PCC Scroll – Women of the Bible (Daughters of Zelophehad)

Names/Meanings: Hoglah – a partridge or a boxer; Mahlah – sickness or disease; Milcah – queen or counsel; Noah – rest or comfort; Tirzah – pleasantness

Their Character: The sisters had the assertiveness and tenacity to declare and fight for their inheritance.

Their Sorrow: Their father passed away.

Their Triumph: They were able to win a legal battle that granted them their deceased father’s share of the promised land.

Key Scriptures: Numbers 26:33; 27:1-11; 36:1-12; Joshua 17:3

Once upon a time, women had no property rights. If a man died without sons, his daughters did not inherit his property. The property would be passed to the nearest male relative, leaving the unmarried daughters without an inheritance.

 

Once upon a time, five women fought for their rights after their father died. These five women were Hoglah, Mahlah, Milcah, Noah and Tirzah, and they were the daughters of Zelophehad.

 

The sisters lived at the end of the exodus from Egypt as the Israelites prepared to enter the promised land. Their father was a descendent of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Maker, son of Manasseh, son of Joseph. They presented a petition to Moses, Elezar the priest, tribal leaders and the community at the entrance of the Tabernacle.

 

Their father had died in the wilderness. The sisters pointed out that their father had not rebelled against God or leadership with Korah. Because his death was natural and did not involve any actions that would nullify his inheritance, they argued they were entitled to his share. They contended his name and family line should not disappear from his clan because he had no sons.

 

Moses sought God, and God said that their claim was legitimate. Because there were no male heirs, the sisters were granted the land that would have gone to their father. Furthermore, the people of Israel were given instructions. If a man died without a son to inherit, the inheritance would go to his daughters. If he had no children, the inheritance would be transferred to his brothers. If he had no brothers, the property would go to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, it would go to the nearest male relative. The judgement became law among the tribes of Israel.

 

The decision didn’t come without some complications. Male family members came to Moses and the family members of Israel. They were concerned that if the daughters of Zelophehad married men from other tribes, the land would go to their husbands’ tribe causing the land to be lost to the ancestral tribe. This would reduce the land of the Tribe of Manasseh.

 

Moses ruled that land could not pass from tribe to tribe. The daughters could marry anyone they liked with the caveat that they must be from their territorial tribe. Each sister ended up marrying a cousin from their father’s side, so the land stayed within their tribe.

 

What a group of exceptional women. They are the first recorded women to declare for their rights, and their case is one of the earliest reported lawsuits on record. They did not sit back and let their inheritance slip from their fingers because of tradition. They fought for it, and their fight helped not only themselves but other women who would find themselves in similar situations. The decision of their case is still upheld by legal courts of law, and it is said to be one of the oldest decided cases that is cited as an authority.

 

Although we don’t know much about the sisters individually, we can assume that their parents raised them to be assertive. Under Jewish oral law, the sisters are referred to as wise, righteous, and students of the Torah.

 

Once upon a time, five remarkable women stood up to injustice and slew their dragon.

 

 

 

 

 

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PCC Scroll: Men of the Bible (Jabez)

Name: Jabez

Meaning: He makes sorrowful

His Character: Jabez was a pious man who tried to live righteously.

His Sorrow: His birth caused his mother pain, and she gave him a name that means sorrowful.

His Triumph: He prayed for God to bless him and enlarge him, and God honored his petition.

Key Scriptures: 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was a descendant of Judah. It is believed that he lived after the conquest of Canaan during the time of the judges. Jabez is mentioned during a genealogy of Judah in 1 Chronicles. The author interrupts the genealogy to briefly tell us about him, which is a reason to take note. We learn that he was named Jabez by his mother because his birth was exceptionally painful. The Bible refers to him as more pious than his brothers.

 

Jabez is remembered for his prayer request that is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. The prayer is, “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!”

 

In his prayer, he asked for four things. He asked for God to bless him. He asked for God to enlarge his coast. He asked for God to keep His hand on him. He asked for God to keep him from evil.

 

The first thing Jabez prayed was, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.” Jabez recognized God as the source of all blessings. In his request, he was asking God for supernatural favor. He did not say what he wanted those blessings to be. He trusted God for the results.

 

The second thing Jabez prayed was, “enlarge my coast.” The word coast can be replaced with the word territory. When Jabez says this, he is not just referring to physical land, wealth and prosperity, though I am sure that was part of his request. He was also referring to his relationship with God and his spiritual impact on those around him. He was referring to expanding his influence.

 

The third thing Jabez prayed was, “that thine hand might be with me.” Jabez wanted God to protect him and lead him in all that he did, every moment of his life. He wanted God with him through all trials and circumstances that came to him.

 

The fourth thing Jabez prayed was, “that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.” Jabez’s name means sorrow. He was praying to be protected from the meaning of his name.

