Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Verses that speak

We haven't done one of these posts recently, and I think it is something that helps all of us.....what verses have spoken to you in recent study times?

Have there been times when you felt the Spirit speak and inspire you, or comfort you, with verses in the Word that you've read?

What gems have you uncovered in your Bible reading?

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know. It will be good for us to share with others, and you never know how much a sister in Christ may really need to hear that word from you!

As for me, this snippet has meant a great deal to me in recent days:

Is there anything too hard for the Lord?  Genesis 18:14
Of course, this is in reference to God enabling Sarah, Abraham's wife, to conceive a son at a time when it was way past her time of being fertile.
And yet, God came through on His promise to them, just as He will come through for us today.

I hope you will leave us a comment today.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Christian Businesswomen, Part II

Whether we are single or married, working in the home or outside the home, there are truths in our verse (verse 16) that can be applied to our lives and our walk with God.

There are two paths I'd like to look down now......
Speaking in a practical manner, what gifts has God bestowed on you, that you could use to increase your family's income?
Obviously, if you are already working with your talents and skills outside the home, you already know the answer to this question. But stay-at-home moms (like I was) can examine this, too.

Has God blessed you with education?  Perhaps before becoming a mom, you were blessed with the opportunity to get a degree or training of some type. Consider thoughtfully if you maybe able to use those skills to help your family. Can you tutor schoolchildren in certain subjects? Can you provide accounting services for your church or church family members?  Perhaps you can provide music lessons in your home.  It goes without saying that your first priority is your own family, but if you have some time that can be used, are there things that you can use your education for?

Has God blessed you with a hobby or passion that you can use? Do you enjoy shopping at outlets or online? Can you parlay that into an online business, selling clothing, shoes, children's games and books, or other things? Even if the profits seem small, they may be a great way to supplement your family's income, using your hobby that you find to be enjoyable.  Perhaps you enjoy sewing. You may be able to have an alteration business, make quilts to order, and more.  Your passion may be re-purposing discarded items into useful household gifts. The list is as varied as your imagination!

The opportunities are endless if you truly consider what God has gifted you with, and choose to use those gifts.

Secondly, let's talk about what God has given you that you can use, to expand His kingdom! Perhaps you have family obligations that deny you the opportunity to use your skills in the ways we have outlined above. Keep those skills sharp and ready!
By using them in His kingdom . . .Music skills? Try to be active in your church, whether playing an instrument or blessing others with song. Accounting skills? Be the treasurer for your Sunday School class, or volunteer to help organize fundraisers for groups in the church family. Do you have education and teaching skills? Start a home Bible study for women who live nearby, and plant seeds that God can grow.
Let's pray that our Father will show us what we can do; both for our families and for His kingdom!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Proverbs 31:16 - Yes, Virginia, there are Christian businesswomen!

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

I think that many in today's culture have this view (above) of the housewife or homemaker of today. Frazzled and frumpy, she has a gloomy look on her face as she considers the chores ahead of her. Added to this picture is the outlook that some people have of Christian women -- they think that our faith dictates our being at home, non-stop, and not having a career . . . Not what I would call a good match for our Proverbs 31 woman, would you? 
Where am I going with this?
Well, let's dive into this verse!

We've seen from our studies so far in Proverbs 31 that our top priorities need to be those whom we love and minister to, each and every day. Those have to be our first and most important focus. But I believe that Lemuel's mom is making an important point here -- the ideal woman has the ability to focus on other things, as well. It may be that she has the opportunity to help her family in other ways. 

(Our example here is one from an ancient era. Women in ancient times usually were not property owners. So I am guessing that she purchased the property in her hubby's, let's go on.)

By "in other ways" I mean that this Spirit-filled, God-powered, wonderful woman was also a -- hold it --- are you ready for it?  
A savvy, smart business woman! Yes, Virginia, there actually are Christian business women! 

Alright, the first part of this verse says "she considers a field." She isn't rushing into this. She is thinking carefully, weighing the advantages and disadvantages, and probably making sure that she isn't doing this for her own ambition, but for the benefit of her family that she loves. 
Proverbs 24:27 tells us:
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.
So, this business woman is not making a rash decision here; she's doing what we call her "prep" work. She will be able to thoughtfully, carefully and wisely make a decision.

The next portion of the verse says "she buys it" . . . yep! She did it! After her careful research and consideration, she bought the field! She followed through on what she carefully considered. No dropping the football from this lady!

