Ladies

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Purpose Statement:
This column will examine God's
Word and His plans and purposes for ladies as women, wives, homemakers and mothers.

Email Celeste
 

God's Purpose for Women

In my original article, I introduced you briefly to God's "designer original" woman, who was a totally new creation, extremely different from man in many ways, but similar in others. Although they were created equal, they were given different roles and responsibilities. We mentioned that the primary purpose for the creation of woman according to Scripture was to be a helpmeet to man. This in no way limited the gifts and abilities of women. I really believe that women can do anything men can do and sometimes do it better, but some things do not bring them the same sense of fulfillment or satisfaction as a man.

A few years back in the magazine section of the Sunday paper in a column called "Ask Them Yourself" questions were addressed to well known people. Here is the question submitted to the late Taylor Caldwell, a well known novelist. "Recently it was reported that your book, "Captains and the Kings" will be seen as a nine-hour TV production. Does this bring you the solid satisfaction that seemed denied you by Hollywood's failure to make films of your books?"

Her reply was the most poignant but candid answer I ever heard. She said, "There is no solid satisfaction in any career for a woman like myself. There is no home, no true freedom, no hope, no joy, no expectation for tomorrow, no contentment. I would rather cook a meal for a man and bring him his slippers and feel myself in the protection of his arms than have all the citations and awards and honors I have received worldwide, including the Ribbon of Legion of Honor and my property and my bank accounts. They mean nothing to me. And I am only one among the millions of sad women like myself."

Some of the similarities between men and women are:

Both created in the image and likeness of God Gen. 1:26-27
Both given dominion over the earth Gen. 1:26-27
Both given command to be fruitful and multiply Gen. 1:28
Both provided with food for sustenance by God Gen. 1:29-30
Both endowed with the faculty for making moral choices Gen. 3:11
Both sinned Gen. 3:6, 12
Both received judgment from God Gen. 3:16-17
Both redeemed Gen. 3:21
Both protected from eternal life in their sinful state Gen. 3:22

We will look into exactly what took place in the garden in the next article. Remember, God loves you and has a wonderful plan and purpose for your life, even though you may think you have been born into a man's world. He has wonderful, satisfying fulfilling things in store for you.


Women in the Early Church

In the previous months we have seen the important part that women played in the life and ministry of Jesus. After His death, they continued to play a large part in the early church. These were not just women of the street or demon-possessed women out of whom devils had been cast, but some were important and influential women.

After Paul's dramatic conversion and on his first missionary trip to Europe, we find a successful businesswoman gathered with women at the riverside to pray. Her name was Lydia, the first convert in Europe. She prevailed upon Paul and his colleagues to meet in her home where a church was formed Acts 16:13-15.

Women were responsive to Paul's and Silas's teaching Acts 17:12. One believer was a woman named Damaris (Acts 17:34). The fact that she was singled out with Dionysius the Areopagite, one of the court judges, indicates personal or social distinction. Some writers think she was the wife of Dionysius, but there is no evidence of that. When Paul was attacked at Athens, Damaris along with Dionysius stood by him and believed.

There was another woman named Claudia who was among the devout women who greatly encouraged the Apostle Paul in his arduous labors for Christ 2 Tim. 4:21. She was a member of one of the great old houses in Rome.

In Ephesus Aquila and Priscilla were often mentioned by Paul and called his fellow workers Rom. 16:3. They were evidently well versed in the known Scriptures and helped correct Apollos' theology Acts 17:26.

Paul mentioned Phoebe as a servant of the church..."helper of many and of myself as well" Rom. 16:1-2. Dorcas, a woman known for her unselfish life and charitable acts, was called "a certain disciple" and is thus included among the numerous disciples mentioned in the New Testament.

The early church leaders responded positively to widows' complaints Acts 6:1-7. Widows were given special attention, assistance and care 1 Tim. 5:3-16. Older women were instructed to encourage and teach younger women Titus 2:2-5. The second letter of John was addressed to the chosen lady 2 John 1. There are numerous other references to women throughout the Scriptures showing they have a place in God's heart and ministry. He has given each of us spiritual gifts (men and women) to be used in the edification of the body of Christ. Are you fitting in with His plans and purposes for you as a woman? It is truly a wonderful life!
 


