We're going to take a look at what God shows in the Bible about women. What is your contribution in this world and your family, your church, your work, the work of God?
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Well, hello, women of God. And that's what you all are. Thank you so much to all of you ladies for your love for God and these people, for your families, for His church and His work. Thank you for what you do to serve and to help others. Do you know, ladies, how valuable you really are? Do you really grasp what God says about you in His Holy Word? That's what I want to focus on in my message to you today. The purpose of these women seminars is to give -- as the Bible says in Titus 2 -- women an opportunity to teach and mentor each other.
You have a special gift and a special way of communicating and supporting one another. I marvel as a man in that way. I'll come home from work, and LeeAnn will say, "Honey, tell me what happened all day long." And you know what men's reaction is. But God has given you women wonderful, wonderful gifts. LeeAnn gets me to talk and gets me to communicate and starts opening me up and helping me in so many ways. And I'll share some of that today, some of the things that I've learned as a man from women and my wife, how much we need you, how much the church needs you, how much our families need you, how much mankind needs you.
You know, not all women marry. Not all men marry. And I'll certainly show you as well that God has created men and women to need each other. We do. And so this weekend, we pray -- I already heard from LeeAnn and other ladies chatting with just the fervor, the spirit, the attitude, the love that is here, the energy. You women are God's leaders and God's servants and God's church, and God's work needs you desperately.
We're going to take a look at what God shows in the Bible about women. Why did He create you? What did He give you abilities to do? What is your contribution in this world and your family, your church, your work, the work of God? Let's begin in the book of Genesis. And I hope you will be encouraged and maybe learn something a little new, or maybe even a little deeper than you understood before, about your purpose and your value. I think a few men that happen to be blessed to be here -- and this is a lady's affair, but I see a few males sitting in here. So thank you, gentlemen who are here, for helping you serve in the way that you are.
Look at Genesis chapter 1, ladies. Let's begin in verse 26. When I first came into the church, 1959, LeeAnn and I, it's where we were, what, 50 something -- 52, 53-or-something years ago, there was maybe a certain emphasis that was put, that God created the man in His image, and then later He thought about the woman and created her in a different image. But you know what the Bible teaches.
Genesis:1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. - God said, "Let Us make man..."
And you're probably all aware here that the Hebrew word Adam, it can refer to either, in the context, a man, a male, or, depending on the context, it can refer to mankind, men and women, and here it's referring to mankind.
A good scripture to tie in there is Genesis:5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created., because we're going to see what God said He was going to do here. He was going to create a man in His image and a woman in His image, and He was going to give part of Himself to the man and part of Himself to the woman, and that it takes both the male and the female to really become more like God. Genesis:5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. is where it says:
Genesis:5:2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. - He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them mankind.
So this is the way it's being used in Genesis:1:26-27 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. . The Hebrew word here means male and female, mankind. And notice verse 27.
Genesis:1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. - So God created mankind, the male and the female, in the image of God.
It doesn't say in the Bible, He just created the man and that he was in the image of God. What the Bible teaches is God created them, mankind, male and female, in His image. Male and female He created them. And then we know, of course, in verse 31.
Genesis:1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. - God saw everything that He had made, and it was very good.
You know, so when I began as a young man, and then being married to LeeAnn, began to have a better understanding of what God did and this woman that He brought into my life, that I needed to be more like her, and she needed to be more like me. We needed to grow together and help one another to become more like God. It's exciting when you think about it.
Notice chapter 2 in verse 18. Now, we all -- we know, as we go through this story and see how God created the woman, that He gave the man a certain role in this life, and He built the man in a certain way, usually bigger and stronger, to be the protector, the leader, you know, take care of the family. And the man is to be the head of the wife and the family and to be the great servant. We understand those roles in this life. But we're going to see at the end of this story that when we enter the kingdom of God, ladies, as spirit beings, we're all going to be like Jesus Christ. We'll finally come together and be perfect and become like God, male and female. We'll all be like Jesus Christ, like God. Notice then chapter 2 verse 18.
Genesis:2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. - The Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone..."
And that's what it means. Whether it's a man individually, one male, you all know the stories about bachelors who -- yeah. I hear the chuckles. But let's say especially a bachelor who's not good socially and doesn't tend to have many friends among the opposite sex, to kind of help him, you know, to come out and develop and grow and become all that he can be.
