Friday, August 31, 2007
"She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night" Proverbs 31:18
After reading that this woman rises early, and then works very hard all throughout the day, it should be no surprise that she burns the midnight oil as well. In order to do what she can to bless her household and those around her, she does what she must to ensure that her trading continues to be profitable.
Again this verse hits the matter of time and time management. Rather than fritter away her time sleeping or doing something mindless, this woman uses her quiet time at night to continue in her trade. Maybe she's continuing in her spinning of flax and wool. Maybe she's begun knitting that wool into beautiful scarves, and the more she does it, the better she gets at it. And perhaps now her scarves are in demand, and that causes people to talk. And all this talk pleases her husband who hears how talented his wife is. So in an effort to continue to please her husband, the woman will do whatever she has to. In this case, she will work late into the night. So while she is making an effort to manage her time better, it is out of love for her husband that she does so.
This makes me think about the opposite. If I were doing something with my time that my husband didn't appreciate, what would I do? I do think about that sometimes. If I spent the whole day sitting here in front of the computer, I don't think he would appreciate it much. The house would become dirty, the laundry would pile up, and dinner would come out of a box. It's for the love of my husband and my God that I want to do better. I want to be a better person for him, to help enrich his life.
For a mom, this is a fairly easy verse to reconcile with. My job is never done. I may turn out the lights and hit the pillow at night, but I'm still Mom. My children may need me anytime 24/7 and I am their willing servant. I have been woken up at night for endless reasons- illness, weather, someone being scared, wet beds, or someone just wants a mommy snuggle. And despite the sleep loss, I still somehow manage to function during the normal day. So I suppose if I made a conscious effort to get less sleep, I would eventually find myself able to function well.
Yet more to think about. I'm really learning a lot about this woman, and she's really making me think. Hopefully with the new school year starting up I can take advantage of the new beginning and work on my own new beginning.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
her arms are strong for her tasks" Proverbs 31:17
This woman provides a great visual today! Just read that verse again! I kind of get a vision of a working woman- the one with biceps to mess with, the woman with her hair tied back in a scarf and a determined look on her face. I see women from other countries who do back-breaking work all day long to help support their family. There is one thing they all have in common in my mind. And that is that they don't complain about their work.
There are two forms of energy at work here in this verse I think. First we have the mental energy in the first part of the verse. She sets about her work vigorously. That tells me that she is determined to accomplish her work to the absolute best of her ability. Her mind is alert and ready to go. She has a positive attitude about her work as well and I get a strong sense of her mind frame as she prepares to work. The second form of energy is her physical energy. Her arms are strong for her tasks. This tells me that she works hard on a regular basis- regular enough to strengthen her body's muscles for their daily tasks. Over time, I imagine her tasks become easier and easier as every day she is strengthening her muscles with her repeated tasks.
My goodness do I want that energy! I want the mental ability to desire to attack every task with such fervor! And also the physical energy to physically attack ALL the work I have to do in a day, rather than picking and choosing and then spending much of my time relaxing, or worse, spending my time sitting and pondering what I could be doing, yet I lack the energy to get it done. This woman certainly is a treasure to behold. The amount of energy she has is nothing short of amazing! I know that after paying attention to this verse I WANT her energy- both mental and physical. Why is it that I seem to fit right into the stereotype of the homemaker who is always tired? Certainly I always have something to do- but I want so much to break that stereotype. To find enough hours in each and every day to get my work done and be able to spend quality time with my children. I want the energy to set a great example for my children and to be able to address every single need without the weariness that seems to invade my brain as the day moves on.
Today's verse presents a goal- now I just need to work on a solution. How to attain the body and mind of this Godly woman. I suspect I have some work ahead of me.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard." Proverbs 31:16
This woman is amazing. Truly. We have seen over the last few days that she is industrious and a hard worker. She wakes before dawn to begin her day and allows no distractions. And now we find out that she is also financially savvy. She considers a field and buys it. This means that she really thought about her purchase before doing so. She thought about it's worth to her, it's up front cost, and whether or not it was a good value. Obviously it was. And then we also see a vineyard! According to my Bible, the field and the vineyard are not the same thing. This means that she also bought a vineyard AND she herself planted it. This woman is tireless I tell you!
