Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: A Nobel Wife

This weeks meditation/memory verse: A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. ~ Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)

God, give me some words here because I am not in the mood to write this one...seriously, this is my prayer as I sit before this topic. A women from a church I once attended referenced one day having her "panties in a wad"...well, I guess you can say I do and I would much rather address another topic. I will put aside what has cause this "wad" and press on.

When we read through the this Proverbs 31 passage, we are hit right up front with a huge description of that women to her man and if you don't "fit" it you are apt to skip on to another chapter in the Bible. But, since it is being addressed so early, let's rest on it and maybe it will change us.

Look at the various translations of this verse and lets pull out the descriptive words that defines a wife who is more valuable than precious, expensive stones:

Who can find a capable wife?
She is far more precious than jewels (HCSB)

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels (NASB)

A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds (The Message)

A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman--who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls (Amplified)

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies (NLT)

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (KJV)

A woman of worth who doth find? Yea, far above rubies [is] her price (YLT)

WOW...those are some big words to follow for many of us who have failed too many times. Its hard to think you could ever fit this mold when you have experienced a broken marriage. I know coming into my second marriage I carried new insight and a new determination to do it better, to be the wife God created me to be and when I am not, that bitter taste of failure surfaces quickly to remind me of what could happen if I do not change. And you know what, that is the key...I have to change, change my way of thinking, change my heart, change my attitude, change being in control. OUCH.

Many of us grew up with the Proverbs 31 Woman being know as the "virtuous woman" which means conforming to moral and ethical principles ( You know her. Maybe you were lucky enough to have her as a mother, maybe you sit under her teaching in a woman's Bible study, or maybe you have seen her from across the street. Isn't she just beautiful? Well, just like Solomons mother, you with whatever past you bring to the table, can be her. That should motivate us to strive for that.

My favorite description of the Proverbs 31 woman here though is "nobel" which means to possess outstanding qualities. What first drew me to this description was a sermon I heard once in which my pastor spoke of the noble women being one who literally "suits up" like a warrior for her day and for her role in her home with her husband and her life. She is not suiting up to protect herself from the harsh realities of marriage and motherhood but is suiting up against those things that try to kill, steal and destroy her domain. She is not a passive or weak woman. She is diligent at being what God has called her to be for her husband, her family, her life. Who better fits this description than Ruth...
Now don't be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say, since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character. ~ Ruth 3:11

When you think about what you go through to be that wife your husband needs, there is a lot out there trying to prove your weaknesses, make you think less of yourself and even make you think selfishly. Just look at modern TV, romance novels, and those current magazine articles. If we do not armour up with God's truths, satans attacks from these area will indeed suck us in and cause us to fail to be capable, intelligent, good, excellent, worthy...

This week as you meditate on being a noble wife, spend time in God's word suiting up. Being a women after God's own heart, grounded in the Word of God, is of great value and worth to your husband and marriage. Here are some scriptures to explore:

Gen 2:20
Ps 128:3
Prov. 5: 18; 12:4; 14:1; 16:1; 19: 11, 14; 21:9; 25:24; 31:12
1 Cor 6:17; 11: 7-9; 13:4-5

Gal. 5:22
Eph 4:31-32; 5:33
Phil 2:3-4, 14, 32; 4:6, 11
James 1:19
1Peter 3:3-4

A spiritual mentor and friend in my life whom I account as a Proverbs 31 Woman reminded me of a most beautiful post she had written on this same topic. Her name is Elaine and anyone who ever lands here knows her. Her life, her actions, and her testimony so screams Proverbs 31 but she will deny it. She so eloquently wrote about this noble women a few years ago and after reading it is so worth resting on this topic some more. You can read Elaine's post here. Please do.

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. ~ Proverbs 12:4

Next week we will look at that word "submission" and its role in the Proverbs 31 woman's journey.

Believing Him~Pamela

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Emptied

Memory verse for this week: By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. ~ 2 Peter 1:3

This month we have explored what it means to be a woman who reverences God as depicted in the Proverbs 31 passage. Again, read it it here, this time in the Message version.