Then, "out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard" . . . She is so careful with her household finances, with her business projects -- she is also careful with what she earns. She has obviously salted away some of her profits for just this type of venture, and now she can add value to this field she purchased. She can plant a vineyard, which will be another source of income for her and those she loves.
Let's consider tomorrow how we can apply these nuggets to our own lives.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday slowdown

 In the past few weeks there have been some sleepless nights in our
household. I know that many of you have heartaches and struggles, too. This 
hymn came to mind one morning, and I hope that it blesses you as it did me. 
        When morning gilds the skies 
 my heart awakening cries:  
        May Jesus Christ be praised!  
 Alike at work and prayer, 
 to Jesus I repair:  
 May Jesus Christ be praised!  

        The night becomes as day 
 when from the heart we say:  
 May Jesus Christ be praised!  
 The powers of darkness fear 
   when this sweet chant they hear:  
 May Jesus Christ be praised! 
        Let all the earth around 
 ring joyous with the sound:  
 May Jesus Christ be praised!  
 In heaven's eternal bliss 
 the loveliest strain is this:
 May Jesus Christ be praised!  

 Be this, while life is mine, 
 my canticle divine:
 May Jesus Christ be praised!  
 Be this th' eternal song 
 through all the ages long:  
 May Jesus Christ be praised! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Proverbs 31:15, Part II

And it says...notice in verse 15..."And portions to her maidens."

Some of the translations have the word "provides" in the latter half of this verse, and that's what I want to zero in on, today. She provides food for her household and portions to her maidens (servants).

I think that packs a lot into those words. Let's dive in!

In Acts 20:28a, we find these words: "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers."  Another translation puts it this way: "Pay careful attention...."
All of us have been given people in our lives that we minister to; for some it is husbands and children, for others, parents, and still others minister to the church community. Many of us wear multiple caretaker "hats" and are sometimes pulled in different directions!  We are asked to pay attention to their needs.
The verse in Acts is referring to spiritual needs, and the one in Proverbs is referring more to physical needs. That's a lot to handle!
I'd like to have you turn and read Matthew 25:31-46 in your own Bible. It's a longer passage, so I won't post it here . . . I'll wait for you to come back.

All done?
Here are a couple more verses that go along with these thoughts:
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
Carefully, lovingly taking care of others is the ultimate way to show the love of our Savior, and also a supreme way to share our faith in Him!
I've heard it said that for us humans, our physical needs occupy us first and foremost; we are more interested usually in those needs than in our spiritual ones.
This is especially true in our church communities -- how can we expect to teach others about the love of God, if they are hungry, or have no place to stay, or are frightened and have no one to turn to?
We can use this ideal woman as an example . . .even though she is wealthy enough to have servants, she does not sit back and let them do all the work. She literally gets up in the morning to prepare and to care for those in her responsibility.
Let's pray that our Father will strengthen us for our tasks, and bear us up if we are discouraged. Let's ask Him to help us love as He loved here on earth, and share our faith in so doing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get outa bed! Proverbs 31:15

"She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens."

I don't know about you, but when I read this verse, especially in the light of all the others, I start to get a little irritated at Lemuel's mom . . . just kidding! This is NOT only about keeping a schedule and having a working alarm clock. It's much more.
Let's dive in!

First I'd like to focus on the word "rises" and later on the word "gives" or provides.
We've talked before about the self-control, and about the discipline that develops as we rely on our relationship with God. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23:  "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."
When we allow God to develop us, to mature us in Him, we will see the fruits of the Spirit in our own lives. One of those fruits is self-control -- the discipline that is needed to get up and bless our homes, our families, our loved ones that we care for.

Without self-control, we leave ourselves vulnerable to attacks of all kinds; attacks can come from mortal enemies or immortal ones, and can seriously impact our abilities to care for those we love. When we love the Lord, then we love those we care for, and it becomes much less of a chore to do our ministry of caring. Let's look at what a wife in Lemuel's time did . . . 

In ancient households, it was the wife's responsibility to keep a lamp always shining. What do I mean? Well, the lamps were usually oil lamps; different kinds of oils depending on the wealth of the household. The richer families could have oils that didn't smoke or smell as much as the oils a poorer family might use.
Be that as it may, a homemaker would trim the wick and make certain it had oil in it, to last the night. Probably the last thing she did before going to bed . . . then rising up before dawn to make certain that it hadn't all been burned up. She would grind corn for the day's meals, and do other chores to prepare for when her husband and children (and parents, since many families had several generations in the home) would get up.
She's planning the day's activities, preparing the food, and if she is wealthy enough to have servants, she is assigning tasks to them for the day.