Women in the World

Often in this current world in which we live we hear the phrase, "It's a man's world." In some places in the world women are not valued very highly. However, we see an entirely different picture in how Jesus values women. Most women who appear in Scripture are competent, secure, qualified people who had responsible roles to fill and in doing so played a vital part in the shaping of history and in the development of lives. They are beautiful examples of humanity at every economic level of society.

God chose to send His Son into the world through the womb of a young Jewish betrothed maiden. Someone said Jesus entered this world through a borrowed womb and left this world through a borrowed tomb. When informed by the angel of God's plans, Mary replied, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:28)

Jesus performed his first miracle in Cana of Galilee at the request of a women, his mother, Mary. Her orders to the servants is applicable to us today, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." (John 2:5)

Several women ministered to Him and with Him during His three years of ministry. Mary of Bethany sat at His feet as He taught. It was unheard of for a rabbi to teach a women. Jesus said of her that she had chosen the better part.

Jesus made two of his most outstanding revelations to women. He went out of His way to meet a sinful, Samaritan woman who had come to draw water in the heat of the day. Can you hear the pathos in his voice as he declared "If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and He would have given thee living water" (John 4:10). After she confessed that she knew the Messiah would come someday, He made the startling revelation, "I that speak unto thee am He" (John 4:26). He had told her in v. 21, "Woman, believe me.

The other woman to whom he made a startling revelation was Martha. After the death of Lazarus, Jesus delayed his coming to see her and Mary. She complained to Him if He'd only been there her brother would not have died. He revealed to her alone the wonderful truth, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die: (John 11:25-26. "Believest thou this?"

God never intended women to feel inferior or to live fearfully beneath some cloud of unfair domination. In no way is she ever viewed as an individual lacking in worth or dignity. We will examine some more of Jesus' personal encounters and experiences with women in the next lesson. As you read your Bible, watch for what the Bible has to say about women and to women. Take it to heart. That's especially for you! A study of women of the Bible has always been a joy to me. Try it


Women in the World, II

Continuing our discussion about the value Jesus placed on women, let me just cite many specific incidents in the Scriptures. We have already mentioned how He went out of His way to meet a sinful, Samaritan woman and revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, (John 4) and also how he comforted Mary and Martha after the death of Lazarus (John 11). Remember how Mary sat at his feet as He taught. It was unheard of for a rabbi to teach a woman! Also Mary anointed Jesus with the precious ointment before His death (John 12:1-8).

There were many more encounters with individual women. Here are a few of them. There were women who ministered to Him and the disciples (Lk. 8:1-3).

He interrupted a funeral procession one day in order to raise a poor widow's only son to life (Lk. 7:11-16).

He had compassion on the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11) and on the woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years (Mark 5:25-34).

He had words of commendation for the widow who generously gave all she had to the temple offering - two mites (Luke 21:1-4).

When He was on the cross and nearly all the men had run away in fear, He saw the faithful women there (John 19:25).

His last concern on the cross was about a woman, His mother, whom He committed to John's care (John 19:26-27.)

It was the faithful women who went to the tomb that first Easter morning to anoint the body of Jesus with spices only to find an empty tomb (Luke 23:55,56; 24:1).

After His resurrection, Jesus first appeared to a woman, Mary Magdalene (Jn. 20:11-18).

I point out some of these things just to show you that Jesus cares about women. He calls women to serve Him just as He calls men. There was a teacher who taught that God only speaks to and calls men. He calls the women to the men!! How absurd! The Lord had already called me to serve Him before I even met my husband. Remember what I said earlier, the call to Christian service is as universal as the call to salvation. Whosoever will.

There are many ways that you as a woman can serve and honor the Lord if you are only willing and available. Phil 2:13 "For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Remember the old hymns, "There's Joy in Serving Jesus" and "It Pays to Serve Jesus." They are true. We have had a wonderful life of serving the Lord together now for fifty-five years.

