Sunday, February 28, 2016

Becoming a Positive Influence in a Dark World

What kind of influence do you think that you are projecting in your life? Is your influence positive or negative upon those around you? Certainly, there are daily and moment by moment opportunities for us to be a positive influence upon others. However, we sometimes allow our life problems or situations to affect our words, behaviors, and attitude toward those around us, thus projecting a negative influence instead. For, when we have a negative attitude, speak negative words, or behave in an un-Christian way, we will certainly have a negative influence upon those around us. Obviously, that saddens Christ, because we are supposed to represent Christ by shining our Christ-light out into the world. Therefore, our Christian influence should be a positive influence projecting truth, honesty, love, kindness, caring, etc.

We each have the opportunity to be a positive influence on another person. In fact, in the last few blogs I have talked about the influence that just one woman can have on many different people from her friends, family, and extended family to her associates on the job and people within her church as well as on complete strangers. During this time, we have discovered that we can also have a passive influence on others with just our overall attitude, behaviors or words that people over hear and see. Or we can have an active influence, whereby we actively engage in our relationships with others including the relationship of active mentoring. In fact, it is during our active mentoring, family interactions, work-related interactions, and church-related interactions as well as within many other interactive relationships that we have a great opportunity to be a positive influence on those around us. But, whether it is a passive or active influence that we are projecting, it should always be the kind of influence of which Christ would approve. Certainly all Christians should hope that they are providing positive and not negative influence.

Our positive Christian influence, can illuminate Christianity and its Truth for those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior. But if we are creating a negative Christian influence, we are dimming our Christian light and undermining the Truth of the Gospel message. This means that those who have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior, may hesitate, because our example of living for Christ provides a negative influence whether done passively or actively. This is why Christians should stop every once in a while and take a look at their life through God’s eyes to determine if we are truly shining our godly Christian influence on those around us. For, sometimes if Christians do not stay in the Word, do not fail to stay in close fellowship with the Lord, and do not disassociate themselves from the temptations of the world, then they can gradually slip back into the ways of the world, as they accept the influence of the world around them. At that point, the Christian is no longer having a positive influence upon others.

It is so easy to succumb to the world around us by allowing greed, jealousy, personal problems, etc. to color our attitudes, behaviors, and emotional responses, which can then lead to a negative influence on others. Therefore, it is especially important to not allow our negative or ungodly attitudes to produce a negative image of what Christianity in the eyes of unbelievers. For, if unbelievers see that a particular Christian is acting just like the rest of the world, or that this “so-called Christian” is acting worse than the secular world, there is little positive influence that this Christian can have upon them. Furthermore, through secular eyes, this particular Christian’s attitude, behavior, etc. is no different from those who do not have Christ as their Savior, and in the unbeliever’s eyes it may seem to be even worse, which actually leads to a negative influence on the unbeliever.

Becoming a Positive Influence

What then creates a positive Christian influence on our mentees and those around us? Well first of all, the word “Christian” implies that one is actually “Saved”.  But that isn’t always the case. Anyone can claim to be a Christian. But to be a true “born-again” Christian a person must ask Christ into her heart after truly repenting of her sins and asking for God’s forgiveness. Then many things will begin to occur to assure the individual that she is indeed “Saved”. First, the Holy Spirit indwells the individual. There is then the immediate soul, mind and heart knowledge that Christ has indeed forgiven her of her sins, along with the assurance that she will spend Eternity in Heaven with God and His Son. Secondly and just as important, is her immediate desire to do the will of God and grow closer to Him. From where does this desire emanate? Well, it comes from the Holy Spirit, Who is now indwelling her heart and soul. Through the Holy Spirit’s direction and guidance, the “Saved” person comes to desire to know as much as she can about God and His Truth, His Commandments, and His Promises. But in order to do that, she has to study the Word of God and fellowship with other Christians to gain godly knowledge, to stay accountable to God and to be obedient to His Word. Just as importantly, this newly “Saved” person should want to obtain the Fruit that the Holy Spirit, by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in her life.

The Apostle Paul in speaking to the Galatians said that if a “born-again” Christian will allow the Holy Spirit to direct her life, “…He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. … Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.” – (Galatians 5: 22-26. NLT). But, in order to acquire this kind of fruit, we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and follow His guidance. In other words, we should want to develop those nine fruit attributes in our lives so that we are more like Christ. For these nine fruit attributes are actually the characteristics of Christ. By allowing the Holy Spirit to help us develop these attributes, we are able to not only come closer to God, but we can have a positive influence on our mentees and others around us as our lives become a reflection of Christ’s light.

Most people think that once they are truly “Saved” they don’t need to do anything else. But, as followers of Christ we are to emulate His characteristics and shine Christ’s light on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, we all have to contend with our own personalities, our specific characteristics, our personal desires, and even contend with the strongholds that hold our hearts and minds hostage with fear or hurt. In fact, no matter how long we have lived, we will each have to contend with the hurts, trials, and obstacles that we have faced. Yet, all these things help to develop our character and form our attitude toward today and tomorrow. However, once we ask Christ to come in to our lives, we no longer have to be held hostage by our personal desires, strongholds, and past negative experiences.

We can actually overcome the negatives in our life by focusing on truly living for Christ and developing the characteristics of Christ in our own life. But, to do that, we need to work on our own character and try to shape it into a closer picture of Christ’s character as seen within the Fruit of the Spirit. Truth be known, we are all a work in progress, which means that we are to constantly try to be the best that we can be for God, for ourselves, for our family, and “yes” for those that we encounter.
This brings me back to the positive influence that a Christian woman can have or not have on those she encounters. Every day of our lives God gives true “born-again” Christians the ability to have a positive influence on those around us. Our positive influence, however, has at its foundation living for God, knowing what God’s commands and laws are, and then living by them, as we develop the ability to stand for Truth, honesty, and integrity, while living with love in our hearts. To do this, we may need to change our attitude, use better and kinder words, and behave in a way that creates in others a feeling of security and love as we project a positive influence on those we encounter.

In order to be a positive influence Christians cannot lie, be dishonest, or prideful. Rather, we need to have integrity, and base everything in our lives on God’s truth and love. Moreover, self-promotion, pridefulness, and the desire to be better than other people or to think that you are, is a surefire way to not only make enemies, but disrespect the Words of Christ. For, unless we become humble and aware of our personal actions, words, and attitudes, we can actually become a negative influence on another and present a negative perception of what a Christian is. That is why we must be aware of our influence on those around us and be mindful to always try to be a positive influence.

The Bible gives us God’s Story, which is the story of His love, interaction, and fellowship with His creation. Indeed, God always has our best interest in His heart, but He also knows that we are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. Additionally, God gave us a “free will”, but in using our “free will” we sometimes allow the fallen world and the negatives in our lives to dictate to us how we act. Ultimately, we have control over all our actions, however, we often choose to allow the negative aspects of our personality and character to control our lives rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into better actions, words, and behaviors that are based upon God’s love and His sacrifice of Christ to “Save” us.

