Sunday, April 7, 2024

God, Look at Me!

 



God, I don’t ever want to lose a sense of awe in You.

You in me is

Indescribable.

 

What does it mean to be the temple of God?
To be His dwelling place?
To be the place where He rests?

You don’t need safety or protection.

For You are all-powerful.

You don’t need provision.

For You are the Creator of all things.

There’s nothing You need that I can give You.

 

Except

 

Something to look at

That’s not opposing You,

That welcomes You.

 

Look at me!

 

I welcome Your gaze.

Even though it reveals

Your holiness.

Hold me in Your gaze

Because when You look at me

And I look at You looking at me

I see.

You know. You know me.

And I see

Things as they really are.

 

Your gaze cleanses me.

So I don’t resist Your Light.

I want You to see it—all of it.

Because when You gaze at me,

You take away what’s dark

And fill me with You.



******* 

Isaiah 66:1-2
2 Chronicles 16:9
Genesis 3:10
1 John 1:7
Psalm 139:23-24


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Resurrection Prayer

 

In Acts 4 we see the account of Peter and John being arrested after preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people who came to them after the miraculous healing of the lame man who used to beg at the temple gate. They were brought to the high priest, the same one who had Jesus put to death. Peter and John spoke to them with such confidence that it was obvious that they had been with Jesus.


13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. Acts 4:13

The high priest, and those with him, were left speechless, especially since the lame man, who had been lame since birth, was standing there with them, obviously healed.

They couldn’t deny the miracle, but they forbid them from speaking or teaching at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John assured them that they couldn’t stop speaking about what they had seen and heard, and after they were threatened some more, they were released.

They went to their people and prayed. They glorified God, acknowledged that Jesus had been killed in that same city, according to what God had predestined to occur, and then they prayed for more boldness.

 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:29-31.

The words “confidence” and “boldness” in these passages of Scripture are from the Greek word parrésia. You can read more about that in my two blogs God’s Freedom of Speech Definition and The Parrésia Anointing, but it is that darkness-piercing, deception-shattering type of anointing we want to carry with us to set the captives free wherever we go.

With that in mind, here is a prayer based off the prayer of those early disciples, asking for the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus to accompany us to do His will this resurrection season.

 

Resurrection Season Prayer

This coming season, from now through Resurrection Day, March 31st, I ask Lord God, that You draw us into Your presence, and while we’re there, give us the confidence and boldness that comes from being with Jesus. This season, and beyond, give us the determination to speak, to testify in the Name of Jesus. (Acts 4:13, 20).

I bind the power of all intimidation and threats. They shall not prevail over us. We pray together of one accord, with a united and unwavering heart, to You, O Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them. You are the Creator of all things, and we submit ourselves to You and Your will. (2 Timothy 1:7, Acts 4:24, Psalm 86:11, Revelation 4:11, Matthew 6:10).

Lord Jesus, You laid aside Your glory to come to earth as one of us. And You suffered the end result of the threats of those who mocked You, ridiculed You, hated You, didn’t believe in You, shamed You, and then tortured and killed You. You suffered for us, to bear our sin on the cross, to bring us into Your Kingdom, Your Kingdom of Light. To be Your ambassadors, Your representatives, Your witnesses here and now, to give record and testimony of all You have done for us. And God has highly exalted You and given You a name which is above every other name. (Acts 4:25-28, Colossians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Acts 1:8).

So now, Lord, I ask that You grant us, Your bond-servants, to speak Your Word with all confidence and boldness, with parrésia, with Your anointing. The anointing on Your Word, and from Your Spirit, that removes all obstacles, that pierces the atmosphere with Your Light and Truth. (Acts 4:29).

Let the anointing be released by our presence (Your presence in us) and our words (Your Words) to pierce the darkness and shatter deception and confusion. Let it remove blinders from minds so the Light of the Glorious Gospel of Christ shines into the hearts of the people and they believe. Let it bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, freeing the people’s minds, hearts, and wills from the captivity of the enemy who has them bound in the kingdom of darkness to do his will. Let this be done in us as well as those we encounter this season. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, 2 Timothy 2:25-26).

Free them Lord, all those we have contact with, and all those we pray for this season, from their captivity so they can choose You Lord Jesus. Let us speak Your Word boldly, confidently, as led by Your Spirit, and let us carry Your presence to release Your power to save and to heal, while You, God, extend Your hand to heal and signs and wonders take place in the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:30).

Fill us fresh with Your Holy Spirit, pour out Your Spirit upon us. Pour out Your Spirit from us, through us, as rivers of living water flow out of our bellies. Let the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Flood this place and every place we are during this resurrection season, with the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (Acts 4:31, John 7:38-39, Habakkuk 2:14).

 


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Opening of the Seals and the Time of the Gentiles

 


1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. 4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:1-5

The opening of the seven seals in the book of Revelation was something that only the Lion from the tribe of Judah, The Root of David, or in other words, the Lord Jesus Himself, could do. No one else in heaven or on earth was found worthy to open the book or even look into it.

When John saw Him, He saw Him as the Lamb that had been slain.