I know the way I was. I've told people, and many don't believe it. But when God called me, I was a loner. I grew up in an alcoholic family. My father was great when he was not drinking. He was a good dad. But when he drank, he had a serious problem, and it got worse. He's dead today, and I look forward to the second resurrection to meet my mom and dad and serve them and help them then. But I grew up in a family where there was anger and violence because of the alcoholism.
And what that did to me as a child was it shut me down emotionally. And so my whole life, through high school, I never dated one girl, not once ever. I was a loner. I don't remember any friends, close friends. LeeAnn will ask me, "Honey, what was your closest friends in high school?" I go blank. So God -- I know where I was when God called me. I was in my cave emotionally. I was a loner. I had a lot to learn. God said it is not good that the man should be alone. And even if a man isn't married, he needs female friendships. I think we all know that. The verse goes on.
Genesis:2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. - ...I will make him a helper comparable to him.
Now, early years in the church when I was just coming along it was like, well, you know, God created the woman. She was just there to serve the man. There's nothing wrong with service. We'll talk about that. But she's kind of like a servant. Some men mistreated their wives. You just do the things God wants you to do. You take care of the kids and the house and the washing and the ironing and the dishes and all that. Take care of my needs, and I'll do the rest. This word "helper," God says I will make a helper comparable to him and like him and the same level that he is. The word helper here -- and you may know this -- is the Hebrew word Ezer. Ezra's name in the Bible comes from this Hebrew word, and it means "God is my helper." It's the same word used in the book of Psalms, Ezer, the word helper here, when David says, "God is my helper. Oh, God help me." It's the same word.
And so, ladies, when it says God made man a helper -- I don't have time to just go into a word study on this -- he created woman to be a strong ally for the man, a partner, strong. A woman is to be a strong ally and partner to that man, and the two of them are going to have to stand against Satan the devil and all of his influences. So, you know, when a man understands that his wife can be just as strong as he is in every way -- maybe not physically as strong -- but in every other way, so God made man a helper when he made the woman, a strong person. You know, David says, "God you are my helper," and He made the woman comparable, like the man, just as intelligent. You know, intelligence tests, no differences. I mean, individually, sure there can be. But, you know, women God created just as intelligent with the abilities and gifts and talents equal to the man. And you could do an interesting study in that verse.
He gave them different roles, as we know, in this life, to work together to be a strong team. As I learned that with LeeAnn, as I learned to respect her and honor her and recognize her as a daughter and child of God with unique abilities and skills and talents, what a revolution that was in my thinking and my -- the way I prayed for her and supported her and encouraged her and wanted her to be all that she could be in God's service and in His kingdom.
And it's interesting -- and this is just a thought, you know, when God says he took a rib -- put him to sleep and took one of Adam's ribs and then created the woman, you probably all heard that, that God didn't take a foot bone, you know, to create the woman, not to trample on the woman. God didn't take a head bone to create the woman. She's not to be over the man in that sense. God took a rib bone. And I picture -- I bet it was over here on the left side right beside the heart, because the man may be the head, but the woman is the heart of the family. And we all know that, don't we? The man is the head, but the woman is the heart.
And I think of my mother, for instance. And I have an article that I give on Father's Day and Mother's Day. It's about men in prison and their attitude towards their fathers and their mothers. And a lot of the problem was they didn't have a good relationship with their father, but it was their mother. If they could make a call out from prison on Mother's Day, of course, it was mothers. So we know that God has given mothers these special -- the special love relationship oriented, all those special things.
So, you know, right here in the beginning of the story in the Bible, God did an amazing thing, ladies. He created you in His image. He gave you some of His qualities that He didn't give to the man when He created him. So we need you desperately. The world needs you. We need you in our lives to help us. You know, we need to do our part as men. But I desperately need LeeAnn and my daughter and my granddaughters and relationships with other women to become more like God.
Let's take a look at some of the Old Testament examples, as over the years -- you know, and I realize a woman's role in the church as we all know, ladies, is very controversial. We're not talking here in God's church about women becoming ministers or elders or being ordained, are we? That is not -- although, you know, rumors go around about that, that's not in the Bible. A woman was never a priest of God in the Old Testament. She was never ordained an elder or a pastor in the New Testament. That's not her role. That's not the purpose of the woman's weekends, as we'll see. But we're going to take a look at some of the other roles God put in the Bible. You know, this certainly opened my heart and mind and changed my attitude towards women and towards LeeAnn. I'll save some of it towards the end of the message.