There is a story from God’s Word that demonstrates not only the influence that one woman can have on the life of another person, but it also demonstrates how we can allow our personal jealousies, greed, and desire for self-promotion to have a negative influence on the lives of others. This story is about Miriam. In the case of Miriam, she even succumbed to the devil’s temptation of self-promotion instead of godly mentoring at a time when godly mentoring was desperately needed.


Miriam was the older sister of Moses, who delivered the Israelite people from their oppression in Egypt. Miriam and Moses’ story is in many ways intertwined, and their story together starts in Egypt in 1526 B.C. At that time, the Israelites or Hebrew people had been living in Egypt about 350 years. The first 300 years the Hebrew people prospered and their numbers grew as they farmed the land. But then a new Pharaoh came into power who was afraid of the large number of Hebrews living in His Land, even though they were not actually living among the Egyptians. They were living on an area of land called Goshen within Egypt that provided the water and grass for their herds of sheep and cattle. But, this new Pharaoh did not care that they had never demanded anything from the previous Pharaohs, He was only concerned with the large number of foreign people living in His land; afraid that the Hebrew/ Israelite people could rise up and overthrow the Egyptians, because there were so many of them. So, Pharaoh decided to make the Israelite people slaves and to oppress them. But as the numbers of Israelite people continued to grow, slavery and oppression was not enough. So to stop the Hebrews from multiplying, Pharaoh decided to kill all newborn baby boys by having them thrown into the Nile River. Enter Miriam and Moses.

We don’t know how old Miriam was when her brother, Moses, was born, but she was probably at least nine years old or older. We do know, though, that Miriam, even at her early age, would not only become a major influence on one Egyptian woman, but Miriam would also literally “stand in the gap” against any evil that might befall her brother. For, Moses and his family were now affected by the official order from Pharaoh to kill all Hebrew newborn babies by throwing them into the Nile River. Little did she know, but Miriam was chosen by God to protect her new brother, Moses, and chosen to influence the outcome of the Moses’ dire situation by influencing just one Egyptian woman, even though Miriam was not yet an adult.

This story starts when Moses’ mother, Jochebed, decided she could not allow her baby to be killed. She had to do something. Perhaps Jochebed thought that another Egyptian woman might be willing to take her son and raise him as her own. But if so, Jochebed had to quickly realize that no Egyptian woman would disregard Pharaoh’s orders to protect a Hebrew baby. It must have been then that Jochebed remembered that there was a place along the Nile River where the more prestigious or royal Egyptian women came to bathe. What if she made or got a basket of papyrus reeds and put the baby in the basket near where the women bathed? Would one of the women of royalty find the basket and take her son to raise? It was her only chance to save her baby. So, Jochebed and her daughter, Miriam, got the basket and she waterproofed it with tar and pitch.

Jochebed placed Moses in the basket and with tears in her eyes she then placed the basket in the Nile River among the reeds at the bank of the river near the bathing area for the royal Egyptian women. Then, Miriam stood at a distance out of sight to watch over her baby brother and to see what would happen to him. Soon Pharaoh’s daughters and their attendants came to bathe. One of the Pharaoh’s grown daughters saw the basket in the reeds and asked one of her attendant women to go and get the basket and bring it to her. When the princess opened the basket she saw a beautiful baby boy, and his helpless cries touched her heart. Although, she immediately knew that this baby had to belong to one of the Hebrew women, she did not want him to come to harm. The princess wanted to keep him, but how would she care for him? For, he needed a mother’s milk.

At about that same moment in the princess’s thinking, Miriam approached the princess and asked, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you? Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go ahead.’ So, the girl (Miriam) went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take the child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.’ So, the woman (Jochebed, i.e. Moses’ mother) took the child and nursed him.”. – (Exodus 2: 7-9. NASB). How amazing! God helped Jochebed come up with a plan to save her child and save the one whom God would use as a deliverer for the Israelite people. The irony in this plan is that Jochebed ended up getting paid for nursing her own child. But, none of this would have happened had Miriam not approached the princess.

Can you see the influence that Miriam had on Pharaoh’s daughter’s life and on the life of her brother? Miriam was able through her kind words, to suggest that Pharaoh’s daughter might need a wet-nurse for this baby. Obviously, too, Miriam arrived at just the right moment to ask the needed question as well, and she obviously wasn’t afraid to step forward to do so. I hope that you can see, too, the providence of God’s hand in getting Miriam to help in the saving of her brother.

But, that wasn’t all that Miriam did at that time. For, Miriam, had literally “stood in the gap” or in this case stood as a watcher to protect the safety of her baby brother, so something bad did not happen to him. Sometimes, “standing in the gap” for another person means more than just praying for them. For, sometimes it also means taking action to prevent something negative from happening or to prevent the emotional turmoil and frustration that can occur in having to deal with a situation by yourself.

One example of that type of “standing in the gap” for today comes from a friend of mine who, while we were team mentoring another woman, found out that our mentee had to be in court for a hearing to try to get back her children or at least try to be able to see them part time. Although I couldn’t go, my friend, offered to go to court with our mentee to give her moral support and to pray while she was actually in the proceedings. This type of literal “standing in the gap” is extremely important to those who are fighting spiritual battles. Certainly, it was very important that Miriam had been able to watch out for or “stand in the gap” for her brother that day, or she wouldn’t have been able to suggest a wet-nurse and influence Pharaoh's daughter in actually choosing Moses’ mother as the wet-nurse.

The Scriptures do not tell us how long Jochebed, Moses’ mother, was able to keep Moses at home with her and their family after she started again nursing Moses. But, we do know that during that time period, babies were often nursed from birth and up to ages 2 through 4. So, Moses could have been nursed until he was 4 years old. (Babies and toddlers got most of their nourishment from their mother’s milk, which we also now know today gave them immunity from many sicknesses.). During this time period, Moses mother was able to influence his life. She would have been able to teach him the Hebrew language, the feasts the Hebrews celebrated, and the general life-style of living in an ordinary slave family that believed in God. That positive influence from his family would last through his growing up years and into adulthood. Do you have a positive influence on your family as Jochebed did?

When Moses was finally weened, Jochebed turned Moses over to the Pharaoh’s daughter to raise. For, the Scriptures tell us that “Later, when he was older, the child’s mother brought him back to the princess (Pharaoh’s daughter), who adopted him as her son. The princess named him Moses, for she said, ‘I drew him out of the water’.– (Exodus 2:10. NLT). Now, it would be the daughter of Pharaoh who would influence Moses regarding royalty, wealth, prestige, self-importance, etc. Indeed, Moses had everything he could have ever wanted including great opportunities to do things that others could not do. In fact, Moses had everything a human at that time period could want or need including the best education. This great education would greatly contribute to Moses becoming Israel’s perfect deliverer from slavery and oppression. For, the mathematical and leadership skills as well as his previous knowledge of some of the territory that they would go through to get to The Promised Land, would unquestionably be of great value to Moses. So, Pharaoh’s daughter not only raised Moses, but gave him the knowledge and skills that Moses would need to fulfill God’s command. She, too, had great influence on the man that Moses grew up to be.

