The Remarkable Women of the Bible ~ Chapter 8 ~ Miriam

Devoted Sister ~ Remarkable Leader

“And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.”

~ Exodus 2:4

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Many mothers desire to raise their children to be men and women of faith, to love their siblings, to love their fellow man.  Jochebed, the mother of Miriam had no less of a desire.  Moses was the youngest of her three children Aaron, Miriam, then Moses.  She was now faced with a terrible dilemma.  Pharaoh had ordered the newborn Hebrew male infants to be thrown into the Nile and drowned (Exodus 1:22) as we had read in Chapter 7.  No doubt Miriam helped her mother with hiding Moses for three long months.  Could you imagine, quieting a hungry, restless, or uncomfortable crying child for three months? That must have been a nerve rattling experience for them! She thought of a plan to save her son.  She made a basket of bulrushes and lined it with pitch and lay Moses in it onto the reeds of the Nile River.

Jochebed could trust Miriam, his older sister, to stand guard over the basket.  Miriam followed and watched, waiting to see what would become of her little brother.  She was a dedicated sister and a wonderful helper to her mother. At the opportune time, Pharaoh’s daughter would find Moses and have compassion on him and would take him for her own son.

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Now where do you think that Miriam developed such a strong family loyalty? She probably learned it from her wonderful mother.  Even today, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. can also aid in the development of family loyalty and instill the values that God has designed all mothers to instill into their children by their example and by teaching them the ways of God. What are some of the ways we can teach family loyalty and kindness to members within the same family?

Daily efforts to do the following will help.

~ Teach siblings to love one another (John 15:12,17) Encourage brothers and sisters to pray for one another and to do secret acts of kindness for one another.

~ Openly express kindness and concern for others. (Proverbs 12:25) Children repeat what they hear and mimic what they see.  So be a living model of Jesus Christ, acting with kindness and compassion.

~ Express love openly.  Be affectionate and verbal.  Say “I love you” every time you say goodbye or talk on the phone to your children.

~ Cultivate strong family ties.  Develop a “three musketeers mentality” of “one for all and all for one.”  See that each family member supports and encouraged the others.

~ Pray for God’s love to be made manifest by your children.  (Galatians 5:22)

And remember, too, that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous mother avails much! (James 5:16) ] pg 90

In the Jewish culture, girls remained under their mother’s care until marriage, unlike today.  There was plenty of opportunity for their daughters to be mentored by their mother.  For approximately twelve years Jochebed brought up Miriam to possess the vital qualities of diligence, faithfulness, responsibility, and wisdom.  She mirrored her mother’s faithfulness and those “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) she wanted to instill in her children.  Remember in Chapter 7 we discussed how during the first three years of a child’s life, a child can imitate and develop very quickly the ways of their caregivers.  How much more would your daughter gain from your example until she weds? Even if one is in the unmarried season of life, she can learn a great deal from a Christian mentor.  Indeed, there is nowhere in scripture that tells of Miriam ever being married or having children, yet she did not fill her time with mourning but was a wonderful tool in God’s great hands.  God speaks in the New Testament of unmarried women who dedicate their lives to God:

“There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married cares for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”

~ 1 Corinthians 7:34 

Yes, if you find yourself in the season of life where singleness may be what God has given you for a time, devote your time to becoming a servant in God’s ministry, as Miriam devoted her life to her brothers Aaron and Moses and to the people of God.  Single women have more time to devote to God’s very heart, having the time and availability to do the will of our Father in heaven, visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, taking care of the needs of those who are hungry, discouraged, etc., women of which we are in desperate need of in the churches of God today.

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Let us travel back in time again to the scene of Miriam following her little brother Moses in the basket made by her mother in the Nile’s reeds.  Yes, she displayed courage stepping forward to offer help to the princess when she found Moses in the Nile. She asked the princess if she would like her to find a nursing Hebrew woman to feed the little one, which would turn out to be Moses’ own mother!  Here she exemplified her qualities of compassion, loyalty to her family.

Because of Miriam’s quick thinking, a triple blessing was reaped by her family:

~ Moses’ life was saved.

~ Jochebed received her baby back.

~ Jochebed even received wages from the pharaoh’s daughter for nursing Moses. (vs 9)

Teaching your children love, mercy, caring, and compassion along with diligence, faithfulness, responsibility, and wisdom – the kinds of traits we see in Miriam – begin with you dear mom.  Your children will mirror your merits.  What are they seeing in you and learning from your actions?  Whatever you sow, that shall you reap. (Galatians 6:7) pgs 91-92

Miriam grew and became an even stronger woman of God, devoted to family, and also then devoted to becoming one of the three leaders of Israel, Moses, Aaron, and herself.  The Bible also speaks of Miriam being the first female prophetess and the one to lead the people in rejoicing for God’s greatness for saving their lives from Pharaoh’s army.

