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Week Two: El Shaddai: God Almighty, the All Sufficient One, God of the Mountain

Keely Embleton

Deep breath. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Good sturdy shoes? Check. Sunblock? Check. Enough water to drink? Check. This is the mental list and routine I go through as I rummage through my small backpack to verify everything I need is in there. I take another deep breath and look up at the trail that leads up the side of the mountain before me. “I can do this, I have everything I need.” I say to myself. It’s steep, and the trail looks hard and impossible in some places but I know that as I walk up step by step, I am not alone, the Lord is with me. He has equipped me for this, and in the places where I struggle, He will show up. Have you ever had this moment? Whether it’s physically hiking up a mountain or when you face a time in your life that feels like an unsurpassable or impossible mountain is in the way? This is where El Shaddai shows up! El Shaddai, a name of God that God actually claims for Himself, as it first appears in scripture. Turn with me to Genesis seventeen, verse one and two say, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai), walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Here we have Abram, ninety-nine years old, and the Lord who called him out of his homeland into a foreign place is now speaking to him again, telling Abram He will make a covenant with him. A covenant, a binding agreement or seal between two parties, a promise. A promise that Abram will be the father of a multitude of nations. “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:4) I can tell you if I was Abram I would think the Lord is crazy! How can an old man who has struggled to have children with his bride, Sarai, during all their years of marriage, become the father of nations? This is impossible! Except, the Lord calls himself El Shaddai. El, in Hebrew means God. El the God of all things, like in the word Elohim, the plurality of the God-head three in one. God claims his deity, He is the creator of all things. Shaddai comes next in this introduction and is a bit trickier. There is much debate on how it should translate into our English language. Like many things found within scripture there is deeper meaning here. Shaddai in Hebrew has many sounds and meanings within this one word, so let’s pull back the layers. Shadu* a word in the Akkadian language that Abram spoke meaning of the mountain. The God of the Mountain. Saday* a Hebrew noun meaning a cultivated field or a wild place where animals abound. A God who is the creator of life. Shad* a noun spelled much like the one above, in Hebrew meaning breasts or relating to fertility. Giving the meaning of a God who nourishes or multiplies. Day* the ending part of this word or particle meaning sufficient, enough or an abundance. El Shaddai, so much deeper in meaning than just the Almighty One, and I can see how one would struggle to translate into English to convey the true meaning of this name or characteristics of God. El Shaddai, the God of the Mountain who created all things, makes life out of nothing, multiples it, is faithful to keep His promises, who provides all we need and even more in abundance. This is the way God introduces Himself to Abram. WOW! We see as we continue through the story of Abram, him becoming Abraham and the father of Isaac. Isaac then had sons and so on, all the way down to the line of King David and birth of Jesus. “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant…” (Genesis 17:6) El Shaddai, had fulfilled His promise with Abram in abundance. This is just one part in scripture where we see the name and characteristic of God the Almighty, El Shaddai, show up. In Exodus six, verse two it says, “God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, as God Almighty…” In a time when the Israelites are enslaved in a foreign land and feel forgotten and hopeless, the God Almighty appears again and speaks to Moses of remembered promises. How does El Shaddai show up in this story? I am sure most of us know it but, surprise! He delivers on His promise. Moses beseeches pharaoh to “Let my people go!” When that doesn’t work God Almighty sends plague after plague to encourage pharaoh to let them go. When the Israelites are freed and stand on the shore of the Red Sea with no way forward, an army advancing from behind to take them back to captivity, El Shaddai parts the sea so they may walk across. He overcomes what seems impossible odds and makes a way. We know that from this story of the miraculous deliverance out of Egypt the Lord brought them into the wilderness. In this place of the wild the God Almighty is still with them. He nourishes them when they grumble about food, providing manna from heaven. He makes water come out from the rocks when there is no water to be found. See Exodus chapter 16 and 17 if you want to read more about these things. More importantly El Shaddai truly meets with them. Turn with me to Exodus 19, verse two through six says, “…There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Did you catch that? The Lord spoke to Moses out of the mountain! Even more amazing though as you continue to read in this chapter you see the Almighty God descend down on the mountain in fire, wrapping the top in a cloud of smoke with thunder and lighting. How amazing that must have been!? The God of the mountain who nourishes us is all powerful and kept His promises even when the Israelites didn’t. This El Shaddai that we see in Old Testament scriptures is still the same God Almighty who appears in the New Testament. A God who desires to keep the promise of redeeming a broken world back into right relationship with Him. To make good on His everlasting covenant with Abraham, that all nations would be blessed. El Shaddai, who goes so far to keep His promise that He puts on human flesh. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (El Shaddai), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:6) Humbling himself to walk with us, heal us, comfort us, teach us, and suffer with us and for us, to redeem us. There is still so much to see of El Shaddai within the life and teachings of Jesus. Such as, how many times Jesus went to a mountain top to be alone with the God Almighty, or when Jesus multiples the fish and the loaves to nourish a crowd of thousands twice over. When Jesus gives himself up as a living sacrifice to do the impossible, to make a way for all nations, peoples to have a relationship with the creator of all things. I think my favorite is seen in the last moments the disciples have with Jesus before he goes again to be with the Father in heaven. “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him… And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20) El Shaddai, Jesus, meets them on a mountain top at the very end of His time on earth. He is the God of the mountain. He establishes His authority, He is El Shaddai and He tells them to go out. To go out to the places He has created and prepared to be a part of fulfilling the promises given since the very beginning. To trust in Him as El Shaddai to do the impossible and bring peoples from every tribe, tongue and nation back into relationship with Him, making good on the eternal covenant. All the while never leaving us. Filling in the spaces we lack, He is sufficient. This is His promise. El Shaddai, God Almighty, God of the mountain, the God of the impossible. The God who is the all sufficient one, who keeps His promises. Who nourishes us and invites us in to multiply His Kingdom with Him every step of the way. So, let me ask you the questions again. Has there ever been a time in your life where the things in front of you seemed impossible? Where you needed to be nourished back to life? Where you need to be reminded that we follow a God who keeps His promises and wants you to be a part of it? *Referenced from the Abraim Publications: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Shaddai.html Take sometime this week and reflect on what this name El Shaddai means for you currently in your life. What impossible thing can El Shaddai do for you? What promise from El Shaddai do you need to be reminded of? Who can you share the wonders of El Shaddai with this week? Let’s Pray: God Almighty, El Shaddai. Thank you for being the God of the mountain, the one who does the impossible. The one who always keeps His promises. Who has cultivated all of creation and nourishes it daily. Who never leaves me know matter what, and also invites me into this story of redemption. Who makes up for my every inadequacy, and is the all sufficient one. Help me remember this daily Lord. To tuck it deep in my heart and not forget. Jesus name, amen.