Reverencing God is an action. It is a manner of living, of reacting, of thinking for the Proverbs 31 Woman. Over this past month we have looked at Gods sovereignty, our faith relationship, our fear of God, along with our prayer life, all parts of reverencing Him. Another factor required to grasp this concept of reverencing God is the idea that we need be empty of our self. This has been very difficult for this servant of God.

Why is being emptied of self so hard? Why are we such a selfish population? We have lived in a century that has grown into an attitude that it is "all about me". It's about the neighborhood we live in, the kind of career we hold, the people we impress, or the type of clothes we wear. In the reality of things, when we look to God, what is it all about? What does He look at? Our wealth? Our status? Our service?

We can turn to the scripture and it is clear what it is all about to God...

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. ~ 1 Sam. 16:7

First of all, God looks at our heart before He looks at anything we have done. You can serve on every church committee and teach a Sunday school class but if your heart is not in the right place of doing this, God will not honor this actions.

Second, if you look good on the outside as a Christian but on the inside it's all about you and what you are doing, then what you are doing is worthless.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. ~ Luke 9:23-24

Several years ago I started a health ministry in my church. The first year didn't produce much. I was serving in this ministry more for myself and what I could do for others. When I changed my focus in this ministry to be what I could do for God through it, the whole ministry changed and became so productive I was overwhelmed.

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. ~ Eph. 6:5-8

God has asked us to deny our self so that we can fulfill His plan for our life.

If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. ~ Rom. 14:8

We belong to the Lord. Do you live that out? Do your days, your hours, your job, your family belong to you? Who controls these areas? You or God?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Prov 3:5-6

To be emptied is to be surrendered to God. It means you wake up each morning with the first words out of your mouth being "what can I do for you today Lord?". It is an attitude and mindset to be mirrored as closely as possible to your God.

And I in righteousness, I will see your face; when I awaken I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. ~ Ps 17:15

A women who is emptied of self is able to say to her God "I desire you more than antything else"....more than her home, her money, her career, her pleasures in life (food, shopping, travels) get the picture.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~Ps 139:23-24

Being emptied of self not only requires surrender, it requires obedience. Obedience is more than just following the ten commandments and serving God. Obedience requires an emptiness of self that allows God room to be our Master. It goes beyond just being good but being faithful and willing.

"When we position ourselves under the headship of Christ and learn to do what He requires of us, there is a flow of the the Holy Spirit that will carry us wherever we go". Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Women

Surrender and obedience allows the Holy Spirit full reign in our life and isn't that what we want? The more we have Christ in our life and less of ourselves, the more success we will have in our homes, in our marriages, in our ministries. We will be what God has called us to, more importantly, we will know what God has called us to.

I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. ~ Ezekiel 36:27

What are the results of obedience and surrender? We become less and God becomes more! Reverence of God becomes an action of our body, soul, and mind and in return, we experience a closeness and peace with God. He will hear us when we pray and call out to Him. He grows us and transforms us. He blesses us and meets our needs. He enables us to experience His joy and His peace.

These scripture will support this concept of being emptied and being surrendered and obedient to God as another step in reverencing Him. They are here for you meditation this week:
Lev. 25:18
Deut 11:26-27
Ps 37:36; 66:18-19; 84:11
Prov. 2:7; 3:1-2; 29:18
Luke 11:28; 14:27; 15:14
John 14:21, 23
Rom. 6:15-17
Col 2:6-7
1 Cor 15:13-15
2 Cor. 10:15
Philippians 2:9-11
1 Peter 1:2,14; 5:6-7
1 John 2:5; 3:22, 24

Do we sometimes shun from being emptied of self because we are afraid of what God might ask of us in return? Will we have to give up something? In our selfishness we know what we want, but we tend to shy away from asking ourselves "what does God wants of us"? His Word tells us He only wants one thing from us-He wants to be Lord of our life...all of it. So, the tough question of the day is "can you say Jesus is Lord of your life?"....can you?