In our lives, today, we may not need to trim the wick, fill the lamp with oil, or rise early to make certain that it is still lit, but there are sacrifices that we can make, that will make the lives of those we love be blessed.
I pray that we will all regard those small sacrifices as ways that we can "serve the Lord with gladness" as the old hymn reminds us. Tomorrow morning I will tell myself, "Get outa bed!" and get about the Lord's work!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Prayer Requests

Please take a moment today to leave a comment --- thoughtfully and prayerfully. If you have a need that you would like to share, and allow us to all pray with you, please tell us.
If you have a praise, an answered prayer that would encourage us to hear about, please tell us about that.
There is power in our fervent prayers that will make Satan nervous, and even stop his plans. Let's be about God's business today and have a special time of prayer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Merchant ships, Part IV

We are winding up our study of Proverbs 31:14 today, with a few more notes on applying this verse to our lives.
I like this quote from Elizabeth George:
“Mundane, routine, daily provision became a creative adventure for her! She is willing to explore beyond the familiarity and the convenience.”   Elizabeth George
So, like the merchant ships, we need to explore . . . how? Many people look at themselves and mumble, "Well, I'm just not creative. I'm not that way."  And perhaps they are not avid scrapbookers, quilters or crafters. But we are created in His image, and He created the universe with astounding variety, purpose, and yes, even humor.  Are you trying to save money on the family budget? Save on the electric bill -- set out candles and the family can dine by candlelight! Not much in the pantry? Pull together some leftovers to make a stew or a pizza -- but be ready to make some mac-n-cheese with giggles, if it doesn't turn out!
If we can stop being perfectionists, and looking at our work in the home as WORK, then we can inject some creative thinking and some laughter, and we will be making memories as we go. Make it an adventure!
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:4
We may think that this is all just too much. Verse 14 is too large an assignment. But by applying ourselves diligently to our tasks, and to our relationship with God, we can trust Him to develop these virtues in us . . . it will happen as we mature in Him.
We are all God's works in progress -- remember our first post on this verse? Don't try to row your ship! Allow Him to be your source of power and strength, each day of our lives!
Solomon's navy was renowned throughout the world of his day. In their heyday, the Phoenecians' fleet was powerful and respected.
We Christian women can be like those merchant ships -- as we continue to allow God to work in us and through us, we can bring blessings to those that we care for.
Let's ask Him today to help us rely on His power, and to guard our relationship with Him. Let's also pray for Him to open our eyes to ways that we can be creative in this adventure called "life here on earth." 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday slowdown

There are many old hymns that draw analogies between the Christian life and ships. I was moved by this very old hymn, and I hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it will be the motivation for a time of reflection; perhaps someone will stop by who is not yet a Christian. It's my prayer that all who read it and listen will be joyful recipients of God's saving grace.

I was standing by the banks of a river
Looking out over life's troubled seas
When I saw an old ship that was sailing
Is that the old ship of Zion I see

It's hull was bent and battered
From the storms of life I could see
Waves were rough but that old ship kept sailing
Is that the old ship of Zion I see

At the stern of the ship was the captain
I could hear as he called out my name
Get on board It's the old ship of Zion
It will never pass this way again

As I step on board I'll be leaving
All my troubles and trials behind
I'll be safe with Jesus the captain
Sailing out on the old ship of Zion.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Merchant Ships, Part III Spice it up!

“She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:14

We've been discussing ways that as Christian women, we can be like this ideal woman in Proverbs, and that we can be like the merchant ships in verse 14. We may have smiled a little at first, to think that we should be like merchant ships, but I think you'll agree with me -- we've seen now that we can!

Today I'd like to touch on another way we can be like these merchant ships. In essence, we are simply taking this verse and trying to find applications that will help us be the best women that we can be -- whether we are married or single, there are things we can glean here to help us be vibrant Christians that draw others to Him.

