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 Challenge- Esther & Eunice

Esther- The woman who saved her people from genocide

Bible Reference- Book of Esther

Family Background- Her father was called Abihail, who was the Uncle of Mordecai. When her parents died, Mordecai her cousin, took care of her and took her as his daughter

Name meaning- Esther means star in Persian. The biblical meaning of Esther is hidden or secretive. Her original Hebrew name Hadassah means myrtle.

Who is Esther?

We are introduced to Esther in Esther 2:7 as Hadassah, where Mordecai took her as daughter as her parents died. She was also known as Esther. The Bible describes her as a young woman who had a lovely figure and was beautiful.

The story is that King Xerxes had a feast for 180 days where he displayed his wealth of his kingdom. After this he had a banquet for seven days. He summons Queen Vashti in order for her to show her beauty off to the people and the nobles. However she refuses. King Xerxes banishes her and she is punished to not enter the presence of the King. A new Queen is sought and Esther is chosen. Esther did not reveal her nationality or family background as Mordecai forbidden her not to do so. Mordecai uncovers a conspiracy, during his time sitting at the King’s gate. Two of the King’s officers conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. Mordecai tells Queen Esther who then tells the King, giving credit to Mordecai.

After these events King Xerxes honours Haman, giving him a position higher than any noble. All royal officials had to bow down to him. However Mordecai refused. Haman was angry. When he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews in King Xerxes’ kingdom.

Mordecai calls on Esther to talk to the King. However the King does not know of Esther’s background. Esther is reluctant to go to the King. Remember, to approach her husband without permission she risked death.  She would be breaking the law and be punished by death. Mordecai reminds her of background and purpose:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther then replied to Mordecai, to tell everyone in Susa to fast and pray for three days. She also said will do the same and after this she would go to the King.

Esther then entered the King’s court. The King was pleased with her so she requested to have a banquet with the King and Haman (she said she would give her petition at the banquet). So Haman got cocky and did ‘guy guy’ because he had been asked to attend dinner with the beautiful Queen Esther. He saw Mordecai who again did not bow to me. Haman’s wife suggested to him and his friends that he should set a 75 ft (23 m) pole for Mordecai to be hanged on.

The King the following night couldn’t sleep. He read the records of his reign and he found that Mordecai had exposed the officers who conspired to assassinate the King. The King asked Haman what should this man receive for his good work. Haman without realising it is Mordecai, told the King he should have a royal robe, sit on the house and be paraded through the city. When Haman realised he was sad and angry.

At the banquet Queen Esther told her husband King Xerxes of Haman’s evil plans to destroy the Jews (Queen Esther’s people) and kill Mordecai.  The King was angry and the pole that Haman planned for Mordecai, was instead set up for him.

The King gave Queen Esther Haman’s estate and she appointed Mordecai over it. The King gave Mordecai his signet ring which he reclaimed from Haman. The King also reversed Haman’s plans to destroy the Jews which was written into an edict. The decree granted all Jews across his kingdom the right to assemble and protect themselves.

Why is Esther great?

From Esther’s story you can tell what an extraordinary woman she was. She risked her life and interceded on behalf of her people to the King where she could have been punished to death. She knew the risks ‘And if I perish, I perish’ (Esther 4:16) yet she was willing to sacrifice her life in order for her people to be saved. Esther’s bravery, courage and faith in God highlights the strong belief she had in God. She was committed in fasting and praying, knowing that fasting gives favour and protection from God. She allowed God to use her in the position she was in to win deliverance for her people.

Esther, was a rare individual. She was chosen as a candidate for the King who must not only have been charmed by her beauty but her personality.Whilst reading this, I noticed the King was always eager to listen to his wife, Queen Esther. He greeted her with love and was willing to understand everything she put across. This demonstrates that Esther was a great wife too.

What can we learn from Esther?

We can learn from Esther’s obedience. Mordecai told her not to reveal her background and asked her to intercede on behalf of the Jews. She did whatever he asked. Imagine, as a young woman without no father and mother. Our parents from birth teach us how to respect others. However, Mordecai as her adoptive father took on that role. I learnt from this, the importance of obedience. Sometimes young people, even old can disagree with their parents, but look where Esther’s obedience brought her.

Furthermore, we can learn from Esther’s character from her determination to seek God’s guidance in her time of difficulty. We can be going through difficult times and forget the tools of prayer and fasting. In our trials and tribulations, we may lose hope and faith thinking what is the point. However Esther sought after God and we should learn from this.