6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Revelation 5:6-7

When Jesus came and took the book from His Father on the throne everyone broke out in praise—the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, the myriads of angels, and even every created thing in heaven and in, on, and under the earth gave praise to both Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb (verses 8-14).

Then John saw the Lamb open the seals.

There are various viewpoints as to what the seven seals are, what they mean, and who the four horsemen are. Consider this:

Do the seven seals in Revelation speak of the ending of the “time of the Gentiles” Jesus spoke of in Luke 21:24?

24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There is a period of time between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week (Daniel 9:24-27) which is between the first and second coming of the Messiah. This is the period of time we are now in and what Jesus called “the time of the Gentiles.” Paul also spoke of it when he referenced the “fullness of the Gentiles.”

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; Romans 11:25.

The opening of the seven seals is progressive and quite possibly the revelation of what unfolds during the time period between Jesus' first and second coming, or the church age, as well as a glimpse into the end. In John's revelation, the book and the Lamb appeared at about the same time, which would seem to confirm this thought that the book reveals the church era which began at His resurrection. 

Jesus conquered the kingdom of darkness during His first coming, and the proclamation of what He did began to be preached at that time, and has continued since then. There has been much opposition and attempts by the enemy to prevent it, weaken it, or undo it any way possible.

Let’s look at the opening of the seals to see how we might gain more insight regarding this.


THE FIRST SEAL: The White Horse

1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2

From the perspective that these seals reveal the progression of the church age, the rider on the white horse represents the preaching of the gospel that began with the early church after His resurrection. This rider was given authority, as Jesus had, to conquer the kingdom of darkness and establish His kingdom in the earth. In that light, the rider of the white horse represents the preaching of the gospel throughout the church age, which continues to conquer the darkness and expand the Lord's kingdom, bringing many people into His kingdom of light.

As this white horse has continued to circle the globe throughout the church age, it has not been a smooth and easy road for Christians. Attacks against the gospel have continued. The condition of the world has become less favorable to the preaching of the gospel as the church age has gone on, even more so as the effects of the next three horses increased through the age as well. Yet the white horse rider has a bow and a crown, and continues to conquer, taking ground for the kingdom.

These next three horses—revealed in the next three seals—follow the white horse, also circling the globe, to try and prevent the furthering the gospel, or at the very least, to try and undo its effects, to keep it from taking root or becoming established, and generally wreak havoc in or against the church. 

Remember Jesus said the gospel of the kingdom would be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end would come (Matthew 24:14). The enemy of the Lord and His Church knows this, and these three riders represent his efforts to delay the end and his judgment.


THE SECOND SEAL: The Red Horse

3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. Revelation 6:3-4

The rider of the second horse takes peace from the earth and causes men to slay each other. The gospel is the gospel of peace. It’s a message of peace between God and man through Jesus Christ. It’s also a message of unity between the brethren. Division in the church is a key strategy against it and the preaching of the gospel. It was granted to this rider to take peace from the earth and to cause men to kill each other. He had a great sword—a weapon which both divides and slays.

Not only would this rider take peace from the church, but from the rest of the earth as well. Any and all types of division can be seen in his work, from the pettiest arguments to the most violent wars. During times of war, the preaching of the gospel is hindered. Potential missionaries become soldiers, travel is more dangerous, and finances may be hindered.

The rider of the red horse promoting war and divisions follows the preaching of the gospel to try and undo or weaken its effects. So, we learn to keep the unity of the faith for the preservation of the gospel. What did Jesus say His commandment was? To love one another just as He has loved us (John 15:12). 


THE THIRD SEAL: The Black Horse

5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.” Revelation 6:5-6

The rider of the black horse brings inflation and famine. If people are impoverished, fighting to survive themselves, they won’t be as apt to give toward the preaching of the gospel. Even living in adherence to the Word of God, walking in the love of God, can be more challenging during these times. The temptation to become fearful and selfish increases.

During difficult financial times, those who are greedy for gain use various means of control to make profit for themselves at the expense of others. The love of money which snares many, causes them to overlook or justify their actions which hurt many people. Lawlessness increases, and hope decreases, as people become desperate. These are trying times.

The rider of the black horse which brings financial disaster follows the red horse of war and division. They both are after the preaching of the gospel--to prevent or undo its power. So we come to a greater level of faith and trust in God to provide, and for the Holy Spirit to empower, as seen in the reference to the oil and the wine. And the harvests continue.


THE FOURTH SEAL: The Pale Horse

7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8

The rider of the pale horse had authority to kill ¼ of the earth with sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. We’ve seen the sword and famine already in the second and third horsemen. Pestilence, disease, and overpopulation of wild beasts, typically follows war and famine. The determination of the rider is to stop the gospel at all costs, including death. 

Any form of intended depopulation is included in his efforts. So we learn faithfulness until the end, and to sacrifice all, if necessary, for the gospel to reach the ends of the earth (before the coming of Hades). 

Jesus spoke of deception, wars, earthquakes, famines, and betrayal before His return. and then He said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:4-14.

These three riders have been using their tactics against the preaching of the gospel throughout the church age. The enemy, the spirit of antichrist, will try anything to stop the preaching of the gospel, or undo its results—including the killing of believers and unbelievers alike. Hades follows this horse.