Let's talk about "spicing things up."  Consider what your own life would be like, if you lived in ancient Israel . . . you would not have (gasp) a refrigerator, nor would you have (gack!) a microwave. OK, all joking aside, as a homemaker, you would not have the conveniences you have today, right? So, what consequences would that have?
For one thing, you would only have meat, which was expensive, when there would be enough people around to eat it up quickly. It would spoil, so you either had a feast or celebration, or you tried to preserve it with salt, etc.  (Not having that cooler was a bummer.) Your family table would see meals of wheat and barley products, some figs or dates (fresh or dried), olives, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Now, imagine your excitement of having a break from the routine of these meals, because a merchant ship arrived and you could purchase new and unusual spices, or perhaps a different type of dried fruit than you've seen before! Wowser!
What a blessing it would be to have some variety -- to spice it up! "Food from afar" must have been pretty cool, or Lemuel's mom would not have included it in these "how to find the right woman" lessons . . . the lesson here goes beyond the dinner table.
Let's see how providing variety to those we love can be so valuable, even though it may take more effort and energy. How can we do this on a daily basis, beyond the usual looking-through-cookbooks-and-trying-new-recipes drill?
We are honored as Christian women with opportunities in our lives to bring joy and variety into the lives of those we love and care for . . .
A young mother can make jelly sandwiches and provide a teapot of lemonade for her young daughter and a friend, so that they can have a tea party with all of their favorite plush animals. She is providing fun and variety, while making memories for her daughter to emulate when she is a mom.
A wife who knows her husband would love to have a certain boat or car may purchase a tiny souvenir car or boat to surprise her hubby with on his birthday, with a note that tells him of her love, and also speaks of what might be in the future for them. She may not share his enthusiasm for the car or boat, but she is adding joy to his life by supporting and loving him.
A woman whose neighbor is caring for an aging parent might write a note of encouragement and leave it at the door or mailbox with a "coupon" for a teatime break at their convenience. The cup of tea and comfort from a friend can bring a welcome moment of peace, and can bring the opportunity to witness, as well.
Single or married, we can have a joyful effect on someone in our church or community who is sick, by taking a moment to select a colorful card and writing encouraging words and Bible verses inside.

These are just a few ways that we can "bring food from afar" . . .if we are relying on God to be our source of power, then all we must do is open our eyes and our hearts --- He will reveal how we can "spice things up" for those we love and minister to.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Merchant Ships, seriously? part II

Yesterday we discussed how the ideal woman, the Proverbs 31 woman if you please, is reliant on God for her power, just as the ancient merchant ships needed to rely on greater powers than the oarsmen on board.....there's no way that they could make their super-long voyages just with rowing. They needed the greater powers of wind and water to do that.
As Christian women, whether married or single, we must rely on God as our greater power -- He is how we can do what must be done, and do it graciously!
But we need a plan, or it won't happen.
This is my plan -- very basic, and easy for me to remember: Spend daily time in the word and be in continual prayer.

Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road, as they say.
For me, Snoodles, that means that I need to read my Bible and have some time with my journal and prayer list at the start of each and every day. (Sometimes that is very early, and I'm pretty bleary-eyed, but that is a whole other story.) It also means that I will continue to go to Him throughout my day in prayer.
When I was homeschooling our kiddos, I had some built-in breaks in the day . . . when they were working on math or diagramming sentences, I had a few moments of peace and reflection. Now, as I help my self-employed hubby with his business, those moments are harder to find.....but just as necessary!
Just a side note here....are you forgetful when it comes to charging your cell phone? I am. I'm bad about letting it get down to nothing, nada, zilch. Cannot make a call. All because I didn't keep up with charging it. Well, some Christians make the mistake of treating the Father like a cell phone charger. They plug in and get charged up, then disconnect and try to keep going until they drop.
How much better it is to stay connected to God -- to make time for prayer and reflection, to receive that fresh infilling of His spirit to keep us motivated and moving!
You see, He is not a phone charger; He is a loving Father, a holy and righteous Savior that we are blessed to have a close relationship with.  If we abide in His love, we can accomplish what we need to, and we can bear fruit and glorify the Father!
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”  John 15:4-9
You see, it is that relationship with Him that gives us that greater power that we require. It's a relationship founded on the fact that a loving Christ died on the cross for our sins . . .but He wants to call us His friends! (Verse 15 of that chapter in John) We don't deserve that title, but He desires that relationship with us.

There is another way that we are like that merchant ship pictured up there --- as the ancient merchants traveled across the seas, they could easily be attacked by fleets from a warring neighbor, or by pirates. Did they travel unprotected, so they would be easy prey for enemies or looters? Not likely! They were always on guard and they also had weapons to defend themselves and protect their goods.

