Few couples like to admit it, but conflict is common to all marriages. I have had my own share of conflict in marriage. I can easily write a book on what not to do!
Take a look at this scenario: Start with two self centered people with different backgrounds and personalities. Now add some bad habits and interesting character traits, throw in a bunch of expectations, and then turn up the heat a little with the daily trials of life. Guess what? You are bound to have conflict. It’s unavoidable. Since every marriage has its tensions, it isn’t a question of avoiding them but how you deal with them. Conflict can lead to a process that develops unity or isolation. You and your partner must choose how you will act when conflict occurs.
How do You Successfully Handle Conflict When it Occurs?
#1. Resolving conflict requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to your differences.
One reason why we have conflict in marriage is that opposite attracts. It’s strange but that’s part of the reason why you married who you did. Your spouse added a variety, spice, and difference to your life that it didn’t have before. But after being married for a while (sometimes a short while), those attractions become repellents. You may argue over small irritations such as how to properly squeeze a tube of toothpaste or over major philosophical differences in handling finances or raising children. You may find that your backgrounds and your personalities are so different, that you wonder how and why God placed you too together in the first place. It’s important to understand these differences, accept and adjust to them. Just as Adam accepted God’s gift of Eve, you are called to accept His Gift to you. God gave you a spouse who completes you in ways you haven’t even learned yet.
#2. Resolving conflict requires defeating selfishness.
All of our differences are magnified in marriage because they feed what is undoubtedly the biggest source of our conflict; our selfish, sinful nature. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. Jas4:1-2 (NIV). This is the heart of what makes our conflict ugly, our sin and selfishness focuses us on our own agenda. The answer for ending selfishness is found in Jesus and His teachings. He showed us that instead of wanting to be first, we must be willing to be last. In place of wanting to be served, we must serve, instead of trying to save our lives, we must lose them. We must love our neighbors (our spouses) as much as we love ourselves. In short, if we want to defeat selfishness, we must give up, give in, and give all. To experience unity, you must give up your will for the will of another. But to do this, you must first give up your will to Christ, and then you will find it possible to give up your will for that of your mate.
#3. Resolving conflict requires loving confrontation.
Confronting your spouse with grace and tactfulness requires wisdom, patience, and humility. Here are a few tips you will find useful:
Check your motives: Will your words help or hurt? Will bringing this up cause healing, wholeness, and oneness, or further isolation?
Check your attitude: Loving confrontation says, “I care about you. I respect you and I want you to respect me. I want to know how you feel.” Don’t hop on your bulldozer and run your partner down. Don’t pull up with your garbage truck and start unloading all the garbage you’ve been saving. Approach your partner lovingly.
Check the circumstances: This includes timing, location, and setting. Don’t confront your spouse, for example, when he/she is tired from a hard day’s work or in the middle of settling a dispute between the children.
Check to see what other pressures may be present: Be sensitive. What are the issues going on in your spouse’s life right now?
During the discussion, stick to one issue at a time: Don’t bring up several. Don’t save up a series of complaints and let your spouse have them all at once.
Focus on the problem, rather than the person: For example, you need a budget and your mate is something of a spendthrift. Work through the plans for finances and make the lack of budget the enemy, not your mate.
Focus on the facts rather than being judgmental: If your partner forgets to make an important call, deal with the consequences of what you both have to do next rather than say, “You’re so careless; you just do things to irritate me; you are useless and good for nothing.”
Above all, focus on understanding your spouse rather than on who is winning or losing. When your spouse confronts you, listen carefully to what is said and what isn’t said. It may be that he is upset about something that happened at work and you’re getting nothing more than the brunt of that pressure. In other words, you are not the problem and all your spouse is trying to do is express some pent-up frustrations and feelings.
#4. Resolving conflict requires forgiveness
No matter how hard two people try to love and please each other, they will encounter challenges. With these challenges comes hurt. And the only ultimate relief for hurt is the soothing balm of forgiveness.
The key to maintaining an open, intimate, and happy marriage is to ask for and grant forgiveness quickly. And the ability to do that is tied to each individual’s relationship with God. Concerning the process of forgiveness, Jesus said, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt6:14–15). The instruction is clear: God insists that we are to be forgivers, and marriage probably more than any other relationship presents frequent opportunities to practice. Forgiving means giving up resentment and the desire to punish. By an act of your will, you let the other person off the hook. And as a Christian you do not do this under duress, scratching and screaming in protest. Rather, you do it with a gentle spirit and love, as Paul urged: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph4:32).
