Sunday 17th January 2021
Welcome to Elmwood Congregation Sunday Worship. We thank Mr Nigel Malka for leading our service this morning. Nigel is a friend of Elmwood. He would usually lead worship in church but as our building is currently closed we are using whatsapp. Theme- Women in the Bible. My thanks to April, Cynthia for bible readings, Eileen for our prayers of healing/intercession.
Call to Worship: Claudette
Hymn: Tell out my soul
Opening prayers concluding with the Lord’s Prayer – Claudette and Mya
Hymn: O Lord my God
Time to share good news, birthdays, anniversaries, how God has blessed us.
Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38 read by April
Talk Introduction – Nigel
A little bit of background before the talk which is dealing with women in the bible
This last century things have been changing very rapidly for women only 91 years ago
In 1928 British women got the vote, and equality expectations were raised
Females are now no longer considered as chattel’s or second class citizens
This has mostly been achieved by the sacrifice and actions of a few
When in the 1860’s influential British families started to educate their daughters
They realised they were just as capable as men and fought for equality
And demanded roles as teachers, nurses, doctors, scientists and politicians
Attitudes have been changed and now many societies have been transformed
And by education, travel, books, films, TV, Internet it is still spreading
But the reality is women are still not seen as equal with men, even in Britain.
Putting aside our own politics and traditions how does God wants us to behave
God’s wants us to respect and love him and one another irrespective of gender
We are going to look at woman in the Bible and in our first reading Mary.
She accepted the task unconditionally when chosen to be the mother of God’s Son
Her reply was simply, “What God wants me to do I am willing to do.
Men, in the main, have put women down because of their desire for dominance
However looking at the role of women in the Bible this is not as God intended,
We have many examples of God wanting women to serve and them, doing so
Something we all should try to do, Do what God want us to do.
Our next reading is about Eve which is often wrongly used to make men feel superior
Bible Reading Genesis 3:1-13 read by Cynthia
Talk - Nigel Malka
God’s love is for every individual to reach out and grasp, To hold on to, use and grow,
With the responsibility to use whatever gifts we’ve been given
To put a smile onto God’s face by doing those things that please him
I have just said ‘every individual’. Without qualification!
God’s love doesn’t depend upon gender, age, nationality, power or intelligence
What it does depend upon is faith and living to his ways
As taught by both God’s Word and actions together with Jesus’ teaching
Women are expected to have the same loving relationship with God as men do.
In our churches females are beginning to be treated equally,
It has been vital women have taken on their responsibilities
For without them we might no longer have churches.
First let’s start with the misconceptions that are put about concerning women
And where better, than with Eve, and the part she played in the fall of mankind
Jew, Christian and Muslims have all used this story of Adam and Eve
Twisting the story to provide reasons why men should dominate women
Five main arguments are given to support making females subordinate.
The first is that Adam was created before Eve
Then as Eve was made second it follows all females must be second. Rubbish!
God chooses people by heart and gives them tasks to do as we heard like Mary
And not by just being first born examples are Jacob, Joseph Moses & David
The second is that Eve was created with the purpose to be man’s helper,
This has been manipulated so that women should do what men decide.
In the story of the creation Eve was made to be Adams partner and helper
Not as a slave or servant, but as an equal. (Gen 2.18) The Lord God said,
“It is not good for man to be alone I will make a suitable companion for him.
Companions work together using their different skills to achieve a common end
The third argument used was that a woman was first to disobey God
And therefore cannot be trusted as much as men! This is total nonsense
It was bad enough when Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit
Adam was not prepared to accept the responsibility that was his.
He was told not to eat the fruit from the tree of Knowledge
And he was with Eve when she first picked the fruit
Adam could have stopped her even refusing the apple himself, but did not.
Without any argument, he ate the forbidden fruit and disobeyed God command
The fourth was that women were the cause of man disobeying God.
And therefore should not be listened to by men.
Out of the two it was Eve who tried to argue that the action was wrong
She may have been too easily persuaded to disobey God
But then all Adam did was to do what Eve suggested, a typical male!
