Monday, July 4, 2016

The Influence of Prominent Women

In Acts 13, the Lord is doing some mighty things in the new church.  Jesus is being preached to the Jews.  Some accept. Some reject.
Acts 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent women, who worshiped God, and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district.
The phrase "the Jews incited the prominent women" caught my eye. At Shandon Baptist, I've been working with women's ministry coordinating making luopads (missions) and summer bible study.  The focus behind the pads is to let women know that God loves them, and so do we. In the summer bible study, the focus is on enriching the lives of the ladies participating.  In both instances, God cares deeply for women--for them to be drawn closer to Him, loved by Him, and to grow in His grace. I wouldn't call the women I work with "prominent." But who is to say that they aren't prominent in someone's life?  Their families, their work, their church, their community. . . And as a prominent person, they have an influence to be a blessing or a curse (such as the prominent Jewish women mentioned in the verses above.)
It is important to remember that we do have an influence. God does want to love us and use us to spread His love to others. We are to be salt and light to the world--yes, even as women.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A King to Make Decisions, Go Out Before Us, and Fight Our Battles

I got the text around 3:45 Saturday night---we would need someone to teach the Sunday school lesson in the morning.  The passage was 1 Samuel 8. I am the great Filler-Inner when we have last minute cancellations--and this is about a once-in-a-year opportunity.
The scripture passage is about how the Israelites came to Samuel and rejected Samuel's sons' leadership (they didn't walk in his ways). The Jews were afraid.  This is just after the ark had been sent back by the Philistines. They told Samuel that they wanted a king to judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles.
In Sunday school, we usually dissect all the parts of the lesson to see how they can apply to us and how we can relate. Overall, the Israelites were experiencing a trust issue with God.

But after going through the verses, it dawned on me that perhaps this Sunday school lesson wasn't about us at all.  What if it is about OTHER people groups who are afraid, who are fearing attack, who have little hope?
There is a limited time (1-1/2 years) opportunity that the hearts of these displaced refugees are open to the gospel, says Celia Deneen.  After that, they become hardened. What can we do to light the way for those hurting--even if they don't share the same religious, cultural, or political background as us?   What can we do here at home? These people need to know that God can go before them and fight their battles. If not me, than who?
Image adapted from: