The Remarkable Women of the Bible Chapter 9 ~ Miriam

Miriam Leading Praise Songs

A Devoted Saint

Why does the negative memory of someone we know cloud out the good that they have done in their lives? When we think of certain characters in the Bible, what comes to mind when we say Solomon or Peter or David? We can learn from their mistakes but we can learn much more from the positive.  That is the case with Miriam.  In the last chapter we learned that Miriam, over 80 years of age, answered the men’s song of praise with her own, leading the women in song and dancing, praising the mighty God for the victory over the Egyptian army that God drowned in the Red Sea.

Song can be an important part of our spiritual lives. Is it in ours? We see in the Bible that David wrote many songs of his heart.  Paul admonishes us also to sing spiritual songs and hymns.

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

Here we see brethren in the New Testament admonishing one another in songs as Miriam did and also giving praise to God in their own hearts.  Miriam was such a woman.  The leader of the women of the camp of Israel led them in song.  Whether it be sorrow, i.e., songs in the night” or joy of spirit, there is a Psalm or hymn that we can sing to give us hope and help express our joy and praise to God.

Let’s look at the example of one modern day woman.  She sang songs in the dark nights during her trials to help her have hope and give her peace.

Woman of Hymns

“In 1956, Elisabeth Elliot’s husband, Jim, was martyred by savage Auca Indians in Ecuador.  Later, when an interviewer asked this woman why hymns are an important part of her life, Mrs. Elliot responded:

‘I came from a home where we not only read the Bible every day, but we sang a hymn every day.  I have learned as a result of that [practice]…hundreds of hymns.  They are as much a part of my life as the Scriptures, and they have been a tremendous blessing to me in times of distress.’

‘Elisabeth Elliot went on to say that upon hearing that her husband might be dead, a verse of Scripture and the words of a hymn came to mind and ministered to her soul.  Mrs. Elliot shares:’

‘Isaiah 43 says, ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee.’  That ideas is also taken up in the great hymn… How Firm A foundation.’

When thro’ the deep waters I cause thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.  For I will be with thee ty trials to bless, and sanctify to three they deepest distress.’ Pgs 101-102

I myself have gone through deep distress when my father passed away.  He was in a state of unconsciousness at the time my Mom, my sisters and I were singing one of my favorite hymns in his presence, hoping it would bring him comfort if he could possibly hear and also ourselves, “Be Not Afraid My People.”

Now before we depart from the story of Miriam, that remarkable leader of women, please notice the ways in which this senior saint gave of her energies at this point in her life.

~ Miriam was still in love with the Lord.

As the Israelites witnessed God’s destruction of their enemies, Miriam’s heart burst into praise and song as she worshiped the Lord.  (Exodus 15:21.  She shouted, “Sing to the Lord!”

 ~ Miriam was still leading the women.

Ever the leader, when Miriam’s hands reached for a timbrel and her soul sang in tribute to God, “all the women” joined her.  (Exodus 15:20)

~ Miriam was still serving her brothers.

In her later years she assisted both Moses and Aaron as these three siblings led God’s two million people out of Egypt and toward God’s Promised Land.  (Micah 6:4) Not only did the young Miriam care about her baby brother Moses, (Exodus 2:4) as his little basket floated along the Nile River (Exodus 2:4), but the spunky, energetic Miriam continued to help Moses and Aaron by attending to the needs of the women as the Israelites began their journey.

~ Miriam was still singing praises to God

Her worship was public, expressive, exuberant, and heartfelt as she came before His presence with song. She never tired of praising Jehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.

Whatever your age, dear sisters, continue – to the end! – To be women who love God, praise Him, and serve His people. Pgs 104-105

Yet, there is one terrible incident that sometimes is the first thought in some people’s minds, that of her verbally attacking and criticizing Moses. God then punished her with seven days of leprosy.  (Numbers 12)  She did not enter the Promised Land, she, nor Aaron, nor Moses, because of not honoring God before the Israelites. (Numbers 20:2-12) How sad this picture is, for God takes leadership of His people seriously, and the punishment is sometimes harsher for those who have such important responsibilities. Indeed many of us remember the flaw of Miriam when she comes to remembrance; yet, we do not remember how much she served the Lord.

What would Miriam’s gravestone say if we were able to choose the words?

Here lies a remarkable woman

who loved God, her family

and God’s people

and served them with

all of her heart, soul,

mind and strength.  Pg 106

Remember Miriam

~ Miriam’s Message For You Today~

I can think of nothing worse than living your whole life and then, at life’s end, realizing that there is nothing lasting that remains.  Well, that was not the case with Miriam.  Indeed, her lasting impact continues to affect us across the centuries.  And her message is loud and clear!  What do we learn from Miriam?

First – Beyond your relationship with God, your family is you’re most important relationship.  Careers are soon over.  Friends come and go, but your loyal relationship with family will have lasting impact.

Next, whether you are married or single, ministry to and with God’s people has lasting benefits.  Miriam’s decades of faithful service as a devoted saint gained momentum with each passing year.  She teaches us that “senior hood” equal “servant hood.”

And finally, sin may have its consequence, but unfortunate missteps or even significant sins in ourselves or others should not be seen as final.  God’s grace is there to pick us up and put us back on the path to usefulness to our family and our church. Pgs 106-107

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Published in: on June 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Remarkable Women of the Bible ~ Chapter 7 ~ Jochebed

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Remarkable Mother ~ Remarkable Woman of Faith

Chapter 7 of the Remarkable Women of the Bible And Their Message For Your Life Today by Elizabeth George begins with the story of Jochebed.

Times were tough for Jochebed and her family.  We go through many trials in our life, but Jochebed, a woman who feared God, had the one of the worst nightmares of any mother.  Pharaoh of ancient Egypt saw that the Hebrews were multiplying greatly and feared that they would consider a revolt.  (Genesis 1:7-10) Pharaoh gave the midwives an order to kill any boy that was born of the Hebrew women and let the female infants live.  (Exodus 1:15-16) Imagine the horror Jochebed faced when approaching her delivery date. She remained faithful through all of the frightening circumstances and was placed in the hall of fame for her faith in the Almighty. She hid her son Moses for three and one-half months when Pharaoh’s edict was sent to throw the young newborns into the Nile River.  (Hebrews 11:23) We can glean faith from a woman of God who faced her trial with confidence and trust in God.

“Jochebed shows you how to hold up your frightening, seemingly impossible situations to your Father in heaven.  Worry ends when faith begins…and that faith ends when worry begins. So make a decision to face your trials with courage fueled by faith.  Make a decision to refuse to fear and to instead place your trust in God.  Declare with David, ‘Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.’”  (Psalm 56:3) pg 78

Perhaps Jochebed had so great a faith in God because she would have been taught by her parents of the promise to Abraham, how God had miraculously blessed Abraham with a son in his old age and had been with him and performed miracles throughout his life. God gave the promises of a great nation to Abraham because He knew he would command his children and his household after him that they would teach his children and his children’s children the way of God.

Genesis 18:17-19 Yahweh said, “Will I hide from Abraham what I do, seeing that Abraham has surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?” 

Genesis 18:19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him.”

How important is our faith in the rearing of our children in the way of the Lord?  Ask yourself this question, ‘Does my son or daughter know more about human men with supernatural powers than the God of the Bible?  Someday, there will be another persecution, and they will need the faith of Jochebed and the faith of many of those who have gone before us who were taught the way of God diligently.  Our children are the heritage of the Lord and are chosen by God to be kings and priests if they also follow in our footsteps, if we set the right example of  loving the Lord with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our minds.

After Jochebed could no longer conceal her son at three months, she made a boat (ark) with reeds and placed tar inside to keep the dangerous waters of the Nile from drowning her little one.  Sound familiar?

Exodus 2:3 “When she could no longer hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him, and coated it with tar and with pitch. She put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.”

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Was Noah saved by an “ark” that was pitched with tar?

Genesis 6:14 “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.”

Again, did she recall the miracle of God saving Noah and his family because she heard from her parents of the great flood that encompassed the earth?  This may shed a little more light on why Jochebed had such faith, being taught and teaching her family the statutes and judgments of God.  God commanded the Israelites to remember to teach their sons and sons’ son in the way of God.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one:  and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  These words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Again we see David expounding this command:

Psalms 78:4-7 “We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of Yahweh, his strength, and his wondrous works that he has done.  For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know, even the children who should be born; who should arise and tell their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

Time With Mother

Another point to consider is that she was allowed to spend time with Moses by the daughter of the Pharaoh.  The first bond and closeness of the mother and her offspring is so very important.  No daycare can give your child the closeness and love that a real mother can.

Did Jochebed speak of God and live out her faith as she nursed Moses?

