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Women of Influence

Influence…


What is a “woman of influence”? Who is she? Where is she? Just what does her life “look” like? You are either a woman of godly influence or a woman of ungodly influence. Is there a woman near you that is in need of a godly influence upon her life? Maybe she is someone that needs help with her children, to catch up her housekeeping, who longs for a submitted heart. Our walk and salvation is connected in a beautiful working pattern as we carry on every day of our lives. Our relationship with our husbands, the way we raise our children, the way we keep our homes, our dress, our speech, our actions, our deeds are just some of the many examples to a world full of women who are hungry for godly influence.
Oh! What a blessing this was to write, as when researching for this study I found beautiful meaning to the word influence. Meanings like, “to cast shade upon, to envelop in a haze of brilliancy, to overshadow.” I thought these to be such very lovely words, words that fully show the meaning of influence. This speaks loudly to me of what MY influence does to and for other women. My influence can overshadow, it can cast shade upon and it can envelop in a haze of brilliancy. To “envelop in a haze of brilliancy”—my life can surround another’s in a shadow or haze of light, OR my life can surround another’s with a shadow and can cast shade, or in reality, darkness upon another’s life. Wow! That speaks volumes to me and convicts the very soul of the “woman” in me. My God-given instinct is quickened, is made aware, is brought out to a fuller and deeper meaning of what my influence can do. Oh, praise the Lord for the light of His influence and for His words of light spoken to me about influence as I write.

I also found some words in that meaning that were distressing. Influence in the Greek means, “a token of control, authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.” Let us look at these for a moment and see where they fit in with our influence.

“Token of control” is that little piece of us that we use to wield in our daily lives. In relationships women often use this token of influence to undermine their husbands or to navigate around his will in their marriage. They can use it as a “quiet” authority, where it will erode and rot the marriage core. Our liberty, power, rights and strengths are found within submission to our husbands. It is God-given and can be a blessing when it is within the perimeters of the marriage fiber.

We also use this influence in our relationships with other sisters and daughters. I think of those little day-to-day things. They may seem small, but reflect a heart that is satisfied in living a simple life for Christ. I think of a few of those times when I may have been an influence—a smile to a grocery clerk who is frazzled by the lines of people yet to come after me, an encouraging word of hope to a tired mother working long hours with children in daycare, searching and grieving for a better way, or crying with a sister over tea who just needs a hug and an ear to listen. There have been many, many times when I have been both a good influence and sadly, times when I have not.

I pray that this writing on “Women of Influence” will bring you to a deeper place in understanding YOUR influence and what the lasting effects of it can be. I have wept at times as I studied for this writing and what the Lord has shown me with one tiny word that he so gently placed upon my heart: the word influence.

The following is an on-going study of women of the Bible and that of their influence. The influence they had on their husbands, their children, their sisters around them and the wide, far reaching influence they have on us even today. Generations will be touched by influence.

May we press forward to the prize and the high calling that we have in the ultimate influence, that of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

My Lord and Savior, O that we might bow to You and worship You. Help us as women who are called by Your name, to begin today to implement a NEW influence, that our light may shine and illuminate Your word, and not cause a shadow to pass or shade to be placed upon it by our words or actions. Praise Your name!

Eve

A Failed Helpmeet


Just imagine a beautiful garden home, a beautiful new body with fresh skin and a strong, intelligent, spiritual head of the home who adores you. Sound familiar? It should, this was Eve’s world. A world God created for Eve, placing her in a beautiful garden, with a beautiful new life and a wonderful husband, Adam.

I love the account of how God took a part of Adam to create Eve, a part of his very own body. How close and intimate is that picture in trying to show you how God created the woman for the man, not the man for the woman. Eve was not made from Adam’s heel, nor was she made from his head. She was made from his side, not to be above him and not to be below him, but certainly to be right beside him and to become part of him for her entire life. She was created beside him to be closer in love with him—being eye to eye, cheek to cheek, breath to breath and heart to heart! What a beautiful image this brings to my mind.

Eve was to be all these things. It was the duty and honorship she was to bestow upon her mate, Adam. She was to complete him as a helper, suitable and fit. God created the perfect example of a woman who was to become a great woman of influence, but sadly, Eve will be remembered as one of the worst role models for Christian women, ever. But we can learn much from her. We can watch as she makes grave mistakes. She can influence our lives to the highest point and help us not to go down the same dark path.

