May 25 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Lydia

Read Acts 16:13-15

This painting by William Holman Hunt is an illustration of Revelation 3:20, depicting Christ standing at a door knocking.  When Hunt showed the painting to his family and friends, they commented that it was beautiful, but that he forgot something important. They pointed out that he forgot, “a latch or handle of some type.”  Hunt replied, “Oh no, I didn’t forget the handle.  When Jesus knocks on the door of your heart – the handle’s on the INSIDE.”

In Acts 16:13-15 we read the story of Lydia, one who heard the knocking on her heart and responded.

v14 : An opened heart.

Lydia was at the river outside of Philippi, praying and worshipping with other women. Notice that not just the place of worship was mentioned, but also the name of one who was there. God is concerned about the individual!  Lydia, a successful businesswoman, made time in her day to worship the Lord.  She had a heart that was willing to listen and to learn.  She had a hunger and thirst for more in her life and found it in God. When Paul shared the gospel message, she opened the door of her heart, and invited Jesus in.  It’s not enough to be a worshipper of God, we must believe in the work of His Son, and invite Him into our heart.  Around the door in the painting are many plants that seem to crowd the door.   What is crowding the door in your life: work, family, finances, hobbies?  Lydia was a successful businesswoman, but it did not stand in the way of inviting Him into her life.

v15 : An opened home.

“When the heart is opened to Jesus, the ear is opened to His word, the lips are opened in prayer

and the hand is opened in charity.”

Matthew Henry

Lydia had opened the door of her heart and now her hand is opened in charity.  She was insistent that Paul and his companions come to her home.  She saw her first ministry as one of introducing her household to the One who was knocking at the door of her heart. This took great courage on her part because the prevailing spirit in Philippi was one of persecution to those following the teachings of Paul.  (Acts 16:16-24) All in her household believed and were baptized.  The result of her hospitality? A church. 

In Acts 16:40 after their miraculous release from prison, Paul and Silas went to Lydia’s house to meet with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Her hospitality led to a vibrant church in Philippi, where others heard the good news of Jesus. 

A guest at one of our children’s wedding said, “That ceremony was a little heavy on the Jesus stuff, don’t you think?”  The reply from another guest was, “Don’t you know whose house this is?” How is your house perceived by others?  How can you make your home a place of rest in Christ?  Who do you know who needs to open the door of their heart? 

Invite them into your home.

May 24 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Mary Magdalene

Read Luke 8:1-2 and Mark 16:9-11

Death to Life. Old to New. Graves to Gardens. Ashes to Beauty.

All of these phrases represent what Jesus has done for us and causes me to think of Mary Magdalene.

We only see her appear in Scripture just a handful of times but her story is one of a new life. Luke and Mark both tell us that Jesus healed her of evil spirits and demons were cast out.

We don’t see her backstory or her childhood. We do not see what abuse she may have gone through or what caused the enemy to grab a hold of her so strongly that she was oppressed and possessed with such evil. 

What we do see is her changed life.

Luke tells us that she went from city to city with Christ as He preached and taught. Mark tells us that Christ appeared to her and she is who ran to tell the other followers.

I look back at my old life and I do not recognize that person. That person was filled with such hopelessness and despair but Christ came to me, saved me and set me free from that darkness, just as He did for Mary Magdalene.

When we experience the gospel, it changes us but it also changes our perspective and our priorities.

Christ saw something in her and gave her a new purpose by delivering her from the darkness she knew all too well.

Just as He did for her, He has done for you.

What darkness may be filling your perspective? Where have you possibly lost hope?

May I encourage you to go back and read the gospels. The Lord healed so many people during His ministry on earth and He continues to heal us.

I pray that, as you look at the circumstances in your life, you also see the deliverance and the hope that is in Jesus. I pray that, like Mary, we walk forward, listening to His truths, words and life and allow that to cause us to experience more change for us and help to those around us.

I challenge you: spend some time in Luke 8 and Mark 16 and write down all of the ways in your life that God has shown up and moved. Allow that to propel you to the posture of surrender and hope. 

May 23 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Martha & Mary

Read Luke 10:38-40

My Grandma had 9 children, so, when we all got together, it was a major event. All year, she looked forward to the July reunion.  In January, she would stand in line at the Parks and Rec office to be sure to reserve our favorite picnic table at the city park.  Further preparations included lots of baking of cookies, homemade noodles drying on her dining room table and my uncles’ favorite potato rusk rolls. But in my memories of Grandma at the reunions when the work was over, all that came from her were lots of smiles and laughter. One of my fondest reunion pictures is of her hiking up her long skirt and wading barefoot in the creek with the little ones! Grandma was her happiest when she was in the presence of her children.

Reflecting back on that time, she reminds me of both Mary and Martha.  Martha in her wanting everything just right for her guests, but also like Mary in knowing how to not miss out on being in the moment and enjoying the ones she loved!

So, who are you like spiritually? Are you like Martha, so busy with your life that you totally forget that Jesus is waiting to spend some time with you? Do you only acknowledge Him when you are in trouble or when you are exhausted and at your wit’s end? If you do get to church on Sunday, are you too worried about what you or your kids are wearing, what you are going to cook for lunch, or what others might be thinking about your choice of earrings?  When you do study your Bible, are you so worried about which Scripture you should be reading and totally miss the message God is speaking to you?

Or are you a Mary, delighted to open your eyes before everyone else in the house is awake and just enjoy listening to Jesus and relaxing in His presence before your day starts? Do you freely speak to Him on your drive to work or school or even while doing household chores?

We all need to prepare for practically everything we do. The problem comes when the preparations take the place of the pleasure of the event itself.  Being in the presence of Jesus should have been Martha’s priority. I am sure she was nervous and wanted everything perfect!  Martha was missing it, all lost in her preparations. I don’t think Martha was bad; she just hadn’t realized how important this moment was.

Mary got it! Food to her didn’t matter at that time. Jesus was there! I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.

Jesus is calling for you to come, sit and chat. 

Will you take Him up on His offer?

May 22 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – The Samaritan Woman

Read John 4:29


A simple word that is found in scripture almost 2,000 times. A small word packed with a lot of meaning. It’s an invitation. “Come, all who are weary” -an invitation to rest. “Come near to God” -an invitation to be in His presence. “Come bow down” -an invitation to worship. “Come, all who are thirsty” -an invitation to be satisfied.

John 4:4 states that Jesus had to pass through Samaria. Women did not usually draw water in the heat of the day, but Jesus knew a certain woman would be there at that time. Living a life of shame, she came to the well at noon to escape ridicule and avoid meeting others. Her encounter with Jesus requesting her to give him a drink was radical. Jewish men, in that culture, did not converse with women, especially Samaritans.

Jesus always has a different agenda.

He came to offer her living water. Misunderstanding what Jesus meant, she was eager to fill her water pot with this living water so that she would never have to return to the well and her physical thirst would be satisfied. It sounded too good to be true! But Jesus is always more interested in our spiritual condition than our physical comfort. Moving from the topic of water to worship, the woman said to Him:

“I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”

Jesus said to her:

“I who speak to you am He.”

She encountered the Great I Am and her response was to leave her water pot. I love that picture of an abandoned water pot at the foot of the well. When we receive the invitation to come, something has to be left behind.

What is your water pot? What are you trying to satisfy your life with other than Jesus?

Jill Briscoe says, ‘’I Am’ means God will be all that I need Him to be when I need Him to be all that I need.”

Only Jesus truly satisfies. 

Once we come to the Living Water, we are to offer the invitation to others.

“Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”John 4:29

She had just met Jesus. She didn’t know all the right answers, but she knew her own story and that’s what she shared. She offered the invitation to come. Have you come to Jesus? Jesus said,

“If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”

He offers you Himself, the Living Water.

When was the last time you shared your story and offered others the invitation to come and see the One who changed your life? The woman shared her story and verse 39 tells us many in that city believed in Jesus because of the word of the woman who testified. 

“Come.” An invitation to receive and give today.

May 21 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Anna

Read Luke 2:36-38

Faith: Seeing things the way God says they are and not how our eyes see them.

How many moments in our lives do we walk through situations or circumstances without faith? The only perspective we see is our own.

Take Anna for example. From Scripture, we know that she was very old and that she was only married 7 years before becoming a widow. We know that, for all of the time she was a widow, 84 years, she never left the temple. She continually prayed and fasted. When she saw Jesus, she knew. The Lord fulfilled His promise and sent His Son to redeem us.

“She…continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Put yourself in Anna’s shoes. If you lost your spouse or someone closest to you, would you spend every waking moment serving the Lord?

In my opinion, after Anna lost her husband, the culture said she wasn’t worth anything because she did not have a husband. However, the Lord had a different calling for her and, instead of seeing things the way the world said they were, she chose to see God’s perspective. The Scripture points out that she gave thanks to God after she saw Jesus.

This tells me that for 84 years, she prayed and fasted for the redemption of the world and, once God fulfilled the promise He gave since the beginning of the earth, she gave thanks because it was finished!

How many times in our lives do we lose something but, instead of looking at it through the lens of our sadness or despair, we see God through it all and pray for His promises to be seen and known?

Anna chose faith above all else. She chose to serve God until Christ came and continued to serve Him by spreading the news.

What lens do you see your life through? Do you hold steadfast to the truth that God has spoken? To hold firm to the faith He has gifted us with? Do you see things the way He says they are and not how our past, culture or eyes see them?

Kelly Lawson

May 20 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Mary

Read Luke 1:1-56

What does it mean to be blessed? It is a word that is used often nowadays, often on social media.

A New Home? #Blessed.

Unexpected bonus? #Blessed.

College Scholarship? #Blessed.

We may pray that God will bless our family. We talk about our undeserved gifts as “God’s blessings” and we talk about ministries being blessed.

So, what does it really mean?

Scripture shows that a blessing is anything God gives that makes one fully satisfied in Jesus (see Matthew 5:3-12) and that draws us closer to Him. Many times, it is the struggles and the disappointments which allow us to get closer to God. God’s greatest blessing always rests in God himself. When we have that, we are truly #blessed.

Mary was blessed. She was a poor virgin from a small village in Galilee. The way she responded to the angel (Gabriel) was in humility and faith. She was OK with God’s plan for her life, although it included suffering. At times, she must have been confused and full of fear as her life‘s events happened. After all, she was human. But, she was the mother of Jesus. Can you think of a greater honor? Luke writes about Mary’s amazing and humble hymn of praise – Mary’s Song – to God for the blessing of being the mother of the Messiah.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed…”Luke 1:46-48

The New Testament gives us all the reliable information that we have about the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was descended from David, and Christ, as to his human nature, was a descendent of David (Romans 13, Acts 2:30, 2 Timothy 2:8).

Mary was distinctive in human history. She was “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42), and among men as well. She received the gift of being the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:43), who grew inside of her body in human form. Mary appears in Matthew 1 and 2 in the infancy story. She appears at Cana in Galilee when Jesus miraculously turned water into wine in John 2:1-12. She appears at the cross in John 19:25-27 and in the scene in the upper room in Acts 1:14.

The angel told Mary that she had “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Certainly, bearing and raising the Christ child was an incredible favor and blessing. Mary was blessed among women, despite the negatives. She was an extraordinary woman.

Mary was blessed by the journey she was on. How are you blessed on your journey? Like Mary, what are some circumstances that you can and should trust the Lord’s provision for? Even through the trials of life, God is faithful and will bless you as you rely on Him.

Tom Weckesser

May 19 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Hannah

Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10

There once was a woman who was steadfast in her faith and was loyal to the Lord and loved her husband. However, there was sadness in her heart. She was barren. For many years she could not conceive. She went before the Lord and surrendered all she had and promised Him her son if He would bless her womb.

The Lord answered her prayer.

I take away a lot of things from Hannah’s story. She walked faithfully with the Lord and believed He was who He said He was and served Him, despite the heartache and discontentment she experienced. Hannah knew that she could be raw and real and bring all of her hurt, pain and heartache to the Lord. There is a trust exchange between Hannah and the Lord.

Hannah has always been one of my favorite women of God’s word because. . . how many of us can relate with the principle of surrender and servanthood that Hannah displays?

When the Lord fulfilled her prayer and gave her Samuel, she did the one thing that I think would be hard for any mother to do: she gave her son back to the Lord to serve Him all his life.

Could you do this? Could I?

Twelve years ago, a great friend went on “The World Race”. This is a mission field where a group of people go to 11 different countries for 11 months. I remember sitting with my friend’s mother, inviting her to express her worries and fears with her daughter’s travels. She looked at me and simply said, “I may be afraid, but she was His before she was mine”.

You see, any parent would have an incredibly hard time surrendering their child to the unknown, but here is a woman who trusts in the Lord that she fulfilled her promise to not be in her son’s everyday life.

Hannah is an extraordinary woman because of the heart of surrender she displays and the trust exchange she has with the Lord.

I have to ask myself and, even ask you, when you read Hannah’s story, what do you see? What characteristics of her life and her love for the Lord speak to you? What in her story causes you to pause and look at your own life?

Take a moment and evaluate your life. Do you truly believe that everything belongs to God first?

Kelly Lawson

May 18 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Ruth

Read Ruth 1:16-18

The four chapters of Ruth are a beautiful depiction of hope, faithfulness and loyalty. If you haven’t yet, I would encourage you to read the entire book and learn more about the faithfulness of God.

The book centers around a woman named Naomi. Through some tragic events, her husband and her sons pass away and she is left with her daughters-in-law. Based on Naomi’s prompting, one of the daughters leaves back for her hometown. Ruth, however, stays.

When Naomi encourages her to leave again, Ruth responds with inspiring words of loyalty:

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”

When she was rightfully able to leave for a more comfortable life, Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law and not allow her to be lonely and isolated.

How loyal are you to those that are most important to you?

What all are you willing to walk through with them? To what extent are you willing to encourage them and point them back to Christ?

As you read on through the rest of Ruth’s story, you will see that God remains faithful to her and blesses her. It’s even through her blood line that Jesus would eventually come.

How about that for faithfulness?

Throughout this devotional series, you will discover a clear theme of the Lord’s faithfulness and blessing to those who are in Him.

To take loyalty a step further, to what extent are you loyal to God?

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”

How often do you find yourself attached to Jesus’ hip, fully surrendered to His plan and direction for your life? When this life gives you an “out”, what is your response?

The Bible guarantees you that, if you remain faithful to God and submissive to His will, you will receive protection and blessing forevermore.

Jake Lawson

May 17 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Rahab

Read Matthew 1:5-6 and Joshua 2:1-25, 6:20-25

There was a boy who made a boat and was pleased with it.  He took it to the creek to watch it float.  But the current in the creek was too strong and took the boat away.  A few days later, the boy walked by a second-hand store.  In the window the boy saw his boat.  He went home and emptied his piggy bank to buy back his boat.

This is a story of redemption.  The boy regained possession of his creation in exchange for payment.  This is exactly what God did for each of us.  We were created by Him.  He was pleased with His creation.  But the “world” carried His creation away, He redeemed/bought back His creation through His Son.  In today’s passage, Rahab experiences God’s redemption:

In Jericho — Joshua 2:1-11

Rahab lived in the walls that surrounded Jericho.  She risked her life hiding spies sent by Joshua to survey Jericho.  Rahab’s statement of faith in Joshua 2:9-11 reveals her commitment to God rather than to man.

Verse 9 –

“I know that the Lord…”  Rahab knew there is only One True God. 

“…given you this land…”  Rahab knew Israel was His chosen; Jericho was God’s to give. 

Verse 11 –          

“…the Lord your God…”  Rahab knew that God is a personal God who works on behalf of those who trust Him.

“…God of Heaven and earth” Rahab knew that He is Lord over all

Rahab, in verse 10, had heard of His miracles, but had not seen, and she believed. 

In her house — Joshua 2:12-25

Rahab invited her family to come into her house, escaping destruction and death.  By accepting her invitation, they would experience life.  The waiting was probably hard.  Not knowing the day or time of the coming destruction.  But they waited expectantly for deliverance.  Christ has extended an invitation to you to “come in.”  He has promised He will return and, by accepting His invitation, you will receive life. This is an invitation to be redeemed.  While we wait for His return, who do you need to invite to “come in?”

In Israel — Joshua 6:20-25

The trumpet sounded, the army shouted, and the walls of Jericho collapsed. However, the section of wall that Rahab and her family were in, did not fall. God’s first priority was not altering her circumstances, but altering her heart.  Rahab and her family remained in the house in Jericho where they probably heard the destruction around them. 

God did not change Rahab’s circumstances, He changed her heart.  Rahab’s faith in God lifted her out of her circumstances:

“…she lives among the Israelites to this day.”Joshua 6:24b

You were created for God’s pleasure.  The “current of the world” took Rahab far from God.  Romans 3:23 says that we all have sinned.  We have all drifted away from our Maker.  He knows, He sees you drifting. Through the blood of His Son Jesus, we have been redeemed, He has bought us back. Rahab heard and believed in the work of God.  This Gentile woman, a sinner, is listed in the lineage of Christ.  She was redeemed and God will do the same for you. 

You have now heard!  Will you choose to believe and, as Rahab did, confess with your mouth that He is LORD?

Janene Nagel

May 16 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Sarah

Read Hebrews 11:11 and Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-7

When God appeared to Abraham in Genesis 12, telling Him that he would be the father of a great nation, there was one big issue: Abraham was well past the typical age that you would have kids with his wife, Sarah, being well past the child bearing age.

As you read through the story of Sarah, there are definitely ups and downs. There are times when they believed in God’s promise and there were times when they tried to take matters into their own hands and made a huge mess of things.

Sarah’s story can be summed up by “hoping against hope”. Even when it didn’t make sense, at the end of the day, they submitted to God’s plan and they were blessed as a result. God is faithful and will keep His promises to us. Sarah believed and was blessed.

After reading Sarah’s story, you may find yourself thinking of areas in your life that you are hoping against hope. You may want, so badly, for something to happen and you are beginning to have your doubts.

What Abraham and Sarah had to understand was that God operates from a whole different perspective than us. He knew what His plan for mankind entailed and knew what needed to happen for that to take place. He knew that Sarah would bear a son and that all of Israel, His chosen people, would follow.

He knew it. All of Heaven knew it. On earth, Sarah laughed.

What seems impossible in your life? God is not a genie who’s going to grant all your wishes exactly how you ask them. Instead of thinking like that, I encourage you to consider changing your perspective and focus on truth.

What does God say in His Word about your circumstances? What promises has He already made?

The rubber meets the road when you have to decide if you are fully going to surrender your situation to God. Are you going to allow Him to fully control what the outcome is?

“…she considered Him faithful who made the promise.”

Do you consider God faithful? Do you trust that He will come through where He promised He would?

God is faithful…even when we struggle to believe.

Jake Lawson