There is a lot of talk these days about being stressed, sad or overwhelmed. There is another crowd who claims to be “blessed” no matter what is going on in the world around them. It can seem artificial at times when you know they are going through just as many problems as you are going through. So, what is true? The Pixar movie Inside Out (which I love) lets us know that all emotions are necessary throughout our lives and basically if we suppress them, they will pop out in other ways. Your issues become your tissues is the phrase I have heard recently regarding one’s emotions and stifling them. In this book we will see the full range of human emotions. Can we be blessed even if we do not feel happy in the moment? 

Whenever I read the first few Psalms, I am reminded to dig deeper into Gods ways and His heart and if I do, I am promised many things such as being a well- watered tree that brings forth fruit in due season (Ps.1). Then there are the Psalms of going to the House of God – always inspiring. When I am feeling discouraged or lonely I enjoy the songs of Lament. When I have been in a war zone physically or spiritually. I like to read the warfare Psalms. Psalms of restoration, repentance, and renewal – all of them can be applied to our daily lives.

But what about this quest for being blessed or happy? Are there levels of that? I heard a joke recently on the radio that asked, “what is the difference between a pizza  and God?” “You can top a pizza but you can’t top God”.  Did you know that McDonalds Happy meal came out in 1977? The origin of it is “complicated” according to their history but they say the first was in the shape of a circus wagon with toys, a drink, fries, and a hamburger. You could buy happiness – either in the form of food or a toy. Those who bought it were happy and those who did not were, I guess, supposed to be sad. For the first time we equated being happy with buying a product or ingesting food. This is the start of rewarding with calories. I do not know if the buyers were as happy when they checked their cholesterol as adults!

Well, last week my teenagers told me about Wendys coming out with their Biggie Bag. It came with no promise of happiness. This week the $5 meal deal came back to McDonalds. In a tough economic slump, it was a spot of joy – until Wendys TOPPED it. They went above and beyond and added, a drink or a FROSTY!!! That’s like a Happy Meal on steroids. A frosty? Serious, not just an extra French fry or lukewarm pie but actual ice cream. They should call it the Happier Meal. Lol. They somehow tapped into our real desire for a happy lunch! It is not just that we want a cheaper meal, we want something of value that costs something, right? We were now blessed beyond measure. It was bigger than we could have imagined.  We did not deserve it but we were blessed – with a bonus. Extra, above and beyond what was expected. The Psalmist David shares with his readers how “extra,” “above and beyond” God was to him. He describes many wonders in the Heavens and great deeds but also lets us know that God was the one who could clean his filthy heart. David tells us in the Psalms that God not only cleaned his heart but exchanged it for a pure one. We are not sure how He does all this, but we are forever grateful that He does. No wonder David praised Him! Over the top Joy comes from this over the top God.

The Biblical view of happiness is rooted in Gods benevolent care of us. In Psalm 144 we read, “happy is the man whose God is the Lord.
Happy is that people, who is in such a case: yes, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. Blessed and happy are similar concepts in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word for happy/blessed is eser. It means to be happy and blessed. The conditions to be happy and blessed come after the author states we are to follow after God and get to know Him. We get to be happy not because we buy a Happy Meal (or Biggie Bag with Frosty) or  get good grades or do remarkable things. We are happy in Jesus because we have surrendered to God the Lord. He cares for us as a Shepherd and provider. We have chosen to be obedient to this good Gods’ ways. It is more than an emotion; it is a state of yielding that yields rewards – Frosty size.

If I renamed the book of Psalms, I would call it the book of Emotions because it literally covers all of them. It is the true pouring out of one’s soul to a God who longs to hear and answer our hearts pleas. It demonstrates that the God we pray to understands our emotions, feelings, anxieties, and joys. Whether we sing, play, or verbally express what is going on, it delights the Lord.

Exercise: If you hum or sing a song in the morning and repeat it in a few different places, by the end of the night you will hear this song back either in your house or the restaurant or the grocery store. How do I know this? I have tested it several times. It is amazing. Please test it out and share the results with me. Pick a basic song like God is good or Sweet Hour of prayer and see how far the song travels. Psalms, hymns, and songs of praise not only impact us in our spirits and souls, but they reach others.

We were getting rid of clutter from our house recently. It was a hot summer day, and I was weary. The dust affected my eyes, the heavy boxes made my back sore, and I was just in a sour mood. One of my sons’ friends came by to help us in our dilemma. He is a great guy and his support encouraged us but then, oh in that moment as we were walking down the stairs to go to our van, he started to hum, then began to sing the Words, “He’s worthy, the Lord is worthy…” I do not remember all the words and I do not know if I have ever heard that specific song but guess what? My eyes were lifted to the King instead of my frustration. My heart was lifted to the One who is worthy rather than my pain. The atmosphere changed, we changed. He pointed us back to where our hearts remember there is a loving God in control of all our situations and life paused and God came near. It was not a whole song; it was just a tiny portion of a song while he was walking down some stairs, that gave glory to Jesus. Ooo, there is a worshipper in the house, someone who knows they can call on God. Someone who remembers He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Someone who remembers they are a child of the King. It was only a few words, just a few bars of music and my spirit stood at attention and my heart leaped with joy when I was brought nearer to my Lord. Psalms refresh us, they remind us, they cause us to remember what the world muffles and distracts us to forget. A two second utterance of praise to God, in a brief moment stirred my spirit and yielded more praise.

We read Psalms this month and studied them in four sections:

Week 1- Psalm 1-35

Week 2: Psalm 36-71

Week 3: Psalm 72- 110

Week Four: Psalm 111-150

You can go systematically through the Psalms until you land on Psalm 150 where David (in a crescendo and on a macro level) encourages everyone to play every type of music with every type of instrument all day long. He uses several imperatives to tell us, “You must praise Him now.” He tells us to praise God in the sanctuary and in the heavens. We are to praise Him for His great acts of power and surpassing greatness. We are to praise Him with dancing, cymbals, and joy. We hear the invitation to come praise God throughout the Psalms but here, with the most intense verbs possible, we are told it is an imperative command to praise Him with every form, every dance, every instrument for ALL that God has done. If we do not see what He has done, we cannot praise Him for it. If we do not pause to remember or acknowledge these great deeds, they will go unnoticed and not proclaimed. It is not just the weak or great that are to praise Him, it is everything and everybody that has breath. Breath is the most foundational and basic element that we can thank God for giving us. If you doubt that hold your breath for a few minutes and see what life is like without it. ALL of Gods’ creation is given orders to praise HIM with everything possible.

You can also study the Psalms at a micro level – pick one word such as Zara (zawraw in Hebrew). It is a tiny little word in Psalm 139:3. It means to winnow, scatter and search. In English it is compass – “Thou compassest my path…” in verse three it means to scatter. It expresses intensive or causative action. Perhaps God is sifting the content of our path or perhaps He scattered good seed that will spring up when we get to that point in our path, but it lets us know that He is actively concerned about our paths. His loving kindness covers us and our paths! That is involvement and care. I praise Him that He knows exactly where we are and where we are headed. Even my path matters to God.

At times we need to move our feet and hands to remind our minds and bodies that God is worthy of praise. At other times the beat, the words of music carry us back to the throne where we remember our God is in control. Whether we “bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within  me” or “praise the Lord in His sanctuary” because it is the time of worship we are standing in covenant with God, proclaiming His goodness to ourselves, our friends and the world that God alone is Lord.

I hope you enjoy this book with your toes, your elbows, your musical sense, your instruments, your dance, all your emotions and every breath you take from here on. May you remind yourself and others of His goodness. May you remember His love and mercy. May you experience His grace.

Singing Hallelujah with you,





“There’s something comforting about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing.”


There are many types of fights in this world, such as Good Vs. evil, man vs. beast, mosquito vs. camper, Trump vs. Alvin Bragg and Mike Tyson Vs. Jake Paul. Maybe you are in a battle today – arthritis vs. your hips, cancer vs. your future, slander vs. your reputation. It can be a small battle such as getting a toddler to put on a TUTU or a major battle such as convincing the whole world that Israel was given the land by God centuries ago.

A Sunday school song says, Big or little, large or small, we can trust God with it all….

But can we?

What if God, like Mike Tyson, is getting old with Sciatica? What if with all the modern technology and wisdom, we are now wiser, smarter than our celestial Dad in the Heavens? After all, we have Google now. It’s a question some may think, even if they don’t say it. Jake Paul wants to take on one of the greats and to show him what muscle the new kid has, in a stadium for all to see.  It’s true, he’s got some pumped up muscles, but not the seasoning of the knockout King –Mike Tyson. I doubt people would put up money to question or fight God but many still doubt His power. Even within the church.

After reading Job for many years, it is starting to make sense, now that I have two teenagers. They question everything and want to tell us what new things they know and what new skills they have to compare with our old, decrepit, outdated wisdom that surely will not suffice in the new era. While they have and will learn new things, the wisdom and understanding to use that knowledge will only come after time and experience. When we compare our miniscule earthly burdens with problems like keeping the ocean from flooding the earth or the sun from dropping out of the sky, God still comes out smarter and always will. His track record remains strong.

When things get tough in our little world, we tend to buckle. You’ve been there, trying your best, struggling to survive and then the bottom falls out. In the middle of an otherwise glorious month–you get the bill, or the diagnosis or the arrival of an unbearable situation and rather than your family, friends or church surrounding you, they scatter. Some may examine, judge or give advice — with chemotherapy strength, when you’re suffering with a wound that only requires a little love and a Band-aid. Or perhaps it’s the other way around and you need chemotherapy, but they just offer empty words. After all the noise, you are more miserable than before. What do we do, how do we respond when trials come our way?

