Faith

24 – 7 things I learnt at 23

So it is my birthday. Yes, I am 24 (woop woop!) and I have decided to share seven things I have learnt this past year as well sharing an outfit post.

24 7 Things I learnt at 23-6

1) Stepping outside the comfort zone

The year of 23 forced me to be uncomfortable, in other words I had to step outside of my comfort zone. I usually stick to what I know for example the same old meal at Nandos-half chicken and two sides of peri peri chips with perinaise and if I am feeling cheeky a wrap instead of half chicken. As I am sure with you all, you have your routine and patterns that you stick to and find it hard to go against what you are familiar with. We find it hard because it is natural to want to have a sense of security and certainty in life. Coming out of your comfort zone opens you up to risks and the possibility of stress, so we just crawl back to the box that we feel comfortable in to avoid the fear of the unknown.  I decided in the year of 23 things have to change…Rae try something new. For some things it meant going in a whole new direction, for some changing my strategy and doing things I would not usually do. For example all of my friends know how I have a slight technology struggle (a good family friend was shocked to see me with a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and joked that I need the good old Nokia brick phone ), so I decided to learn ways of using new technologies. Who knows I may even join snapchat in the year of 24? This is very unlikely but who knows. I even recently decided to get some colour in my hair. This is the first time ever that I have gone out of my hair comfort zone-colour 1b-and I love it. I do stray to colour 33, for the braids but only braids.  I even want to try a short dark blonde pixie cut!

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24 7 Things I learnt at 23-11

Why go out of your comfort zone?

  • Pushes you to achieve your goals-being uncomfortable forces you to step out and be brave
  • Growth– the challenges and the risks that comes with getting out of your comfort zone will stretch you and push you forward

2) I am the bomb.com

May your highlight shine bright, contour be strong and believe in your slay sis.

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24 7 Things I learnt at 23-3

Sometimes life’s difficulties makes it hard for you to believe in your accomplishments and what you have achieved. I will not lie, I am extremely tough on myself and find it hard at times to appreciate my journey. However, someone once told me that ‘there are people who love to be in your position’. I screamed ‘Me, ME, MEEEEEE’… ‘Why would anyone want to be in my position?’ Then people will remind you of what you have done, ‘You have done x, y and z’. I have learnt in the year of 23 not to wait to hear someone tell me that I am the bomb.com. Yes, I still moan and probably will for a while. It is still a learning process for me. Just last week I was having a conversation with my best friend and she told me off for it. So I took out time to write out a list of things that I am most proud of and what I love about me. One thing that struck me is that the journey I am on has made me the individual I am and the person I will continue to be and for this I appreciate it all. You cannot be the bomb.com without overcoming hurdles and challenges. Do not hate the grind, own it and appreciate it. So with this in mind, like Beyonce said ‘I see it, I want it…I dream it, I work hard, I grind till I own it…I slay, hey, I slay’.

24 7 Things I learnt at 23-14

3) Fellowship

I am part of a fellowship where we meet once a month and discuss the word of God. What I love about our fellowship is that it easy to be open and transparent. A member of our fellowship group sent me a voicenote prayer and I was so moved by it. Fellowship is more than just a catch up over doughnuts and talking on occasion about Jesus. What I have learnt in the year of 23, is that the purpose of fellowship are one to share things together and second be there for one another spiritually and physically.

Follow Ladies who Fellowship in the City on Twitter: @LWFITC , on Instagram: @ladieswhofellowship , on Facebook: ladieswhofellowship  and website ladieswhofellowship.com/

4) Life is too short

As cliché as it sounds, it is true-life is too short. Enjoy life, buy those shoes that you have been eyeing for a while.

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5) Take time out

This is one thing that I really wanted to implement in the year of 23, to take time out for myself. Whether its reading a new book, or trying out a new restaurant it is really important to take time away from your routine.

24 7 Things I learnt at 23-12

6) Resilience

The definitions of resilience:

1) ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’

2) ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’

Not today, Satan, not today!

One of the lessons I learnt in the year from 23, is to never let a setback to hold you for too long.

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24 7 Things I learnt at 23-8

7) God is everything

I knew this before, but he has proven it even more in the year of 23.

What I was wearing:

You all know by now, I love all things M&S-some things are really cute and not everything there is ‘granny’. You can transform a dress, or a shirt for example by the way you style it (this is a blog post for another day).

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24 7 Things I learnt at 23-5

24 7 Things I learnt at 23-10

24 7 Things I learnt at 23-9

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24 7 Things I learnt at 23-7

Here are the details:

Dress: Marks and Spencer

Leather Jacket-Marks and Spencer

Corset Belt: Vintage (Have a read of a post where I was talking about corsets)

Shoes- Marks and Spencer

Earrings: Topshop

Bag: Marks and Spencer

Hair: Pride and Prestige Hair

Stay Blessed

x

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Dashiki Reflections

This is not going to be one of my usual fashion posts where I will be talking about the outfit alone. I want to discuss a little about the outfit and much more on 2015.

I wore this dashiki dress in the summer, I was not going to post it but my dear sister-friend convinced me to put it up. Summer time is my favourite time of the year, I love the weather and you can wear more interesting and colourful things (you already know how I love colour and lots of it). I wore this dress before actually way back in sixth form, during a Black History Month event that I was involved in, so to my brothers who think I copied them, lies you tell twinnies.  Please do follow and check out their blog www.uptothepoint.wordpress.com

Dashiki Reflections 1

Dashiki Reflections 2

Outfit:

Dashiki dress- Made in Ghana

Wedges- Dune

Necklace- Wallis

Bangle- John Lewis

Bag- Modalu

Looking at the pictures again made me reflect on the year 2015. This year has been an interesting one, a mix of highs and lows. Through it all, one thing that I am most thankful for is growth. I am not where I was last year, I have grown in certain areas of my life. Firstly my walk with Christ has grown and matured, I am not where I used to be in 2014. At the beginning of this year I said to God, I want more of him. I was tired of just receiving the word from other people, waiting for encouragement from others and wanted to have a personal relationship with him. Secondly, my friendships and relationships have grown. Growth in friendships does not just mean you increasing your friendship group, it means bettering individual friendships and also allowing people into your life who are positive .This year I met someone and within three months we became so close. I truly believe God put her in my life, because at that time I was praying about something and when she walked into my life she answered my prayer with one bible verse. Why I say God put her in my life is because at that particular time I felt like God was not listening to me and she gave me a bible verse to mediate on. She had no clue that the verse she gave me was the answer to my prayer until later on.  Additionally, this year some people that I have known for a while have been cut off (not necessarily drama)  just some people are there for a certain time and you move on.

Thirdly, I learned this year that a ‘private life is a happy life’. I have always been private and will continue to be so. I do not like letting the whole world know my business and in particular in 2015 learnt not everything that happens in your life needs to be told. This relates to the first growth point, this year God told me to stop running to people when I was always disappointed or when I was rejoicing. There were times when I would pick the phone up and dial the number he would say,  ‘Rae put the phone down and speak to me first’. The first person I have learned to run to is God with everything and as the song says ‘Jesus be the center of it all’. This does not mean that you should keep everything to yourself, it is just striking that important balance. It depends on the type of person you are, some are extremely private and some blab out everything- its important to find the middle ground

Fourthly this year, I have learned to ‘launch out’. Many of us have wonderful ideas and visions, but because of fear we hold ourselves back. Late this year, I told myself I will no longer do to that myself. I am going to live life in such a way, that if I have an idea I will set out to do it. I encourage all that if you have been thinking about a venture you want to get into, or a new career or to set up a business or whatever it may be do it! Don’t wait for others to give you the go ahead otherwise you will be waiting forever. Many of us are sitting on ideas that could potentially be great but I encourage you to look into your hands. Ask yourself what are these hands good at doing? Are your hands good at drawing? Use that artistic ability. Are your hands good at writing? Use that creative ability.

What for 2016?

This time next year I will be reflecting back on the year and thinking of what I have done, what I achieved and what I could do better. I think reviewing yourself is so important, it gives you a fresh mind and the urge to do better. However do not wait to the end of the year to review yourself, you can have reviews throughout the year.

What to expect from the blog in 2016? More great posts on fashion, faith, politics, law, business, art etc. There will be a post a week (sometimes more than one). With the fashion posts expect more than ‘what am I wearing posts’ or ‘OOTDs’.  I love discussing with friends the history behind fashion and the business of fashion, so I will be writing more posts on that. This goes with other blog posts too.

Stay Blessed x

You are beautiful

This post was inspired by my a dear sister of mine. I saw her tweets and it moved me to share my own views of the perception of beauty today. It got me thinking and I decided to write a post on it. This is probably my first truly personal post on the blog (I’ll be sharing some of my experiences). I hope it will bless you all and give you an insight into what beauty means. Grab a cup of tea and some hob nobs, and hope you enjoy the post.

What does beauty mean to you? What comes to your mind when you think of a beautiful person? A face without no flaws or does it mean perfection. Does it mean having the curves in the right places, or does it mean being slim?

Here are some definitions to get you thinking  on what beauty has been defined by:

Definitions of beauty :

  • the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, colour, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
  • a beautiful person, especially a woman.
  • a beautiful thing, as a work of art or a building.
  • Often, beauties. something that is beautiful in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
  • an individually pleasing or beautiful quality; grace; charm:

Definitions of beautiful:

  • having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind
  • excellent of its kind
  • wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying
  • the concept of beauty (usually preceded by the).
  • (used with a plural verb) beautiful things or people collectively (usually preceded by the)
  • the ideal of beauty (usually preceded by the)
  • wonderful; fantastic

Why I wrote this?

I wrote this blog post based on what I believe being beautiful is. My definition of beauty comes from what God says it is and just having confidence in yourself. You may ask why I am doing this, it is really personal to me. I grew up not feeling pretty enough until I became comfortable in my own skin. I would also like to encourage younger girls growing up that they are beautiful and are wonderfully and fearfully made.

When I began writing this in my journal, I planned to write only from my personal experiences and what beauty meant to me. However, I decided to share this experience with others and ask people what beauty means to them as well. The reasons could have been long, short, spiritual, religious or inspired by anything. It could have even been selfies to express what beauty means to them. Below, I have included what people thought of what beauty means.

What does beauty mean to you?

you are beautiful 5

“Beauty is you”.

“Beauty to me is God. I believe that is where Art comes from and life imitates Art”

“First of all beauty fades…outer beauty and appearance fades true beauty comes from within. Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, shall be praised. Personally I believe my outer appearance is not enough to define my beauty. But if I search my heart and find that I have accepted the way in which God has created me it is then I will begin to see the beauty in me. The only time we can define beauty is when our heart matches our outer appearance. I believe I am beautiful not because of my face, my eyes, or my body, but I’m beautiful because I’ve accepted it in my heart that God created me in his own image and likeness. He makes all things beautiful and I count myself as one of those things”.

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“Beauty is an opinion and anyone can appear “beautiful” to you if you give them a chance”.

“I think I am beautiful because of the fact I never give up, so the fact I can think of a million reasons as to why things won’t work but I am just courageous enough to follow through it. A lot of it has to do with inner and outer beauty. I think I am beautiful because of the fact that just like anyone I have been through so much but I consistently look on the bright side. I think I am beautiful because of how my mother raised me to be the woman that I am. I am beautiful because I have a lot of self respect. And I think I am beautiful because I am surrounded by so many beautiful people that gradually becomes a part of me”.

you are beautiful 2

“My reasons are simple God made me who I am and I believe that with or without makeup I am beautiful regardless. So why should I listen to other ‘human beings’ who may think I am not beautiful? Who are you to call me, God’s creation who made me….UGLY? What matters is that God created me not you and not any one else. Therefore, I have learnt to embrace the truth that I am beautiful each time I wake up, smile, pray, eat and sleep”.

you are beautiful 4 you are beautiful 3

“I know I’m beautiful because I’m made in the image of God. My mummy says I’m beautiful too”.

“I think beauty is a feeling rather than a look. The way you feel is the way people perceive you, like if you’ve realised when someone is beautiful and rude, their beauty immediately becomes irrelevant. So I feel like the way you feel, act, and perceive yourself all constitutes to how beautiful you are”.

“I am beautiful because I love my baby face, my lips and cheeks. I love the fact that God made me in a way that delighted him but let us not forget that God measures beauty from within”.

“I’d class it as the inner you, the honest core of you shining through your skin and affecting the outer core because I do believe our souls affect our appearance”.

“I’m beautiful because God made this way and if he did then who am I (or anyone else for that matter) to argue? It takes practice to start believing that though and many years of dissatisfaction to even realise it”.

“Personality, smile, confidence is what makes some beautiful. Not always about the outer appearance. AND YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL RACHEL”.

You are beautiful one

My definition of beauty

Often beauty is seen in one way-that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful. That you have to be thin to be beautiful, that you have to have light skin to be beautiful, that your hair has to be a certain type to be beautiful. There is a ideal of beauty that it is forced down our throats by society,  I find that if you do not meet its standards you are seen as ‘ugly’. I refuse to believe anyone is ugly. Everyone looks different, God created us intentionally that way. Beauty comes in different forms. It is not one standard. This is why I do not follow the world’s standard as is it ever changing. In some parts of the world beauty has different meanings. Obviously I do like to look at beauty trends (I am a woman after all) but what I am saying is I do not look to that as my standard. As my sister said there is, ‘Nothing wrong with having an appreciation for physical beauty, but just realise that is not everything’. My perception and definition of beauty is different to the world’s.

