Women In Ministry – Part 4

1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him.

2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,

3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

5 A sower went out to sow his seed… Lk. 8:1-5

This is the final part of this series.

It is clear from our key scripture above that women had an important role to play in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ just as the men. But this scripture also sets the standard by which God apportions ministry to both women and men in the church. Today, especially, there is so much confusion concerning the ministry of women. But scripture here sets a precedent by which, if we humble ourselves, we cannot go wrong.

I believe Genesis 2:18 lays the basis of how our Lord Jesus Christ went about conducting His earthly ministry. There we read:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

The first man, Adam, was a priest. He ministered to God. And God saw it was not possible for His servant to minister alone. So He made Adam

an help meet for him.”

When we talk of ministry, therefore, we are talking of two ministries: firstly, the five-fold ministry, which is given directly by Jesus for the building of the church; and this, as we saw, He gives to the man for two reasons: first, for He is the head of the man; and, secondly, because the man exercises the authority of God in the church.

But there is another ministry: the ministry of helps. God brought along Eve to help Adam in ministry.

By and large, as we see here and elsewhere, God has put women in the ministry of helping the man. This fits in with God’s original plan for the woman, for the Lord said,
“I will make him an help meet for him.”

That is what we see the women who accompanied Jesus doing. They supported His ministry with their substance. That means they fed even the apostles of Jesus!

In Romans 16:1-4, we read an interesting account.

“1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”

Contrary to popular belief, Phebe was not a pastor. The word “servant” indicates she most likely was a deaconess at the church in Cenchrea. But Phebe was no ordinary “servant”. She was a woman of incredible energy and heart who had helped many, including Paul himself. The word “succourer” means “helper”. We do not know exactly how she helped; but she refreshed the brethren.

Verse 3 tells us the interesting case of the husband/wife couple, Priscilla and Aquila. Paul says directly they were his helpers in Christ Jesus. How did they help Paul? For one, they were willing, for the gospel’s sake, to lay down their necks on his behalf.

There are many ways that Godly men and women people can be helpers of the men that God has appointed to carry the gospel.

The interesting thing is that the women (and men)who ministered to the men of God in the early church did not feel inferior. Thus they fulfilled scripture:

“whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” (1 Pet.3:6)

They were not fearful of their “servant” position. The women who ministered to Jesus with their substance knew Jesus had chosen only men to be apostles, yet they did not fear or feel demeaned. On the contrary, they gladly served Jesus… and His men.

They saw far in the Spirit and knew they were co-workers with Christ and the apostles. These were great women in the Spirit. They were greater than if they had tried to promote themselves by strutting across the stage calling themselves apostles, pastors, etc. Had they told Jesus, “We will not support you” (for some were rich) “unless you also acknowledge us in ministry”, they would have lost out in the Spirit.

Oh, how I love these women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, “and many more”. I would never tire mentioning those names.

In the same spirit, this post would amount to nothing if I did not pay tribute to the many modern-day women (and men) who support genuine servants of God with their substance, and in many other different ways. My own ministry, and this blog, are kept ‘alive’ by the financial, material and moral support of Godly women (and some men; but mostly it is the women) including my dear wife, Flo.

This laptop which I have been using to write this blog for the last what, 5 years? – it was given me by my mother, Carol Lanthier. She brought it all the way from Toronto, Canada to Mwanza, Tanzania, where she lovingly handed it to me.

My heart melts within me when I think of these wonderful people. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I fall down and worship God on their behalf. They never ask anything in return. By serving me they know they are serving God. I pray an overflow of God’s blessings upon their lives.

I want to end by thanking everyone. I thank my fellow bloggers and all who read this blog. I thank EVERYONE. Thank you all. I love you all. But, above all, once again, I salute in the Spirit all who support Godly men in ministry. May the Lord bless you all mightily.

[And now, enjoy this beautiful song. And thank God. Make sure to put on stereo!]

Our Struggle…

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. Acts 23:1-5

There is nothing like a whack in the mouth to bring out the ‘snake’ in us. That was what happened with Paul. This is one of the rare moments when the Apostle Paul is caught breaking God’s laws. He ‘spoke evil’ of a ruler of God’s people, which is against God’s law. Actually, Paul insulted the high priest. That was a sin.

Paul was caught off-guard, which was a very fortunate thing to happen to him. Why fortunate? Because it exposed a fault in him which he probably did not know existed.

In a moment of weakness Paul allowed the flesh to triumph. He gave place to his old anger.

But Paul was quick to repent and move on. His defeat was momentary. He hurriedly stood up, dusted himself, and moved on.

Some of us lie there for hours, days, years even, wallowing in the mud of self-pity, unforgiveness, hard-hearted denial, and pure pride. But God is not going to take a knife and prune back His standards just because we want to nurse our flesh.

I wonder if Paul was embarrassed by the exposure of his weakness. Maybe he was. But again, maybe he wasn’t. Paul was a man who rejoiced in his weaknesses – even the revelation of a fault on his part.

Not that Paul would rejoice in the anger that he manifested here; and yet, I am convinced that Paul was very happy to have any such a failing in him exposed.

It is the hardest thing for a person to admit their weakness. We scramble to hide our nakedness, just like Adam and Eve, our ancestors in the flesh, did. But that is not God’s nature. God is the Great Revelator – and I am not talking about visions and dreams. I am talking about Him revealing our failings, weaknesses, flaws and faults.