Even though Esther kept her background a secret. She never forget where she came from. She was not ashamed in the hour of trouble to reveal who she was. We can learn from this that we should always love who we are, which includes our heritage and background.

From Esther’s story we learn that God can take you from nothing to something. She was  a young woman called Hadassah from Susa but then became Queen Esther of Persia. He had a plan for Esther, just like he has a plan for you and I. God used Esther as an instrument for his glorious purpose, to deliver the Jews and give them their rights. The same way God will use you and I. God put Esther as a Queen to do this. God can put us in a similar position for a purpose. Esther’s life is a demonstration of how God works. God puts each one of us into a position for his plan and purpose. We may never know what he is doing and think to ourselves- Why this? Why here? Why now? Why am I doing this? Then when everything comes together, then we look back and say to ourselves God I understand why you did it like that. She was put as a candidate as ‘for such a time as this’, she was given to the King as ‘for such a time as this’, she was the Queen as a ‘time for this’. Whatever position you are in, believe it is ‘for such a time as this’.

Eunice- The woman whose her son became a famous evangelist

Bible Reference- Acts 16:1-3, 2 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Family Background-Eunice was the daughter of Lois. The Bible does not mention who Eunice’s father is. Eunice married a Greek.

Name Meaning- Eunice means good victory

Who is Eunice?

Eunice was Timothy’s mother.

Why is Eunice great?

Esther is great because of the way she brought up her son. The Bible tells us that Timothy’s faith first came through his grandmother Lois and then Eunice. This means Eunice trained her son with scriptures. The bible reminds us to teach children in the way they should go. Paul speaks highly of Timothy, as his ‘dear son’. Eunice must have been proud that her son’s who was an evangelist, had an companion such as Paul. Looking at Timothy, Eunice did a great job.

What can we learn from Eunice?

We can learn from Eunice that we should bring up our children in the right way. She made sure  that from birth, Timothy was surrounded by the ways of God. We can take this from Eunice, that if we have positive Christian training in our homes our children would not depart from it.

Great Women Of The Bible Challenge- Dorcas (Tabitha) & Elizabeth

I hope you all had a lovely bank holiday weekend. Great women I looked at was Dorcas and Elisabeth.

Dorcas (Tabitha)- The woman full of good works

Bible Reference-Acts 9:36-43

Family background-There is no mention of Dorcas’ family history.

Name meaning- Dorcas is the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Tabitha. The meaning of the name is gazelle.

Who is Dorcas?

We are introduced to Dorcas in Acts 9:36 as a disciple. This means that she was a Christian. Her name is given as Tabitha, but the Greek equivalent is Dorcas. She lived in the seaport town of Joppa. The Greek variant of her name and her residence highlights the fact she would have been surrounded by Greek speaking people.

Why is Dorcas great?

Dorcas’ story shows greatness as she accepted responsibility as a disciple in her community. She gave her life to those in need. The bible describes her as always doing good and helping the poor. This suggests that she she dedicated her life to philanthropy and charity work. So many of us wish to do this, we talk but will never do. Dorcas not only talked about it but she carried out her plans.

The scripture describes the time  of her death as a very sad time. When she died, they sent for Peter who was in a nearby town to urgently come. This suggests that she was highly respected and loved. It seems that she was a person, that many in her community cared about. When Peter went, the widows stood around him crying.  They even showed him the clothes that Dorcas had made for them. This demonstrates that Dorcas’ death was a big blow to her community.

However, Peter prayed for the dead Dorcas and she got up, opened her eyes and when she saw him sat up. Peter called in the believers and especially the widows to see what God had done. The Bible says that this miracle was known all over Joppa and because of this, people found God. I believe that that the resurrection of Dorcas had a twofold effect. The first effect that it had was when Peter called the widows. He did this so they will be encouraged in the Lord- that God is great and can do all things. It would have brought comfort to Dorcas’ mourners that her life of charity work was not over. Secondly, I believe that the miracle was to bring people to believe in God. It was not a coincidence. The miracle was to show God’s glory, so that people will be saved. Dorcas was a blessed woman- her resurrection was for a reason. The  purpose in her life was not over, God had more in store for her life.

What can we learn from Dorcas?