THE FIFTH SEAL: Martyrs

The first four seals reveal what John saw going on in the earth. Next we see a heavenly perspective.

9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Revelation 6:9-11

Results of the enemy’s tactics throughout this age are seen in the opening of the fifth seal—martyrs. Those who were slain because of the Word of God, and the testimony that they held, are seen under the altar in heaven.

It's interesting to note that in the Old Testament, there was a grate under the altar which caught the ashes of the burnt offerings. These ashes were used with water to purify the unclean (Numbers 19:9-19; Exodus 27:1-5; Exodus 38:4). Just as no part of the burnt offering was wasted under the old covenant, neither are the lives of the martyrs wasted today. God sees and cares about every soul. 

The prayers of the martyrs, and the saints, seem to cumulate, and when they are mixed with incense and fire of the altar, then we see things begin to happen on the earth, as we will see with the seventh seal.


THE SIXTH SEAL: Signs on Earth and in the Heavens

12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Revelation 6:12-17

When the sixth seal is opened, there is such an effect in the heavens and on the earth, that people realize the wrath of God and the Lamb is upon them. These beginning of signs, and glimpses of what is to come, when people know they will suffer His wrath (the consequence of their part in what has been happening) are an opportunity for them to repent. However, many will try and hide from God. The natural response to an awareness of one's own fallen condition, guilt, and sin, which becomes obvious when confronted with God's holy presence, is to hide--like Adam and Eve did (Genesis 3:8)

However, a better response is to expose yourself to Him--to admit to and repent of your sin. This is the response of those who hear and accept the gospel, but for those who reject it, the presence of the Lord will be terrifying. The only hope at that point would be to throw yourself on the mercy of God like David did (2 Samuel 24:10-14)

It's a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God (Hebrews 10:31), but we each must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Signs in the heavens to this extent obviously have not happened yet. Of course there have been earthquakes and some “signs” in the heavens, but none to the point where everyone on earth hides from the presence of God knowing His wrath has come and there is no escape. Yet, as these events begin to trickle in, they will increase in both frequency and severity, like the birth pangs that Jesus described (Matthew 24:8)

It's comforting to know that this will not go on endlessly. There is an appointed time for it to end. 

The 144,000

After the sixth seal is opened, and the earthquake and signs in the heavens appear, there seems to be an interlude which describes the sealing of 144,000 Jewish people, preserving them from what is to come (Revelation 7:1-8).

Does the sealing of the Jewish remnant indicate the beginning Daniel's 70th week? In Daniel 9:24-27 we read that Messiah would make a firm covenant for one week (seven years), this time period ushers in the second coming of the Lord. However, halfway through the "week" Messiah stops the sacrifice and grain offering. So whenever that covenant begins, it means sometime between now and then the sacrifices would have to be re-instituted, most likely with the building of a third temple. 

The Multitude Before the Throne

During the second part of the interlude after the sixth seal, John sees a multitude of saints before the throne. (Revelation 7:9-17). These are those who have come out of “the great tribulation” and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, making them white.  These would appear to be those who come out of the great trouble of the end times, not just the "many tribulations" we're told about in Acts 14:22. If they have "come out of" the great tribulation then that means they were in it, at least to some degree. They didn't avoid it completely.

This time of great trouble, which we see with the beginning revelation of the wrath of God in Revelation 6:17 (at the opening of the sixth seal), picks up again in chapters 8 and 9 during the time of the trumpets. There will be countless believers from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, making their way before God during this time. 


THE SEVENTH SEAL: Silence, Prayers, Preparation for Trumpets

1When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.

When the seventh seal is opened, the book is fully opened. There is silence in heaven for half an hour. This transition time from the seventh seal to the first trumpet may very well be when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled and the 70th week begins. In any case, the transition from the seals to the trumpets begin with the prayers of the saints mixed in with incense and fire of the altar (Revelation 8:3-6). I believe the prayers of the martyrs seen in the fifth seal is a part of this.

Incense was used in the Old Testament to protect the priests from being consumed by God's holiness when they went into the holy of holies to make atonement for themselves and the people (Leviticus 16:12-13). It was also used to stop the plague of God's anger when Aaron stood between the dead and the living with incense to intercede for the people (Numbers 16:46-50). The prayers of the saints mixed in with incense and the fire of the altar, would indicate a protection on God's people from judgment to come.

After the opening of the seventh seal, and the silence that followed, the prayers of the saints were thrown to the earth, mingled with incense and fire of the altar. This ushered in the time of the trumpets when more than their prayers were seen thrown to earth. It would seem the final dislodging of the enemy in the heavens was finally accomplished during the first four trumpets. 

As the church rises in the authority Jesus has given over the enemy, and offers earnest prayers for, among other things, God to avenge the blood of the martyrs (Revelation 6:10), we will see as Jesus described, Satan fall like lightning from heaven. He said this while He was still on earth, after he sent out the seventy to do the work of the ministry, and they came back rejoicing that even the demons were subject to them in His name (Luke 10:17-20). He informed them at that time that He had given them authority to tread on serpents, scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, yet warned them not to rejoice in that, but to rejoice that their names were recorded in heaven.

The prayers of the saints, and the church rising in the authority given by Christ, seem to have a major part to play in setting off the first trumpet, and the final countdown to the Lord's return.

From an earthly perspective, the transition goes from the sixth seal in Revelation 6:17 with signs of the beginning of the end, to the sounding of the first trumpet in Revelation 8:7. 

The time to consider your spiritual condition, the reality of eternity, and who will ultimately enforce truth and judge unrighteousness, is now.



Revised April 10, 2024

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Power, The Resolve, The Plan


On December 27, 2023 in the early morning, a very intense presence of the Lord came over me and I felt surrounded by a revelation of His heart. It was a very sweet presence of the Lord that began to grow. It grew stronger and stronger to where it captured my entire attention and overwhelmed me. Then I sensed that it was His power. His presence grew into His power. His presence brought His power, in fact His presence actually IS His power. You can't have His power without His presence (and why would you want to!)

It was sobering to realize that this power I was feeling, His power, could do anything. Then He revealed to me that this was power to protect and to restore. I basked in that for a few minutes. It was comforting. As I thought about this later on, I was reminded of the Scripture which says that the power of the Lord was present to perform healing (Luke 5:17) and I realized that His presence IS the power to heal.

Then I felt His resolve- His determination to do something (with His power). Still aware of the fact that His power could do anything, and thankful that His power was here to protect and restore, it was like a sudden burst of joy when I realized He had a plan. It's hard to describe the relief I felt knowing that He had a plan, and even more so when I put it all together and realized He was showing me He had a plan to protect and restore. 


I know it sounds simple, but I was fully aware of the fact that without His plan we would be completely without hope, not just in our individual lives but in our nation, and even in the earth. So when He revealed this "simple" thing to me, I was extremely thankful toward Him. Yet I felt that I should pray, ask Him something--to do something. He was showing me this for a reason.

So I asked Him to reveal His plan, and I felt that He would reveal parts of it as it applied to certain people. In other words, on a "need to know" basis. It wouldn't be one huge plan openly revealed to all, but whatever part a person had in His plan would be revealed to them. This goes along with a dream I had recently regarding a mosaic—which is made up of many small parts that come together to make a whole picture. This mosaic would be a more complete revelation of Him, and His good plans for us.

But more importantly than asking Him to reveal the plan, I sensed He wanted me to ask Him to implement His plan. And I did (also asking that He preserve what can be preserved as He has often led me to pray lately. See prior posts about this here and here).


As long as we are here on earth, and He is revealing the part of His plan to us that we are to play, then the time for that plan is now! So as He instructed, I asked Him to implement His plan. I knew I could trust Him to implement it, even without fully knowing the details of what it was. 

I saw that this plan was a gathering of His words, thoughts, and intentions. When I heard "intentions" I was reminded that right before this encounter I heard Jeremiah 29:11: 


"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'"


I began to thank Him repeatedly for His good plans and intentions for us which completely overwhelmed me as I felt His heart. The whole time I was overcome with Him and His presence.

As I meditated on this, the Holy Spirit also led me to:


Ecclesiastes 3:11 showing me that He has set eternity in our heart in such a way that each of our lifetimes are for us to rise up and take our part in His overall plan for mankind. We don't see it all at once like He does, yet we each have a part and a place.


Jeremiah 33:3 where He says to call on Him and He'll answer and tell us great and mighty things which we do not know. We can know our part and place in His plan. Call on Him and ask!


Isaiah 55:8 His thoughts are not ours and our ways are not His, but as He reveals His thoughts and ways to us, we can submit our thoughts and paths to His.

This encounter ended with the thought that NOW is the time, and NOW is the plan that will display the works of God.

Be encouraged that God has a plan and He has both the power and the will (resolve) to implement that plan! He has not abandoned us or left us alone. His intentions are to protect and restore. You can trust Him. Ask Him to implement His plan and reveal your part in it to you!




Monday, January 1, 2024

Best New Year's Resolution Ever!


 Jesus said to those who properly stewarded and multiplied what He had entrusted to them, "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." Matthew 25:21.

We often quote this verse as what we want to hear the Lord say to us after we die and face Him. I know I do!
However, why can't we strive to hear that, not just at the end of our life, but at the end of each year, or better yet, at the end each day?

Let's resolve to live each day in 2024 more faithful to the Lord and to His Word. Let's examine our hearts at the end of each day and ask the Holy Spirit to show us when we were faithful and when we weren't, and to help us do better.

In every situation, with every person we encounter, in every temptation we face, let it be our pursuit to stay faithful to the Lord. Let's make it a point to ask Him to show us, teach us, correct us every night, and every morning. If we stay faithful every day, we will stay faithful throughout our lives.

May our heart's cry be that at the end of 2024 we will hear Him say, "Well done good and faithful slave." So ultimately we will hear those words at the end of our lives, and also hear Him say, "I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master!"



Sunday, December 31, 2023

Three Important Steps Before Connecting to Your Tribe

 


As Christians, we are a part of a bigger group which the Bible calls the body of Christ. We aren’t islands to ourselves, but God connects us to other believers as He sees fit. This is something He does and we yield to. It’s not something we want to force our way into or to fight against, but to be willing to take our place as God wants us to. Unfortunately, for the most part, we fall far short of His vision for us.

We know Christians don’t always get along. There is not yet full unity or maturity among Christians and neither is everyone taking their God-given place in the body. Many people have become discouraged with churches and, though they love God, don’t feel connected to a church body. If that’s you, ask God to connect you with your tribe, making you ready for them and them ready for you.

I think it’s helpful to consider three points in growing to a place in Christ where the body can function as the Head intends. These are three points to take before even trying to connect with your tribe. Not that there are only three points, but I believe these three things will do much toward bringing us closer into security in Christ as individuals, which paves the way for us to connect in a healthy way with other believers.

The body of Christ is made up of individuals just as a human body is made up of many parts—arms, legs, eyes, fingers, etc. A Christian body part may need a certain level of care, healing, or deliverance first before being able to really connect as a healthy, properly functioning member of the body of Christ. While you are waiting for God to connect you to your tribe there are three things you can do in the meantime.

Here are the three things:

  • Know God’s Love: Know and believe His love for you. (1 John 4:16).
  • Strive for the Prize: Respond to His love with diligence. (1 John 4:19)
  • Get Fit: Connect to the body in true love. (1 John 4:21).

Once members of the church are secure in these three things, the church as a whole will be in a much better position to fulfil it’s corporate role of bringing the gospel to the lost.

So let’s look at each one in more detail.


#1: Knowing and believing God’s love for you.

16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us…  1 John 4:16

Do you know God loves you? Do you believe that? Do you know it in your heart, or do you just understand what those words mean in your head? We each must come to “know” His love for us and come to the place where we “have believed,” past tense. We’re not trying to believe that God loves us, but we know it already--it’s already been settled in our minds and hearts. We’re not trying to earn anything from Him, impress Him, so we won't step on others or sabotage them to feel secure in His love. No. We’re not talking about rewards or favor or anything of that, just His love—the thing our hearts long for at the very core of our being.

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

John had a lot to say about the love of God. Remember he called himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He would lay his head on Jesus’ chest. He knew something about the love of the Lord.

We also see the love of the Father in this verse. For God so loved the world… The Father loved the people in the world—the human race—so much that He gave the most valuable thing He could to rescue us from the clutches of darkness. He gave His only Son. He paid the highest price He could.

Think about that for a minute and realize the value He has placed on you. He gave the most valuable thing in existence to redeem you from the enemy and bring you into His family, His kingdom. He values you! Don’t worry about getting off into pride, He did it for everyone, but make sure you let that understanding become a part of your entire existence. Let it seep out of your pores.

I’m not kidding when I say not to worry about pride, as long as you remember He paid the same price for everyone. Some people won’t fully absorb the love of God for them because they think they are undeserving on the one hand, or they think it will make them arrogant if they fully receive His love. Those are both lies of the enemy, for the enemy knows once you understand the love of God for you, once you come to know it and believe in it, you are a greater threat to him. He won’t be able to trip you up, get you into guilt, gossip, or arrogance like he used to.

Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to:

1. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) and 

2. To love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).

Then He told His disciples a new commandment, which was to love one another (other Christians) as He has loved us (John 13:34-35).

You can’t love your neighbor very well if you don’t love yourself very well. And the only way to properly love yourself is to receive God’s love for you—to see yourself as God sees you. So yes, we are to keep the love of God first and foremost as the greatest command, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Yet, the only way we can do that is to receive His love for ourselves first.

19 We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

We can’t love anyone—God, ourselves, or our neighbor without receiving His love for us first.

This brings us to point #2:


#2: Strive for the Prize: Responding to His love with diligence

19 We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Again, we can only, ONLY, love God once we realize—know and believe in—His love for us. You just can’t do it. Love does not originate with you, it originates with God. Don’t try to be super-Christian, 100% unselfish, and think that you can love God without receiving His love for you. That’s just pride. And it’s foolish.

We need Him, and we will always need Him. We will never outgrow Him or His love. Maturity doesn’t mean that we don’t crawl up on His lap and lay our head on His shoulder. We must remain children in our love for Him.

However, His love will mature us. We will grow. His love matures us because we become more secure. We won’t need the approval of people like we used to. The more we know His love, the more we love Him, and we want to get to KNOW HIM more. Our focus is not on ourselves, or on other people and what they think of us. Our focus is on HIM.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with himJohn 14:23

Read that again. The benefits of our loving Him is that the Father and Jesus will come and “make their abode” with us. They will come and stay, rest, and dwell, with us. Not visit occasionally but stay. Meditate on that until your heart melts with love and appreciation for Him.

Thus says the Lord,

1 “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
“For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:1-2

Theirs is no place we can build for Him that will impress Him. The only thing He will look to is the one who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at His Word—the one who is humble, broken, and fears the Lord.

So we can come to know, and love, the Lord more intimately, but it will require something of us. This is where many people give up. If we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments (John 14:15). What is His commandment? To love one another as He has loved us (John 15:17). This is a sacrificial love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we love the Head, we will love the body.