“And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”

~ Exodus 15:21 

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From that day forth, Israel would always sing about exceptional victories because of Miriam’s example of singing praises to God for His help in times of adversity. Yes, Miriam was a natural born leader of God’s people. She was a woman who exemplified service, gratitude, a thankful heart for God’s mercy and graciousness.

“For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”

~ Micah 6:4 

In conclusion, who was this woman Miriam? She was a devoted sister and an exceptional single woman in the hands of a mighty and gracious God.

Let our love be manifested this day, whether a diligent mother as Jochebed, teaching the ways of God to the next generation or a single woman, who in her season of life will show forth the very attributes of God’s tender love, mercy, and loyalty to His people.  Let’s move forward in any season of our life with joy and with singing, thanking Him for the glorious things He has done in our own lives!

 

To see previous chapters, see below:

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

Chapter 7 ~ Remarkable Mother

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.

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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?

The Manna From Heaven ~ Part 2

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We have seen in part one that God has given us His word to be nourished spiritually by.  It is truly the breakfast of champions, the manna from heaven.  Christ not only had the Bible written for us to understand but He actually gave us an example to follow in overcoming through utilizing this sharp two-edged sword.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two=edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12

Hebrews 4:12 Two Edged Sword

Let’s look at the showdown between Christ and the devil in the wilderness, and see how powerful the words of the Bible are, so that we can take heart in the midst of our own trials and battles overcoming sin in our own lives by utilizing His words.

After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, immediately there came a voice from heaven “This is my Son, who I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Wilderness of Judea

The showdown begins:

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” ~ Matthew 4:1

Let’s notice Jesus was led into the wilderness.  The ancient Israelites were also led in the wilderness, but instead of partaking of the manna from heaven God provided, Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights (perhaps symbolizing the 40 years the Israelites traveled in the wilderness).  He did not eat physical food because this was to be a spiritual battle.  While He was in the desert, I’m certain that He was meditating on God’s word, he took of the spiritual manna from which He drew His strength.

Let’s look at what He used to overcome Satan:

Temptation 1:

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”                             ~ Matthew 4:3

Christ’s Defence:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. ~ Matthew 4:4

Strength from spiritual manna, God’s words, taken directly from the Old Testament Deuteronomy 8:3

Temptation 2:

 “Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, If you are the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He will give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.”  ~ Matthew 4:5-6

Christ’s Defence:

“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”  ~ Matthew 4:7

Strength from spiritual manna, God’s words, taken directly from the Old Testament Deuteronomy  6:16

Temptation 3:

“Again, the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them and said unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”~ Matthew 4:8-9

Christ’s Defense:

“Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” ~ Matthew 4:10

Strength from spiritual manna, God’s words, taken directly from the Old Testament Deuteronomy 6:13.

So, we see here how important it is to continually be partaking of His word daily, as the model prayer states, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This daily bread is not only physical but most importantly spiritual.  Don’t neglect such a wonderful whole food that is readily available to strengthen our hearts and give us the weapons of warfare we so desperately need in these end-time days, when Satan is the god of this world.  If we read or listen to God’s word daily and apply it to our lives, we have a spiritual arsenal.  We indeed will begin our day with the breakfast of champions. This will give us the confidence we need to face life’s challenges.  When Christ returns, He too can say of us, “This is my daughter in whom I am well pleased.”

 PRAYER:  Father, as your daughters, we pray for your daily bread, not only physical but spiritual.  We desire to journey through our own wilderness to your Kingdom with confidence, knowing that Your Son is leading the way, even when things may be difficult.  He is ever ready to help in time of need, as He was the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day; He also gave physical Israel in the Old Testament help and confidence.  We thank you that you have provided such a blessing in the printed word.  Help us to digest it and make it a part of our every thought, that we may be strengthened thereby.  We love You and ask this in Jesus name.  Amen

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

 To read about our festival of the Days of Unleavened Bread, please click here.  To read more concerning God’s word, sharper than any two-edged sword, click here.  Have a blessed day! 

If you would like, you can read Part 1 of the “Manna of Heaven” here.

Published in: on March 8, 2014 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Entertainment – Satan’s Great Influence

Beyonce Superbowl Halftime Performance

We live in an age of instant access. We no longer have to live at the height of Roman glory to have the indulgences of the mind.  Electronics have brought entertainment to our fingertips, but most importantly to our minds.  Can the rise of tolerance and acceptance of evil in the form of entertainment please our God? Does this have an affect on our minds and hearts as Christian women?  I found this sermon to be both informative and also a warning to all of us who struggle with the battle for our minds in an effort to have an undivided heart towards God.  Thank you Brian McGuire for bringing this sermon to the forefront of our minds.  It is well worth the time to read for yourself and for your families, for God calls us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  He does put a hedge around our hearts, but only if we keep His admonitions.  I just wanted to share with you my heart on this subject through his words.

Entertainment – Satan’s Great Influence

~ Brian McGuire

“If I were to ask for a show of hands right now, and I asked the question, “How many believe this is Satan’s world?”, how many of you would raise your hands? How many look around at what we see every day and know that right now he is ruling this earth. It is being run under his ways, his laws, and his methods. We know that this is not God’s world don’t we. We see so much sadness going on every day, everywhere.

In the Middle East we have the constant threat of full out regional war because of hatred that exists between peoples. In Africa dictators rule and oppress their people, pirates rob ships that don’t belong to them. In Asia we see complete disregard for human rights, even rights that from biblical worldview are denied. In Central America drug lords rule and kill and murder at all costs those who mean to bring law and order to their countries.

Here in the United States we have it much better than most parts of the world but we still have our issues. We struggle with poverty, drugs, corruption in all aspects of our lives. Corruption in politics, corruption in business and sports. We hear stories of violence in our cities, homes and schools. You just have to watch the national news to see the big problems that this country deals with as well.

All of these things are very clear to us. We don’t look at these things and think that everything is OK, or that everything is going to BE OK. We can see Satan’s influence everywhere, right?

But what about ourselves? What about you and me, our individuals world, our individual life, our individual universe. Do we see Satan’s influence there? Do we look for it? Do we know what to look for? Can we go into our everyday life, from the moment that we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, and see the areas that Satan is involved in?

Brethren, as adults who have committed ourselves to following God and His commands, who have committed to following the example of Jesus Christ, we have responsibilities. As teens, which are starting on the path towards adulthood, who are contemplating making a commitment to God and His way of life, there are responsibilities. We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to God to do what is needed to become more like Him & His Son. To act like them, to talk like them, and to think like them.

II Corinthians 10:1-5

“Every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Those are some pretty strong words! What Paul is talking about here is the war that we, as individuals, fight every single day. We see all the horrible things that are happening because Satan is the god of this world, they are obvious. But do we see, do we look for and search out, the spiritual battles that Satan is fighting against us?

It is interesting to look at the meaning of a word. We can look at various translations of the Bible, King James, New King James, New Living Translation, and New International Version, whatever it may be. They all certainly bring benefit of different wording or perspective that can help clarify. But sometimes it helps just look up what the word means.

The meaning behind the word “thought” is a thought, purpose, design; the mind; the heart, soul, feelings. This word underlines the result of the thinking, i.e. the personal verdict that comes out of using the mind. This is describing how we come to our conclusions and what those conclusions are.

As humans we reason, right? We think and comprehend, some better than others I’ll admit, but we all think and come to conclusions, we develop a verdict out of our thoughts. God has given us the ability to think independently, sometimes called free moral agency. He didn’t create us all yellow pencils who think the exact same way. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t individuals out there trying to influence our thoughts. Trying to change or direct our thoughts. There are things that aren’t as much on the surface, in fact they are below the surface.

Our enemy is Satan the Devil. How much thought do we give him? How much credit do we give him? Do we view him as some type of mythical figure who really isn’t involved in our day-to-day lives? “He really doesn’t care about me, does he?” Because that is not who he is, and trust me, he thinks about you a lot.

I Peter 5:8

Have you ever seen a lion or other large cat stalk its prey? Is it loud and obvious? Does it walk around in the open so everyone and everything can see it? Does it announce “here I am, on the prowl, looking for something to eat.” Of course not!

They hide, they crouch, they’re silent, and they’re cunning. Most times you don’t see them until it’s too late. That is what Satan is like. To put it in human terms is Satan an aircraft carrier? No, he’s a submarine. He’s doesn’t use overwhelming fire power. He is under the water, difficult to detect, but he can take down the biggest of ships. He’s not a regiment of soldiers, he is a sniper. He picks off his victims from where they can’t even see him. He is a master of being subtle.

That is how he hunts us. And believe me he is hunting us. We can’t take the approach that he has bigger fish to fry, because there is nothing he would take more pleasure in then denying one of us our eternal life. He wants to influence us!

Captivity of our thoughts depends on who the strongest influencer is.

Merriam-Webster defines influence as:

: the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen

: a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way

That is what Satan wants to do. He wants to change our way of thinking without forcing us to change. He can’t force us to change. He can’t force us to sin. He can’t make us have a particular viewpoint on something. Do you remember what we talked about earlier with the meaning of the word thought? “The personal verdict that comes out of using the mind.” That is what he wants to influence. He wants to influence our mind.

I’ll tell you a little secret. Some of you may know that I’m in sales. I sell software to large corporations, governments & healthcare institutions. I’m certainly not the most aggressive sales person but there are tactics that I have been taught that are quite effective in helping the sale go my way. One of those is something I like to call “homework assignment.” It probably has a formal name but if it does I don’t remember what it was.