“If you are a mother, grandmother, or aunt, God’s high calling for you is to devote yourself and your time to those children during the first few years of their lives.  God has given you the important role of teaching His little ones, of informing them about Him, of nurturing them up for Him, of giving Him a godly man or woman to use for His great purposes, and Jochebed shows us how” pg 79

Are we aware of the special purpose of our children’s future?  Our children are holy because we are holy, set apart, they may be princes and princesses of God.  The princes and princesses  of the world today receive a special education. They are tutored for a role that they will perform one day.  Do we spend time with our children and make them aware that they have a special role to play in God’s plan for mankind?  Their potential, in God’s eyes, is far beyond what superheroes can ever achieve.  None of them ever became a king or queen and/or a priest to guide this untoward world into an age of peace and harmony. Our children are the future, and they need to know this in order to prepare themselves for their calling.

During the Feast of Tabernacles is a great time to celebrate their importance to God, that is they are our future.  They will be the leaders along with us guiding the world in the millennium.

Moses knew that God, by his hand, would deliver the children of Israel. (Acts 7:25) How did Moses come to that conclusion?  Did his mother inform him that he was to become the leader of a great nation from birth? It’s a curious question.  Moses understood the love that his mother had for him even as He grew in Pharaoh’s house.  I’m certain that his mother informed him of this while she nursed him.  He had a special bond with his mother just as all nursing infants have.  Three years of closeness with our own children are priceless.

“Just a few years! Do you know that 50 percent of a child’s character and personality development takes place by age three and 75 percent by age five?  The first years of a child’s life are critical years for input and training.  Jochebed was one of God’s faithful mothers who devoted her time those first critical years to train her son in the ways of the Lord.  Indeed, the only time that she had with her little boy were those few years.  If you’re a mom, please take seriously your calling as a mother.  Just a few years of time devoted to God’s little ones make a world of difference!” Pg  80.

I believe that all of the years of a child’s life are important years, and that their training should all be in light of the glory of God, not evolution, not learning the ways of the world, but the ways of God.

Let’s let Jochebed’s  life be an example of the faith of a remarkable servant of God and also a remarkable mother who brought up all three of her children in the way of the Lord:

Aaron, her first born became Israel’s first high priest, marking the beginning of the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 30:30)

Her daughter Miriam was  a gifted poet and musician who led the Israelite women in a victory song after God delivered them from the Pharaoh’s army , (Exodus 15:20) and with her brother was intimately involved in God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt oppression.

Moses, a small baby that Jochebed gave to pharaoh’s daughter in order to save his life (Exodus 2:10), was used by God to lead His people out of Egypt and to communicate to them His fundamental commands for life (Exodus 4:11-12; 24:3). Pgs 82-84

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How much importance should we place upon the career of motherhood when it is used for God’s glory?  There is no comparison.

Jochebed was the first person in Scripture to have a name compounded with Jah, or Jehovah.  Jochebed means “glory of Jehovah,” Jehovah is her glory,” or Jehovah is our glory.”  Pg 79

Will we, as daughters of the most High, bring glory to God by following the example of the faith and love of Jochebed? She gives us the example.  Let’s follow in her footsteps of faith, and God will give us a new name at His return.  What name will that be? Will it be for God’s glory?

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God.”

Chapter 1 ~ Eve, Remarkable Creation

Chapter 2 ~ Sarah, Remarkable Faith

Chapter 3 ~ Sarah, Advanced Steps in Faith

Chapter 4 ~ Sarah, Rewards of Faith

Chapter 5 ~ Rebekah, Ready, Willing, and Able

Chapter 6 ~ Rebekah, Tests of Faith

To learn the wonderful purpose of our life on earth and the promise of a time of great peace on the earth, please see our booklet What is Your Destiny.

The Remarkable Women of the Bible Book Study ~ Chapter 5

Rebekah-Eliezer

Rebekah ~ Ready, Willing, and Able

This chapter begins with a discussion of the Godly characteristics of a single woman.  Many of her qualities are a good example to us of a woman of valor (Proverbs 31).  In the Bible account Isaac was nearing 40 years of age, and Abraham sent his trusted servant to find a wife for him to continue to carry on with the promises that God have given to him to be the father of many nations.  What were the qualities that the servant looked for? What characteristics did Rebekah display, which can be embraced by our single women today?

Rebekah’s purity: She was a virgin – “No man had known her.” (Genesis 24:16)

Rebekah’s busyness: Rather than looking for a husband, languishing, moping, or mourning over the lack of one, Rebekah stayed busy serving her family and others. (Genesis 24:15-24)

Rebekah’s hospitality: Her home was open to those who needed her care. (Genesis 24:25)

Rebekah’s energy: Abundant energy is generally a sign of happiness, and Rebekah’s happiness empowered her with energy enough to serve other people far beyond the minimum.  Rebekah ministered to the maximum! pg 55-56

Before continuing, let’s look at God’s plan for single women.  God calls his special servants to a life of:

Purity: A single Christian woman is to remain “holy both in body and spirit.” 1 Corinthians 7:34

Ministry: A single Christian woman is to live her life in a way that reflects her complete dedication to God.  As one who is unmarried, she has the privilege of undistracted service to God and caring for “the things of the Lord.” (I Corinthians 7:34) Every day a woman is single is another glorious day to serve God wholeheartedly and without distraction.  Her singleness is a “green light” from God to go all out in service to others. (pg 56)

Checkpoint On The Journey

Is singleness a reality for you today dear woman of God? Although you may desired to be married, let not your longing slay your appetite for living. …Accept and thank God for what “is” given, not allowing the “not”  given to spoil it. (pg 56)

We also find a Godly characteristic of Rebekah in her willingness “to go.” Abraham then sent his 85-year-old servant on a 500-mile journey, back to where his people lived to find a wife for his son.  Rebekah was willing to go on that long journey to become Isaac’s wife upon being chosen by God. She followed the calling of God to move away from her family, just as Sarah followed Abraham wherever God was leading him. This is a characteristic of a Godly woman.

Let’s consider Abraham’s qualifications for a Godly wife:

She must not be a Canaanite.  (Genesis 24:3) No, she wasn’’t to be a wife of a godless people who might lead Isaac and his offspring away from the true God.

Do we struggle with the thought of marrying outside our own faith? God instructed His servants to marry within their own belief system, their own tribe, their own people.  Marrying outside of God’s way of life invited strange idolatrous customs to enter into their households. Those who did not take devoting their life to God seriously suffered serious consequences.

She must be from among Abraham’s own family. (Genesis 24:4)

She must be willing to follow his servant back to the land of Abraham and Isaac, a woman willing to forsake all – in faith –for the glorious future God had ordained. (Genesis 24:5) (pg 57)

How would you describe your devotion to God? Are you willing to forsake the worldly ways (I John 2:16) and follow God’s calling to take up your cross and follow Him, no matter how long, no matter how difficult it may be?

““And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.””

~ Luke 9:23

As a woman of God, you have a powerful influence on those around you.  One single match can be seen up to two miles away in complete darkness.  How much are you allowing your light to shine at this point in your life?

Notice that Abraham’s servant Eliezer spoke with God beforehand, entreating Him concerning His choice for Isaac,.  Eliezer was not focused on outward appearance or material wealth, but only asked for Godly characteristics and stamina for her to be able to make the grueling 500-mile journey and to flourish in a difficult nomadic life.

Women of God, what’s on your checklist?

Single or married, are you focusing on Godly characteristics, rather than on beauty or affluence? Pray about your desires and adjust your standards to match the qualities that God desires in women, not what the world’s call to modern feminism consists of.  Degrees, high job status, and total independence are not what God holds in high esteem; rather He looks for a true servant’s heart and a meek and gentle spirit. He looks for your dependence on Him to make the facing of life’s challenges more fruitful.

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.””  

~ I Peter 3:3-4

Imagine the want ad that Eliezer would write to find Isaac’s new wife:

Wanted: The Ideal Wife

Must be physically strong and healthy,

energetic and able to work hard.

Must be friendly and industrious,

kind and compassionate,

generous and love to serve –

and Devoted to God.

After Eliezer’s prayer to the Almighty, he sat down by a well at the time of day when the women of the town came to draw water. Weary from the long journey, he and his ten camels needed water to refresh and sustain them.  A young woman came with a pitcher on her shoulder to the well and offered him a drink of water.  Hospitality is one of the Godly characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman.  Not only did she offer Eliezer water to refresh him, she went on and watered all of his camels!  No small chore to do for anyone, especially a stranger.  How many draws of water from the well would you think she would have to perform to water ten camels?  A camel can drink up to 25 gallons of water after a long journey! Yes, Rebekah went the extra mile in service to a stranger. Then rather than leaving the exhausted stranger, she serves yet again by inviting Abraham’s servant Eliezer to her home to  find rest after his long journey.

Able

How much do we judge the other’s person’s character by our first impressions? Eliezer’s impression was definitely positive when it came to Rebekah.  Yes, he noticed that she was willing to work with her hands, drawing water for him, as well as his camels, and she also came at the appointed time.  Yes, she was on time! She didn’t drag her feet when the work was to be done.  The Proverbs 31 woman works willingly with her hands.  We see her rising up early to feed her servants!  She had servants, why didn’t she have them wait on her first? I find this remarkable.  Her attitude and willingness to do menial tasks.

“She rises also while it is yet night, and gives meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.”