We will continue with one more article about how the Scripture portrays women and what God's attitude toward them is as we look at some of the things that occurred in the life of Paul.

Do have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Season, remembering that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
 


God Wants To Use You

It is my firm belief that the call to Christian service is as universal as the call to salvation – "Whosoever will"! In Major Ian Thomas' book The Saving Life of Christ He recounts the experience of Moses in the desert when he beheld the burning bush and was told to remove his sandals for the ground he was standing on was holy. He asks, what kind of a bush do you think it was? It didn't matter what kind of bush it was, it was God in the bush that mattered. Then he made this classic unforgettable statement, "Any old bush will do, even you." God will use any one who will be available to Him.

When we became a Christian, the Holy Spirit came to indwell us and He is not content to be a resident in our lives, He wants to be President!! When we yield to Him (Rom. 6:13) and ask Him to take control, (1 John 5:14-15) He then produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23) and will live the life of Christ through us (Gal. 2:20).

When we finally realize that living a victorious Christian life is not just difficult, it is utterly impossible in the flesh, then we are making progress. In Rom. 8:8 it says, "So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." If we are trying to serve God in the flesh, it is only "filthy rags" to Him. However, realizing that :"in ourselves we can do nothing", but through Christ "we can do all things," there is no limit to what He can do through us. It takes all the stress and strain out of Christian service.

Many times my husband has told me of the first chapel services of the year at Dallas Theological Seminary, how Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder, would address the student body with the academically robed faculty behind him and state that there was only one teacher of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit. When I was a little apprehensive about taking over a large Bible Class which had been taught by a Th.D. a godly woman advised me, "Remember, dear, they will still have the same teacher". It was like a slap in the face, but a wonderful reminder!

Just remember, God wants to use YOU - "Any old bush will do, even YOU."
 


Celeste's Testimony

In our first articles we discussed how we were designed and created by God as unique creations with an innate ability to influence and impact the lives of others. In order to be the women God wants us to be and to influence others in a godly, positive way we must be properly related to the entire Trinity. We do this initially by coming to know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. It is not enough just to know about Jesus even to believe in Him that He died for the sins of the whole world. May I share a portion of my own personal testimony here?

I was raised in what is known as a nominal Christian home. We believed in God, we attended church, we asked the blessing at meals, etc. I believed everything I had ever heard about Christ, that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for the sins of the world, was raised from the dead on the third day and later ascended back into heaven. I hadn't heard that good part about Him coming back again, but if I had I would have believed that too. But that was not enough! Even the devils believe and they tremble. Not until I was sixteen did I come to realize that it was personal. Jesus died for me, even if there had been no one else in the world. I had to make it personal. 

Someone wrote a little tract called Missing Heaven by 18 Inches. That's what I was doing. That is the approximate distance between the brain and the heart. I knew these things were true and gave mental assent to them, but I evidently had not received Him in my heart. There had been no change in my life. 2 Cor.5:17 says "if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are new". I had been baptized at age twelve after Vacation Bible School and joined the church. The pastor came to my house and I'm sure I gave all the right answers. However, there was no real change until I was l6 and attending a Young Life Club and hearing my classmates give personal testimonies, I realized that Christ died for my sins and I received him privately after class one night. Although I didn't tell anyone that night, my life was drastically changed from then on. I became a child of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit took up residence in my body. Praise the Lord! 

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer said "To be rightly related to Jesus Christ makes one a Christian. To be rightly related to the Holy Spirit makes one a spiritual Christian." We'll continue that subject next month. Although my husband has made the gospel very clear in each article, I felt I should share my own personal testimony with you. I trust each of you has experienced that new birth that makes you a child of God. This is the first essential for being the woman God created you to be. May the Lord bless you today and use you according to His will.


The Influence and Impact of Women

The amazing power and influence that women wield was brought to my attention in the first chapter of Eugenia Price's Woman to Woman many years ago. I'd like to quote several outstanding statements she made.

