Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Slowdown

I found no other way to share this with you all, than to embed this in the post. I hope that you will forgive the intrusion -- ordinarily I try to work things out so that the music only plays if you decide to click on it. But this wonderful song and tune was so special that I wanted you to hear it.
This precious hymn was written in 1893, but the words surely speak to us as wives, mothers, and sisters. Whether married or single, we need to let our lights shine for Him!

There’s a dear and precious Book,
Though it’s worn and faded now,
Which recalls those happy days of long ago,
When I stood at mother’s knee,
With her hand upon my brow,
And I heard her voice in gentle tones and low.

Blessèd Book, precious Book,
On thy dear old tear stained leaves I love to look;
Thou art sweeter day by day, as I walk the narrow way
That leads at last to that bright home above.

As she read the stories o’er
Of those mighty men of old,
Of Joseph and of Daniel and their trials,
Of little David bold,
Who became a king at last,
Of Satan and his many wicked wiles.

Then she read of Jesus’ love,
As He blessed the children dear,
How He suffered, bled and died upon the tree;
Of His heavy load of care,
Then she dried my flowing tears
With her kisses as she said it was for me.

Well, those days are past and gone,
But their memory lingers still
And the dear old Book each day has been my guide;
And I seek to do His will,
As my mother taught me then,
And ever in my heart His Words abide.

Blessèd Book, precious Book,
On thy dear old tear stained leaves I love to look;
Thou art sweeter day by day, as I walk the narrow way
That leads at last to that bright home above.

Update: I removed the embedded file of the music but you can access it by using this link if you are interested:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trustworthy -- Part II

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, 
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 

Today we are starting at verse 12 . . .

Lemuel's mom now tells him, "Son, you want a woman who always has your best interest in her heart."
How true.
A woman who always seeks to build up her husband, and whose desire is to make him every bit of the man that he can be, is a treasure to her mate.  You don't have to be a Jewish mom, advising a future king, to know that!

All of the days of her life, the ideal wife is devoted to the well-being of her husband. Whether it is in good times or bad, times of plenty or times of little, times of happiness or times of sadness, she wants the best for him. Some of us recall the words in our vows: "in sickness or in health", etc. The Proverbs 31 wife is always devoted to her husband's success, in every area of his life.

This is not something that fluctuates; it's not something that has ups and downs according to mood. She will seek the very best and the noblest, highest things for the man who is her husband.
Remember how Sarah took care of Abraham? 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbandslike Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.  I Peter 3:3-6

Sarah was committed to him. She even called him lord. She was not concerned about her own rights, her own position, her own worth. She was first and foremost concerned about his success and his comfort. Sarah revealed her trustworthy character (yes, she had flaws and issues; we all do!) by her unwavering service on his behalf. 
A love that deep has a purity, a depth of devotion, and a power that is never changing. Her delight is in his joy, and his reputation and success. Living for him is a constant happiness to her, not drudgery.

And a sidenote here . . .That means that when necessary, because his highest good is her greatest desire, she will confront his sin and his weakness. And lovingly she will be a conscience, she will be necessarily the voice of God, never unkind, always submissive, but eager to be sure that he walks with God. She is concerned to gently, tenderly confront his sin and his failure. That's part of desiring him to be everything he should be. 
I think that is the core of what it says in Titus, when it tells the young women to love their husbands. It's not talking about walking around leaving a trail of hearts and flowers; it isn't talking about emotion. It means that when you love someone deeply, you seek their best interests. Our desires for our husbands should be that we want them to be every bit the men that God would want them to be; we want them to be as much as they can spiritually, and as much as they can professionally. We should seek for them to be the best fathers, the best friends, the best workers or employers, that they possibly can be. 
To that end, this ideal woman even advances her husband's respect - how he is perceived by others. We'll jump into that on Monday.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Proverbs 31:11-12,23 Our character as wives....trustworthy

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, 
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