God used Moses and His Influence to Deliver the Israelites from Egypt

Many people as well as many situational things in life contribute to our actions, to our beliefs, and to the development of our character. Moses’ life was no exception. Although he had seen both worlds, the world of royalty and the one of a close bound Hebrew family, it would be many years later before Moses saw with his own eyes how oppressed the Israelites truly were. When he saw the oppression and then saw the particular beating of one man, Moses allowed his anger to get the better of him. He killed an Egyptian overseer and buried him in the sand. But someone saw him. Once Moses knew that he had been discovered as a killer, Moses had to flee the palace and all of Egypt to save his life. So, he fled to Midian where he was influenced by the priest of Midian as well as by the people that he lived around. For, they taught Moses how to live off the land. He even married a Midianite woman. But, since this story is about Miriam, I will let you read on your own about those forty years of Moses’ life out in the land of Midian (see Exodus 2: 15 thru chapter 4).

During the time period of those forty years, we do not know what Miriam was doing or how she was fairing, because the Scriptures do not tell us. Actually, the next time we meet Miriam is at the Red Sea. So, let’s take up this story again at the end of Moses’ forty years in Midian and after God spoke to Moses in a burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from their oppression and to take them to The Promised Land. For, after Moses left Midian he and his brother Aaron obeyed God’s command and went to Pharaoh. They told Pharaoh that God said, “Let my people go!” However, Pharaoh did not want the Israelite people to leave his country, because he would lose many slaves. But finally, after receiving ten plagues from God’s hand, and after losing his son in the last plague, Pharaoh said the Hebrew people could leave.

Quickly and faithfully following God’s instructions, the Israelite people grabbed their belongings as well as many precious gold items that the Egyptians gave them to get them leave, and then they, along with some of the other Egyptians as well, followed Moses to the Red Sea. But, Pharaoh had again lied about letting them go, and now he and all his army and chariots were barreling down upon the people with nothing but the Red Sea in front of them. The Israelites were trapped! Why would God give Moses instructions that placed them in such danger?

 Nevertheless, God had a plan. So, God told Moses to take his staff – “… hold it out over the water, and a path will open up before you through the sea. Then all the people of Israel will walk through on dry ground. Yet, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will follow the Israelites into the sea. Then I will receive great glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies, chariots, and charioteers. When I am finished with Pharaoh and his army, all Egypt will know that I am the LORD!” – (Exodus 14: 16-18. NLT).  Remarkably, when Moses did as he was told, the sea opened up with tall walls of water on either side of a pathway through the sea. Then the Israelites hurriedly walked through the dry pathway on the sea ground.

Finally, all the Israelites were on the other side of the sea and on land. When the Egyptian army saw what the Israelites had done, they followed the Israelites into the pathway between the tall walls of water. Then, with all the Israelites standing safe on the other shore, the Lord told Moses to raise his staff over the sea again. Moses did as he was told. Suddenly, as Pharaoh and His entire army of chariots and charioteers were driving their chariots and hurriedly walking on the sea floor, the tall walls of water on both sides of them suddenly dropped and flooded over them; killing every Egyptian there. The Israelites then praised God for His salvation.

Miriam the Prophetess.

The Israelites certainly went from sheer terror to the most ultimate high in knowing that they had been saved by the hand of Almighty God. Suddenly, the people started singing and praising the Lord for what He had done to save them from the Egyptians. “Then Miriam, the prophet (prophetess), Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women in rhythm and dance. And Miriam sang this song: ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has thrown both horse and rider into the sea.’” – (Exodus 15: 20, 21. NLT). What an awesome example of the power of Almighty God and a beautiful example of His love for His people. Indeed, God would receive great glory for His saving act of love throughout the centuries!

There are many famous songs in the Bible often accompanied by musical instruments. With these songs, the Israelites also often used dance as a way to demonstrate to the LORD just how happy and appreciative a person or group of people were at being the recipients of God’s grace, protection and love. So, on that day Miriam led the women in song and dance to demonstrate their thankfulness and to give praise to the Lord for saving them.

The Bible calls Miriam a prophetess, perhaps because she was in close contact with God at this time, or because God gave her the specific words to the song that she sang to praise Him. She may have even given others prophetic words from God, although specific prophetic words are not recorded in the Bible. But the Bible does say that she was a prophetess.

At this time, Miriam was someone that the Israelite women could look up to for strength. In fact, Miriam had a golden opportunity to be an active relational mentor to many women throughout the camp. Unfortunately, we do not know if she ever used her prophetic ability to help or mentor other women. However, we do know that Miriam began to allow jealousy, greed, and pridefulness to dictate what she should do and say, rather than turning to God for her strength. Obviously, in being a prophetess she could have turned to God for direction for her life; asking God what He would have her do relationally within this huge crowd that was well over half women. But, for some reason, Miriam did not use her abilities to strengthen the Israelite women.

Not Allowing the Negatives in Life to Control Us

As we well know, there are many things in life that can be the catalyst for our future growth. Some of those things can be positive situations and events while others can have a negative effect, which ultimately damages our outlook on life, if we allow it. This is when we need to turn to God for an attitude adjustment, which can only happen with a personal desire to change and by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to promote the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is actually the characteristics of Christ that all Christians should have. Moreover, we should use the positive things in our lives as a catalyst for future grown instead of the negative things.

In Miriam’s case, she did not have the best background to give her the best outlook on life. Remember, the Israelites, which included Aaron and Miriam, where living under oppression in Egypt. Then, after Miriam’s influence helped her baby brother survive Pharaoh’s decree on the death of all infants, she went back to her regular slave life. During those first few years of Moses’ life while in their home, Miriam would have seen and been with her baby brother. But, then came the day when Moses was turned over to the daughter of Pharaoh to live in luxury and receive anything that he wanted. That had to be hard for Miriam to understand. How could Moses end up in the lap of luxury and she and her family remain basically slaves to Pharaoh? So, besides the hard life that she lived, there had to be the thoughts of jealousy and unfairness, as she perhaps dreamed of fame and fortune for herself.

Throughout the Bible we have seen that God can use anyone to accomplish His will. Furthermore, since God knows the hearts of everyone, He can choose the right person for a particular situation or needed job, which was exactly the case when God chose Moses to be the one to deliver his people from their oppression. But God also chose to use Miriam to be the one to protect her baby brother, so he could grow up to become the Israelite’s deliverer. Then later, God chose Miriam to lead the women in song, dance, and praise after God had given them a way to cross the Red Sea. Both Moses and Miriam were accomplishing God’s will.