 

I am not sure what caused Jabez to pray those words. As mentioned, his mother named him sorrowful. Names were very important during Biblical times. A name was a wish and a prophecy for that child. People often ended up living out the meaning of their name, which is a reason for the names changes in the Bible. Jabez did not want his name to define his future or anything to do with its meaning. Perhaps he prayed to cancel that label and that his life would not be sorrowful.

 

His life certainly ended up far from the meaning of his name. He prayed, and God heeded his prayer. In Jabez, we see a person who defied the label placed on him. He believed in the power of God and prayed that power into his life.

 

Today, the Prayer of Jabez has been marketed as a book (part of the prosperity movement) and turned into a song. But I think the lesson of Jabez’s story is his faith and belief in God. God answered his words and his prayer. When praying to God, it is perfectly suitable to pray using scripture. It is also okay to pray for blessings. Just remember you are blessed to bless others. At the end of the day, God knows your voice and your needs. Like Jabez, call on Him.

 

PCC Scroll: Editor’s Corner

The theme of this issue’s newsletter, “Multiplying what you have: Expanding your territory,” is problematic for me. The reason? I suffer from what I like to call “chronic dissatisfaction.” I am not sure what is “missing,” but I have a desire for more. I sometimes feel like this desire interferes with truly enjoying the here and now. However, I am in a season where I am trying to remain more grounded, aware of and grateful for what I do have: the little and the big.

 

In general, we live in a society that seems to scream and crave more, more, more. And the more, more, more is wanted now. Unfortunately, the more, more, more often doesn’t have to do with multiplying or expanding on a spiritual level. It seems to be about multiplying and expanding on a natural level. A bigger house. A bigger car. A bigger television. A bigger phone. A bigger paycheck.

 

Still, in the essence of the theme, there is more I desire from God, myself and my life. I do want God to multiply what I have and expand my territory and influence in both the natural and spiritual. My challenge is living in and being grateful for the here and now while working to multiply and expand where I am.

 

In the natural sense, one way I am trying to expand my territory is by education and training. At work, I am learning new programs like Tableau. The area of data science has expanded a lot since my early days as a market research analyst. Now, we have programs like Tableau and Power BI that have stronger capabilities than basic Excel. The programs have streamlined some processes and added efficiencies, which leads to the question of what else can I do with the time that has been saved. I also try to take classes after work to expand knowledge or for pleasure. Seattle Central and the University of Washington both have extensive programs and classes geared toward working adults.

 

Luke 6:38 tells us, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” This points us to the concept of sowing and reaping. One way to multiply what you have is to invest and sow into what you are looking to reap. This is true in both the natural and the spiritual.

 

In the Parable of the Talents, we see the good servants multiply their talents by investing them. Action was required of them. There must be action and investment on our part to expand our gifts and talents. If we sit on our talents and don’t invest in them, we will not see the multiplication or expansion we seek.

John 10:10 is a scripture that I like keeping close to my heart. Jesus came that we might have life, abundant life. But not for nothing. I remember when I first started investing in my retirement. I was shown all kinds of diagrams and graphs about how much money I could accumulate if I invested different amounts at different points in my life. The bottom line was the sooner I started, the more long-term earning potential I would have. Along the same lines, if you want to multiple and expand, start right now. The sooner you start, the more you can expand and multiply.

 

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” As we keep our focus on God and seek His direction and will for our lives, the hope is that God’s plan for expansion and growth will naturally come as a result.

 

PCC Scroll: Word of the Quarter

In this issue of the PCC Scroll, we continue the overarching theme of “Being a good steward: Working what’s in your hands.” The overarching focus started in the fall issue with the subject of “Recognizing what is in your hand: What are you steward over?” followed by “Exploring creative ideas: How else can you use your gifts” in the winter issue. In this issue, the overarching thought continues with the topic, “Multiplying what you have: Expanding your territory.”

 

Webster has several definitions for the word territory, including “a geographic area belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a governmental authority,” a field of knowledge or interest” and “an assigned area.”

 

One of the most well-known verses about enlarging territory is found in 1 Chronicles 4 where Jabez, who is featured in “Men of the Bible,” prayed that God would enlarge his territory. In “Women of the Bible,” we see five sisters, known as the Daughters of Zelophehad, claiming the portion of the promised land that would have gone to their deceased father. This promised territory came from an oath that God made years before. It is referenced in Deuteronomy 19:8, “And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers.”

 

God was constantly expanding Israel’s physical territory. In Isaiah 54:2-3, God tells Israel, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.”

 

What is your territory or areas that you have influence in? Are you on the usher board, praise team, hospitality team, a minister, a deacon, a writer, a teacher, etc.? How can you expand your territory? What more can you do to serve your church and your community? Whatever you are doing is part of a greater purpose. Imagine the impact we would have if we all expanded together?

