation point regarding the final end of Judaism. There could be no remaining Jewish strongholds; no acceptable religion clinging to the Mosaic law. God absolutely worked through the tragedy of Masada in 74 A.D. to finalize the end of Judaism and administer promised judgment on the Jews. That  finalization at Masada simply had to occur, for our salvation.  God worked through a powerful Roman army, a battering ram that could breach a fortress wall, and the mass suicide that occurred inside the walls to accomplish His purpose. I’m thankful that His overriding purposes always come to fruition. 

Masada’s lesson: The judgment of God on those who fail to submit to His authority is sure. What was prophesied in the first half of Matthew 24 happened to the Jews in vivid and tragic reality in A.D. 66-74. But what was prophesied in the last half of the chapter for those who reject today is just as sure:

…the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24: 50-51).

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #3: Beersheba

It was still our first full day of traveling in Israel. During the early afternoon we saw the ruins of a civilization that played a role of major importance in Bible History from the time of Abraham to the close of the Old Testament: Beersheba. First named by Abraham in Genesis 21, its name means “well of the oath,” thus named because of the oath made with Abimelech. (Photo below is an Iron age well in Beersheba, but very reminiscent of the wells of Abraham. It doesn’t take long to figure out in this Negev desert why there were contentions over the wells. Water is a valuable commodity, to this day, in this part of the world.)  This was the wilderness where Hagar went to die (Gen.21). Both Isaac and Jacob lived there (Genesis 26 and 28) and it became a part of the inheritance of Simeon when the promised land was allocated to the tribes in Joshua 19.

Located in the center of the Negev desert, Beersheba is mentioned in scripture often as the southernmost point of Israel: “from Dan to Beersheba.” The ruins we saw were primarily those from the period of the divided kingdom; the period archaeologists call the Iron Age. Looking out over those wells they dug, seeing the four room homes they lived in and descending into a cool cistern (pictured below) built during the period of the Biblical divided kingdom had a way of making this Christian woman feel very connected to the people who formed the conduit through which the Savior would enter the world.  

Significantly, I Samuel 8:2 tells us that Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abiah, were judges in Beersheba. Verse three tells us that they failed to walk in the way of Samuel, but rather took bribes and perverted judgment. This was in direct violation of Deuteronomy 16: 18-19. The Israelites clamored for a human king at this time, in a bold-faced rejection of their current king, Jehovah, using the depravity of Joel and Abiah as the catalyst excuse for rejecting God: Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations (vs 5).

So the rejection of God as king and the establishment of a kingdom with a human leader, as God had predicted in the latter half of Deuteronomy 17, began right there in Beersheba with the perversion of the sons of Samuel. As I looked out over the ruins of a once great civilization, I could not help but think about the huge and negative ramifications that always occur when parents fail to instill within their children a deep and abiding respect for authority. 

 Of course, the back story to what happened in I Samuel 8, when the people used the rebellious sons of Samuel as their justification for rejecting God’s system of judges, is found much earlier in the book of 1 Samuel. It’s in chapter two, where the sons of Eli the priest were fornicating with women at the door of the tabernacle, greedily taking the fat of the meat offerings against the commands of God, and, in general showing they “knew not the Lord” (vs. 12). In chapter two we see some weak efforts of rebuke on the part of Eli toward his sons, but in chapter three, the Word plainly says that Eli “restrained them not” (vs 13). 

It’s important to notice that this household, in which sons were not restrained, was the one in which Samuel grew up. What he learned about parenting, he almost certainly had to learn from Eli. So, when it was time for Samuel, himself, to display the backbone of a nurturing father, he failed miserably, and his failure was a significant part of the crystallization of a national rejection of the authority of God. 

So there I was, looking out over Beersheba, thinking about this place where the sons of Samuel were taking the bribes. I could see the ruins of the ensuing kingdom that looked to a human head, rather than the Lord, as king. I thought about the remains of that horned altar found inside storehouse walls (storehouse walls  and altar shown in photos ) in this spot–an altar made of well-dressed stones (an obvious center of idolatry); likely destroyed by Hezekiah or Josiah.I saw the well-defined rooms of houses; houses is which mothers sang lullabies and children played games, and I thought about the ultimate destruction that came upon them all in 701 B.C. at the hand of the Assyrians.

Lesson from Beersheba: Massive national declines and disasters begin in seemingly small ways when parents fail to instill principles of authority in their children.

How parents in America today need the lessons from Beersheba!