We're diving in today, and the first image of the ideal wife is a character trait called "trustworthy." We'll look at verses 11, 12, and 23 for this one . . .
In the ancient world, even in Judaism, things were very different from today. Women were not always looked upon as God had planned for them to be looked upon, nor were they treated as He had planned for them to be treated. Often they were perceived to be second-class citizens.
Very often men built up close and strong friendships with other men; their wives were distanced from them, and often treated as servants. Some men didn't even maintain intimate relationships with their wives -- instead they kept them as serving staff, and had concubines for intimacy.
As a result, sometimes there was not an intimate relationship, the kind that leads to a feeling of trust. Instead of devotion, love, and trust, there was a feeling of "I had better lock things up when I go on my business trip next week."

So, the first thing in this passage is that this husband doesn't have to lock anything up when he is not right there, handy to supervise. He can trust his wife, because she won't do anything to harm his personal gain. He has a calm that comes when he thinks that she will never violate anything, never do anything that brings harm. He can completely trust in her; she will never threaten what he has gained for the support of the family.
This passage is talking about the complete trust that is built on their intimate relationship and her integrity, wisdom, and discretion -- in the use of his assets and in the care of his interests.
You see, his comfort is her concern, and his burdens are hers to relieve. He can be at peace when he is absent from the homeplace, because he knows that all he has is safe with her. Why? Because she cares for him, and he knows it. Way down deep, he knows. He knows that she would never do anything that would cause him sorrow, or pain, or suffering or stress. He is not worried, because she is absolutely trustworthy.
Now, that is a great foundation for a marriage!

So, Lemuel's mom says that with the help of this ideal wife, he will have no lack of gain. He's never going to come back home, and have to make back waht she loses. He will never have to cheat, or falsify an account, or steal, to gain a little more, to cover a loss, or to get back something that she wasted carelessly.
I found it interesting that the meaning of gain in ancient times was that of spoils from war . . . booty. It almost sounds like the wife is a warrior bringing home booty from her victories -- that she goes out and fights if she has to, to bring back what her family needs. She uses what her husband provides, to make certain her family has what they need.
It sounds to me, coupled with other verses in the chapter, that she is in charge of the domestic matters. She's in charge of not just using, but also for accounting for the resources in the home. The husband is free to give himself fully to his work, because he knows she will be a wise steward of all of the household accounts. She will manage the resources that the husband earns and provides, and help him to profit.

He has enough because she is devoted to the care of his earnings because she loves him, because she cares about him, because she seeks his good. And that's what comes in verse 12; we will look at the next verse tomorrow: "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Verses that have helped

I'd like to encourage everyone who stops by the blog today to pause a moment and leave a specific comment: tell us a verse that has meant a great deal to you in the past week.

So many of us are facing similar challenges, heartaches and joys -- the verse that helped you this week might be just what another woman needs to hear!

I'll share one to get us started . . .

Psalm 37:4-5
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
There are things going on in our lives that we may not understand at this time; but as Charles Stanley often preached, we must not fret or whine. We need to ask ourselves, "What is my Father trying to teach me in this situation?"  There must be a reason, for He tells us that even though we don't understand, we must accept that . . .
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8
Share with us a verse or two that has inspired, comforted, or challenged you. God may use it to help someone else, too!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Proverbs 31:10-31 Introduction, Part III

Learnin' your letters!

Back to that in a minute. Lemuel's mom sure gave him some good advice, didn't she? She warned him to stay away from sexual impurity, to make certain he exercised self-control, to take care of people who are hurting, and defend those who can't defend themselves, and to deal justly with everyone, great or small. Great advice to make a good king. A good man. A good Christian, in our time.

Her last piece of advice was a very important one: find a good wife. Understanding the implications of a bad one: boisterous, quarrelsome, self-centered, wicked, such as Jezebel, and realizing the influence she was bound to have upon his life, his mother encouraged Lemuel to find an excellent wife.

The woman she describes is the model, the ideal woman. Checking other translations we find her called "excellent," "noble," and "virtuous." She is described as being worth more than jewels. 