Lysa Terkeurst referenced Matthew19: 16-22 in her new release "Made to Crave" and the conversation that occurred between Jesus and the rich young man who had followed all the rules and still felt empty. He had asked Jesus what more he must do and Lysa wrote:

I imagine Jesus looked straight into this young man's soul and said "I want you to give up the one thing you crave more than me. Then come, follow me."

This has stuck hard with me this past weekend. What do I crave more than God? What do I give more time to than God because I choose to...want to...crave to? What do I need to empty out of my life to allow more of Him in? I am praying hard about this because the Holy Spirit keeps reminding me of that comment above.

Being emptied of self so you can be surrendered and obedient to God's calling in your life is a continual process of commitment and obedience-it requires diligence and perseverance. It requires prayer and faith that "God is who He says He is and that you are who He says you are in Him (Beth Moore, Believing God). Do you believe this? Then you are well on your way in this Proverbs 31 Journey!!

Lelia (Write From the Heart) is doing a blog bible study with "Made to Crave". It's not too late to get involved! Go here for more information. "Made to Crave" is more than a book about losing is about the body, mind, and spirit's connection to God. I didn't think I had time to add it into my schedule but I haven't been able to put it down. For me it's not about losing weight (which would be a bonus...just 20 pounds Lord)...I am finding it's about my cravings that fill my time and push God out of where He should be.

I leave you with the John Wesley's Covenant Prayer. Make it your prayer this week.
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Next month we are looking at the Proverbs 31 Woman's journey in her marriage. I have to tell you that satan is really making this a tough subject for me at the moment-ughhh! Don't you hate how he attacks those areas you choose to study or work on. I am putting on the armour of Christ and calling on God's protection, mercy and grace. See you next week!

Believing Him~Pamela

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Losing control 2012

If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again. ~ Isaiah 58: 10-12 (Message)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Prayer

Another week in the Proverbs 31 Journey. This month we are looking at the Proverbs 31 virtue of reverencing God. We have learned that trusting God in His Sovereignty, believing He IS in control of all things, and that all things which have happened in our lives are just part of His plan. Amazing isn't it? Then last week we took hold of what it means to have a faith that fears God, knowing that in fearing Him we are able to better reverence Him. Challenging concepts but necessary to your faith if you are to become who God designed you to be. This week we are going to be looking at the effect of conversing with God and how that builds our reverence of Him.

Memory scripture for this week: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us".~ 1 John 5:14

Life is in such a hurried pace these days. We are running pel mel from one activity to another, watching the clock, and if we manage our time well we sometimes actually get to come up for a breath. Drive-thrus dominate our dinners, sports with our children can become our only "family time", and the economy robs us from being home as we try to make ends meet financially. It can make us plain tired.

Not too long ago I felt this pressure in ministry. Doing, creating, leading....and I realized I was missing out on some pretty important things such as fellowship, resting in the message of a song or a sermon, or just being ministered to by others. It can wear one out spiritually. How? Well, if we are not careful we find our devotions time is on the run (or on a CD in our car radio), our prayers become quick pieces of conversation, WHICH God appreciates, but if we are not careful, they can become stale, empty words. We may find we don't allow time for silence to hear God speak back to us. If we are not careful, as we attempt to survive in our day, we can be too busy for God. Though we don't mean to, we miss a blessing, a thought, a word, a whisper directed to us from Him.

"When we are faithful in prayer, God will keep our lives in tune with Him." Stephen Nelson Rummage, Praying with Purpose (2006)

In tuned with God. Most suredly, the Proverbs 31 Woman was. If your not sure, go here and re-read Proverbs 31 10:31 in the amplified version. No doubt the Proverb 31 Woman was a woman of prayer. To become a women of prayer you have to make the effort and to take the time to commit to it. Like me, you may find that you have to put our foot down and get intentional with your one-on-one time for conversing with God. An intentional prayer life combines prioritization and balance and a deliberate act of devoting a specific time to prayer which will often develop into a habit. Prayer acknowledges God's sovereignty and in prayer we experience His sovereignty.