 

Do you have goals, dreams and desires or areas that you want God to expand? Pray about them and work toward them. Maybe there is a gift you have that you’ll want to take professional classes on to expand your knowledge, skills and opportunities. Maybe there’s a successful program/ministry you’ve designed that you can build up as a model for expansion to other sites and cities with a similar demographic and need. Maybe it is investing in leadership development by empowering others in the work that you do so that a job, program or system is not solely dependent on you.

 

Do you have a vision for how you want to expand? There are doors and opportunities God wants to open for us, and we must be prepared. Look for these opportunities and new doors to open and look for areas where you can increase your influence.

 

In all aspects of your life – be it church, work or personal – we invite you to expand your territory.

 

PCC Scroll: Your Money Matters

When it comes to retirement, investing is the way to multiply your money and build your retirement savings. There are different ways you can invest.

 

As part of their benefits package, many employers began offering 401s as a supplement (and in most cases nowadays as a replacement) to pensions around 1978. 401s are retirement plans sponsored by your employer that offer a mix of mutual funds composed of stocks, bonds and money market investments. Most are target-dated, so your portfolio should become more conservative as you near retirement age. Many employers will match up to a certain dollar amount so be sure to take advantage of that. Most programs automatically deduct the amount from your paycheck and there is a legal allowable amount you can invest each year.

 

With 401s, employees save and invest money from their paychecks before taxes are taken out, known as salary deferral contributions. The money earned is placed in the plan and saved for retirement. Inside the plan, the money can grow tax-deferred. Normally, income taxes would have been withheld off of the money earned. But with 401s, you don’t pay income tax in the current year. Taxes won’t be paid until money is withdrawn from the account during retirement. Please note that there is a penalty fee if you withdraw funds before a certain age, normally 59 and a half. You also must begin withdrawing money out by a certain age or face a penalty.

 

You can invest into an individual retirement account (IRA). IRAs are individual accounts, so you can’t share one with your spouse. There are two types: traditional IRA and ROTH IRA. You can have money automatically deducted from your bank account into your IRA

account(s) and there is a maximum amount you can contribute toward both IRAs each year. Traditional IRAs are tax deferred like 401s. You won’t pay taxes until you begin withdrawing money. When you begin withdrawing money, it will be taxed as part of your regular income. With a ROTH IRA, the money you contribute has already been taxed. When you begin withdrawing money, taxes would have already been paid. Like 401s, you will pay a penalty if you take money out before you reach a certain age.

 

If you are confident in your investment skills, you can invest on your own. Be sure to do your research and pay attention to when it is time to buy and sell. You can also invest with a financial planner who can help manage your portfolio based on your risk tolerance. If you go the advisor route, be sure to understand the fee structure.

 

You can invest in real estate. For example, you could own a rental home. The caveat is to remember to have money set aside for when your rental property is vacant. Be sure to have money set aside for planned and unplanned maintenance as well and be aware of rising property taxes. People also invest in commercial real estate like apartment buildings. Some people flip homes. This is normally done in “hot” markets but be aware that markets can cool off very quickly.

 

Another small way to invest could be opening an interest-bearing checking account. Please note that they normally require a high balance to open and maintain.

 

Don’t forget to set a goal to be debt free. The money you were using for credit card and other debt could then go toward investing in your future. In addition, taking a side job can give you extra money to either pay off debt or invest in your future.

 

The most important thing is to remember to have your money work for you. You want to be able to retire one day and in comfort.

 

PCC Scroll: Your Money Matters

Here is the “Your Money Matters” section of the latest PCC Scroll.

There is an old saying that goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” This adage is especially true when it comes to managing your money. If you concentrate all of your investments and planning in one area, you could lose substantially. That’s why it’s important to diversify your portfolio.

 

When it comes to financial planning, diversification is critical to mitigating risks. This could be done by diversifying your investments in stocks (U.S. and foreign), bonds, mutual funds, etc., while having liquid cash. It also means diversifying risk levels (high, moderate, and low), investment types (large cap and small cap), and market sectors. Some people also invest in real estate or rent out space(s) in their home on sites like Airbnb.

 

Stocks are more volatile than bonds with the potential for high growth and high loss. Historically speaking, the market seems to run on a ten-year, up-and-down cycle. Bonds are shorter-term investments with less risk. But with their stability, there is also less growth. Stocks may be better for long-term investments, and bonds may be better for short-term investments. And of course, cash is always good to have in an emergency. If you are considering investing in real estate, remember you will need to monetarily plan for vacancies and repairs (planned and unplanned).