"God made women in such a way that they wield a singular kind of mysterious influence over the lives their lives touch. I have scriptural backing for this statement that God created into woman a particular power to influence." In Genesis 3 almost six complete verses are given over to the first attack by the tempter on the first woman. The wily one went straight to Eve and the entire basic problem of human nature, the right to one's self, sprang into being through a woman. He didn't approach Adam, he approached Eve."

Most of us know this to some extent, but are not aware of how true it is and how extensive. We have the power to mark the lives of those with whom we come in contact. Influence is a neutral word, it can be used either for good and for evil. This was illustrated vividly in some "Unshackled" interviews that Ms. Price did for radio programs. Out of 250 people asked about people who had influenced their lives either for good or evil, 212 said their lives had been directly twisted or blessed by the influence of a woman. Sadly, in most cases the woman's influence was destructive. These women were not always wives, but mothers, grandmothers, aunts, school teachers, employers, friends, etc.

Women do not have to be dominating characters to influence. Sometimes a very weak, timid woman can leave the deepest scars on lives. With feigned illness or whining she can exert power and influence. "Extreme timidity is not humility.  It is often neurotic self-consciousness and self-love."

This is why it is so very important that we be controlled by the Spirit of God so that our influence and impact is positive and godly. Henry Galus in The Impact of a Woman made a striking statement. "The weaker sex is the stronger sex through the weakness of the stronger sex for the weaker sex." You may have to read that over a couple of times to really get the significance of it.

Down through the ages it has fallen to the women to preserve culture. Marriage was once the only career available to her . In the 1890's this was written. "Housekeeping is a science...those little considered sisters of mine - the housekeepers of America - upon their discretion and ability and thrift depend not only men's creature comforts but to a great extent, their success in life...". We have often heard that a woman can either make or break a man. How true that is. We have seen that often in the ministry. It is so important that we stand with our husbands, not just behind them. We're familiar with the adage that the husband is the head, but the wife is the neck that turns the head. This applies also to other male-female relationships. So ladies, beware! Which way are you turning his head? Remember that in Proverbs 31:10-12, the virtuous woman's husband safely trusts in her and "she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." 


Woman - A Designer Original

How do you feel about yourself as a woman? Have you asked yourself these questions? Who am I? Why am I a woman? What can I do? Is it really a man's world? We need to learn self-acceptance and acceptance of God's place for us as women. 

As we go back to the beginning of creation and see what the Bible teaches about women, we will see that God did something special when he created us -- we are each a "designer original." Let me ask you a question that may provoke some thought. When was Eve created? 

During those first six days, we see light; land and sea; grass, herbs and seed; sun, moon and stars; sea creatures and fowl; land animals and man created. At the close of each day, as God viewed his creation he said, "It is good". but after he had created man, but not woman, he said "It is not good -- for man to be alone". However, some space of time must have elapsed before Eve was created during which Adam was able to see that all the animals had male and female counterparts. The Scripture says there was not found an helpmeet for Adam. The fact that something was not found indicated it was searched for. He even had time to name all the animals. He was given instructions regarding his responsibilities in the garden and about the tree of life. Eve was not yet on the scene.

When God created a woman, he created something unique. This was not just a female man, but something very different. While they were created equal in the likeness and image of God and had many similarities; both were given dominion over the earth, both commanded to be fruitful and multiply, both provided with food for sustenance by God, both endowed with the faculty for making moral choices, but they were given different roles and responsibilities.

The purpose of creation of the woman was to be a help meet to man. Man needed woman before he needed salvation. It is still not good for a man to be alone. I've heard Jerry Falwell make the statement, "God created man with a need that even He Himself could not fill" - only a woman.

The Hebrew language is very specific in the words used in creation. One word for making something out of nothing, another making from existing materials, a word for "fashioning" the male body and a different word for "building" the body of a woman. Also there are separate words for the male soul and the female soul. I am not using the Hebrew words, as most of us wouldn't know them anyway.

All of this to point out that when God made a woman, it was an entirely new creation. I have dozens of articles and books which delineate the basic differences between men and women. We will discuss these later. But God made you special. You are truly a "designer original". Rejoice in your femininity and appreciate the differences.

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