Although each of us has a particular purpose in life, and more specifically a particular purpose in the Kingdom of God after we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we still have the free will to choose to follow our purpose or to ignore that purpose for our own desires. Perhaps God had chosen Miriam to save her brother and to be not only a prophetess, but to be a mentor to other people as well. Unfortunately, Miriam allowed her personal desires and the negative events in her life to control her mind and thus limit the amount of positive influence that she had on those around her.

Miriam’s Failure to have a Positive Influence on her Brother

After Moses led Israelites from the Red Sea, they traveled two months, and with God’s help even overcame enemies who wanted to kill them (See Exodus 17: 8-15) as well as other obstacles along the way. Furthermore, God provided for their personal needs with food, i.e. manna from heaven, and for water when no water seemed to be available. So, there should not have been any reason for the people to distrust or question God and their leader, Moses, who had miraculously gotten them through the Red Sea. Certainly, they had to know that God was caring for them. However, when someone is out of sight, that someone is often out of the person’s mind. This was certainly the case after the people got to their encampment at the base of Mount Sinai.

When the Israelites got to this holy mountain, Moses went up the mountain and conferred with God. God then told Moses “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle’s wings. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ Give this message to the Israelites.” – (Exodus 19: 4-6. NLT).  So, Moses went down the mountain and told the people what God had said.

Then God called Moses and Aaron along with several of the leaders of the twelve tribes to come up the mountain with him. But they only went half way up the mountain together when they stopped and camped. “There they saw the God of Israel. Under His feet there seemed to be a pavement of brilliant sapphire, as clear as the heavens. And though Israel’s leaders saw God, He did not destroy them. In fact, they shared a meal together in God’s presence.” – (Exodus 24: 10, 11. NLT).

Then the Lord called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain alone. But before he went, Moses told his brother, Aaron, that he and Hur were to take care of any problems that might come up while Moses was on the mountain. Moses must have felt that he was leaving the people in good hands because both Aaron and Hur had just shared a meal together in the presence of God. Certainly, one would think that after eating in the presence of God that Aaron would have been amazed and over the moon at having been in the presence of God. But, more importantly, Aaron actually experienced being in presence of God rather than just having the experience of hearing a voice out of the cloud by day, or out of the pillar of fire that guided them at night. This experience should have been the catalyst for a relationship with God. For, Aaron’s mountain experience allowed him to truly commune with God. Sadly, having had that personal experience with God did not seem to make a difference in the life of Aaron. For, while Moses was on top of the mountain both Aaron and Miriam, would let down Moses and God.

While Moses was on the mountain the second time talking to God and receiving the Ten Commandments, the large group of people at the bottom of the mountain, which included the thousands of Egyptians who came out of Egypt with the Israelites, felt abandoned by Moses, as he had been gone many days. So, the people came to Aaron and said, “… make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. …” – (Exodus 32: 1. NLT).

Having seen God a few days before, one would think that Aaron would have told the people to just wait a little longer. Aaron could also have told the people that God would not share His glory with any false gods. But Aaron did not do that. Instead, Aaron collected gold from the people and he made them a golden calf to worship. It is at this point that one would think that Hur or even Miriam might have had some influence on Aaron and stopped him from sinning against God. But, neither Hur or Miriam are even mentioned? Why did Miriam not try to stop her brother? Where was this prophetess, who had earlier worshipped and glorified God on the banks of the Red Sea? She, too, should have known that God would not share His glory with any other. What kind of influence could she have had on her brother? At the very least, Miriam could have told Aaron to wait for Moses’ return. But, she evidently didn’t.

Have you ever been in a situation where you should have stood up for God? Perhaps, it was a situation that did not directly have to do with God, yet it had to do with one of God’s commandments that he has given us to uphold? Whether it is telling another person that they should not do something, because it is wrong, or it is simply removing ourselves from an ungodly situation, we have all been there. Unfortunately, we may not stand up for God, simply because we may not want the other person to think that “we are holier than thou”, or we may just want to be liked, so we don’t say anything. Either way, we are sinning and failing to be a positive influence on those around us. Furthermore, in such cases, we may even be a negative influence upon the person that is actually doing something wrong, because we have accepted her wrong attitude or actions. But, if we as Christians, do not stand up for God’s Truth, Laws, and Commandments, then who will?

Being a positive influence upon another person means that we not only separate ourselves from situations that are ungodly, but we gently and kindly tell the other person why. Being a positive influence also means that we do not talk about others or gossip. Additionally, it means that we tell the Truth even when the Truth is not wanted. Furthermore, being a positive influence means that we stand up for what is right in the face of wrong. The key, though, is to be that positive influence; demonstrating kindness and caring while showing heart concern and love toward those who may even question our Christian life-style.

At this point in God’s Story, Miriam should have at the very least, talked to her brother to remind Aaron that he was to be the leader while Moses was away and that being a leader means standing up for what is right. She should have advised Aaron that a leader does not give into people just to keep the peace. But, it doesn’t appear that Miriam used any positive influence on her brother, because she did not give any advice to Aaron. Rather, Aaron negatively influenced the people by succumbing to this ungodly situation. Thus Aaron sinned in making the golden calf, and then he sinned again by contributing to the people’s sin. Had it not been for Moses’ intervention and his pleas to God to spare them, all of the people would have been killed, simply because Aaron and Miriam did not separate themselves from the group who wanted to worship false gods and stand up for God. Instead of telling the people “no”, Aaron negatively influenced the people by promoting and agreeing to their worship of false gods.

Miriam allows her Desire for Self-aggrandizement to Dictate her Actions.

The next time the Bible mentions Miriam, we see recorded within the Scriptures her need for self-aggrandizement and self-promotion. Obviously, Miriam allowed her personal desires and previous oppression in life as well as mental strongholds to truly affect her outlook on life. This time, though, it was not something that she simply did not do, rather it was an overt negative action that she knew she was doing. Whether it was Miriam who convinced Aaron to go along with her or it was Aaron who convinced her to go along with him, this brother and sister duo made a decision that was going to make God very angry. Perhaps, though, it was Miriam who had been the instigator, for she is the one who received the punishment for her self-promotion, for her desire to be elevated in rank, and for her proud heart.

The incident, which caused Miriam to have to re-look at her heart and her desires, occurred when Moses married a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. We can only surmise or guess at the reason that Moses chose this woman, because the Bible does not tell us why Moses married her. Perhaps Moses knew her from Pharaoh’s palace, as Ethiopian’s were part of the servants for the palace royalty, and many Egyptians and other people groups came out of Egypt with the Israelites. Or maybe she just had an exceptionally kind heart and a very loving heart toward God. Whatever the reason, it was none of Aaron’s and Miriam’s business who Moses married. Moreover, this criticism was just a subterfuge to hide other motives.

