2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)
"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Week of: May 25, 2016
Sharing by: Pam Crawford firstname.lastname@example.org Excerpt from: Older Women Teaching Younger Women by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
"God has designed and provided two primary contexts in which we should have intimate relationships. These intimate relationships help us deal with the problems of injustice and isolation.
They help us deal with the pain or the shame of an abusive childhood. They help us deal with loneliness. God's solution is holy, intimate relationships, first with Him, but then with each other. There are two settings in which God has provided for us to have relationships.
The first is in the context of the home, our families. Now, that will vary depending on your season of life as to who that is. But it may involve parents, marriage, children. All of us come from a family.
You may not have any living family members now. You may not be married. You may not have children, but all of us have, at one time or another, had some sort of family relationship. If you're here on this planet, you have had some sort of family.
Now, the family may have been much less than ideal. But God's plan is that we need our families. It is within the context of the family that God intended that we should learn many of life's most important lessons.
We need marriage; we need parent-child relationships. If you are married and you are battling in that marriage, remember that you need that mate; that God is using that mate even if your mate is not a believer, even if your mate is not a godly person. God knows exactly what you need in your life to help you become more like Jesus.
If you have children, God knows exactly what you need to help you become more like Jesus. Sometimes God uses those children. I see some big smiles here or maybe groans ((I'm not sure which), but you're relating to this.
God uses your children, kind of like heavenly sandpaper, to expose who you really are and to show you needs in your life. "Two are better than one." In the context of the family, we grow and become more of what God wants us to be. We need our families. Let me say that if things are not right at home, then they're not right.
I've been so sad over the years to meet some women who are actively involved in Christian ministries, in prayer ministries, in Bible study ministries and in teaching the Word of God to others.
But then you get to talking with them about their family, and it's a disaster. Their marriage is a mess; their children are a mess; their relationships in their home are fragmented and broken.
Now I'm not saying that those women are responsible for all the problems in their families, but I am saying that you can't ignore what's going on at home and expect to just leave your home, escape it, and have a fruitful ministry outside your home.
So the family, your family is a context in which God wants to help you become more like Jesus, a context in which He wants you to focus on developing healthy, intimate relationships.
Now there's another primary context in which God wants us to develop relationships and that's in the family of God, in the church, in the Body of Christ.
I want to just take this opportunity to stress that you cannot be a lone ranger Christian and succeed at the Christian life. God has designed you to be a part of a body, and you cannot be all God wants you to be if you are trying to do it alone.
Now you may be in some circumstances of life where you are the only Christian in your family. You may be in a circumstance where it is very difficult for you to get fellowship within the Body of Christ.
But I believe that if you know it's a need and you will make it a matter of prayer, that God will help you find at least one other believer who is part of the family of God, who can be a part of helping you have the kind of relationship you need.
We have a covenant with Christ; He has a covenant with us. We're bound in an eternal covenantal relationship with Him, and if we're part of Him that means we're also part of each other. You can't separate us from each other without doing damage to all the parts. We need those covenantal relationships.
One of the most powerful passages in God's Word that addresses the subject is in 1 Corinthians 12. Let me ask you to turn there if you would, First Corinthians chapter 12. Follow along if you can beginning at verse 12. It's talking about the Body of Christ. Paul says here:
For just as the body is one [that's talking about the physical body is one] and has many members [has many different parts—hands, legs, arms, eyes, ears, mouth, many different parts but one body], and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ [with His body]. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many (vv. 12–14).
Then he goes on in verses 15–18 to say, "One part of the body can't say to the other parts of the body, 'Because I'm not your part, I'm not part of the body" (paraphrase).
He's saying that they are all necessary; they're all part of the body. Then pick up at verse 21:
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seems to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.
But God has so composed the body [this is now the Body of Christ], giving honor to the part that lacked it [and here's the key], that there may be no division in the body but that the members [that's us] may have the same care for one another (vv. 21–25 ESV).
"If one member suffers, all suffer together." When my hand gets hurt, my body feels the pain; if I stub my toe, the rest of my body is aware of it. And it's true that when one member of the Body of Christ suffers, everyone is affected. Everyone hurts. “If one member is honored, all rejoice together" (v. 26).
When God blesses you, I get blessed. That's why I should rejoice with those who rejoice. Now verse 27: "You are the body of Christ and individually members of it."
Can I just stress that it is not an option for you to be plugged into the Body of Christ. If you are a child of God, you are part of that Body and you must be involved in the life of a local expression of that Body called the local church. It's not an option. If you're not a part of the Church, and by that I mean the Body of Christ, capital "C" Church, then you're not a Christian.
If you're a Christian (part of the Church, capital "C"), then you need to be a part of a local expression of that Body of Christ.
You need to be attending your local church.
You need to be participating in it.
You need to be serving in it.
You need to be accountable to that local body of believers.
When you sin, you need to be willing to be exhorted by that body and if necessary to be spiritually disciplined by that body of believers who know you and are committed to you.
You need to take responsibility for the oneness of that body, not criticizing, not picking apart, not pulling it down, not destroying it. The Scripture says that if you destroy the Body of Christ, God will destroy you.
That's why Paul said to the Philippian believers, Philippians chapter 4, he said, “There are two women in your church who aren't getting along with each other.” Euodia and Syntyche were their names. He said to those two women, “Get it together! Tear down those barriers. Tear down those walls. Learn to get along with each other.” But then he said to the rest of the body, “Help those women get along. Don't let that conflict just go unaddressed. Deal with it.” (see vv. 2–3)
You're a part of each other; you need each other, and it's in the context of that body that you can become all God intended you to be.
Now let me take that just a step further, this matter of the Body of Christ. I want to narrow it down just a little bit more and have us see that as women there's a particular way that we are to relate to each other within the Body of Christ. Woman to woman.
There's a need for us as women to have nurturing, caring relationships within the Body of Christ. And of course, the primary passage that says that explicitly in the New Testament is Titus chapter 2. Many of you are familiar with that passage, but let me just read verses 3, 4, and 5 from Titus 2.
Now in the context here, Paul is talking to Titus about how the family of God ought to function. He's already given instructions to those who are in leadership in the church, the qualifications to be elders and spiritual leaders. He's talked to older men and younger men.
Now he says in verse 3: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good" (vv. 3–4 ESV).
Who is to teach? Older women. Does it sound like just older women who've been to seminary are supposed to do this, just older women who are on the staff of the church? No, it is all inclusive. Older women in the Body of Christ are to have exemplary behavior themselves and they are to model the characteristics of a godly, mature believer.
But then they're to teach what they have learned about the heart and the ways and the Word of God. "They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women." Train the young women. The older women are to be teaching the younger women.
And here's the curriculum. They are to teach them "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled" (vv. 4–5 ESV).
I remember talking to a woman not too long ago who was in her early thirties and single. She said: "Nancy, I had no models when I was growing up." No models of godliness. She talked about how her parents had a terrible marriage for twenty-three years and then divorced and both her siblings had been through multiple divorces and here she is, a young woman, never married.
She's saying: "I don't know what a godly woman looks like. I don't know what a godly marriage looks like. I've had no models." It's for women like that as well as for women like you and me that Paul gave these instructions to Titus. "Older women model exemplary behavior and then teach the younger women what is good. Train them, nurture them, disciple them."
That happens in the context of relationship, one-on-one, small groups together. It's something that happens beyond what happens with the preaching of your pastor from the pulpit. Between Sundays, this is what happens: The older women are training younger women to love their husbands and their children, teaching them not only to do it but how to do it, to be self-controlled, to be pure, to be working at home, to be kind.
Did you know that you can learn to be kind? That's something that older women are supposed to teach younger women, "teaching them to be submissive to their own husbands."
And if we don't do this, then "the Word of God will be reviled." We will give a lousy testimony to the world. We won't show the world what the gospel is like if we don't live it out in the context of these relationships.
Now this matter of nurturing and mentoring and discipling relationships within the Body of Christ between women is not an option. It's not something you can say, “Oh, we have a women's mentoring program in our church, but I haven't joined that." You don't have to join the program, but you do have to be involved in God's program.
It's not something you decide whether or not you want to sign up for it. You're in one of these two categories, perhaps both in some ways. Older women are supposed to be modeling and teaching, and younger women are supposed to be learning and growing and ultimately becoming teachers themselves.
Now some of us are at the season of life where we may consider ourselves both. I like to have in my life, I need to have in my life relationships with older women who are training and mentoring me in the ways of God.
But then I need to be an older woman. I am an older woman to younger women. I need to always be involved in, as an older woman, modeling and teaching. As a younger woman, I need to be involved in learning and growing. If you're not in at least one of those two categories, you're missing out on an incredible privilege and an incredible responsibility.
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