~ Proverbs 31:15

We also see this in the case of Sarah.  When the messengers came to recount the promises to Abraham, he asks Sarah to go ahead and make cakes for them.  We don’t hear Sarah complaining, “Why are you asking me? We have servants? I’m the master!” No, we see her heart of servitude, just as we see with Rebekah.

“And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.”

~ Genesis 18:6

Checkpoint on the journey:  Do you think hard work is degrading? Do you think hard work is to be done by other people, not you? Do you dread rolling up your sleeves and working hard on some necessary task?  Here in God’s word  God praises the enchanting Rebekah.  So, if your are tempted to disdain your work, allow God’s thoughts about yet another remarkable – the Proverbs 31 woman – to correct your thinking.  She “willingly works with her hands….she girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.  Strength and honor are her clothing.” (Proverbs 31:13, 17, 25) God values women who work hard to serve Him, and the people He puts in their lives.” (pg 60)

“But I’m not strong.  I have a disability.  How can I strengthen my arms, when I’m weak?” you might ask. We might not have the physical strength to do hard labor, such as one who is aged, illness or debilitating disease, but our strength can be one of encouragement, support, a beautiful smile and being there for someone in distress.  There are so many ways in which we can strengthen our arms to do even these things.  A prayer of intercession made for someone, a card sent to someone sick in the hospital or a phone call is a menial task to some, but worth great wealth to God, and it will also mean more than you know to someone who is suffering through a difficult trial.

Willing To Go

When Eliezer states to her family the reason for his visit, to find a wife for Isaac, her parents ask if she might stay just a few more days (Genesis 24:55) with her family before leaving, but she said she would willingly go immediately (vs 58).  Even though she would probably never see her family again, even though she did not have time to prepare, even though life would be stressful as a nomad’s wife, she willingly went with Eliezer to meet her new husband.  That was an act of faith.

Take a serious inventory of your own life of faith.  Is there any act of faith you are postponing – even for “just a few days”?  Any decision you are putting off?  Any step of faith you are delaying?  Waiting may be easier, but the harder path of true faith is the path to greater blessing.  Delayed obedience is in actuality disobedience, and delayed action delays God’s blessing.  Every step of faith is a giant step toward the center of God’s will, and God’s abundant blessings. (pg 63)

So, what can we learn from our first encounter with Rebekah? We can challenge our spiritual and physical lives whether we are ready, willing, and able to perform the work God puts before us.  Let’s be ready and willing to receive the blessings God has for us as well for a job well done! 🙂

Next Chapter:  “Rebekah ~ Tests of Faith”

To Read Previous Chapter Posts See Below:

Chapter 1 “Eve ~ Remarkable Creation”

Chapter 2 “Sarah ~ First Steps in Faith”

Chapter 3 “Sarah ~ Advanced Steps in Faith”

Chapter 4 “Sarah ~ Rewards of Faith”

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

 

 

The Remarkable Women of the Bible Book Study ~ Chapter 4

The Remarkable Women of the Bible

Rewards of Faith

In chapters 2 and 3 of “The Remarkable Women of the Bible and Their Lessons For Us Today” we peer into the life of Sarah.  We see in Hebrews Sarah mentioned as a woman of faith.

“Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” 

~ Hebrews 11:11

Indeed, Sarah was truly a woman of faith. We have seen Sarah uprooting from her homeland to be Abraham’s companion on his journey to wherever God led him.  She left her family and her people to follow him as he followed God, making us her “daughters” if we follow her example of submission to follow her husband as God led him.  Do we follow our husband’s lead as he follows God?  Peter states that we are Sarah’s daughter if we develop a meek and quiet spirit and are submissive as Sarah had become:

“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

~ I Peter 3:4

“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.”

~ I Peter 3:5

Abraham's Journeys

We have seen that Sarah waited ten long years after the promises were made to Abraham, and then still being barren, assumed presumptuously that God may have had different plans as to how these promises would be fulfilled, that it must not be God’s will that she be the one to bear Abraham’s child.  Therefore, she gave Abraham her handmaiden Hagar to bear a child through her, which was a common custom in those days. This was not in God’s will, however, but we have also learned that Sarah herself was not specifically stated as being the “one” through which Abraham would be the father of many nations at the time she made this decision.

We can find comfort in the fact that while we can have faith in God’s particular promises for us, we may make mistakes in judgment in how to accomplish it along the way at times, but God is understanding and knows our weaknesses.  Yes, we can find mercy and grace in the God of all comfort when slip and fall, using our own human reasoning at times on our journey to the Kingdom.  We also learn through Sarah’s story that we, no matter how merciful and forgiving God is, have to deal with the consequences of our sins in this life.

Then we saw that it was 24 years after the promises were made to Abraham that messengers along with the Lord himself came to Abraham to restate the promises, but this time specifically mentioning Sarah as the one to bear the promised seed.  Previously, she was not mentioned by name, and now it was clear in her mind what the Lord would do.  Sarah laughed.  Yes, she laughed within herself.  Did Sarah lack faith when she laughed within herself.  In the last chapter I’ve stated why I think this was a reaction of amazement, a laughter of “Could it be so, after all this time?” “Could I find pleasure (joy) in having a child in my old age?” (Genesis 18:12) Sarah now being 89 years of age. The Lord encouraged her further, by telling Abraham “Is anything too hard for God?” (Genesis 18:14)

Sarah  and Abraham

Are we waiting for certain promises to be fulfilled in our own lives?

“A prodigal to return to his or her father?  Are you waiting for release of a physical affliction?  Perhaps you are waiting for a husband – or for your husband to return to the Lord more deeply, or to be a spiritual leader in your home.  Could it be waiting like your sister Sarah for a baby.  Or are you waiting for vindication of some unfortunate misunderstanding for God to come to your rescue to show forth His righteousness on your behalf? (Psalm 73:6)  Are you eagerly waiting for the (Kingdom)* for the groaning of your body to cease, for your ultimate victory?

“God bids you to wait – in readiness and expectation – on His riches, on His rewards, just as Sarah did, whose sister you are if you trust in the Lord. (I Peter 3:5-6) pg 48

What blessings can we gain by waiting on God’s “appointed time?”

Blessing #1: Increased value – Waiting increases the value and importance of the thing waited for.  Whether you’re waiting for deliverance from suffering, the discovery of God’s purposes, direction for your confused life, a home at last, a wedding day, a family reunion, a prodigal’s return, or a child’s birth waiting makes the desired object a greater treasure once it is received.”

Blessing #2: Increased time – No one has enough time.  But the one who waits is given the precious gift of time – time to embrace life’s circumstances, time to press closer to God’s loving and understanding heart, time to grow in the hard-won grace of patience, time to feel more deeply the pain of others who also wait with flickering faith.

Blessing #3: Increased faith – The writer of Hebrews defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Please read the rest of Hebrews 11, and notice how the saints through the ages (including Abraham and Sarah) had their faith increased by waiting.  Faith grows and is strengthened through time.

So, while you wait, be encouraged.  We can believe Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

He Who has promised is faithful to His own promises.  There are over 8,000 promises in the Bible.  I once had a little “Promises of God” book that I kept with me most of the time throughout my heaviest trials put together by categories.  I pulled that little book out any time I started to lose faith or anxiety overtook me.

What do you, by faith, believe to be true of God? Note the “miracles”:

*Eternal life — “I give them Eternal life” (John 10:28)

*Sufficient grace — “My grace is sufficient.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

*Strength for life — “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

*His everlasting presence — “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9) pg 47

What promises and miracles did Sarah receive after 25 years of waiting?

*The witnessing of miracles — The 100-year-old Abraham fathered a child!  The 90-year-old Sarah conceived and bore a son!  And still another miracle followed as Sarah’s worn out body sustained the life of her little one as she nursed him!

*The working of faith — Sarah inherited the promise of a child by”faith and patience:; she exhibited the full assurance of hope until the end (Hebrews 6:11-12)

*The fulfillment of God’s promise — Wrapped up in Sarah’s little baby was God’s fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:2), and the continuance of the family line that would give rise to God’s own Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:2, 17)

*A child to love — God made the barren Sarah “A joyful mother of children.”  (Psalms 113:9)

Indeed, God Himself shared with Abraham and Sarah His promise of a great nation coming through Abraham and as we saw above great miracles.  They earned the place in Hebrew’s Hall of Faith.  What trials are you challenged with today that could be used to exercise your faith? Faith is hope in what is “NOT” seen yet. (Hebrews 11:1)  I sometimes see the small and great challenges that some women are facing, but along with it great faith – yes faith in huge trials and also faith in the day-to-day small battles they are faced with. Sometimes I share with them that perhaps someday they might be may be counted worthy of being placed along Sarah in the Hall of Faith.  Sarah gives us great hope that although we may make mistakes in our judgments at times, if we wholeheartedly are striving to live our lives according to His word, God is faithful to His promises and His rewards many.

One last note:

“Dear one, “with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)  Nothing is too hard for the Lord!  So, I ask you, what trials and temptations do you currently face?  Does some difficulty or affliction affect your every moment?  Do you live alone?  Are your days or your health waning?  Are you stretched to the limit by the demands of each day?  Identify your greatest challenge and then look to the Lord with the greatest of faith.  Remember, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1) pg 51

Be encouraged!

