The gospel was given to us by a Loving God. His character and love for all His creation meant that no one has ever been denied His continual offer of salvation. Yet, the wicked heart of humankind is what keeps us from receiving that salvation, acknowledging our sin and committing to a lifestyle change. Such was the case with the two ladies you will meet today. Both, were part of the ruling upper class, both were deeply sinful and committed to wickedness, yet both had a chance to hear the gospel preached because of God’s deep love. Did they change? Did they accept the God of their ancestors, or was a Holy life beyond their desire or grasp? The book of Acts reveals all about Drusilla and Bernice.
We love our heroine Esther and her moment of courageous availing. A step out to go before the king and intercede. Yet, in the first few chapters of the story Esther is defined and explained as silent. The narrative is not even told from her perspective, it does not focus on her bravery, but rather on her compliance and her upbringing. In Esther's life much like in our own, there will be a moment, a pause accompanied by a question. A question we will have to answer, a moment that can change the rest of the story. In this teaching, Aliyah takes us to that moment and directs it towards ourselves.
Romans chapter 16 is a list of greetings Paul makes to the faithful believers in Rome. In his moving movement of longing to be with the women and men he knew, he 16 listed 29 individuals, 10 of them were women. This list mentions 6 specific congregational functions, positions of service and authority within the earliest meeting places. In these roles, Paul greets only 3 men while 7 women are named as active in congregational roles. These include the role of deaconess, patron, co – labourer, host, labourer and apostle. In this teaching, Aliyah digs deep in to the female leaders Paul greets, and discovered how powerfully they led, fought, mentored, preached, taught and worked for the kingdom.
Blindly as women, we have not always known why we are so attacked, oppressed and hated. A simple look at the earth, and the statistics around women abuse, human trafficking, gendercide, child brides, rape and more, reveal that there is a war being fought against women. Believe it or not, women are the most oppressed face of humanity, and know this, if the enemy of humankind is deliberately launching an onslaught against a single individual or even a group of individuals, it is because he is threatened by them. The enemy won’t waste his time on someone who is insignificant. Women matter from the garden!
Fragments of her story tell us about her life. A life of hope versus hopelessness, and a life of expectation of redemption. In the Garden, Eve received a prophecy. A deep prophecy that placed her at the centre of the Redemption Narrative. It was a prophecy that she held on to, a prophecy that we should hold on to. In this teaching, Aliyah pieces together the fragments to discover Eve's thoughts and feelings. Not only does her feelings speak of redemption, they speak to us about what to expect in our own lives.
What could have “shaken and stirred” Paul to such an extent that he writes this letter from a prison cell, during a time of trial and pain? The answer was simple – he needed to save a man’s life. But one woman was called upon to help make this decision, a decision for death or life, her name was Apphia. This teaching forms part of the Female Leadership in the New Testament series.
In a time where war was raging thick, and trade had ceased, the highways deserted and pain ravaging the tribes of Israel, a mother in Israel arose. A mother who was both judge and prophetess. A woman who heard, who spoke and who called. Under her leadership, half the tribes of Israel were united in battle against a fierce, bloodthirsty war machine. The tribes of Israel and their leader Barak, had no problem with Deborah's leadership and the Godly authority which rested upon her, in wisdom they looked to her for help and for truth. This is her story, this is her legacy, and this is our lesson.
Seven generations pass from the time we hear about earth's first woman, until the time we hear another woman's name mentioned in the scriptures. She appears in a single verse, in a time of violence and bloodshed. But she was tasked with a holy call, to protect and preserve her family's history when history was still being written. This is her story.
It’s the story preachers love to preach about. A harlot woman forgiven through selflessness and included in to the lineage of the Messiah. The ultimate picture of redemption, books have been written about it and many a lesson taught and inspiration drawn from this Canaanite woman in the doomed city of Jericho, but is it really the truth? Was the faithful Rahab really a harlot, a prostitute given to an immoral lifestyle but redeemed through belief?