We can learn from Dorcas’ life that she cared for people rather than just focusing on her title as a leader in the community. Some people have a title in their church as a deacon or worship leader but dwell on their post rather than carrying out the work. Many are proud and brag about their title, yet they do not carry out the good deeds like Dorcas. Dorcas demonstrated dedication in helping to those in need. She was obsessed in doing good. From time to time a person may carry out a good deed, but for kingdom people it is a duty to carry out good deeds all the time. It doesn’t mean that we should go and work for a charity or we must donate millions away, it could mean encouraging, giving and praying for the needy. For example this could be cooking for the hungry, praying for the broken hearted or giving clothes to those in need. I found out something really interesting that the The Dorcas Society is named after her. This shows the effect that this great woman had on the world and still has. The charity carries out similar work Dorcas did-making clothing for the poor. She died leaving a mark. Before her resurrection, those who were mourning her remembered her for making garments for the needy. What are we going to remembered for?  What would you be remembered for? We should all want to be remembered for our service unto God and unto others like Dorcas. Dorcas is a great example of a true charitable woman.

 

Elizabeth- The woman who bore in her old age

Bible Reference- Luke 1:5-80

Family Background- Elizabeth was a descendent of Aaron. This means she came from a priestly family. Her husband was Zechariah who was a priest. He belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, which was one set of priests who were chosen to minister in the temple. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. She was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Name meaning- Elizabeth means oath of God

Who is Elizabeth?

Elizabeth was a Godly woman who lived in Judea. She along with her husband is described in the Bible as ‘righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly’. To be given such a description like this means that she was a woman who preserved the traditions of her descendants and walked with God. She was a priestly woman who lead a holy life.

Elizabeth was an old woman. Her and husband had been praying for a child but she was unable to conceive. This must have caused heartbreak and disappointment for the couple. I could not imagine the humiliation they may have received especially with Elizabeth as a priest’s wife. Especially in ancient times, when barrenness was considered a disgrace. It is dream for every woman to become a mother, so it must have been hard for Elizabeth.

Why is Elizabeth great?

An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that their prayers have been answered. The angel told him that they will have a son called John. Zechariah did not believe the angel and was made mute. Just as the angel said, Elizabeth conceived. Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus visited Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt for joy. Then Elizabeth gave birth to a son and Zechariah’s speech returned. Elizabeth’s son became John the Baptist, the prophet who foretold the saviour and messiah- Jesus Christ.

This is the story. But why is Elizabeth great? Her life was full of faith and piety. Unlike her husband, who had doubt of conceiving in old age, Elizabeth believed. She was never sad or upset because she was unable to conceive. She had faith and continued to pray. She continued to serve God and his commandments even though she may have felt like a disgrace. Even though she probably was gossiped about, she kept her faith.  She was thankful for what God had done for. Elizabeth was grateful for the favour that God had given her.

Additionally, when Mary visited Elizabeth she heard her relative’s greeting and her baby leapt for joy. She was filled with the holy spirit and said:

“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!”

Elizabeth was a privileged and favoured woman as she was the first to declare who Jesus was. She gave a prayer and a blessing. I think the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb because he was welcoming Jesus. The baby was excited that the messiah who was to bring salvation, was near. Elizabeth knew the messiah had come and she confessed this with “the mother of my Lord should come to me”. Elizabeth presented herself with humility, knowing that was she blessed and highly favoured to be the first to confess who Jesus was.

Moreover, the birth of John showed that Elizabeth was a great woman. The bible describes that her relatives and neighbours had heard the Lord had shown her great mercy and they shared their joy. Elizabeth obeyed God. She could have listened to her family and called her son Zechariah Jr. However she said his name is John just like God had commanded.  She was a special woman who listened to God’s commandments and because of this she was given a special blessing. She was blessed with a child who was not only to be a joy to his parents but to others (her son was great in the eyes of God, her son was to be filled with the holy spirit before his birth, walk in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn lives around and prepare people for Jesus Christ). Not even double double blessings for this one, this was an extraordinary blessing. This woman was truly blessed! Elizabeth gave birth to her son who would become John the Baptist, who had a role in God’s salvation. The fact that she was involved in the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy and promise, shows that Elizabeth was a great woman.

What can we learn from Elizabeth?

We can learn from Elizabeth and her story that God is amazing-he can take you from barrenness to fruitfulness. Even though she was unable to conceive, she continued to have faith and pray. Sometimes when we do not get what we want, we become frustrated and lose hope. Is it ever going to happen? Am I going to get my miracle? As Elizabeth said blessed are those who believe God’s promises and the fulfilment of them. Elizabeth could have given up. But she didn’t. We need to remember and believe in what God has promised us. Look at what he did for Elizabeth! I have learnt that God rewards and blesses those who are obedient and believe in him. It reminds me of a hymn lol. You know the one … Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. It isn’t a surprise that Elizabeth is a common name. Who wouldn’t want to name their child after a woman who was humble, had great faith and was blameless and righteous before God?

Stay Blessed

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