You see, the goal of homework assignment is easy. If I’m working with an organization I might ask them to research something for me in order to get something in return, like a proposal for example. I could tell them that I need “x” in order to give them “y”. What I am really doing is keeping the prospect busy, busy with things for me. The thought process is, if they are spending more time with me or on things that I’ve asked them to do, the less time they are spending with the competition. Easy, right?

Do you think that would work for Satan? Do you think he could give us “homework assignments” to keep us busy? Do you think that those homework assignments would be a good way to influence us? When I assign “homework” to a prospect I certainly want them to come to a certain conclusion. Why wouldn’t that work for Satan.

Satan gives us “homework assignments.” He gives us things that distract us, that consume our time, that influence us. He does this with one thing in mind. Just like I don’t want you spending time with the competition, he doesn’t want you spending time with God. How does he do this?

We are a society that needs to be entertained. For our older audience members there was a song entitled “Let Me Entertain You”, I believe from the movie “Gypsy.” For the younger audience members there was a song by Robbie Williams called that as well. We need to be entertained don’t we? We don’t like the simple life. We don’t like not being up on the latest trends, the latest gossip and news. We want to be in the know.

But that is exactly what Satan is trying to do. He is trying to get us to spend time with the “know” and forget about those things that we should be spending our time on. Not only that, but he is also using those things that distract us to influence us. And if we are to bring every thought into captivity then we must be aware of this, and we must make the difficult decision to fight it.

What about our entertainment. Mr. Henderson covered a portion of this last week in his sermonette regarding vampires. We unfortunately are a society that is saturated with entertainment that is not godly in any way, shape or form. And yet, what do we do? Do we look at this as the evil that it is? We don’t have an issue looking at certain issues and having not a single doubt in our mind about whether it is good or not. Homosexual marriage? That’s an easy one. Murder? No problem. Adultery? Please, who would question that? All those things absolutely wrong.

But what about those exact same things only in fictional format? Does the entertainment that we watch or listen to have those things? Do they have adultery or homosexual relationships? Do they show violence or murder? Do they glamorize those things? What do we think about when we see that?

I’d like to cover some lists with you. I don’t do this to make anyone feel guilty or to pass judgment, because to be honest I’m guilty. I too have fallen prey to Satan and his sneaky homework assignments. We as a nation spend between $9-10 billion per year on movies. Either watching them in a theatre or renting them online or through DVD’s. I’m not saying that is bad, but what I want to ask is, what are you watching? And have we thought about the potential that this homework assignment is something that Satan uses to influence us.

The top ten movies for 2012 was an interesting list. This list is not those that were Academy Award winners or documentaries. This list is strictly what we watched the most, or to put it simply, what we spent the most money on. Not all of them are horrible, but think about looking at these movies from a biblical worldview and ask yourself if you should have spent your time watching them, or allowing their influence to enter your eyes, ears and ultimately mind.

First was “The Avengers” followed by “Skyfall”. “Skyfall was a 007 movie about a spy/assassin who is trying to protect his boss from being murdered by a former spy/assassin. Then is “The Dark Knight Rises”, a very dark version of the Batman series where his nemesis Bain takes over Gotham and threatens to blow it up with a nuclear bomb and encouraging anarchy against the established government. We then have “The Hobbit” followed by Ice Age. Number six is “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”, a vampire movie. Next is “The Amazing Spider-Man” followed by “Madagascar 3.” Number nine is “The Hunger Games,” a movie where

young children are sacrificed in a game to the death to entertain and appease the ultra rich. And last we have “Men in Black III”, a movie about aliens and they’re attempted assassination of a human.

Looking at these you may say that the type of stuff we need to be concerned with only happens in R rated movies. Think again. Michelle Healy, in the November 11th issue of USA TODAY, wrote:

Gun violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985, and now exceeds the level found in R-rated movies, a new analysis finds.

With that increase, big-budget Hollywood movies may be adding fuel to aggressive attitudes and behaviors in young moviegoers, says a new study in December’s Pediatrics, published online today.

Researchers also found that after 1984, when the PG-13 rating was introduced, gun violence declined in G- or PG-rated films; remaining flat in R-rated films; and increased dramatically in PG-13 films. PG-13 is short for “Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” R-rated movies are restricted to audiences age 17 and older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Since 2009, the level of gun violence in PG-13 films has been as high as or higher than in R-rated films and has exceeded that level since 2012, the analysis shows.

The new study analyzed a database of 945 films sampled from the 30 top-grossing films for each year from 1950 to 2012. Analysts coded each film for the presence of violence and guns during five-minute segments.

The Motion Picture Association of America has “been allowing violence to slowly but surely creep up in PG-13 to be equal to what’s in R,” says Daniel Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and a study co-author. If more films with gun violence were rated R, it would show that the industry recognizes the potential harm and that parents should have that information, he says.

The Motion Picture Association declined to comment on the study.

