Thoughtful Thursday: The Strong Woman

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Proverbs 31:25-31

25 “She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come.  26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.  27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.  28 Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. 31 Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.” 

Everywhere we turn today – the media, our culture – is spitting out (seemed an appropriate term to use) images of what is deemed beautiful in a woman.  Discipling a throng of wannabe stars, girls flock to the perspective endorsed and propogated by our world as if it brings life – as if it were true that their worth was tied to their outside appearance or beauty.

The temporary pleasure brought about by the pursuit of praise from man lingers momentarily only to give birth to shame. Visible in the teen girls who dare to flaunt and show what they consider to be their charms, or by grown women who still have not seen their true worth, sadly their fashion exposes their nakedness instead.  True beauty is long forgotten by a culture that does not fear God, nor have time to in the flurry of being relevant to whomever the “powers that be” are.

But not every knee has bowed.  Women indeed have a position of significance and a place in this culture that is one of the most profound and impactful positions of all.  The hand that rocks the cradle, that dares to invest her life’s work in the next generation in the fear of the LORD – this is the hand of strength.  Serving her family in seemingly pointless tasks, she is laying a foundation of righteousness in a lost world.

Not concerned with being “cool” or following the latest fad, the wise woman invests her life in God’s calling.  A student of the Word, her first clothing of the day that she prizes more than trying to look “hot” in some new style is delighting in God’s Word.  This relationship with the LORD guides her in every aspect of her life and she is not shaken when the storm comes.

Young women, you are the future.  Don’t allow yourself to be molded by a surface view of who you really are in Christ.  You are a woman of substance.  You are not defined by man’s praise or the lack of it.  Your beauty lies in Christ alone.

Older women, don’t let another moment pass you by without utilizing the influence God has given for the glory of God in those around you.   Don’t allow fear to hold you back from being what you were destined and called to be – a handmaiden of the LORD – placed exactly where He has you, to nurture those around You with His Word.

This woman of virtue defined in Proverbs is a collective description that gives us hope.  This strength from on high is available to all who will be still to seek the Giver of everything we need to be godly women.

We were not meant to be subjects kept for the pleasure of men.  Wise, godly men need a godly counterpart to walk beside them, not beneath them.  We were meant to provide instruction and guidance and should not allow culture or society to displace us in this regard.  Our household depends upon it, and our faithfulness in regard to seeking God and influencing our household with His hope and love has an eternal impact that no one can ever take away.

Lord, thank You for the calling You have given every daughter of Yours.  You delight in us and made us for Your glory. Help us to yield to Your will and to walk in purity, radiating Christ to this desperate world around us.

It’s Your Move

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1 John 5:14

“And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

John 14:13

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

John 16:4

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

Principle: “If we want to see God move, we need to make a move.” – Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

My church is going through the 40 Day Prayer Challenge in the book, “Draw the Circle” by Mark Batterson.  While I have written songs about prayer and daily write in my journal, this book is opening my eyes to the need to go even deeper.  I always love it when God brings fresh insights to draw us nearer to Him!

Much like a game of chess, checkers or backgammon, prayer is an opportunity to risk something and dare to ask for more than we could ever dream possible.  I confess I have sometimes not been as bold in prayers and have been content to just trust in the LORD.  This is not a bad thing, but what struck me was that relationship with God means He wants us to ask and not just accept what life brings.

Sure, I have fallen to my knees and begged God for strength when challenges seemed insurmountable, but the fervor of prayer seemed to dim when I was not in the fire.  I have seen God move in miraculous ways and notice as I look over the landscape of my life that those times were most often when I was desperate for Him.  How sweet it is to run to our Abba Father and pray.  He wants to meet our every need.

Fervor is reignited when we cry out to God for His Name’s sake rather than for our own.  The desperation of our hearts should be for His glory and the need for Him to move so that those around us see Christ in us, not us getting what we want or having pain diminished in our lives.

God is watching to see if our hearts will be moved with His passion and our prayers energized with His love and vision.   Writing this blog over the past year and a half has been a prayer – borne out of my personal time with the LORD.  I realize that although it was sickness that caused me to slow down, as I began to rest in His presence, prayer became a way of life as I journaled what God spoke to my heart and then blogged about it.

The ball is in our court . . . will we dare to fall to our knees consistently and inquire of our awesome God Who is ready to answer?  As we tarry in prayer, hoping for things to change, it is us who are changed – more and more into His image and after His purposes – all for His glory.

Lord, purpose in our hearts prayers You would have us to utter.  Help us to make a move and to be moved in our spirits to worship You and pray to You passionately. 

Mundane Monday: A Watchman’s Joy

Ezekiel 4:4-6

“Also for your part lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it. For the number of days you lie on your side you will bear their iniquity. 5 I have determined that the number of the years of their iniquity are to be the number of days for you–390 days. So bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these days, then lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah 40 days–I have assigned one day for each year.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Matthew 18:33

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

This image of Ezekiel, a watchman for Israel, lying on his left side for 390 days then on his right side for 40 additional days, eating exactly 8 ounces of food each day is tortuous.  Even moreso when we consider that he did not deserve such treatment.  It does not make sense to us, but the purposes of God are higher than our own.

We do not like to be inconvenienced in today’s culture.  Our flesh recoils at the idea of suffering for our own actions and the ensuing consequences, but to do so for someone else?  Not something eagerly desired.  Even a child will cry out “not fair” or “it was not my fault” when blamed for an action he did not commit.  This makes sense to us – no one should have to receive unfair judgment.  Still God’s righteous laws demand payment for our unrighteousness.

Ezekiel was a watchman appointed by God Almighty.  He was a covering for the Israelites.  The blood was on his head if he did not warn them, and by suffering symbolically, he, more than anyone, would have a zeal to warn His fellow people after catching a glimpse of what was to come.

This heart for God’s people and for the lost sheep is the very heart of Christ, who willingly chose to bear the iniquity of those who were unable to bear it themselves.  In fact, it was for the “joy” set before Him that He endured the cross.  Wow. Jesus had an unspeakable joy that his actions would deliver the entire world from the grip of sin and the sting of death.

At the height of suffering I have lamented for self, miserable that I have had to bear consequences for another’s actions, but Christ thought of us.  He chose rejection and suffering – I did not.  This revelation reveals the selflessness of Christ and our need to follow in His steps – serving others and considering them above ourselves.  Humbling and freeing at the same time.  We cannot accomplish this on our own, but we can ask God to open our eyes and to work in our stubborn hearts.

He is still calling servants today to be watchmen for His people.   It might be uncomfortable or inconvenient – forcing us to lay down our idol of comfort, but like Ezekiel, God needs humble servants willing to roll up their sleeves and bear iniquities on their knees for others still today.  No, we cannot wipe away the sins of others, but we can stand in the gap, pray and warn people of the devastation of sin.  When the sting of sin’s aftermath and its stigma is fresh in someone’s life, we can stand with them and guide them to God’s Word and the faithful forgiveness and love of Jesus.

Encouragement in the face of a fallen world might be the very catalyst to turn one from repeating the same sin or serve as an example for another to abstain from walking that path of sin at all.  The voice of truth might not be welcome today when absolute truth seems nonexistent, but more than ever the world needs to hear this voice of God’s people, uniting to be watchmen for the glory of God.  The temporary cost might be more than we want to pay, but the rewards are eternal.

Lord, forgive us for being lulled into complacency.  Help us to care for those around us as you do and to be faithful in the calling of watchmen for You.