As difficult as it is to work through conflict in marriage, we can claim God’s promises as we do so. Not only does God bless our efforts based on His Word, but He also tells us He has an ultimate purpose for our trials. 1 Pt1:6-7 tells us, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
God’s purpose in our conflicts is to test our faith, to produce endurance, to refine us, and to bring glory to Himself. This is the hope He gives us that we can actually approach our conflicts as an opportunity to strengthen our faith and to glorify God.
- Top 15 Reasons Romantic Partners Fight (marriagegems.com)
From the beginning God’s Heart desire to build a dwelling place for Himself in the Earth is seen in His creation of man and woman together Gen1:26-28.
The family is the foundation of the Lord’s House on earth. It is the foundation of the human society. It is the institution created by God for bringing children into the world to be nurtured, trained and loved. Today the existence of the family and of biblical family valves is threatened. If the foundation of a house is faulty the collapse of the house is eminent Ps11:3.
Divorce, economics instability, teen pregnancy, careerism, substance abuse and immorality have made it difficult to build a home where love, listening, unity and authority reside. But it can be done.
What is Family?
Family is the collective body of persons who live in one house and under one head or manager. It is also a household including parents, children, servants etc. it can also be a people of one common progenitor, a tribe, or race, kindred, lineage etc.
Spiritually the family is the nucleus of the Church. It is the focal point of the Church. Its function is similar to the function of the nucleus of a seed. The nucleus of the seed is the source of life for that seed; likewise the family is the source of life to the Church. So if the source is contaminated then be sure the product will also be contaminated. The attack of Satan on the family is an attack on the source of life of the Church.
What is a Nucleus?
It is the central part of a whole seed, its own identity about which the rest of the whole gathers or grows; it is the center of activity or influence. It is the inner spheroid protoplasmic mass of a cell, essential to the life of the cell and it is responsible for the transmission of hereditary characters.
The family is the link between the Church and the world. It is the channel through which the Grace of God flows to the world. It is the mirror that reflects the image of God to the world.
Through the family the hereditary characters of God is transmitted to the world. Through the family set up God intends to live and reveal Himself in the world, He manifest His Character, Authority and expresses His Dominion over the earth and He displays His indisputable power over the works of darkness and subdue His archenemy – Satan.
Just as in biology the nucleus of a cell is composed of nucleoproteins, the family is composed of parents, children, uncles, aunties, cousins, nieces, nephews, maid, servants etc at the center of this complex network is the man and the woman.
The world family originated from one man and one woman. It started with a man called Adam and his wife – Eve.
God planted a Garden in the East of Eden and put a man to tend it and he was also given some other assignments which included procreation and for him to carry out this assignment there was need for a woman to be created. This brought about the carrying out of the first surgical operation on earth. Gen2:18-25. The man saw the creation of God he was excited and he named her woman because she was taken from him. He (man) under divine inspiration immediately gave a set of rules that will guide the relationship. There was an immediate change of priority for him, his wife was to come first before his father and mother, Adam told God by this pronounce that he did not want any interference from anybody and God respected his decision. Gen 2:23-24. If parents will also respect this law we will see some level of sanity in the families. Adam forgot himself in the excitement that God was playing a dual role in his life, God was first his Divine Creator and then his father, he forgot to put his Creator before his wife which is the right thing to do and he landed in trouble. The serpent came to the woman and sin of disobedience came into the world. God plans and purposes for the human race were tampered with, and judgment went forth, first to the serpent, the woman and finally the man Gen3:1-19.
Adam response to the judgment given by God was a response of faith (he did not argue with God or complain of any unfair treatment). It is the birth of faith; this faith indicated a new beginning of spiritual life. He immediately changed the name of his wife to Eve Gen3:20. Eve– Life Spring. He prophetically pronounced life on his wife; their sin had made them dead spiritually so he needed to do something to change the situation, pronouncing life on his wife showed his faith in God’s ability to change their circumstances, through the seed that was to come forth from his wife to avenge the works of Satan. God manifested His mercy indicating the pardon and acceptance of a confessing, believing man, rejoicing in anticipation of that future victory over the serpent which was to be accomplished by the Seed of the woman. The mercy of God alone is the source of pardon Gen3:21. Adam then knew Eve his wife and they started the first family. Gen 4:1.