But I've told LeeAnn, honey -- I've known LeeAnn now, since she was 18 years old. We met at Ambassador College in 1960. I was 23, and she was 18. Glad I didn't meet her earlier. She would have been too young. But she was just right then, you know. But I've told her -- and I've watched her grow over all these years as you ladies have, all of you ladies, God's ladies. And I don't happen to be a man who automatically assumes, well, I'm always going to be over you, honey, and don't you forget that, even in the kingdom, because I'm a man, and a male just makes me superior. And when I'm changed to a spirit being, you better get ready; it's going to be the same. I'm not so sure, because I read that God says he's no respecter of persons. We're all going to stand before Christ, give account for our life and receive our reward in His kingdom of service.
So I am sincerely -- and LeeAnn doesn't like me to even talk about this. You know, she's probably -- "Don't bring that up, honey." But I'm an open guy, and I've told her, "Honey, if in the kingdom of God when we're changed Jesus Christ says, 'Denny, you did good Denny, but LeeAnn did better, and she served you faithfully all those years and assisted you and went anywhere in the world you were sent and helped you and did this and that, and I want you to serve and assist her in My kingdom,' what am I going to say? I'm going to say, "Yes, Lord. And, LeeAnn, it will be a pleasure, honey." Of course, we'll be spirit beings. We'll be perfect then. I'll look at her, and the sparks will fly. I'll reach out and touch her, you know, and -- (Laughter)
Well, let's look. You know, God put some of these things in the Bible for a reason. Exodus 15. Let's look at Miriam. You know, what I'm just talking about, here's how God has used women at different times. We'll look at a few in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament, the incredible ways that God has used women. You know, Miriam was human, wasn't she? You know, y'all remember the story. And she and Aaron challenged Moses at one point and made a mistake. So she was a human woman, made her mistakes in life, yet, she was a Godly woman. In Exodus:15:20And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. and 21 it says,
Exodus:15:20And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. - Miriam, the prophetess -- and a prophetess was a woman that God chose to speak through in a special way is what it amounted to. She was the sister of Aaron, and she took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out with her.
She was a leader of the women. It's okay, women, isn't it, for women to be leaders? They should be. God created you to be leaders, and you'll be learning about personalities and temperaments in this seminar. You'll be talking about that.
So Miriam was a leader among the women. And she led them here in song and in music and dancing and in praise and worship of God. And notice -- I can't remember when I first noticed this -- what God said about Miriam in the book of Micah. Chapter 6, Jonah and then Micah, chapter 6 in verse 4. You know, we all know, we all think, well, yeah. God sent Moses to lead the children out of Egypt. God gave him Aaron to be a spokesman. And here in Micah, chapter 6 in verse 4, God speaks in the first person to this prophet. He says,
Micah:6:4For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. - I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
God says, I raised up Miriam and sent her to you, my people, to be a leader among you. So God does that, and God is doing that today, and God has done that down through the ages as we're going to see from His word.
It's just that Satan hates women. Women are beautiful. They're created in God's sight, and they have incredible gifts of discernment and perception in a special way that God has given them to help mankind and to help in God's church and work, and Satan hates women. You can see by the way many nations on earth treat their women, you know, who don't know God and God's purpose for women.
Let's take a look also at Deborah, Judge's chapter 4. These are all women you're familiar with. This is a seminar for you, ladies, and it's important for you to know what God says about you and women in the Bible. Judges:4:4-9 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.  And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.  And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?  And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.  And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.  And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. . It says,
Judges:4:4And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. - Deborah was a prophetess.
And we'll look at that in the New Testament a little bit later, but God can use women and give them special gifts and knowledge. Women know the Bible too. You know, there was a time again in the church, I remember, many years ago, "Well, women, if you have any questions about the Bible, you go ask your husband. You know, he's the one that's to teach you and explain it to you." It's almost like a woman doesn't have her own personal private spiritual life with God where she studies and she prays and she digs into the Word of God, and she can come -- not that she's a preacher or teacher, pastor. We know that. But you women know the Word of God. If you take the time to study it and pray, God is with you.