What the Bible says about beauty? Here are some verses to help you:

  • Proverbs 31:30-Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
  • 1 Samuel 16:7-But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
  • Genesis 1:27-So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11-He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

What I love about God’s standard of beauty, that it is not ever changing. It remains the same throughout the ages. The bible says that the grass withers, flower fades but God’s word remains the same forever (Isaiah 40:8). This means many things will change, die, fade and go away but God’s word will stay the same throughout these changes. The same applies to beauty, the world’s standard of beauty changes all the time but God’s word remains true yesterday, today and forever. Your outer beauty may also fade, after all we will all grow old one day (I don’t know about you but I will still be fabulous when I’m eighty with all my wrinkles and grey hair). The point I’m trying to make is that outer beauty is not permanent, God’s word is. So your focus should be more on your inner beauty.

What does the Bible say about inner and outer beauty? Take a look at 1 Peter 3:3-4:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

This means that your beauty should not come from outside or what you wear but instead what is in your heart. God is concerned of the state of your heart, your inner beauty. Are you kind, selfless, generous, loving, humble, forgiving, patient, faithful and peaceful? These are some of the things that God considers to be beautiful in his sight. It is your heart which makes you beautiful. You can have what man says is the prettiest face but if your heart is full of hate and envy, what good is that? Why not seek to have a beautiful heart (inner beauty) as well as the beauty on the outside of you? Everything na double double *dances*, I call it double beauty blessings-having both inner and outer beauty. I know my beauty does not alone come from my Kurt Geiger heels nor my 24inch weave or even my make up but it comes from my heart. Have you ever noticed when someone who has a good heart, that light shines on their face and makes them beautiful? What is in your inside shows on the outside.

God tells you that you are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalms 139:14). This is my definition of beauty. It further adds in the verse that ‘your works are wonderful, I know that full well’. Everything God has created is wonderful from the trees, to the seas, to animals and to you yourself. Knowing that you are wonderfully and fearfully made, comes from believing it yourself. You are beautiful when you believe you are wonderfully made and know that God created you in this way. To say that God created me beautiful is not being vain nor is it being over confident or narcissistic. It is recognising what God has said- we are FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. There are days when I wake up and I’m not feeling great. But don’t we all have those days. We are all human. It’s okay. But I know and believe that I am still beautiful. You are beautiful. There are days when I’m struggling to fit into my jeans in the morning because the previous evening I had too much banku and tilapia. When someone calls me ugly or insults my appearance, I don’t have time for it because I know who I am. I know who God calls me. I know he created me. I know he calls me beautiful, my father God.

It wasn’t always like this.

Personal Experiences of beauty

I had struggles growing up, I disliked my physical appearance. I grew up in areas looking different to people. I didn’t appreciate my beautiful black skin, I wanted to be lighter and thinner (when I was young I used to be chubby lumpkins). People would make horrible comments about my lips and my bum, I just didn’t want to be me. They would laugh at me and make jokes and I would feel so ugly. They would ask me why my bum and lips are big, like it was my fault that I had those features. I would ask God why he gave me big lips, why couldn’t he make my lips small. Funny enough, the same people who made jokes about me back in primary school now idolise people like Kim Kardashian. Some are now wearing bum pads and distorting their pictures to make it look they have a large behind. It’s funny to me, because late last year Vogue said “Big Butts” are in because of Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s song. When women with “Big Butts” has always existed. Similarly, now big lips are in too, all because of Kylie Jenner drawing on her lips to make them appear bigger. When they always have been in. I don’t see how big lips can be a trend when so many people naturally have that feature. Have they all of sudden forgotten that there are many women who naturally have big lips?  Next thing you know, big noses which they call ‘unbeautiful’ will be ‘in’. If you always follow trends, you’ll always be unhappy. Love your freckles, love the gap in front of your teeth and love your dimples. Why change what makes ‘you’ you? Why would you want change yourself to look like another person? When there is only one of you on this earth.

There was this guy that I liked and he claimed that he liked me. He told me that he did not like women with big bottoms, he preferred women with a large chest (I have kindly paraphrased his words). He always use to make comments about my appearance, he said he was joking. Obviously I did not fit into his description of what was beautiful to him. I used to pretend not to get upset at his comments all because I liked him. Looking back now, I think why did I allow him to make me think so lowly of myself. How did I let another judge upon my beauty and tell me what beauty is? Do not allow another person to determine your beauty. Do not wait for a man to tell you are beautiful. Do not rely on the world to tell you are beautiful. Speak to your soul and tell yourself you are beautiful. A man when he loves you, will not insult your appearance, he will not make you feel bad about yourself. He will love all of you-your flaws and your strengths. He will appreciate both your inner and outer beauty. There is beauty in love, love is beautiful. If you find yourself seeing ‘ugliness’ in your relationship then there is no love there whatsoever. What do I mean by ‘ugliness’ in a relationship? It is whatever love is not. If it causes you pain, then it is not love. If it is abuse, then it is not love. If it makes you have low self esteem, then it is not love.

Body and appearance issues

It is always nice to look good, everyone loves to make an effort regardless of whether you like to admit it or not. The question is who are you are you doing it for? If you are doing it to please man, then you’re in the wrong. Beauty comes within, it is for you, not another. Do it for yourself. When you’re beautifying your outer beauty, make sure it is for yourself. In relationships, so many believe people that you have to make yourself look good for your partner. Yes, I believe that too but make sure it is for yourself first. When you want to lose weight, lose weight for yourself. When you want to add on weight, do it for yourself. Who are you going you gym for? There are days when Auntie so and so will comment on your weight ‘Oh, Rachel why have you lost so much weight’ or ‘Oh, Rachel you have put too much weight on try to cut back okay’. Then I’ll think long and hard of whether to eat the galaxy chocolate bar or not. I came to the realisation I will eat the galaxy chocolate bar. Why? I am happy with my weight. If I wish to lose or add weight on, it will because I have decided too. I will step on and off the treadmill, when I want too. Not because others have said too. If I am healthy and happy with my weight, what else matters?

I remember I told a friend of mine when we were back in secondary school how beautiful she looked. She told me no one had ever told her that. I was shocked. I told her girl you do not know how stunning you are. She has such a lovely inner beauty and a gorgeous smile. A friend of mine, felt too dark to be beautiful. Another friend of mine wished she was not skinny and wished she was curvier. There are pressures in society to look a certain way, that we blame the media for. Yes, some of it is created by the media but sometimes we have to look at ourselves. Why do we as women (this also applies to men) put pressure on people to look a certain way? Why do we tell women that the only  way to be beautiful is if they have a large behind? Why do we tell women that the only way to be beautiful is if they are curvy? Why do we tell women that the only the way to be beautiful is if they are skinny? Beauty comes in all sizes and shapes. Whether you have an athletic built, a skinny frame, an hourglass or a pear shape you are beautiful. No matter what shape you are, know that you are beautiful and celebrate yourself.

Why do we put women against another? Why do we create light skinned vs. dark skinned? How many times have you heard that horrible phrase ‘you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl’?  Why do we create silly stereotypes based off a light skinned girl’s appearance? Why do we create fat vs. skinny? Why do we create the notion that the colour of your hair determines your intelligence and your beauty?

Where am I now?

It took me a long time to see, that God created me beautiful, he created me in his very own image and his very own hands. This means if I am I created in his very own image, I am a reflection of him (I am beautiful just like my father God is). It was only after studying the word for a long period of time that I came to see, that it is very much an insult to call yourself ugly or someone else. God doesn’t like ugly. All that he created was good in his sight, no where does it say what he created was bad in his sight. He created you with his very own hands.

So many feel compelled to conform to the world’s standards of beauty and therefore do not think themselves good enough. My sisters and my brothers too, do not think your physical attributes are not good enough. God says you’re more than enough! You are more than just what is on the outside, there is your inner beauty.

I will not allow any standard to reduce my self worth when I have the best standard to look up too. I love all of me. I love me from my 4c hair all the way down to my size 5 and 1/2 feet.

You are beautiful.

Have a read of my poem, ‘I don’t like me’

P.S Thank you to those who shared their opinion of beauty and what it means to them, God bless you. It is not too late to share your views on what you believe beauty is, I will include it in the post. To do so you can email me at renaissanceideal@yahoo.com. Or if you wish you can share your views with me on Twitter (@RaeDosoo), Facebook (www.facebook.com/renaissanceideal) and Instagram (@renaissanceideal).

Stay Blessed

x

Great Women Of The Bible-The Mary Edition Part 1 (Mary & Mary Magdalene )

For the next two Great Women of the Bible Posts (including this post) will be dedicated to the Marys in the Bible. Mary Edition Part 1 is Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

Mary-The mother of the saviour and a woman honoured above all

Bible Reference-Matthew 1:1-25; 2; 12:46; 13;55-56; Mark 6:3; 3:31; Luke 1; 2; John 2:1-11;19:25; Acts 1:14

Family Background-Mary was of the tribe of Judah and of the line of David. She was married to Joseph, son of Heli and they conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She had sons James, Joses, Simon, Judas and unnamed daughters. Her cousin was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

Name Meaning-Mary is a Hebrew name meaning bitterness, rebellion

Who is Mary?

Mary was a women from the tribe of Judah and the line of David. She was from the city of Galilee called Nazareth. She was betrothed to a man called Joseph, who also was from the line of David and tribe of Judah. The Bible tells us she was a virgin.

The scripture tells us that an angel of the Lord called Gabriel appeared to Mary and said:

“Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Mary was scared and troubled when she saw the angel, wondering why the angel was there. The angel told her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary asked the angel how this could happen as she does not man (keep in mind that she was a virgin and not married to Joseph yet).

The angel told her:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary replied, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

After the visitation of angel Gabriel, Mary went to a town in Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. The Bible tells us that once Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb rejoiced and was filled with the holy spirit:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

Mary then replied with a song of thanksgiving in Luke 1:46-55. She stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Mary was pledged to marry Joseph, but before they come together she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. As Joseph was a man who was faithful to the law and did not want to disgrace her publically, he made up his mind to divorce her quietly. However an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to him to take Mary as his wife because what she had conceived was from the Holy Spirit.

Soon after this, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census that everyone had to take in their town. Joseph went with Mary to the town of Bethlehem as he was from the house and the line of David. While they were there, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus. She wrapped him up in cloths in a manager, as there was no guest room available for them.

Why is Mary great?

Mary, as the mother of Jesus Christ, is the most well known female in the Bible. She was called ‘highly favoured one’ and ‘blessed are you among women’. This means that Mary had received so much grace and unmerited favour from God. Undoubtedly, as the mother of saviour she is a great woman. This alone is not her only call to greatness, but her character.

Mary was a humble and young woman who faced losing her fiancé due to being an unwed mother. Even though she was to be honoured as the mother of saviour, she must of known the possibility of being rejected and publically disgraced . Mary’s submission to God’s plans could have cost her rejection from those around her yet she was still willing to submit herself unto God.

What amazes me, is the way Mary received the message from the angel of God. She did not doubt the message but received it in obedience and faith by answering “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled”. Mary’s song of thanksgiving showed her gratitude and also spoke of her humility. Mary was mindful of the fact that she was a humble village girl.

What can we learn from Mary?

We can learn from Mary’s submission and obedience to God. Mary must of known the challenges she could have faced by submitting herself to God’s plan. She risked losing Joseph and being disgraced publically as a unwed mother. Mary probably knew the suffering she would go through as Jesus’ mother. She knew that one day she will see her son die in order to save us from our sins. She may not have realised how painful the death was to be, only until she stood there watching her child die on the cross. Still, she willing submitted herself to God and his plans. She rejoiced in his plans. She had faith in his plans. Can we willingly accept God’s plans? Can we rejoice in God’s plans like Mary did, when we know we may face challenges? Can we have faith in his plans? Can we be submissive and obedient to his plans?

Mary Magdalene- A loyal and faithful follower

Bible Reference-Matthew 27; Matthew 28; Mark 15 ; Mark 16 ; Luke 8; Luke 24; John 19:25; John 20:1-18

Family Background-The Bible does not mention her family background.

Name Meaning-Mary is a Hebrew name meaning bitterness, rebellion. The name Magdalene in Hebrew means the tower.

Who is Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene is one of the most speculated woman figures in the Bible. There have been claims that have been made about her which is untrue, such as the claim that she was a prostitute. The Bible does not mention the woman who washed her washed Jesus’ feet was Mary Magdalene.

However we do know that, Mary Magdalene was a woman that Jesus cast seven demons out. She, among other women became followers of Jesus Christ. The bible mentions that these women that followed Jesus helped by supporting his ministry with their own means.

Mary Magdalene witnessed many of the crucifixion events. She was there along with Jesus’ mother Mary and other women who stood near Jesus at the cross. She along with other women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body, the stone of his tomb had already been rolled away. They were told Jesus had arisen and they should tell the disciples and Peter. The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene and the others as the Bible says ‘their words seemed like nonsense’.

Early on in the first of the day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and did not find Jesus there. So she told Simon Peter and the other disciple, that they had taken the Lord away from the tomb. The disciples looked into the tomb and found the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ head was there. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb crying, the two angels then asked her why she was crying. She replied that had her Lord had been taken away. Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realise it was him. She realised that it was Jesus when he said her name. Jesus told Mary to tell the rest that he was ascending to the father. Mary Magdalene told the disciples that she had seen Jesus. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus out of his followers and disciples.

Why is Mary Magdalene great?

Mary Magdalene was great because she was the first person honoured to see Jesus after his resurrection. She had great faith and believed that he had arisen even before his disciples. Later on Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith in not believing that he had arisen when Mary Magdalene others who told them of his resurrection.

Additionally, Mary Magdalene was a loyal woman who was supportive and generous. She is listed amongst women who helped support Jesus’ ministry with their own money.

What can we learn from Mary Magdalene?

