Bible

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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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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Great women of the bible challenge- ABIGAIL & Anna

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend. I decided early in the week that I would do a ‘Great Women of the Bible Challenge’. This is where I would look at two great women of the Bible each week. I want to be a great woman and there is nothing better than drawing inspiration from powerful women. I was inspired by my best friend who was doing something similar. I saw the great effect it was having on her and thought I need some of that lol! I can’t miss out! This week it starts with Abigail and Anna. Hope you are all blessed by it. Enjoy!

Abigail- A woman with beauty and brains

Bible Reference1 Samuel 25:1-42; 2 Samuel 3.3

Family background– The Bible does not point to Abigail’s family history or background. All we know she was married to Nabal. The meaning of Abigail’s name indicates that maybe her father was a joyous person.

Name Meaning– Father’s joy or gives joy

Who is Abigail?

We are introduced to Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:3.  She is married to a man called Nabal who was very wealthy.  Nabal could be viewed as the  modern day Donald Trump. He owned property in Carmel and  4000 goats and sheep.

Abigail’s description in the Bible was that ‘she was an intelligent and beautiful woman’. She was a woman with beauty and brains. Today, many believe that their beauty that will open doors for them. Yes, this is true at times. However, beauty does not last forever. Abigail demonstrates in this passage how important it is to have intelligence. She shows women that beauty and intelligence work hand in hand. Her intelligence equalled her beauty. To have a beautiful mind and a beautiful appearance is highly admirable and something that many should inspire to have.

Why is Abigail great?

I find it fascinating that Abigail was this beautiful and intelligent woman yet her husband Nabal was mean and surly. Abigail was painted in a good light whilst her husband was painted in a bad light. It seems like Abigail and Nabal were opposites. I think Abigail must have been patient to be married to a man who was not kind. This would take a lot of understanding. It also suggests she was down to earth and humble. The way the bible emphasises her beauty, she could have the attitude of  ‘I am far too hot for this, bye’. However she respected the value and the institution of marriage. I think we can learn from Abigail where we should have patience with unkind people. It also teaches us to be humble and down to earth. Just because you are a ‘hottie’ or a ‘great beauty’ does not mean you should be boastful or have a proud heart.

David moved to the desert of Paran whilst he was there he treated Nabal’s shepherds well. The scripture points out that that Nabal’s shepherds even spent time with David and his companions. At this time David was in the wilderness, he sent his ten young men with a kind message of good health and long life. They heard that it was sheep wearing time and wished Nabal to give them whatever they could find. Can you imagine the rude behaviour Nabal displayed to David’s men? He told them ‘Who is David?’, ‘Who is the son of Jesse?’. This demonstrates Nabal’s churlish behaviour. He definitely knew who David was. How can you mention his father’s name and claim that you don’t know him? As for this Mr Churlish, I think he knew David and that he is the King in waiting. I think Nabal just did not like David. Can you imagine someone displaying that kind of behaviour to Prince Charles? Or Prince William? That is what Nabal did. Adding insult to injury he refused to give food to David’s men. He also said that he would not give it to men that he knows from no where when the food is for his shearers. This shows Nabal’s selfish, harsh and brutal character.

Word got back to David. David was ANGRY. The Bible mentions strapping the sword thrice. David meant business and was coming for Nabal Churlish. A servant told Abigail of her husband’s lack of social graces. The servant mentions that Nabal is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him. The fact that the servant came to Abigail, suggests that she was the logical one in their household. This can be seen when the Bible says she ‘acted quickly’. She went out without telling her husband to meet David with food supplies. A woman of this period, probably risked the anger of their husband by going out without permission. I applaud and commend her bravery! She did what she had to do, to save her household.

When Abigail saw him she fell with face down to the ground. I love the respect, humility and submission she showed David. She mentions that her husband is just like his name-foolish.No wonder his behaviour is foolish. She asks David to spare her household. I love that Abigail knew who David was in the Lord.

‘ The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant’

Indeed, Abigail was a wise woman. She recognised who David was. She had a great understanding and judgement of David.  I believe that David was moved by Abigail’s wisdom and judgement which lead him to to preserve Nabal’s household. He states that if it was not for Abigail’s wisdom he would have destroyed Nabal’s household. He respected Abigail for the care she had for her husband and household.

When Abigail returned home, Nabal was having a party and was extremely drunk ‘holding a banquet like that of a king’. How did Abigail deal with her husband? I know many of us could not do it. I certainly could not. She told him later of her actions when he was sober. The Bible describes that he had heart failure and become like stone. He died ten days later.

David then remembered Abigail. He sent his servants to ask Abigail to become his wife and she accepted willingly. Lol, who would not remember Abigail? A woman of beauty, intelligence, wisdom, bravery and humility of course David would want to marry her. She saw herself as a servant and even was ready to wash David’s servants feet. Such humility!

Abigail is mentioned another time in the Bible, as the mother of David’s second child.

What can we learn from Abigail?

I have learnt a great deal from Abigail. Her story is an example of submission, courage and wisdom even in times of danger. Abigail was truly an amazing woman. She was respectful and humble. I love the way she was so humble to fall down to the ground. This really moved me. I know many of us would be like I aint bowing down for nobody. However Abigail’s bowing down is something that we can learn from, that we should be respectful, humble and submissive.

Anna- The Prophetess

Bible ReferenceLuke 2:36-38

Family background-Anna was the daughter of Phanuel. The name Phanuel means the face of God. This suggests that Anna may have come from a family that seeked God or a devout religious family. She was from the Asher Tribe. Anna had a husband, but he died.

Name Meaning– Grace or Favour

Who is Anna?

Anna appears in the Bible in Luke 2:36-38.  The Bible describes her as a prophet. So Anna was a woman of God who heard and spoke from God. She was a widow, she had been married for seven years but her husband died. The scripture describes her as very old.

Why is Anna great?

Anna was great because she seeked God’s face and presence. She never left God’s temple, fasting and praying everyday. She knew the importance of worshipping God. She recognised that Mary and Joseph’s child, Jesus was the saviour and gave thanks.

What can we learn from Anna?

I admire Anna’s longing to be with God at all times. It seems like she was a woman who loved spending timing with God. The constant fasting and prayer showed she wanted to draw closer to God. Nowadays many of us regard fasting as old fashioned. I, myself was guilty of this some time back. However I have realised the importance of fasting and prayer. Fasting and praying are key principles in our faith. Jesus himself highlighted the importance of fasting and praying. It is important to fast and pray because we may need to seek God on important decisions in our lives. It also makes us stronger against the flesh and can bring breakthroughs. Anna knew the importance of fasting and praying.

 

Stay Blessed

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