We must protect our goods, as well. Our spiritual goods. Our relationships with our Lord, and our witnesses for Him.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:10-18
As women who are like merchant ships, we are called to protect and guard our relationship with Christ, and to rely on Him to power us through our days.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Proverbs 31:14 Like merchant ships? Seriously?

Verse 14, "She is like merchant ships, she brings her food from afar."

Seriously? Yes, there is a connection here, between the ideal woman and merchant ships of the era in which this verse was penned.
And I am not talking about a homemaker who drives miles to one store, to stock up on a bargain priced orange juice, and then drives miles further to pick up sale-priced pot roast. Although within reason, the checking different stores and clipping coupons, etc is an excellent way to be a good steward of the resources that God has blessed us with!
This woman is indeed engaged in good planning and careful management, but there are some other truths that we can find in this verse . . .

Ships in the days of Solomon were propelled in several ways -- and none of these had anything to do with the latest motor or combustion technology! First, see those oars up there? There were men on the ship whose only job was to sit on a bench, listen to the beat of a drum or the shout of a supervisor, and row, row, row. Tedious? Yes. Effective? You betcha. They could have that ship moving very quickly across the sea.
It's known that the merchant ships of ancient Israel traded with Phonecia, Tyre, Egypt and other regions. There's no way they could have doen that with only the power of their oarsmen. 
A more powerful way was the wind --- see that large sail? When the wind was right, the sail would billow out and the ship would move under the wind's power. Lastly, the ancient sailors knew of the strong currents in the sea; there were powerful streams of water that could take them where they needed to go.
The point I am trying to make is that the ship could not move under its own power. And neither should we. Whether we are married and trying to emulate this ideal wife, or single and living for the Lord in ways that married woman cannot (I Cor. 7:34), we can't do it under our own power.  In our own way, we need to be reliant on God to guide us, and to be the power behind all that we do.

It's pretty easy to tell ourselves, "I'm going to rely on God for my source of power today!"  Makes us feel good all over .... we know it's the right thing to do, and we may even feel proud of ourselves for making that resolution. But those warm, fuzzy, proud feelings won't last long when the boss dings you on your yearly report with unfair feedback, the dog tracks in mud on your freshly-cleaned carpet, your hubby criticizes the seasoning on the pork chops, and the youngest child shows you her rash. Then, to top it all off, you realize (too late) that you forgot to pay the water bill.
So, it's important to have a PLAN on how we will rely on God today.
More on this tomorrow......

Monday, July 15, 2013

Let's get back to our studies! (Proverbs 31: 13)

I'd like to thank you for allowing me some "re-charging" time . . . I appreciate the break I had, and I am fired up to begin this next section of our studies on the Proverbs 31 woman.

The next part of her character that we will study is her role as a homemaker. This is probably the largest chunk of verses in this passage, so I'd like to have you start with verse 13:

She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

This verse begins the section on her role as a devoted homemaker -- but did you notice the transition here? In verse 12, Lemuel is talking about how a wife needs to be pretty spiritual. Not only is she the ruler of the house, and managing the household, but she is also being her husband's conscience, and doing him good, never evil. For all the days of her life, she is devoted to making it possible for him to be everything that he can be. It's God's plan for her to comfort, encourage, and strengthen him.

But do her submission and her godly virtues make her into some kind of a spiritual drone? Does she become a religious recluse, and shirk the duties of the home? NO!
She is not becoming the resident theologian, nor is she spending every moment in study. She is using her hands! She is full of energy in the duties of the home.
Why is it important to note here that she looks for flax and wool?
In ancient times, wool was used for cold weather garments, and flax for hot times; each fiber had unique properties that made them perfect for these uses.
Wool has tiny pockets between its fibers that trap warm body air and release it in small amounts, which keep your temperature regulated. It even works when wet by producing small amounts of heat as it absorbs and condenses moisture.
Linen, made from flax, is an airy cloth and provides the body the freedom to breathe freely. It has the ability to absorb sweat and wick it away from the body, and it even repels some insects!
This excellent woman wants those in her care to have the comfort of these fibers during the seasons when they're needed. First she has to purchase the bare product of flax and wool; she needs to then spin them into thread, and then weave the thread into cloth on her loom. Once it is woven into fabric, she will cut it and make garments out of it. Her needle and spindle served the family and she worked with her hands in delight -- the translation above says, "eager" hands.
You see, there is no complaining here. She does not begrudge the time spent. She finds joy in this labor -- because she loves the people for whom she labors. It is this love that keeps her working happily. I found one translation that said her hands are active "after the pleasure of her heart." I find that inspiring!
It should not be hard for us to do our work; our work is not an unwilling chore, because we love the people who are served by our work. We love our work because we love our families, and we love our husbands. If our work brings us pleasure, we are truly excellent wives!
Our single friends can find treasure here, too. They may be working to help the household of a parent, or they may be working in the community of believers. Whether ministering to parents, or to church members, our work can bring us joy. We can do all for the glory of Him Who saved us.
Single or married, we can work cheerfully, and smile while we serve!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Charging my batteries