You will probably have heard the story of “The Beauty and the Beast.” A young man who is pampered in his youth becomes increasingly arrogant and demanding as he grows older. Eventually, a wicked witch cast a spell on him transforming him into a beast as a punishment for his arrogance. His only hope for release was to be truly loved by a maiden; a seemingly impossible achievement. In his frustration he demanded to be loved, but his beastly behavior only drives people farther away until he was totally alone and isolated from the world of human beings. A woman saw something of value in the beast and begins to love him. That love transformed him back into a man and not just the man he was before, but a new, changed man. How could she have loved him as fearsome as he was? It’s a mystery, but it illustrates the power of a woman’s love.
Marriage is intended to be redemptive for both men and women. God has given women the privilege and the ability to bring life to our husbands with our love. Women have enormous power with men, which can be use for good or evil.
Consider these three examples from the Scripture:
The power of Delilah with Samson. Samson could take on an army of warriors, but he surrendered to the charms of one woman.
King David, who faced and felled a nine-foot Goliath, yet fell under the spell of Bathsheba. David was so obsessed, he was drawn away from his God into immorality, lies, and ultimately murder.
Solomon, who ruled over the golden years of Israel, but was captivated by the power of women. He became the first man to have seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines as stated in the Scriptures. Incredible!
A woman’s power over men has not lessened since those biblical days. Today, the advertising industry exploits this power in order to sell everything from cars to toothpaste. Magazines, billboards, posters, and store windows use attractive women, seductive women, and blatant sexual images to catch a man’s glance and capture his attention.
Every day men walk away from wives, children, friends, parents, siblings; risking career and reputation. For what? Another woman.
In the Middle East, young men and teenage boys willingly become human bombs, causing endless grief to thousands. For what? The promise of seventy-two beautiful virgins in paradise.
Female attraction can be deadly. But death was not our Designer’s intention. Feminine power was intended to give life. Eve (whose name means Life giver), was designed to complete her Adam, to nurture life in him and to create new life in children.
Many wives do not understand how profound this power is. God has blessed you with a feminine ability that you can use for good in your husband’s life. God has plans for your man. He wants to use you to grow him into a godly man. Your power can meet his loneliness and his companionship needs, affirm his sexual identity, protect him from temptation, and keep him for life.
Meet His Companionship Need
Something is missing in every man. And it’s by divine design. After God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). It’s an amazing truth that the perfect God of the universe created a perfect human being and then declared, “It is not good.” Man was incomplete in the sense that he was lonely. God orchestrated the perfect arrangement for His grand finale of creation: a woman, the “helper suitable for him.” It is still true since “in the beginning” in Genesis, a wife makes a man complete and whole.
Your husband has this same “loneliness” need.
God brought you into his life to be his “helper” to meet his need for a companion. In Christian marriage, this oneness is a unity of mind, body, and soul, and is celebrated through the sexual union.
Lest we women feel somehow superior that we are not needy. We are! We are incomplete without our husbands. We need our husbands to help us become who God designed us to be. Neither the man nor the woman can stand alone; as mentioned above, God’s Word makes it very clear “it is not good that man should be alone.” Women must think as God instructs them to in the Bible about their men, themselves and their marriages.
Of course, now after the fall of mankind, no one is totally complete without the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ. Moreover, perfect completeness cannot occur on earth, we will only attain this in Heaven. But in marriage we can touch the holiness of God; we can recapture a taste of what was lost in the Garden of Eden when a husband and a wife express love, transparency, trust, and sacrifice in the mystery of marital intercourse.
Bless His Sexuality
When God made a man to be attracted to a woman, He had multiple purposes in mind. Adam’s loneliness need was not just for a companion. He needed Eve for the joy of finding pleasure in her total person; body, soul, and spirit and for the affirmation and blessing of his identity as a man that come through her love for him. Gen 2:25 says, “. . . and the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” As a result, every wife has a deep, life-altering responsibility to her husband to be a helper, and help him feel like the man God created him to be. If I love my husband, I won’t view his sexual needs disapprovingly. Since all men are created with a loneliness need, they journey from boyhood into manhood needing to know that their manliness is good and positive. Humanly speaking, this is a question that only his wife should answer a blessing only she should give.
Protect Your Husband from Temptation
You have the power to protect your husband from temptation by making sure his sexual needs are met by you and you alone. Look at it this way: “If you don’t want to do his laundry, your husband can take his clothes to the cleaners. If you decide you don’t want to cook anymore for him, he can go out to any number of great restaurants to eat. But if your husband isn’t getting his sexual needs met at home with you, and he goes somewhere else, God calls that a sin.” Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. If your husband sins in this way, he’s responsible before God. But at the same time, understand that you play a powerful role in helping him not to yield to temptation. God created us as men and women with overwhelmingly inbuilt differences. If you love him, you’ll want to protect him from the limitless temptations that the enemy of his soul floats by him day after day. You are most powerful as a wife when you become a student of what your husband likes and then use that knowledge and your feminine skill to protect him from temptation and sin.
Keep Him for Life
When we stated our vows at the wedding altar, most of us repeated the words “to have and to hold” and “till death do us part.” We signed up for life. But have you ever thought about what it means to “have” and “hold” your husband?
To have implies a possession. It means he belongs to you and no one else. He is your responsibility, and you are his. Are you fulfilling your sexual responsibility? For frequency? Creativity? Have you turned him down more often than you have invited his love? Do you put his needs before or after those of your children or your work?
To hold means to keep or bond, much like a magnet. A magnet has the power within to pull another polar opposite to itself. My husband and I are virtual opposites in nearly every way. It’s what attracted us to each other in the first place. But I must continue to be a magnet in his life if I am to keep him. Too many women would love to have him if I let him leave home for work or travel constantly in a state of sexual deprivation. 1Cor 7:5 (NKJV) tells us, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to . . . prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
This may come as no surprise to you, but most men want—really want—their wives to passionately desire them. And when you express sexual longing for him—whether verbally or nonverbally—your husband is unlikely to refuse your magnetic power. The more a wife affirms her husband’s God-given manhood, the more she helps build him into the man God wants him to be. This power of a wife to affirm him, bless him, protect him, and keep him is blessed by God. It is a very good, nurturing, life-giving gift. Knowing this, I’ve often wondered why we women don’t want or choose to use our God-given powers to affirm and nurture our husbands more often.
This power you and I have as wives is blessed by God. It is a very good, life-giving thing. The question remains: What will you do about this power you possess? Are you going to put it to death, bury it, deny it, or will you choose to exercise your sexual power to create a soul-satisfying confidence in your man?
May the Lord give you the wisdom and understanding to use your feminine power positively to the glory of God. Amen.
- Biblical Women in God’s Design for Mankind. (covenantfamilyaffairs.wordpress.com)
- Christian Couples- Unity of Place of Worship (covenantfamilyaffairs.wordpress.com)
- Husbands and Wives (jemtree.wordpress.com)
Beloved, you are about to read accounts of some women in the Bible times, who in spite of their circumstances and challenges of life, were used by God to bring about His Eternal design for mankind. Though, these are Eastern women who lived in ancient times, yet their stories apply to our lives and the difficult issues we face in our world today. These women were on the edge; they had courage, took risk, did unexpected things, lived daring lives and made mistakes. These women were not perfect, but God in His Infinite mercy used them in His Eternal Plans and Purpose for mankind. There are lessons we can learn from them, that when applied in our own life situations will help us fulfill God’s design for our lives.
The First Woman
Eve was a redemptive instrument in the Hands of God. We know from the bible that God created Adam and Eve, and that all mankind are descendants of these ancient couple. While Eve was deceived by the serpent, and the first to violate the divine regulations governing their life Gen2:16-17, the Word of God holds Adam as the disobedient one, who knowingly broke trust with God 1Tim2:14.This does not mean that the woman was less intelligent or more vulnerable to deception than man, but under the circumstances of the Fall of man, deception of the woman preceded active disobedience of man. It is remarkable to note that God in His Infinite mercy and divine Grace chose to bring about the redemption of man from the yoke of sin, through the Seed of the woman. The one first scarred by sin is selected to be the one first promised to become an instrument of God’s redemptive work Gen3:15. The birth of Seth, the “seed” given to replace the murdered Abel, was the first in the “bloodline” that will trace to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eve’s distinct place in the failure of the first couple becomes the soil in which God’s mercy plants the first seed of promise. The lesson is obvious, however deep the failure, God’s grace is deeper, “for He is able to make all grace abound towards of us”.