"We can't establish a relationship with God apart from communicating with Him. Human desires and needs require communication. Prayer is an absolute necessity in the interchange of a believers heart with the Father." ~ Stephen Nelson Rummage, Praying with Purpose (2006)

Conversations with God can come in all forms. Jesus set the example for us throughout the Bible. In scripture you read that he went away to be with his father-He needed a quiet place to be alone with Him (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12). Do you have a quiet place where you can be alone with God? Do you have a set time for talking to God each day? Above all other things, communication with His Father was vital for Christ. Can you imagine some of the conversations they had...the tears they shared...the mentoring...the strength...the power He received when He would rest in Him? We can have that too! Prayer is power my friend!

Prayer is not a substitute for hard work. It is work! Prayer isn't meant to change God's mind. It's suppose to change us and to align our thinking with God's." ~ Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God

Our conversations are an act of trust and should be considered sacred, no matter what form they are in. Whether you are in a closet on your knees, on your face in a dedicated prayer time, or in conversation about your day, your heart, your concerns as you drive to work. God is there and there is power in prayer!

Even if you are in a rush and all you can do is call out a quick plea of "Lord give me strength" when a tough situation knocks at your door...God is there and there is power in that prayer.

Maybe your prayers occur along a running path or while you are stuck on your back from an illness...God is there and there is power in prayer.

Maybe your words are lost and all you can say is "Jesus", if you can say anything at all. He knows your heart and the Holy Spirit intercedes for you when you are too weary and frustrated to pray...God is there and there is power in prayer!

Prayer is sacred no matter its form. Prayer is reverence in action!

"Prayer is our way to the place of power, our path to the solutions for life's indecipherable dilemmas...Prayer always stirs the heart of God" ~Emily Barnes, in Youniquely women: Becoming who God designed you to be. K. Arthur, E. Barnes, & D. Otto (2008)

Jesus went to prayer when He needed to perform a miracle (John 11: 42-43). He went to prayer for strength before He walked the road to Calvary (Luke 22: 39-42). Do you seek God first when stress hits, when you need a miracle, or when you need guidance? I talk to God all the time. I have spent plenty of time in silence trying to hear His voice or to calm my mind so I could talk to Him and hear His voice. But if I am honest here, I need to be more intentional in reverencing Him in my prayer time...on my knees...on my a quiet place with the door closed pouring out the gratitude on my heart. A Proverbs 31 Woman is disciplined in this because she:

'Loves the Lord [her] God with all [her] heart and with all [her] soul and with all [her] mind.’ ~ Matt 22:37

Here are some verses to ponder this week as you seek to be intentional in reverencing God in your prayer life:

Ps. 5; 31:14-15; 50:15; 55:22; 62:8; 63:6-7
Isa. 55:6
Jere. 29: 11-13; 33:3

Matt. 7:7

Lk. 3:21; 5: 16; 11:9; 18:1
John 14:14; 16: 23b-24
Phil 2:5
James 4:8
1 Thes. 5:17
1 John 5:14
1 Peter 5:7

Ladies, I have to say it again...the P31 woman is intentional in reverencing her God. She values the time she gives Him and He values the glory it brings Him. She sets aside time for scripture reading and study. She prioritizes her prayer time and her conversations with her God. And it doesn't end there, she continue to communicate with Him throughout the day. She hides His word in her heart and she prays it back. Praying the word of God is praying God's will. Like a couple who is married for many years begins to resemble each other, so too does the P31 Woman resemble her God when she spends more and more time with Him.

God accepts all forms of prayers but we can learn it best from Christ when He taught us to pray in Matthew 6:19-13 (HCSB):

Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as Holy,
Your Kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Gives us our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we have forgiven out debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

So how do we pray as Jesus prayed based on these His prayer? We first and foremost acknowledge God's sovereignty and our need for Him. This pleases God when we do this. We praise Him and acknowledge His goodness in our life. This tells Him we love and appreciate Him. We pray for His will to be done in our lives and the the situations we are lifting up to Him. This shows Him our commitment, our trust, our surrender to His plan, even if we are not sure of that plan. We pray for our needs and the needs of others. This demonstrates our dependence on Him. We identify any sins in our life and seek His forgiveness. We open our hearts to Him so He can reveal anything in our life that needs to be removed or re-directed. This demonstrates our humility. We pray for protection, what I like to call "His covering". This speaks of our reliance on Him. And we seek to give Him honor by believing and trusting in His sovereignty. That is reverencing Him.