And so there were women who were very close to God in the Bible. God was with them and they prayed. And we heard the beautiful music that we heard, that was so moving. Each piece was inspiring of that special music. So Deborah was a woman who was very close to God, and God used her in a special way. She was a prophetess, and she was judging Israel at that time. She was head of the nation.
Judges:4:5And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. - And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
Imagine that. They would come up to her. let's go to Deborah. She's a woman of God. She has wisdom, and God is with her.
V.6 - And she sent and called for Barak, and said to him, "Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, 'Go and deplore troops at Mount Tabor; and take with you ten thousand men;
V.7 - against you I will deplore Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots.'
So they were going to go to battle. And notice in verse 8 what Barak said to her.
V.8 - "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!"
And so she was a woman of tremendous courage and faith in God. So God chose, because of this woman's relationship with Him and her walk with Him, apparently there was not a man like her or like that at the time, and so God used her to judge Israel and to be the leader of that nation at that time.
Whenever I read this -- in my lifetime, there was a prime minister of Israel -- some you might remember. How many of you might remember Golda Meir? Some of you might be around long now to remember Golda Meir. Yeah. Some you have. Yeah. Hasn't been that long, has it? Every time I hear of Golda Meir, I think of Deborah in the Bible judging her people. She was just a plain normal woman and, yet, a strong woman. A strong lady, like Margaret Thatcher of England as well. And Deborah was called a mother in Israel. So it's good to remember that these things are in the Bible.
Let's look at 2 Kings 22 to be reminded here. This lady is not as well known. 2 Kings:22:11-16 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.  And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king's, saying,  Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.  So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.  And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,  Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: . This is about a lady called Huldah, a prophetess. To save a little time I might go down to verse 14; the other leads up to.
2 Kings:22:14So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. - So Hilkiah the priest and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess. And they spoke with her.
In verse 14 they went to seek her guidance, her wisdom, her knowledge from God.
V.15 - And she said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Tell the man who sent you to me this...'
And so here was a woman, Huldah, prophetess, that God used in a special way, that even the priests would go to her for counsel and advice from God, and Huldah lived in the time of Jeremiah and other prophets. So God, at times, ladies, it's good to remember, has chosen women to use in a special way, and will again, as we'll see in the book of Acts chapter 2 a little later on.
I won't go to Esther. We know that we know Esther and how God used her so well. I'd like to go to the New Testament now. Luke chapter 2. And I'm not going through this because all of the ladies here desire to be prophetesses or whatever. But the point is, ladies, you never know, if you are walking with God and developing a wonderful relationship with Him, how He may want to use you in His service and His church and His work and your family and your -- and you just don't know, if you will draw close to God and just give Him your life. Let's go to Luke:2:36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;.
Luke:2:36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; - And there was one, Anna -- so we all pretty much know this one. I think she's pretty well known -- Anna, a prophetess.
So here we come even to the New Testament, and we still find women that God is using in a special way to speak His word, to inspire His people, because of their relationship with Him. They were very close to Him.
It says that she was of great age, in verse 36 and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity. I read that to mean that she had been married for seven years and then became a widow.
In verse 37 it says this woman was a widow and about 84 years old. So she was an old woman. So here's this woman that had devoted her life to serving others, the church, the work, God's people, anyone she could. And it says she did not depart from the temple, that she spent a lot of her time there, but served God with fastings. She understood how to use fasting to draw close to God and to seek Him and to have a specially close relationship with Him through humbling herself and also through prayers day and night. So she was a woman of prayer. She believed in prayer and drawing close to God. And then, in verse 38,
Luke:2:38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. - Coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
So God put this in the Bible. Why, ladies? Because you should want to become a prophetess? No. That's not what I'm saying. But some of you, you just never know how God has already used you because of your relationship with Him. Your relationship with God is very personal. It's very direct. You go directly to God the Father through Jesus Christ. You don't have to go through your husband. You go directly to God. You have a personal relationship with Him, and He uses you in many, many different ways. It's an inspiring example.
Let's look at Luke:8:1-3 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,  And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,  And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. . We tend to think when Jesus traveled, most think, well, he had His male disciples with Him, and they -- that's where the focus is, on the men. And, yet, the Bible brings out that many women traveled with Jesus and served Him and were His disciples.
Luke:8:1And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, - It came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him.