Now, the rest of this chapter is such important advice that young Jewish men were encouraged to memorize it, to have uppermost in their minds the type of woman they would look for. In order to help them remember, a system was used that is not easily visible to us. There are twenty-two verses in this passage, and there are twenty-two characters in the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the verses begins with the next character in the sequence, in the Hebrew alphabet . . . it starts with aleph, bet, gimel, and so on, all the way through. The first letter of each of these proverbs is the next character in the sequence. That made it easy to memorize.....kinda like the things you do in school to remember things for a test, right? Well, every Jewish son could measure the excellence of a woman by these verses. Whew! There's a lot to live up to here! 

Well, this kind of woman is a gift from God. Remember Proverbs 19:14?
Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
I think all of us would prefer to be thought of in that way, rather than be like the harpies we mentioned last week, right? Well, we are going to learn about how to be like this ideal by looking at these six features: our characters as wives, our devotion as homemakers, our generosity as neighbors, our influence as teachers, our effectiveness as mothers, and our excellence as saints.

I am hoping that we (including me, especially!) will learn and grow in this study. Who will volunteer to bring the bandaids?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Slowdown

We are beginning our study of a venerated passage about wives and mothers....I thought this lovely song was appropriate:

You're up all night with a screaming baby
You run all day at the speed of life
And every day you feel a little bit less
Like the beautiful woman you are

So you fall into bed when you run out of hours
And you wonder if anything worth doing got done
Oh, maybe you just don't know
Or maybe you've forgotten

You, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

With every "I know you can do it"
Every tear that you kiss away
So many little things that seem to go unnoticed
They're just like the drops of rain over time
They become a river

And you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

You're beautiful

And you're changing the world

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Proverbs 31 Introduction (Six we don't want to be)

We mentioned yesterday that this passage is describing an excellent wife. I thought we might pause and refresh our memory of what we DON'T want to be....all from this same book of Proverbs.

We've made their acquaintance in previous chapters: Mrs. Ida Wannabefaithful, Mrs. Ida Wannabequiet, Mrs. Ican't Beserious, Mrs. Idon't Wantboundaries, Mrs. Iloveto Argue, Mrs. Geta Youintrouble . . .
They are all in sharp contrast to the excellent wife. Remember them?

Mrs. Ida Wannabefaithful just can't be happy with her husband. She is the adulterous woman that is mentioned in Proverbs. Instead of keeping her vows, she is as Proverbs describes her: she lies in wait for the inexperienced man, her lips drip with honey but she is evil, etc. In short, you don't want to get messed up with her!

Mrs. Ida Wannabequiet is the noisy woman; she simply cannot get her hands (or mouth) wrapped around the concept of listening before speaking. She is, therefore, constantly talking, and Proverbs says it would be better to live in a corner of a tiny house, than in a big house with her!

Mrs. Ican't Beserious is the foolish woman; this is a woman who despises wisdom and instruction. Proverbs tells us that this woman will rant and rage, and only care if her own opinion is valued.

Mrs. Idon't Wantboundaries is the rebellious woman; Proverbs says a rebellious person will harden their heart and stiffen their neck -- they will go against anyone and everyone who says they can't have their way.

Mrs. Iloveto Argue is the quarrelsome woman; she refuses to take the advice of Proverbs and use a soft answer to turn away wrath. Instead, she is constantly arguing and fun to be around!

Mrs. Geta Youintrouble is the woman who incites her husband to evil. Remember King Ahab? He let his wife, Jezebel, point him toward evil ways, and even let her push him down the path. Proverbs tells us that "Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray,"(Prov. 10:17) and Jezebel sure did lead him astray. Ahab was the king, but his life was influenced by his wife, and in a negative way.

So, turning away from the adulterous woman, the noisy woman, the foolish woman, the rebellious woman, the quarrelsome woman, and the woman who incites her husband to evil, we come to the "excellent wife."  This will be the focus of our study -- we have one more post scheduled as introduction, and then we'll dive in. Join me, won't you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Proverbs 31:10-31 Introduction

The ideal woman? Give me a break, I can hear some of you saying. I know, I know. There might be some surprises in store for us, though, as we study this famous chapter. I think there are nuggets here for single women, married women, young and old. Before we dive in, I'd like to set the stage . . .