Do you make every opportunity an occasion to pray? Is praying as natural as breathing for you? Christ lived by prayer and so should we. Can I say it again...prayer is power-use it! Prayer will transform your relationship with God. Prayer will also transform your life, your home, your marriage, your career, everything! The Proverbs 31 Woman was no doubt aware of this. She communed with her God in the daily circumstances and in so doing she grew in wisdom and strength.

I encourage you to visit this virtuous women web site. Click on the button to the right and find a world full of Proverbs 31!!

Next week, we will look at what it means to empty self when reverencing God!

Believing Him~Pamela

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Faith & Fear

Welcome back! Last week we explored the sovereignty of God in the Proverbs 31 Woman's life. Trusting that God is present in all things, the good, the indifferent, even the ugly circumstances of our life is a key element of faith for the Proverbs 31 Woman. This virtue of trust leads to a reverence of God in all things. Easier said then done in our human nature isn't it? Before we move on, be sure to read Proverbs 31:10-31 this week. Plan for something new to be seen each time you do this. You heard of the adult learner theory which says the more we touch (read) something, the more likely it is to stick with us? It's true!!

This week we will explore the connection our faith and our fear of God has in our life which gives us the ability to reverence Him as we were created to.

This weeks memory verse: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. ~ Prov 31:30

Obviously from this verse, the Proverbs 31 Woman fears God. So, what does it mean to fear God? When most of us think of fear we are incline to shun away from something...fear of spiders, fear of needles, fear of heights, fear of a life threatening diagnosis. Is that the same kind of fear that scripture is talking about? Is there such a thing as an ungodly fear verses a godly fear? Look at how Webster defines fear:

an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion : anxious concern : solicitude: profound reverence and awe especially toward God : reason for alarm : danger

Can you see the difference between a godly fear (profound reverence) and ungodly fear (anxious concern; danger)? Eastons bible dictionary defines godly fear to ungodly fear as "conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence".

Godly fear. How does the Proverbs 31 Woman maintain this? What does it mean to live in the fear of God? Stormie Omartian in her book The Power of a Praying Women (2002) identified living in the fear of God this way:

"The more you get to know the Lord and understand who He is, the more you will reverence Him and fear His displeasure. This is called the fear of the Lord, and it makes you want to obey Him. Its what draws you closer to God and increases your longing for more of Him. It makes you forget all the things that cause you fear, because they pale in comparison to His awesome power. When you have the fear of the Lord, you fear what your life would be like without Him."

The Proverbs 31 Woman who lives in fear of the Lord does not go about her days cowardly, no, she has a spiritual strength that calls her into obedience to God in words, actions, and thoughts. As humanly as possible, she understands and respects the awesomeness of God's power and greatness. Though she is not perfect, she remains constantly in communion with her God and allows the Holy Spirit to direct her every move. She is quick to acknowledge to God when she has failed and quick to seek forgiveness.

"...Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind". Ecc. 12:13 (NIV)

The woman who fears the Lord lives a life willing to be made willing for whatever the Lord may ask of her each day. Before her feet hit the floor each morning, the first words from her mouth are "Lord, what can I do for you today?"

Above all, fear the LORD and worship Him faithfully with all your heart, considering the great things He has done for you. ~ 1 Sam 12:24

The process of fearing the Lord is a learned process. Moses was instructed to gather the people, to constantly review the laws God had given them so they would learn to fear God (Deut 31: 12-14). In that same manner, the Proverbs 31 Woman will gather her children, her friends, and teach God's word. She intentionally studies His Word, puts it to memory and into action in attempt to live holy for Him.