We find in Proverbs 12:4 that, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay or rot to his bones.” Eve was to be a crown, a sparking jewel of fine and precious stones to Adam, to bring him to his finest, thus bringing herself to her shining place of respect and duty. I have always likened the submitted life of a Christian wife to her husband as an example of a submitted life to Christ Jesus. When we come in humility to the Lord, we submit to Him and His authority. We are now lost to him, only to be completely now found. So it is with a Christian wife. The nation’s feminist society would tell us to go out and find ourselves, but little do they know (for they are deceived) that when we submit ourselves to our husbands, to his love and authority, we are already found, beautifully and wonderfully found. We then enter into our place, a sacred sphere of promise, provision and blessing. Blessings rain down from heaven when we are in the place that God has purposed for us. Eve got out of her place, her place of promise, and lost her blessings. She got out from under God’s perfect will and purpose for her life, straying from Adam’s leadership and safety and bringing herself into deception.

What happened to Eve? Could it be that she became increasingly bored and discontent with her role as “just” a wife? Maybe she strayed too far from home; maybe “things” became important and things she wanted and desired became so very important. Did she linger and stare too long? Perhaps the longer she looked the better the forbidden areas looked to her. Did she stop listening to God, the Father? Could it be she did not talk with her mate as often as she once had? Maybe she just needed to “get away” alone, and away she did, once too often. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to YOU? Have you ever reaped dire consequences in your marriage? Have you “created” sin in your home-life, and has it caused your husband to stumble over it and fall? Is he bruised or just bleeding a little from time to time, due to hurt that you have inflicted? Is your influence on your husband a positive one? Do you make an impact on his growth in the Lord, or are you a hindrance? Do you have a serpent’s tongue, lashing to and fro with no consideration of having a meek and quiet spirit? Maybe now would be a good time to evaluate your heart, a good time to take inventory of your influence and how your husband sees you. Dear sisters, the potential is always there in the next breath for an apology and for healing. Our knees sometimes get stiff from not being bent by our bedsides. Today is the day to set yourself free from the forbidden fruit! It will leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth, but with humility it can also leave you more sensitive to the “sweet” on the end of your tongue!

Let’s stop eating from the apple and throw away what is left on the core. It has become brown with rot. Let’s set our sights on becoming a woman of Godly influence and let it begin in our own homes, modeling the attributes of a wife set on the rock, Christ Jesus! Hallelujah!

Mary

A Woman Who Found Favor


As I ponder Mary, the mother of Jesus, I think of a maiden—sweet, fresh, pure and simple. I see her small stature busily going about her daily tasks with no thoughts as to what her future will hold. Oh, I am sure her dearest Joseph crossed her mind, though, from time to time. Her impending betrothal must have given her great joy indeed.

The Bible tells us in Luke, Chapter 1 that God found favor with Mary. The angel that visited Mary said, “Hail! Thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” I would like to look at those precious words, “You have found favor.”

She was beloved of God. He saw in Mary a woman who was after His own heart. God wasn’t a stranger to Mary. She knew of the promised Messiah and no doubt longed for this “promised one.”

Do you have that same longing; are you looking for His return? Does God find favor in you? Do you become one with Him in sweet, intimate fellowship? Just imagine the encounter Mary had with the angel ringing out his salutation, “Hail, Mary!” She must have been caught off guard with surprise—or was she? Certainly she must have experienced a lot of mixed emotions, but could it be she was in communion with God in prayer at the entrance of the angel appearing in her room?

What has your response been to the Lord when He has found favor with you—when He has given you a higher calling? Did you follow through with the directions the Lord gave to you? Or did you plod, question and muck your way through? Maybe you are following through, but you have done so begrudgingly.

Mary’s heart must have been full at the undertaking of carrying and birthing the Messiah, Jesus. It was no mistake that God gave Elizabeth to Mary as a special, confident sister. Elizabeth was past child bearing years and Mary was a virgin. Only our Lord could use these two examples of impossibility to show us that absolutely nothing is impossible with God! Dear, sweet Mary’s response, “Behold the maid servant of the Lord! Let it be unto me according to Your word.” This is so precious to me. Oh, sisters, her response should rock the very foundation of our souls! She was saying, “I am here Lord, I am Your servant, humble, and willing to be used in any way and for any purpose, according to Your will!”

Do we “allow” God to use us? Do we give ourselves to Him, wholly and completely with no hold, fully trusting and fully laying ourselves down at his feet? When was the last time you entered your prayer closet and said, “Behold, the maid servant of the Lord! Let it be unto me according to Your word?” Do we surrender our will so that God’s will and purpose can be fulfilled?

He has a will and purpose for each of us if we would only surrender to Him. Mary was a woman who found favor with God. Indeed, she was a woman of influence to all of us living today. Are you a woman who has found favor? Are you a woman of influence?

