Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Priscilla’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


 

group of women
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

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.

Advertisements

How to Give Thanks for the Hard Times in Your Marriage.


Whitney Hopler

The most famous Pilgrim couple of all, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, were among those who participated in the Plymouth Colony’s first Thanksgiving feast during the fall of 1621. John and Priscilla would marry about two years later and go on to have 11 children. Historians now estimate that the Aldens have more descendants than any of the other original Pilgrims who rode the Mayflower ship from England to the land that would become the United States of America.

John and Priscilla’s courtship and marriage became part of American folklore after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about it in his epic poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish” (1858). The poem describes stories that passed down through generations of the Alden family through oral tradition. In the poem’s narrative, widowed Mayflower captain Miles Standish is shy about expressing his love for Priscilla, so he asks John (who worked aboard the Mayflower as a barrel inspector and in Plymouth Colony as a magistrate) to propose to Priscilla on his behalf. Priscilla, sensing that John himself is in love with her, replies: “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”

The poem ends by describing John and Priscilla’s glorious wedding day, making it seem like a storybook fantasy:

“Onward the bridal procession now moved to their new habitation/Happy husband and wife, and friends conversing together. / Pleasantly murmured the brook, as they crossed the ford in the forest / Pleased with the image that passed, like a dream of love through its bosom / Tremulous, floating in air, o’er the depths of the azure abysses.”

As every married couple learns, however, each day of marriage brings challenges to overcome – no matter how perfect their wedding day may have seemed.

John and Priscilla suffered through many challenges in their storied relationship, just as all spouses do. Some of those challenges included:

  • Grief: One of their 11 children died in infancy, and both John and Priscilla lost many friends and family members to death during the first harsh winter at Plymouth Colony, where Priscilla’s entire family died.
  • Exhaustion: Both had to work hard at the many demanding chores involved in developing the new colony and parenting their children.
  • Anxiety: They had to deal with the uncertainty of whether or not they would successfully survive in the New World amid threats such as famine and violent attacks from Native Americans and rivals from other colonies.
  • Illness: They fell ill at various times during their marriage, as colonists lacked the advantages of modern medicine.
  • Gossip and slander: John was arrested for a fight he didn’t participate in (between the Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, over trading rights) because rival colonists were looking for a high-ranking Plymouth Colony member to punish and John happened to be nearby. One-sided accounts of what happened then landed John in prison until Plymouth Colony officials intervened to tell their side of the story, and John was finally released to go home to Priscilla.

Yet despite the many hard times they suffered through together, John and Priscilla are best known today for giving thanks to God.

Gratitude is a key ingredient of a strong marriage. A 2013 research study from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill showed that the more romantic partners expressed gratitude to each other, the more satisfied they reported feeling about their relationships. Couples also developed more positive attitudes about their partners when they both communicated thankfulness for loving actions that they had done for each other recently.

Today, spouses often tend to give thanks only when something good happens in their relationship, overlooking the Bible’s guidance in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” But the Aldens gave thanks even during terrible suffering.

You can use this Thanksgiving holiday as inspiration to renew your marriage by making a new habit of thanking God together for whatever is going on in your lives — whether good or bad — because God can use it all to draw you and your spouse closer to Him.

Here are some ways you can strengthen your marriage by giving thanks in all circumstances:

You can learn to value each other in new ways. Going through hard times together can teach you a lot about each other that you couldn’t have learned otherwise, since crises tend to reveal people’s deepest thoughts and feelings. Responding to those hard times with gratitude will train you to appreciate each other in fresh ways. Consider what happens when illness or injury changes a previously beautiful or handsome spouse’s body, or when job loss changes a previously rich spouse’s income. The hardship forces you to see each other from a different perspective – and gratitude opens your eyes to new aspects you can appreciate about each other.

You can both develop stronger character. Every time you or your spouse chooses to give God “a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) by following His call to thank Him in all circumstances, that obedience strengthens your character so that you become more like Jesus. The more each of you become like Jesus, the more His love will flow between you, strengthening your marriage.

You can focus your mind on what God wants you to think about. Hard times present you with a stark choice about how to respond: You can choose either to focus on your negative circumstances, or you can choose to focus on the positive fact that God is greater than your circumstances. Giving thanks sets your mind in a positive direction. As you start to notice the good work God is doing in your lives even during hard times, you’ll renew your minds, and Romans 12:2 promises that then “you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is” for every part of your lives, including your marriage.

You can learn more about God by trusting in His sovereignty. Pilgrims like John and Priscilla Alden often emphasized the importance of trusting God’s sovereign will in any situation. They made a habit of thanking God for who He is (which remains constant) rather than just for His blessings (which vary). When you and your spouse choose to give thanks no matter what – simply because God is good and involved in your life – you’ll discover that you serve a God of love who will constantly give you fresh doses of His love to strengthen your marriage.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: November 20, 2013

Tag Cloud