Do you want to know a good way to start developing love for others? Start praying for them. In your private prayer place, pray for them until you love them. You’ll find it much harder to criticize a person you’ve been praying for (not praying against, not asking God to ‘go get them’ but praying for).

Once the infatuation of point #1 falls off, knowing and believing His love for you, you will need to be committed to persevere in your relationship with Him. You have an enemy who will send whatever he can your way to try and pull you away from this intimacy with the Lord through the Holy Spirit.

20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:20-21

We have to have a firm root so our joy over the love of God for us, our joy over the Word of God, is not temporary and dries up in the face of affliction or persecution.

You’ll need to develop a lifestyle of prayer, study, FELLOWSHIP with the Father and Son through the Spirit. You’ll need to determine to become a hearer and a doer of the Word (James 1:22), to become a bond-servant, submitting your will to His (Luke 22:42). This requires commitment and perseverance. It requires taking up your cross daily and following Him (Luke 9:23). Then you’ll grow.

Don’t be the shallow one who falls away during tough times. Some of those who do hide it pretty well. They might continue in the church for a while, or maintain a “form of godliness,” (2 Timothy 3:5) but their heart is no longer in it. Their heart has grown cold and far from the Lord. This is the definition of hypocrisy (Matthew 15:7-8). This is how a person ends up becoming competitive and accusatory toward other Christians—fellow members of the body of Christ. If we love the Head, we must love His body (1 John 4:20-21).

At this point, when you strive for the prize and respond to His love with diligence, you become determined to press on for your purpose in Christ.

12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14.

Press on so that you may lay hold of that for which you also were laid hold of by Christ Jesus! Did you know that Jesus laid hold of you for a reason? Did you know He brought you into His kingdom family for a purpose? Press on, persevere, so that you can grab a hold of your purpose in Christ. Paul went on to say how he did this, by forgetting the past and reaching forward to what lies ahead. He pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. You can do the same.

However, can you see how competitive Christians could become if they haven’t fully come to know and believe in the love of God for them FIRST before striving for the prize? If we’re not secure in our relationship with the Lord and His love, we will be competitive with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ll become jealous, suspicious, critical, and so on. 

There’s not just one prize. There’s a prize—a reward—for you, personally. Press on to receive that reward. Don’t try to go after someone else’s reward. Go after yours—the reason Jesus has laid hold of you. Seek Him to find out what that is.

When you understand the value God has placed on you, then you won’t be insecure, you won’t feel de-valued when you “compare” yourself to other Christians. And there is a comparison that is necessary. Which brings us to point #3.


#3: Getting Fit: Connecting to the body in true love

15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

The body of Christ is fitted and held together by what every joint supplies. What is a joint? A joint is a connection point. It’s where we connect to something else. To what? To another part of the body. We, as individual body parts of Christ, are supposed to be connected to other body parts of Christ. We each are to work properly according to our individual part—whatever place we have in the body—but we do so while connected to the rest of the body. Is an arm very useful if it’s detached from the body? No. Even if it managed to stay nourished because it somehow stayed connected to the Head, it wouldn’t help the body at all, and it wouldn’t help the Head either. It would look awfully strange to have an arm sticking out of a head. Nourishment comes from the Head, but through the body as well.

18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 1 Corinthians 12:18.

If we love God, we need to love His body. If we have trouble loving His body—fellow believers in Christ—then go back to #1 and #2, and somewhere along the way begin to pray for those we feel God is trying to connect us to.

Once we are secure in #1 and #2 then we can start to move into this true and sincere love of the brethren. To connect to our tribe, remember first, that God connects us as it pleases Him. But as we connect, we need to see where we fit. This requires a certain level of comparison. This is why it’s so important that we are secure in God’s love for us so our comparison is not competitive.

The comparison required to connect to a body is not to compare for value (like you would judge one person’s skill better than another’s) but it’s to compare for connection, where you fit and connect with each other (like a puzzle). Not value-based comparison but connection-based comparison. Think about that for a minute. The body of Christ—your tribe in particular—coming together like a puzzle. Where do you fit?

Does this take some work? Yes. But we don’t want to neglect connecting with our tribe. We have a job to do and we need each other to do it fully.

24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

There is much distortion in the body of Christ today because people want everyone to fit in where they want. Like trying to force a puzzle piece where it doesn’t belong, it won’t work. It just messes up the big picture. Once you are secure in the love of God for you, and you respond to that love with perseverance, you will be able to connect to your tribe, where God fits you, and as a result, take your place and function in the body. This is His design.

Until we grow up in this area, we are hindered from fulfilling our call to preach the gospel to the lost—the very thing that will usher in His second coming—which we are all hoping for (Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 3:12, 1 John 3:1-3).

Additional Scriptures to consider:

  • Jesus is the Head of the body (Colossians 1:18).
  • His body is made up of many members, or parts, yet it is still one body—Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:12).
  • All believers in Christ are a part of His body and individual members of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).
  • God has placed every member of the body in place within the body as He desires (1 Corinthians 12:18).
  • He has also given gifts to the body to equip the saints (Christians) for service and to build up the body of Christ. These gifts are people—ministers such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11-12).
  • These gifts, leaders, in the body are needed until we all attain to the unity, knowledge of Jesus, maturity and the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
  • These gifts are needed so we do not remain children, tossed around and deceived, but rather grow up into the Head (Ephesians 4:14-15).
  • The body is fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, so the body grows and builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).


Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Woman's Place in Church

 



The apostles and first century believers in Christ were faced with many challenges in establishing the New Testament Church. One of these was combining various groups of people into one body of believers.


For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, Ephesians 2:14-15

The “both groups” Paul is talking about here is the Jew and Gentile (non-Jew). They came from completely different backgrounds, each coming to the Lord from different perspectives, yet in Christ they become “one new man.”

When anyone believes in Christ they become a part of a body of believers, which is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:12). This includes not only Jew and Gentile (Greek), but also the slave and the free man, as well as male and female. All are one in Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28


NO MALE OR FEMALE IN CHRIST?

Though there is no distinguishing between male and female in Christ, because they are one in Christ as a part of His body, this does not mean that men and women do not have different roles. So here we address these roles, specifically the question of whether women can teach, or even speak, in church.

"The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Paul is addressing the Corinthian church which was extremely zealous for the Lord. He said that they were “not lacking in any gift,” and they were “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 1:7). However, there was some disorder in the church so Paul addressed this in his letter. He said he was informed of their quarrels among them by Chloe, and her “people” (1 Corinthians 1:11).

Paul addressed their level of maturity, their sin, their disputes, keeping their bodies pure for the Lord, and fleeing from idolatry. He talked about considering their brothers and sisters in Christ by not using their freedom to cause others to stumble, (chapters 1-10). He went on to praise them for remembering him and holding fast to what he had taught them. Then he addressed the issue of women praying or prophesying without their head covered.

3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3-16

We'll address verse three in a little bit, but here Paul addressed the practice of head coverings during prayer or prophesy. The practice of the day was for married women to have their head covered in public. This may have been a scarf or some type of cloth covering. Paul also referred to the length of a woman’s hair as a head covering (verse 15). This covering was a “symbol of authority on her head,” showing she was under the authority of her husband, because she was created for man’s sake (Genesis 2:18). The role of husband and wife is a profound example of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-23), as well as an example to the angels as Paul references here (1 Peter 1:12).

Wearing a head covering was the practice of married women in the Corinthian culture. (You might relate it to a married woman wearing a wedding band today). To not do so would send a wrong message in that culture. It was also a disgrace to have a shaved head (and in the Jewish culture it was a sign of mourning), which is why Paul said if a married woman does not cover her head she might as well shave her head too. It was disruptive to the church services due to the cultural norm of that day. Considering Paul’s discussion earlier in the letter about not using their freedom to cause others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9-13), he confirmed that this practice of head covering for women was a good thing.  

Today, in most Christian cultures, it wouldn't be considered improper for a woman to have her head uncovered, or to have shorter hair, while praying or prophesying. That alone wouldn't be a sign that she was attempting to present herself in an unnatural way, or as unsubmissive to God's order of authority. Would it be considered disrespectful to the Lord for a man to have his head covered, or wearing a hat, while praying? Not long ago it would have. As he says here, judge for yourselves.

However, not having that custom anymore doesn't mean we are removed from God's order of authority. That still applies. Nor do we cast off all restraints thinking our freedom in Christ means we have no self-control or self-discipline. We don't behave in an unrestrained way and then blame it on the Holy Spirit. Paul addressed this in chapter fourteen when he said that if everyone was speaking in tongues, with no order to the service, then when an unbeliever or ungifted person came into the assembly they would think they were all crazy (14:23). He told them if there was no interpreter in the church then to keep silent and speak to themselves and to God (14:28). This applies to both men and women. Paul said that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (14:32). In other words, you can control yourself, you can't blame God for your unrestrained behavior. He said to let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner (14:40).

It's worth noting back in chapter eleven that Paul said neither man nor woman is independent of the other (verses 11-12). In Christian living, all of us are to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21). Earlier in the letter Paul had told the Corinthians that the jealousy and strife among them were a sign of their immaturity in Christ (1 Corinthians 3). Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by our love for one another, and that we are to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35).

It may be wise to consider the custom of the day or region you are in, yet the main take-away from this portion of Scripture is to submit to God’s order of authority from the heart no matter what your God-given role is in Christ, man or woman. When we focus on the letter of the law, we'll often miss the Spirit of it.

Having said that, it’s clear that Paul did not mean women could never speak in the church because he gave instruction regarding women who pray or prophesy in church. If women were allowed to pray or prophesy in the church then of course they were allowed to speak.

So women, and men, should show proper respect for God’s order of authority. That would include an inward submission to God’s authority, however that is respectfully expressed outwardly before God, and taking customs and practices into consideration so as not to be a stumbling block to others. This would especially be true during times of prayer or prophesy.

 

LEARN QUIETLY

Let’s move on from there while still considering the order of authority God has established. It’s important to understand that the Greek language does not have separate words for wife and woman, or husband and man. The word gyne in the Greek was the same word for both woman and wife. And the word aner was used for both man and husband.

