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by author, Denise J. Hughes September 14, 2016
An excerpt from her book, Word Writers - Philippians
Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction.Psalm 119:18 (HCSB)
Throughout history, women have been gathering together. It's what we do. Is someone getting married? We'll throw a bridal shower. Is someone having a baby? We'll throw a baby shower. If we don't have an excuse for getting together, we'll find one. How about the park? Moms and kids and strollers. We'll call it a playdate.
It's the same at work. Do you have some papers to grade? We'll meet in the library after school and grade papers together. What about the office? We'll do lunch. What about after work? We'll call it Girls' Night Out and have dinner.
In different seasons of my life, I've enjoyed all of the above. But the most memorable gatherings I've experienced have centered on the Word. Whether it's Tuesday evening in the sanctuary or Saturday morning in a friend's living room, when women come together to grow deeper in their relationship with God, something special happens. Hearts connect. Friendships form. Bonds deepen. And lives are changed.
The book of Philippians is a prime example of this truth. In the Roman colony of Philippi, there wasn't a synagogue in town, which meant there probably weren't enought Jewish men in the area for a synagogue. Yet every Sabbath a few women would make their way to the river, and together they would pray and sing and worship. Something about this small band of women caught God's eye, too, for He stopped the apostle Paul from traveling any farther into Asia. In a dream, Paul saw a man beckoning him to cross the Agean Sea and vist the provice of Macedonia - part of what we call Greece - which is where Philippi was located.
Read Acts 16:6-15 and Philippians 1:1-2
Paul obeys God's command at once, and when he reaches the city of Philippi, he hears about the women who gather by the river to pray. So he goes to them and preaches the cross of Christ. Lydia, a wealthy woman who sells purple linens, listens with rapt attention, her heart wide open to receive the Truth. Lydia and her whole household are baptized that same day. And the first church in Europe begins. This church will eventually grow to become a core group of believers, influencing the entire region for Christ. That's what can happen when women gather.
Years later, while sitting in chains and waiting for his trial in Rome, Paul writes a letter to his dear friends in Philippi. The church then shares his letter with everyone. In time, this personal letter from their mentor will be inducted into the canon of Holy Scripture. The book of Philippians is the subsequent fruit born of a few women. Lydia and her friends serve as beautiful examples of what can happen when women gather to pray and worship and study the Scriptures. That's my prayer for us. The world may be a different place today, but our God is the same. When women gather, He sees, He knows, and I dare say, He smiles.
Diving Deeper (questions to reflect on in this study)
Who does Paul mention in his greeting to the saints in Philippi?
The fact that Paul includes the "overseers and deacons" in Philippi inidcates that the church had not only grown in size, but it had also established some order. Are you familiar with your local church's organizational structure? Does your church have elders or deacons in addition to church staff? Write their names so you can begin to pray for those in leadership.
Whether this is your first Bible study or your hundreth, God's word is alive, and He continues to speak through His Word today. God always has something new for us when we go to Him to learn from His Word. What do you hope to learn from your time in Philippians?
The first step toward a life of deeper joy is anticipating in community with other believers. Do you have a group of friends you can journey with? Is there someone you could invite to journey with you through Philippians?
Like Lydia and her friends, we have the dear privelege of coming together to worship God through prayer and the study of His Word. Together, we can savor the words of Scripture by writing them down. So let's grab our favorite pens and being by writing Philippians 1:1-2.
To purchase Word Writers - Philippians, click here.
To read an exclusive Q&A with author Denise J. Hughes, click here.
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB