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Inspirational Women

Branching Out Devotion, Friday June 14, 2013. Redeemer Lutheran School

Lydia 1

Inspirational Women.

Thinking of Inspiration woman made me think about the minefield of living with one.

Nowhere does the minefield come into play than in the purchasing of gifts for your inspirational woman…

What NOT to Buy Your Wife or get the kids to buy Mum for her birthday:

1. Don’t buy clothing. That involves sizes. The chances are one in seven thousand that you will get her size right, and your wife will be offended the other 6999 times. “Do I look like a size 16?” she’ll say in disgust. Too small a size doesn’t cut it either: “I haven’t worn a size 8 in 20 years!”

2. Avoid all things useful. The new silver polish advertised to save hundreds of hours is not going to win you any brownie points.

3. Don’t buy anything that involves weight loss or self-improvement. She’ll perceive a six-month membership to a diet centre as a suggestion that’s she’s overweight.

4. Don’t buy jewellery. The jewellery your wife wants, you can’t afford. And the jewellery you can afford, she doesn’t want.

5. Finally, don’t spend too much. “How do you think we’re going to afford that?” she’ll ask. But don’t spend too little. She won’t say anything, but she’ll think, “Is that all I’m worth?”

Herb Forst in Cross River, NY, Patent Trader, in Reader’s Digest, p. 69.

There have been some inspirational women who have crossed my path in life. I particularly think of my wife who has faced all the challenges of life with me with poise, patience and a certain peacefulness. I think of my older sister who first introduced me to real Christian faith and life and who has always sought the truth, often at her own expense and in the face of the ongoing illness of depression.

In terms of the bible – I think of the young Ruth and Naomi. I think of the older woman, Sarah, with Abraham. I think of the unnamed servant girl who challenged Naaman the ego-driven Syrian General out of care for him, not regard for herself.

I think of the widow of Zeraphath, who in an act of uncompromising faith protected the prophet Elijah and gave him her last ounce of food before dying, but then reaped the reward of trusting in the Lord and was blessed with a longer life than she expected.

I think of Martha the faithful servant and Mary the listener to Jesus, and of course Mother Mary, who treasured all the things she saw and heard in her heart, suffered the anguish of seeing her boy shamed and killed and still trusted this was leading somewhere good in God.

But I think the woman who somehow inspires me the most is Lydia, the maker of purple cloth that we hear of in the Book of Acts.

Lydia lived in the Roman military retirement city of Philippi. This was the place where the gospel first reached Europe – Macedonia. And the gospel first reached Europe with much leadership and service from Lydia.

Paul and Luke and the other travelling band of Christians in mission ended up coming through Philippi. On the Sabbath day, they did their usual thing of gathering among the locals and striking up a conversation. They went outside the city walls down to river and started a conversation with a group of women – one of whom was this Lydia.

Lydia was a trader and manufacturer – a maker of the royal coloured, hard to make purple cloth – no doubt to cloth all the retired military types at their social functions in the city. She was also a worshipper of the God of Israel.

“The Lord opened her heart” to the gospel, and she was baptised down in that river. Quite naturally as a response t the good news of Jesus she invited Paul and the others home to her house to stay for a few days.

Things went badly for Paul and the others when they set a slave girl free from some evil oppression that got her caught up in telling people’s futures for money. When she was set free from this, her minders got very upset and got Paul and the others flogged and jailed.

God intervened and they ended up back at Lydia’s house;

Why so inspiring?

She just seems to be a strong, hospitable, self-assured but humble woman whom God used to establish the gospel of Jesus for a whole continent.

She was an intelligent, trader and well-to-do person who put that second to knowing Jesus and serving his people.

She was persuasive – enough to convince Paul and the others to stay at her house where she looked after them and provide the first base for Christianity in Europe.

She did not seem to judge people or be a person of very narrow acceptance because she welcomed these prisoners who had been flogged in public back into her life – despite what it would mean for her reputation and therefore, her business.

She seems like a very resilient person – being a single woman in very male world (military world) in ancient times must have been challenging to say the least, but she obviously had a toughness and resourcefulness to not only survive but thrive.

She was instrumental in the gospel mission and she gave her life to this in serving God’s people.

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