 

While you are diversifying your portfolio, you can also diversify your income stream. Outside of your “9 to 5” job, you could use your skillset, time, and hobbies to earn additional income. Some examples include: babysitting, tutoring, consulting/coaching, writing, singing lessons, piano lessons, social media management, resume/grant writing, etc. I met a woman who started making candles for herself and her friends and family as a hobby. She now spends her weekends selling them at farmers’ markets as an income generator. I have also met several people who sell their travel photos at farmers’ markets. People also sell their pictures as stock photos and make royalties. This is actually something I want to explore. You could also drive for Uber, Lyft, and UberEats whenever convenient for your schedule. A lot of people will also pick up seasonal, part-time work, especially during the holidays. If you are eligible for overtime pay, picking up extra hours is also a good option. I recently stayed at an Airbnb, and my host only does it when she needs extra cash for a large purchase.

 

It is important to know where you are financially and where you want to go. When developing your portfolio, think about your investment goals. Think about your risk tolerance. Consider where you are in your timeline. For example, if you are planning for retirement, are you less than ten years away? If so, stay away from high-risk investments.

 

As we start a new year, it is always a good time to reset your finances. How much money do you currently have invested? Can you invest more? Look at where your money is currently invested and reallocate it if necessary. Think about the end game. How much money are you looking to earn over how many years? Also does your job offer a 401 match? If so, you should take advantage of this benefit! If you are risk adverse, why not use your employer match funds to invest in higher-risk stocks?

 

Invest in a financial planner if you need help. A good financial planner can help you create the financial future you desire. When looking for an advisor, make sure it is someone you can trust and seek recommendations. If you do go the advisor route, understand what fees you will pay. The bottom line is knowing yourself. If you have the discipline to do the research and monitor your accounts, do so. Otherwise, seek professional help.

 

Whatever you do, conduct your own research and keep a balanced portfolio.

 

PCC Scroll: Men of the Bible (Joseph)

Here is the “Men of the Bible” from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

Name: Joseph

Meaning: May He (Jehovah) add

His Character: Joseph was wise, prudent, and spiritually sensitive.

His Sorrow: In their jealousy, his brothers sold him into slavery. He was also imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

His Triumph: Joseph was reunited with his family. He reconciled with his older brothers and was reunited with his father and younger brother, Benjamin. He was able to provide for his family and a nation during a famine.

Key Scriptures: Genesis 30 – 50

Being Jacob’s first child from his beloved Rachel in Jacob’s old age, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite. Jacob’s favoritism was further illustrated when he purchased, for Joseph, a colorful robe. Joseph was naturally confident and knowing he was his father’s favorite amplified it. Joseph was also aware of the call of God on his life. He had dreams that pointed to his eventual greatness, and he was not afraid to share them. His older brothers found his being their fathers’ favorite, his confidence, and his dreams unbearable and conspired against him. Some wanted to kill him, but they ended up selling him into slavery.

 

Joseph managed to survive and prosper wherever he landed. He was a person who walked in favor, and, as he aged, wisdom was added to his confidence. From Potiphar (who placed Joseph in charge of everything he owned), the prison warden (who placed Joseph in charge of the other prisoners), other prisoners (including the pharaoh’s cup bearer who would later remember and recommend Joseph to the pharaoh), the pharaoh (whose dream Joseph interpreted), and eventually the same brothers who sold him into slavery–Joseph won the hearts of those around him.

 

Joseph was known for his integrity and spiritual sensitivity. Because of his spiritual sensitivity, he was able to hear from God and correctly interpret pharaoh’s dream. This interpretation gave them the steps needed to prepare a nation to survive the famine, saving many lives. Egypt’s being prepared caused many to go there, including Joseph’s family. He was able to help his family, see his father and younger brother, and reconcile with the brothers who sold him into slavery.

 

At Joseph’s initial reconnection with his brothers, he recognized them although they did not recognize him. As they bowed before him, he was probably reminded of his initial dream. He accused them of being spies. The interaction with his brothers may have been to test to see if they had changed, and he wanted to ascertain how they treated Benjamin. When the brothers returned with Benjamin, at Joseph’s command, it was Judah’s protective nature toward Benjamin that caused Joseph to emotionally reveal himself. The eventual reunion of Jacob and Joseph is one of the most moving scenes in the Bible.

 

In his life, Joseph experienced a lot. He was betrayed by his brothers, but he was able to forgive them and hold no bitterness toward them. He was wrongly accused of rape and imprisoned, but he knew he did the right thing in resisting temptation because he did not want to sin against God. Even in his darkest situations, Joseph was aware that God was with him. He rose from being a slave to being a ruler in Egypt. To paraphrase Joseph, God made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.

 

In Joseph, we see a wonderful example that even what others intend for evil, God can use for our good. God was continually blessing Joseph and delivering him from challenging situations. God blessed Joseph with wisdom and success. Joseph moved from strength to strength in his life and was blessed even in the most unlikely situations. He rose from being sold into slavery at 17 years old to being a Hebrew slave and prisoner for 13 years to becoming the second-in-command in Egypt by the age of 30 years old.