  

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Independence Day: Still on the Block

It was a bright summer morning and the small talk of the neighborhood could be heard as I meandered through the crowd that had gathered in the yard of the old home on the corner of 5th and Madison. The old couple had been married for more than 50 years, but all of the laughter and love, trials and tears that were a part of this old home place had been reduced to an echoing memory. The porch was cluttered with the “stuff” of this now vacant house and the people, some who had known its inhabitants, some who were dealers in antiques, and some who were just curious about the goings on of an auction, were milling about and browsing through the musty smelling memorabilia turned merchandise. The clock had been ticking at the base of the big staircase for all of the old man’s life and all of his father’s and…well, now no one seemed to care. Dealers examined its old Seth Thomas label and tried to determine what it would bring. There were quilts that had been stitched at quilting bees in the old parlor and there was even one that had been a wedding gift to Great Grandmother, but it had been removed from the old rope bed in the guest room and thrown in a big pile of bed linens on the floor of the wooden porch.

At ten o’clock sharp the gavel came down and the auctioneer began to chant. His call was intriguing and it was easy to become lost in his song and hardly even notice the items as they were sold, one by one, to the highest bidder. Wardrobes, dressers, watches, dishes, tools, washtubs, crocks and hats with big boxes…all with numbers, sold to people with numbers, for dollar values. It all seemed such a thoughtless way for this old place to end. Yet the anxious bidders continued to nod with excitement as they anticipated taking home something that had caught their fancies.
The grandfather clock was different, though. At first, the dealers bid quickly against one another, until one by one, they were eliminated. Finally one of the bidders found himself bidding against an old white haired lady who stood solemnly on the bottom porch step . As I glanced her way, astonished at her persistence in bidding against the wealthy dealer, I saw a tear roll down her cheek. Knowing then that the clock was more to her than an investment, I strolled over as she held up her number, relieved that her competitor for the prized clock had finally relinquished it. “You see,” she said, “that’s my father’s clock…No price is too high.”

Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from the Saturday morning auction that is a part of Southern Americana. I doubt that the couple who ambitiously worked , played and raised their children in this old house ever gave serious consideration to the fact that one day this house and all of its contents would be listed on an inventory and sold to strangers. None of the members of this family would have ever considered selling out; not just a few years ago. But now things are different and it’s a little easier, now that the old folks are gone. It’s not so hard to watch the items go, one by one, knowing that each one is bringing its fair price. Life is changing and so these remnants of another time, are slowly bartered, and with them goes the recollection of the way things used to be.

There’s a sense in which we as Americans are witnessing an auction. It’s a grand estate…this home we call America and many sacrifices were made through the years to maintain it. It has weathered many a storm and has been a haven of freedom and happiness for generations.

Times are changing and those who built the house have long been gone. The “stuff” of this house is on the porch and the auctioneer is chanting to the crowd. One by one the” pieces” of this old home are placed on the auction block. Several of the most valuable and memorable items have already been sold and the prices they have brought have paled in comparison to their true value. Someone can recall a time when purity filled this old home, but alas it has already been sold out to immorality. Fidelity was a foundational part of the house, but it has been replaced and so the auctioneer sold it cheaply. Hard work and its rewards have stood side by side in the house for generations, but, alas they, too, have been split into small lots and are being sold a little at the time. The Word of God was the centerpiece of this old dwelling. How many memories emerge from its use in this place! The children were taught daily from its pages and the family gathered around it each night before bed. For years, now, though it has been unopened and forsaken on the shelf. Life without it just hasn’t been the same. It was placed in a box and auctioned off as a box lot along with public prayer, the sacredness of marriage, the leadership of fathers and the value of mothers in the home. Life is changing!

As a matter of fact, it is time for the bartering of life, itself. Could it be that the value of life itself could be defined by a mere crowd of bidders gathered around the front porch? They are always there in every auction crowd… those who take no thought for the real intrinsic value of an item… those whose interest in the piece is merely mercenary. Could it be that no one who remembers where this life came from, to whom it belonged in the very beginning, will even enter a bid? Doesn’t the thought of the real value of this precious article come to the mind of someone who recalls that it was a gift given by the Father before this house was even built? Which merchant in this thronging crowd can presume to know the value of this entity called life?

“What am I bid?” calls the auctioneer.

As a tear rolls slowly down my cheek, I enter a bid from the steps of the porch. You see, this is my house. That is my Father’s. And no price is too high.
“Thou hast granted me life…” Job 10:12

Article by Cindy Colley as first published in Christian Woman Magazine, Gospel Advocate, Nashville, TN