If Only I Had…

How many times have you looked back on your life and thought: “If only I had done ____  life would have worked out so much differently for me!” Much of our lives are predicated on the big “If’s” we face.
Solomon sought to save his son a life of regrets and “If-only-I-had’s” in this second chapter of Proverbs. It opens with a fatherly admonition to heed sound counsel.
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The Proverbs 31 Lady: The Real Wonder Woman

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Pro 31:31).

The Proverbs 31 Lady is the real Wonder Woman. She was strong. She had real power, and she is a good role model because she really did exist. And in Scripture she is not the exception, she’s the norm. The Bible has many examples of strong women: Deborah the prophetess, Sarah the wife of Abraham, and Zipporah the wife of Moses, to name a few. The Bible does not teach that women should be doormats and that their husbands are supposed to keep them in submission. From the very beginning God ordained that a wife should be a help meet (Genesis 2:18). That cannot happen if she is oppressed by an overbearing husband. It can only  happen in a relationship where the husband understands his wife’s God-given role and rejoices when she owns it. The Proverbs 31 Lady did just that and her husband was happy to see it happen.

 

To name a few of the things she did:

  • She consistently earned her husband’s trust (vv. 11-12).
  • She was industrious and even made family business and financial decisions (vv. 13-19, 24).
  • She was a blessing to those in need around her (v. 20).
  • She faithfully prepared for and met the needs of her family (v. 21).
  • She took care of herself and her appearance (v. 22).
  • Because of her reputation, her husband’s reputation was well-established (v. 23).
  • She maintained a godly testimony (vv. 25-27).
  • She enjoyed the fruits of her labors (vv. 28-31).

She was most definitely a strong and confident woman.

Every Word of God is Pure

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5).

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law”  (Romans 3:31).

When Paul made this statement in Romans, he was making it clear that faith in God’s grace did not make the law null and void, nor did it declare the law unworthy. It was the exact opposite. The law declared us unworthy and exposed our need of grace. By accepting God’s grace, we establish the fact that the law is pure in every way and that we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

Revelation illustrates it another way:

Revelation 10:9-10

(9)  And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

(10)  And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

Why would God’s Word taste so sweet and at the same time be so bitter? Because God’s Word is wonderful. It’s just not always easy to take. That’s not an indictment of God’s Word. It’s an indictment of our own sinful nature. Every word of God is pure, even the words that condemn us because they establish the goodness and purity of God.

Monday Musings: Because God is Great and Good, He is Worthy of My Worship

prayerwithBibleEnter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  (Psalms 100:4)

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  (Psalms 100:5)

We can thank Him for His greatness because He is an all-powerful God in Whom we can place our full confidence. Continue reading

Who Is This Proverbs 31 Lady, Anyway? (P. 4)

Proverbs 31:16-20

(16)  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

(17)  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

(18)  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

(19)  She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

(20)  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

This lady has good business sense.

“She considers a field and buys it.” Clearly her good stewardship carries her beyond her home to the point where she is able to conduct her own business. It sounds here like she is into real estate and agriculture. What is interesting to note is her independence. This is a business decision she Continue reading

Paul the Loving Mother (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

The central characteristic of the steward of is faithfulness. The central characteristic of a mother is gentleness. A mother has a bond with her child that is unlike any other. She has literally poured herself into the life of that child. She has a vested interest in that little one because she has invested so much. It’s that level of care that God expects us to put into the lives of others.

Love means self-sacrifice

Paul was always careful to use his authority in love. Like a mom, he made sacrifices to help raise his spiritual children to maturity, even if it hurt him personally (2 Corinthians 12:15).

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

(7)  But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

(8)  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

Nourishing involves teaching

When Paul talks about “a nurse cherishing her children,” the picture is that of a mother nursing her baby. Practically speaking, this kind of “nourishing” means taking a new believer under your wing and showing him or her how to get into God’s Word and apply it to their lives. In education there is this phenomenon called the “curse of knowledge.” It’s when a teacher becomes so well-versed in his subject that he forgets how he got to that level of knowledge, and forgets to convey those steps to his students. He then teaches on the assumption that his students already know most of what he knows and ends up teaching over their heads. A sure sign that this might be happening is when the teacher starts asking questions like: “Why don’t you people know this already?” It’s probably because the teacher forgot to teach the steps leading up to that knowledge.

When I first became a believer, I heard lots of people say: “It’s important to have your devotions.” I had no idea what “devotions” was. They might as well have said, “It’s important to remove your own appendix.” I didn’t know how to do that either! It would have been nice if someone had just sat me down and walked me through the process.

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I learned how to “have devotions,” and while the practice might differ from person to person, devotions involves reading a passage of Scripture, praying over it, thinking about it, writing down what it means in your own words, and then learning how it applies to your own life – and how to make it a blessing to others. This blog is a devotional exercise on my part.

Discipling others means properly discipling yourself

Another important lesson we can learn from this picture of motherhood is that what she nourishes herself with has an effect on her child. If mom likes spicy food and then goes to feed baby with her milk, baby is likely to have an upset stomach and a fitful night. Those of us who have responsibility to minister to others must likewise watch what we take in doctrinally. If our spiritual nourishment is not good, it can affect how we disciple others. It is not our place to indoctrinate new believers with our opinions. They need what God thinks, not what we think.

We also need to beware that we do not harp on the externals. You may be called of God to help a new believer who used to be a drug addict. For them a step in the right direction might be downgrading to cigarette smoking. Don’t focus on the smoking. Focus on helping them to grow their relationship to God. Our goal is for our spiritual children to be right, rather than just to look right (2 John 1:4).  As we help them to grow in their relationship to God, the external issues will very often take care of themselves.

Helping others grow in grace, requires grace

When Paul exhorted the Galatians about those who were struggling spiritually, he reminded them of their responsibility to their struggling brother and to themselves.

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

First, we need to make sure that we are faithful in keeping ourselves in good spiritual health. Paul puts the discipling ministry on those “which are spiritual.”

Second, we must go in with meekness. It’s very easy to pour yourself into the life of a struggling believer with a “holier than thou” attitude, or the what-were-you-thinking mindset. Who’s to say that one day the roles won’t be reversed, and you’re the one in need? Meekness means understanding that I am just as susceptible to spiritual struggles as anyone else.

Third, we need to be watchful as we minister to others: “Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” When I was an emergency medical technician (EMT), one of the things that was constantly drilled into our heads was to survey the scene. Our trainers would tell us: “You don’t want to become part of the problem.” It’s possible even as a rescue worker to become part of the accident scene. All it takes is stepping into the situation at the wrong time, or in the wrong place. When ministering to those in need, it’s possible to become so emotionally invested that you don’t see things from God’s perspective. It is very important that when we minister to others who are either new in the faith, or struggling in it, that we remain spiritually objective. That requires grace, and grace comes through prayer and keeping ourselves close to God.

We can be disciple makers just like Paul

God gave us Paul as an example so that none of us could say that living all out for Christ is impossible. Paul’s life proves that it is possible. We just need to follow his example. Like Paul, we need to stay close to God so that we capture God’s perspective, and God’s burden for mankind.