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:3

Literally, Christ is the head of every man, every husband is the head of his own wife, and the head of Christ is God.

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." 1 Timothy 2:11-12

"Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

A woman is to “learn in silence with all subjection.” Subjection to what? To the order of authority God has placed her under. When she is learning in church, she is not to “teach” or “usurp authority over” the one in authority over her—particularly “the man” or her husband. She is not to take over, argue, or attempt to correct her husband. Though the temptation may be there to point out to your spouse where he is missing it, or how he is not practicing the Word that is being read or taught, pointing out his faults, maybe even adding an, "I told you so," we must resist the urge to do that--as wives or husbands. If there were any questions or disagreements, then the wife was to talk it over with her husband at home, and I would add to apply 1 Peter 3:1-2 when applicable. 

The Greek word for teach also means to admonish, so women were not to correct their husbands (or anyone teaching) in public, put them on the spot, or in an embarrassing position. The men in those days were better educated than the women, so if a wife addressed questions publicly that her husband could answer at home, that could be embarrassing and distracting. Paul’s instruction was for the woman to listen quietly, don't be disrespectful, and take any further discussion home with her husband. Of course a woman can have an opinion, and can express that opinion, as long as it’s done in a way that is respectful to all. However, we want to keep in mind that just because women (or anyone for that matter) are better educated today doesn't mean we can now be argumentative. We want to seek the knowledge that leads to truth and speak that in love in the appropriate time and place.

Since women were not as educated, they might not have had a basic understanding of many things that men did, yet as new believers in Christ were most likely very willing to learn and take their place in the body of Christ as God had called them. This would call for some cultural adjustments. The women would have to learn to remain respectful and in submission to the authority of God during the process, and men would have adjustments to make while the merging of these various backgrounds and roles into new relationships in Christ took place. 


WOMEN IN MINISTRY

Can a woman “teach” a man? Can she teach in the church if men are in the audience? There are disagreements about this. But Paul seemed clear that to teach or usurp authority over “the man” meant that a wife was not to attempt to take her husband’s place of authority away from him, and of course she should be respectful to all positions of authority. Ultimately, she can, and must, do what God has called her to do. Since the Holy Spirit can and does move on women to prophesy to both men and women (1 Corinthians 11:5) He could certainly call her to function in a ministry gift, or a position of leadership or influence in the church. Jesus is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18) and we are all placed in the body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 12:18).

A few biblical examples of this are:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:11 which speaks of "Chloe’s people," or some translations say Chloe’s “house” or “household.” Chloe is a female and the one who raised concerns to Paul about the church in Corinth. Paul listened to her and addressed these concerns in his letter.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:19 and Romans 16:3-5 talk about the church in Prisca and Aquila's house (husband and wife). Prisca and Aquila were a husband and wife team who had a church in their home. They are always mentioned together in the Bible, sometimes Prisca (the wife) being mentioned first. Acts 18:24-26 tells of when they took Apollos aside, a man who was eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, though he had only known of the baptism of John and not of Jesus. They explained “the way of God more accurately” to him, in private.
  • Colossians 4:15 speaks of the church in Nymphas' house. Most translations agree this is a female.
  • 1 Timothy 3:11 includes a reference to women’s role in serving when giving the requirements for deacons.
  • Titus 2:3-5 gives instructions concerning older women in relation to teaching younger women and children.

Women most definitely are to serve in the church and assist in the spreading of the Gospel in whatever capacity God calls them.


REBEL WOMEN?

Because of the misunderstanding of Scripture which has kept some women from fulfilling what they feel the Lord has called them to, some women may fall to the opposite extreme and rebel against the idea of submitting to God’s order of authority. Wanting to prove there is “no difference” between male and female in Christ they may end up out from under God’s line of authority.

Considering the cultural trends over the last several decades, with women’s rights, “equality” movements, and more recently the blurring of genders, there is a deception trying to settle over the believer’s roles of male and female, husbands and wives.

As women, we do not need to prove anything or try to be something God has not called us to be. We do not need to attempt to teach or correct men simply because we think we can, or should, but we should always seek to take our place in Christ as he has called us, always be respectful of those in authority, of other men, and anyone for that matter, and always speak the truth in love. This is true of both men and women. There are Scriptural procedures in place to address any perceived errors or suffered wrongs. (See Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Timothy 5:19, Luke 17:3-4). On the other hand, a woman does not have to submit to any man who believes he holds authority over her just because he is a man and she is a woman.


A WOMAN’S PRIORITY

In Bible times it was an honor for a woman to be married and have children. It still is, however, it’s not as highly respected in today’s society. To bear and raise children is to fulfil the basic purpose of mankind, the first directive given to the first man and woman (Genesis 1:18).

Not to say that woman cannot ever have an influential place outside the home, but to push that issue, to force it, to desire it at the expense of our own homes and families has already had a disastrous effect on our society.

If a woman is not abandoning her role as a wife or mother (if applicable), and is responding to a call of God upon her life in a way that honors God’s authority in every aspect, then what place do we have to reject her as a gift to the body of Christ?

Just as Jewish and Gentile believers had learned (and are still learning) to form one new man in Christ, so must we learn what it means for male and females to take their place in the body as well.