And fifth reason for treating women the way men do
Is God told Eve as part of the punishment that she would be ruled by Adam
Unfortunately we know that having power will mostly lead to its abuse
And this is what man has done ever since yet we were created as partners
I do wonder if God, realising the true nature of man as being so easily led
Was trying to give him some backbone by making him more responsible.
But that doesn’t give males the right to use it as an excuse to dominate woman
Particular woman who they are not married to
Eve in this story was judged by God for what she did.
And this is crucial; Her final accountability was to God, not to Adam.
In this story God judges Eve and Adam as individuals
Because like them each of us has an individual relationship with God
We must all learn not to trespass against his ways, why use trespass
Well Sin is breaking God’s law! Trespass is breaking God’s heart.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the females in the Bible
All very different with their own skills each with their own part to play.
Sarah Abraham’ wife was told that she would have a child in her old age.
When she became old, she didn’t believe it would happen (Genesis 21:6)
She tried to out think God and persuaded Abraham into her way of thinking
The result was Ishmael who hated Isaac, two nations created instead of one
Both still exist today Arab and the Jew and they still hate one another.
We see women in the Bible have the same strengths and weakness as the men
Rebecca made up her mind to go and marry Isaac without seeing him
She manipulated her son Jacob to steal Esau’s blessing
Tamar, would not allow herself to be put aside
She justly schemed to get herself pregnant and married to Judah
We have the courage of the two Jewish midwives who defied Pharaoh,
In them we see shining example of faith and obedience to God.
Their let the male Jewish babies live because they feared God more than man.
Deborah one of the Judges of Israel beat Golder Myer by about 3,300 years
To become the first female Jewish leader she was a good leader and prophetess
Recognising this, men would seek her out to know God’s will.
Those who were and still are against woman having leadership roles
Shy away from understanding why God gave Deborah that sort of authority.
They are many women who have given their lives to God.
In the New Testament we have Elizabeth and Mary mothers to John and Jesus,
Mary was spoken to by an Angel, told she was highly favoured by God
Yet as a virgin, she was to give birth to The Son of God.
What must have been her thoughts, about to get married?
Did she consider for a moment what her future husband would do?
Her comfortable future was to be upset and put into turmoil
Society would shun both her and her husband for having a child before marrying
And when rejected by Joseph she decides to leave her home,
Walk 100 miles to the hills of Judea, to escape to her cousin Elizabeth
She stayed there three months until the birth of John the Baptist and then Joseph came
With what Mary went through in her lifetime we can really admire her
She was certainly a remarkable woman, Independent, decisive
And she stayed true to the end, weeping as she saw her son die on the cross.
She was with the disciples over the Accession and Pentecost praying to God.
We can see that her role is as important to that of any of the men there.
Jesus was unconventional in a male dominated society
He did not have a female as a direct disciple, but he never excluded them
He taught, whoever was prepared to listen, man or woman equally
In the incident with The Samaritan Woman, John 4:6-42
Jesus did not ostracise her but rather treated her as a person of worth.
Gave her a role while others would have nothing to do with her.
Used her to bring his message to people to help him in his own outreach
The message is clear anyone and everyone is acceptable to be in God’ family
Once making Jesus their Lord & Saviour then people will want to work for God
Jesus taught men and women and when you teach someone
Then the expectation is that they use that knowledge to pass on to others
Not to keep it to themselves or ignore it or demean it, but use it.
We heard of another of Jesus’ pupils, Mary sister of Martha
Mary would sit, listening and learning from him
When challenged that Mary ought to be doing ‘Woman’s work’ Jesus replied,
‘Mary has chosen what is better, and will not be taken away from it’.
This is a clear instruction that woman have the right to choose what is right for them And not blindly accept the role that others placed upon them.
Jesus listened, he allowed women to express themselves when others denied them.
He tested their faith, an example is the Canaanite woman Mathew 15:21-28
She asked to have her daughter healed, and he seems to be rejecting the request
He replies 'It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.'
But then he granted her request when she showed her faith by replying to him
'Yes lord but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fell from their masters' table.'
Jesus shows that wisdom is a commodity to be used or abused by everyone.
The parable of the ten Virgins shows that some are wise and some are not.
We learn of the widow who gave out of her poverty. (Mark 12:43)
She was considered far better than the man who gave out of his riches
And again when Martha’s sister Mary does the unconventional (John 17 11-end)
Making a sacrifice by pouring a pint of pure nard over Jesus’ feet.
Jesus respected the act done, the gender involved was unimportant
Female, male, old, young, poor, rich we all are able to do those things that please God
After Jesus’ death when Mary was weeping in the garden
He gave her comfort and at the same time gave her a job to do. (John 23:50-end)
To Go and tell the disciples that he was returning to his Father, and to their Father.
Sadly the disciples didn’t learn the lesson that Jesus uses those who trust in him
For when Jesus sent Mary Magdalene to say he had risen they didn’t believe her.
We all need to work as partners to take the word of God to the world
Paul taught we are one body each playing our own unique role
Within the body of the church and in its fellowship.
All given important tasks to do for God and some leadership roles
Dorcas, Tabitha Lydia, Priscilla, Phoebe helped in building the early Church
In God’s kingdom we see it is not the role that people play which is important
Rather it is in their relationship with Jesus and the Father
And taking the opportunity to build a relationship in whatever is needed to be done
We all have skills and we should use them to put a smile on God’s face
Hymn: All I once held dear
Song: Let the peace of God reign
Prayers of healing/Intercession - Eileen
Heavenly Father Lord and Saviour this morning we approach your throne to lift up your name on high and praise you for we know that Your mercy endures forever.
Heavenly Father we are living in times that have a lot of ups and downs, sad times and happy times and You have carried us through because You are always there for us. So let us take time today to offer to our praise of gratitude, for His grace and mercy has kept us safe. Psalm 116:12 what shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.
Heavenly Father our world has been shaken by Covid, political unrest, climate change, and great uncertainty across the globe. Help us to remember when our world is shaken that You are unshakeable, when we feel weak and vulnerable, help us to sense Your strength giving us courage to rise above our circumstances. When we are afraid, give us the faith to lean on You alone, so we can face our fears. When we need to stand strong help us to remember Your grace and mercy that has been extended to us, the mighty deeds you have done and all those that are yet to be done in Your name.
Let us love ourselves and set our standards high by using biblical principles to help us to be accountable, and sustainable while walking in Godly obedience to live God centred lives. Let us love one another, like Ruth who loved her mother in law Naomi and was obedient and followed God even in times of despair and crisis. Help us Lord to put our faith in You, like these two God fearing women, even in these troubled times because You alone will save us, forgive us, help us to rebuild our lives and give us blessings that will last throughout eternity.
Heavenly Father be the author of our destiny - be our beginning, our middle and our ending. Help us to plan our future with You in our hearts and minds. We know that Your plan is the best plan, so guide us Lord and direct our path. Let us be like Esther and seize our God given opportunities to make a difference to our lives and that of others. Help us to make You sovereign over every area of our lives because with You nothing is impossible because You make everything possible.
Heavenly Father strengthen our faith in You each day, just like Elizabeth and Mary were strong in their faith and believed what the Lord had said to them would be accomplished. They both felt highly favoured, when they were blessed with the honour of bringing their sons, who were filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, into the world to save us. Give us this level of faith so our souls can continually glorify you and our spirits can forever rejoice in Your name. Help us to achieve the God given purposes that You have for us.
Luke 11 says ' and I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. So we ask You today Heavenly Father to reach out and touch all those on our prayer list with Your special healing powers, cover them with the glory of Your supernatural protection, that they may feel your presence moving through their bodies as the healing process takes place.
Heavenly Father for the week ahead renew us according to the image of Christ stamped upon our hearts and minds. Help us to put off the old person we used to be as recently as yesterday.
and put on the new person You have made us to be in Christ. Continue to renew our mind and soul so we can be made more and more like you each day and provides us with your blessings in the week ahead. We invite you to display your strength in all our situations, grant us peace
beyond all imagination, the knowledge of Your majestic power, Your Mercy and Your grace to fill our hearts and minds with great joy as we go out into the world to share with others our great admiration for You.
In Your name we pray all these things . Amen
Hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky
Blessing- Irish Blessing (sung)