I am guilty. I am guilty of watching some of these movies. And it may sound cliché or oversimplified, but would you watch these movies with God the Father or Jesus Christ sitting right next to you. If you can answer yes then that is certainly your decision. I can’t answer that way. And if you can’t answer yes, and you answered that question as no, then I have to ask should we be watching them in the first place?

I ask this question. Why would you willingly subject yourself to watching and being entertained by things that clearly are contrary to God’s way of life. Please do not misunderstand. I’m not passing judgment if you have watched or plan to watch these things, people can handle different things. As I said, I’m guilty regarding this as well. But I have to ask myself that question. Why would I allow that type of material to come into my mind if I am told, really commanded, to bring every thought, EVERY THOUGHT, into the obedience of Christ?

Hebrews 12:12-16

We are told to “look diligently”. What are we supposed to be looking for? We’re supposed to be looking for that potential root of bitterness. Barnes Notes on the Bible states this about this section of scripture:

Looking diligently – This phrase implies close attention. It is implied that there are reasons why we should take special care. Those reasons are found in the propensities of our hearts to evil; in the temptations of the world; in the allurements to apostasy presented by the great adversary of our souls.

Lest any man fail – As every man is in danger, it is his personal duty to see to it that his salvation be secure.

It is up to us, young and old, to do what it is we are required to do. We can’t go in based on our past works, and we can’t go in based on what our parents believe.

 Lest any root of bitterness springing up – Any bitter root. There is doubtless an allusion here to Deuteronomy 29:18. “so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood.” The allusion there is to those who were idolaters, and who instead of bearing the fruits of righteousness, and promoting the piety and happiness of the nation, would bear the fruits of idolatry, and spread abroad irreligion and sin. The allusion, in both cases, is to a bitter plant springing up among those that were cultivated for ornament or use, or to a tree bearing bitter and poisonous fruit, among those that produced good fruit. The reference of the apostle is to some person who should produce a similar effect in the church – to one who should inculcate false doctrines; or who should apostatize; or who should lead an unholy life, and thus be the means of corrupting and destroying others. They were to be at especial pains that no such person should start up from among themselves, or be tolerated by them.

In other words we not only need to be careful of our thoughts for our sake but for the sake of those around us as well.

How about another form of entertainment, the television. According to Neilson, the firm who tracks and analyzes consumers, including in TV consumption, the average American watches 34 hours of live TV per week. That doesn’t include another 6 hours of DVR recordings. There was a recent report published by the University of Michigan Health System, which consolidated various reports & studies. It focused on television and these are some of the things they found:

  • TV viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. On average, children ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV—watching television, DVDs, DVR and videos, and using a game console. Kids ages 6-11 spend about 28 hours a week in front of the TV. The vast majority of this viewing (97%) is of live TV [1].
  • 71% of 8- to 18-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom [1a]; 54% have a DVD/VCR player, 37% have cable/satellite TV, and 20% have premium channels [2].
  • An average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by age 18.
  • Two-thirds of all programming contains violence.
  • Most violent acts go unpunished on TV and are often accompanied by humor. The consequences of human suffering and loss are rarely depicted.
  • Many shows glamorize violence.  TV often promotes violent acts as a fun and effective way to get what you want, without consequences.
  • Even in G-rated, animated movies and DVDs, violence is common—often as a way for the good characters to solve their problems.  Every single U.S. animated feature film produced between 1937 and 1999 contained violence, and the amount of violence with intent to injure has increased over the years.

So what about our television viewing habits? What do we watch? How much time do we spend watching TV and is what we watch godly and give glory to God? Here are the top 10 TV shows for 2012, minus sports & reality TV.

We first have NCIS, focusing on crime & murder. Then the Big Bang Theory, which certainly has its vulgarity issues. Next is NCIS: Los Angeles, crime and murder followed by Person of Interest, crime and murder. Number 5 is The Walking Dead, a show about a zombie apocalypse. Next is Two and a Half Men, major issues with vulgarity and promiscuity. Number 6 is Blue Bloods, crime and murder and then Elementary, crime and murder. Number 9 is Modern Family which focuses on a sister and her family (of course with a bumbling husband as usual), her homosexual brother and his partner with their adopted child and their divorced father who married a much younger divorced woman. That is the “modern family.” Bringing up the rear at number 10 is Criminal Minds, crime and murder.

Those are the types of shows that we watch for 40 hours per week!  I ask the same question, would you sit there and watch these shows, or others that are just like them, if you knew that God and Jesus Christ were right there on the couch with you?

Psalm 139:1-12

I’ve got a shocker for you; God and Jesus Christ are on the couch there with you. They know what your thoughts are and what your desires are. It’s easy behave and think and talk one way when you are around other people who follow God, it’s something else to be that way when you are alone. But God knows. He knows

when you sit down and when you get up. If God would be uncomfortable with what we are watching then we should be too.