And we can stop there. But read verse 2.
V.2 - The twelve, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
V.3 - And also with Him, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, many other women who provided for Him from their substance.
So many women were involved in the ministry of Jesus Christ and the Word of God, just as a lot of you are today in service and a part of God's work and God's church and in your own ministry of service, however God is able to use you.
One that to me is very emotional is John:19:25-27 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. . I get kind of choked up thinking about this. This here, ladies, if you have a son -- or if you don't you probably still can relate to having a son. But can you image the women here at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Can you image Mary, the mother of Jesus, being there, seeing the suffering of her son, seeing his gradual death over six hours hanging on that stake? The emotion? I'm not a woman. I'm not a mother. I can only, you know -- she gave birth to him. She reared him. She knew who he was. But let's read it here in John 19. Women are amazing.
John:19:25Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. - And there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
V.26 - And when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved, referring to John, standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman behold, your son!"
And so we know that story. But Mary, again, was an amazing woman, wasn't she, ladies? How did she endure that? How did she endure being there with Jesus Christ, her son, while he suffered and while he died. She was an amazing woman in her relationship with God all of her life. It's hard to grasp how she did it. But I suppose they were there holding hands, arms round one another, maybe on their knees, hugging, crying, praying for sure that God would strengthen Jesus Christ, and tears rolling down their eyes. But I see here again the strengths of women and their deep love. And that many women have said, "I can't be there. I cannot go there and see my son or cousin, or brother, or whatever, dying on the cross." And, yet, these were unusual women who were there with Him the whole time. Jesus loved women greatly, didn't He?
Let's go to Matthew 28. I've always marveled at this one in the scriptures. Matthew 28, at the resurrection. This is Matthew:28:1-10 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.  And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.  And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.  Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. . You would have thought that Jesus Christ, certainly, when He was resurrected from the dead, would have first wanted to appear to the men that He had trained, that He had worked with His whole ministry, after He called them. But what did He do? What did He choose to do? What did God work out? Let's read it.
Matthew:28:1In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. - After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
V.2 - And there was a great earthquake; the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it.
V.3 - His countenance was like lightning, clothing as white as snow.
V.4 - The guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men, in a trance.
V.5 - The angel answered and said to the women, "Don't be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
V.6 - He is here; He is risen, as He said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
V.7 - And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee, and there you will see Him. Behold, I have told You."
V.8 - And so they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
V.9 - And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" And they came and held him by the feet and worshiped Him.
V.10 - And Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."
So I've always -- it's always amazed me that Jesus chose to honor these women that He loved so dearly and to appear to them first and tell them to go tell the men, "He's alive! He's alive!" And most of them were very skeptical. Well, you're just women. I'm not going to believe you, because women were not even allowed to even testify at that time, you know, in a court of law. And so God chose women to be the witnesses to His resurrection. He honored them. He loved them dearly. They were special to Him. They had been part of His ministry and helping take care of Him and serve Him in so many, many ways. Jesus Christ broke the mold on the way women were treated, didn't He, in the New Testament?
Let's go to the book of Acts, chapter 1. As the New Testament church developed, ladies, you know, sometimes it's not read carefully and sometimes it's not emphasized enough, but women were a very dynamic, active part of the development of the New Testament church; not just men. Of course, God chose the men to be the ministers and the leaders of the families and the church and all of that. That's a given. We know that. But sometimes we don't grasp the dynamic part and the influence of the women and the ladies.
Acts:1:12Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. - And they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.
V.13 - And when they had entered -- you know, this is after Christ's resurrection now, and they're going back to Jerusalem, as He said they should do -- when they entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying...
And then it mentioned Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. And these all continued, notice, ladies, verse 14. You know, I've got it marked and underlined.
V.14 - These all continued with one accord in prayer -- was it just the men? -- and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
The women were a part of those original 120 disciples. They were with the men. They were in this room. And they were with one accord together, in prayer together. So the women were a part of it, and they were brought into the church. Very, very important part of the church.
Notice Acts:2:17-18 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: . These verses we've not seen fulfilled yet in their fullness, and, yet, this was part of that message on the day of Pentecost.
Acts:2:17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: - And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God -- so here is quoting from the book of Joel, what Luke, the author of Acts, is recording, Peter standing up and speaking and saying -- and this is for us today, It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophecy.