JOCHEBED EX6:20; NUM26:59
Preserver of A Nation.
Though mentioned only twice in the bible, she emerges as an intricate part of the divine will in the redemption of Israel. Distinguished as Moses’ mother, she is pivotal in the preservation of his life.Ex2:2-3, an action that is described as faith filled and courageous Heb11:23. The personal effort and work of her hands coincided with her faith in the saving grace of God. Faith does not absolve us of responsibility in utilizing the resources, gifts and abilities given us by God Jas2:17-18. The decision to surrender the child to the water was a total affirmation of her confidence in God. Jochebed not only saved her son, but was used by God through devotion and diligence to preserve a nation. The lesson we learn from her encounter with destiny is that, to know whom we believe, encourages us to place our most valued possession in His care 2Tim1:12. This is the focus of faith, not merely what we believe, that is understanding a particular promise, but knowing Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith Heb12:2; focusing on the Person behind the promise more than the promise itself. Vital faith rests in Him Heb4:9-10; abides in Him Jn15:4&7 and cannot be separated from Him by any circumstances or power Rom8:38-39.
DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD NUM27:1-11
A Godly Quest for Equal Rights.
Zelophehad, a Gileadite, of the tribe of Manasseh had no sons, but had five daughters who set a legal precedent in Israel. Their names were: Mahlah meaning “Sickness” or “Disease”; Noah meaning “Rest” or “Comfort”; Hoglah meaning “Partridge” of “Boxer”; Milcah meaning “Queen” or “Counsel” and Tirzah meaning “Pleasantness”. If we accept the names of these women as pictures of their abilities, natures, or adversities they had to overcome, then we see all the qualities necessary for the tenacity, tact, courage, wisdom and grace they needed to request and receive an inheritance for themselves. Their presentation of their case to Moses and the Elders of Israel (Num27:2), when land was being shared to the tribes, is the first instance of an appeal for equal rights for women. All five daughters manifest a balance between a spirit of confrontation and a spirit of cooperation. They attacked injustice Num27:3-4, and God defended them when they allowed Him to be their Deliverer/Provider Num27:6-7. Their wisdom in trusting God to see that they were not denied their request paid off. They reveal a contemporary pathway to overcoming inequality while sustaining a godly spirit.
DEBORAH JUDGES 2:4-9
The Spirit filled Multitalented Woman.
Deborah whose name means “Honeybee” was a prophetess, and she rose in ancient Israel as a female Judge, whose multiple leadership functions demonstrate the possibilities available to any woman who will allow God’s Spirit to fill and form her life. Deborah also acquired a reputation as a wise settler of disputes, counselor, wife and deliverer in time of war. She was a mother in Israel Judg5:7. She became a celebrated leader of political influence and authority, while maintaining the grace and dignity of womanhood. Her successful mobilization of Israelite militia demonstrated her leadership ability and spiritual insight. Because of Deborah’s godly and skillful leadership traits, Barak (as Commander of Israel’s armies) would not go to battle without her, even when told that he would not get full honor for the victory Judg4:9. Under her leadership, the people witnessed God’s providential assistance in the form of a massive storm and the defeat of Sisera’s superior armed forces. Deborah represents the finest possibilities of a gifted, God fearing woman who allows the Spirit of God to develop her full potentials to impact the world around.
The Woman God Remembered.
Hannah whose name means “grace” had to contend with a situation that exhibited the exact opposite of her name. She was barren. Barrenness was the ultimate tragedy for a married Hebrew woman. The inability to perpetuate the name of her husband, and secure the orderly transfer of his estate upon his death, often resulted in insecurity, humiliation and disgrace 1Sam1:6-7. Even in our contemporary world, there is a social stigma attached to being barren. Hannah had something to her credit; she was a woman of prayer, faith and strong desires. Her prayer in 1Sam1:10-11 demonstrates the proper way to handle situations over which we have no control. She sought God for what only He could do Ps34:15. God used the burden of Hannah’s heart to bring about a surprisingly, larger solution to the burden of His own Heart. Barrenness was not only Hannah’s condition; it was Israel’s condition as well. It was a season of spiritual need and little prophetic activity 1Sam3:1. God sought a voice to speak on His behalf to His People. Little did Hannah know that her intense intercession for a child was moving in concert with God. He gave her a son and also brought forth His will and blessing for a whole nation 1Sam3:19-20. Hannah’s prophetic prayer in 1Sam2:1-10 reveals much regarding her spiritual maturity and insight, she was filled with joy, she recognised God’s Holiness and Strength; His Sovereignty and Grace. As we entrust the longings of our hearts to God, He moves on our behalf, but also advances His larger plan through us at the same time.