One final piece of entertainment that can have an influence over adult & teen alike, video gaming. According to the Entertainment Software Association we spent $15 billion on video games in 2012. The only estimate I could find stated that we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games as a planet. Is this a potential area where Satan can gain access to our thoughts, maybe change our perspective on things?

According to VGChartz.com, these were the top selling video games for the week ending November 16, 2013.

  • #5 Assassin’s Creed IV
  • #4 Watch Dogs – Watch Dogs is an open world action-adventure stealth video game in which players control an Irish vigilante named Aiden Pearce who can hack into various electronic devices tied to the city’s central operating system, allowing various methods for the player to solve numerous objectives.[10] Examples include hacking into people’s phones to retrieve bank data and steal funds, triggering malfunctions in equipment to distract other characters and hacking into traffic lights to cause collisions. Players can also receive information on civilians via augmented reality feeds, providing the player with information on demographics, health and potential behavior. Objectives showcased in presentations include finding specific targets to kill, evading the police and following potential victims in order to stop their would-be killers. Combat utilizes a combination of stealth components and parkour, along with the mechanics of a cover-based third-person shooter.
  • #3 Battlefield 4
  • #2 Grand Theft Auto V (best selling year to date with 30 million)
  • #1 Call of Duty: Ghosts

Colossians 3:8

Christians are told to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, to get rid of anger, wrath and malice (the desire to hurt others) and to grow in peace, longsuffering, kindness and gentleness. These are direct opposites of the kinds of gratuitous violence that are becoming prevalent in many games. In addition to violence, swearing and filthy language have been added to modern games, again in the quest for more “reality.” This, too, violates God’s instructions.

Ephesians 5:3-4

We’re told to get rid of filthy language and not to let any obscenity, coarse joking or any kind of unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. It’s important for a Christian to avoid letting filthy words into his or her mind. And once those words are in our minds, it can be hard to prevent them from coming out of our mouths or getting out of our head.

And with all things we humans continue to push boundaries. After showing more realistic violence and adding coarse language, the next boundary that fell was sexual content. More games now include nude or scantily clad women and sexuality.

Jesus says that a man entertaining lustful thoughts about a woman who is not his wife breaks God’s commandment about not committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-28.

Clearly this is a huge issue in Western society as a whole and is not limited to the gaming industry. However as Western culture in general keeps “pushing the envelope” of what society will accept the gaming industry has followed suit. And I’m sure most of you are saying “I don’t play video games.” OK, I’ll give you that, but what about your children? What about your grandchildren? We have an obligation as family to try to protect our own as well.

We cannot always control what we see and hear, but we can control what we hold dear in our hearts.

Ephesians 2:1-3

Each day Satan, the “prince of the power of the air”, relentlessly inspires a multitude of improper thoughts. We must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We are bombarded with “corrupt” communication from coworkers, fellow students and acquaintances. Movies and TV shows, video games and magazines transmit values, morals and behavior far removed from those God expects of His followers. Nevertheless, we must assimilate God’s words and ideals; they must become a part of us; we must keep them in our minds and hearts.

James 4:7-10

Where do you find the knowledge of God? It’s right on your lap, called the Holy Bible. But we live in a world that is constantly exalting itself and trying to tell us that this Book isn’t worth the anything. There is a reason there is the phrase “wipe the dust off your Bible,” because it’s not used much anymore.

Well you and I are told we have to remember that we have a very difficult job, we have to bring into captivity, notice, every thought. Now even as I am speaking to you, your mind is doing this – you’re coming up with all kinds of thoughts. You hope every one of those thoughts are yours, but there are other thoughts that can be placed in your mind by other spirit and elements in this world. You know that the scripture tells us that Satan is the prince of the power of the air and a lot of times people don’t realize, they don’t think carefully why am I thinking this? Why am I thinking what I am thinking?

What are we told to do? We’re told to try the spirits, to see if it’s of God, to see if this is what the Word of God would have us do. And as we try the spirits, we begin to see certain things that do not harmonize with the Word of God. If it doesn’t harmonize with the Word of God, we’re told to avoid it, to stay away from it because it’s not going to be beneficial.

I John 4:1-6

We have to bring every thought in obedience to Christ. Now let me show you an example of that that the Bible clearly says. Now it was the will of God, and we know that Jesus Christ had to go to Jerusalem to do what? He had to die to become the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world. Your sins, my sins, everyone’s sins. Thank God for God and thank God for Jesus Christ our High Priest at the right hand of God the Father.