At the very beginning of his trial, Job had the perfect response – get with God, fall down on the ground and worship Him. He didn’t charge God with wrong but after his friends two cents, and some stinkin thinkin, he could not figure out how God had the audacity to charge him. Prove to me why I’m being disciplined God! So, he starts to deflect, project and justify himself. His anxious friends were trying to find the sin, the culprit,  the spiritual warfare that caused all this. The speculation just caused more layers of confusion. They sat with him, they listened to him. Maybe they should have worshipped and trusted Gods’ character and ability instead? Sometimes bad things do happen to good people– because they are good, because God, the One in control has a better plan. If that does not fit into our theology maybe its time to take up Gods Word instead.

Note Jobs friends– They wait, they pray, they listen for a long time. When Job doesn’t get instantly “super-fixed”, they start to panic and then start to blame Job and defend Gods’ name (as if a supreme being would ever need to be defended). In their effort to appease their own anxiety or “get God off the proverbial hook”, they descend into bad theology with “you must have done something”, “you didn’t claim or decree something enough” and the list goes on.

We rarely see God as angry or wrathful but, in this book, He has wrath – for Jobs friends’ bad advice and cheap opinions. God has wrath and anger, He’s not a sweet Santa, He is just and punishes sin. We need people to know God, the real God from scripture. One day that just Judge will return, and make all wrongs right.

When the suffering continues, Job is left with some options. His wife tells us the first one – Suicide, which is never a desirable choice. “Curse God and die”, she says. Ending one’s life causes more damage and puts blame on innocent people. It’s the worst choice. It rules out any hope that God will move in the future which is serious deception. It shows that the person has very little regard for God or His power. Imagine believing that nothing could change in the next five hours or 50 years. I change apps on my phone weekly, schedules change for big fights and games daily, people change their minds in restaurants hourly. My teenage son can change outfits by the minute when getting ready to go out. Surely the God of the Universe can change a life situation within the scope of His influence and our depravity. We must believe God is capable of changing our situations. IT WON’T ALWAYS BE THIS WAY. I love the quote by Maya Angelou, “Every storm runs out of rain.”  We need to remind ourselves and others of this. People do not intrinsically know these things. There is HOPE in God, the One who is in control over our past, present and future. He’s not limited to just observing and then remaining at a calloused distance. He’s got this and is not shaking His head, nor wringing His hands with worry.

If you struggle with suicide, please call The Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They have options for Veterans, and other special groups. Calling your local church or hospital are also valuable resources.

The next set of nonsense advice Jobs friends gave him was that JOB was ultimately to “blame” because of some sin in his life. This placed condemnation on top of him which doubled his trouble. I remember being a young adult and making the decision to switch churches. It was a multi-layered decision. During that time, I had a leg injury and was scheduled for amputation. People told me God was judging me because I had changed churches. Pretty serious consequence, losing a leg for wanting to go someplace where they worshipped longer.  Seriously, where do these crazy ideas come from? Because I did not know Gods word or character, I wrestled with that for a long time. I got serious about theology and Gods heart and have spent many years after that helping people understand spiritual abuse and systems that are not Christ focused. Gods’ perspective is higher, sweeter and produces fruit, not sorrow.

The word of God is essential to me because it will connect people with either a true version of Jesus or a butchered up, evil version of Him. We can only see the real version if we spend time in the real Bible. My trial was a dark time, but the physical pain was no where near the heart pain from people who were seriously misguided and misrepresented Gods’ character. Sometimes Gods’ people are the worst “marketers” for God’s grace and goodness. I wonder to this day if they know Him. Really know Him. We are called to minister to people in their pain and trials – not to meddle, manipulate or masquerade as Gods messengers. It is always a good idea to point people to HIM.

On top of the trials, Job was then left to question if God was caring and compassionate or aloof and cruel. He did not have the benefit of reading Genesis 1 which states God is GOOD and makes ALL things GOOD. Our God is not cruel or capricious but is fair and not willing that any should perish. Jobs friends were long on opinion and short on love. 

Another way Job could respond and fight this fiery trial was to remind God of all of his (Jobs) good works. Why, he had fed the poor… Job had prayed for many. How dare God mess with me, He owes me! He expected treatment commiserate with his good works, possibly thinking that was his relationship with God= special class. Those works justified him right? He had not read that God rains on the just and the unjust or that Jesus died for ALL. He was presenting himself as more righteous than others and more merciful than God. The tone of his story changes when God is being accused falsely and does not see Job as justified. It accuses God of partiality at the very least.

We must remember that the Judge that Job is pleading with is not an earthly judge that is unjust, unbalanced, or petty. He is not a lower court judge that one day decides truth counts and another day that is does not. This is the highest Judge in the land and with Him all decisions are FINAL. The ONE we appeal to, is not Republican or Democrat, paid for by Soros or swayed by the latest news cycle. He does not answer to Donald Trump or Joe Biden – HE IS GOD. As God, He guarantees to reign in righteousness.

Let me remind us all that in a culture of false narratives, sneaky deceptive politicians and angry, bitter naysayers –that God is fair, just, impartial and holy. Then and now. You can read thru Jobs reactions and attempts to get God to answer to him – to no avail. The God who speaks and hears does so in His timing, not ours, not how much we rally, whine and pout.

God, like a patient parent, comes in and shows Job who is really the boss, really the ultimate Champion. Like a good parent who does not answer their teenager according to their folly but according to their love and wisdom, God gives Job a lesson in being His servant. Job repents, not of his drummed-up charges of sin but of his weaker, lower view of God. God IS caring and good, God IS Just and God retains His authority and justice by not having to answer or explain His ways to ANYONE. Not MSNBC, CNN, FOX –or random friends.

God had brought some things to Job for him to endure. Whatever the purpose we are unsure,– but in the end, it caused Job to declare – “with my ears I have heard of you but now, now my eye sees YOU; therefore, I repent in dust and ashes”. Wow.

Moldable, bendable, yielding Job then prays for and blesses his friends and gets blessed beyond measure. We then see hospitality and fellowship rather than isolation and accusation. Right relationship, right alignment with God and His Kingdom, right view of true servanthood. We also see Job give his new sons and most beautiful daughters an inheritance – a sign of equal blessing and fairness even in this very early book of the Bible. Old Testament Job was fair and just– because His God was fair and just. The family was altered, Job was altered, his legacy was altered, for the better.

May we learn a higher view of God and His ways. A true view rather than a corrupted view based on the culture around us or our insecurities about the true strength of God. He is good and compassionate; He is fair and just. He is eternal and powerful. He is the ultimate Judge and can be trusted. Ultimately, we are HIS servants. While we pray for those around us who are not convinced or face the issues like Jobs friends did, we continue to pray for them while pressing on to what God requires of us.

Lord, here we are, YOUR servants and we believe that YOU are Good, Compassionate and JUST. Always, in every circumstance or trial, we worship YOU.



The Book of Esther 


“I cannot defend myself.”  “I have no way to protect myself.” “I’m unarmed and vulnerable.”

These words may sound familiar as we have heard them on the news recently, but they were the cries of Mordecai and Esther and their people when the edict was given to kill all Jews. It wasn’t just a news clip – it was their actual lives at stake. When governments block people or there is a perception that the law of the land is not just, people cower and courage sinks. This week, we have seen pictures splashed over the nightly news of politicians, students and even police officers – helpless, vulnerable, and shaken. That takes a toll on our collective psyche. In the middle of all of this I noticed the similarities to this very story and how many years later the animosity still lives. While I would like to address these issues, that is not the purpose of the blog so I will move on, but I recommend this becomes part of the discussion as you delve into the fascinating book of Esther.

It seems like a very violent and retaliatory book. It seems callous  to our Western world mindset. That is probably because our lives are not daily threatened. It  is hard to relate when we sit in our comfortable, safe homes and our military fights for us. The reality came closer as we watched North Carolina police officers shot in the line of duty this week. We hope and pray that “good guys” win but it does not always work out that way.  Not all of the world is at peace. I read a quote today from Golda Meir that said, “You cannot negotiate peace with someone who has come to kill you.” Now more than ever, we are stepping into the realm of possibility for how Esther and Mordecai may have felt. Without divine interruption or a “God-cident” they were destined to die.

While studying for the blog, I paused to pray, and the song Graves into Gardens came on the radio. It is very appropriate for this story! God takes the impossible and creates miracles. He responds to prayer; He answers fasting and intercession. Our heroes risk their lives, our heroines risk their lives. Not just in the movies but daily in our neighborhoods and states. Surely, our just due or part would be at the very least intercessory prayer.

Jewish Mordecai and Jewish Hadassah lived in Susa, the capital of Shushan. They for all accounts were peaceful people, minding their own business. An evil man, remembered for his inflated ego, named Haman decided to try to make them bow to him, to honor him and when they did not (because God was higher), he not only plotted their demise (hanging on the gallows) but made plans to annihilate their entire people group. Not just bad guys, or criminals but moms, dads, teens, and babies. His power grab was so intentional, and he was so thirsty for revenge he was going to wipe out an entire group of people – because they were Jewish. The hatred ran deep, and scholars tell us it was because the feud started years prior. It was an ancient feud between Saul and Agag, the Amalekite King. Samuel 15 displays the disobedience that was the seed for this story. Tribes, gangs, political parties, church or family feuds – there’s good instructions in these verses.

Instead of reconciliation, people took sides. Instead of forgiveness, healing and talking, people slandered, assumed, gathered enemies and the thing grew. We can imagine this large scale because of the Holocaust. What I cannot understand is that many have forgotten that dark part of history. Some have even denied it happened. Annually the Jews celebrate Purim – a remembrance and celebration of the events of Esthers life and yet people across our nation today have forgotten it. Jewish history is Gods’ history and Jesus’ history as well. Throughout Esther, we will hear that the “fear of Mordecai” was on them. What that meant was the people found out that behind Mordecai was a strong and powerful God who defended him. He could not defend himself – but his God, could and did! Seasons change, leaders may change but God does not.

There is no way possible to skirt around the stories then or the stories now. To remember (zakar) in Hebrew is to recollect and repeat something in order to prevent it from happening again.  IF that had been done with the book of Esther, perhaps the first Holocaust would have been prevented. It’s a book about a princess, hardly theology some may argue. IF we read the truths of the Holocaust and understood the stories it would have given insight to the current crisis in the middle east. The Bible is not just a religious book – it is also a history book and war manual. One that has worked through the ages. One that is filled with wisdom.

I’ll leave the current event debates up to the media, but as for the book of Esther – God saw, God heard, and God moved. You cannot read this book without acknowledging the God of unusual circumstances and providence. It was not serendipitous- it was God ordained. Some have even said the name of Yahweh is spelled out in the first letters of the Hebrew text. I am not sure if that was intentional or not, but I do know that you can’t read this intense book without seeing a great and mighty God through its entirety- He is everywhere for anyone truly looking for Him. “GOD – cidences” can be seen on every page.

I studied providence and sovereignty while studying this book and found that there are few mentions of either word, in the entire Bible. Yet, no one can deny that something was taking place in this that is, well, not human. What does that mean for us today, now? It means our times are in His hands. It means we were not left up to some cosmic soup to figure us out. It means He has a purpose and a plan– even when we cannot see it clearly.

Those who cannot defend themselves – should be allowed to, whether that is in regard to their lives or their defense. Innocent and fragile people should be protected from death and those who are aware of it should speak up. There seems to be some common threads in this story with today’s headlines. We can pray for the fear of God to saturate our country. We can fast and ask God to heal our nation and its leaders for three days. We know what to do and why. The only question is, WILL WE? Tomorrow is the day of prayer across the nation, and it is symbolic and powerful but what will move the hand of God like Esther did, is


pure obedience and seeking Gods’ face for its’  salvation. Now is the time.


What will history record of you, of me, our actions? Will we be remembered like Saul, living in partial obedience, or will we be fully committed and ready?

True, we can hide our heads in the sands and pretend we do not hear or understand. We can brush it off and some other person will step up. But surely, God will bring deliverance for His people. But, just maybe we have been born for such a time as this. Maybe speaking up for those who are silent is good. Maybe speaking up for those who are persecuted will also bring us salvation.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14

Instead of keeping this book as a historical book or memory– how does it impact your life? Do you have influence? Do you have a position? Do you have a title, or reach, or wealth? Ask God to use you for His glory and kingdom purpose now. You, along with others, can be greatly used. While God is not specifically mentioned, we all fully understood what is meant when Esther prayed for three days.

That stirring in your heart, that burning in your chest, that heavy hand on your shoulder? That is the Lord prompting you to do what you were born to do in this hour, at this time for HIM. 

Stepping forward with you,

Renae Roche 2024




I’m not much of a television watcher but I do enjoy watching S.W.A.T. In that particular television show two characters—Hondo and Deacon (and their team) are the good guys, and they work in their area of gifting to get people out of all kinds of messes. They also always win, so there’s that.  They are both leaders but in different roles. This is the first year I’ve read Nehemiah (whose name means the God who comforts) and realized that Nehemiah desperately needed the God of comfort because of all the attacks he faced, within and without. It’s easy to say “God is my comfort” when you sit in an Ivory Tower. It’s a whole other thing when you say it after trial, struggle, death threats and impossible circumstances.

Here are two leaders—Ezra who builds the Temple and Nehemiah who builds the wall. I now think that Nehemiah must also have had some serious bodyguard-like training to do the work he did in protecting the King. Guarding that cup from poison was serious business. We also see him later in the book as more rough guy than sanctified guy. Yet THIS is the guy that GOD chose. God wanted Nehemiahs’ exact skill set to get the job done.  Listen to what Nehemiah does in chapter 13, “I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair.” Now we know why Nehemiah was not called as a priest! He was rough around the edges, just like Peter. This guy took vacation days from work, he rallied military leaders and came in the cover of night to assess the wall and its damage. That’s serious reconnaissance work. We know he had courage because he was traveling in a broken-down city with broken-down walls at night. He had backup– but did not know what he was facing.  Ministry guys are very different from military guys and yet God used the combination to get the job done. Hoo-rah! The saying goes, “hire for your weaknesses, not your strengths,” is so true but many are not able to understand why that is so important.

All this work was done to guard the people but also to preserve and revive their word and worship. It was of utmost importance. Why? The Word reminds us of our covenant with God and the worship reminds us who God is and what He can do. It’s of paramount importance. We see Nehemiah and Ezra calling the people to repent, revive, restore and rebuild. It was a team effort.

In the middle of the book, the priest rises up and remembers what he is called to do. This secular builder inspires the man of God and then the men of God start building their houses, their neighbors houses and the work takes off more quickly than anyone would have realized. Seven trials later—we see Nehemiah starting to get battle fatigue. Maybe you understand that today also? You get in the journey and keep keepin’ on and then one day you just don’t see the point or remember the purpose. After all the spiritual warfare, no one would blame Nehemiah for slowing down or stopping. After all, fourteen years of arguing and torment and flat-out gossip would slow anyone down. But instead of quitting, Nehemiah makes room for Ezra to bring forth the Word, to worship. The scripture that shines forth in this book is “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.” Not ripped muscles or abs, not placement in the King’s palace, not credentials or family structure—the joy of the Lord is your strength! Everyone does a little something and the thing takes form, and the wall gets built and worship is renewed. Has God been your source of joy this week?

How do we firm up our spiritual wall? Get your house in order. Get your priorities in order—God first, family, knowing your call and the House of God. Repent, rebuild, renew, restore. When Word, Worship, and the House of God gets damaged or forgotten—people are devastated and moral decline is around the corner. Remember God! Remember His works! Remember what is important!

This past week some of my dreams have come back to life, much to my surprise. God has done things I did not think that were possible. I’m looking back in utter shock at some of the things I laid down in days of disappointment and wonder how I could ever have let those dreams or promises lose steam. Stoke the fire, feed the dream, get back the calling, don’t let another day go until you REMEMBER what God told you and what He wants to do in your life. 

While studying Nehemiah I listened to many good sermons and one of them, preached by Dr. Randall Smith said something that caught my attention—“when building listen not to the need, but the nudge.” He said there will be many needs in life but know your calling and what God is asking you to do. Follow the nudge, not the need. If the Holy Spirit is leading the work of rebuilding the people of God, the Spirit knows best. Ephesians 2:22 tells us, “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”  We are God’s new building project, and He wants to fill us with Word and Worship. 

If you are battle fatigued today, get revived in the Lord. Rest, refill, refuel, renew, repent and then find your nudge, your place of God calling you. He will fill in the where and why and how.

Nehemiah prays twelve times in this book. That was his secret to success. Prayer.

A family or church that does not pray together –will not see souls won or people restored. Spiritual work requires spiritual disciplines. Heavenly transformation does not come from skill or title but from God above. One commentator said it this way: His prayer helped him not to overreact and take revenge on his enemies. “The problem with doing God’s work is that sometimes we get so engrossed in attacking our enemies and defending ourselves that we have very little resource left for actual constructive work.”[1]

When falsely accused, the temptation is to stop or pause the work. The work for these folks ceased for fourteen years. That is a long time. If their enemies had asked questions, verified their assumptions, sought understanding instead of bearing false witness or accusations against their neighbors, the work could have continued. Nehemiah kept building through prayer and hard work. There are many lessons in this book for us today.

It reminds me of a little boy whose dad died when he as just seven years old, leaving him to care for his mom and two little sisters. He tried several jobs and traveled around cooking for various restaurant owners. When this little boy became a man, he was denied 1,009 times before he made his first sale. He kept going because he was not just building for himself but for his family. Well, 600 franchises later, Colonel Sanders sold his company for $2 million dollars and is ranked as one of the world’s most recognizable celebrities. He kept going despite the shut doors and false accusations. We must also. 

You have a purpose—whether others see it or not. You have a call – regardless of the opposition in your path. To follow God means we keep going. Memorize the following scriptures, get them down in your soul and keep on keepin’ on.

These scriptures remind us to keep building (ourselves and the work God has called us to do). Whatever comes your way DO NOT GIVE UP:

Ps. 90:17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

2 Cor. 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

Gal. 6:9 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Heb. 6:10 God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.

Why were these reforms so important? They needed to return to God being their joy. God being their strength. God being their focus.  What if the men decided to quit or take a break for a while? They were commanded to rise and build. I believe they rose up spiritually before they rose up physically.  We rise up spiritually through word, worship and delighting in God – not programs, events. Jesus is the cornerstone for ALL building. Wonky wall? Go back and find your cornerstone.  The setup for this holy city will put a theological emphasis in place before Jesus comes on the scene. Judaism will become  redefined not by rituals but by a renewed covenant, by repentance, by rebuilding, by restoring and those changes will welcome the Messiah. They got their spiritual agenda back on track, just in time. What is God setting your work, my work up for in the next decade? We can not see the importance now–but God can. Hondo had a Deacon, Nehemiah had an Ezra – find your co-laborers and then rise and build. The world is waiting, Messiah is returning….

Call someone today—ask them to be on your “wall”-building team for God’s plan for your life. Get prayer support, get resource support, get counseling support, whatever you need but KEEP MOVING FORWARD. No matter what nutty or brilliant person questions your motives or judges your call. GOD SEES. GOD KNOWS and it is GOD who will see you through.

Building with you, praying with you,




This month we are looking at the book of Ezra. His name means “helper,” “strength” or “Yahweh has helped.” This word is descriptive of God when we say He is the stone of help. In Hebrew its “Eben-Ezer.”  This word is also used for a wife, that she is a “helper” to her husband. Don’t think for a second though that this is just some meek servant. The context in each usage of the word refers to God and His ARMY. Imagine God’s huge army coming to assist, support and help YOU in your struggle. That’s enormous help! They would need it to finish what God had required. What is God requiring of you in this hour? Is that same supply of “help” available today?

Look for the big themes when you study Ezra—return, repent, rebuild, restoration, etc. Those words formed the blueprint for rebuilding the Temple and just happen to also be the exact words we need to rebuild the Church today. It is God’s blueprint.

God told His people that He was going to judge them for bad behavior.  If God speaks a warning, He is not playing. True prophecy is not just all bad news though—then or now. It usually contains some appeal that IF we do something demonstrating a turnaround, that God’s favor will return and even bless us. Zerubbabel is stirred by God and commissioned to go back to Jerusalem and build the wall. He not only obeys that call but takes his buddies with him. I don’t know if he begged them or gave them incentives. I don’t know if they heard from God also or just went along because he was their friend.  What I do know is the list of names of those who returned, because it appears in Ezra 2:2 and Neh.7:7.

These guys were commissioned to return and rebuild the temple back in Jerusalem. Maybe they thought this was their one big chance to return to their former homes, occupations, and Temple. Maybe this was their daily prayer until it was realized. But there was one who perhaps did not realize that this event was more about his daughter than it was about him. You see in the list of those who return there was a man who had adopted a little girl whose parents were either killed or died along the way. It’s possible he even returned and stepped into their lives when he returned. He was a godly man and promised to watch over the little girl. We are not told if she was in exile and returned with him or he returned to find her in need of a guardian but nevertheless Mordecai, perhaps the uncle of Esther is the Mordecai in that list.  On top of God using Mordecai to restore the Temple and return, he is granted to be a fill-in dad. Pure religion is this—to help the widow and orphan. Sometimes our moving into a new season is not for ourselves but for others. Whenever we step in to obey God and fulfill His plans, He tends to bless way more than we could think or imagine.

God answers Ezras prayers in chapter 8 when he requests traveling help and mercy. He has to move a large number of people. People who were traumatized and exiled. See chapter 8:23: “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer.” Not only was Ezra their spiritual guide, but he became their travel guide and mobile priest as well. Ezra demonstrated to the people around him that God was his helper. We got to see from the beginning to the end of his journey that God was beside him, assisting all the way.

There are many detours and distractions in their attempts to rebuild. Some cranky folks come along and impede the progress by saying the work was not authorized. It gained momentum and for FOURTEEN years the legitimate work is stopped. This work was stirred by God and sanctioned by the King. Those who stayed should have been thrilled God’s word was finally coming to pass but because they were not the ones leading the revival, they were jealous and tried to abort what Jeremiah had prophesied long ago. It’s also possible that when they were rebuffed with their help they rose up.  However, this did not stop God’s plan or prevent it from being fulfilled because God keeps His promises.

The original folks living in Jerusalem remind me of the prodigal son’s older brother—“but we’ve been here all along.” On the East Coast they have a category for that, they call it the “from here” or “come here” people. Well, the from here people in Ezra’s day did not want the “come here” people directing traffic! Both sides were Israelites and God’s people. All were needed for the rebuild. However, those who were exiled came back very different. Some had married, some had lost spouses, some had taken on Babylonian ways. They were more than a hot mess. The new leaders were shocked at the changes. Ezra got very disillusioned with the carnality of the people around him. Those who had made the long, hard journey now acted carnal, they talked wicked, they walked wicked. So, Ezra, disappointed, cries out to God and prays:

Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.  Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.“But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in His sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. . . .

Chapter 10 starts out saying, “While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.” This is a beautiful moment but here is where it takes a wrong turn: Neither God nor Ezra told the people to divorce. Malachi, a contemporary of Ezra, later sets the record straight by preaching that God hates divorce. In this moment someone comes up with an idea and they, in their own strength, are going to make things right. They then followed the suggestion of a man who was in the crowd. Not a revelation or leading from God after wise council, but the mere suggestion of a mere man.

 “Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

Their solution was to send away the women. Conversion, teaching is absent here.

In chaos, in spiritual warfare, in reflection of their own sin, that was their big idea. There is no evidence they sought God’s approval, even took a beat to pause and reflect on the implications for the wives and children! Reconciliation to prevent broken homes was not the plan. Shekaniah wanted the leaders to make a covenant. Note the difference between that and God making a covenant with them or them making a covenant with God at His direction. We make many vows, agreements in our lives but without God’s opinion or intervention it is just a human contract. Their “vow” to fix the problem was just as bad as the problem. Good works are different from God works.

We can appreciate that Ezra was a man of prayer. We can appreciate that he mourned over broken covenant and commandments. We can appreciate that rebuilding and restoration and repentance were part of his ministry—all good characteristics of a leader. Where we MUST stop short is that when he moves on to lead or let others lead in the flesh, it is not God’s heart that he was representing. Galatians tells us, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? In the effort to be holy, it got worse.

Zerubbabel rebuilds the temple, Nehemiah rebuilds the wall and Ezra takes on the spiritual and moral challenges to rebuild the people. All three of these leaders working together came close to the heart of what God was wanting for His people. In spite of the many pauses, misses and mistakes, their goal was eventually reached but it was not perfect by any means. We see the human side of Ezra’s leadership here also.

Ezra set his heart from an early age to seek God and know His word. He prepared His heart to know and understand God. Ezra made sure his heart was postured, set, aligned to God so he would know and serve Him forever. This is this man’s legacy. He served him all the days of his life. He became what his name was—help. Not just being a servant but being the help of the  One who ran the Heavens. Divine help. He sought, He heard and He carried out God’s instructions to build the Temple.

A temple made by human hands with both the “from here” and the “come heres,” did not work so well. The Temple in the future would need to be made with the permission of a King and without human hands. A Temple that would be rebuilt perhaps by God Himself. . . . That leader would need to be sent from above. That builder would be worth the wait!

May we be like Ezra in our day—full of prayer, repentance, revival and restoration. May we know and obey God’s word. God help us to follow Ezra’s example and be holy, listening, in covenant with God, in our generation.

Renae Roche 2024

Gods’ plan and the frequent “changing of the guard” is repeated King after King in this power -packed book. The theme of “rise and fall” can be seen throughout Chronicles. If you watch the leaders in our political landscape today, you may see similarities. People tend to group around the leader that most represents what they want in life. There were great kings and there were wicked kings. Some lead well, then ran on their own strength, and fell. We are like that too, right? We do well, then think we did it by our own power, then fall.[1] It’s human nature. We soar in our strength and then realize all our “soaring” was really Gods’ doing to begin with. Those that sought God– had favor and success. Those who were wicked – morally fell, and their people fell with them in death. Chronicles even lists stories of children who were burned and sacrificed. Gods’ people were doing these things! It was shocking to see these leaders take a turn for the worse within just one generation. God shows us why this took place. We can learn much from these cycles.

One surprising section is in chapter 15. Verse thirteen says,

“That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman and they swore unto the Lord with a loud voice and with shouting and with trumpets… And all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with ALL their heart and sought Him with their whole desire; and He was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest on every side.”

My teenagers Bibles say the people “whole heartedly”  and “eagerly” sought God. It stirred our hearts. Whole–hearted is very different than tepid or lukewarm. My family likes food that is hot and if it is even close to cold, they will let me know it. I used to get grumpy, as it is a fiasco to get everyone to the table on time some nights, but now I capitalize on those moments and remind them that God wants us to be piping hot spiritually as well!

So, what did the leaders who were successful do which set them apart from the wicked leaders? Can we learn from their actions in our generation? In chapter seven we read, “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it.”  That is some kind of praying! That is not a trite, “thank you for the grub, God” type prayer. Solomons’ prayer so impacts the people, that they erupt in praise: “God is good, and His love endures forever.” Fervent prayer evokes worship. It also produces sacrifice as we gain Gods’ perspective. Solomon “offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So, the king (Solomon) and all the people, dedicated the temple of God. The priests took their positions, as did the Levites (collaborative ministry) with the Lord’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the Lord…  Solomon consecrated the courtyard and offered (offerings)” … So, Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days…he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel. He blessed them (corporate fellowship) and blessed them in their homes. That is good leadership. We will also see similar traits in King Josiah later in the book when he sets (establishes) people in places of service and then abundantly and intentionally encourages them. There is much we can learn from these Kings.

The Lord then appears to Solomon and lets him know that He has heard his prayer: “When I shut up the heavens, so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,  (when life gets really tough),

IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, ….(2 Chr.7:14)

Pause here for a minute. Note what God is sovereign over – Sky, Land and People and the trials that go with that. It says WHEN God does this, so we can expect it. The IF starts a conditional clause, meaning if you do what God requests, then the following things will be done in accordance with that action. It is a third person plural – if they (corporately) will humble themselves. That’s good peer pressure –if we realize results will not come unless everyone is  going hard after God! It would change our meetings and their outcomes. We recently watched the movie, “The Boys in the Boat” and watching their transition from a team of eight to work as one was very motivational. [2] I’ve enjoyed over the years being part of teams that work seamlessly. It is thrilling to watch the results.

The word “humble,” in this verse, means to bend low, to be submitted. It is comes from a word that means to contract wings, like an Eagle.[3] The word suggests going low and bending ones’ knee. I wanted to understand this reference, so I studied eagles flying.[4] Eagles do something when they fly and bend their wings low called a “wing tuck.” [5] The winds catch their feathers and can pull them in many different directions. When their wings are tucked –they are secure and stable. When turbulence comes while they are in flight, instead of jostling on the air streams, they simply draw their wings closer to their body. They free fall, for a few seconds, until it passes. It momentarily prevents stress on their wings. Humble yourself – before the King of all Kings, tuck in, bend low and let Him steady you in the fray.