ABIGAIL 1SAM 25:2-35
A Woman of Understanding
Her life was difficult in that she married a harsh and evil man (Nabal), but she was a woman of good understanding, she was wise, respectful and kept her heart right before the Lord. When her husband played the fool (1Sam25:25), she did not try to change his behaviour, but she intervened wisely by interceding for the lives of her people. She took up the role of a peacemaker 1Sam25:18-51. She was also a woman of courage under pressure, she turned from her own short sighted agenda to God’s eternal purpose. She did not allow revenge for all she had suffered in the hands of Nabal to blind her to take a wrong step. Her courage resulted in a great deliverance for her household. As a wise woman, her wisdom in effect surrounded and protected her mind, thereby bringing honour to her household Pr12: 4a. Finally, she was a godly woman; she knew God and His ways. As a result, God could use her to powerfully influence others, even a king. As a godly woman, abiding in the Holy Spirit, learn to trust in the insight and understanding the Lord gives you concerning the affairs of your home. A godly woman adorns herself with a spirit that is not self-exacting, or casting herself as her husband’s teacher, but seeking ways of being a true helpmeet for her husband, in order for him to fulfil his God given vision. She receives insights from the Lord and with a humble spirit relates it to her husband for the good of the marriage. A woman who cultivates her relationship with God first, then relates appropriately to her husband will powerfully influence him in every area of his life.
The Woman and Today’s Prophetic Possibilities
The name Huldah is derived from the Hebrew root word “cheled” which means “to glide swiftly”. Her name probably reflects her quickness of mind and her ability to swiftly and rightly discern the things of God. She was used by God in a fleeting moment of history to voice His judgment and His prophecy, and to spark off one of the greatest national revival in the history of Israel. She is a case study of the character and the potential of a woman, who today will receive the Holy Spirit’s fullness and step through whatever open door God provides. She commanded the respect and confidence of the High Priest Hilkiah and Shaphan the Scribe, this shows that spiritual influence flows from spiritual lifestyle, not merely from the presence of spiritual gifts. Acts 2:17-18 promises that the Church age allows for a rapid increase of the Holy Spirit’ anointing upon women. Huldah’s example of respectful, trust begetting, forthright living teaches on the grounds for wise and effective spiritual ministry.
Rising to meet your Destiny.
The account of Esther unfolds the way God opens destiny to any person who will keep His priorities. Esther was a Jewish orphan, a virtual nonentity, raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah which means “Myrtle”, she reflected the myrtle in her courage and obedience, which clearly did not wither even in the face of death Esth 4:16. In Persian, “Esther” means “Star”. Again her beauty, grace and character shone bright and unwavering, against the darkness that threatened her people Esth 5:1-8; Esth 7:1-10. Even in the presence of recognition, success, wealth and luxury, an environment many covet, but which has so often proven destructive to spiritual commitment, Esther retained her sense of perspective and integrity. The following are the lessons to be learnt from her account:
1. She recognized God’s providence in her placement in life: she believed God, and not her beauty put her on the throne Esth 4:14.
2. Her respect for the power of prayer and fasting: she recognized the reality of the spiritual realm and the Holy Spirit’s resources Esth 4:16.
3. Finally, her unswerving will to lay down her own life for others and her wisdom and patience in pursuing her enterprise.
MARY LUKE 1:26-56
Faithful Mother: Obedient Disciple.
Mary loved the Lord from her childhood; she was devoted to God, brought up in the way of the Lord. She was a virgin, uneducated, from a poor background. To make matters worse, she lived in an obscured village that most Jews disdain, Nazareth Jn 1:46. Above all, she was a privileged vessel, chosen to bear God’s Son. She was a participant in the miracle of incarnation at a level no other human being can comprehend. It is clear she did not claim to understand it herself, but simply worship God in humble acknowledgment of the phenomenon engulfing her existence: “My soul magnifies the Lord” she exclaimed Lk 1:46. We can hardly fathom the bewildering moments she experienced when:
1. Simon prophesied future mental/emotional suffering Lk 2:34-35.
2. She and Joseph spoke with Jesus after they thought He was lost in Jerusalem Lk 2:40-50.
3. Jesus gently rebuffed her at the wedding in Cana Jn2:4.
4. Jesus seemed to reject her and His brothers’ efforts at helping Him, though they clearly misunderstood Him at that time Matt 12:46-50.