Hannah

A Woman of Sacrifice


When was the last time you sacrificed? Sacrifice means to devote or bestow a present or gift, to slay. As Christian wives and mothers, we know what it means to sacrifice. Most of us give of ourselves, daily devoting and bestowing our gifts of time and self. When we peek in on the life of Hannah we see an example of great sacrifice—that of “losing” a child and of “slaying” ones own desires to give to another. Hannah was a woman with a great emptiness in her heart. That emptiness could only be filled by a child, a son for whom Hannah had longed. Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, was a godly man. The Bible tells us in 1st Samuel that, “Year after year he went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord at Shiloh.” During this time of sacrifice, Elkanah gave portions of meat to his wife, Peninnah, and to all her sons and daughters. These were sons and daughters she bore to Elkanah. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her. Could it be that Hannah held a “special” place in his heart? Could it be that they grieved together at not creating children from that love. It tells us in the Word that, “the Lord had closed her womb.” Here we see God’s plan as it unfolds and how he had a very specific purpose in not willing blessings to Hannah and Elkanah until the precise time, His time.

Peninnah had used Hannah’s barrenness against her and wielded her influence purposefully in badgering and hurting Hannah. This thorny pain went on year after year. I believe that Peninnah did this behind her husband’s back. Hannah, being of a meek and quiet spirit did not want to gossip or display the same hatred toward Peninnah. So, she did not convey to here husband what had transpired and the situation continued unchecked. Elkanah would say to Hannah, “Why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted?” It was clear that Elkanah had no awareness of the torment Peninnah was wielding at Hannah. Holding onto this torment and not sharing it with her husband was another way in which she gave sacrificially. She did not want to show any disrespect to the other woman because of her love for Elkanah. Surely he was quite aware of the grief of carrying an empty womb as he said to her, “Don’t I mean more to you that ten sons?” Oh! I am sure that this question was one of bitter sweetness. I can feel the torn heart Hannah must have felt at that moment—bitter that she had never suckled a child at her breast, bitter at the pure emptiness of being barren. On the other hand, sweetness, in that her husband had wanted her to adore only him, to see him as fulfilling her needs, and in the deep love the two of them shared. Hannah remained steadfast through her trials, but things came to a head during one particular time while they were in Shiloh. It was there that Hannah let the dam burst and the river began to flow. Eli, a priest at the temple door, saw Hannah weeping bitterly and praying out to the Lord. At this point she made a vow saying, “O, Lord Almighty, if You will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant, but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head. As she prayed silently only moving her lips, Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine!” Hannah replied that she was not drunk, but a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I believe that dear Hannah was consumed before the pouring out of her spirit that day, and that it was in the very act of “pouring out” and fully emptying, that Hannah found relief. Eli answered and told her to go in peace and blessed her petition. It was then that Hannah left with a renewed joy in her heart. She was able to eat and had a smile upon her face. It was the act of “giving it” to the Lord that brought renewal.

The next morning they rose early and worshipped the Lord and returned to their house in Ramah and the Bible says that, “Elkanah knew his wife”. I love the use of the word “knew” here, as it shows the beauty of the intimacy that they shared together. Imagine the release that Hannah could now have in her marriage bed with her precious husband without the joy stealing the worry of not bearing a child. The influence of worry no longer overshadowed the love she shared with him. She had given it to the Lord and placed it in His will in fully capable hands.

In due time the Lord blessed Hannah with a son and she named him Samuel. Samuel’s name means, most fittingly, “For this child I prayed.” The time had come once again that Elkanah took his whole house to offer his yearly sacrifice and his vow. Hannah stayed behind, for she said unto her husband, “I will not go up until the child is weaned and then I will bring him that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.” Elkanah told her to do what she thought was right and keep Samuel until he was weaned. So Hannah continued suckling her babe until the time came. Hannah kept her promise to the Lord and gave Samuel back as a sacrifice of her obedience. Hannah took Samuel to the house of the Lord in Shiloh and the Word says that Samuel grew and worshiped the Lord there.

In Samuel, Chapter 2 you can read Hannah’s beautiful prayer of praise. Hannah is a lovely woman of influence. In her we see a determined woman who believed in a God that was bigger than a barren womb. She was a woman who knew to pour and empty herself out to the Lord and to leave burdens with him. She knew where to go and where to find peace. She was a woman who gave of her first fruits—the child of her womb.

Can we not learn from Hannah’s example? Most of us have given sacrificially for our children at one point or another. It does not matter whether our sacrifice is big or small, our God sees. He is still a God that answers prayers and will bless that sacrifice. He will use those sacrifices to influence others as we live out our lives in front of others. Are you a woman of sacrifice? Are you a woman of influence?


Peggy Hostetler is the wife of John Hostetler, mother to their six children ranging in ages 21 through 7 months. They reside in the hills surrounding Orrtanna.

Peggy leads an online ministry for Christian women entitled Lives of Simplicity.

She also publishes, along with her
daughter, Olivia, Lives of Simplicity Magazine four times per year.

Peggy Hostetler
1285 Mt. Carmel Rd.
Orrtanna, PA 17353

www.geocities.com/livesofsimplicity
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