What does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? ~ Deut 10:12

The Proverbs 31 Woman lives a life of praising God, honoring God, and reverencing Him.

You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him! All you descendants of Israel, revere Him! ~ Ps 22:23

The Proverbs 31 Woman lives a life of trusting God in the dark and difficult times. Her reverent fear of God demonstrates a "no matter what" kind of trust and finds her comfort and her faith in her sovereign God.

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear [no] danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff —they comfort me. ~ Ps 23: 4

The Proverbs 31 Woman is faithful in her fear of God and has an intimate relationship with Him. She is able to see Him and hear Him in her daily activities because she seeks Him in all things.

The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them. ~ Ps 25:14

The Proverbs 31 Woman who fears the Lord is confident and dependent on her God. She knows Her God is with her in everything.

Now the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him— those who depend on His faithful love. ~ Ps 33:18

The Proverbs 31 Woman allows her heart and mind to dwell on those things that are pleasing to Him. She lives intentionally and consciously for her God.

Teach me Your way, LORD, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name. ~ Ps 86:11

The fear of the Lord in the Proverbs 31 Woman is passed down to her generations.

But from eternity to eternity the LORD's faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren. ~ Ps 103:17

The Proverbs 31 Woman who fears the Lord finds her joy in Him.

Hallelujah! Happy is the man who fears the LORD, taking great delight in His commandments.. ~ Ps 112:1

How happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways! ~ Ps 128:1

The Proverbs 31 Woman who fears the Lord demonstrates this by hating what God hates and living a holy life.

To fear the LORD is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech. ~ Prov 8:13

The Proverbs 31 Woman who fears the Lord is persuasive and her life is an open book of God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Knowing, then, the fear of the Lord, we persuade people. We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well. ~2 Cor 5:11

The Proverbs 31 Woman who fears the Lord is not perfect. I am sure she had days when she yelled at her kids, didn't feel like being productive, had her feelings hurt by others, and felt too exhausted to be her husbands helpmate. But whats make a Proverbs 31 Woman different than the average woman is that she acknowledges these times to her God, and to others as appropriate, seeks forgiveness and makes an attempt to turn from her weaknesses or failures. It is in these times of weakness and failure she is able to grow her faith and her fear of God. There becomes less of her and more of God in her life. She learns to fear God daily, to trust His sovereignty, and she grows more in love with Him as she does this.

There is plenty more scripture to support that fearing God is commanded by God. These verses are for your personal study and reflection this week:

Joshua 1:9

Ps 25:12; 27:1-3; 31:19; 34:9; 103:11, 13; 115:13; 145:19

Prov. 1: 28-29; 2:3-5; 16:16; 19:23; 22:4; 29:25 Isa 11:2, 3;

Jere 32:40

John 9:31

2 Cor 5:11

Heb 11:7; 12:28

2 Tim 1:7

1 John 4:18

A women who fears the Lord...that is what I desire to do better. Sharon Jaynes stated it well in a book she co-authored with Lysa Terkeurst "Seven Life Principles for Every Woman":

As women, our lives must be filled, first and foremost, with Jesus Christ. Then and only then can Christ's love spill over first to our husbands, second to our children, then to our homes, our friends, our community, and the world."

A women who fears the Lord is so filled with Christ that she spills His love over for others. I love that thought! Her relationship with Him is personal and ongoing. It is intentional. I'm sure you know all about the ministries Sharon and Lysa have. But if by chance you haven't, click on their names to learn more. Their resources are rich in growing your faith and your relationship with God!

My Holy God, my Sovereign God, You are so loving and I cannot imagine my life without You. Grow me to be more like you. I need to be more loving, more giving, especially in my home. Make me into a woman of faith who fears You enough to live intentionally for You. Teach me to love others as You do. Be my life. ~Amen

Next week we will talk about the Proverbs 31 Woman and prayer.