Matthew 16:21-23

But every thought has to be in obedience to Christ. Christ is going to Jerusalem, He tells His disciples, He says, I’ve got to go and the Pharisees and Sadducees are going to lay hands on me and they’re going to make it tough for Me and I’m going to have to die. What does Peter do? He ran up there, very well meaning, he wasn’t in a bad attitude or anything else, he ran up and grabs Christ, he puts his hands on the Lord and said, Lord, far be it for you to go, we’re not going to let that happen to you. To me, when I read that it sounds like he’s well meaning, he wants to preserve the life of the Master, I don’t want you to go and die.  But yet the will of God was that He had to go and die. And what does Christ do? He sorts this thinking out for us and shows Peter, you don’t realize whose talking. You have been inspired by something else in your thinking. He said, “Get behind Me, Satan!

So there are times if we’re not careful, Satan can get in there and he can change our thinking up and cause us to say things or do things that further his will rather than the will of God. So how do we stop this?

Psalm 91:1-7

We must look to God! We must seek Him out! We must ask for His protection! We must spend our time with Him, not with the homework assignments that Satan tries to give us. He uses those things to change our thinking, to influence us about the things of men, or for his will. Not for the things of God and God’s will.

Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t let Satan be the greatest source of influence in your life. Don’t let his methodology, his entertainment, his subtle ways, to take captive your thoughts. Take your own thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.”

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

Published in: on January 16, 2014 at 2:39 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.”

Christians And Violent Video Games

Is there any danger in playing a violent interactive video game?  We are play acting yes, but we are also being conditioned, conditioned to respond in a prideful way, taking things into our own hands, taking vengeance on the evil ones. As Christians we are admonished to let God fight the battles for us. God says “Vengeance is mine.”

 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19

“If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.”   

~Romans 8:13

An environment where people are being tortured and slaughtered is not the environment that God wants us to provide for our children to grow up in. We certainly wouldn’t purposely pick a neighborhood with that sort of violence to expose your children too.  Does it make any sense then to bring that sort of violence into your home?

I went through the race riots in Detroit in 1967.  Let me tell you, real war and fighting is not glamorous. Driving through the streets intown, ducking from military gunfire is not a game. I continued to have flashbacks for years whenever there was fighting on the school grounds or in the neighborhood. 

If we surround ourselves with this type of thinking, we and our children can be conditioned to get back at (take revenge) because we feel justified, in other words we feel we have the right.  We may not wield a weapon, but our words can be just as deadly.  If we really think about it, we too as God’s people can be conditioned by society and by the media to accept that this type of fighting with our words is justified.  In God eyes however, it is not.

You may say, “Well, my child would never hoard weapons as the young men did at Columbine School and gun down their classmates just because they watched a lot of violent video games,” but there is something more to consider dangerous, that is the attitude that pervades, “Don’t tell me what to do.  I have the right to fight,” albeit with words instead of guns and ammunition.”

Our children look to heroes and try to emulate them, putting themselves in the place of the one who is taking revenge on the “bad” guys.  Today there are all kinds of powerful heroes and heroines in comic books, movies, and especially video games, not portrayed as normal everyday men and women, but disproportionately muscular, so that boys and men want to be invincible  and girls powerful and sexy.  The desire is to covet their build, sexy look and power.  However, no one can ever be like them. Nevertheless our children put themselves in the place of these men and women of war and connect with them in their minds. God says that as we think, so we are.  Why?  In the New Testament church, not only are we not to do harm to our enemies, but we are to love them. What we think matters, whether it is real or not.  God says if we lust after a woman, we have already committed adultery in our hearts. If we kill and destroy our enemies even in our imagination, we have also sinned in our hearts.

James and John wanted to call fire down from heaven.  Did they have a right to?  They may have, but what did Jesus say? 

“And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” ~ Luke 9:54-56

What being is full of this pride of life, lust for power?  We know that this is the spirit of Satan.

Why are these videos so popular in today’s culture? Why are they making mega millions and growing more and more popular each year? 

Too many children are embracing them, and too many parents are allowing it.

We have a New Testament covenant with Christ as our example.  His last words on the cross, “It is finished.”  What was finished? We know that He was the lamb of God, taking on what all of us deserve. There is more however.  He also finished His earthly example by not reviling again nor taking matters into his own hands, but leaving it all in the hands of His Father to the point of being beaten to death for the sake of his enemies.  This is the type of example your children should be looking to emulate.

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” ~John 18:36

Then would my servants fight, but my kingdom is not of this world.  We are not to be part of this world or emulate its pride.  We are to train our young men to emulate Christ.  How are these violent video games fulfilling this admonition?

What kind of person are our children trying to emulate as a superhero?  Is Jesus Christ their Superhero?  What did Christ do when he knew that Satan would enter Judas? Christ washed Judas’ feet.  He did not take up his rifle and blast him at the last supper.

The world’s mindset is one of fighting it out and feeling justified when we take things into our own hands by fighting with our husbands or others with whom we do not agree, and we feel we are right because we know in our hearts they are wrong.  We kill with our tongues.  Is this not this same mindset? God says if you hate your brother, you kill in your heart. God admonishes us to turn the other cheek; don’t take things into our own hands, “I will repay.”  We are to Love our enemy, and do good to them that hurt us and despitefully use you and persecute us.  If a man slaps you on the cheek, turn and give him your other cheek.  Stephen followed Christ’s example and at his death said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Acts 7:60 Don’t we not want to instill that attitude in our children?