Your Comment Are Important To Me!

To read previous chapters:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

*This word was changed for emphasis.

 

The Remarkable Women of the Bible Book Study ~ Chapter 2

The Remarkable Women of the Bible

Sarah – Remarkable Faith

This extraordinary woman of faith in chapter Hebrews 11:11, Sarah, can be perplexing with the different viewpoints that are presented to us in books and sermons and as we read the many accounts in the Bible.  She, indeed according to God’s word, is held up as our spiritual mother if we are respectful to our own husbands as she was to her Abraham, “calling him lord,” a term of respect and honor.

“As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”

~ I Peter 3:6

This is brought home even further in Ephesians:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

~ Ephesians 5:22-34

I’d like to insert the following verse for later use in our discussions of Sarah and Abraham’s relationship:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”

~ Ephesians 5:22

She not only is faithful to her husband but is also held up Biblically as a woman of Godly faith, in Hebrews 11:11:

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”

As I read this chapter of The Remarkable Women of the Bible, it caused me to dig deeper into her life.  The author not only takes chapter 2 to discuss Sarah’s faith but also chapters 3 and 4.  Sarah’s faith was progressive, and it took the author two more chapters to explain it! As I said, there are many differing conclusions as to the true nature of Sarah’s life, and it was no different with this book study.  I would like to point some things with which I agree with the author.

Sarah And Abraham Nomads

Her Journey

We first encounter Sarah’s budding faith when she willingly follows her husband’s charge to leave her homeland and become a tent dweller. Abraham’s vision from God foretold the promise of Abraham to become the father of many nations.  Yes, according to God’s vision, he was to gather up all he had and leave his homeland of Ur, situated on the lush banks of the Euphrates River.  I have to insert here that Ur was no small village, but a teaming, affluent city, second in commerce only to Egypt at the time.  They probably had a very comfortable life in Ur.  Abraham had many cattle, servants, and possessions.  He was no pauper.  He and Sarah were very prosperous indeed.

Just imagine your husband coming to you one day after work and telling you that he had a vision from God. You are to gather up everything you have and leave your family, friends, and neighbors, to become tent dwellers.  Many women today would suggest to their husbands that he had better see a therapist before they would give in to such a dramatic change of lifestyle just because of a dream.  The Bible is silent on her response to Abraham.

Many think this because in that day, men were in authority and women subservient, she just went along.  I think differently, however, because the Bible holds up Sarah and Abraham’s relationship as a type of relationship that was an example for us to follow.   The fact that Sarah is very outspoken on other issues and consults with Abraham on many important occasions tells me that Sarah’s silence means that she agreed without doubting that God truly came to Abraham in a vision and that she willingly went along with Abraham in his walk with God to help him fulfill God’s promise for them. (1 Peter: 3-4)

It turned out that Sarah’s minuscule seed of faith budded when they went out from Ur of the Chaldeans. (Genesis 11:31) Possibly with pain in her heart and tears in her eyes, Sarah reacted to God’s instructions regarding marriage.  ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.’ (Genesis 2:24)

As always obedience to God boiled down to a faith issue.  However it happened, our Sarah took an important step in faith, and that faith grew and ultimately earned her a place of honor in God’s Hall of Faith. Are you wondering and praying, ‘How can I begin taking the steps Sarah took to develop greater faith?

Try these important first steps today:

Turn away from the pleasures of this world, “Do not love the world or the things of this world.” (John 2:15).

Turn to the unknown, the unseen, the eternal with the heart of faith – “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (Corinthians 2:5-7) pg 24

Famine

Famine

Most women won’t face a literal famine in their lifetimes as Sarah did in hers, but most will face some kind of trial, a lack of a different kind in their life that causes them pain.  We need to take the problem to God and put total trust in Him. Let’s look at Sarah encounter with literal famine in her journey of faith.

“Oh the heartache! Will it ever go away? Perhaps these words darkened Sarah’s thoughts the day she followed her full-of-faith husband out of Ur. Ur had been Sarah’s home, her life, but God told Abraham to go to Canaan.  Leaving Ur may have been bad, but the land of Canaan was worse! It was 600 miles away from her beloved homeland .  Just when she was getting use to it, then a terrible famine struck, and it was time to move on again.  This time to Egypt, another 300 miles away! Surely, if they would have stayed in Ur, everything would be alright! Maybe Sarah had thoughts such as this.  We really don’t know.” pg 25

Because her thoughts are not recorded, personally I think because of the lack of response, again, she trusted and had faith in God’s promises.  When circumstances in our lives seem to worsen, do we lose heart, lose faith? We all need encouragement to look forward and not back during hard times.  In Chapter 2, the author gives us some of her thoughts concerning those times in our life when we lack something that is truly needed and we are in great distress over a continual trial that lacks a solution.

“Face forward: Real life happens in the present, and God’s blessings happen there and in the future too.

Accept your circumstances – The circumstances of life are one primary way God works in you and works out His will for you.

There “do all things without complaining and disputing.”  (Philippians 2:14)

Again, it isn’t recorded that she was crying or complaining to Abraham because of the mess they were in.  She is silent.

If your circumstances find you in God’s will, you will find God in all your circumstances.

Trust in the Lord – God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Him in full trust.  Isaiah 26:3)

Hope in the future – Hope in God is always the bright star the lights your path in any present darkness.” pg 25

Abraham Talking To Sarah About Talking to Pharaoh

Facing Fear

Sarah was an exceptionally beautiful woman even into her old age, as we shall see.  Many women pay exorbitant amounts for body reconstruction, cosmetics, etc., all in an effort to be as beautiful as we shall see Sarah was.  She was so remarkably beautiful that Abraham pondered it before their travels, that it might pose a problem with the kings or pharaohs  that they ran up against, because, “What if they see you because of your beauty and want you, and kill me to have you?” Abraham talked with Sarah and asked her if that situation arose, would show him kindness by telling them she was his sister?  This was actually a half-lie, as she was his father’s daughter, but not his mother’s.

Notice Abraham didn’t command her to do this, he asked her to save his life in this way.  This shows me there was a strong bond, friendship between Sarah and Abraham? Would you do this for your friend to save his life? The situation did unfold just as Abraham feared.  Their caravan did run up against the powerful Egyptian pharaoh, and he noticed Sarah’s remarkable beauty.  When Pharaoh asked Abraham who this woman was, he said it was his sister.  The Pharaoh therefore took her into his harem.  Again, Sarah is silent.

Was Abraham wrong in saying this was his sister? God doesn’t give us the answer in His word, but He did plague Pharaoh and his household.  Pharaoh did not deal harshly with Abraham as he came back to him asked him why he did not tell him that he was his wife, that he would have done evil taking her as his wife and would have lain with her.  Obviously the plagues were a sign from a powerful god thought Pharaoh. What was Sarah thinking while she waited in Pharaoh’s harem? She must have been afraid.  She had a good relationship with her husband.  What if Abraham’s caravan left without her?

“Surely Sarah wondered with fear, “What will happen to me?  Will Abraham go on without me?  Will I ever see him again? What will life be like as a member of a harem?”  We don’t know, because scripture is silent.  But don’t you hope the silence indicates Sarah’s faith as she sat in her harem-prison, faced her fears, and waited on the Lord?”

“Strength for today and hope for tomorrow are sometimes realized – by you and me as well as by Sarah – in the silent  patience of faith.” Pg 27

The author continues:

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. (Psalm 27:14)

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. (Psalm 37:7) Truly my soul silently waits for God. (Psalm 62:1)

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.  (Isaiah 40:31)

It is good that one should hope and wait quietly.  (Lamentations 3:26)

Blessed is he who waits. (Daniel 12:12) pg 27

At the perfect moment when things looked the blackest, God made a miraculous appearance.  Although He was never seen, it was not forgotten. What a scene! What a rescue!

Abraham receives Sarah from Ambimilech

Trusting God Again and  Again

Now, wait, the same performance happened again, almost the same word for word, event.  Sarah was noticed for her beauty and taken 25 years later by another ruler (Exodus 20:9-11), almost word for word.  Again, God came to the rescue.  Again, her faith was perfected.  God seemed to be asking Sarah to to face her fears, and her faith once again toward Him and to, once again trust Him. After all, what had she learned those decades ago about trusting the Lord?  What are some of the great lessons that we must learn in the making of great faith?

Lesson 1:  Pray – “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  (Psalm 34:17)

Lesson 2:  Trust – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding” – or any one elses. (Proverbs 3:5)!