Believing Him~Pamela

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Proverbs 31 Journey: Reverence

This weeks memory verse: He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and the Master [Lord] of all masters [Lords]~ 1 Tim. 6:15 (HCSB)

Welcome to my first post 0f 2011...what I call my Proverbs 31 Journey. I am excited about where God is leading my heart in this. I pray I have the strength and ability to walk it boldly (and the time). You see, I am far from being that women we read about in Proverbs 31:10-31. I encourage you to go read this passage again no matter how familiar you are with it. Try reading it in a different version of the Bible you are not as familiar with.

The Proverbs 31 Woman can be threatening and someone we would rather ignore when we think of our own personal weaknesses and failures. The opposite is really true...she should be our mentor and someone we strive to become, even with our weaknesses and failures. Like you, I have done plenty of studies from this passage of scripture but due to unpleasant adversities and circumstances in my life this past year, God has drawn my heart back to this passage and has instructed me to go deeper. I think He is saying "enough is enough...time to get it together!" So it is time for me to get intentional as a servant, wife, and mother after God's heart.

Each month I hope to take a virtue from within these verses and concentrate on it. Study it. Even memorize it. I must warn you that if you should join me in this journey, be prepared that satan will be wicked against us. It will be necessary to prayerfully put on God's armor. It may become a battle but with God on our side, nothing is too hard for Him (Jere. 32:17)!!

I am not going to follow the order of Proverbs 31:10-31, instead I am going to prioritize each virtue and approach them as God leads. This month, we will start with the virtue of Reverencing God and what His Sovereignty means in our life. The Proverbs 31 Woman serves God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She seeks His will for her life and intentionally follows His ways. To succeed in modeling this Proverbs 31 Woman we have to first examine our relationship with God before we approach the other virtues found in that scripture. Then, like her, we have to become intentional in this relationship. My word for 2011 is intentional...did you gather that already? As I study this Proverbs 31 Woman, I find that she is intentional in each of these virtues we will explore.

The Proverbs 31 Woman reverences God. Webster defines reverence as "honor or respect felt or shown : profound adoring awed and respect". Reverence is an action. When one truly believes in the sovereignty of God, one can reverence Him as we were created to. Though we may have gone through some horrible things in life, made pretty poor choices, failed miserably with God and others, we can move forward when we understand this concept of God's sovereignty, that God is and has always been in control of our life. When we believe this and trust in this truth then we can be confident that all things happen for His divine purpose and plan. We also have to believe that all things that happen can be used to glorify Him. Even the ugly.

Webster defines sovereignty as "supreme excellence or power; a controlling influence".
God is the I AM, all powerful controller of this universe, the King of all kings and the Master of all maters. Can you say that He is all of that in your life? He is also all about love. His love, His power, His wisdom, and His truth deserves our reverence.

"God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about."~Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

This can be a hard concept to grasp. Most people, want to believe that the awful sin they committed was of their own free will against God, beyond His control. Others believe that the abuse they suffered at the hands of another was a result of that persons sin. Some believe the accident that took a loved ones life was just accident controlled by circumstance and nothing more. My views have mirrored this until I started researching and grasping this concept of the sovereignty of God.

"...there is still another important dimension to His sovereignty in the hearts of people; when necessary, God restrains people from decisions or actions that would harm us." ~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

Can I be so bold to say that God is in control of all things in your life...the good and the bad, the glorious events and the painful events? Could it be that your suffering was part of God's plan for your life and for His glory? Is it too big for us to understand thereby requiring our trust?

"No detail of your life is too insignificant for your heavenly Fathers attention; no circumstance is so big that He cannot control it." ~Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

Can I be even bolder to suggest that the awful sin which you chose to participate in and now find so hard to forgive could also have been a part of Gods plan? Do you believe that God in His sovereignty is powerful enough to control everything? Could He have placed something in your path to stop you from stop a disease from taking your loved ones protect you from the abuse?

"...God is never the author of sin. Though people's sinful intents and actions serve the sovereign purpose of God, we must never conclude that God has induced anyone to sin." ~Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

Do you believe in the sovereignty of God friend? If you do then you do believe that yes He could have stopped all those awful things but He didn't. Why? Because it is part of His plan!! If we believe this then we are glorying God, we are trusting God, believing that He is in control. No matter how painful it can be, we accept it and move forward with one glorify Him!