Is God is in control?  He struck Herod down when he boasted and allowed people to think he was a god.  God has the power and right to take vengeance, not man. He was swelled with pride, what we do not want to allow into our thoughts or hearts.

In Revelation, Christ says to the church of Laodicea, “You do not know you are poor blind and naked.” [Revelation 3:17] 

He is speaking of our spiritual condition.  God admonished us to give to those who are hungry; clothe those who are naked, and destitute.  The world’s enemies are poor, blind, and naked. Do we feed them, or do we blast them? [Matthew 26:35-36]

Are we to retaliate or are we to give them what they need to become more like God?  Our lights are to shine, on the evil and the good.  We are ambassadors for Christ.  Do we teach our children to do this by watching video games that portray the opposite?

The Spartans trained their young men for war as soon as they could hold an arrow and bow.  They were trained in the art of war as some nations do today with their very young children.  As you know, some even strap bombs to their young children and send them into a building to demolish it. We look forward to a much different future.

“And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” ~  Micah 4:3  

Our children are now the princes and princesses in training for a world we will rule.  It is to be a world of peace. It is not a world where vengeance is entertainment. 

God does not want us to feel the rush of getting back at others or acting as saviors when He is the only Savior.  Superheroes only feed into our desire to take control ourselves even though it is only fantasy.  This fuels the fires of our human carnal nature and enhances the feelings of power and pride.  Isn’t that the mind of Satan? 

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  A proud look…”  ~ Proverbs 6:16-17

#1 God hates pride. 

I feel that Satan can entrap our children with the world’s entertainment, especially in the form of virtual reality video games, encouraging them to embrace his ways. 

God IS real!  Let’s train our young men to emulate Christ in everything they do.

Published in: on November 27, 2012 at 2:44 am  Comments (1)  

…But It’s Just Fantasy

As Halloween approaches the newest of the dark side of entertainment appears.  The movies I pictured are old, but they depict what I want to discuss.  The newest movies now are filled with the latest in horror, violence, withcraft, sorcery, and now even love stories involving the dark side pervade. When I speak with Christian women, I find some that believe that the above is an acceptable form of entertainment.  Why? They say, “It’s just fantasy!” “After all, we know it is not true.” 

To begin our discussion, let us first understand what fantasy is.

Wikipedia speaks of fantasy as follows:

1) Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting.

2) Fantasy is defined as unrestrained imagination.

Let’s look at the second definition today and the first on a later post.  

Romans 1:21 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Romans 1:21 (DBY) “Because, knowing God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but fell into folly in their thoughts, and their heart without understanding was darkened.”

 How does God view our thoughts and imaginations? Should they be in line with God’s word of truth?

 2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We are not wrestling with men but with the “prince of the power of the air”.  Satan is waging a war to conquer our minds. If we are going to survive we need to be diligent and seek after what is good. We cannot afford to call evil good.

How does God view the presenting of something that is evil as good?

Isaiah 5:20 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Harry Potter promotes meditation, transfiguration into other beings or animals, fortune telling, reincarnation, occult spells, curses, vampires, and demons. 1

What does God’s word warn the Israelites when they entered the promised land:

 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…”
—Deuteronomy 18:9-12a

 Psalms 36:4 “He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.”

Should we be embracing such fantasy? God’s judgment on the peoples of Noah’s day stands as a stark reminder of His feelings on this matter.

Genesis 6:5-7 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

 “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

“And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

We, as women of God, should take a hard look at what we entertain our minds with. The two part word… 1) enter- what enters our mind, and 2) -tain, what we retain in our minds…gives us a clue as to what we should do. We must watch carefully what we allow to enter and remain in our minds.

 Here is a question we might want to ask ourselves.

 Does the entertainment we view align with God’s word? 

 Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

 We as women of God need to entertain our minds [our imaginations] with what is good in the sight of God.  The assault that the entertainment media is waging against our minds is real.

  Let’s open our minds to the things of God and keep our minds pure, so that in the day of Christ’s coming, we will have no spot or wrinkle in our garments. We will have made ourselves ready to meet the Lord in the air in all pureness.

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Wicca, divinition, sorcery. The occult is in the midst of society.  Many claim, TV and movies that portray witchcraft is just fantasy, but the occult is still alive in our society.  The Bible says to avoid and resist it.  See below an interview of a former witch. 

You can pause the music on my blog by pushing the pause bottom on the bottom of the right side of the page.

http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-program/satan/dancing-dark-side-interview-former-witch

~~~

1 http://www.exposeoccult.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=81&Itemid=135

30-Day True Woman Makeover Challenge ~ Day 2

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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.