So God is going to use young people. And I am impressed, let me just say, I'm so grateful that we have ABC and that we have so many young people in God's church. And we go to camps. LeeAnn and I have been involved in our camp program. LeeAnn and I are very encouraged as we get older to see these incredible young people in God's church who love God, are dedicated to God, committed to God, and want to serve and help in His church and in His work. It is so encouraging. These are young men and women that are yielding their lives to God, and God sees that and knows that.
Acts:2:17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: - Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.
V.18 - And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
You ladies are God's maidservants. How will God use some of you in the future? Only He knows. It will be His choice. I certainly don't see God using men or women who have such big egos that this is what -- well, I know eventually God's going to recognize me. I'm going to be one of these profits or prophetesses. But there are people like that. You know that there are some like that.
I think the ones God will choose to use will be those who don't expect it, who are truly humbled, yielded, have a relationship with Him, very close with Him, have a prayer life, a Bible study life, seek Him, serve humbly in the church now. Not too many people may know about them that well. That God is going to choose those that if He decides to speak through them and use them in a special way, when that need and that time is here, it won't go to their heads. They will be humble. They'll be like Anna the prophetess. They'll be mature. God is preparing them now. God is preparing young men and women now, and He's preparing some of you ladies and women now for future needs in His church and His work and your families, wherever the needs may be.
I see -- that's how I read this scripture, that this is yet to come to complete fulfillment of the future. There are miracles to happen. There's much more power to be poured out by God in the future. We're going to need it, as we see things deteriorating in the world around us. We're going to need men and women of faith and courage, filled with God's Holy Spirit, who know the Word of God and can encourage people. You know, when frightening things happen they can say, "We knew this was coming. It is now here. Don't be afraid," and speak the words of God. And I think that's what this is talking about, and it applies to you, ladies, as God's people, God's servants.
Let's go to Acts 16, Lydia in the Bible. Here was the first lady in Europe that we can see that was called by God, who became a leader of one of the -- among the people of God. And the local congregation, it seems, met in her home. But look in Acts 16.
Acts:16:13And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. - And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.
So, again, here are a group of women who are meeting down at the river to pray, probably study the Bible together, to help encourage, support one another. And verse 14 says,
V.14 - Now, a certain woman named Lydia heard us. And she was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
And that's where she and her household were baptized, it says, in verse 15, and then she begged us, come and stay at my house, you know, come and stay with us. So Paul did and, you know, he really got to know Lydia. And notice verse 40 of chapter 16. Paul had been put in prison and beaten, and then he was released. And then verse 40:
V.40 - They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, who were there at their house, they encouraged them and departed.
So Lydia, you're all, I think, ladies, familiar with her, as Lydia was a leading lady, wasn't she? She was a servant of God. A strong woman of faith, who served God and helped Paul and his ministry.
Another one, here in Acts 18, Acts chapter 18, notice verses 1-3.
Acts:18:1After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; - Paul departed from Athens, went to Corinth.
V.2 - Found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla.
So this is where we read about Aquila and Priscilla. And notice verse 18 of Acts 18.
V.18 - And so Paul still remained a good while with them. And he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him.
They began to travel with Paul and to serve and assist him and help him. And, you know, I share that, ladies, that, you know, you women -- you can grow as much as your husband, or if you're not married, as much as any man. You can grow as much as any man in the church spiritually. Your husband isn't going to be closer to God just because he's a man. Your husband isn't better than you just because he's a man. It all depends on our personal individual walk with God in our heart and our attitude and our relationship with God.
And so here is a man. Here was a strong husband/wife team, Priscilla and Aquila. And I admire this man Aquila, because, apparently, from what I read -- and we'll go to Romans 16 in a moment -- that even in the scriptures it begins to mention Priscilla before Aquila. It starts off Aquila and Priscilla. And so here was a woman who grew mightily spiritually, and the scriptures then begin to speak of Priscilla and Aquila.
And sometimes there are men who have that humility and recognize how God works through their wives, and it doesn't intimidate them. They just say, "Thank you God for giving me such a woman who has that kind of a relationship with you. Help me to learn from her. Help me to learn to pray as she does and study the way she does and serve and work and do as much as she does." And, you know, that got me thinking over the years, you know, as a man, I better make sure I have the right respect and love and honor to women and to God's women and to my wife and to others.