It used to be a very different view in our world; the "ideal" woman, or the woman that many tried to be, was something far removed from what the culture promotes today. It's fun to look at magazines from years past -- you can learn a lot from the articles, and from the advertisements. Leafing through old Life magazines, say, from the thirties (that's 1930's to you whippersnappers!) you would think that women were only interested in fresh breath, good smokes, and their husbands' gorgeous, well groomed hair. With an occasional foray into the gee-I-guess-I-need-a-girdle-after-Johnny-was-born thoughts. The magazines are filled with pictures of appetizing meals, beautifully smiling models, and products to help your home warm, happy, and luxurious.
In the war years, the ads changed somewhat, to include tips on ration-point-stretching recipes, and what to wear when Johnny Sr. came home. Pictures focused on women who were cooking for their families, reading stories to the children, and helping the homefront war efforts. The point that I am trying to make here is the contrast between the "ideal" of that time, and the supposed "ideal" of now . . .
Today's woman is expected to wield a briefcase or smartphone instead of a spatula or storybook; the woman who "has it all" is exalted in print and on television. Let's look at this woman:

Our superwoman works, building her career and demanding equal pay. She refuses to submit to her husband, demanding equality with him in everything. She has an affair or two, and then a divorce or two. She exercises her independence and relies on her own strength and resources. Doesn't want her husband or her children to threaten her personal goals. She very often has her own bank account and she hires a maid or a cleaning service, eating out at least 50 percent of the time with her family (or without). She makes cold cereal and coffee the standard breakfast for everybody. Quick frozen meals are the usual dinner fare if there is a dinner fare at home, and she expects her husband to do at least an equal share of housework, if not more.
She is tanned, groomed, aerobicized, shops to keep up the fashion trends, making sure she can compete in the attention-getting contest. She puts the kids in a day-care center. When they are older, she makes sure each one has a TV in his room or a radio and a CD player so they are entertained all the time and don't bother her. She is opinionated, usually likes to be heard from and is eager to fulfill her personal goals.
That's the kind of woman that the world applauds. It doesn't appear that she can really stay married, she can't stay happy and her kids get into trouble and sometimes drugs and more.

And guess what?
She is far from the woman that God has called the excellent woman to be.
Verse 10 mentions "an excellent wife," and that is what we will be discussing. This is an ideal, a model, a guide. This is not something that is supposed to inspire guilt or hopelessness. It doesn't even describe a particular woman . . . it describes an ideal. This is something that we can use to help us, not to tear us down.
I hope that we have some comments and discussions, for we can all learn from each other and from the Word. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Prayer Requests

It's time again for our prayer requests . . . it's an honor to be able to pray together, and I hope that we will all find a special time today to get on our knees and ask the Father to help those that we are aware of, that need a special touch from His hand.

Please feel free to leave a request that is on your heart, in the comment section below; or you can click on the Prayer page here at the blog, and leave it there. While you are here, please make a note of the requests that you see on these two places at the Study blog, and pray for those in your time with God.

Thank you for your faithfulness to your sisters and brothers in Christ.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Proverbs 31:8-9 Justice is blind but necessary

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

This is the final piece of advice that Lemuel's mother is giving him, in regards to his public life . . . that life as a king, a ruler of his people and his country. It is a reminder of his responsibility as a king. One of the things that we have heard hammered home in Proverbs is the idea that a king must have wisdom and discernment; he must do a noble job of ruling his people. And many of the verses have given instructions on just how to do that -- and we've been able to apply those instructions to our lives, too.

The king's mom reminds him that he is to speak up for the less privilege, and he is to judge fairly. In our culture, we have a graphic illustration that everyone recognizes. . . it is the figure of Justice, with her scales in hand, and she is blindfolded.  We take this to mean that judgements -- whether punishments or rewards -- will be measured out with no respect of the persons on either side. That a poor person has just as much right to justice as a rich person. This is a principle that is rooted in the Bible, and has been an integral part of our heritage and our history.