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Week One - Elohim:Creator

Melissa Folliott

The Series: Studying the Names of God Week One: Elohim: Creator Long, long ago when my parents named me, they did so because they liked the name Melissa. They didn’t know the meaning of the name. But you know who did? God. And wow, my name couldn’t have been more fitting for me. Melissa means honeybee; industrious and creative. That’s exactly who I am. I enjoy building things with my hands and being artistic. God knew who I was going to be before I was knit together in my mother’s womb. What’s behind the name matters. Names are important to God. Let’s look and see what God’s name says about Him and why it’s so valuable for us to know. When we meet someone for the first time, they introduce themselves. God is no different. In Genesis 1:1 God introduces us to himself, and he uses the name Elohim. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created…” The Hebrew word used here for God is Elohim. God reveals his different names for us to learn more about his character. His names are his spiritual hallmarks. Attached to each name is a set of qualities and characteristics. What does the name Elohim teach us about God? Elohim means strong one, sovereignty. The first book of the Bible is Genesis, which means beginning. So, in the book of beginnings, God shows himself as the supreme creator. He existed before any created thing, including time and space. He was before the beginning. He started the beginning. First impressions matter and they are what people remember most and that is quite the first impression. Elohim is letting us know He is distinct from His creation or transcendent. He is above or outside of creation. Wow! If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will, but I am going to try, buckle up! Let’s take a closer look at what Elohim created. Here's some mind-boggling things to think about. Earth’s beaches contain roughly 5,000 billion grains of sand. Yet, God’s thoughts about you outnumber the sands. (Psalm 139:17-18). Let’s talk about the stars in the sky. Psalm 147:4 NLT says, “He counts the stars and calls them all by name.” Answersingenesis.org says, “The total number of stars in the observable universe is estimated to be 10 to the 25th (1 followed by 25 zeros). Nobody knows the actual number. “Let us now try to visualize the above-mentioned number of stars (i.e., 10 to the 25). No human being lives long enough to count such a large number, so we will use a computer, one of the fastest ones available. It can do 10,000 million calculations in one second, which is extremely fast! Even at this great speed it would require 30 million years of non-stop counting to count the stars, but no computer could last if that. God has foretold the result of such an endeavor through His prophet Jeremiah; the stars are, to all intents and purposes, countless, says the Bible, just like the sand grains on the seashore.” Psalm 8:3-6 reads, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” How awesome is Elohim? Not only can He count the stars and name them. He created them out of nothing! And did you catch that? Elohim cares for you! If we want to know who we are we need to know our creator, Elohim. Genesis 1:26a says, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”. There are a couple things to note here. First, Elohim said, “Let us”. Who is He talking to? The name Elohim gives us a clue as it is plural. This is a prelude to the trinity. There is only one God, but He has three distinct personalities. Tony Evans described the trinity this way. Imagine a twisted pretzel. It has three distinct holes in it, but it is tied together by the same dough. In the same way the Trinity has three distinct personalities but is tied together with the same divine nature. Genesis 1:2 speaks of the spirit of God as He hovers over the waters. The Hebrew word for spirit is translated wind or breath. This word is used in Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” This is showing the Holy Spirit present and at work during creation. John 1:1 takes us back to the beginning and says the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word is Jesus. Here we have all persons of the trinity accounted for in the beginning, Elohim. Elohim is a personal God. He speaks, He observes, He calls, He walks in the garden. He personally interacts with his creation. He wanted to make mankind in His image. Only man was made with the capacity to mirror God. Elohim made us this way so He could draw others to himself through us. His fingerprints are on all of creation. Nothing in existence was created without him, that includes you and me. Psalm 139:14 states, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” That means you are a wonderful creation, a masterpiece. Elohim made breath taking oceans, forests, countless animals, and galaxies. After all those amazing creations something was still missing. Elohim’s creation was not complete until He made man. YOU are His crowning glory. Elohim is a purposeful God. He made the earth and everything in it for His children. He made his children for a purpose as well. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.” Jeremiah 29:11 tells of God’s plans for our lives, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Elohim created a plan for your life before the foundations of the earth were made! We serve a big God. He is everywhere, all knowing, transcends time and space. Yet, He loves you. He adores you. He longs for an intimate relationship with you. Therefore, Elohim created you. Isaiah 43:7 NLT says, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” He made you so through you He would be glorified. Matthew 5:16 clearly says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We may not understand why Elohim has created us and called us into his story. Isaiah 55:8-9 says why we won’t always understand. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your way, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Do you know what Elohim’s plan is for your life? Do you have a direction? If not, ask him to reveal it to you. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8. Spend some time in Elohim’s creation. Take in all the wonder wherever you are. Maybe you are on a beach and can scoop some sand into your hand. Can you count the grains? Go outside during the night and gaze at the stars. How vast is the night sky? How awesome is Elohim? Let Him know. We will never be able to fully understand Elohim. Who would want to serve a God that we could understand? What would be the point? There would be no awe, there would be no purpose. Friends, we serve a God who demands awe and wonder, just look around. As amazing as all of creation is remember you are Elohim’s showpiece. We bear his image. What a privilege. He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). He knows your name and He calls you daughter. Psalms 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” What name were you given? What name have you made for yourself? When people talk of you, who do they say you are? Who would you like people to say you are? Do you need a new name? God provided a new name for many in the Bible. He did this so they would know who they are. Names are important and as we have seen they are important to God. Ask Elohim to bring to fruition who He you to be. Here are some names God calls you already. He says you are: Chosen: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Jeremiah 1:4-5 Accepted: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7 Loved: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Righteous: “God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 His Child: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--” John1:12 Forgiven: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13 Whatever you are facing in life, whether big or small. Elohim the creator cares for every detail. Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Gen. 18:14). He can create solutions out of nothing. He doesn’t need raw materials or ideas that have already been thought of. His name says it all. He is Elohim, the strong creator.

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Introducing The Series: Studying the Names of God

Central Women

The Series: Names of God “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13. This is why we study the names of God. Paul didn’t always know this… He thought he “knew” God. He thought he knew the heart and purposes of God. He spent many years of his life persecuting, imprisoning and even killing people who didn’t think like him, because he thought he knew God. Then, on a dusty road, as he traveled to Damascus to inflict more pain and death, he encountered Jesus. And he called out, “Who are you, Lord?” A series of events followed, including becoming blind, and given instructions to go find a man in Damascus to talk to, he regained his sight, and his life would never be the same, (read all of Acts 9 for more context). What Paul experienced on that road was forgiveness, freedom from sin, and the righteousness that only Christ offers. So, when Paul writes to the Romans, he’s speaking from a place of experience, he desperately desires that all would know Jesus, would call upon the name of the Lord, and would be saved. We desperately desire this as well: that everyone would call on the name of the Lord and be saved. And it won’t help us if we don’t know who the Lord is. He is our Abba Father, Yahweh, the Lord who heals, and the God who sees, He is our Provider and Creator and the Good Shepherd. He is El Shaddai, the Jehovah Shalom. He is our Everlasting God. Let’s dive into the Word to discover who He is, the meaning behind His names, the revealing of His character through the conversations He has with His people. Here’s what you need to know: How does this work: Gather your friends and invite them in on this journey with you. Every Sunday go to the Central Women Blog and read about this week’s name of God. Every Tuesday tune into the Central Women Podcast for deeper community conversations. Every Thursday check out the Central Women YouTube channel for a video devotion. Grow in your love for the Lord and share that with us on social media.

