Rise in strength – Mary Magdalene as a role model

MARY MAGDALENE, Luke 8:1 -3, John 20:1 -2, 11 -18.

 

Magdalene was a woman possessed by seven evil spirits, until Jesus delivered her from that terrible condition.

When one is possessed, they are automatically instruments of the devil. Whatever the devil instructs, the one in such bondage is powerless to resist because they are owned by the devil. That person turns into a chronic liar, a thief, a killer and a destroyer, doing so many harmful and hurtful things both to oneself and those around (John 8:44, 10:10).

At last, Jesus stepped into her situation, He rescued her and turned her into a very important instrument for good, in the hands of the Lord, she became a woman whom many women emulate today.

 

Reflection:

  1. Mary Magdalene used her wealth to support the Lord’s Ministry. We are in a world that is dominated by materialism. You can discipline yourself to be a supporter of the Gospel despite the selfish ambition exhibited all around. How much do you invest in God’s kingdom? Or are you more interested in living a comfortable life? Can you make sacrifices for the furthering of the message?
  2. She was a first witness of Christ after His resurrection; in other words, an evangelist. How many people have you talked to about Jesus’ death and resurrection and God’s love?
  3. Magdalene demonstrated courage. While the twelve disciples and other followers of Jesus were hiding for fear of being killed by the Jews, she counted her life worth nothing – she was out there to find the Saviour, not minding what the soldiers could do to her at the tomb. She demonstrated self-denial, one of the conditions Christ gave for following Him (Luke 9:23).
  4. Mary Magdalene was fully dedicated to serving Jesus, even up to the seeming finality of His death. This is because she was fully aware of what she had been saved from and the hope she had been given. How grateful are you to the Saviour and all He has done for you? How far would you go to show your love for Him? (Luke 7:47b).

 

Challenge

Like Magdalene, you can come to Jesus with your burden of sin to experience forgiveness. The problems of loneliness, poverty, sickness, injustice, unemployment, a troublesome marriage, rebellious child, addiction(s), and other vices can be laid down at Calvary. Jesus can do it for you as He did for Magdalene.

Do not allow any condition you are in to weigh you down, with Jesus on your side, you can rise up in strength even when it seems hope is gone, for the end of the matter is better than the beginning.

If you have been saved, show your gratitude by being a propagator of the Gospel. You can give, pray, and tell others about the love of God and the impending judgement and punishment.

 

Shalom!

Rise in Strength – Independent like Lydia

Our story this month of May is about a woman in the Bible called Lydia. (Acts 16). Lydia whose biblical meaning is “A standing Pool”, was a resident of a Turkish town of Thyatira, famous for its guilds of craftsmen, especially the guild of the professionals knowledgeable in the production and sale of expensive purple dye. Lydia was a member of that guild. It is not known how it was that a woman had become one of those professionals, but when she is introduced in the Bible, she had crossed into northeastern Greece and had established her business base in the Roman City of Philippi. As a seller of rare and expensive purple dye, Lydia must have had enough wealth to buy into that franchise.

We continue learning in Acts 16 that, while born and reared to believe in the gods and goddesses of Thyatira, Lydia did not worship the accumulation of gods venerated in her hometown. Instead, she had become a “God-fearer.” She had already taken a major step away from her religious upbringing and had investigated Jewish claims of one God and wanted to know more. (Many “God-fearers” became Jewish proselytes.) We first meet her at Philippi’s riverside with a group of women who had come together there to pray. It was there that Paul and Silas met her and talked with her about Jesus and there she became the first convert to Christianity in Greece.

Convinced of the truth of the Christian gospel and believing that it was for everyone, she bore witness to her entire household and with her, they were all baptized. The apostles stayed on with her for several weeks, instructing her and her household in what she needed to know as a new follower of Jesus. There in her large house she began the first Christian church on Greek soil, welcoming other new believers into the fellowship of faith.

Lydia was successful both in her professional work and in her social or spiritual work nurturing the emerging Greek Church. Most likely the knowledge and connections she cultivated as a trader helped her in her church work, and vice versa. In Lydia we see a woman whose skill and interest is not confined to one limited area. Indeed, we see that both her position in commerce and her knowledge of faith made her uniquely qualified to spearhead the church in Greece.