We can learn from Mary Magdalene’s great faith in Jesus. She was obedient in telling the others that Jesus had arisen when the angels of the Lord sent them. She believed when she saw Jesus and did not question him. Her faith did not waver. As a follower of Jesus, we are bound to face difficult times in the world. When Mary Magdalene and the others told the disciples that Jesus had arisen, they thought she was talking nonsense. As Christians, people may think your beliefs is ‘nonsense’ and you may be ridiculed for your beliefs. However you and I must hold onto the truth. We must keep the faith like Mary Magdalene, regardless of whether people think it is nonsense or not. Jesus is worth it all!

 

Stay Blessed

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What is Gospel Music?

 

A while ago I was having a conservation with friends on the state of Gospel Music today. I also was discussing with some people some time last year on Twitter on what Gospel Music is.

When Gospel Music comes to your mind, what do you think of? American Aunties and Grandmas in their Sunday Best shuffling, shaking their tambourines to ‘hallelujah’ sung music. What clothing does a Gospel singer wear? Do you think of a certain type of people singing Gospel Music? Is Gospel Music Black? Is Gospel Music White? Is Contemporary Christian Music different to Gospel, are they the same? Do you have to sing a certain type of music for it to be classified as Gospel Music? Can Rap be Gospel? Can Rock be Gospel? Do you have to dress a certain way to be a Gospel singer?  Do you have to shout and have a strong voice to be a Gospel singer? Can you have a mellow and soft melodic voice as a Gospel singer? Is Gospel Music only sung in English or does it to belong to all nations? Can you sing both secular and Gospel? Is Inspirational music the same as Gospel or is it different?

These are some of the questions that I discussed with some friends of mine and that frequently pops up when discussing the state of Gospel Music today.

What is Gospel Music?

To define Gospel Music is hard and controversial. It embodies different genres of music but if you were to find a common definition of Gospel Music you would find:

A popularized form of impassioned rhythmic spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of rural blacks in the American South, central to the development of rhythm and blues and of soul music- www.dictionary.reference.com

Other definitions include:

Intense, joyful music that is associated with evangelists in the South, especially among African-Americans. Gospel had a strong influence on many rock ‘n’ roll singers- www.dictionary.reference.com

Gospel spans many genres, races, ethnicities, nations and languages. Whether Gospel is sang in Hindu, Norwegian, Persian, Zulu, Arabic, English, Twi, Indonesian or Yoruba it remains Gospel. This is what this collage represents, Gospel is for all. IMG_4355

How many faces can you recognise in the collage above? Alexis Spight is one. She is known for her contemporary Gospel music that has influences of dance music. Yes, Gospel dance music!

Definitions of Gospel found in the dictionary would have you thinking that it belongs to one type of people. It does not. The misconception of Gospel music is that it is sung in African American Communities and Churches only. That is not strictly true, it is very much a stereotype.  Gospel is sung by different types of people and in different forms of music.  But what does the music have in common? Gospel Music’s purpose is to spread the message of Jesus Christ through music.

So you may ask again, what is Gospel music?  The word Gospel refers to ‘Good news’, that Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life. The Good news means that we have been given a extraordinary gift of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. It is God giving his son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, a gift of salvation  to humanity. It is sacrifice, overcoming death, having the victory, resurrection and life. So when I think of Gospel music I think of these things. I do not think of Gospel music belonging to one type of people, it belongs to all. I think of the promises of God, I think of salvation, I think of deliverance, I think of love, forgiveness, kindness, peace, joy, comfort- all the things God has said in his word. That is what Gospel Music is.

Gospel music as a term is interchangeable with the term Christian music nowadays. Gospel music is also a type of Christian music, but can be described as Christian music. Now do not get me wrong, if you were to look at the Billboard charts for example you would find various Gospel or Christian charts. Some types of Christian music are described as Southern Gospel, Urban Contemporary Gospel, Christian Contemporary Music-this is all marketing purposes! Different forms of Gospel music are marketed to appeal to different audiences. So if you prefer R&B or Soul influences you would tend to like Urban Contemporary Gospel. That is the market tools of the music business. It does not mean Urban Contemporary or Rock influenced Gospel music is not Gospel. Some people get caught up if a song does not sound like traditional Gospel or Christian Music and rule it off. The Bible tells us that music we listen to must be spirit led, so listen to the words? Is it praising God? Is it speaking the message of God? Is it preaching the Gospel? Does it edify your soul? Does it speak the things of God-to love and to be kind etc. If it ticks these things and others, then it is truly Christian Music. There are no instructions in the Old or New testament on what type of instruments should be played or what style of music is allowed and forbidden. All God commands is for the music to be spirit led (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16)

Gospel Music, Insiprational Music, Secular Music…

Now this is very much a controversial area. Is Gospel Music the same as Inspirational Music ? Is it similar?

There are great inspirational songs, that are used to inspire people in their day-to-day activities. Inspirational songs often speak about peace, love and kindness. But is this the love or the peace or the kindness that God speaks about? The world’s definition of love, peace and kindness is different at times. I do not think Inspirational music is wrong, but to describe Gospel Music as the same or similar is wrong.

I have often discussed this with friends, is it okay to sing and listen to both Gospel and Secular Music at the same time. There are singers that do and did so- Whitney Houston is one. It is a area of conversation that you would find many people have heated conversations over. It must be hard to sing both Gospel and Secular Music, one is Godly and one is worldly. However it depends on the type of Secular music it is, if it is crude and vulgar and against the things of God, the two cannot mix. If it speaks of the things and promotes the things of God, then it may be acceptable.

 

What is Gospel music? It is music that praises, that worships, that sings, that exalts the goodness of God. No one has to look a particular way to sing, it does not belong to one  particular group nor do you have to dress a particular way to sing it. Lara George, Andy Mineo, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Oslo Gospel Choir,  Jesus Culture, Shirley Caesar, True Worshippers, Benjamin Dube…are different artists, sing in different languages, dress differently but they all have something in common. That is Jesus Christ. Spreading the message of Jesus through music. Now, that’s Gospel Music! 

P.S. these are all my opinions. You can disagree if you want

Stay Blessed

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Great Women Of The Bible- Lydia

 

Lydia-The Woman of Purple

Bible Reference-Acts 16:12-15;40

Family Background-The Bible does not mention Lydia’s family background.

Name Meaning-Lydia is a Greek name meaning woman from Lydia.

Who is Lydia?

The Bible introduces Lydia as a woman from the city of Thyateira and a seller of purple. Thyateira is in modern day Turkey. Paul and Silas went to Philippi where they met Lydia and stayed with her. Lydia was a seller of purple, which was a type of purple cloth. Thyateria at the time was a well known place for the purple cloth.

Why is Lydia great?