Although we are not told why Miriam and Aaron objected to this woman, the marriage became the catalyst for Miriam to act upon her desire for self-promotion. In other words, the marriage was just an excuse, or it became the right moment in Miriam’s mind to push her true agenda through by using the excuse to be upset with Moses’ choice in a wife. Whatever the reason, Miriam would have plenty of time to re-look at her objections and to contemplate her despicable actions.

When Miriam and Aaron finally came to talk to Moses and criticize him in his choice in a wife, they also said, “‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?’ But the Lord heard them.” – (Numbers 12: 2. NLT). Then, the Lord immediately called all three of them, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, to the Tabernacle. There, God appeared in a cloud before the entrance of Tabernacle. “Aaron and Miriam!” He called, and they stepped forward. “And the LORD said to them, ‘Now Listen to me! Even with prophets, I the LORD communicate by visions and dreams. But that is not how I communicate with my servant Moses. He is entrusted with my entire house. I speak to him face to face, directly and not in riddles! He sees the LORD as He is. Should you not be afraid to criticize him?” – (Numbers 12: 6-8. NLT). The situation had now become much more serious than just Miriam and Aaron criticizing Moses’ wife.

Suddenly the LORD departed, and almost immediately Miriam started turning white as snow with leprosy. When Aaron realized what was happening, he cried out to the Lord not to kill her. Then Moses cried out to the LORD and asked for Miriam to be healed. God heard Moses’ plea and finally decided to just banish Miriam from camp for seven days. Although God could have killed Miriam for her prideful heart and self-aggrandizement, God was merciful, and instead He punished Miriam with seven days of leprosy, which came with an automatic banishment from camp.

God’s discipline only lasted seven days, and then Miriam was healed. Unquestionably, if she thought about her words and actions at all during those seven days, Miriam had plenty of time to think about what she had done. For, Miriam had time to think about what her worldly desire to be elevated to the leader and what her desire for prestige had done to her and her brothers. Obviously, the emotional hurt that she had inflicted upon her brother, Moses, would be there for a great while. Additionally, Aaron, who seemed to be easily led down the wrong path by other peoples’ suggestions, had again been easily influenced by Miriam’s desire for glory. Moreover, both Miriam and Aaron could have been killed for questioning the decision of God to put Moses in charge. Only because God listened to His servant, Moses, was Aaron saved and Miriam healed over a seven-day time period that surely came with a great deal of self-evaluation.


Have you ever spent time in evaluating your actions, words, or behaviors? I certainly have! In fact, it is important for us to look back on what we have done in life, to determine how we have impacted the lives of others. For this reason, self-evaluation is important to our personal growth. Certainly, if we have negatively impacted someone, we don’t want to ever do that again! Accordingly, then, with self-evaluation we can often realize that we may have thoughtlessly said or done something, which we regret or for which we need to apologize. However, sometimes on further evaluation, I have realized that I simply didn’t make my words precise or clear enough thus creating a misunderstanding, or I have realized that I shouldn’t have said anything at all. But, if we are willing to evaluate our words, actions, etc., we can, indeed, become better Christians. For, we can become better at understanding how important our attitudes, words, and behaviors are in creating a positive influence on the lives of others, or we can understand how our attitudes, words, and behaviors have created a negative influence. Self-evaluation, then, should lead to positive growth and then positive influence!

Our positive influence on the lives of others should be based upon Christian values, morality, integrity, consideration of our fellow humans, kindness, caring, and of course upon the ultimate Truth, which comes from the Word of God. If we live our lives in a way that makes light of those godly things, then we cannot be a positive influence upon those around us. Moreover, just saying that we are “born-again” Christians and then not working on developing the traits of Christ in our life as presented to us through the Fruit of the Holy Spirit will not present a picture of Christ to the rest of the world. For, we are known by the fruit that we produce. If then we are producing rotten fruit, or if we are not producing fruit of any kind at all, we could be doing great harm to those who are looking to us for strength, Truth, enlightenment, and empowerment. Instead, we are to be the light of Christ shining out on those who are lost. But, if our light shines dimly or not at all, we are actually harming those who could have seen the path, if only the bright light of Christ been there for them.

Please take some time to evaluate your life-style, words, behaviors, etc. and determine whether or not you are truly being a positive influence on those around you. Please do not be like Miriam and think only of yourself or fail to help those who are truly in need of your help, advice, comfort, love, teaching, etc. All Christians and those that become active relational Christian mentors have a responsibility to be a positive influence on those they encounter. So, once you have evaluated your Christian life, determine to be even better no matter how great a job you may think that you are doing. For, there is always a place for improvement for each of us. Moreover, each improvement means that we can be even better at our positive influence on others.

You can do it! You can be a positive influence on others! You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor who empowers others to be all they can be for God, themselves and others! But, even if you choose to produce fruit in some other way for the Kingdom of God, there is always, whether it is active or passive influence, a positive influence that you can bring to light as a follower of Christ by working on and obtaining the Fruit of the Spirit. God Bless your endeavors to be a light in this dark world for Jesus Christ!                                      

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Women Who Have "Stood in the Gap" and Made a Difference

Active Relational Christian Mentoring involves women “standing in the gap” as well as their being a godly influence on other women. But, whether or not we individually choose to actively mentor another woman or we simply choose to befriend a woman, we are still in many ways mentoring her. It is just a matter of whether or not we want to actively reach out to mentor another, or if we just choose to passively mentor through our lifestyle and behaviors. Either way we are influencing the lives of those around us by our actions, words, life-style and behaviors. Although having positive influence upon another woman comes about through both active and passive mentoring, “standing in the gap” requires a more active part in our Christian mentoring.

Unfortunately, many women and men do not understand their purpose or role in God’s world. But it is not necessary to understand our individual purpose completely, if we at least understand that we all have a specific purpose in God’s creation. Moreover, whether we are actively mentoring another woman, or we are passively just letting our Christ-light shine upon others, we can rest assured that God also has a purpose for our individual lives, and He will use us if we allow Him to do so. The main purpose in our creation, though, is to glorify, love and honor God through His Son, Jesus Christ. For, even though, humanity sinned and rejected God’s love by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, God never gave up on us. In fact, God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to earth and die for our sins. Then Christ arose on the third day and conquered eternal death so that we can spend eternity with God and Christ. Our purpose, then, is to not only glorify, honor and love God, but to also glorify, honor and love Christ through our belief in Christ as seen through our actions of living for Him so that the rest of the world can come to know Christ and His Father as well. Our individual purposes encompass sharing the Gospel message with the world in some manner or another, while at the same time loving our neighbor as we love ourselves as seen through our service to Christ and to those in need.