Lesson 3:  Believe “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not see.”  (Hebrews 1:11)

Lesson 4: Wait – “I waited patiently for the Lord: and He inclined His ear to me, and heard my cry.”  (Psalm 40:1) pgs 30-31

Sarah’s Message For Your Life Today

The author comments that some of Sarah’s trials were repeated time and time again.  She asks,

“As you enter your new day, is something in your life a “repeat” problem?  Are there daily difficulties you constantly fact?  Are there people who regularly let you down or fail to follow through?  Are there seemingly impossible hardships to be endured day after day?” pg 30

She asks us to look at a multi-faceted diamond.  This stone has to be repeatedly cut to bring out its beauty.  God can also use the trials that befall us to shape and build our trust in Him.  Remember, in your life you have a constant power available, a constant help in time of need, no matter how alone you feel, no matter what odds your face, no matter who has let you down or forsaken you, you are never alone for:

Above you are God’s overshadowing wings (Psalm 91:4) Beneath you are God’s everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27) Around you the angel of the Lord encamps on all sides to deliver you. (Psalm 34:7) Inside you God’s peace that passes all understanding guards your heart and mind. (Philippians 4:7) pgs 30-31

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

To see chapter 1 of “The Remarkable Women of the Bible Book Study ~ Chapter 1” click here.

More articles and sermons on the life of Sarah:

Profiles of Faith:Sarah ~ A Story of Virtue

Hebrews 11 – Sarah’s Improbabilities

Sermon: Was There Faith in Sarah?

Coming Soon ~ Women’s Book Study

The Remarkable Women of the Bible

“The Remarkable Women of the Bible ~ And Their Message For Your Life Today”

by Elizabeth George.

  I’ve decided to do a women’s book study that I feel you will find both encouraging and motivating. There are 15 short chapters and a message for you and I as women of God that I think you will find edifying and thought provoking.  I will be posting the main focus of each chapter and my thoughts on each of the chapters each Wednesday, beginning March 29.  Let’s spring forward together and enrich our lives with the examples of courage, faith, and promise of some of the most unique women of the Bible.

From the introduction:

“If you are like me, your life resembles one long obstacle course.  Every day is filled with challenges of singleness, married life, and child raising. They know about going without, about loss, old age, death and dying.  All of the pain, sorrow, confusion, and the difficulties under the sun have touched their hearts; and now they live in God’s Word to instruct us as we cope with our lives today.”

“Beloved, these women are gifts of God to you and to me.  Whether or not you have a  mother or a friend or a mentor who is available, you have the remarkable women of the Bible.  Let them share with you.  Let them encourage you.  Let them counsel you.  Let them show you the best way – God’s way to handle everyday and every difficulty.” Pg 7-8

We will sit down together and discuss their remarkable stories just as we would sit together in your kitchen and let the Bible teach us the lessons that many young women may have never been taught while growing up, but God our Father is a living Father, and He is always available and our best instructor.

Here are the women we will be looking at:

Eve – Remarkable Creation

Sarah – Remarkable Faith

Rebekhah – Remarkable Journey

Jochebed – Remarkable Mother

Miriam – Remarkable Leader

Rahab – Remarkable Grace

Deborah – Remarkable Wisdom

Ruth and Naomi – Remarkable Devotion

Hannah – Remarkable Sacrifice

Esther – Remarkable Courage

Elizabeth – Remarkable Walk

Mary – Remarkable Life

Mary and Martha – Remarkable Love

Dorcus, Lydia, Priscilla, Phoebe – Remarkable Servants

I hope you can join us as we journey with them and find the hidden treasures God has had written down for our learning and instruction.

There is also a study guide to go along with this, “The Remarkable Women of the Bible Growth and Study Guide:  And Their Message for Your Life Today (Growth and Study Guides)”, but this isn’t necessary.

Your Comment Are Important To Me!

For additional women’s edifying bible studies and articles from our church library, please click here.

Planted By The River ~ Fruit of Self-Control

Tree Planted By The River

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.” ~ Psalms 1:3

This beautiful verse in Psalms says that Christians are likened to trees planted by the rivers of living water, not wild but planted. God calls us out of the world, and He plants us. The water that God provides is His spirit and nourishment is through His word, allowing our roots to grow deeply.

There are many fruits that are expected on this tree. One of the fruits is self-control. If you lack this essential fruit, this post is for you, myself included! If we are to have self control, we must remain near the source of living water.

Satan has us so very distracted today that, like the trees in fantasy movies, we can pick up our roots and follow our own hearts desires. We go where we should not wander to solve our difficulties on our own. The danger is that we walk away from our life source, the only true source of wisdom and strength to solve any difficulty in our lives and minds.

Walking Tree

Yes, we live in a fallen world and oftentimes Satan feeds us the lie that because of the troubles of the world and our significant trials, we need more than that water.  We need…. well let’s imagine some addictions to soothe our troubled minds – sugar ladened treats, alcohol,  entertainment void of God’s moral laws, romantic novels which take us where we shouldn’t venture, an itching ear to hear the latest gossip, celebrity soup, on and on.  We’re bombarded by thoughts of taking a “break today” to avoid the craziness.  Yet, oftentimes it’s not to the living waters for a cool refreshing drink to sooth a disheartened or wearied soul that we run to. We can pick up our roots and wander over to the nearest feel-good location to empty our minds of pain or sorrow and fill it with what the world wants to us to focus on.

Where’s the first place we go for that relaxation? Do we use the spirit of self-control to find it, or are we drawn away by our own lusts and enticed by the relaxation of the world?

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” ~ James 1:14

Sugar Addiction

Oftentimes we don’t choose the difficult situations in our life; yet there are times when can cause our own troubles by trying to find peace in all the wrong places because of our own lack of self-control.  We live in a fallen world and there will be plenty of trials in our lives.  Christ forewarned us concerning this, but He has given us living water available 24/7. He has promised that He will be there for us.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Remember, we’re planted.  We need to stay there.  The problem is that it takes self-control to stay there, where we were planted.  Therein lay the catch.

What to do? What guidelines does God give us to help us with self-control? One of the first things we can do is simply to ask Him for it. God says we don’t receive because we don’t ask or we ask for the wrong reasons:

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” ~ James 4:3

For instance, we can ask God for the spirit of self-control so that we don’t overeat, but we may really want to lose weight just to look good to be accepted by the world’s standards, to look like that model in the women’s magazine and to draw attention to ourselves. Or is it our prayer to ask God for self control to be healthier so that we can serve others?  The truth is, in fact, is that we need self control to glorify God being moderate in ALL things, not just food. We are here to represent our betrothed Jesus Christ, to let His light shine in us with the fruits of the spirit, one of them being self-control. We have a symbolic engagement ring for all to see, the way we conduct our lives.  Do we represent and honor the One to whom we will wed? (I Titus 4:15)

Another thing to consider is when we do beseech God for the spirit of self-control, do we then totally ignore God the rest of the day, going about our own business, not bringing to mind the scriptures and taking every thought into subjection the rest of the day? We need to bring to mind His words throughout the day, where God’s spirit can remind us of the verses concerning how to utilize self-control in our daily lives. David meditated on God’s law day and night. (Psalms 119:48, 148) He was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Do we want to be the women after God’s own heart? (Acts 13:22)

Let’s ask God with a pure heart and let His spirit fill to help us make decisions in our life based on the spirit of self-control in all things.

Let’s not forget the tools God has given us to draw closer to Him, stay close to river of living waters: prayer, study, meditation on His word throughout the day. (I Titus 4:15, Philippians 4:6) When life gets tough and you feel like running to unhealthy or ungodly ways of coping, go somewhere quiet and relax and ask God to hide you under His wings and shelter you. (Ruth 2:12) Ask God then to fill you with His spirit, the spirit of self-control. Then we can make the decisions in our lives that won’t draw us into an addictive lifestyle.  Place scriptures cards around your home in plain sight to remind you of His promises and His way of life.  Listen to CDs of sermons while driving to and from activities. Place your Bible where you habitually sit and relax. Stay planted by the riverside. Make God’s living waters a priority, so that your roots can strengthened and let them stretch deeply into the soil that God has planted you in. Soak up the pure living water throughout the entire day.  Only then can we find real peace and joy in life and bear the fruits of the spirit, and one of them self control.

 I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

Our lives are important to God and He has a plan for each and everyone of us, to become literal sons and daughters in His family.  He gives us of His very own spirit, so we can be grow up with His characteristics, one being that of self-control.

To find out more of God’s purpose for you, please see our booklet “What is Your Destiny?”

What Is Your Destiny?

Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Psalms of a Woman

Woman of The Lord

The Virtuous Woman

Strong is she who knows she’s weak

….for on her knees her God she’ll seek

Wise is she who hears God’s word

….and puts to practice what she’s heard

Merciful is she who knows

….the grace of God, so kindness shows

Throughout the land, her virtue’s known

…reaping what she’s clearly sown

Her children rise and call her blessed

…this woman of the Lord

~ Diane Stewart

February 1994

 

2 Corinthians 12:10 “…..for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Proverbs 31:26 “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

Proverbs 31:31 “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:28 “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”

 Luke 11:28 “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

30-Day True Woman Makeover Challenge ~ Day 2

 Image

Let me just take time to read verses 10–31. Because many of us are familiar with this in some of the more common translations, I want to read from a different translation, the New Living Translation. Let me just read verses 10–31.

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

11 Her husband can trust her,

and she will greatly enrich his life.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax

and busily spins it.