These instances teaches us the wisdom of persistence and obedience in following God’s basic directives on our lives, even when the details of the outworking of His Will are unclear or mystifying. Mary is a case study in the pathway forward in God’s will. Rather than using her position as the Mother of Jesus, to sought elevation in authority and influence for herself, among those who saw Jesus for who He was; Messiah, she remained steadfast with Him all the way to the Cross, not caring for her own protection Jn 19:25. She obediently joined the other disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room, waiting as He commanded, for the coming of the Holy Spirit Acts1:14. Mary was a model of responsive obedience, one who lived out her own directive to the servants at Cana. A timeless advice for all ages “whatever He (Jesus) says to you, do it” Jn2:5.
WOMAN OF SAMARIA JN 4:7-42
An Empowered Witness.
The story of the woman of Samaria teaches us a classic lesson in God’s redemptive action. Looking at the scenario critically, a lot of factors were against the woman:
1. The ongoing contempt of Jews for Samaritans Jn 4:9.
2. The reputation of the woman Jn 4:18.
3. The cultural restrictions of male and female interaction Jn 4:27.
But Jesus initiative forgave, restored and empowered her to persuade men to heed a Jewish Messiah. A transformed woman became a great evangelistic influence, as many Samaritans responded to Jesus as Messiah Jn 4: 29-30, 39-41.
Our Savior’s grace, seen in this woman of Samaria, illustrates how prejudices, beliefs, practices and exposures need not confine or destroy the potential of a person. An unnamed Samaritan woman received life changing revelation that eluded many learned scholars (1Cor 1:26-29). Spiritual insight that propelled her to another dimension; perceiving Jesus as a “prophet” Jn 4:19, then as “Christ” Jn 4:29. She is a model of how true revelation can translate into a powerful witness.
DORCAS ACTS 9:36-41
Practical Ministry: Helps and Hospitality.
Dorcas was a devout and compassionate woman, whose acts of generosity improved the quality of life for the less privileged in the community. Her concern extended beyond prayer, to various sorts of practical services of hospitality. She was noted for her aid to the poor, in particular to widows, for whom she served and did noble deeds Prov31:20. Because of her interest in the matter that touches the very heart of God; that is caring for the poor, the marginalized, the homeless, the widows, the orphans etc. God rose up in her defense when death came knocking on her door Prov19:17; Heb6:10. Through her ministry of Helps and Hospitality, her community experienced the manifested love of God.
PHILIPS’ DAUGHTERS ACTS 21:8-9
Women and New Testament Ministry.
The reference to Philips’ daughters each exercising the gifts of prophecy, makes clear that women did bring God’s word by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that such ministry was fully accepted in the early Church. Paul reinforced this in 1Cor11:5, where he directs that a woman may ‘prophesy, but she must be properly “covered”, that is, rightly related to her husband or other spiritual authority’. Women were also in the Upper room, waiting the Holy Spirit’s coming and the birth of the Church Acts1:14. Peter’s prophetic sermon at Pentecost affirmed the Old Testament promise was now realised: “your daughters” and “maidservants” would now, share fully and equally with men in realising the anointing, fullness and ministry of the Holy Spirit, making them effective in witness and service for the spread of the Gospel. For example:
Phoebe was mentioned as a servant of the Church probably a deaconess. John’s letter to an elect (chosen) Lady with instruction concerning who she allows to minister in her “house” (a designation for early church fellowship) 2John.
Priscilla and her husband mentioned as co workers with Paul were more like a husband/wife teaching team Rom16:3-4. The acceptance of women in public place ministry in the Church is not a concession to the spirit of feminist movement, but the refusal of such a place might be a concession to an order of male chauvinism, unwarranted by and unsupported in the Scriptures. Clearly, women are to be encouraged to use their God given gifts to evangelize Christ in their homes and neighbourhood. Acts2:17; Acts18:24-26; Phil4:2-3.