Romans:12:3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. - But to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
V.4 - We have many members in the one body, but all members do not have the same function.
V.5 - And so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
And in verse 6, ladies, and it refers to you as well as men.
V.6 - Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.
So, ladies, as you already know, many of you have studied this subject of temperaments and personalities and abilities, but you'll be going through that some more. Everyone is unique. Everyone is special. And God is more than willing to give you spiritual gifts of service in His church. He says,
V.6 - Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.
Let us use our gifts. So what we want to do -- and many of you have been doing this a long time, ladies. I know you have. But maybe it's not been encouraged enough and recognized enough. If we want to set the church on fire and the work of God on fire, isn't the key that God, through the power of His Spirit, works in every single individual in the church of God? It isn't just about the ministry. It's not just about us. I would think now, through the trials we've been through in the church and the many splits, we would see that and understand that. It's about God's Holy Spirit and His power working in His people and using each one.
You know when United started -- and I hope we have a chance to get there -- when United started, 1995, LeeAnn and I were in Southern California when the split with Worldwide took place over doctrine. I happened to be the pastor in Southern California and the regional pastor in the Southwest area. I was the point man. I was the minister that others in the United States would say, "Denny, you're right there. Go up to Pasadena and meet with them and see if we can solve these doctrinal problems, or see if we can meet with them."
So I was the pointman leading up to '95 before the split with them, because I was there serving as the regional pastor in the Southwest. So I'd been a part of United from the get-go, before it ever started, before the split ever happened with the Worldwide Church of God. I was a part of United's forming from the get-go, from the very beginning of it. LeeAnn as well. And we were a part of the development of our governing documents of the United Church of God, our constitution, which it lists our fundamental beliefs and how we hope to work together and reorganize. We didn't know what was going to happen, but it came together.
I just wanted to read to you -- it's a part of our -- you can look it up. It's called "Article 3 - The Church." The original part of the document of what we wanted in the church. "Functions within the Church: The Church has many members, to each of whom God has bestowed a measure of faith through the Holy Spirit. He has given us gifts that differ according to His will and has entrusted His spirit to each of us so that we might exercise those gifts. And by the establishment of this Constitution in the United Church of God, we acknowledge the truth of scripture that all members have a different function within the Church, and that it is our Father who determines each member's function within the Church."
And so by the giving of gifts -- everybody has talents and abilities, and by the giving of these spiritual gifts of love and wisdom and generosity -- it mentions many of them here -- teaching, many different ways. Some are gifted in music, as we heard today. And don't they inspire us? You know, I admire those who are gifted in the way that we heard today. You ladies, you inspired us. You moved some of us to tears, didn't they? I saw a few tears in some of those songs as we were looking around. Many different gifts, talents and abilities.
You know, if we can all -- and, you know, with all that we've gone through in the church and the more recent split a little over a year ago, you know, I had become president. I was president here in Cincinnati for six months just prior to the split taking place that we went through a little over a year ago. Did my best to try to help prevent that and learn -- you learn many lessons over the years. We all have a lot to learn. So, you know, I'm not going to get into that. I just tell people I -- I just know, because God is alive and Christ is the head of the church, that He loves us. He loves them. They're on their journey into the kingdom of God. We're on our journey. But anyone who is converted and has God's Holy Spirit, we're going to all end up together in the kingdom of God. We'll all end up back together eventually.
And my heart is open towards reconciliation at any time with anyone. I think yours are too. So don't want to get sidetracked on that. But I'm just sharing here, ladies, that the potential that we have in United, in releasing, if we -- if it's the will of Christ -- and I think it is -- just as I want LeeAnn -- and she's taken flak a bit over the years. You know, any of you women who will step out of maybe the mold or wherever you've been put over here and step out of the mold in a right way, a Godly way, just using your talents, your gifts, your abilities, your personality, all those things, and you want to use that to serve God and glorify Him and help other brethren and help other people and serve in His work, in His church, anytime you're a leader, you're going to take some flak. That's just part of leadership. You know what? Do it anyway. Serve anyway. Grow anyway. It's needed, and God wants it, and He'll bless it and use it.
Let's close my message by seeing, ladies, the ultimate. You know, we heard this wonderful song about seeking God first and putting God first. And some day we're all going to end up in God's kingdom together, and let's see that we're going to be equal heirs, that though your role now as a woman in this life is different than the man's, your ultimate destiny, as you know, is the same, exactly the same potential as a child of God in the kingdom of God.