"But it is the ability of God to so arrange diverse human actions to fulfill His purpose that makes His sovereignty marvelous and yet mysterious" ~Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

We honor and reverence God when we trust Him and believe in His sovereignty, especially when we don't understand why He has allowed adversity in our life. Allowed. A sovereign God would allow suffering and pain? Yes, even in His great love for us, He will allow pain and suffering to grow us for His glory, for His plan. And He requires us to trust Him in it and know He is in control. Trusting Him in this is not a matter of feelings, it takes will power spiritually, physically, and mentally.

"Over all the actions and events of our lives, God is in control doing as He pleases-not apart from those events, or in spite of them, but through them. ~ Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

My friend, I have a not so pretty track record of bad choices with life long consequences. But it is in believing that my God is so great, so powerful, so sovereign that I can rest in the fact that my past and my present is also a part of His plan for me...something He can use to glorify Him. That is amazing, and that is what I want!

Think of Joesph, sold by his brothers into slavery...part of God's greater plan. How about Job's suffering...part of God's plan. The women at the well and how she was able to be a witness for Christ....part of Gods greater plan. David and Bathsheba...part of God's greater plan? Many researchers believe Bathsheba is who the writer is describing in the Proverbs 31 passage...Solomon referencing his mother, a women who fell hard and rose high...part of God's plan to use for generations to come!!

It is one thing to know that no person or circumstance can touch us outside of God's sovereign control; it is still another to realize that no person or circumstances can frustrate God's purpose for our lives. ~Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts, 2008

You in all your past sins and failures are part of God's plan! Can you accept that? Replace that pain and unforgiveness you carry with the comfort of that truth! Can you believe and trust in the Sovereignty of our God? This is the challenge I leave for you this week. In your quiet time each day dwell on scripture that speaks to the sovereignty of God. I will leave you a few here to reflect on:
2Chron. 20:6

Job 42:2
Ps. 18:30; 33:10-11; 115:3; 121:3-4
Proverb 16:9; 19:21; 21:1, 30; 57:2
Eccl. 7:13-14
Isa. 14:27; 43:13; 46:10; 57:15
Jere. 14:22; 29:11
Lam. 3:37-38
Rom. 8:28, 35, 37-39; 11:33
2Cor. 5:7; 12:9
Eph. 1:11
Phil. 4:6-7
Col. 1:17
1Thes. 5:18
1 tim 6:15
Heb. 1:3
James 1:2-4

Journal about these scripture, pray them back to God. I have given you an example of doing this below. Dwell, meditate, and believe on God's sovereignty this week. This is the first step of our journey towards reverencing God and getting closer to becoming the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Oh Holy God, my Sovereign God, humbly I seek your presence, humbly I come to You in awe and amazement. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for your mercy and grace. This is your year to do what you will in my life. O Lord, God of our Fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hands and no one can withstand you (2 Chron 20:6). You are the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of all kings and Master [Lord] of all masters [lords] (1 Tim 6:15). Be Lord of my life. Rule 2011! Your ways are perfect and your Word is flawless. Be my shield as I take refuge in You (Ps 18:30). Your plans stand firm through all eternity, the purpose of Your heart though all generations (Ps 33:11). Make your purpose in my life my purpose! My hearts desire is to be fully committed to serving you, loving you, and honoring you. Help me to approach this new year with a mind set and heart set of being intentional...intentional for your kingdom and your glory. I am unworthy but I am willing. Lead me my precious Savior. Lead me in this journey and enable me to be a Proverbs 31 woman for your glory. ~Amen.

Next week we will explore the Proverbs 31 Woman's faith relationship of fearing God and its correlation to this virtue of reverence.

To explore more
on this weeks subject on the sovereignty of God, I encourage you to read Jerry Bridges book I quoted from. It's a painful but transformational read!!

Believing Him~Pamela