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Posts tagged ‘Lydia’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


 

group of women
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The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.

Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.

Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.

Extraordinary Sensitivity
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.

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Tapping Into the Power of Your Influence as a Woman.


Dr. Mark Chironna
Dr. Mark Chironna

I learned a lot about manhood from the men I grew up with. From my observations, being a man was all about power and authority. It was about taking charge and getting ahead, staking your claim and then making it happen.

Men, it seemed, were supposed to keep things close to their breast pockets and not let too much in lest they be taken advantage of.

I used to think it was indigenous to my ethnic background, until I was older and discovered that men in other cultures and nationalities modeled similar behavior. It’s all about pecking order and dominance, who’s going to be in charge and whose opinions carry the most weight. I learned at an unconscious level how to do my best to be in charge and have my way.

The irony of all that male bonding was that very little bonding actually took place in terms of truly connecting to other men. Instead, it seemed we learned how to model the behavior of the most effective guy in the pack. We would then go out and try to find our own crowd to lead–that is, if we had the urge to be leaders.

I learned how to be suspicious, how not to play my hand and how to bury my feelings. But along the way I also lost touch with genuine authenticity and intimacy. I fell for the illusion that I could make it on my own.

I have since learned that not only can we not make it on our own, but to be on our own is to be alone! Someone much wiser than any man or woman made the statement that it was not good for man to be alone, long before man ever had the chance to prove otherwise (see Gen. 2:18).

LYDIA AND ROSA The birth of rising inflation in our era has forced many families to have two sources of income in order to survive. Over the years the traditional role of women as homemakers and men as their family’s sole breadwinner has radically shifted. I can clearly remember even in my growing-up days watching my mom and dad deal with the need for both of them to work.

A challenge of a different sort also emerged: While the economy demanded that both men and women have a place in the work force, women were not considered equal to men. They were not equally compensated for the work they did.

Unfortunately, some who chose to distort truth and keep women under used the Bible to justify their failure to relate to the opposite sex in an equitable way when decisions were made and finances were involved. There was an unspoken rule–at least in the neighborhood in which I grew up–that a woman had to keep her place and that place was in the home.

Certainly there is great merit to having a secure home front and a strong maternal love for the family you are raising. No one can take the place of the nurturing influence of a woman, wife and mother.

Yet I wonder how Lydia, the Philippian entrepreneur involved in the textile industry, would have fared in today’s post-modern age of Western civilization. What might she have said about a woman’s place? (See Acts 16:11-15.)

I find it intriguing that because of Lydia, Paul was led in the strategy of the Spirit to establish a base of operations for a move of God in the Macedonia region.

This was not the Jewish world of the synagogue, in which the study of the scrolls was for men only. This was a Gentile world in which the rules were different, the culture was different, the climate was different and the opportunities were different. Paul recognized that Lydia was a woman of influence.

There is a great deal of difference between power and influence. Power has little to do with leadership, while influence has everything to do with it.

Even authority has very little to do with leadership. You can lose your authority and still be a leader. You can be denied power and still have influence.

African American Rosa Parks knew she didn’t have any authority when she got on the bus that morning just prior to the birth of the Civil Rights Movement and refused to sit in the back. However, she did have influence.

She was the reason the flames of hope burned brightly in the face of the flames of racial discrimination and hatred. Her influence paved the way for Martin Luther King Jr. to speak out against the inequality he saw in this nation.

There is no question that King had a major impact on how we view equality and justice at the end of the 20th century, yet the collaboration of King and Parks changed the outcome exponentially.

THE FEMININE VOICE In many corridors of today’s church there are those who still do not know how to resolve the woman issue. Every time I think we are regaining the glory of Paul’s declaration that in Christ there is neither male nor female, some voice rises to condemn the place of women in significantly influencing our world.

It seems to me that the percentage of women who abuse the privilege of power is small. It’s certainly not as high as the percentage of men who misuse power on a much broader scale.

But men who are hearing from God in these days of fresh outpouring are learning to observe, listen, and evaluate as the feminine voice provides the missing pieces and fills in the gap in understanding the unfolding of God’s divine purpose and will.

The rib taken from Adam was built into an entire support system that would reflect God’s glory in every arena ventured into. Men and women were designed to rule over all the works of the Creator’s hands, both in the garden and outside the garden.

The garden was the sanctuary. The first man and the first woman each had a responsibility to beautify the sanctuary and then extend it to the four corners of the globe. In open and honest dialogue they were to find new ways of viewing reality because they learned how to see creation and its workings through each other’s eyes. They were to collaborate in the process of heavenizing the earth.

Ironically, in today’s corporate world opportunities for dialogue–that is, shared and open conversation–abound between men and women. New and emerging models of leadership and influence are moving on the cutting edge of transforming businesses and organizations. “Empowerment” and “intimacy” are becoming buzz words in business society.

Compassion in the workplace was unheard of as a hot topic just one generation ago. Developing a vision of shared values where everyone feels he or she is a part and has a vital stake in the ultimate outcome wasn’t even considered necessary in the global arena three decades ago. Wouldn’t it be tragic if the secular arena modeled collaboration between men and women more effectively than the church?

Throughout the story of redemptive history we see vignettes of God’s intention to reveal the fullness of His glory through the collaboration and connection between men and women. When abusive authority oppressed the elect of God it was often the subtle and seemingly weaker vessel that became the key to deliverance.

Didn’t Deborah say that the evil oppressor Sisera would die at the hands of a woman? (See Judg. 4:9.) During the heat of battle, as his men were being overcome by the Israelite army, Sisera got off his horse, fled on foot and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber. Jael drove the spike into the head of the enemy and crushed his skull (see Judg. 4:17-22).

Did Jael have authority? Not really. But she did have influence. While the battle raged not far from her tent, the victory was decided at her hand. It was prophesied that the crushing of the serpent’s head and the destruction of the serpent’s seed would be the direct result of what a woman had seeded into the situation (see Gen. 3:15).

When God wanted to initiate change in the nation of Israel, He asked for individuals who could get in touch with the feeling side of pain and bring it to speech to alter the flow of history. God, through the prophet Jeremiah, asked for the weeping women (see Jer. 9:17-22).

We don’t value tears much in situations in which we desire to be in control. Yet the power of God is revealed in the weak things that fly in the face of Adam’s broken image. Jeremiah himself had his entire ministry of influence built on his weakness and propensity for tears (see Jer. 9:1).

THE RICHNESS OF COLLABORATION Men and women will never be complete without each other. While at times we need to segregate, having meetings for women and meetings for men, we don’t need to rob ourselves of the richness we’ll find when we join together as co-laborers in the kingdom. Then we can manifest God’s glory in the church and in the world.

A world grasping for power, yet out of control, requires a church that is not afraid to be touchable, connected and flowing in a river bigger than our individual identity.

I strongly believe it’s the intention and heart of our Father that in this new era we begin to appreciate the dynamic that occurs when men and women collaborate for the sake of healing and empowering the nations. We must let the nations see the whole gospel modeled and see that transparency and honesty prevail in our relationships as men and women.

The fresh renewing we are experiencing in these days is ultimately intended to bring us to the true demonstration of God’s power and the unspeakable joy of connecting by being present to one another. Our willingness to drink deeply at each other’s wells will be the deciding factor in our ability to experience all God has for the nations as well as for our personal lives.

In the Son of Man we see the balance of logic and emotion, reason and feeling. In Him we see man-made cultural rules being broken and women having a place of influence along with the twelve.

By MARK CHIRONNA

God’s Big Move in a Small Town.


Diane Shaffer
Diane Shaffer, shown with a cane before healing, can now run

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That’s the story in Blairsville, Ga., where believers are reporting miraculous healings.