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The Discover Bible Study Method

Central Women

One of our missions at Central Women is to encourage every woman to regularly read their Bible. It’s a simple goal that feel overwhelming to so many. One of the most frequent questions we get is, how? How do I study my Bibl. Because we believe life is better together and studying your Bible with a friend is an amazing way to hold yourself accountable, we would like to introduce you to the Discovery Bible Study Method! This is perfect for women in all stages in their faith journey, especially if you have never even opened a Bible! How cool is that! Grab a friend, grab your Bible and let’s get started: 1. Acknowledge one praise from your week. 2. Acknowledge one thing that is stressing you out or you need prayer for the week. 3. Read a selected passage from your Bible twice from different versions. (sample verse below). 4. Ask the question: What does this tell me about God? about His character? 5. Ask the question: What does this tell me about man or humans? 6. How is this going to change how you do things this week and who are you going to share this passage with this week? 7. End in Prayer Mark 4:35 - 41 CSB On that day, when evening had come, he told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” So they left the crowd and took him along since he was in the boat. And other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” And they were terrified[a] and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” Mark 4:35 - 41 CSB That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Let us know what you think of this method!

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Holy Week

Central Women

Today marks the start of Holy Week. Our hope is that you spend some time everyday preparing you heart for the significance of why we celebrate Easter. To help you we have put together a reading plan to follow along on Jesus’ journey to the cross. Sunday, April 10: Palm Sunday Luke 19:28 - 40 Monday April 11: Cleanses the Temple; Curses the Fig Tree Matthew 21: 12 - 22 Tuesday, April 12: Teaches on Faith; Judas Bargains Mark 11: 20 -25; Matthew 26:14 – 16 Holy Wednesday, April 13: Preparations Preparations are made for the Passover. Not much else is recorded Some believe Jesus took time to rest. Take some time today to rest and reflect on what is to come. Maundy Thursday, April 14: Last Super; Gethsemane Matthew 26:26 – 29; Matthew 26:36 – 46 Good Friday, April 15 06:00 AM Jesus stands 3rd trial 07:00 AM Jesus is sentenced to death 08:00 AM Jesus is led away to death 09:00 AM Jesus is crucified on cross 10:00 AM Jesus is insulted and mocked 11:00 AM Jesus on the cross 12:00 PM Darkness covers the land 01:00 PM Jesus on the cross 03:00 PM Jesus dies Holy Saturday, April 17: The Burial of Jesus John 19:38 -42 To learn more about how to prepare your heart for Easter listen to The Central Women Podcast here. How are you preparing your heart for Easter?