Lessons we learn from the Character – Lydia

(1) …Lydia responded to the prevailing needs of her time

While there are countless Biblical stories about giving, money and wealth; Lydia challenges us to reflect on our role of being prepared for the moment, seeking sometimes bigger things than ourselves, and being willing to invite others to experience what we have experienced. We are living in the 21st Century where it is rare to see genuine philanthropies around us because the world of capitalism demands that those who have what it takes to rule the world control the economies of scale while those who don’t have remain poorer. This is a challenge each one of us should respond to and make a difference in someone’s life e.g. the vulnerable girl-child, a homeless person or perhaps a Servant of God who may be struggling to make it in life or in their ministry.  As God often reveals different situations to us, it is important we make ourselves available to render our services wherever such needs may prevail. Could it be that in 2022 God wants us to be more hospitable to our neighbours, visitors or even to people who may be passing through our communities, churches or society?  Let us consider the people of Ukraine as a test case.

 

(2) …Lydia used her time prudently both as a successful business woman and as a follower of Jesus;

Born in Africa over half a Century ago, I grew up in a family of nine children having eight brothers. My own father married, divorced and remarried 4 times until I was 10. Growing up in such a “broken home” taught me to take care of my siblings whom my stepmothers left behind. Being a beneficiary of numerous life lessons Girls’ Brigade offers to young people presented many advantages to me. I joined Brigade very early in life through the positive influence of my friends in the neighborhood – this again made me the only “church-goer” in my entire family. By God’s grace, my childhood life also taught me to multi-task and become more ambitious in life, not allowing the background of my family destroy my dream for a better future. I recall how at some point I received a “beating” from my father when he discovered I had accepted to “baby-sit” in my school teacher’s home without my parents’ permission.  After some negotiations with my teacher, I was allowed to continue my “maid-services” which I performed very well (mornings only) and attended school in the afternoon. This gave me extra income for my personal needs but also taught me to be responsible at a very tender age. Eventually, I graduated from High school with better grades than most of my peers from “successful” homes!

 

(3) …Lydia was Independent; Philippians 4:2 “Come and stay at my house…….” We can only speculate the magnitude of Lydia’s wealth and independent life she enjoyed and why she stands out alone since in ancient Roman culture, women were known through their men (Barnes, 1995). Doing great things is a daunting task if you depend on your own strength or if you do not believe you are a great person. Lydia was not just a wealthy business woman but was a “God-fearing” person who also loved other people. The lesson for us here individually and corporately is that all of us whom God has called from the world into His marvelous kingdom of light are kingdom builders who must identify our God-given talents and skills; and as often as we have strength use the resources to serve those around us. In this way, we would be pleasing God who enables us to Rise in Strength!

Rise in strength – Ruth, living a purposeful life.

Rise in strength is a call to action for women of God to see their true potential as women of valour, great determination, courage and faith.

God has blessed us as women of God in these trying times with all the power, spiritual gift and strength that we needed to stand strong. God has blessed us with the inner strength and faith that allows us to meet and surpass the challenges of our times.

As women, we need to acknowledge God as our personal Lord and saviour. We need to totally surrender to God and wait upon the Lord by faith, placing our trust in Him to strengthen us and renew our faith.

No matter how weary we become or how difficult our circumstances, His grace is sufficient for us and his power is perfected in our weakness.

One shining example of a biblical woman who arose in strength is Ruth. She was a pagan widow who through her faith became the key to Israel’s future and to God’s plan of salvation for the world.

The book of Ruth starts with what is a real account in life; the tragedy that befall Naomi and her two daughters-in-law in the Land of Moab.

For Ruth and Naomi, the adversities they suffered made them discover God’s highest purpose for them.

Ruth is the epitome of strength, loyalty, diligence and love, whose affection for Naomi is unparalleled.

Ruth 2:1 shows us a self-motivated Ruth. As women we should be self-motivated. Those who have the call of destiny are self-motivated.

Ruth would have remained in Moab, worshipping foreign gods, belonging to an accursed nation, and forever on the outside of God’s blessings. She chose to rise in strength. She worked hard, was very humble, she was not self-centered and had a servant’s heart.

Women, take that to heart!

God is saying to all women to arise in strength. Be of noble character like Ruth. This is what God wants us to aspire to.

God chose Ruth because she modelled her character traits with graciousness, patience and self-sacrifice.

Below are six lessons women who desire to rise in strength should learn from Ruth.

  1. Your Past is not your present or your future. So, never give up!

Despite her circumstances and past, she boldly moved forward, followed her mother-in-law Naomi, and searched for a better future. She did not allow adversities to weigh her down.

Your background should not keep your back on the ground.