When we are young, we are tempted to fight the winds. We think we are tough and “ninja” as the kids would say. It is in our DNA to fight and struggle and prove we are strong. It is not however, part of Gods’ DNA, for those reborn. His way often comes with trusting and being still. Think of all the trials in your personal life and in the nation and world currently. When turbulence comes – and it will, we need to hear Gods word in Chronicles to His Kings and to His people now: Reposition yourselves low by bending your wings, your knee. Go low. Be submitted to the Sovereign Lord.

When the winds and rain are beating against your face– you need a reprieve. The answer is to  quiet your heart.  If my people would go low – stop flapping, stop fighting, stop squawking and draw in, do that themselves, (collectively and individually), God will move.

Then, in that posture, we pray. Do not just tell God what you want, but listen and hear what He is speaking – a dialogue. Here it is a give and take. Lord, this is what we see, what do YOU see? This is what we hear, Lord what do YOU hear? What is our/my part Lord and how do we/I carry that out today? It is individual and corporate. It reaches into their homes. Those times must be fostered in our places of worship. It must be taught in our homes. The temple of the New Testament was Christs body. Post Pentecost, WE are the Temple. Gathering people -it was Gods heart then and it is Gods’ heart now.

So, what is the difference between praying and seeking Gods face? There must be a difference, or one word would have sufficed. To seek here is not just a casual looking for something but an all-out search party! It means to strive after, to beg for, to go after, in worship or prayer with great desire, to demand an answer. It looks to secure and actively find what one is seeking. “Well sister Margaret, I just don’t like it when that one person prays, it’s almost like they are bossing God.” Our views of God must line up with Gods words, not some sissified version of Sesame Street. Come on now! It was God who said “if my people would SEEK my face…” If you are “His people” you have permission. The verb tense in Hebrew is not a sweet, polite asking but a demanding, radical begging and pleading. God is not scared of our emotions. “God, we need you now, desperatelyplease heal our hearts, heal our land!!!”

I remember when I first met my husband. We both smelled so good. I cough thinking about all that fragrance. His truck was clean and shiny. He was early for every date and had everything planned to the T. The energy was electric, and I was highly sought after. I enjoyed that season very much. He is still good on all those things, but the “chase” is not as fervent as in those days –because we are married and secure in our love. While we still enjoy dates, the effort looks a bit different than in those days before we said, “I Do.”  Similarly, Jesus wants to be pursued like a Bridegroom coming to marry His bride – because He is! That’s not old news, that’s good news! 2 Timothy 4:8 tells us there is a reward for those who “long for His appearing”.

We want the “hear, forgive, heal” part. We want Gods eyes to be open and His ears attentive to our prayers, but we are often — remiss to prepare. Remiss to fully seek. Sometimes, we also may have misunderstood scripture and seek Gods’ face without passion or purity.

Also in this scripture is the word SHUV (meaning to turn). It means to go the opposite direction. STOP sinning. To go back, repent from all wickedness.  God does not consider our “rights.” We do not get a say or a vote. He makes this promise conditional – we get the benefits, IF and only if, we follow HIS directions.

IF you, do these things…then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.      

God tells them why things are falling apart, “This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by, will be appalled, and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why He brought all this disaster on them.’” It is one thing to fight an enemy, it is a fearful thing to fight the living God. Turn, turn now.
February is a good month to give God our WHOLE heart. (See the Rest for individuals page on this website if you need a place to start). It is a good month for us to humble ourselves before the Lord. It is a good month to pray and radically seek His face and turn from all our wicked ways. Start with one prayer, free fall into His loving grace, He awaits you.

I would love to hear your stories of what takes place as you follow these scriptures and God then starts to hear, forgive, and heal. I will post as many as possible.

Happy  month!
Renae Roche 2024


[1] Joe Roche, Morning Devotion Jan.15, 2024

[2] The Boys in the Boat. A movie by George Clooney based on a true story. 2023.


[4] The word  is “kana”.

[5]  On Eagle’s Wings, a Revelation About Flight – The New York Times



First Chronicles is placed in our Bibles in the Old Testament after the books of First and Second Kings but in the Jewish Bible it is at the end of the Old Testament and serves as a summary. It lets us know what was most important to God: The People Groups, The Palace, and the Place of God’s presence. If you are looking for detailed information on authorship, date, setting, etc., a good book to read is the Handbook on the Historical Books written by Victor Hamilton. It is helpful to understand the structure and themes.

David’s public and private sins both had consequences. Here we see the contrast in how they were handled. See chapters 20 and 21.  While moral failings and their effects are tough to watch, we would do well to understand them. In seminary, one of my Pastoral Ministry classes was with Dr. Ken Swetland. We studied his book, The Hidden World of the Pastor. It was a case study on pastors who fell in various areas. It seemed very doom and gloom in the moment to a young student, and at the time it did not seem relevant, but over the years it has helped me navigate through some tough ministry appointments and counseling sessions with congregants. It also served as a warning for how people got into some of those traps in the first place. Forewarned is forearmed. Education doesn’t just teach us about God and theology but how to avoid mistakes others have made. Studying Biblical narratives is time well spent. My professor in Bible college, Dr. Don Meyers, used to tell us, “You never waste time sharpening your sickle.” If we understand these passages and apply them to real world situations, we will gain not only victory but spare ourselves much time and wasted pain.

I’ve thought a lot about the life of David this past month. I wonder how things would have been different if CNN or Fox News had covered his life. The public always seems to be blood thirsty to see printed stories of shame and fallen heroes. We forget that David, the predecessor of Jesus as King, the intimate worship leader and strong battle soldier, was still used and useful to God. In fact, much of his ministry happened after his greatest sins. That feels wrong somehow and cuts to the core of our sense of justice. One could argue grace is not cheap and David should have been benched, but Jesus literally died so grace could be effective. If his blood cannot cleanse the vilest sinner then his blood cannot make the likes of you and me clean. Oops, let’s slow the roll of punishment. We must be circumspect when judging others or we will train ourselves to not believe we too are in need of His grace. When we jump on the bandwagon of righteous posturing, “I just sensed something was off” and other such grandstanding in regard to other’s backsliding, we easily forget that without a Savior for our sins, we too would be in the proverbial pit of a sinner’s hell. The fallen one, David would one day make way for the King of Kings. Others may know your past but they do not know Gods decision about your future. Move Forward.  Keep Moving. Move Forward. 

David was contrite and repentant, and God saw his heart. When  others pressed delete or pause, God was getting ready to hit play. He paused to repent (essential) but he kept moving forward. Without that cleansed heart things –would have stopped. God does not throw His investments away.  We wonder, how did David go from intimate prayer warrior and worshipper to adultery and murder? Even the elect can be deceived, Matthew 24 tells us. Even the most trained, can fall into temptation. Maybe a better question, instead of being a voyeur into others lives would be, “Lord, how can I stay pure? ” How can I stay close to You?” or “Lord, Lead us not into temptation.” These very real kings and leaders are not much different than we are today. Reading this narrative can give us insight into what God values and what matters most to Him. A clean, contrite, repentant heart weighs more than a distant religious spirit. God was building David, even in the darkest days. God was building David even when he was not walking in Gods’ ways. God is not random* and God is infinitely postured  to right a life or make a course correction for His kids.  Only those who know grace, have received grace, truly believe that.

There are many “mantras” people have picked up for the New Year. Mine is,

“Jesus, may I know and desire You more in 2024.”

I’m asking for God to make me more thirsty, more hungry, this next year. Physically, I plan to drink more water and eat healthier. It’s a struggle to get that process working for hydration, vegetables, etc. The appetite has to be first stirred.  Spiritually it is similar. We can’t fill an appetite we have not first fostered. If we are satiated with junk food, trivial matters, and other things, we may never desire what is choice, supreme. What if we started crying out for more thirst, more spiritual hunger, more capacity to be filled with the living, the holy God? What if we prayed for our homes, the block we live on, the church, the city?

This month I just want to share a couple highlights that stirred us, from our study of 1 Chronicles:


1 Chronicles 12:32  tells us, “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”. Those who follow hard after God will hear the joyful noise, the alert, alarm, military call, and Psalm 89:15 tells us that those who know it will walk before the face of God. Those of you praying for the Middle East will appreciate this. Intercessors and those who keep their nose in the Bible and ear tuned to the Spirit remind me of this verse. Do we want to be in tune with God’s plans? Will we be able to hear the Lord’s voice and alert or are we saturated with the sounds of the city, the television, or our cell phones? 

1 Chronicles 13

In this chapter David is seen to be very wise. He consults with the leaders, which suggests collaboration, listening to their ideas and sharing his. It was mutual and reciprocal. Consult here means to exchange wisdom, to deliberate and share counsel with one another and the text tells us that he did that with captains and leaders over large groups (thousands) and small groups (hundreds). He listened and he talked. He also gathered people together, he assembled them together. God deposits in each person different gifts and strengths and without hearing the collective group we cannot glean that information. The third wise thing David did was to inquire of the Lord. He wanted Gods’ heart and wisdom. He met with leaders, he gathered the regular people and he inquired of the Lord. That’s smart leadership.

David then shares a psalm (1 Chronicles 16) with the people. I’ve translated it so you can hear what it reads like in the Hebrew. It sounds Southern to my ears because of the plural you:

You all must cause yourselves to
Give thanks

Y’all must
cause yourselves to
Call upon His name

Y’all must
cause yourselves to
Make known His deeds among the people

Y’all must sing
Y’all must really sing loudly–sing the psalms!!!!!
Y’all must talk about all His wonderous works! 

This great leader is admonishing them, encouraging, and exhorting them to stir themselves up to give thanks, call on God’s name and make God’s deeds known. There are some timid folks who get wiggy if someone praises. They are supposed pride busters and arrogance checkers. Ignore them. God’s word and here King David, is teaching us about warfare and living in God’s light. God is sovereign and all things come from Him, but we also have a part and it’s to PRAISE Him, to make known His deeds among the people. We cannot do that by sitting under the stairs silently. David tells us to sing and to sing LOUDLY, to tell of ALL of His wonderous works. This was part of his strength. Get your testimony of how you came to Christ written out. Prepare praise reports and share them with whoever will listen. Sing melodies in the elevator, in the mall and in the streets. Talk about All of Gods wondrous works and then loudly sing praises.

This summary book is filled with wisdom from God in the lives of His people and especially His chosen Shepherd boy and His chosen son, then King who would build the Temple. We can gain wisdom by reading it. I do not believe that these were mere religious words or things to do in church. His admonition to praise was part of his “secret to success” and battle plan. In battle- he kept praising, in tough places, he kept praising, in conflict- he kept praising. After deep, devastating, career blowing sin – he kept praising. Not because he was righteous but because he knew One who is.  Not because he was worthy but he worshipped one worthy of all worship. Whether you have been successful last year or if you have major blown it, keep praising. God sees the long– term trajectory of your life and what HE needs for the Kingdom, season after season. Keep praising, keep following, keep believing.

If you have no pithy saying or mantra for 2024 – you can borrow mine. Jesus, we want to  know and desire YOU more in 2024. More wisdom, more grace, more singing, praising, proclaiming and ALL that you have for us.

Seeking with you,

Rev. Dr. Renae Roche 2024

Jesus, we want to  know and desire YOU more in 2024.





*Thanks to Ruth Hall for her devotion–“God is not random”. Thanks to Editor Virginia Bridges. 

The book of 2 Kings is fascinating, tangled, and dark at times. Right at the beginning, we are told that the voice of God was withdrawn, absent. The impatient sought to inquire after a false King, rather than wait on the Lord. It is shocking to see such blatant idolatry, especially when they were expecting a godly King to arise. We hold on, chapter after chapter, hoping one of these kings will step up and lead with righteousness. Each section reveals kings who are evil, self-centered and involve their sons in their debauchery. While it is tempting to compare that to our current state of political events, I will not– other than to point out that there is nothing new under the sun. Our hope for change, direction and wisdom must be found in a sovereign, holy God. Anytime we place our trust in someone or something other than God, we will come up short. Humans can never do what God was meant to do. Seeking Him, inquiring of Him is a good place to start. Even a good place to stay.

While those who needed to inquire of the Lord- did not, there was one man who showed loyalty in spite of the disloyalty of his culture and that was Elisha. He persisted. He repeatedly told his mentor, “I will never leave you.” You might say he got “double for his trouble” as God rewarded him for his obedience and his loyalty. His life is a comparison of what Kingly behavior looks like and it had nothing to do with a title or crown. Elijah and Elisha continued to point to a higher authority. They stand in stark contrast to the  kings  and the prophets of their time.

Today – will we ask God what His will is for our lives and what direction we should take? Will we put down our cell phones, computer and let Google take a rest? Can we simply ask God for His  will? We would all benefit from that. A Facebook post said recently, “almost everything works better if you unplug it for a few minutes – even you.” I don’t think Elisha could have functioned as he did if he had been wrapped up in media or other distractions. It takes time before the Lord to see and hear His perspective and get aligned.

God does not change, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. In 2 Kings 6:17, Elisha prayed and said, “Lord I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw. And behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Those who follow after God will have their spiritual vision adjusted. 

In chapter seven Elisha says, Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord: “Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” God will give us insights on tomorrow– if we will listen. Later in the chapter we are told, “For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses- the noise of a great army so they said to one another, Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!” God has many ways of fighting our battles –if we listen.

Those who follow after God will have their spiritual hearing adjusted. 

Remember Bing Crosbys recorded song, “Do you hear what I hear”? Did you know that song was written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne? They were a song-writing couple and penned the words to it in the late sixties. The background to their lyrics was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Their sights were on the crisis and hope in the government to take action. The star in the night expressed their fears of a nuclear attack, as they fearfully listened to the radio for what might take place. The double meaning to the song is especially relevant when we consider the trouble in the Middle East and other threats of war. We want peace but face crisis. We hear the Nativity story and wrongly think things were trouble free in early Bethlehem but in reality, their story was filled with danger and fears. God lifted their sights upward and gave them a new song to hear as the angels rejoiced. Christ came to bring peace into their circumstances, to be God with them –Emmanuel. That is still His task today – to be with us. It is more than a Christmas carol – it is a promise of support and ultimate victory.

Do we see what God wants us to see? Can we hear what God wants us to hear through faith? If scripture does not give us Gods perspective, we cannot grasp what God is doing in our day. It seems that those who  inquire of Him, who choose His will  have a different understanding of life and the circumstances around them. God promises to be with those who seek Him.

If we draw near, He draws near to us. If we go after sacred places, high places, false gods and false solutions, God will most definitely back up or let us go into Exile until we remember who we are and WHOSE we are. He will withdraw and remove His presence from us, which is a literal definition of hell. A place without God. When we pray, we align ourselves with Heaven and the Kingdom of God. We cease to live merely for our own end or pleasure.

This month as I read  2 Kings and watched the nightly news, I saw many similarities.  Horrific stories of abuse and violence abound. We are in the midst of a very intense and rocky time nationally and  internationally.  Many are trying to find any peace possible. The land is filled with confusion  as people grasp for truth and answers from people and places that can not satisfy.  Lawsuits, anger, and injustice seem to reign in our cities as never before. Those wanting “justice” are often those who act very unjust.

Maybe you too are trying to make sense of things  that just are not reasonable or understandable. 2nd Kings reminds us that even in the midst of  wicked  Kings, God was still active. He sent a picture of Himself — two bright lights emerged – Elijah and Elisha. Doug Stuart in his book, “How to read the Bible for all its worth” points out that “Through them (Elijah and Elisha) God demonstrates that He is still Lord over all the earth — in 

Creation, nature; the nations, –Israel.

Today we have Superpowers at war, leaders  misbehaving, people presenting themselves as holy but living dual lifestyles, people morally falling … it is disappointing. It grabs our heart and emotions as we hear stories and look on the carnage. Where are our eyes and ears? In our current darkness,

I wonder — where are the Elishas of the Lord God?

Whether  it’s Dr. Rand Paul and the Festivus report, or Navy Vet Michael Cassidy or even a 90 year old Sunday school teacher who says “enough is enough” – God still  uses people to speak up for holiness.  What is hte cost and what does it look like in this moment to be a God fearer? In our home, our church, our city, our nation?   Every once in awhile someone reminds us that God is greater, bigger than public opinion or the crowds. Firebrands do not lay down when everyone else is tolerating wickedness or sin. They stand up. Not because they are people with a cause but because they are people of presence, people obeying God. Who reminds you of Elijah and Elisha? Their passion and fire grew the more they were persecuted. This isn’t permission to be radical, disobedient or weird but to obey a holy God. Elisha was God directed. 

What if the calm Christmas story reflected things, like we read in 2 Kings? It would make Christmas plays vastly different. A dangerous journey and miracles would be included. Inquiring Anna rejoicing and Zacharias going mute would be included. What if  children were taught that Anna and Zacharias were not just coincidental participants, but that God chose them because they were  waiting, holy and righteous? What if we taught that God does not play favorites, but He does favor and answer those who are seeking HIM. That’s very contrary to the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality we see in todays schools.

Last Christmas our family got the flu while staying at a hotel.  It was horrendous. I gained a new appreciation for Innkeepers and management. Loud body functions, noise, and constant medical care are not conducive to your other guests getting a good night’s sleep. It is very disruptive. The innkeeper should get credit for squeezing them in the only available space left. He was flexible and could have just say no altogether. The manger scene of Jesus’ birth  was not a matter of hospitality but functionality to quarantine a worried father and very pregnant, screaming mother. What was impolite to the young couple was very protective of a house full of guests who needed their sleep and peace. Jesus’ introduction into the world was anything but calm or sterile. The “interruption” of the silent night was foretold in  Matthew (chapter 2), “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Who wants to be saved from their sin at 2 A.M. in a hotel while sleeping?

2nd Kings is a cycle of ignoring God, seeking other gods, then doing their own thing. All these examples  point us to the One, true King to come – Jesus. He will not be wicked or capricious. Luke 2 tells us, “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” The long-awaited King was right there – at the door, next to the hotel with warm beds and food to eat, water to drink. He was right there, for them to seek after but the little family running from danger and preparing for birth (mother, father, luggage) was just too much –so the Inn, put them in a set apart place. still on the property.  A place out of the way so they would not “bother” anyone or interrupt their respite. A distant place was preferred so as not to interrupt the “gold star” guests. Oh if only they knew Jesus was the finest “gold star” visitor. We don’t know if those regular guests got free breakfast and gym benefits, but what they didn’t get was the smell of donkeys, manure and sheep. They also did not get the presence of the King of kings and Lord of Lords come down from Heaven to visit them that night. Only the bargain barn folks got that benefit. God wanted ALL to know that this was the One they were to seek, so He shines a big holy spotlight on His son so they couldn’t miss it. Seek THIS ONE. This is the one you have been waiting for and this is the KING that will bring ultimate peace. The one sent by the King of the Universe, his father. Chariots of fire that surrounded Elijah didn’t appear when baby Jesus arrived,  but a whole host of heaven did. There was room in the sky for them.

Maybe God doesn’t mind the mess.  Maybe He is not worried about the right time, the right place, and the right people for others opinions as much as to fulfill His word and promise. Maybe He can still move in spite of wicked leaders, nations and those claiming to be “religious.” Maybe loyalty and love meant more to God than finery on that Holy day. He found them; He led others to them. Son of Heaven, yet God let them stay in a less than five-star hotel. Maybe God was more concerned with His  eternal kingdom than their temporal comfort.  The loyal king and prophet who would tell them “I will never leave you” had come and the king of ALL kings was near. 