Not only is the king to judge fairly, but he is to defend a person that needs to be defended. No sitting back and letting others demean or vilify a person, simply because he isn't there to defend himself or herself. No allowances for others to mock or scorn one who needs compassion or understanding.

Every leader, whether a king, a pastor, or a parent leading children in the home, has a calling that must be remembered and honored. We must keep in the forefront of our minds that God has placed us where we are -- and for a reason. We all have a job to do, whether it is large or small. 
It's easy to compromise when we come up against persecution. It's even easier to compromise when we are flattered and distracted. But it is our responsibility to remember our calling, and to do as this mother advised:
                1. Be a person who models fidelity in our marriage and in our faith-walk.

                2. Be a person who models self-control.
                3. Show fairness to those who need our fairness and our defense of them.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Acts 20:35
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain I Cor 15:58

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Slowdown - Oslo Choir

This worship song is probably familiar to many of us. I hope that it blesses you at the end of this week of study.

Light of the world, You step down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you hope of a life spent with you.

And here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you're my God,
You're altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days,
Oh so highly exalted Glorious in heaven above.
Humbly you came to the earth you created.
All for love's sake became poor.

Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you're my God,
You're altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.
I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Proverbs 31:4-7 Bubbles

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

Lemuel's mother is cautioning him here against the great killer of self control -- alcohol. In all of its forms, whether beer, wine, ale, or liquor, it simply deadens the senses and removes self control from the picture.
As a king, he would need to be in control of himself and his intellect at all times. A leader of many will have responsibilities of dispensing justice, guiding his nation, deciding matters of financial consequence, even whether or not to go to war -- one of the major enemies of self control is drunkenness.
How many times have you heard someone say (seriously or in jest) that before they attempt something they need a "stiff drink"? The alcohol can dull the sense of fear and foreboding that is making it difficult for them to accomplish a task. Take away the fear and you have a person who feels bold and confident. Unfortunately, the same alcohol that gives them a false sense of boldness also removes some of their ability to think correctly! Drunkeness, or even what people call a "buzz" can make one forgetful, can make one's thought processes slower, and can affect one's reflexes, too. It is a depressant, and can impair speech, blur vision, and much more. Clearly, it is not a positive influence on a young king anxious to lead his country wisely!
A king must remember the laws and decrees of his country. Making a wrong decision can have effects that will last for many years.
Lemuel needed, as his mother reminded him, to also remember the laws of God. Having God's Word at the "tip of his tongue" would prove a precious guide when things get confusing.
Lemuel's mom was cautioning him to remain a committed, godly king -- to make sober and just decisions and to remain self controlled.

Her advice is excellent for us, as well. There are things in our lives that can affect our self control. Things that anger us, or that make us afraid. Things that can cause us to make poor decisions if they are left unchecked. We need to spend some time in prayer, examining the things that make us feel as if we are losing control, and either weed them out entirely, or ask our Father to help us handle them.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;   II Peter 1:5-7
 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  II Timothy 1:7

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Proverbs 31:2-3 Fidelity - it's a beautiful thing

Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

The first piece of advice that this mother gives to her son is about purity, and fidelity in the marriage relationship. She is warning him of the danger in adultery.
The book of Proverbs continually calls for sexual purity. Marriage is a God-instituted relationship, in which sexual desires may be channeled and enjoyed. 
Ever thought of how many lives have been changed by hormones? (Grin) We all know that hormones and the strong desires that they engender have caused lots of people trouble . . .
One example is Samson. He thought that Delilah was a beautiful babe, and he (mistakenly) thought she was all his. He never dreamed that she would be devious, but his hormones were raging and he succumbed to her. He went from being God's strong man, to being a laughing stock at the enemy's feasts. Only by repentance was he able to regain his strength and take many of them with him into death.
Another example is David. He was a man after God's own heart -- chosen for his role in history and in Christ's lineage -- but his hormones tripped him up. All it took was watching Bathsheba in her bubble bath, and he fell into adultery, committed murder, and tried (in vain) to hide his sin from his holy God.
Even Solomon, whose wisdom we have learned in these studies, allowed himself to be led astray by his 700 wives and 300 concubines; many of them were from "foreign" lands and brought their idols and idolatry with them. No wonder God warned against intermarriage with them!
Today, we find Satan promoting adultery. Our culture is inundated with messages of "do what feels good" and "who cares who it hurts" and other such negative advice. On the television, in movies, in popular music, and more, we receive daily messages that sexual impurity is A-OK. Well, we know it's not. But unfortunately, many in our world have swallowed those lines "hook, line, and sinker" as my grandfather used to say. As a result, today's society does not respect marriage vows. (My hubby and I have been married for over thirty-five years, and we were regarded with amazement, as something akin to dinosaurs with three heads, when we replied that was why we were dining out recently.)

To apply this to our own lives, it is obvious that we must honor and respect our vows of fidelity in our marriages.
But we must also be pure in our relationship with our Lord. We must put Him first.

And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3
 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.   Mark 12:30
 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Colossians 3:1-4
Fidelity -- it is really a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Proverbs 31:1 A mother's calling

"The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him."

That. Is. Motivating.

Look at it again. His mother taught him an inspired utterance. Not just opinion. Not just something she thought up on the spur of the moment, but an inspired teaching. 

Compared to the men in the Bible, we don't hear that much from the women of the Bible....not in so many words. There are many that we can read about, and see what others said about them, but this is a woman's words to her son. This is actually her advice to him.

Mother's ministry to her children is the strongest, most tender, and most influential of any ministries in this world. When she relies on God the Father for her ministry, it becomes not a job, not a chore, but an awesome and exhilarating adventure!
Think of all that motherhood means to us, and to the people of the ancient world: She has borne her child, and fed him at her breast or in her arms, has watched over his infancy and childhood with sedulous care, has shielded, sustained, and comforted him, fed him and clothed him -- in short, she has "mothered" him.

Think also of the motherly training and instruction that a godly mother imparts. . . this includes much more than the physical needs that have been met. It includes educating the childish intellect, molding and shaping the will of the child, the first impartings of religious instruction and values, and the many prayers uttered in that child's behalf. 

The godly and faithful mother also is unselfishly devoted to the best interest of her child; she is the bearer of true love and affection for her offspring. 

What is the duty of this child, now grown into an adult? (Many translations mention that this may be the words of Solomon's mother, for there are records of his being called "Lemuel" as a sort of family or "pet" name.) Surely the first responsibility is to respect the words of mother, to give them attention and consideration, and to dedicate oneself to honoring the advice that is given. For to do otherwise would be to wound the heart of one's faithful mother.

We need, as Christian women, to dedicate ourselves to being the faithful and noble woman described later in this chapter -- to give teachings to our children that are inspired by the Bible. And we need to honor our own mothers with respect and attention.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Proverbs 30:33 Deliberately stirring things up

33 "For as churning cream produces butter,
    and as twisting the nose produces blood,
    so stirring up anger produces strife."

Have you ever tried to use a butter churn? There is an art to it . . .it's not just slamming a paddle up and down inside the churn for a brief time. The start of the process is separating cream from milk; this cream is cooled, because the fat droplets will clump more easily when hard, then when they are soft. The cream is poured into the churn. Then the dash, or dasher, is introduced into the churn, and a steady, even pace of moving the dasher is begun. Youngsters were often given the job of churning the cream into butter, but often had the chore taken from them, since they lacked the patience needed to continue the rhythmic movements in just the way the mother needed them to do, for the best results!

Here is my point: there is a routine, a deliberate and planned way of churning butter. And there are people in our world who have a routine, a deliberate and planned way of stirring up other folks' anger. I believe that this is what Agur is speaking of in this verse. 