Let's go look at a few scriptures. 1 Peter:3:7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered., as we wrap this message up.
1 Peter:3:7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. - Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them with understanding -- you know, Peter encourages husbands, look, live with your wives with the -- the old King James says knowledge. The New King James here says with understanding. That men are to dwell with women with understanding, and how God made them and created them and how He uses them and their potential and their incredible value. And it says, and giving honor to the wife, or to the woman. And the Greek word here for honor, if you look it up, it means to value women, to respect them and to esteem them, to recognize them as to the weaker vessel.
And the only way a woman is weaker is physically, and not in all cases. Sometimes a woman can outwrestle a man, you know. But, you know, generally speaking, God created the man to be a little bigger, little stronger and muscular and all. But that's the only way I have found that LeeAnn is in any way weaker than me. I can still outwrestle her. (Laughter) But in every other way, she is my equal. In every other way, my wife is my equal, and probably better in many ways. And that's why she knows that, and that it is from my heart, if God gives me an opportunity, honey, to serve you the way you have served me, I'll be happy. And she says, "No. No. We're just going to be side by side and work together and be in God's kingdom together. That's the way we want it. We're heirs together, it says, of the grace of life."
Notice Romans chapter 8, ladies, just so you know when we're changed, when we finally enter the family of God and become like God -- you know, I don't -- you know, I don't know exactly what it's going to be like. I've never been there. And, you know, we all speculate about it. But I'll tell you, if it can be this good in this life, if there can be the kind of love and joy and happiness that you can have in this life, in the male/female relationships and in marriage and just friendships, you know it's going to be much better once we're there, when we're perfect like God, when we're changed.
You know, I expect to be looking into LeeAnn's eyes when she's glorified and beautiful, looking at her and still in love with her. And I'm still in love with her. But it's going to be different. You know, notice Romans 8, verses 16 and 17.
Romans:8:16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: - The Spirit Himself -- and more accurate translation would be itself, as we know -- bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
V.17 - and if children -- and this is addressed to men and women -- if children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
So, ladies, you are joint heirs with Jesus Christ to be a child of God in His family and His kingdom. And when Christ returns and you are changed, what are you going to do?
Let's go to Revelation:20:6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.. Final scripture I've got. Revelation:20:6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years., scripture we all know quite well; we hear especially at the Feast of Tabernacles time. But, ladies, this applies to you as women. You're going to be in the first resurrection if you're converted, if you have God's Holy Spirit.
Revelation:20:6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection, men and women.
V.7 - Over such the second death has no power -- you will never die again. Eternal life, that means -- but they shall be priests of God.
Ladies, this means you. You are destined in the family, in the kingdom of God to be a priest of God. You've heard this before. But it's going to happen. When you're changed, you're not going to be a woman fulfilling the role of a woman as you have in this life. You're going to be a spirit being, a child of God, a priest of God and of Christ, one of His teachers of the law. You're going to be teaching others His way and showing them His way of life, and you'll rule with Christ a thousand years.
So, you know, ladies, you belong to God. And one of these ladies here is my wife, LeeAnn. I thank God for all that He's helped me to come to see and understand about how valuable women are, and I thank God for all the things that He's taught me in this life through LeeAnn. You know, we had our marriage challenges like every married couple does. I didn't understand how women think and how women feel. Even though I grew up in a family with a mother and all, I just never got into emotions and feelings. And then I get married to LeeAnn, and she would look at me and say, "Honey, how do you -- how do you feel about this?" And then I would start rattling off what I think. And she said, "I didn't ask you what you think about this. I asked you how you feel about this." And I'd look at her, and, "I don't know how I feel about that." (Laughter)
So, ladies, thank you so much. I just want to thank you for being here. I hope and pray that this weekend will bear wonderful spiritual benefits and blessings in your life. I know it will. I know you've all prayed about it, and you're here, just to ask God almighty to bless you and use you and to help. I just see the church, the United Church of God, we're on fire. We want to move forward with humility and with love. We want to learn from our mistakes. We want to be a part of God's church and a part of God's work on earth. And the best way we can do it, ladies, is by turning you loose. Thank you all very much for being here.
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