Those who step up will be remembered not for their perfect words or clothes or actions but for following the will of the Father and obeying His commands. First we have to see and hear what those are in our generation. These stories are not that different from those who walk with Christ today. 

In all our searching, in all our political quagmires, in all our disappointments and pain,  we can read 2 Kings and be very grateful that Christ, the TRUE King, and example has come. That should give us hope. That leader and King, is still reigning, still saving and still Lord.

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? The child, no longer a babe, still calls to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. In Revelation that King says, “I’m coming back soon.”

May we respond and in hope,  bring light to the world as  Elisha did — prepare His way.

RenaeRoche 2023



While reading the commentaries for this book I realized that my hubby Joseph had been teaching the same message over this last year, which is “God is on the throne, and we must surrender to HIS will.” What is God’s agenda and how are we to follow it? We need to do God’s will and work rather than just any ol’ good works, so it glorifies the King. It’s become a mantra at our house.

After weeks of watching the news and the Republicans quest for leadership, we all got to watch this month as a new Speaker of the House was chosen – Congressman Mike Johnson. I was surprised when he told the world that he was a Christian and then asked for God’s wisdom. That takes much bravery and courage, and it was refreshing to see someone give glory to God. His track record suggests that he is a just and fair leader. It reminded me of the book of 1 Kings. Could God bless a nation once again that surrendered to His Lordship? Would that service look like a surrender to God or would it, like in times past, just be an excuse to polarize people and attach God’s name to whatever viewpoint or agenda someone had in that moment? Leaders now, like in 1 Kings, can sometimes get an idea and then demand that God bless, anoint, and put His seal of approval on it with little gratefulness or continued seeking for His will.  

Jesus gives us the best picture when He surrenders to God and then simply states, “Follow me.” That phrase is not meant to say run alongside or surpass but to walk lock-step behind. This is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. Accompany means to go along with the One leading the way. It is rare in our society and sadly, even more rare in the church. Unity comes when hearts are postured to obey Christ and pursue Kingdom goals. When the King is given first place, the rest of the company gets in order quickly.

Huang Sabin in his commentary on 1 Kings, tells us:

Most of us live in countries that are republics. To us, the throne has very little meaning. Some of us live in countries where there is still a king or queen. But they possess very little real power or authority. We have no idea how a real kingdom should be ruled. But God is King of His Kingdom. The Church is not a democracy. It never was, it never has been, and it never will be. Many Christians have relegated God to a symbolic headship. We do what we want. Oh yes, sometimes we get His approval for our plans. But we do not wait for His instructions to carry out His plans. The books of 1 and 2 Kings focus on the throne of Israel. But this throne had a unique feature – God promised that He would preserve that throne ONLY if the one sitting on it realized that there was another higher throne above it. That higher throne belongs to the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  [1]

In spite of our numerous opinions and belief systems, God is still KING and still enthroned. He is sovereign and He IS Lord.

I greatly appreciate Bill Bright’s visual on letting Jesus rule from the throne of one’s heart. He (in his writings and leadership) would show a picture of a chair and ask, “who is on the throne of your heart?” Who leads your life most – your family, friends, enemies? The opinions of others? When Jesus is the authority on the throne of our hearts, life can be peaceful. When we cater to others’ ideas and opinions our lives run amuck. First Kings is a good reminder of this. The various Kings allowed wives, friends, and others to dictate how they led. Idolatry and adultery greatly impacted their lives. Are we any different today? Holiness is not just a good idea – it’s essential for carrying out God’s orders. We look at the culture, the government, and even the church and can see that lives led by so many “voices” have left us shipwrecked and stuck in the sand.

The contrast between these Kings and the two wild prophets also mentioned in 1 Kings is great. The King of Heavens two princes, Elijah and Elisha had one mission – follow God and lead His people. They were not self-appointed; they had no crown or palace, but they were appointed by God and in a mirky mix of Kings– they followed THE King.

Two things that caught my attention this month: the Judean Kings were required to say who their mothers were when accepting their title. This intrigues me. Mothers who were not idolatrous or adulterous were important. I also ask champions I meet (athletes, preachers, etc.) what they fed their kid for breakfast and how did they do devotional times. I’ve learned a lot from these answers.

The other thing that caught my attention was the wording “princess Jezebel.” I love princesses and royalty and every little girl grows up at some point wearing a tiara and twirling around. But this was no Disney princess. She was a domineering tyrant. Her character was one to not emulate, not a leader to follow. She was petty, paranoid, and cruel.  I was thrilled to hear recently that pop princess Taylor Swift showed a servant’s heart when she cleaned up the Chief’s viewing box when she visited Kansas City. She was picking up soda cans and serving the Kelce family. We all know real princesses are ambassadors but also servants. We live through them and pretend somehow they are different than us at our core. Jezebel was the opposite of a real princess and negatively impacted an entire nation. Her spirit lives on in women (and men) who covet, envy, gossip, hate, and act wickedly today. The Prince of Peace gave us the best example – a combination of God surrendered leadership and a servants heart.

The prophets were intimidated by Jezebel and Ahab — but they kept going.

The prophets did not get their marching orders from people– but from God. Jezebel (and those like her) do not get their marching orders from God. They do the things that feel good or tickle their fancy. They manufacture things from their own will or spirit. Jezebel did not have the mind of God and her jealousy, hatred, and ambition forced her, compelled her to do things opposite of God’s will and God’s heart. She not only envied Naboth, but her envy turned into murder. These are not small things. Wicked thoughts, words, and actions are not neutral — they grow, they supplant, they take over. Instead of worship, they plotted. Instead of praise, they slandered. They spread their opinions instead of God’s truth. But this is not Jezebel’s problem – it is our problem — if we do not go to God in prayer.

If we do not continue in prayer.

 If we do not repent for harbored thoughts, words, and actions. Throughout the years I’ve studied this book and it’s been interesting to me the numbers of people that apply these characters flaws on others, but rarely themselves. I’ve cried many tears over the women falsely characterized by them for merely trying to step out in ministry. Surely those character assassinations grieve God’s heart. We should be asking, “how am I like or unlike these Biblical examples?”

Personal altars in devotion daily, family altars of devotion weekly, church altars — are not for counting heads or giving bucky beavers badges for stepping forward. It can’t replace real repentance. God’s not looking for a roll call, He’s looking for surrendered hearts. Altars are intended to deeply invoke repentance, calls for renewal, exhortations for change and growth.

RESTORE THE ALTARS – personal, family, church, nation.

We see fiery Elijah and Elisha and they seem like crazy, wooly old men fighting for God in the midst of a royal mess. They are not “normal” church folk. Show me where normal is even a thing in the Bible. Next, we see Jesus, turning over tables, crying out on God’s behalf to restore the temple and prayer. He never was “normal” church folk.  Where are we in this picture? IF God is restored to His proper place, it looks like we have cleared our hearts, adjusted our spiritual posture, and renewed our minds to let the King come and sit upon our lives as Lord. There’s nothing normal about that. If normal means “tepid, lukewarm, apathetic” then we should choose anything but that. We must be prophetic worshippers and pray-ers who know that God is up to a challenge, up to defending His own name and showing Himself to the people that He is a not only powerful but LORD.

              If we want God to be restored to our family, we need to clean out our homes, physically but also spiritually. I have a friend who went to her house, took down the T.V. and smashed it in front of her children, declaring that their house needed to be dedicated to Christ. Radical? Perhaps but her children are honoring God now. Throwing out anything that hinders is an act of contrition and worship. What if we scrubbed every app on our phone that kept us from prayer? What if our church altars were swept clean of decorations, advertising and other things and tissues, pillows, Bibles littered the room for those wanting to return to the Sovereign, holy God? [2]

Let’s not just casually rest, talking about these Kings as if we were any different. We too have listened to our spouses and friends and cultural norms and ignored Biblical wisdom and the Holy Spirit. If that were not true, our churches and government would be different. We disregard truth and allow junk in our hearts and homes. Where are the whips, the prayers, the fiery prophets? I’m not sure how the grace of God and the mercy of Jesus wraps itself around these instructions. I don’t know the exact lessons on how to confront a bad princess or horrible king, but I do understand letting Christ sit on the throne of my heart. I can measure how long it’s been since He was completely LORD in my life. I can measure how long it’s been since altar ministry was common and frequent. I can think of and miss the feel of carpet on my face at the altar and the wetness on my face from flowing tears (repentance, forgiveness, and grace).

Elisha prayed for a double anointing and received it. He got twice the miracles Elijah did. Our nation needs a godly king. The odds of you or me being that person is very slim but the possibility of being a prophetic voice – much higher.

There is no ceiling on the possibility of wanting to be a prayed-up Christian who affects the nation, however. Where did the prophets, pastors, and preachers go when Biden became president? Did their marching orders change? I think not. Should we blame then the president or those who shrunk into the caves? God is not lacking for Ravens or thirsty dogs. He is lacking for people to hear Him, submit to Him and obey.  I don’t see people stepping in line to be the next Elisha either, yet. What if this night is YOUR night of reckoning? What if this night is YOUR night to say yes to God? Would you ask, would you accept the mantle, would you speak forth?

Watch all the news you want, but then please gather some wood, some buckets of water, and remember your God. Three buckets, six buckets, nine buckets…..

 If we want more than that . . .  we first place God back in charge. We surrender to the Lordship of His son, and we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts and lives. It doesn’t matter if you are a day or a year rusty (or more). The way back is the same – Jesus, forgive me for my absence. Forgive me for looking or listening to others instead of you. Forgive me for my sin, pride, xyz (whatever that looks like in your life). Make me whole, cleanse me, forgive me, free me, and make me useful for your Kingdom, YOUR will, Your purposes. I give you my life. Direct my steps, my will, my tongue, and be on the throne of my heart. I’m yours – glorify Yourself through me. I yield to you now. Amen.

1 Peter 2:9 tells us: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

The replacement for prophet, priest, and King is Jesus.  Elijah and Elisha are great examples. Who will be examples for this generation? Who will yield themselves  in this hour? Where are you and where is YOUR God?

Surrendering with you, RenaeRoche2023


[1] Huang Sabin. OT Made Simple. P. 69.

[2] Renae Roche.

2nd Samuel is the “rest of the story”, and it is not preached as often as some other books. The stories of Nathan the prophet, Gad the Seer, and the book of Jasher were all part of the collaboration to make it possible. I’ve been around folks that don’t believe in all that “Spirit stuff” and it strikes me as odd that we see lots of spiritual things in this  Old Testament book. Prophets and seers are in Gods’ word. Back in the day we were asked how long would the Spirit dwell among men and signs and wonders be in effect. Some said spiritual manifestations ended with the apostles, some said it ceased after Pentecost. I was taught from Ephesians 4:13-15 – “until we ALL attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. If you’ve done any ministry in the church lately you will know that all unity has not taken place and all knowledge has not been dispensed, we have a ways to go. We need the Spirit, we need the offices, we need the gifts – some days more than others.  Unity in the church and the city is really important.

When you systematically study a book, you get to see the triumphs and the tragedies. We need to go through the entire book, so we learn all the lessons – not just the super-hero narratives or the victories but the suffering, pressures, etc. This book has a combination of both wins and losses.

This month, I was horrified by some of these stories and for some reason they  seemed so much more violent than I had realized.  I read numerous commentaries that talked about Davids’ dynasty and its place in history. I read about the pressure he was under and how he cracked under that pressure breaking Gods’ heart and the peoples resolve. It is a fine book of leadership. How many sermons have we heard on Davids’ mighty men? I don’t recall  however, ever hearing one about the wise woman in this book. She has challenged me.

There was one phrase that stuck in my heart and pulled me back to the text. I’ll apologize up front because this may seem like a soapbox or perhaps even a political appeal, but I promise you, it’s not– it is more of a passionate plea to step up and to obey God.

Listen to this story in 2 Samuel 22. The context is that David’s’ military leader Joab has a rebel (Sheba) and his men, cornered in the town of Abel-Beth Maacah. They have chased him inside, with his troops, and they are building a way to go in and capture him and possibly all the fortified cities inhabitants.

Then came the desperate cry of a woman in the city, “Hear, hear, say I pray you, unto Joab, come here that I may speak with you”. Wise here does not just mean smart but one who is learned, prudent, crafty, shrewd, and educated. It is also used of sailors who know how to maneuver their ships. She’s been around awhile and understands how things work. She cries out twice HEAR, HEAR. The soldiers let her speak – they made room for her to say what she had to say but first she intreated, beseeched and requested that she be heard. This was her Esther moment.

The word for city in Hebrew is “ir” (pronounced ear). This woman in the city is yelling out Shama, Shama, which is an imperative and means listen, listen or hear, hear! She is imploring them to hear her. She pleads and demands that they come near her so she can speak with them.

Her city is besieged. People will die if this continues. In order for salvation to come to the nation someone must stand up. She asks the question –”Art thou Joab”? He answered, “I am”.  David’s right hand man is on the scene.   

Then she said unto him –HEAR-  the words of thine handmaid and Joab answers, “I do hear”. He’s defensive but still listening. Then she spoke saying, “They were wont to speak in old times, saying they shall surely ask counsel at Abel; and so, they ended the matter. (In contrast) -I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel;

thou seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel;

why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?”

Hold up now- Joab, these are the good guys. He needs to slow his roll because he is about to make a big mistake and she points out to him exactly who they are dealing with. It is a crucial moment in time.

He tells her I AM LISTENING. His response is like that of a child being addressed by his mother which is very interesting. She is thwarting his military advance and does not seem to be what he was expecting.

Joab answers “far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy”.

…”then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the King.”  Note that these relationships would have been fostered and developed before this crucial moment. Talk about courage, boldness and faith! 

Who saved the city? The wise woman and her plan. Salvation came to the city because this woman intervened. Her skills were not known but our hint is that she was a mama, which speaks volumes to me. Her physical muscles may or may not have been large, but her emotional muscles surely were in that moment. Her title was unknown and yet she interceded, negotiated, and won deliverance for the people within the city walls. That’s impressive on many levels.

Yet, she has no name, and we are never told her credentials. We read of David’s men after this story. We are told her attributes- faithful and peaceable.  We are told that she is wise. Gail Wallace from the Junia project tells us about her title, “Wise” in her article on Abel- Beth Maacah:

“Some scholars believe the “Wise Woman” title represented a civic leadership role that existed during the period of the judges and early monarchy. It appears this role was filled by women known for wise judgment, rhetorical skills, and the ability to negotiate difficult situations (see Camp, Frymer-Kensky, and Youngblood). The story of this wise woman’s approach to a critical situation (and Joab’s response) gives some clues about this wise woman tradition. The decision by English translators to change this title to “a woman who was wise” or a “wise woman” (no caps) obscures this possibility.” [1]

No name lady. If you read the entire book she really stands out. She didn’t cause the fight; she didn’t ask for the fight and yet she steps up and brings salvation to her city through her negotiation and position. It seems she is a mighty prayer woman –but the text does not tell us that. I do not know of any woman who would have the guts to step up and prevent a national disaster that is not a praying woman, just saying. Her credentials are peaceful and faithful. Good qualities –and they give her some serious credibility.  

Mighty or wise? She was pro-David, pro-Israel, and savvy in negotiation. Her appeal was not to seek the diviners or other gods but to declare her Gods character and allegiance to Him – I am peaceable and faithful. Respect. She saved her city by speaking up. She saved David’s integrity by preventing the blood guilt that would have landed on his soldiers. To Joab’s credit, he listened. Did he know about the  woman from Tekoa in chapter 14? The Bible includes these stories, and we would be wise to “hear” them as well. This wise womans’  leadership was essential to Israel. I’m not taking a woman stand or a political stand here, this is the word of God – 2 Samuel. I am saying that these stories need to be added to our repertoire and given for encouragement for both men and women.

How do these passages impact our political landscape? How will these examples inspire the way we pray or vote for our city or national leaders? Are there people using their influence, skills and prayer in our churches and cities today?

David in 2 Samuel 22 goes on to tell us that he was compassed with waves of death and that the floods of ungodly men made him afraid. What did he do? He called upon the Lord, he cried to his God and God heard his voice out of His temple and his cry entered the ears of His God. There is no greater power than to say that you have the very ear of the God who created the Universe. Power and strength.

In the next verses we get to see the “underbelly” of this strong leader. We see his secrets for success:

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me; and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also upright before Him and have kept myself from my iniquity.” He speaks on and then says in vs.29, “For thou art my lamp, o Lord and the Lord will lighten my darkness. He speaks eloquently and passionately letting us know that God is his strength and power, and that God makes his way perfect.

This month as an object lesson, we got the boys lights for their heads so they could explore at night and even ride their bikes. They felt more safe since they could see where they were going. They could go more quickly because they could see anything in their path. It makes the darkness bearable to be able to know what is coming up. In a world full of LED’s we miss the message that in that day, they could not travel, fight or do anything without oil or lamps. They were essential. It meant life or death. In earlier chapters we hear the people saying that David was their lamp. He could have rejoiced in that and taken all the credit but in the end of this book he glorifies God and lets us know the source of his strength. God was David’s avenger. God was David’s shield and salvation. God was David’s lamp.

The lamps of that day were shallow bowls filled with oil and a wick to light. They would hold the bowls in their hand and sometimes put them on the wall to see in the night and darkness. David led the people in victory because he was following after God and his ways. He demonstrated Gods ways for them to follow. They called him a lamp because he was a vessel filled with Gods oil being lit up for Gods purposes. There would be no light if there was no oil or no vessel. David led them to victory because David was following God– until he wasn’t and then he had to choose his own consequence. We can’t understand grace unless we understand the consequences of sin in the Old Testament. In spite of all this, David continued to inquire of the Lord and seek His heart. That is a great sign of good leadership.

He finishes this book by telling us the “Spirit of the Lord spoke by him, and the Spirits word was in my tongue”. The God of Israel said, He that ruleth over men MUST BE JUST, ruling in the FEAR of God. Gods’ requirements for leadership are straightforward. Wait a minute Renae this is just a spiritual blog, are you saying Gods interested in politics? He is interested in the salvation of the city, the nation and whether God uses a learned woman who is wise, a military leader who is listening or 30 rough mighty men, God wants to be our shield and salvation. Those who rule over men MUST BE JUST, ruling in the fear of God. You decide and please let these passages impact how you vote.

David’s dynasty will continue and one day the PERFECT ruler will appear, and He will tell His disciples YOU are the light of the world. You are the ones who will bring salvation. You are the ones who will shine in the darkness. You are the ones who will be filled with my Spirit to show others the way.

The wise woman had spiritual authority because she was first peaceable and faithful. Joab had spiritual authority because he was listening and stopped to hear what was being said. David had spiritual authority because he was representing Gods light instead of his own – filled with the spirit and shining Gods power in the midst of a very cruel and evil world.

Is it dark where you live? Is it dark where you go to school? Is it dark where you go to church?

Call upon the Lord. Let Him be your lamp and power and strength.
Who is worthy to be praised? Who needs salvation from their enemies?

Are we hearing, are we listening?

One city, a resourceful, unified city for God. That comes from leaders in unity, women and mothers praying and leading in the gifts and strength and wisdom God has given them. Mighty men standing on their walls in intercession and faith. Walls of division and suspicion broken down. God almighty lifted up. May we be the lamp of our families, churches, cities, and nation to illuminate Jesus.

For further study, read Proverbs 2. Lord, give us your wisdom and light the path you have placed before us. Eph.2:10.

Standing with you,

Renae Roche 2023







[1] The Junia project: Gail Wallace March 31, 2014