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

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