This makes me think about my spending habits today. She considered. She didn't just rush out and buy a field rashly- she thought about it. How often to I buy something rashly? I admit I've become much better at impulsive buying, but I don't do enough considering. How many things to I purchase that later on I discard because it wasn't quite what I wanted. Or I'll purchase something simply because it's on sale. I'll walk into a store and see a sale on shoes, and then even though I don't currently need shoes, because there is a sale, I look for some to buy. I need to do a better job of following the example of the Godly woman and consider. I need to consider all those purchases that aren't necessary. I also need to consider what I will do with those purchases and how they will benefit my household and those around us.
This verse today once again reminds me that there's nothing like hard work to get a job done and get further ahead. It seems like I'm always behind in something that needs to be done around the house. But it's also important to remember her impetus behind that hard work, and that is love. Love for her God and her husband drives her hard work. May God grant me the willing heart to be able to better show my love to my God and my husband through my daily activities.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
and plan the day's work for her servant girls." Proverbs 31:15
Gosh, this is the dreaded verse. She rises before dawn...that's really early!! Yet every day, this woman rises first in her household to prepare the morning meal for all, and also to plan out the day ahead. This verse really couldn't have better timing for me. Next week we return to school, so that means that we all need to get up much earlier in the day. And of course, I've been lamenting the loss of my sleep in days. Why oh why can't I let go of my sleep! Well, I'll tell you, a lot of the time I'm tired. I'm a mom , of course I'm tired. And I often think that last little bit of sleep will help me out. Even today, I woke shortly before six this morning, but I forced myself to toss and turn until shortly after seven- a more humane time in my mind.
Yet I end up loving the days that I do manage to wake early. I manage to get a lot of things done before the kids are even awake, and when they get up I'm ready for them. On the days where they get up first, when I do rouse myself, they are at me right away, needing attention, food, etc. My day is much more peaceful when I am the first one awake. As it is, a typical day for me is to wake up, get the kids breakfast, and then I spend my time with my devotional and then my time blogging, and by the time I'm ready to even think about planning for the day ahead, a few hours have gone by. I've wasted a portion of my day by sleeping. But according to the Godly woman, if I rose first, I would have everything accomplished early in the day, and a full plan for the day, and THEN my household would rise. Imagine having a hassle free day because you know what needs to be done well ahead of time.
I so need to work on this. I really need to work on this. I don't necessarily need to wake before dawn- or even before my husband leaves for work. But I do need to face the beginning of my day better. A Godly woman accepts discipline and knows that nothing of importance happens without a plan.
Monday, August 27, 2007
bringing her food from afar." Proverbs 31:14
This verse brings a very good visual to mind. That of a woman, sailing from port to port, gathering food and household goods from everywhere she needs to before returning home again. And being a merchant's ship, that suggests shrewdness- she will only take the best goods at the best deal that she can find. She stays away from a poor bargain and from poor quality. She has high expectations and desires to bring only the best back to her husband and household, but the best needs to be within her means.
The dictionary definition of the word enterprising says "Marked by an independent energetic spirit and a readiness to act." The Godly Woman in this verse has an enterprising spirit and is without a doubt, energetic and ready to act. Her love for her family, her husband, and her God keeps the "wind in her sails" and gives her all the motivation she needs to maintain her energy. She is devoted, and as she is willing to travel great distances to feed her household, she is also determined. She attacks all of her tasks with equal fervor, seeing them to their completion and a job well done.
I so want to be this woman. I think that I already do a great job with some things- like cooking and keeping the dishes washed, and also in the area of caring for my children. But where I could use a little extra help would be in the daily chores that I dread. That dreaded laundry pile never goes away. Cleaning the bathrooms doesn't happen as often as it should because I really don't enjoy doing it. The general picking up and dusting slides sometimes because I don't enjoy those much either. But I will tell you that when the house is clean and in order, I fell much better- I know the end is worth it, but by golly, I could use some extra wind in my sails to see some more projects through to the end. I will have days where I attack the laundry with fervor in the morning, only to have it peter out by mid-day, and the washed laundry piles up and waits for another day to be put away.
I guess my enterprising spirit needs a little work. I need to keep the Godly woman at the forefront of my mind and attack each task as I would attack a meal. With love for my God and for my family. Love is what will be the driving force behind each task I tackle. May God provide the extra wind in my sails as I need it throughout the day.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
And works with her hands in delight." Proverbs 41:12
Often times people think I am a little crazy. I treasure this verse because it has truly spoken to me for some time. When my husband first started working construction, we didn't realize that construction meant seasonal work. Those first few years winter was very difficult. Unemployment was about enough to keep the bills paid- but not enough for things like groceries and clothing. I became interested in old-fashioned canning and preserving as a means to keep my family fed through the lean times. I now think nothing of picking up 50 pounds of carrots and processing them for the freezer. And I think highly of preserving everything that I can- when I can. Every morsel of food that I can tuck into the freezer during the high times is beneficial to my family during the lean times.
It is a great delight to do this work. Yes, it is a lot of work, but a day spent making strawberry jam results in a delicious sweet spread that lasts a whole year for us, with plenty leftover to share. What is interesting about this verse is that it carries on. Here in verse 12, she gathers the wool and flax to spin into fabric. And what does she do with it? In verse 21 she clothes her household. In verse 22 she clothes herself. In verse 24 she clothes paying customers and tradesmen. And finally, in verse 20, she clothes the needy. She does all of that as a result of the first action of finding the wool and flax to spin. That is true diligence. And not only does she work with the fibers, she does it joyfully, busily, and willingly.
I could still use work in this area. I have to keep in mind others around me who may be able to use what we have as well. I have 40 jars of jam downstairs, and sometimes I can be guilty of not sharing, which is actually hoarding. And something that Andy and I have come to realize is that it is not right to hoard what God has blessed us with. There is a fine line of stocking up for lean times and hoarding- and we have to be careful to make sure that we are not actually hoarding.
Regardless, though, today's verse is an excellent lesson in trying to become a better worker in the eyes of the Lord. Am I doing enough? Is there more that I could be doing for my family- and for others? What is my "weaving" producing?
Friday, August 24, 2007
all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12
Today we learn the reason for yesterday's lesson of trust-the goodness of the wife's heart. She brings him good all the days of her life. She gives goodness and kindness- regardless of the circumstances. This is very reminiscent of the story of in the Bible of Abigail. We find her in 1 Samuel 25, Abigail is married to a difficult and unpleasant man, Nabal, yet she still treats her husband with goodness and kindness. David had asked Nabal if he would share some of his provisions with David and his men. Nabal turned them away with scorn and unfriendly words, and in return, David had planned to attack Nabal and kill him and all his men. Abigail heard of this and hurried to intercede on behalf of her husband. She packed up provisions of food and wine and set out to meet David with her gift. David accepted her interference and praised God for preventing him from murdering. In the end, Nabal died anyways of a stroke, and then David asked Abigail to be his wife- he simply couldn't pass up such a good and kind woman.
Then in Acts 10:38 we see that the mark of Jesus' life was his goodness.
"And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." Acts 10:38
It's pretty amazing to me that goodness is used to describe both Jesus, and the Godly woman. That by being good and kind to my husband, not only am I striving to be a more Godly woman, but I'm striving to be more like Jesus himself. Wow. Something to remember too, is that goodness starts at home. I can't show goodness outside the home until I am well-practiced with it under my own roof, and with those around me every day. I think that this trait is a good one for me to reflect on, because I do think that for the most part, I exhibit some goodness. But there could certainly be more. I know that sometimes, while I exhibit goodness on the outside, on the inside I'm not thinking so good. That I need to work on, because it's not true goodness unless it is from the heart.
And something else to keep in mind is that there is no time like the present. No day like today to begin displaying goodness. I pray that I am able to display goodness today, and not just for myself, but for the people I might touch with my goodness. May that leave a lasting mark that could touch a life in a positive way.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
So he will have no lack of gain." Proverbs 31:11
In this verse today, we discover that the Proverbs 31 woman is faithful, loyal, and trustworthy. Those are pretty outstanding credentials if you ask me. The heart of her husband safely trusts her- he has complete confidence in her faithfulness, in her loyalty and in her trustworthiness. He can share any secret with her, any bit of confidence and know that she will hold that confidence within her heart. No matter what. He can also trust her with his household, trust that she will keep the household matters running smoothly, and that the bank books will match up.
And his reward is that she will greatly enrich his life, she will bring him good and he will be well-known and respected because of her trustworthiness and faithfulness to him. According to verse 10, his greatest asset IS is his wife.
It's very interesting that this particular chapter in Proverbs uses trust. In other Proverbs we find that the Bible says to trust no other but God.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
"Those who listen to instruction will prosper;
those who trust the Lord will be joyful." Proverbs 16:20
"Greed causes fighting;
trusting the Lord leads to prosperity.
26 Those who trust their own insight are foolish,
but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe." Proverbs 28:25,26
Yet here in Proverbs 31:11 we see that trust in the Godly woman is also acceptable. That is pretty amazing in and of itself. The husband can trust in his wife's faithfulness, the husband's heart does not fear because he has full trust and confidence in his wife.
To me, all this is humbling. One area of my life that immediately sticks out that could use some work is in the area of money. There are just times where one paycheck doesn't make it to another, and to me that is cause for distress for my husband. While my money management skills have greatly improved over time, it still needs work, so that my husband no longer needs to worry about whether or not he can put gas in his car or buy a new pair of pants.
What I can honestly say I do meet in this woman today is that of confidence. I think I've become unabashedly conscious of gossip and not doing it myself. When someone shares something in confidence with me, I am certain to maintain that confidence unless I am asked not to do so. And I do think that people see that in me. I have had more than one person lately approach me with a strange conversation, but they obviously need someone to talk to, and since I won't share their burdens with others, I guess I work in that capacity. That is a great encouragement to me today. As I am reading through the traits of this Godly woman and realizing how much more I need to do to become her, to find a trait that I possess is encouraging. I thank God for that encouragement, as well as the humbleness today.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies." Proverbs 31:10
Something I found interesting while looking at the verse is the use of the words capable and virtuous. (Some versions use excellence, some use worthy.) Looking to see where else in the Bible these words were applied is very interesting indeed! I found specifically that capable was almost always used to refer to men- and military men at that! Capable and virtuous men were leaders, warriors, fighting men, wealthy, influential, and brave! If you wish to look further into that, you can look up these verses: Exodus 18:25; Joshua 1:14; Joshua 6:2-3; Ruth 2:1; 1 Samuel 9:1; and 1 Chronicles 12:25. All of those verse discuss men in the same light that Proverbs 31:10 talks about a woman! An army's primary traits are mental toughness and physical energy- most definitely worthy traits to mark the Proverbs 31 woman.
Then when I looked for instances where virtuous or excellent is applied to woman, I find it in only four places in the Bible. First is in the book of Ruth. In Ruth 3:11, Boaz describes Ruth in this way "Everyone knows you are a virtuous woman." And reading through a few passages in the book of Ruth, we certainly see that Ruth could be very close to being the Proverbs woman. We learn in Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Ruth that Ruth is loyal, persistent, compassionate, and a very dedicated worker.
Then we look at Proverbs 12:4 "A worthy wife is a crown for her husband." This tells me right here that this woman is a treasure. First, a treasure to her husband who holds the crown. And secondly, a treasure for those who witness the crown. The second part of Proverbs 12:4 isn't so pleasant. "A disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones." This tells me that a non-worthy wife is like a disease to her husband. Something that is unwanted by him and all those around him.
Then again in proverbs 31:10 and 31:29 we have the description of the virtuous woman. And also, according to 31:10, we see that this woman is not easy to find. "Who can find..." she is beyond valuable by being described as a ruby or a pearl. Think of all the oysters that must be shucked before a pearl is found among them. Only a persistent person will find the pearl hidden within. And even better, according to Proverbs 19:14, "the understanding wife is a gift from the Lord."
So...how do I measure up? I would say I need some work. As I spoke about yesterday, what struck me today was the mention of physical strength and energy. The ability to keep going from dawn to dusk, and making the most of every minute. I definitely need help in that area. My time management skills, while constantly improving, still needs work. The story of Ruth spoke particularly to me as she continued in her work every single day for the benefit of her mother-in-law. She worked not even for herself- she was completely unselfish, doing what needed to be done. Something that really hits home today is that I find that I have the desire to do more. While enriching the mind is always a good thing, I want to be powerful in both mind AND body. In order to be a woman of excellence and worth, I need to apply my energy to better things than reading and lazing all day long. This is going to take some work and undoubtedly some prayer.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27
And that would be idleness. Realistically, I realize that not every second of every day needs to be consumed with busy-ness, but I think I spent to much time being idle. I waste too much time on the computer some days. Some days I spend too much time wrapped up in a book. Some days (although rarely this one) I spend too much time in front of the TV. There is always something that could be done- and often times I put those things off for another day simply because I'm enjoying doing nothing. Or I spend too much time puttering in the kitchen, playing with a recipe. I suppose that could be considered idleness as well.