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Hospitality for One Another

Central Women

Meals are messy. Legitimately messy. Recently I had dinner planned in my home with friends, where children outnumbered the adults. As we made our way into the dining room to a table lit with candles and dishes strategically set with matching plate chargers, I heard a voice from the other room… “Are you sure you want the children eating spaghetti sauce on your carpet?” And just like that, the candles were blown out and we made our way to “normal” and very un-fancy kitchen table, with remnants of chunky peanut butter from breakfast, crusted on the table. This is not how I imagined the meal going. Messy. Maybe you’ve experienced it. The collateral damage left from opening your home to friends and strangers alike. Cilantro smeared on the floor, Kool-Aid spilled on the carpet, a grease stain on your favorite blouse. Can I get an Amen? And I grumble about it. Shocking, I know. But then I realized something… All of this is overshadowed by the community and nourishment which comes from being around a table together. When you open your home, you are inviting people to come, messiness and all. They bring the messiness of life, relationships, financial struggles, and more. They are bringing it to you, friend. What an honor you have to sit in the mess with others. Jesus shared a table with hundreds of people during His ministry: disciples, tax collectors and more. One messy dinner occurred when Jesus set a table for Peter after the Resurrection. If you recall, Jesus foretold that Peter would deny Jesus three times, (see Matthew 26: 31-35). Peter does in fact deny Him, (Luke 22: 60-62). Jesus is about to appear to Peter. But first, Jesus prepares a table for Peter, at the beach no less, (that’s how I want to enjoy dinner with my Savoir!) Fish roasting on the fire, fresh baked bread, burning coals to keep them warm. And Jesus speaks. “Come and have breakfast.” This is the first time Peter and Jesus have a conversation since Peter’s denial. How fitting that they would sit together and share a meal as they resolve what happened. During this meal, Jesus actually launches Peter into ministry during this meal. It’s pretty incredible. Read John 21:15-25. Around 30 years after this messy meal, Peter is now teaching us what he witnessed firsthand from Jesus. The early church met together and ate. And it’s messy. It’s work, but it is never in vain. Paul commands us to sit together and wait for one another. “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” 1 Corinthians 11:33. When you sit around the table with others, you offer them (and yourself) a moment of rest. Don’t rush, honor one another by waiting until everyone has gathered. The purpose of gathering around a table together is not just for the physical satisfaction of a meal. When you share your story of messiness, you set the tone for others to share their stories too. You can share how God works in your messiness and what sin and grace look like. Suddenly, messy meals don’t look quite so messy. It looks beautiful. Sharing a meal together is more than the perfectly baked cake, a clean home and fancy dishes or centerpieces. It is providing a space for the Spirit of God to move in people. Every table setting, cooked meal and washed dish helps others feel loved and welcome, and God’s Spirit begins to move. Have you ever used excuses to justify not entertaining others in your home? If so, write them down. When is the last time you opened your home to others? What two or three things can you do this week, initiate sharing a meal with others? Let's pray: Father in Heaven, help us be women known for serving one another and others, for being women who open their homes and share meals together. And women who recognize the nourishment, reconciliation and rest that comes from waiting for others so that we may share a meal together. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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Women's History Month!

Central Women

Did you know that March is Women’s History Month!? To celebrate we want to recognize the ladies from the book of Acts. Spend some time to get to know who they are, read about them in scripture, and spend some time today reflecting on their contribution as disciples in Christ. Meet Lydia: (Acts 16:11-15) Lydia was from the city of Thyatira, located in the Roman province of Lydia in Asia Minor. However, she was living in Philippi when we encounter her in the book of Acts. Lydia was a businesswoman, a dealer of purple cloth. The cloth was an expensive item, made purple from dye from a shellfish and the root of a madder plant. Only royalty and the wealthiest in the community wore such fine linens. Lydia was gathering with a group of women, outside the city at the river’s edge. While they were meeting and praying, Paul arrived. Through the words of Paul, Lydia became a believer and was baptized right there in the river! She then invited Paul and the others to stay with her in her home. What’s more… her entire household heard, believed, and were baptized. Lydia’s conversion is the first historical record of a woman converting to Christianity in Europe. Meet Mary, Mother of John Mark Acts 12:12 Mary was the mother of the disciple John Mark (who wrote the Gospel of Mark). We know she was a woman of means, as she had a large home in which she housed many people and several servants. Her generosity shaped the early church and provided meeting places when the church gathered. In fact, when Peter was arrested (Acts 12), the apostles and many others were gathered at Mary’s home and were praying. When Peter was rescued from prison, the first place he went was to Mary’s house. Meet Priscilla Acts 18: 24-28 Priscilla and her husband Aquila met Paul in Corinth. They made a living as tent makers, which is also how Paul made his living. At first strangers, they immediately had something in common. Together they travelled to Ephesus. Having been mentored and trained by Paul, Priscilla began a life of ministry. She taught alongside her husband and their style was evangelistic. They explained “the way” in common, practical terms. Rather than teaching in public spaces, her style was more private. We run into Priscilla again in Romans 16, when they return to Rome and continue to their style of evangelistic teaching and hospitality. *The Way: Today churches have lots of names. If the early, first century church had a name, it would be “The Way.” Followers of “The Way” were some of the most fiercely persecuted during that time. Meet Tabitha Acts 9:36-43 Tabitha was a part of the church in Joppa, (near modern-day Tel Aviv). We know she was a beloved part of the early church, and a committed follower of Jesus. Luke calls her a “disciple” in Acts 9:36. Her heart was to serve the church and she was known for her acts of charity. Eventually Tabitha became sick and died. Peter and other disciples were nearby and urged to come to the room where Tabitha’s body was. The widows of the village were weeping, and they held out the items of clothing that Tabitha had made and given them which was a tribute to her love, care, and charity for the community. Peter knelt, prayed, and then said, “Tabitha, get up!” And she did! The story of Peter raising Tabitha became a story that spread far and wide. The name Tabitha means gorgeous in Greek and graceful in Aramaic. Throughout this month think about and answer these questions: What struck you most about the women we learned about today? What women in your life do you know who have made and/or are contributing as a disciple of Christ? How can we encourage and support women as disciples in Christ?

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