He is telling us that just as surely as churning cream results in butter, or hurting someone's nose results in bleeding, stirring up anger has an expected result as well -- strife.  You see, it is not the anger itself that he is speaking of, but the deliberate effort to stir up anger; it's very deliberate, and there is an end result in the mind of the "stirrer."
These folks enjoy seeing the strife and conflict that they stir up. They love to see division and disunity, and they love to see friendships torn asunder. In that way, they are very like our enemy, Satan, for the scriptures say that he likes to see those things, too.
Satan is the author of confusion, and he enjoys planting fearful thoughts in our minds to distract us from our peace, our faith in our Father. In this way he torments us (if we allow it) and plants strife and conflict in our hearts.
But our Savior likes to see just the opposite.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  Romans 16:17
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.  1 Cor 1:10
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:1-6

Let's be agents of peace and healing, not like those who deliberately stir things up!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Slowdown - Kind Words

I enjoy the searches that I do, to find songs and hymns that work with our studies. This one has been in my ear since I found it . . . I hope that you enjoy this, on today's Friday Slowdown.

Let us Oft Speak Kind Words

Let us oft speak kind words to each other
At home or where'er we may be;
Like the warblings of birds on the heather,
The tones will be welcome and free.
They'll gladden the heart that's repining,
Give courage and hope from above,
And where the dark clouds hide the shining,
Let in the bright sunlight of love.
Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live
And sunshine forever impart.
Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.
Like the sunbeams of morn on the mountains,
The soul they awake to good cheer;
Like the murmur of cool, pleasant fountains,
They fall in sweet cadences near.
Let's oft, then, in kindly toned voices,
Our mutual friendship renew,
Till heart meets with heart and rejoices
In friendship that ever is true.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Proverbs 30:32 Shut My Mouth

If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
    or if you plan evil,
    clap your hand over your mouth!

"Well, shut my mouth!"

Whew, how many times do I wish I had? How many negative consequences could I have avoided? And are you anything like me here?
Agur must have read all of the admonitions from Solomon to "watch your tongue" but he felt compelled here to tell us again . . . maybe because we need so often to be reminded? (Grin)

Exalting oneself is definitely playing the fool -- the opposite of that is humility. Humility is something that we gain and practice as we grow in wisdom and grace. I found a quote from Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary that helps:
"a prominent Christian grace. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; it preserves the soul in tranquility and makes us patient under trials."
David told us:
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
Ps 25:9
And Peter, too:
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5b
Now, as for the second half of the verse,  perhaps we don't often "plan" evil, but are there times when we say something that isn't very nice? About someone else? You know, when we are out in public, at church, amongst Christian friends, we may do a good job of being careful. We may think before we speak in those times. But when we are at home, do we "let our hair down"? Do we whine, complain, yell, or worse, and after all, they're family so they have to put up with us? Ouch.
This is a very old concept, but let's try to remember this acrostic:
                                    T -- Is it true?  
                                    H -- Is it helpful?  
                                     I -- Is it inspiring?
                                    N -- Is it necessary? (That one gets me a lot.)
                                    K -- Is it kind?
I think I shall post some of these verses around where I can see them. Often. Very often.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph. 4:29
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col. 4:6
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart 
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven,
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few. Eccl. 5:2
Maybe then I won't have to say, "Well, shut my mouth!"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Proverbs 30:29-31 Security even for kings

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.

