Monday, October 5, 2009

How Women Can Help Build A Strong, Godly Church

I’ve been doing a short little survey on Facebook. I asked the question “How can women help build a strong, godly church?” of both men and women. I took all of the answers I received and compiled them into two lists, one from the women and one from the men.

From the men-

1. Don’t focus all of your time and energy on a secular job if at all possible. Instead look for opportunities to glorify God.
2. Do benevolence work. This included visiting the sick and meeting their needs, sending cards, making things for those in need, etc.
3. Have deep personal Bible study daily.
4. Watch your tongue. Negative comments can do a world of hurt.
5. Keep a positive attitude.
6. Teach children about God and God’s plan.
7. Dress modestly

From the women-

1. Raise children to respect authority.
2. Manage your own home well.
3. Invite anyone and everyone to visit the church.
4. Pray
5. Encourage other women. Do not be quick to judge.
6. Have a close friend who can help to keep you in check.
7. Support your Christian husbands. Be a help meet for your husband.
8. Involve young people in godly activities.
9. Be committed to the church.
10. Dress modestly
11. Do what you can outside of worship. Prepare Lords supper, clean, etc.

These are all great biblical concepts. As you probably noticed, some of those are on both the men and womens list. Throughout this lesson we are going to look up close at some of these and notice a few more. First we will go through a list of comparisons and then we will look at some wonderful examples from women in the Bible.

1. Being kind, not catty.
Ephesians 4:32- “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”.
Women often get the reputation of being mean spirited, holding grudges, talking behind each others back. We need to remember to always be kind to each other. If we can’t say something nice about someone or to someone, we shouldn’t say anything at all.
This also applies to the way we treat our husbands and children. We must remember not to let our guard down so much that we let them see the worst side of us all the time.
Proverbs 21:19- “it is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. “
Proverbs 25:15- “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.”
Be in control of your emotions and your tongue.

2. Being truthful, not a tattler.
1 Pe 4:15 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.”
Prov 15:2- “the tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness”.
This goes along with the phrase “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Sometimes even the truth can hurt someone. We should never lie, but we must discern when things should be talked about and when they should be left alone. Never gossip! What you are saying could be true, but if the person you are telling does not need to know than you do not need to be telling.

3. Being encouraging, not encourageable.
1 Thess 5: 11-16- “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore.”
Have you ever known someone who was negative all the time? That person can always find something wrong in every situation. Don’t be that person. Be the person who is always encouraging other, always looking for the positive, even on the worst of days.

4. Being willing, not waiting.
1 Corinthians 15:58- “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Galatians 6:4-5- “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and no in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.”
We can come up with any excuse not to do something. We must be truly willing to do what needs to be done. We cannot wait for someone else to do it or for a better time. If something needs doing, we must be willing to do it. If we are willing, it will get done. This could apply to teaching others, or just doing work around the building.

5. Being helpful, not hateful.
Matthew 5:43-44- “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love they neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
As women in the church we will probably be asked to help with different things. It may be benevolence or just helping out a friend. We need to remember to be helpful and not to hold a grudge, no matter how often our services are needed. Sometimes it may feel as though we are being taken advantage of and in certain situations we may be! Just remember to always do good, even to those who misuse us. Being hateful will only make enemies, but if we are kind and helpful and do what we can do, we may make a difference in that person’s life. Our influence will certainly be for good.
One aspect of helping is being Bible Class teachers. Sometimes there are only a few women willing to serve in this capacity, and it can start to wear them down. For those women, remember how important your job is and do not be hateful to those who do not teach. For the women who do not want to take on this role, please reconsider. Our childrens souls are so very valuable. They need good dedicated Bible teachers to help them learn about God’s word.
Ezra 7:10- “For Exra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements.”
Teaching is a very important job that requires the teacher to take it seriously and to prepare for it. If you still find that you do not want to be a teacher, find ways that you can still be helpful to the teachers. Maybe substitute a week so they can have a week in an adult study. Maybe see if there is a way you can help them with visual aids, etc. There is always something to do!
Another aspect of being helpful is in correction. It can be so easy for us as women to notice faults in others and maybe to talk bad about them but never do anything to help them to overcome their fault.
1Thes 5:14- “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” To me this verse says it all!

6. Being hospitable, not hardened.
Matthew 5:43-45- “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”.
Galatians 6:9-10-“ And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are all living in the same world. Being a Christian does not make us a better person than those around us. We must be hospitable to those around us and not be hardened to the outside world. Even when our hospitality is abused, we mustn’t let that keep us from doing what we should as Christians. See the need and meet it. This doesn’t just apply to those outside the body of Christ. This also means having fellowship with other Christians. The early church went daily from house to house. They were together all the time! Acts 2:46.
Sometimes, especially in the States, people act like it is a burden to just gather together 3 times a week, much less to do things together outside of the regular church services. But we must remember that having other Christians in our home can strengthen our bond against the world and Satan.

7. Being humble, not haughty.
Matt 23:12- “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Galatians 6:3- “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
This is a pretty basic concept, yet sometimes so hard to learn. We are all sinners. We all need Christ’s blood to save us. We are all indebted to His sacrifice. How could we ever place ourselves higher than anyone else? Everyone is blessed with God given abilities and talents. Nothing is more important than anything else. We must all find something that we can do and do it.

8. Being patient, not persnickety.
Romans 3:23- “for we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God”
2 Timothy 2:24- “and the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient…”
Persnickety means hard to please. Are you hard to please or are you patient with those around you? We must remember that everyone makes mistakes. I think if we put things into perspective and recognize our own shortcomings, we will be more patient with those who need our guidance

9. Being forgiving, not foolish.
Matthew 6:14-15- “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
How easy it is to hold onto a grudge! But the Bible teaches us that if we do not forgive someone who asks for it, we will be rejected by our Father. How foolish that would be!

10. Being family, not just familier.
Eph 3:14-15- “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…”
Mark 3:32-25- “And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
The church is referred to as family, the children of God, and brothers and sisters. Do you know your own family? Do you spend time with them? If we do not truly get to know the people we worship with, how can we call ourselves family? Spend time with each other on a regular basis. Eat together, play games together, talk together. These are the souls that you will spend eternity with in Heaven and you should know each other on an intimate level. Family can rely on one another to help each other through difficult times, to rejoice in happy times, and to always be there. This is the perfect picture of the Church! Romans 12:10-16

11. Being friendly, not friendless.
Proverbs 18:24- “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
It’s a pretty obvious fact that if you are not a friendly person, you will have a hard time influencing someone’s life for good. This does not mean we can never have a bad day or be in a bad mood. Just remember that these should be few and far between. We should always be striving to be the light to the world.Our friends have a great influence on our lives, so it is natural to assume that we have an influence on theirs as well.
Proverbs 27:17- “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
As friends we should be careful that our influence is for good. We shouldn’t be participating and encouraging our friends to do things that would be contrary to God’s will.
12. Being persistent, not pushy.
II Tim 4:2- “Preach the word; be instant (urgent {ASV} )in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”
The gospel is the most important message man could ever hear. We must be persistent in making sure that everyone we come in contact with has the opportunity to hear that message. However, if we are too pushy, we can turn people off to hearing God’s wonderful word. I looked up synonyms to persistent and pushy. Synonyms for persistent are constant, continual, and determined. Synonyms for pushy are aggressive, loud-mouthed, and over-ambitious. It’s easy to see the distinction between the two when you look at it like that! We need to be careful that we display the urgency and love that we have of the gospel and of others souls, without pushing them farther away.

Examples of Women

1. Priscilla- Acts 18:24-26
She went with her husband to help teach Apollos. Maybe she was simply moral support, maybe she was able to keep the spirit of the meeting kind, maybe she offered her womeans view to the study. But she was there. She did not simply leave it to the man. She knew that she could help teach God’s word.
Romans 16:3-5 shows us that she was also hospitable. The church met in their house. If you just count the specific names in the following verses you can count 24 people, not to mention those included in the phrases “the household of”, sisters, and mothers mentioned. We as women tend to stress a little when we have people coming over to our house. We want to make sure everything is perfect, we clean like crazy, etc. Imagine hosting at least 25 people in your home at least once a week. I think we can learn a lot from the courage of Priscilla to step up and do what needed to be done.

2. Lois and Eunice- 11 Timothy 1:5
They taught Timothy from the time he was a child. They obviously did a good job of instilling a love of the Gospel in him because he grew up desiring to know more and studying from Paul. He went on to become a faithful preacher for the Lord and encouraging others to do the same. As mothers and grandmothers, it is NEVER too early to start teaching our children and grandchildren about God’s Word. People disagree all the time about when to start taking babies to Bible Class and how long a toddler can focus on a Bible Lesson. I am no expert on child development, but I do know that children are like sponges. We are constantly teaching them. Babies learn to recognize faces and images and even music. They learn to talk, walk, feed themselves, and play with others. So it would make total sense that they can learn that Jesus loves them and God made them.
Proverbs 22:6- Train up a child in the way he should go…
Deuteronomy 6:6-7- The same concept was shown to the Israelites with God’s Law for them. They were to teach their children diligently, talking about it all the time. It shouldn’t be something that our children find abnormal. It should be second nature to them and seem completely normal for us to talk about God’s Word with them. There are so many opportunities daily to talk about God, and so many are passed up. If you see a beautiful sunset, talk about how God held the sun still during a fight. When you are in the kitchen preparing a meal, talk about the importance of salt and how it is used to show the importance of being a Christian. If you see an ambulance, say a prayer for the sick, injured, and those who take care of them. It can be so easy to ingrain God’s Word into our childrens lives, minds, and hearts. We just need to do it.

3. Dorcas- Acts 9:36-42
She was known for her good works. She looked out for others. She was obviously a friend to the widows. She stayed busy. When she died people were heartbroken.
When we die, what will people say about us? Will we have even made an impression on their lives? We should never do anything for personal gain or for fame, but it is something to think about. We need to live our lives so that others are affected for good. Look for opportunities to do good for others. Dorcas made coats for the widows, helped the poor, and other things not mentioned. It doesn’t take much, even a small gesture can be greatly appreciated. Look for ways to serve others.

4. Mary- Luke 10:38-42
Mary sat at Jesus feet, and heard his word. How amazing that would be, so sit and listen to the master teacher. Sometimes we take for granted that we still have Jesus teaching us today. All we have to do is open the Bible and read his words. Do not neglect your own soul. Feed it daily. Study God’s word. How can you teach others, if you yourself are not taught?
11 Timothy 2:15- Study to shew thyelf approved.

5. Martha- Luke 10:38-42
She was right about one thing, hospitality is important.
Romans 5:13- throughout this whole chapter we are given qualities that a Christian should possess. Hospitality is one of them.

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