Paul knew something about God. He did not waste time thinking, “This can’t be! How can I be caught like that, a great preacher of the gospel like me?” I am aware that there are times when I got angry with God for allowing me to be caught in such ‘embarrassing’ situations. But I am ashamed because that has simply been human pride on my part.

On the contrary, Paul realized that he was only a man and if there was any perfection in him, it was all by the grace of God. He was happy to admit his humanity.

God has never tried to sweep anything under the carpet. He has never spared anyone, not even His best ones. He exposed them all! How much more will He expose us. The things we try our best to hide from people He says that one day He will cause them to be shouted from someone’s rooftop!

You might appear a simpleton by admitting your human-ness. But that is exactly what we should be doing. Jesus said we should be like children! Do you think children are embarrassed when they make mistakes? Hardly! They move on with life as if nothing has happened.

Let us stop being God. None of us is perfect. Only God is; and we are not God. Let us be simple folks like the Apostles were. In that way, we will have much grace upon our lives, for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6

Obeying God Pt.2

The arrival of Eve must have been a rude awakening for Adam. Through her he came to know the sin in his heart. Adam must have been shocked to learn what was in his heart. No wonder he ran off and hid himself from the presence of God!

Still, he did not know half the story…. The extent of the rot in his heart is conveyed in the “defense” he brought up before God: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree…” (3:12). It is called passing the buck. Evil trying to cover up evil!

Within minutes, the first man had “openly” sinned twice. It was quite an experience!

I am sure God gave Adam an opportunity to “carry the Cross”, as it were – to humble himself and repent. But he, being “earthy”, could not. We, on the other hand, have been born of the second Adam who is “from heaven”, and should find absolutely no problem confessing and repenting of our sins and our bad heart attitudes.

Like Adam, we too would probably never have known the extent of the “sin” in our hearts had we not met the specific people or situations that God allows into our lives. God uses them to reveal the condition of our hearts, after which He gives us the choice to do away with that sin. Unlike Adam, however, we have the power to do exactly as God requires us to. The Bible says: There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:44-47). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the “power of God” which enables us to obey God!

When I married my wife and things began going wrong in our marriage I could have decided that I could not live with that kind of woman, that “she was not God’s choice for me”. I could have divorced her and married another. I was free to choose any road I wanted to take. But, somehow by the grace of God, I saw the pride in my heart and decided to humble myself and accept that my heart needed healing.

If you think you are a “good” person, it is probably because you are spiritually naïve. After serving God and “carrying the cross” for many years in his life, the Apostle Paul probably thought he was standing at the gates of perfection – until someone slapped him physically in the mouth –Acts 23:1. ( Someone once slapped me in the face and I know the potency of such an experience, although I forgave him a long time ago).

It is interesting how much we throw scripture about without stopping to think the power those words ought to have in our own lives. But Paul never once put down the Cross, and its power in his life is revealed in the fact that when confronted he was able to humble himself and ask for forgiveness. Such a man could tell the Corinthians, rightly, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

God wants us to realize how much we need Him. We desperately need Jesus, and Him crucified – and resurrected – in our lives! We must be truly patterned after the second Adam, Jesus Christ, by walking in the revelation of the Cross. Only then can we know true obedience. Only then can we please God.

Obeying God Pt.1

(I have made this post into a two-part series for ease of reading.)

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb. 5:7-9).

The keyword here is “obedience”. It is truly humbling that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would be taught to obey God! But Jesus came to earth specifically to do that: to obey God as an ordinary human being so that we, too, might obey Him.

When God created Adam He created him “humanly” perfect, but Adam was not a spiritually perfect being. (Had been spiritually perfect he would not have sinned in the first place). The Bible says he was “of the earth, earthy” (1 Cor. 15:47), so that makes it clear that Adam was not spiritual.

In fact, Adam had a very serious spiritual problem, and God wanted to fix it.

The other day I was watching a movie where one of the characters was warned not to mix in a certain chemical during an experiment, and guess what – the minute he found himself all alone, the guy wanted to try out the chemical that he had been specifically told not to use! Needless to say, the results were catastrophic.

This man desired to do something which he knew was wrong. That is mankind’s basic problem. That was what God wanted to reveal to Adam: that he was a rebel by nature. And God wanted to deal with that.

We should never wonder what kind of human being Adam was. He was just like you and me. Only, the opportunity had not presented itself for him to know the real nature of his heart. Then along came Eve – only one additional person – and everything began to go horribly wrong. What followed after, as more and more ‘Adams’ and ‘Eves’ came up, was an endless cycle of one evil generation tumbling after another evil generation, and today we are probably the worst generation of them all.

Naturally, we are tempted to wonder why God would not make Adam spiritually perfect right from the start. No way! The Bible clearly states that God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:23). God wanted Adam to be like Him in free will, which is the highest privilege God could have given him. In other words, God must have told Adam, “Man, I want you to be free as we are. You are free to choose the kind of life you want to live.”

He gave him a choice in becoming perfectly righteous as God Himself is. It had to be a choice. God always gives us the freedom to choose. That is the nature of God. (No one, therefore, will have any excuse on that Day).