There is little known about the life of Lydia in the Bible but what the scripture tells us is great. The Bible describes her as a worshipper of God. When Paul and Silas met her on that Sabbath day, she was among women in a place of prayer. The fact that Lydia worshipped God demonstrates that she was a religious woman. Although the scripture tells us Lydia was a seller of purple goods, Lydia still had time for spiritual matters. She did not let her business and her work take over what was important, which was worshipping God. However being a religious person is not enough, the belief in God is not enough, being saved is enough.

The Bible tells us that Lydia’s heart was open to receive the word of God from Paul and along with her household she was baptized. This highlights Lydia’s hunger for God, she wanted more than just being a religious woman, she wanted to be for God and to be saved. She opened up her heart and received Christ as her saviour. She is seen as the first European Christian convert.

Lydia was also an hospitable woman, she opened her home to those who helped her to become a Christian. Through her newfound faith, she was kind and gracious to give a place for Paul and Silas to stay and help them with their needs. She invited  Paul and Silas to her house even after they had been in prison.

What can we learn from Lydia?

We can learn from Lydia story the importance of wanting to hear the word of God. The Bible says she opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. Not only did she hear what Paul had to say, she acted upon it. To heed is to give careful attention and regard to something. So, Lydia listened to things spoken and took it into consideration. Sometimes we hear messages of God and that’s it. We go to Sunday church service and hear the sermon and that’s it. God wants us to heed to the things he has spoken. We should learn to listen and apply the word of God to our lives as Lydia did. It is important to listen, the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Lydia abided by that and was willing to listen.

Secondly what we can learn from Lydia, is her eagerness for her to be saved and abide by the word. The scripture tells us that her along with her household was saved. She obeyed what Jesus had said, that being baptised was a important and necessary condition to be saved. In Mark 16:15-16  Jesus called for all to preach the Gospel and that who believes and is baptised shall be saved. 

Thirdly we can learn from Lydia is her kindness and hospitableness. She was a true Christian in opening her home to Paul and Silas. She was not ashamed also of the Lord’s prisoners.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women Of The Bible- Jochebed & Leah

I am so sorry, I have been away for a while, meaning no Great Women posts on the blog. I know  you all enjoy it and I enjoy studying it too. It’s back now, with two great women Jochebed and Leah-YAY!

Jochebed-The mother who bore great children

Bible Reference-Exodus 2:1-11; Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:59; Hebrews 11:23

Family Background- Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and married a Levite man Amram, who was her nephew. This kind of marriage was later forbidden by the law of Moses (Leviticus 18:8-18; Leviticus 20:11-21). She had three children with Amram: Moses, Aaron and Miriam.

Name Meaning- God’s Glory

Who is Jochebed?

The story of Jochebed begins in Exodus 2:1-11. She is described as a Levite woman or a daughter of Levi who married a man of the house of Levi. The Bible describes how she conceived a son with her husband.

The Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew male babies should be killed as he feared they would become powerful and join his enemies in a war against him. With this in mind, Jochebed hid her beautiful child for three months until she no longer could. So, Jochebed put her baby in an ark of bulrushes and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. His sister then watched from afar to see what would happen.

The Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the river and saw the ark, she sent her maid to get it. She opened the ark and saw the child. She realised the child was Hebrew and felt compassion for the child. The sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter whether she should call a Hebrew nurse to nurse the child and Pharaoh’s daughter sent her. The maiden sent for the child’s mother (Jochebed) and Pharaoh’s daughter told her to nurse the child and she’ll give her wages. When the child grew up she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and it became her son. She called his name Moses because she drew from the water.

Why is Jochebed great?

Jochebed can be recognised as a great women of God as she preserved the life of her baby boy. When she gave birth to Moses, she saw he was a beautiful child and instead of letting him be killed, she risked it all by putting him in an ark of bulrushes in the river. For this courage, the Bible recognises her in Hebrews 11:23 as one of the heroines of faith.

She was not afraid of Pharaoh’s decree that all Hebrews baby males were to be killed. Instead she devised a clever plan to save the life of her child. I can only imagine the fear that Jochebed had as a mother putting her newly born child in a cradle and in a river where there could have been dangerous animals. Or even giving her child to Pharaoh’s daughter when he grew up. The bible mentions a few times that Moses was a ‘beautiful child’ and in Acts 7:20 it says that when Moses was born he was pleasing to God. Her faith must have lead her to build up the courage to put her baby in the cradle, believing that her child was going to be a great man of God.

Jochebed was determined to save her child’s life, who later became one of the greatest men of God- the future giver of law and leader. She also had Aaron who was Israel’s first high priest and founder of Aaronic priesthood. There was also her daughter Miriam who was a talented and gifted musician and poetess.

What can we learn from Jochebed?

One of the key things we can learn from the life of Jochebed is her trust and faith in God. It could not have been easy in her position knowing that Pharaoh had commanded all Hebrew male children to be killed. Yet she pressed on her with plan, putting her child into a cradle in the river and saving his life. From this, we can learn that we must have faith in whatever situation we are in. When we are in trouble whether it us, or are family and friends we must remember Christ is with us. Jochebed had faith that God that he would protect her baby. I believe because of this she was able to put her child in the cradle. We can learn to let go and let God. Jochebed let go of her child and let God protect him. Look where her letting go and letting God brought her and her child-Mother of Great children and Moses the giver of the law.

Sometimes we need to realise by letting go of our worries and burdens and giving it to God, it can bring even greater results that we would have never imagined. Jochebed placed Moses in the river, little did she know that he will grow up to be one of the greatest of God’s leaders and deliver the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt.  By Jochebed letting go and trusting God, an extraordinary dream was fulfilled. Therefore as Jochebed did, we should learn to let go and let God. We will not always see why God wants us to let go, but his plan for us is always greater than what we can imagine.

Leah-The woman who was unloved but not unseen

Bible Reference- Genesis 29; 30; 49:31; Ruth 4:11

Family Background- Leah was married to Jacob, who was also married to her sister Rachel. Her father was Laban, Jacob’s uncle. Leah had seven children with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah.

Name Meaning-Weary or tired

Who is Leah?

Jacob travelled away from his home to find a wife among his relatives. When he first met Rachel,  he fell in love with her at first sight. The Bible says she was ‘beautiful of form and appearance’ (Genesis 29:17 ) but Leah’s eyes were delicate. This could mean that she had poor eyesight or she lacked beauty that her sister Rachel had.

Jacob worked for his uncle Laban for seven years to have Rachel as his wife. However Laban had tricked him sending in Leah to Jacob in the night. When Jacob found out that his Uncle had deceived him he was upset and felt deceived. Laban told him that is not their custom to give the younger daughter first and he will give Rachel also in return for another seven years.

The two sisters competed for their husband’s affection. It was Rachel who received Jacob’s love and attention. They both made the mistake in giving their servants Zilpah and Bilhah to Jacob in order to out do each other in times of barrenness. Even though Leah had more children, the Bible says that the Jacob’s love for Rachel was greater.

Why is Leah great?

Why is Leah a great woman you may ask?  She remained loyal and true to her husband, even though he had greater love for her sister. Leah remained strong in God enduring the envy of her sister and the sad situation she was in. Rachel had became envious because her sister was having children and she was not  at that time (Genesis 30). It seems that Leah’s heart remained pure, even though she was not loved and envied by her very own sister.

The names she gave to her children showed that she knew that God remembers her. It also showed that she had faith in God. For example her sons Reuben, Simeon and Levi:

Reuben- ‘She named him Reuben, for she said “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband should love me now” (Genesis 29:32)

Simeon-“Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too” (Genesis 29:33)

Levi-“Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Genesis 29:34)

Despite Leah’s loveless marriage, she bore six sons who were to become the founders of the six tribes of Israel. From her son Judah came Jesus Christ, the saviour. This shows that although her husband did not give her as much love as her sister, God remembered her. God remembered that Leah was a great woman who remained faithful and loyal in her sadness. Additionally, the Bible recognises Leah as a great woman in Ruth 4:11, who along with her sister built the house of Israel. At the end of Jacob’s life, he requested to buried with Leah, this highlights the possibility that Jacob saw the great virtues in Leah and had grown to love her.

What can we learn from Leah?

One great lesson we can take from Leah’s story is that God is not concerned about our outer appearance. God cares for our inner beauty rather than what is outside of us. The bible says Rachel was beautiful and Jacob loved her. However what is interesting and amazing, is that the saviour, Jesus Christ came through Leah not Rachel.  Though Leah may have had weak eyes, God saw her and her inner beauty which Rachel did not have. Rachel was envious and that is not inner beauty.  God looks at the heart, Rachel’s heart was envious and Leah’s was faithful. We can learn from this that God loves us regardless of what we look like. Whether the world finds you and I attractive or not, God will not reject you. He is concerned with your inner beauty, whether you are faithful and have a good heart.

Leah tried to make Jacob love her by her behaviour and actions. This was seen when she was naming her children. She thought by having many children, that her husband would love her. This is another lesson to show us that love is not meant to be earned by behaving in a certain way or pleasing someone. Love is to receive and give in a kind way. As in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, love is not meant for us to feel bad or feel sad, or to do things in order to make another person love us. We need to remember that God’s love is enough, he loves us more than any man or woman ever can. God loves us unconditionally. The Bible describes that God saw her ‘When the Lord saw Leah was unloved…”(Genesis 29:31). This shows us that even when we feel ignored or unloved there is someone who notices us and loves us. This person is God. As discussed above (Why Leah is great?) and in this section, Leah’s hopes was on winning the love of her husband. When giving birth to her son Levi, she thought “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Genesis 29:34). However when she had her fourth son, Judah, there was a change of heart, she praised God and turned to him. Maybe she realised that God is enough.

We need to remember not to look for love in the wrong places. God will give us people in our lives that will love us- sister, mother, father, children, friend, brother, husband and wife etc. However we need not pin our hopes on winning the love of man, when we have an almighty God who loves us unconditionally.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of The Bible Challenge- Jemima & Joanna

 

Jemima- Most beautiful and a women of inheritance

Bible Reference- Job 42:12-15

Family Background- Jemima was the daughter of Job, the eldest of three daughters (sister to Keziah and Keren-Happuch)

Name Meaning- Jemima or Jemimah means dove in Hebrew

Who is Jemima?

Jemima was the eldest daughter of Job. Job, was a blessed man who lived righteously. God sings praises of Job and the Devil challenges Job’s character, suggesting that he only served God because God protects him. God removes his protection and allows Satan to take his children, his health and his wealth but not his life in order to test Job.  Despite what Job went through, he continued to serve, worship and praise God. For this, God restored his fortunes and gave him twice more than he had before. Jemima was born to him after his return to prosperity.

Why is Jemima great?

Even though there is little known about Jemima, she is a great character in the Bible. Not only were her and her sisters the most beautiful women of their time, their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. This is unusual especially at that time for women to receive inheritance. This demonstrates that Jemima and her siblings were distinguished women of their time. It was expected for men to receive inheritance but not for women.

What can we learn from Jemima?

It is interesting to see that Jemima and her sisters names were mentioned but not her brothers names. What we can take from this story, is that we can all be great regardless of our gender. It does not matter whether you are a woman or a man you have been called to be great. You may think that because you are a female you can not be in a particular position or achieve something that is not expected. You can! Look at Jemima and her sisters, they were not expected to receive inheritance yet they did.

Joanna- Jesus’ Supporter and a woman healed by Christ

Bible Reference- Luke 8:1-3, Luke 23:55-56, Luke 24:1-12

Family Background- Joanna was the wife of Chuza,the manager of Herod’s household.

Name Meaning- Joanna means God is gracious in Hebrew

Who is Joanna?

We are introduced to Joanna in Luke 8. We are told that Jesus travelled from one town to the other preaching the good news. There were twelve with him and some women who had been cured of diseases and evil spirits. This included Mary Magdalene,  Joanna, Susanna and many others. These women were helping to support using their own means.

We are not told whether she was delivered from evil sprits or healed from a disease. However we do know that Joanna gave her life to Christ and followed him.Her husband who held the position of a steward of Herod’s household suggests that Joanna and her husband had social prominence. It also suggests that they were a wealthy couple.

At the burial of the Jesus, Joanna and the women saw the tomb and his body laid in it. They then went home to prepare spices and perfumes. They stayed obedient by resting on the Sabbath.

Joanna and the rest of women took the spices they prepared and went to the tomb. They rolled the stone away from the tomb but the body was not there. They wondered where the body went, then two men appeared, telling them that Jesus had resurrected. The women including Joanna, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to tell the apostles but they did not believe them.

Why is Joanna great?

Before I read this, I did not know much about Joanna. I am so glad I included Joanna as part of the Great Women of the Bible. What strikes me so much about this woman and the others, is their incredible faith. She along with the other women in Luke 24:1-12:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Joanna and the women told the apostles that Jesus had risen and they did not believe it. Think about it for a minute, these were the guys that accompanied him everywhere in his ministry, knew him personally and loved him. These same men thought that the women were speaking nonsense.  Yet Joanna spoke boldly to the apostles and told them what she had heard.  She believed that Jesus was crucified and had risen by remembering his words. The bible tells us that faith comes through hearing by Christ which she did. She heard God’s word and believed it. She had great confidence in Jesus. You can tell she cared so much for Jesus by preparing spices and perfumes for his body. The one who cured her disease and her soul became precious to her. She showed this love by supporting him and his followers financially.

Joanna could have lead another life of power and riches, being married to Chuza (manager of Herod’s household). Yet she used the power that she had and found the greatest power of all, Jesus. God then honoured Joanna’s faithfulness by her being one of the first witnesses to the Resurrection.

Joanna was truly great!

What can we learn from Joanna?