14 She is like a merchant’s ship,

bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household

and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;

with her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She is energetic and strong,

a hard worker.

18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;

her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,

her fingers twisting fiber.

20 She extends a helping hand to the poor

and opens her arms to the needy.

21 She has no fear of winter for her household,

for everyone has warm clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.

She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,

where he sits with the other civic leaders.

24 She makes belted linen garments

and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,

and she laughs without fear of the future.

26 When she speaks, [And notice by the way, this is the first time in this passage that she does speak. We’ll comment on that when we get to this portion. But when she does speak, her words are wise,

and she gives instructions with kindness.

27 She carefully watches everything in her household

and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.

Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,

but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;

but a woman who fears the L ord will be greatly praised.

31 Reward her for all she has done.

Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Now as I read that passage, maybe you have these recurring thoughts of, “Oh, this is so hard. This is so impossible. Who can imagine a woman like this?” Well, actually that’s what the passage starts out by saying. “Who can find a woman like this?” She is indeed rare.

There’s a sense in which the woman we just read about is a composite portrait of ideal womanhood. And yet, there’s another sense in which I believe she can actually be a real woman. If this woman is a real woman, if King Lemuel’s mother was describing a woman she actually knew, you can be sure of several things about this woman. Now these aren’t things you read about in the text.

—I can tell you something else—she probably sometimes feels like a real failure. Others can see and appreciate things about her that she can’t see in herself. I can tell you that sometimes this woman feels like giving up. She’s not just this perfect thing that we construct that just comes off the pages of Scripture and has no reality to her. She deals with the same issues that we do.

She has spiritual dry times, times when it seems that God is very far away from her. She’s a woman who does have virtuous character, and she does have an intimate relationship with God and her husband. But I can tell you this—she didn’t get there overnight, and she hasn’t yet arrived.

She’s a woman in process. She’s a woman who’s growing. And she’s a woman who, like most of us, often finds herself taking three steps forward and two steps back. You see, spiritual maturity is not so much where you are as the direction in which you’re headed. And here’s a woman who’s in process; she’s in direction.

So being a virtuous woman doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have the same struggles and challenges that we all have as women.

No We Can’t – Yes We Can!

Now, I want to make two statements that I’m going to repeat probably many times throughout this series because I want this to get into the fiber of your thinking. Here are the two statements. First of all, no woman can be like the woman that we read about in Proverbs 31. On your own, you cannot be; on my own, I cannot be like this woman.

Anything we do try to do on our own in our striving and efforts is not pleasing or acceptable to God. The only way we can ever please God is through the righteousness of Christ, through His excellency. He’s the only One who has ever measured up to God’s standard of holiness. So here’s the first statement: No woman can be like this woman on her own.

But here’s another statement that sounds like the opposite, and it’s just as true. Any woman who is a child of God can be like this woman. Any woman who is a child of God can be like this woman because Jesus lives in us, and He’s the One who fulfills the righteousness of God. So as we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, you and I can be a virtuous and excellent woman.

You see, the most outstanding thing about this woman as I read this passage (and I’ve read it many times over these recent weeks in particular), the most outstanding thing about this woman is not all the things she can do. As we’ve said, it’s her heart. It’s her priorities. It’s her values.

There are three bottom lines that come to me out of this passage. I’ll just touch on them here, and then we’ll come back to them throughout this series. But first is the fact that she fears the Lord. She’s a woman who reverences God. And that is more important than everything else she does.

As we’ve said, everything that she does flows out of this reverence for God. She’s seeking to please Him first and foremost. That’s at the heart of the matter. Don’t lose that when you get stuck in these things about her spinning wool and flax. Don’t get lost in all those details and forget that the big picture is that here’s a woman who reverences God.

You can reverence God. And many of you women I know personally, you do reverence the Lord. That’s why you’re reading this, because you want to be a woman of God. That’s the core of the matter.

And then I see—although the word isn’t used in this passage—here’s a woman who is a lover. She loves. She’s got the fruit of the Spirit in her life, which is love. It’s a love that’s joyful. It’s a love that’s peaceful, that’s patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. All these qualities we’re going to read about—it’s the fruit of the Spirit. It’s a woman who loves God and loves her husband and loves her children. And the fruit of that love is seen in all these different qualities.

Proverbs 31 Women ~ A Servant’s Heart

Then she’s a woman who has a servant’s heart. That strikes me as I read this passage, that she’s utterly selfless. There are hardly any references to her doing anything for herself. Now our culture would tell us that makes a miserable woman. But I just read that passage. Does that sound like a miserable woman to you?

Here’s a woman who has joy. You see the world has sold us a bill of goods. It has told us that if you look out for yourself then you’ll be happy. But look at all those women out there looking out for themselves. Are they happy? It’s the women who live for God and others, who serve, who are the women who are truly joyful.

So I want you to be encouraged as we open up this portrait, as we see the picture painted. Whether you’re married or single, whether you’re young or old, you can become an excellent woman such as the woman in the portrait that we see in this passage.

I’ll say it again. You cannot become that woman on your own. Apart from Christ, you can never be virtuous or excellent. But through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, the gospel of Christ, we are able to be transformed one day at a time, one experience at a time, one step at a time into the likeness of Christ.

And the day is coming when I’m going to be like this woman, and you are too. So be encouraged. Put the next foot down. Take the next step and let God make you, make us, into this kind of woman.

We’ll see that there’s a husband involved here, very much involved. And the passage tells us that the woman who has this virtuous or noble character, that her husband trusts her, that she has her husband’s heart, and he has her heart.

And at the end of the passage we’ll see that when a woman demonstrates these qualities, these characteristics, that her husband and her children are motivated to rise up and bless this woman and to praise her not only privately but publicly as well.

Tomorrow, we want to hear from some men who are rising up and calling their wives blessed men. Listen as I read verse by verse beginning in verse 10 and then as these men share their tributes to their wives., men who are thankful for the way that their wives illustrate some of the characteristics we’re going to be seeing in Proverbs.

We described that the Proverbs of 31 women who has a servant’s heart. Today we will listen to their husbands’ praises of their virtuous wives. Their quotes will be in [ ]. We know that all husbands are not this gracious, but here are a sample of praises from men concerning the conduct of their virtuous wives with the accompanying scriptures.

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:10–11, NKJV).

[Linda, I thank God for you every day. I thank Him because you are His gift to me. He made you just for me.]

[This is to honor my wife Jeanette. She is constantly dying to herself and her own needs and desires to serve me and to serve our children. And there’s just a graciousness that is always wrapped up in the way that she treats us.]

[Theresa, my wife, Scripture asks the question: Can anyone find the excellent wife? Through God’s grace I can say I have found her, a treasure beyond any jewel. She is priceless.]

“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12).

[As I look back on over 23 years of marriage, I realize that I was not always the easiest guy to live with. My wife Terri has prayed for me, encouraged me, and loved me unconditionally over these past two plus decades.]

“She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands” (Proverbs 31:13).

[Some things I appreciate about my wife are she is a hard worker. She hustles all day long, and she’s mindful that her hard labor is an asset to what I do, and so she works even harder.]

“She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar” (Proverbs 31:14).

[This is for Diane. You’ve always been up for challenges, like when we moved to Sweden when we’d just been married for a month, and you had to learn the language just to be able to go grocery shopping.]

[One thing she likes to do is cook meals and have people over. Recently we had a party for the youth at our church, and she cooked for two days straight to prepare for this thing.]

“She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants” (Proverbs 31:15).

[Cindy just always gives of herself personally. She gets up before me. And she’ll get up and fix the lunches for our kids and for myself.]

“She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard” (Proverbs 31:16).

[In the summer of 2002, my wife and I decided we were going to build, buy some property and build a house out in the woods. And my wife Christi really helped me consider the field, find the piece of property, and then begin to make plans.]

“She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms” (Proverbs 31:17).

[I appreciate my wife’s diligent effort to keep herself healthy and strong by eating right and exercising. She knows that if she eats right and stays fit, she will have the strength to take care of us and those in need as well. She also encourages us to do the same. I have always appreciated that encouragement from my wife.] DS

“She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle” (Proverbs 31:18–19).

[My wife Renee loves things are done well and done with excellence and done with creativity. She loves to find examples in nature of things that God has done with excellence. She loves to do things with excellence herself. And we won’t ever have to go back and fix anything that she’s done because she’ll make sure—whatever it takes—she’ll do it right.]

“She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20).

[She has Fridays off. If I had Fridays off, I would spend them completely on myself. I would go fishing, or I would sit around and read. What she does is she goes and serves in a woman’s home who has eight children, and she irons for her for about three hours. She just sits and irons for her. That just displays her servant’s heart.]

[I was amazed when we were married for a few years. She’d be wanting to fix meals or wanting to give money to people who were in need. I suppose it was the pride in my own self, maybe my own selfishness that made this stand out so much that this was something I wasn’t used to. But she has such a generous spirit about her.]

“She is not afraid of snow for her household” (Proverbs 31:21a).

