Stand Up Straight!
Recently I was asked to speak at a women's conference entitled, Women of Power! I am always excited to get invitations to speak up for women. I like to think of myself as the 'Harriet Tubman' for women in spiritual bondage. I know my purpose is to lead women into a life of liberty, free from the slavery of religious constraints. I don't do this by male bashing. I have never needed to do that. I am intentional about respecting the men who serve in God's kingdom. I simply try to point out in Scripture that we too are included , called, and necessary for God's mandate to be accomplished. Part of that mandate includes women as leaders!
This is a subject that I am very passionate about and our text proves that Jesus is as well. One Sabbath day Jesus is teaching in a synagogue and he sees a woman who has been crippled by an evil spirit. This woman has been bent doubled over for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. Jesus stops what he is doing, calls her over, tells her she is healed, touches her and instantly she could stand up straight!!!!
As I was studying this passage there were some wonderful insights that Holy Spirit showed me regarding women and how Jesus feels about us...all of us. Let me share these insights with you.
1. JESUS SEES YOU - You see the woman in our text represents most of us, at least in how we feel. some times or most times. She is nameless, crippled and carrying a great weight. She is bowed over which means she is not standing tall where she can be easily seen. However, this is the very thing that makes her noticeable to Jesus while being ignored by everyone else. Let me tell you ladies, regardless to how low you may be right now, Jesus sees you. No one may know your name right now but Jesus does. And regardless to how long you have been carrying your burden, Jesus is ready to deliver you.
2. JESUS NEVER SHOWS UP WITHOUT AN AGENDA TO SHOW OUT- Let me tell you one of the things in this story that I just love. I love the when, the where, and the who! I love the audaciousness of Jesus. He goes against all social, religious and cultural protocol to prove how much he is concerned about hurting women. I hope you see this in the text. He touched her and instantly she could stand straight. If you can relate to this woman, this would be a good time for you to say, "Touch me, Jesus!"
3. SOME OF YOU HAVE BEEN BOUND FOR SO LONG YOU HAVE LOST YOUR PRAISE - The first sign of deliverance is when you regain your ability to praise. Our text says that after she received her healing she began to praise God. Do you know that when you have been burdened with something so long that it will cause you to lose your praise? When you have been burdened with something so long you eventually just accept it and stop talking about it. You no longer expect help or deliverance. I believe this was true for the woman in our text. Nowhere does it say that she was there expecting to be healed. She was not crying out or making herself noticeable among the crowd. But Jesus knew that there was something of great value in her that needed to come out. So he delivered her AND WHEN SHE GOT DELIVERED SHE BEGAN TO PRAISE GOD!
4. EVERYBODY WILL NOT BE HAPPY FOR YOUR DELIVERANCE - Verse 14 in our text tells us that the leader of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed "her" on the Sabbath day. Ladies let me tell you that not everyone will be happy to see God's women rise to their place of prominence and leadership. Not everyone will be happy to see you delivered and free to walk in whatever God has called you to. Some people are just more comfortable knowing that you are bound (restrained). You must remember that in order for us to have our day it is going to take Jesus showing up in some of the most unlikely religious or structured environments to demonstrate his love and his power in our lives. And when he does we must be ready to speak up, even if it ruffles a few feathers. The leader of the synagogue would have never known about her healing had she not spoken up so loudly.
5. IT IS OUR TIME - I probably would not have taken this passage of scripture so personally if Jesus had not pointed out the female discrimination in the text. I love how Jesus defends this woman in verses 15&16. He rebukes the leader of the synagogue for placing more value on livestock than he does on "her". Jesus calls her a dear "woman", a "daughter", and "she". He is purposely pointing out her gender. Let me tell you that today is no different. The same Jesus who defended this woman will defend you too. She never had to speak up for herself and neither will you. Jesus has our back!!!!
6. THERE IS SOMETHING OF GREAT VALUE IN YOU TOO - Let me reiterate from the beginning by saying Jesus sees you, too. He sees that there is a praise in you that needs to come out. There is a treasure in you that is buried beneath that burden. You have a story that needs to be told. There is an audience waiting on you to tell it. No matter how long you have been bound I have come today to tell you that one touch from Jesus will set you free. He is not finished with you, he is just starting.
7. IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT JESUS - As long as you keep everything about Jesus you will not have to worry about what others are thinking about you. The last verse in our text says that when Jesus defended this woman he shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things that he did. As long as you keep it about Jesus you can stand up straight, hold your head up, stick your chest out, pull your shoulders back and march forward because Jesus has set you free!!!!
Ladies, I know you have been scarred but you no longer have to be scared. It is our time! I know you have been denied but we are not defeated. It is our time! You may not be perfect, but your gift will work while Jesus is still working on you. It is our time!!! Jesus is going to release that gift in you while He releases you to walk in it. So stand up straight and get to moving!!!