 

  1. We need to have faith.

Ruth, although young, showed incredible faith. She had faith that God would provide for her and her mother-in-law. Her life was driven by faith and trust in God.

 

  1. She discovered that the God of Israel does not discriminate.

 

Ruth was a Moabite, a cursed nation. She was only an Israelite by marriage. Others treated her as inferior, but God loved her the same. God does not discriminate. No one is unimportant in the eyes of God once you believe and trust in Him. His blessing is sufficient to all.

 

  1. Character matters.

 

They say that character is who you are when nobody is looking.

When Ruth said to Naomi in Ruth1:16

“Intreat me not to leave the, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thu God my God”.

I am sure that it didn’t cross her mind that, for centuries, millions would read about her and learn about her character and self-sacrifice. She far exceeded the expectations of a daughter-in-law. She honoured Naomi and displayed strong character as a wife to Boaz (her second husband) as well. She was a woman of integrity clothed with decorum, discipline and dignity.

 

  1. Redemption is for everyone.

 

Ruth revealed in her life and trust in God that no matter your background, redemption is a gift from God and available to all. As God redeemed Ruth, so you shall be redeemed.

 

  1. Stay loyal to your commitment.

 

Ruth honoured her commitment to Naomi. She stayed loyal to her commitment and God blessed her with a new husband and a new home.

 

Be loved in the Lord, what drives your life?

Is your life driven by guilt or is your life driven by anger?

Is your life driven by resentment and fear or is your life driven by materialism?

 

Ruth lived a purposeful life.

 

Knowing your purpose simplifies your life. Knowing your purpose focuses your life and motivates you to rise up in strength just like Ruth.

 

Finally, Isaiah 40:31 says

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

 

The charge here is to wait on the Lord. If we desire as women to rise in strength, we must learn to wait on the Lord. We must learn to surrender to God and trust in Him. Only then shall we walk and not be weary, only then shall we run and never faint.

 

Women, arise in strength!

Launch of She Speaks: A Gender Justice resource for GB leaders

On International Women’s Day (8 March 2022), Girls’ Brigade International launched a free resource for local Girls’ Brigade leaders called She Speaks: A Gender Justice resource.

This resource was created by GB leaders from around the world including Caitlyn Robinson (GB Australia), Jessie Emms (GB England & Wales), Hannah Morpeth (GB England & Wales), Nelly Banda (GB Zambia) & Ruth Utulu (GB Nigeria) and edited by one of GB International’s Vice-Presidents, Dr Claire Rush. As GB’s Delegation of Hope to the United Nations in 2021, these young women represented GB members and advocated for gender justice by hosting a session at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.

You can watch a recording of their incredible session (which included drama and spoken word piece) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1D_lxEJ7RM&t=500s

This free resource can be used by leaders to facilitate girls and young women (13-25s) and can used at any time during the GB year. Each of the five sessions contains creative activities with a Biblical focus including games, art, team-building, discussions, personal stories and creative prayers. The five sessions include:

  • Girls in the world today: what is gender justice?
  • Missing from school: improving girls’ access to education
  • Being safe: ending male violence against women and girls
  • Removing taboo: shattering mental health stigma
  • Girls’ Brigade Raises Hope

The resource also features the voices and stories of young GB members from across the world.

Girls’ Brigade International President Mrs Priscilla Penny from Zimbabwe shares: ‘When Margaret Lyttle established GB in 1893, she was advocating with and for girls. In other words, she was helping shape a different and more hope-filled future for girls. Advocacy – raising hope for girls – is in our DNA. She Speaks features stories of how Girls’ Brigade members across the world are transformers, generations-shapers and hope-bringers! This resource will help enable GB members to challenge injustices in their own community in creative ways and transform lives which will have long-lasting impact.’

The structure of the She Speaks resource is designed to be flexible – it can be used for a one-off GB group meeting (pick and choose the most relevant activity) but it will be most effective when used over a course of five sessions or a residential. This amount of time will empower the young women to understand the issues and will enable them to plan to make a real difference. GB leaders are able to tailor it to the needs and requirements of their GB groups.

Download the new She Speaks: A Gender Justice resource here: She Speaks Gender Justice resource

Rise in strength – Who Was Miriam?

Miriam was the oldest sister of Moses.  She was 7 when she placed her baby brother in the basket in the Nile River.  Miriam had many encouraging times in her life, she convinced the Pharaoh’s daughter to let her take the baby back to his mother until he was old enough to return to the princess.  Miriam showed faithfulness and loyalty, which would only be seen in a woman in her 20 or 30, but she was only 7.  Her courage in such times when baby boys were being killed, gives us only a glimpse into the woman she became.