[One of the great experiences that we’ve had is the recovery process from our car accident where Jennifer took on everything in the marriage, in the family, for eight months.]

“For all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple” (Proverbs 31:21b–22).

[I appreciate about my wife that she is willing to, at times; she will make clothes for the family. Either there’ s nothing that she can find in the stores that is modest enough for the girls or feminine enough, that type of thing. She still knows that it is a skill that’s valuable and helps save the family some money. She clothes our children well and herself.]

“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23).

[Her character and personality enhances my life as a minister. Your character enhances my own reputation. People respond so favorably to me when they know I’m your husband.]

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come” (Proverbs 31:24–25).

[Susan has trusted me in some very big decisions. Most recently, we had to move for the sake of a new job, and it meant a new city, church, family. And yet she never wavered in her trust in me, in listening to God and my trust in God. And that’s really meant a lot to me. ]

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26).

[Actually, a year and a half after our first child was born, she got the vision for educating our children at home, which she continues to do today.]

[As far as home schooling, it’s not all academics. It’s about their foundation and relationship with the Lord. She spends a lot of her day teaching them the Bible. They’ve gone through the Old Testament.]

[We have three teenage boys at home, and she’s always thinking of ways to speak to them about God, giving Him honor and praise.]

“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).

[Despite Mary’s chronic pain and fatigue, she’s diligent and dependable. I seldom have to be home and miss work even though she’s not feeling well.]

[She’s just such a wise person with finances, with resources. She manages our home so well, and so it makes my job as the breadwinner in our family much easier.]

[To better help her organize, she went through a year-long calendar, a full page, and she makes sure that everything is organized so that each of our girls gets to the right place at the right time and that dad does too.]

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all’”(Proverbs 31:28–29).

[God gave me a wonderful wife. I love her because she leaves the Bible open on the breakfast table. She uses a highlighter to mark the good parts in the books she reads. I love her because she cries when she prays sometimes. After my wife says things like, “We should do such and so,” she actually does them.]

[I love my wife because she won’t take Holy Communion carelessly, and because she sleeps on her side so we can snuggle like spoons when it’s cold outside.]

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

[When I think of my wife Tracy, she truly is the wife of my youth as we met when she was 15 and I was 16. As I think back to those days and what attracted me to her, at first obviously was her physical beauty. She just took my breath away. But over the years as we have grown together, it’s been her inward beauty that I have fallen deeply in love with. And I know that comes from her relationship with Christ.]

“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:31).

[Although we know we are saved by grace, I truly notice that people would take notice of your works and be drawn to Christ through them.]

[You are an excellent lover. Your beauty will always turn my head. Your smile and the glow of your face will always attract me. You are becoming more and more beautiful on the outside as well as within. I am falling deeper and deeper in love with you. Sue, you are my wife, my gift from God, my soul mate, my lover, my partner in life; and I thank God for you. I love you.]

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been really moved as I’ve listened to these men honor their wives. Now I know that some of you have a husband who would be quick to say these kinds of things about you and to verbalize his appreciation and his admiration for you as his wife.

Yet I know that there are others who really may be seeking to live a virtuous life, and you may be thinking, “My husband doesn’t talk that way about me.” Well let me just give you two words of encouragement. One, be faithful regardless of whether you ever get praise from men. And then second, let me remind you that ultimately our greatest praise comes from God.

If you’re looking to your husband, no matter how godly he may or may not be, to be your source of identity and security and praise, chances are you’re going to end up disappointed from time to time. But if you’re looking to please the Lord and to be His servant and His daughter then you will receive your praise from Him.

And ultimately I know the greatest praise you or I could ever receive is to hear the Lord saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So live for His praise even above the praise of men.

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*We are going through Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ 30-Day Challenge, helping us to gain more insight into the Proverbs 31 woman, the counter-cultural woman.

30-Day True Woman Makeover Challenge ~ Day 1

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We’re going to be going through a new look at the Proverbs 31 women through Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ 30-Day Challenge, helping us to gain more insight into the Proverbs 31 woman, the counter-cultural woman.

Womanhood:

Where do you get your ideas about what it means to be a woman? Who has the most influence on your behavior and attitudes? Learn what the Bible has to say about being a woman!?

We want to be women who, in every area of our lives, are controlled by the Word of God. That is what will make an impact on a world that desperately needs to see Christ lived out through all of life.

As older women, we can hold up the hands of younger women. We can encourage them, and we can direct them to Scripture and help them flesh out what it looks like to be a woman after God’s own heart.

In Proverbs 31, we get a picture of this woman’s character, priorities, values, daily routine, marriage, and family life. All of this flows out of the fact that this woman has a reverence for God.

Where are you getting your ideas of womanhood? Who shaped your standard? Was it shaped by the world, or has it been shaped by the Word of God?

Well, today we come to that portion of Proverbs 31 that makes most women a little nervous. I was reading an article on Proverbs 31, and this writer said, “Does the Proverbs 31 woman have a name? I vote for Mrs. Get On Your Nerves, or Mrs. I Have No Friends Because I’m So Perfect.” And this woman went on—the article was called “Not Her Again”—she went on to tell why it was that she feels so intimidated by this Proverbs 31 woman.

And then Jill Briscoe writes in her book Queen of Hearts,

“The Proverbs 31 woman has long stood as the Statue of Liberty at the harbor of the City of Womanhood, welcoming all who flee from being anything less than perfect. But what if I have runs in my stocking? (I’m sure they were all right when I left home.) What if I consistently lose one of my husband’s socks in the washing machine, and I regularly misplace my car in the supermarket parking lot? “It’s blue, sir, I know it’s blue.”

“Is there any hope for me if I dream of writing a book about my small children called From Here to Insanity, and if I’m shaped like a pillow instead of a post? Is there any hope for a woman, if she’s not everything she ought to be, facing this description of an excellent woman?”

Well, true confessions here. When we read or hear about the Proverbs 31 woman, it’s with mixed emotions. I hear, and have thought myself, some of these words in terms of responding to this woman.

The word “tired” comes to mind as I read this chapter. You’re familiar with the passage—on and on and on about all the things this woman does. She gets up early in the morning; she stays up late at night; she just burns the candle at both ends, and she is so busy. You can read this passage and just feel tired. If you weren’t before you read it, you are after you read it!

Another word that comes to mind is the word “overwhelmed.” How does she do it all—and with no technology in her day and age such as we have today? It’s easy to feel defeated or to feel like a failure. It’s easy to look at this standard—this picture of a woman of virtue—and feel, “This is impossible!” Then the next thought is, “I guess I’d just better give up. I can never be this kind of woman.”

So we have feelings of comparison, feelings of guilt. In fact, I have to confess to you that as a young woman, I really did not like this woman. But I want to tell you that over the years—and even more recently, over recent weeks as I’ve been preparing for this series—I have learned to love this woman. And I want to tell you that you’re going to learn to love her, too.

You may hear that we’re doing a series like this that’s going to last for weeks—several—and you first might think, “I’ll tune back in after this series is over.” I want to ask you to hang in there. I believe you’re going to come away with a great sense of encouragement and thankfulness that God has put this chapter in the Bible, to help us become the women that He wants us to be.

I’m going to challenge you to jot down notes in your personal journal about what the Lord shows you by His Spirit as you open this passage.

I’m going to share with you what God’s been teaching me, but God will show you, as you read this passage, things that I haven’t caught—things I haven’t picked up. Then note how this applies to your life and how God is changing you through the power of His Word.

I’ve just got to tell you that over the last few weeks, as I have been meditating and swimming in this passage—just living in it—that God has been doing in my own heart. That’s what the Word does for us. It liberates us; it sets us free. This passage has been encouraging my heart in my pilgrimage toward Christ-likeness.

So we’re going to take our time—as we have already with the first nine verses—now, as we pick up at verse 10, this portrait of a virtuous woman. We’re not going to hurry through this passage. I can’t tell you exactly how many sessions it will take. We’ll finish when we’re finished. Even last night, as I was falling asleep . . . turned out the light, and was meditating on this passage, God was giving fresh and new insights. And I thought, “We’d better stop and teach this, or it will be a year-long series.”

You take time to look through women’s magazines to see what a beautiful woman, a beautiful home, a beautiful marriage looks like. I want to challenge you to put down those magazines. Put them away. I’m not saying they’re necessarily sinful or wrong; I’m just saying they’re what this world has to offer in terms of a picture of beauty.

Instead, pick up this picture. Matthew Henry called it a looking glass which every woman ought to look into as she dresses herself. Pick up this picture and examine it. Take time—spend time in it studying it—and then ask yourself, “Where am I getting my picture of what it means to be a woman?” Where are you getting your ideas of womanhood? Who shaped your standard? Was it shaped by the world, or has it been shaped by the Word of God?

My prayer is to raise up a whole new generation of women who look in this looking glass—who look in the mirror of God’s Word and say, “This will be my standard. This will be my ideal. This is what, by God’s grace, I will allow to be the pattern for my life.” And then, women who can teach their daughters and teach their sons, even as this passage . . .