Beyond our greatest purpose of loving, honoring and glorifying God through our Christian lives and through the sharing of the Gospel message, though, is our obedience to God. For part of our purpose is found in our obedience to God and His Word. The Bible says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – (John 1: 1-5. NASB). The Apostle John, in this Scripture, is telling us that Christ is the Word. Then Christ, as the Son of God, came into the world to shine the Light upon the world. Unfortunately, those who saw the Light, did not comprehend it, therefore many people have disregarded the Truth of Christ as the Son of the Living God. Consequently, unbelievers still do not feel that they have a true purpose in life, because they are lost in the darkness. But for those of us who have seen the Light, and have recognized the Light as the Savior of our souls, we know that obedience to God and His Word is part of our purpose in life.

Many women who know God as their personal Savior, still have a problem understanding what their individual purpose is in relation to those around them. Are they to be a wife and mother? Are they to be a missionary or teacher for their church congregation? How do they remain obedient to Christ in their daily life and still live in this world and do all the things that they need or want to do? But, just as important is the question: “how can I be obedient to God and Christ within my workplace”? In other words, how do I let my Christ-light shine in all aspects of my life, and how do I rise to fulfilling my individual purpose for God and still be obedient to His calling on my life?

Whether we choose to actively mentor another woman or choose to just passively let our Christ-light shine through our daily life, we have to be confident and have faith that God is moving us toward our specific and individual purpose, if we are willing to follow Him. For, God has our best interest at heart, and He constantly wants to provide blessings on our lives. However, understanding what God wants us to do to fulfill our individual purpose means that we not only have to have faith in God and His timing, but that we also have to be obedient to His directions and His voice. In other words, we have to not only listen to God, but we have to also obey His will for our lives.

Part of God’s will for our lives is to “stand in the gap” against the enemy and to influence those who need to know His Son, need to know the Truth of His Word, and need to know how to live in a morally and ethically corrupt world without falling into Satan’s traps. But when we fail to influence others through our lives, i.e. with our words and actions, or when we fail to live up to and obey God’s directions, we let ourselves down. Unfortunately, we not only we let ourselves down, but we let down God and the people or the women that God has positioned us in life to influence with the Good News and the Truth. Then if we fail to “stand in the gap” for a woman who is struggling with a particular issue for which we could pray and help, we have failed to be obedient to God.

Every day we make small choices, but these choices build upon each other until all those small choices show a life pattern, a standard of behavior or hopefully a picture of walking daily with God and His Son. Those choices will also influence our children, our family, and our friends. They could and probably do even influence strangers who are watching what we do and who see some of the choices that we make. For example, “road rage” does not benefit anyone, and it certainly is not something to which a Christian should succumb. Moreover, little things like a hateful attitude in a check-out line or things that we choose to say or not say to someone when we are upset can all influence another person about our faith and belief in Christ. What kind of choices have you made over your life? Are they choices that you would be happy to share with others, or are they choices that have let God and yourself down?

God has placed each of us in a position where we can be a godly influence on others. But we should continually ask God to lead us each day. We also have to be willing to follow His directions. In other words, we must not only be sensitive to God’s voice, but we must be willing to follow through with actions. The prophet Isaiah said, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or the left. … And the Lord will cause His voice of authority to be heard.– (Isaiah 30: 21, 30. NASB). If we open our ears and listen, and then obey God’s voice, we can not only “stand in the gap” for others, but we can have a godly and positive influence upon them.

In the Bible we are told of one woman who opened her ears and listened to God’s voice and instructions. She made a difference in her nation by heeding and then doing what God asked her to do. At the same time another woman listened to her heart and the voice of God, and she too did her part by literally “standing in the gap” for Israel. We may not have that kind of influence or be called to literally “stand in the gap” for a nation, but we can have a positive and productive influence on other women when we are obedient to God’s command “to love others as we love ourselves.” To love others as ourselves means we need to open our hearts and give of our time to help others in need. We can “stand in the gap” through prayer for another woman and her family too.

God has given us the story of these two women so that we can see how important women are in the Kingdom of God. We are important, because we are His creation, and we like men have been created with individual purposes to fulfill. Let’s take a look at these two women in the Older Covenant/ Testament who were not only obedient, but had great influence and “stood in the gap” for the nation of Israel.

Deborah and Jael

Thousands of years ago a Jewish woman was put in a position by God to save her nation. Her name was Deborah. But, before I tell you more about Deborah, I must explain the background for her life. You see, after Joshua brought the Israelite people out of the wilderness and into The Promised Land, the Israelites were told to overthrow the nations living in The Promised Land, and they were also to obey God’s rules and commandments. But like all nations, willful people often choose to do what they wish and to live the way they want. The Israelites were no exception. But in their disobedience they would find that they needed God’s help in saving them time after time.

One of the first things that the Israelites did was to disobey God’s direct order to destroy or run out of the land some of the pagan tribes as expressly commanded by the Lord. The people simply got tired of fighting, so they made peace with many of the foreign pagan tribes and allowed the pagan people to stay in their towns and homes. But, some of the pagan tribes living along side of the Israelites wanted all of their land back. To make matters worse, the Israelites started inner marrying with the pagan peoples and then started accepting their idols as gods. Subsequently, there developed a circular pattern to Israel’s relationship with God, to their apostasy, and to the foreign tribes they had failed to eliminate. The pattern would start with Israel at peace and them following and obeying the commandments of God even though they were living surrounded by the pagan tribes they had failed to eradicate.

For a while the Israelites would live under God’s direction, commandments, truth and laws. As a result, they lived in peace, while following God’s commandments and honoring and obeying His sacrificial laws. Sometimes they would have up to eighty years of peace. But somewhere along the way they would forget to teach their children about God and His commandments. Because of their failure to teach their children about God and because of their failure to follow God’s laws and commandments, it would only take as little as one or two generations before the majority of people forgot God and then fell away from honoring or worshipping Him. Without God being in the forefront of their minds and hearts, the people would then follow the examples of the pagan people who lived among them and who bowed down to idols. Then the Israelites would no longer live under God’s direction, commandments, truth and laws.

God is a loving God, but He is also a just and righteous God Who will not accept blatant disobedience. So, to get Israel’s attention and to provide punishment for their blatant disobedience, God would withdraw His protection from Israel. Subsequently, God allowed Israel to then be oppressed by a pagan tribe that wanted their land back. The Israelites would then be overrun by this foreign group of people, which ultimately led to Israel's oppression and sometimes even slavery. As a result, the Israelites were all alone and oppressed, knowing full well that the idols they had accepted into their lives would not and could not help them. At some point, after as little as 7 and up to as many as 20 years of oppression the people would finally again turn to God for help. Then. “when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them.” – (Judges 3: 9. NASB)

So, God raised up a deliverer for Israel. Usually, the deliverer was the judge that had been established or chosen by God to be the judge over Israel during that period of time. (Throughout the first several hundred years after entering The Promised Land, Israel did not have a king, because they were to follow God’s commands through judges that He put in place to represent God to the people. These individuals were called judges, because they would adjudicate problems and also keep the peace). The judge who rescued them was in most cases also the person who represented their obedience to God.