Ever seen one of the machines that charges batteries? I mean the big batteries, that enable our cars to start up and take us where we want to go . . .

They're pretty wonderful, you know. You can start with a completely "dead as a doornail" battery and in a matter of hours the machine will have charged it up so fully that the car will start and all is well.

Well, the Bible and devotion time with our Lord is just like that for us Christians. And I need to ask all of you to bear with me, for I need some time of "re-charging."  I want to do the very best that I can for each and every one of you. I also want to do the best I can for me -- you see, I am probably the person who receives the largest blessings from this study! My study times and the times when I write the posts are very special to me, and I hope that they bless you in some small way.

I will be taking a brief holiday from the blog, so that I can recharge, and I'll be back very soon. Bear with me, and please continue to have a time each day that you seek a fresh touch from God's Spirit, and that you delve into His Word.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Every other week . . .

. . . we have a tremendous opportunity.

We have an opportunity to share and bear each others' burdens. To share the strengths we have received from the Lord, and to ask others to help us with obstacles and heartaches that threaten our peace in Christ.

We also have a chance to shout praise, and to bring glory to our Father, by sharing prayers that have been answered, and tell of touches from His merciful hand.

Join us in prayer today -- and let us know what is on your heart, won't you?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trustworthy, Part III

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's study centers on verse 23.
Lemuel's mom is noting that he is known as her husband, and that his reputation is known, far and wide. Kinda like in a small town -- "everybody knows you."
Here is some background on what she is telling her son . . .  In ancient cities, just inside the gates of the city you would find a platform. It was similar to a patio or courtyard area, and the elders and important men of the city would gather there every day to talk. They would treat this area as an open court -- perhaps a little less formal than an official court, but still significant in the life of the city. They would hear the matters that came up in the city; disputes would be decided by hearing both sides of the issue.  Business was carried out in these casual forums, as well.
So, the elders of the city and the mature men of the city -- those of good reputation, of wisdom and discernment -- would sit in this place to render judgement and witness transactions.

Here is the point that the queen is making: the husband of this ideal woman has a great reputation among the leaders of the city, and it is a reputation that is basically built by his wife. She is so trustworthy to the duties of her love for him, that he is free to be the best man that he can be, and so he develops a tremendous reputation. That reputations is built on the foundation she has laid, by doing everything she can, to make him everything he ought to be.
How is she doing this? She is gently contributing to his spiritual development. She's also contributing to the clarity with which he sees all of the issues of life. She is granting him the wisdom and discernment with which God gifts her; quietly passing along the knowledge she has gained about God and about His word. She serves him and cares for the things in the background; she takes care of the behind the scenes "stuff" so that he is free to be everything that God has wanted and planned for him to be. The community benefits from him, and he is known as a man of great respect because of what she does selflessly for him.
Also, you can be assured that this woman (and we should as well) has done all that she can verbally to build his reputation -- never anything that would tear it down. What does she gain by tearing down his reputation? Nothing. If the other people in the community have less respect for him, then they will also have less respect for her. Why?  Because she speaks evil of her husband, and because he chose someone who didn't have "the right stuff" to help him to become all that he could be!

So now in these three verses we see the wifely character that we need to strive for. Trustworthy character enables our husbands to totally trust us in the careful management of everything that is important to the family.  Trustworthy character is what helps us do our husbands good and not evil all our lives long.  And trustworthy character is what helps our husbands have sterling reputations in the church and the community.

And single ladies? I haven't forgotten about you. You may not have a husband to care for at this time, but you can still show trustworthy character to our Lord. Service to Him in wise, careful management of all He has given you is surely just as important as the wifely duties we've discussed. And making sure that you (and the people around you) speak well and not evil of Godly things and of our Lord, is every bit as important as a wife who is careful not to tear down the reputation of her husband.

I believe there is something here for all of us!