Remember the Proverbs 31 verses are the words of a king remembering what his mother taught him when he was a young prince. She was teaching him the qualities to look for in a wife, and saying, “It’s important that you think about who you marry. You’re going to live with that person a long time, and she is going to shape and mold your life for better and for worse. So make sure that you look for a wife who has these kinds of qualifications.”

I’m sure that this mother also prayed that these would be the qualities that her son would look for in a wife. Be sure to be teaching your children by your example—but also by your instruction—teaching your sons what kind of qualities to look for in a wife.

I was with some friends recently who were telling me that when their daughter, in her early 20s, brought home the young man she was interested in (who ultimately became her husband), these parents, Tom and Jeannie, said, “We have been praying for 20-some years for our daughter’s husband-to-be, long before we knew him. We had been praying for this young man, and when we met him, is it any surprise that we knew that he was the one? We recognized him because we had been praying for him all these years.”

What a role to have as a parent!

Now, just by way of introduction to this section of Proverbs 31—and some of you will be aware of this—verses 10 through 31 form an acrostic poem. There are 22 verses, beginning at verse 10, and each of those verses begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters. These are really—in English we could say—the ABCs of a godly woman.

Maybe this mother taught her son in this way to aid his remembering what it was that she taught him. Mom, look for creative ways to help your children remember. This woman did it by means of, “A means . . . B means . . . C means . . . and each of these is a quality of what is a godly woman.”

Now, it’s easy, when we’re reading this passage, to focus on all the things that this woman does—all the skills that she has, all her accomplishments, all her achievements. But can I tell you, that is not the heart of this passage.

The heart of this passage is the woman’s heart. It’s her relationship with God, and out of that relationship comes flowing all the things that she does. It’s a picture of her character, her conduct, her priorities, her values, her daily routine, her marriage, her family life. But all of that flows out of the fact that here is a woman who has a reverence for God.

That reverence for God is at the core of who she is; it’s at the core of her being; it’s what defines her. And that reverence for God is what then expresses itself in all these different ways that we’re going to look at when we pick up in our next session with Proverbs chapter 31, verse 10. A virtuous, an excellent, and a noble woman, who can find?

Older Women As Mentors:

Each generation of women has to grapple with issues of femininity, and we have a burden for pointing younger women to God’s Word. A younger woman states that her peers receive a lot of conflicting ideas on what femininity really means.

Sadly, I think so many of the younger women who are the daughters of my peers have not been spiritually mothered—in the best sense of that term—to understand the ways of God, what it means to be a woman, what it means to walk with God.

My generation has not set a great model and a great example. We have tended to be much more preoccupied with our own ways of thinking and the busyness of this life—and not to have modeled what it means to have a fruitful and right relationship with God. In so many areas—marriage and family, our views of these things, our practice of these things—we have not been the kinds of examples and the kinds of teachers I think we need to be.

So now we have a younger generation of women who I think are very open, very hungry, very eager. Some of them, very honest. In fact, that’s one of the things they’re looking for: authenticity and reality—not just a message, but a message that’s demonstrated and lived out. They’re honest with their thinking, with their wrestling, and with their issues, and I think there’s such an open field there.

We’re taking a two-pronged approach: one is to train the women who are the older women—and you can decide if you qualify for that. (We’re all an older woman to someone.) It’s to get the older women not only to experience themselves what it means to have a revived heart, but to model that to others—and then to give women the tools to train their daughters, granddaughters, and the next generation.

We also, thankfully, have a lot of younger women who are actually listening to God’s words. Some of them are really willing to be radical. And I think, as older women, we can hold up their hands; we can encourage them; we can help direct them to the Scripture what it looks like to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Then if we’re living something that creates thirst in them, all the better yet. It’s kind of salting the oats for us to live the kind of life that these younger women can look up to and say, “There’s something in that woman that is not the typical stressed-out, overwhelmed, anxious, uptight woman—that so many of us can become without the Lord—but there’s a purposefulness there. There’s a freedom; there’s a fullness; there’s a sweetness; there’s a radiance; there’s something in that woman that draws me to Christ.”

So we’re speaking to both sides of that—and even to the grandmothers and the older women whose parenting job may be years past, but some of those women are getting a burden to pray and to mentor. I just was at the funeral, not too long ago, of a 90-some-year-old friend who was still mentoring a young woman—who was 20-something age range, or maybe younger 30s, but a much younger woman.

This 90-something-year-old woman was saying, “I’m not going to just sit on a shelf and be useless, but I’m willing to invest.” She wasn’t a Bible teacher; she didn’t have any special training for this, but she’d lived a long time, and she knew a lot of things about the ways of God. She took this younger woman under her wing and said, “I want to come alongside you.”

The Counter Revolution

I met a younger woman an older woman’s funeral, and this young wife was just so thankful that some older woman would take her under her wing, love her, encourage her, and teach her the ways of God. So we encourage the younger women to be pressing into the older women’s lives and asking for this, but also for the older women to be coming alongside and being available and willing to share—not only out of your successes, but out of your failures: “Here are some of the things that God has taught me…..”

That’s how we grow together. And if we don’t, I fear for what will be the next generation, the children of today’s younger women. There’s going to be a lot of confusion, a lot more dysfunction, than we’ve already bred. But I believe that tide can be reversed—at least among those who are Christian women—and that we can go a different course.

That’s the counter-revolution that we’re talking about: setting up a whole new way of thinking—it’s not new; it’s biblical; it’s old; it’s the ancient paths—but applied to 21st century living and issues.

A women after God’s own heart is knowing God, and it’s your personal relationship with Him—having one that is vital, growing, intimate, real, personal. To be a woman after God’s own heart starts in my own relationship with the Lord—having one. It’s not just what I know biblically, but a relationship that’s being lived out, pursuing God and intimacy with him.

Then, how does that affect every other area of life, and what does it look like to say, “I’m a believer in Christ; I’m a follower of Christ; I believe the gospel”? How does that affect the way that I view all of life? How does that affect the way that I respond to pressure? How does that affect the way I treat my children or my husband? How does that affect the job that I have or don’t have?

How do I make decisions? What do I give? What do I save? In my financial habits, in my moral habits, in my TV-viewing habits, in my use of my computer, in my friendships, in my use of free time . . . I mean, just diet and exercise! How does my relationship with Christ inform and affect and impact every single area of my life? Because if Christ lives in me (and if I’m a child of God, He does; His Holy Spirit does live in me), then He’s supposed to be in control of every area of my life.

People shouldn’t be seeing and experiencing me. They ought to be seeing and experiencing Jesus Christ. When I worry, when I fret, when I get steamed because somebody crossed me the wrong way, when I am frustrated because I can’t control a situation at work—or somebody is not performing according to my expectations, or somebody says something that is hurtful to me—my reactions and my responses reveal who and what is in control of my life. And far too often, it’s me.

When we say we want to be women after God’s own heart, we want to be women who, in every area of our lives, are controlled by the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, the gospel of Christ. Living that out—what it means for Christ to be in us, what that looks like—that is what makes an impact on a lost culture, on a lost world, on a world that desperately needs to see Christ in us, lived out, through all of life.

That’s the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, the way we respond, the way we choose—everything coming under Christ’s lordship and beginning to be a reflection of Him. What does it look like uniquely to be a woman? That’s where I go to the Scripture—and I think I’ll spend from now until Jesus comes trying to unpack all of these passages. For years I have been searching through God’s Word. Whenever women are mentioned, there is instruction regarding women.

You think of some of the key passages, though there are many others: Proverbs 31, 1 Peter chapter 3, Titus 2, 1 Timothy 2, and many illustrations of the women of Scriptures. There were many examples of women in the Scriptures who were dedicated to God.

Who can you think of that are good examples of Christian women in the Bible and how do they teach us how to become women after God’s own heart?

I am always asking myself the question, Why did God make women? What is His purpose for us? How is it different from His purpose for creating men? Now, there are some purposes that are similar or the same, but there are some purposes that are unique and distinctive. Why did God create the man first, and then the woman? What does it mean for man to provide a spiritual covering and protection for a wife, and for a woman to be a responder to male initiative? Why is this a biblical way of thinking in a culture that thinks you got two heads if you talk that way, in a culture where it’s very politically incorrect to see any but the obvious physiological differences between men and women? Why are there differences? And why are they more significant than the physiological differences? What does that mean for a woman in dating, in courtship? What does it mean for a single woman who wants to be married? What is her role? What is her responsibility? Does she go looking for a husband? How does she respond, when she has a husband, to his leadership? What does it mean to be the woman 1 Peter 3 talks about who has a submissive who has a gentle and a quiet spirit? Does that mean she never talks? Well, it doesn’t. But what does it mean? Does it mean she does have an outgoing personality? Well, it doesn’t mean that. But what does it mean? What does it look like for women to reflect the image of God in ways that are distinctively feminine for us as women and for women to be women in the body of Christ? That is what we’re continually studying and trying to unpack for us as women. I hope you find a new friend in this last chapter of Proverbs.

*We are going through Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ 30-Day Challenge, helping us to gain more insight into the Proverbs 31 woman, the counter-cultural woman.