Generally, the person who delivered Israel from oppression was either already a judge of Israel or would become the judge of Israel for the next period in Israel’s history after he/she had rescued Israel. For, with God’s help and direction this person would lead the Israelites into battle or would set up the situation that would deliver Israel from oppression. Then when Israel would be delivered, the country would live in peace again. But, the cycle would eventually start all over again. So the cycle was: living in peace and obeying the Lord; falling into apostasy; a period of oppression; crying out to the Lord; and then delivery from their oppressors.

Then the cycle would start again; sometimes with only twenty to forty years of peace between periods of oppression. The peace would not last long, because the people would again “do evil in the sight of the Lord”. Eventually, though, the people would recognize that God was their only hope, because He was the only One who could help them, so they would cry out to the Lord for help. Being the loving and caring God that He is, God would hear their cries of oppression and come to their rescue, even though they themselves had brought on their oppression. On one such occasion, God gave a woman judge the ability to “stand in the gap” and influence the outcome of the rescue of the Israelites. Actually, God chose two women to deliver Israel from the oppression, showing us that God does not think less of women or less of their role in the history of a people. The names of these two particular women who would influence and “stand in the gap” against evil and their enemies were Deborah and Jael. With God’s help and their obedience, these two women would again bring in a period of peace for Israel; starting all over the cycle of: living for God in peace; then apostasy or falling away from God; succumbing to living in oppression; and then their crying out for help to be rescued. Finally, God would send the much needed deliverer to rescue them.

The Influence of Deborah

The Bible tells us that after the second judge of Israel, Ehud, rescued Israel from oppression by the Moabites, the land of Israel was in peace for eighty years. But we are then told that “… the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, …– (Judges 4: 1, 2. NASB).  Being “sold into the hand of King Jabin”, simply meant that God removed his protection and allowed the Israelites to be oppressed again. But in this case, their enemy actually came from within The Promised Land instead of outside from the surrounding territories. As previously mentioned, the Israelites had failed to eliminate or eradicate all of the tribes living in The Promised Land. Certainly, among all these tribes, the largest tribe of people that they failed to remove was the Canaanites. Consequently, when King Jabin decided to take over the land again, he had an easier time, because his people were already in the land, and they had regrouped into a large army with chariots. Who, though, would be able to rescue Israel from such a contingency of warriors, arms and machinery?

The Canaanite army had 900 chariots that more than likely had razor sharp knives extending from the wheels to cut down any foot soldiers of their enemy that got too close. Of course Israel was not powerful enough to go up against those chariots and the spears that the Canaanites carried. Remember, that Israel is a people group that farms, raises sheep, vegetables, and grapes. Furthermore, Israel is not an aggressive people group, because they worship a loving and caring God who has asked them “to love their neighbors as themselves”. Consequently, with their less than aggressive nature, as well as with their failure to have a well-trained army, they seemed to have no recourse against the aggressive Canaanite army and their 900 chariots.

Finally, though, after twenty years of unbearable oppression, the Israelites cried out to God for help. They had tried to live their own lives without God’s help, but had found that trying to control their own lives had led them into much trouble and confusion, not to mention oppression. Nevertheless, God heard their cry and with much love provided a deliverer, which in this case was a woman named Deborah who would, with the help of another woman named Jael and Deborah's trusted general, Barak, rescue Israel from oppression.

Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet (prophetess) who had become a judge in Israel. She would hold court under the Palm of Deborah, which stood between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to settle their disputes.”  -- (Judges 4: 4, 5. NLT).  Deborah was an ordinary woman. But, for some reason God chose Deborah to be a judge for Israel, and so He put her in a position to do so. Although she sat under a palm tree to judge or adjudicate the problems of the people of Israel, she may have had a family of her own, because in Judges 5: 7 she is described as “a mother of Israel”. But even though, we know little about her, we do know through the Scriptures and through her actions that she was a beloved judge whom the people trusted. Even the army commander, Barak, trusted and respected her judgment and leadership.

We also know that Deborah loved the Lord. She expressed this love by serving Him faithfully and by listening to and following through with the directions that the Lord gave her. Certainly, Deborah was an exceptional woman in many ways, but the biggest thing that made her exceptional was that she allowed the Lord to direct her life, and then she willingly followed through with what God wanted her to do. Do we do that? Do we follow through with what the Lord has placed upon our hearts to do? Or do we ignore that still small voice of the Holy Spirit asking us to influence or to “stand in the gap” for another woman? Do you love the Lord the way that Deborah loved the Lord?

Deborah may have thought that her days judging Israel had fallen into a routine as she heard the cases of the people as she sat under the Palm tree, but the LORD had heard the oppressed cries of the people. Then one day, the LORD spoke to Deborah to tell her what she must do to save the people from their oppression. Immediately Deborah sent for her commander, Barak, to come to talk to her about what the Lord had told her. When Barak got there, Deborah told him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Assemble ten thousand warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.” – (Judges 4: 6, 7. NLT).

Then something strange happened. Even though Barak was a commander who should not have feared going into battle, he told Deborah that he would go, but only if she, Deborah, went with him. Deborah agreed to go, but she then told Barak that he would not receive the honor for the victory against the Canaanites, “… For the LORD’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” – (Judges 4: 9. NLT). Perhaps Barak did not believe that Deborah’s battle plan would work, or perhaps he just wanted to make sure that the person sending him into battle would be standing beside him when it failed or succeeded. But, whatever the reason, when Deborah said she would go with him, Barak gathered the needed men from the two tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun, and together with Deborah they assembled at Mount Tabor.

Even though we don’t know why Barak insisted on Deborah coming with him, we do know that Deborah showed the character of a great godly leader. Deborah stepped out in faith, and she trusted God to do what He had said He would do, which was to protect them and give the Canaanites into their hand. Deborah’s actions show us that an individual of faith follows God’s commands and directions even when he/ she doesn’t understand or see the complete plan through their human eyes. As a result of her faith shown in action, Deborah was not only influencing Barak, but influencing all the troops through her faith shown in God. Furthermore, Deborah set the example for the troops of a godly believer and leader by stepping out in faith to “stand in the gap” for Israel against an enemy.

Hearing that Barak and a large contingent of men had gathered at Mount Tabor, the Canaanite general, Sisera, gathered all his warriors along with 900 chariots and marched to the Kishon River, which was at the bottom of Mount Tabor. Little did Sisera know, but the LORD was actually the commander of the Israelite army. For Deborah told Barak, “‘Get ready! Today the LORD will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you.’ So Barak led his ten thousand warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle.”  -- (Judges 4: 14. NLT).