The rest is history, this remarkable story of the older sister of Moses.  She was not just a sister to Moses but later in her life she was a Prophetess of God.  Little could she have imaged that some 80 years later she would joyously proclaim the freedom for her people, from years of bondage in Egypt, praising God for His deliverance.

Her Godly characteristics were in evidence at the crossing of the Red Sea.  Miriam took up her Timbrel and led the women of Israel in song, encouraging them to praise God for delivering them from bondage and keeping them safe.

 

It is recorded in the book of Exodus, where Moses identifies his older sister as a prophetess, the first recorded in the Bible.

In her position of prophetess, she was viewed as a near equal to Aaron, although her exact position isn’t known, she was clearly highly regarded by Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites.  There is no indication that Miriam ever lost her loyalty and faithfulness to God or Moses or her people.

One of Miriam’s actions was the specifically the criticism of Moses marriage to a woman whom she disapproved. This became a serious issue for God.

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Mosses because of this marriage.  Moses was a very humble man, but he had God on his side.  There were some other issues that also arisen, and God was not happy with what Miriam was saying.  So, God appeared to Miriam, Aaron and Moses as a pillar of cloud.  God was angry with Miriam, so He banished her to outside of the camp.  He sent her away and casted her out and made her a lepper.

God’s anger was swift.  Miriam was recognised as cursed and rebellious to God, she was exiled from the Israelites wildness camp, a fate worse than death for some. The people of Israel prayed to God for deliverance for Miriam.  He had delivered them from bondage, in Egypt, brought them across the Red Sea, and had performed miracles   Aaron cries out for Moses to help their sister, begging him to ask God for forgiveness and healing for her.  God saw the error of their ways.

God listen to their cries and healed Miriam, but he would not let this rebellion go unpunished, there was a penalty to be paid, so that others would not follow in her footsteps.  Miriam was to stay outside the camp for 7 days and after that she would be received again in the camp.  God wanted to let the people know he was in-charge.  God was as quick to forgive as He was to anger.

 

As I read through Miriam story, I found that on many occasions she arose in strength.  Placing her brother in the fast-flowing Nile as a baby, supporting her brother escaping from Egypt, walking through the Red Sea on the dry riverbed, encouraging the other women on their journey through the desert, and facing the banishment outside the camp as a leper. The strong faith flows through in her story and the way she rose in strength over these obstacles with the help of God.

There are times when we need to just put our lives in God’s hands, and we too will Rise In Strength.

Rise in strength – learn from Abigail

In the First book of Samuel, chapter 25 we see a story of a virtuous woman called Abigail, wife of Nabal from Carmel.  Abigail which means ‘father’s joy’ is described as intelligent, and beautiful. Whist her husband is difficult, wicked, and as the meaning of his name implies “fool” so was he.

Abigail’s intelligence and wealth made her appear before David and his men who were rising up against her husband in battle to intercede on behalf of the husband and her family.

By granting the request of David, and pleading for her husband’s life accepting the fact that the Nabal was a man of bad character.

After her husband’s death she accepted the request of David to be his wife.

There are several lessons to be learnt from Abigail’s lesson as members of the Girls Brigade and they are as follows;

HUMILITY. Being humble, was what led Abigail to be the one to rectify Nabal’s egotistic and selfish behaviour towards king David. She was quick to be kind and maintained peace. She looked beyond herself and acted with humility and compassion. She required to make peace with the very one her own husband had infuriated.

GENEROSITY. Abigail did not know the number of men David had or how long the provisions she made would last, but she did think wise to provide enough for the men. And she knew time was of the essence. Our generosity should be timely, that is when its impact would be felt the most.

INTERCESSOR: Abigail had all the reasons not to interfere with something she knows nothing about but she did. She pleaded for forgiveness on behalf of her entire family and God used that instant to show David how wrong it would have been to take matters into his own hands. Abigail’s intercession save David from having his sword smeared with the blood of Nabal (and probably his men who were with him). She asked for forgiveness, for both herself and her husband. We too can stand in the gap for our friend and family so the lord can look down upon us all with forgiveness.

A GUIDE: Abigail guided David to look beyond the moment of gratification which would have been to attack and alienate Nabal and all his house hold, but she reminded him of God’s promises to him. We also have been call to guide those we have charge over. To lead them down the right path so they may find true enrichment of life, and not look to moments of gratifications.