Another translation says it this way, "a king against whom there is no rising up."  Many kings have been powerful and majestic in the history of this earth. Many have maintained their kingdoms by might and fury, others by wisdom and justice. Let's study this last portion of verse 31 and see if there are some nuggets here for us . . .
First, there is a key here if we look at each of the animals we studied -- they were creatures who "went solo" and didn't really depend on others for their traits. The lion is fearless, the rooster or war-horse didn't need other cocks or horses, and the he-goat doesn't consult the other goats before he does anything. (Grin)
The king, however, is established by having good people around him, whether we are talking about a loyal army or wise counselors. Solomon and his father David were great kings in their own right. They understood the power of a king, and they wrote about it. He was to be feared as the lion is feared in the jungle, and he was to suppress all evil in his realm. Agur says here that we are to admire his invincibility.
Anyone besides me admit to knowing what "Cliff notes" are? I guess they are obsolete now, since you can find most anything on the internet! We used to refer to these to get a much-condensed plot for a novel we needed to read in college . . .well, this chapter in Proverbs is almost a Cliff notes for a king -- it tells how the king can be established, and secure against revolt.
Check it out:
First, a king becomes stately by humility -- verses 1-4, and 32-33.
Next, he becomes established by listening to God's tested word -- verses 5-6.
He should renounce lying, and not focus on gathering wealth -- verses 7-9.
He should honor his parents -- verses 11-14.
He should refuse folly, and remain honorable --- verses 20-23.
Lastly, the king should not be puffed up, but consider himself small, and strive for the wisdom found in many natural things -- verses 24-28.
If the king will do all of these things, he will be secure, established, good and wise.

Now, we know that Christ, our Savior, is the King of Kings, and fulfills all of these traits perfectly.  But Christians should also seek to fulfill them. It is not enough for us to be righteous . . . we should also be stately and comely in going -- adding grace and attractiveness to everything that we do. The manner and spirit in which we do our duties adds to their beauty.

Are we bold and fearless like the lion in doing our Christian duties, regardless of persecution? Are we quick to keep the commandments of God, like the greyhound or war-horse? Are we leaders in our friendships and relationships, pointing others to the protection of God, like the he-goat guiding his flock?  Are we unmovable, like a great king, in defending our faith and our Lord?

I believe that I need to study this chapter even more, and dedicate myself to the concepts we've studied here!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prayer Requests

I hope that you will join me today in a specific time of your day that you set aside for prayer. We may be tempted to take for granted the privilege that we have, to speak to our Father in prayer.

We may be tempted by the hurry and busyness of life, to give just a few moments and then rush away, to things that seem more important.

What could be more important?

We have the opportunity to thank our Father for His blessings, to intercede for others who are hurting, sick, grieving, or in harm's way. We have the privilege of asking for His help in our own lives, as well.

Please look over our prayer request page, and scroll down to the comments below it. Check this page, also, to see if those who have visited already, have left a heartfelt request that you can pray for.

Let's be an army on our knees.

Join me, won't you?

Let's remember those touched by the extreme storms in the US, the lives touched by terrorism all across the world, and those of our sisters who have left requests that are on their hearts.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Proverbs 30:29-31 Sure-footed leadership

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.

You may be thinking to yourself, what is Snoodles thinking? We have learned some qualities of animals that we should try to imitate in other verses, but now . . . a goat?

Yes, a goat. Specifically, a "he-goat" is what Agur refers to.

Let's look closely at this. There are two things that come to my mind as I study this animal. One, is his sure-footedness, and the other is his leadership.
First, his sure-footedness.The goat, whether he is a domesticated animal or a mountain-dweller, is gifted by God with a nimbleness that is pretty awe-inspiring. Mountain goats can traverse tiny rock ledges and jump from foot-hold to foot-hold, as casually as we walk down a city sidewalk. Their balance and their ability to place their hooves "just so" and maintain their position without hurtling downward is amazing!
The domestic goat tries his best to emulate his wild brother, as I have seen them climb on cars, barns, and the roofs of houses, with just as uncanny an ability, to perform what we would consider death-defying feats of climbing and agility!
He-goats are known to be good leaders, as well. They are always found at the front of the flock, and are excellent patriarchs, guides and protectors of the other goats. They are strong and courageous in their protection of the flock.
Do you see some applications here? I sure do! I long to be able to show sure-footedness like the goat, and I hope that I can be a leader and protector of others, too!
In order to be sure-footed, we must trust God to order our steps.
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Ps 119:133
Here is one that gets right to the point:
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, 
upholds him with his hand.  Ps 37:23-24
In Jeremiah 50:8, there is a reference to being in the forefront, the leadership role: ..."be like the goats that lead the flock."
But how?
3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:3-8
There's true leadership!