Then something spectacular and supernatural happened to Sisera’s army. The Scriptures tell us that “When Barak attacked, the LORD threw Sisera and all his charioteers and warriors into a panic.”  -- (Judges 4: 15. NLT). Out of the clear blue Sisera’s army was running in different directions and attacking each other. When Sisera saw all the mayhem, he lept from his chariot and ran for his life to escape. In the meantime, Barak chased the Canaanites and their chariots all the way to Harosheth- haggogyim eventually killing every one of Sisera’s warriors.

While all this was occurring, Sisera ran all the way to the Oak of Zaanannim, near Kedesh where Heber the Kenite, a descendent of Moses, had pitched his tent. The Kenite tribe had always been an ally of Israel, but whether it was out of self-preservation, or a true allegiance, Heber had for some reason decided to side with King Jabin. So, knowing this, Sisera must have felt that he would be well protected if he could just get to the tent of Heber the Kenite. However, Sisera did not know that Heber’s wife, Jael, did not totally agree with her husband, because she was going to literally “stand in the gap” for the Israelites against Sisera and King Jabin.

When Sisera got to Heber’s tent, he was exhausted and ready to just fall down from all his running. To his delight, “Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, ‘Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid.’ So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.”  -- (Judges 4:18. NLT). Even though, men were not allowed to enter a woman’s tent without the husband being present, Sisera disregarded that social issue in his exhaustion. Instead, he must have felt that he had finally found safety, for no one would think to look for him there. Now, he could also receive the nourishment that he needed to replenish his strength. For, Jael immediately gave him some milk to drink, and then she had him lie down and covered him with a blanket so that he could rest. Sisera then asked Jael to stand guard at the door of the tent so that no one could suddenly surprise him and kill him. He probably thought, too, that he was only going to take a quick cat nap to replenish his strength, but instead Sisera fell into a deeper sleep; a sleep that comes from total exhaustion.

Once Sisera was in a deep sleep, Jael took a large tent peg and hammer and silently crept upon Sisera. Then she hammered the tent peg into his temple so hard that she drove the tent peg down through his temple and down into the ground. When Barak and his men, who had been searching for Sisera, finally came to Heber and Jael’s tent, Jael went out to meet him and said that Sisera was indeed there, but he was dead. Jael had literally “stood in the gap” against Israel’s enemy. You can imagine Barak’s surprise that a woman had been able to kill Sisera. But even greater was his surprise that Deborah’s prophecy that a woman would get the victory and honor for killing Sisera had just come true.

What Deborah and Jael’s Lives Tell Us

The Bible tells us that because these two women followed the directions of God that they were able to be a part of God’s plan to subdue Jabin, the Canaanite king.  “And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin, until they finally destroyed him.– (Judges 4: 24. NLT). Because of their willingness to listen to God, Deborah and Jael were both instrumental in saving the Israelites from further oppression. They listened to God and obeyed His voice. Do you listen to God and do you follow through with what He has asked you to do?

From this story of influence and from “standing in the gap” for others who cannot stand for themselves, we learn that women can be used by God for great things. Some of the things that we do in life may seem small to us at the time, but can eventually can lead to even greater glory and honor for God. Certainly, Jael must never have dreamed that she would have been used by God to “stand in the gap” for Israel and used to save the people from their oppressors. Jael was a homemaker and wife. She may not have thought that she had any great attributes, but as the woman of the family, she was in charge of lowering and raising the tent when they moved their home to a different location. So, Jael was very familiar with ten pegs and hammers. That is why she could successfully destroy the enemy of the Israelites on that particular day. Had she not done what God asked her to do, though, the Israelites may not have been saved from their oppressors. Jael listened and acted as she “stood in the gap” for the Israelites.

In this story, we discovered that Deborah was a wise leader who could use her influence to direct the outcome of a situation. Women can indeed be wise leaders at home, in their church community, and at work. Furthermore, we make good mentors, mediators, planners, listeners, advisers or counselors, teachers, friends, etc. That is why women make wonderful Active Relational Christian Mentors. In many ways, Deborah was a mentor for her people. She not only judged small and large problems that arose between people, but she must have given wise advice and counseling as well. Additionally, Deborah was able to use her wisdom and her relationship with God to see strategies that would benefit her military leader and his men.

We learned that Deborah had a close relationship with God. She listened for his direction and then she followed through with what God asked her to do. She had been given great insight and leadership abilities as well as a confidence in her relationship with God. In fact, Deborah wanted to serve God in whatever way that she could. As a woman, wife, and mother, Deborah could have denied her ability to lead and guide her people. But God knew that she had the ability to be a wife and mother and to still step forward to do His will and lead her people. In fact, Deborah not only led her troops into battle, but she later for several years influenced her people to live for God.

Both Deborah and Jael’s lives show us that women can accomplish great things for the Lord, if we are willing to allow Him to lead us. But their lives also show us that we need to be available to God and to other people who may need our help, support, comfort, or advice. Actually, we should not only be available, but be willing to do what we can do for the Lord and others, and we should not worry about what we think we cannot do. For, even the smallest kindness, the smallest of helps, and the smallest of moments of comfort, can be the turning point for another woman’s life. In fact, as I have previously mentioned, just a smile can change the life of another individual. Then, when we add that smile to what the Lord has asked us to do, we can accomplish great things for the Lord, if we are willing to allow the Lord to lead us.
As Christian women, we are to tell others about the Good News of Christ. One of the easiest ways to get the opportunity to share the Good News is through the development of a godly relationship with another woman that morphs into mentoring or helping another woman see the light of Christ as you explain the path to Salvation and Eternity with God. Whether you are in the workplace, at church, at the supermarket, or at a convention, God will give you opportunities to reach out to help other people and to share the Gospel message. Like Deborah and Jael, though, we have to be willing to “stand in the gap” when there is a problem or when someone is fighting a spiritual battle against the enemy. We can do that through prayer and by reading and meditating on the Lord’s Words from within the Holy Scripture, the Bible. We also have to be willing to use our positive Christian influence to empower other women to be all they can be for God, themselves, their family.

Whether you realize it or not, your Christian influence on the world around you can be great. But, doing nothing is not the way to influence others in the world and is not the way to influence those close to you. Just start with a simple act of kindness, which can then lead into sharing the Gospel message. Start, too, by standing up for God’s Truth and by doing that which is right in the eyes of God. Do not succumb to the evils that are in this world! Instead, be that light on the hill as a beacon of hope by allowing others to see the Light of Christ in you. Your Christ-light will shine out for those who are stuck in the darkness. You can do it!  You can mentor others for the Lord and in doing so, you can be a positive influence in the life of a woman in need.