“We were on a 21-day fast seeking a move of God—and God moved,” says Asa Dockery, senior pastor of World Harvest Church North in Blairsville. “We are seeing a sovereign move of His Spirit after almost 11 years of consistent prayer and fasting.”

The miracles began after Diane Shaffer, 64, gave a testimony of how God saved her life. Shaffer had returned to her home from a California trip in 2008 only to discover malfunctioning lights. She went to the breaker box, flipped the switch and a deafening explosion sent her flying. When she awoke, Shaffer was on her patio writhing in pain. Her house was burning to the ground and she couldn’t get up. She crawled on her elbows out the door to escape the flames.

“When the ambulance finally arrived, the paramedic told me I should be dead,” Shaffer says. “My right femur was crushed and my kneecap was broken in four places. But I was alive. God miraculously took care of $65,000 in medical bills. I paid only $323.”

Still, after undergoing surgery to insert a cadaver bone and metal rod—and eight months of physical therapy—Shaffer limped along with a cane. Her legs were two different lengths. She struggled to walk through the church doors or to stand during praise and worship.

“After Diane shared her testimony, her husband helped her back to her seat—but the creative miracle was already in the works,” Dockery says. “Diane called me later that afternoon to tell me she could run!”

When Shaffer asked the Lord about the miracle, she says a still, small voice told her she was standing where Dockery stood—and the anointing healed her. Shaffer immediately recalled the healings in Peter’s shadow recorded in Acts.

When she returned to church the following week to give her new testimony, the church exploded in praise.

“Everybody knew I was crippled and everyone saw God healed me,” Shaffer says. “I want a T-shirt that says, ‘I was crippled. Now I walk. Ask me how.’”

At the other end of the pew, Connie Brewer was nearly crippled—and nearly dead. In February the church secretary had back surgery. Soon after, she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or barely even drink. A neurosurgeon diagnosed Brewer with Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disorder with no cure.

“The disease was shutting down my muscles and my lungs. The doctor gave me about three years to live,” says Brewer, a single mother of three children. “When we were driving home from the doctor—about an eight-hour drive—I told my sister-in-law I wanted to go to the church.”

When Brewer entered the church she lay across four chairs. She says God told her to get Lydia, her sister-in-law, to pray for her arm. A now-mute Brewer crawled on her hands and knees to where Lydia was sitting and started rubbing her arm as a signal. As Lydia started praying in tongues, Brewer told God she just wanted to be able to lift her hands to worship Jesus.

“Suddenly the Holy Spirit picked me up—and I walked in front of the stage with my feet dragging on the floor crying out to God,” Brewer says. “I told God I would not leave the church until I was healed. During the service, Pastor came to me and said God wanted me to thank Him for my healing. As I started thanking God, my voice became clear and then I started to walk. God healed me!”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
By Jennifer LeClaire        

Places of Greatness: Riverside Retreat.


And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

Acts 16:13

Recommended Reading
Acts 16:11-15

Battle Creek, Michigan, is called “Cereal City” because it’s the world headquarters for America‘s great cereal companies.

But the town got its actual name from the river that flows through it, originally called the Waupakisco River.

In 1824, a violent conflict arose there between surveyors and Native Americans. After the fracas, people started calling the place Battle Creek.

In Acts 16, Paul was at “battle creek,” fighting for the souls of those who had gathered on the riverside.

Lydia and her family were converted, and then others were saved. But the battle for souls turned ugly when Paul was arrested and beaten.

Yet even that led to other conversions and to the planting of a church in the city of Philippi.

It’s always a battle when we share Christ with others.

A spiritual conflict rages in heavenly places as we seek to win souls.

But Jesus told us that as we trust Him, rivers of living water would flow from within us.

Don’t be afraid of the warfare. Seek the lost at any cost and bear your witness boldly for Christ today.

Personal witnessing is hand-to-hand spiritual conflict; therefore, we must use spiritual weapons.

Lorne Sanny

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Job 24:1-31:40

By David Jeremiah.

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