CRITICISM: Abigail openly criticized her husband to David severely. We must take note that no husband or wife or loved one deserves such harsh criticism in their absence or presence. We need not speak harshly of one another, but in love correct each other’s failings and point our beloved into the right direction.

Rise in strength – be a Mary

Luke 1:26-38

I have chosen Mary, the mother of Jesus, to begin our year to rise up in strength – the theme chosen by our International President’s Committee.

1.Read Luke 1:26-38

2.This passage describes how the angel Gabriel breaks the news to Mary, a young girl engaged to be married that she will be the mother of Jesus the Christ – the long extremely Messiah for Israel. We will focus on Mary’s responses and reflect on some learning points that will help us rise up for God in the coming year.

Mary’s first response was one of being “greatly troubled”. Any visitation from an angel would surely frighten us. This is natural.

Her second response “How will this be since I am a virgin” reflects sheer bewilderment as it goes against all that she knew about human conception.

After the Angel had explained how it will take place her third response – “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” – speaks not only of Mary’s assurance in the angel’s words “that nothing is impossible with God” but also of her understanding that as the Lord’s servant she would submit.

Mary’s faith in God’s words allowed her to accept what the angel said and enabled Mary to rise up to fulfil her destiny in God’s plan regardless of the consequences.

I am sure that we have responded in similar manner to situations we find ourselves in that somehow goes beyond our understanding. Being frightened is ok but we cannot stay too long in fear as it paralyses us. To ask questions is to seek understanding as for many of us we need to know and sometimes be convinced before we accept the truth of anything. This response also stumbles us. We need to respond in faith like Mary and trust that God is faithful to His Word and Promises if we want to rise up in strength.

As we face uncertain and changing situations in the coming year can we like Mary trust God to show us his faithfulness and power as we discern His direction and plan to us even if they don’t come from a visitation by an angel?

3.Reflection

• How have we been responding to challenges that come our way?
• Are the questions we ask reflective of our fears or faith?
• What do we need to do to take God at His Word and trust Him?

2022 Theme: Rise in Strength

She Speaks: A Gender Justice resource

On International Women’s Day (8 March 2022), Girls’ Brigade International launched a free resource for local Girls’ Brigade leaders called She Speaks Gender Justice resource

Find out more here

Reflections

Rise in strength – Who Was Miriam?

By Renelle Neale

Miriam was the oldest sister of Moses.  She was 7 when she placed her baby brother in the basket in the Nile River.  Miriam had many encouraging times in her life, she convinced the Pharaoh’s daughter to let her take the baby back to his mother until he was old enough to return to theRead this news story

Read more

Rise in strength – Ruth, living a purposeful life.

By Aruk Omori

Rise in strength is a call to action for women of God to see their true potential as women of valour, great determination, courage and faith. God has blessed us as women of God in these trying times with all the power, spiritual gift and strength that we needed to stand strong. God has blessedRead this news story

Read more

Rise in strength – Mary Magdalene as a role model

By Mrs. Magdalene Apeh

MARY MAGDALENE, Luke 8:1 -3, John 20:1 -2, 11 -18.   Magdalene was a woman possessed by seven evil spirits, until Jesus delivered her from that terrible condition. When one is possessed, they are automatically instruments of the devil. Whatever the devil instructs, the one in such bondage is powerless to resist because they areRead this news story

Read more

Rise in strength – learn from Abigail

By Patricia Sarfo

In the First book of Samuel, chapter 25 we see a story of a virtuous woman called Abigail, wife of Nabal from Carmel.  Abigail which means ‘father’s joy’ is described as intelligent, and beautiful. Whist her husband is difficult, wicked, and as the meaning of his name implies “fool” so was he. Abigail’s intelligence andRead this news story

Read more

Rise in Strength – Independent like Lydia

By Dorothy Chimpampwe

Our story this month of May is about a woman in the Bible called Lydia. (Acts 16). Lydia whose biblical meaning is “A standing Pool”, was a resident of a Turkish town of Thyatira, famous for its guilds of craftsmen, especially the guild of the professionals knowledgeable in the production and sale of expensive purple dye.Read this news story

Read more

Rise in strength – be a Mary

By Ms Hee Piang Chin

Luke 1:26-38

I have chosen Mary, the mother of Jesus, to begin our year to rise up in strength – the theme chosen by our International President’s Committee.

Read more