The Bible tells us without faith it is impossible to please him. If we wish to draw near to God we must believe that he exists. Joanna and the other women believed in his words, they remembered that Jesus would die and rise on the third day. For this she was rewarded. We can learn from Joanna’s story, to believe in God always. When God tells us something, we should believe, we shouldn’t think it is nonsense like the apostles did or go out and check for evidence like Peter. We should build our confidence in Christ Jesus.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of the Bible Challenge- Jael

Jael- The woman who killed Israel’s enemy

Bible Reference- Judges 4:17-22, Judges 5

Family Background- Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite

Name Meaning- Jael also Yael, is a Hebrew name which means wild mountain goat

Who is Jael?

We are introduced to Jael in Judges 4. God told Deborah that she would deliver Israel from the King of Canaan. Deborah called Barak to lead a army against the King of Canaan. However Barak wished that Deborah would go with him in battle. Deborah agreed but prophesied that it was a woman that would deliver Israel from its enemy. The King of Canaan’s army was led by Sisera.

We learn that Sisera the enemy of Israel  fled to Jael’s tent. The Bible tells us this is because there was an alliance between Jabin the King and Jael’s husband.

Jael greets Sisera and invites him into her tent. She tells him not to be afraid.  He asks for water and she gives him milk. Sisera tells Jael to stand by the doorway of the tent and if anyone asks if anyone is in the tent say no.

However Jael picket up a tent peg and hammer, went quietly to him while he was sleeping and killed him.

Then Barak was looking for Sisera and Jael met him. She showed him the dead Sisera.

Why is Jael great?

To be honest when I first came across Jael when reading Deborah’s story, I did not think much of her. Should I include this woman in my study of the Great Women of the Bible? This woman used her hospitality skills to kill a man. What a sly woman? These were the thoughts running through my head. But then something struck me which is in Judges 5:17-22 and completely changed my mind on Jael.

Deborah described her- ‘Most blessed of women be Jael’. This struck me. Why did it? Jael is only one of two women in the Bible to be described as blessed, the other is Mary (mother of Jesus). This tells us something, that this woman is  special indeed. She is great because she was a fearless heroine, who killed the man who oppressed God’s people.

What can we learn from Jael?

Jael is not your ‘typical biblical great woman’. She is not as well known as the others. I questioned Jael’s actions over and over again. To offer hospitality and safety to a person, then the next minute murder him, I thought was really mean. In fact, evil. Remember, Jael’s husband was at peace with Sisera’s master King Jabin.

She may not be your Mary or your Hannah but there is something incredible we can learn from her. That God can use anyone to fulfil his plans. God told Deborah that he would deliver Israel from Jabin and Sisera. Jael, a non-Israelite and woman gave Israel the final victory over King Jabin and Sisera. Imagine at the time, a woman playing a role like that- it is only right to describe Jael as fearless and blessed.

Jael’s actions could be seen as unjustifiable, as she murdered Sisera. However God out of that, brought something good. Sisera under Jabin oppressed God’s people, Jael’s actions gave Israel deliverance and victory. There is a lesson here that although we may have committed a sin or been unfaithful to God, God can always bring about good.

Stay Blessed

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Great Women of The Bible Challenge-Hannah

Hannah- The woman of prayer

Bible Reference- 1 Samuel 1, 1 Samuel 2

Family Background- Hannah was married to a man called Elkanah (who was the son of of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph who was an Ephraimite). The Bible says her husband was from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim. Elkanah had another wife called Peninnah who had children, Hannah had none. Hannah was Elkanah’s favourite wife. Hannah later gave birth to Samuel, three other sons and two daughters.

Name Meaning- Hannah in Hebrew means favour or grace

Who is Hannah?

Hannah, is one of the most famous characters of the Old Testament. Like many others in the Bible, she was barren.  At that time, not being unable to conceive was considered shameful.

Yearly, Hannah and her husband went to worship  the Lord at Shiloh. The Bible says ‘Year after Year’ , which suggests Hannah and her family went frequently to worship the Lord. The Bible describes Elkanah’s love for Hannah, as he would give her double portion to sacrifice because of his love for her. His other wife, Peninnah reminded her of her sorrows constantly. The Bible says she provoked her until she wept and would not eat. Her husband reminded her that he loved her by asking her why she wept, was sad and that his love was more than ten sons.

Hannah, was in the house of the Lord  praying and weeping bitterly. She made a vow to God, that if he gave her a son she would give him to God for all of his life.  She continued to pray and Eli, the priest observed her mouth. She was praying so intently that her mouth moved without words coming out. Eli thought she was drunk. Hannah told Eli, that she was pouring out her heart to God. Eli, moved by Hannah’s pain told her to go and that God will give her what she has asked for.

Afterwards, Hannah and her husband went back to their home at Ramnah, they slept together and she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son, called Samuel. She named Samuel, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’.

Hannah had made a promise to God, to give him back for God’s service. Hannah kept her promise. She gave her son to Eli, where her child was trained in ministering and priesthood.

God honoured Hannah for keeping her promise. She gave birth to three more sons and two daughters. Hannah’s son Samuel, grew up to be the last Judge for Israel, a prophet and counselled Israel’s first two Kings (Saul and David).

Why is Hannah great?

Hannah, is one of the most well known women of the bible.  She was the mother of Samuel, who himself was a great man of God. I believe Hannah is great for several reasons: she was perseverant, had extraordinary faith, she kept her promises, prayerful and lead a godly life.

Hannah was perseverant, she never gave up on God. She continued to pray day and night and never lost hope. She prayed year after year and was frequently at the house of God. She prayed until people thought she was drunk. It reminds of when Paul, said that we should pray without ceasing. This is what Hannah did and God answered her prayers.

Hannah had extraordinary faith, it was a peculiar type of faith. To be  praying for the same thing year after year  is incredible. Especially, when her rival wife Peninnah was poking fun at her constantly. Yet, her hope in God remained. True to her name, she walked in grace and did not retaliate. Even though God had shut her womb, she opened up her heart even more to God. As Eli told her to go home, notice how she went and was no more weeping. She believed that God had answered her prayers.

I admire Hannah for keeping her promise: to  give her child back to God. Remember this was her first child that she had prayed for many years. The sacrifice that she made, blessed her even more. She was rewarded, Hannah and her husband gave birth to five more children.

Hannah was a praying woman. She prayed without ceasing. Even though what she had asked for did not come immediately, she continued in prayer. Even though she was barren, she still believed and through her pain she found refuge in prayer. She took her worries to God even when she was sorrowful. In 1 Samuel 2, it gives us Hannah’s prayer. She gives thanksgiving for God’s goodness.

What can we learn from Hannah?

The lessons I believe we can learn from Hannah is to never give up. Hannah never gave up and pressed on in faith.  She never doubted God’s abilities. After years and years of waiting on God, her prayer life remained constant even though her rival wife irritated her. Many of us would give up, but Hannah didn’t.  Hannah teaches us to never give up, to remain prayerful, to lead a godly life, to have faith and to stay perseverant.

Stay Blessed

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