By saying I spend too much time being idle, I am not saying that I am lazy all the time. Just that I do it sometimes. And I can also say that I certainly don't consider the time I spend with my kids part of the lazy time. Watching a movie with them on either side of me is definitely quality time, and maybe if I spent more time focusing on what I need to get done every day, I'd find more time to spend with my children playing. By paying attention to what I should be doing, I think that more of those quality moments could be found. Those times where it really is okay to curl up and enjoy a book, or spend time playing video games with Abigail, because I've gotten done what needs to be done first.
I hope that by going through this chapter I can constantly be reminded of the person I could be. By focusing on this woman who God finds beautiful, I can find the inspiration and the strength to try and become more like her, and more beautiful in God's eyes.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Before we dig in though, I want to look a little at the whole of the Godly Woman and where she comes from. The origin of this woman is from another woman's imagination, and actually comes from a woman with a son. King Lemuel's mother loved him so much, and Proverbs 31 is some of her advice to him as he was growing. The first part of Proverbs 31 deals with advice to him on how a king should be. The second part, the part I'll be studying is her ideal of the perfect wife for her son, the apple of her eye. I think it is important to remember that the Godly woman described here in Proverbs is just that, an idea. She wasn't based on a real woman, she was based on a mother's love for her son and the search for the perfect wife for him. I think it may be easier to strive to be a Godly woman to remember that no one is perfect, and in this case, there isn't an example of the woman who came before.
Something I want to touch on today is what a treasure this Godly woman is. She has many character qualities, and is such a treasure that at the end of the selection in verse 30 we see that God chooses to praise her! As we go through this section verse by verse, we will find many character qualities for this woman. Some of them being that she is trusting, helpful, wise, kind, careful, energetic, strong, virtuous, capable, diligent, and she is not lazy. She is an excellent woman, and certainly has character worth striving for. I hope you'll stick around as I discover the inner workings of the Godly Woman.
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:10-31
Friday, August 17, 2007
So what was the purpose in my dream? It certainly was a doozy. Because also intertwined with the dream was Andy, who continuously was telling me that he was going to be a Pastor and I would be a Pastor's wife, and I kept telling him that that was not what God wanted, and we were butting heads on that point. And as the dream went along I finally stopped. I was standing outside the gas station (in high-heeled boots of all things) when I stopped looking for a real person and literally asked God what my purpose was, and he told me that I was going to be the Pastor-not my husband. And I remember that at that moment in my dream, I was filled with peace for knowing my purpose, and also awe for such an important calling. And then the dream got all weird about my sofa changing colors when I left the room.
And while it was all just a dream (and no, I don't feel called to preach- lol!) it was a very vivid reminder. As we are busy looking for our purpose in life, we can look to other people for help- but they can't give us the answers. Only God can give us the answers. And yes, sometimes those answers come through another person in a message from God- but we can't look to other people for the purpose in our life. What is one person's calling is not ours. And one person's experience with answering the calling is not another's. We would do well to remember that God's Will for our lives is just that-God's,and we need to seek him to find the answers.
" in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6
Thursday, August 16, 2007
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her" Proverbs 8:10-11
Something that struck me about this verse this morning is the very first word. Choose. We make a conscious choice whether to reach for our Bible or not. We make the choice as to whether or not we receive God's instruction for our lives, and whether or not we act on that instruction. Yet right here, we also have a clue as to why we would want to spend time in God's Word. His instruction is more valuable than silver, gold, or rubies. Nothing that we can desire here on earth is as valuable as the wisdom which we can receive simply by reading the Bible and desiring to understand it's contents.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This reminds me of that movie that I've talked about before, Facing The Giants. it's been a while since we've seen it, but there is a line from it that is very similar. "If we win, we give God the glory. If we lose, we give God the glory." Either way, God wins. And really, sometimes I think that life could be summed up just that simply. You know, we can argue things back and forth and discuss the hidden meanings of scriptures and whether or not we are following the Bible correctly. I think amongst different churches we see a lot of "well, we worship this way" but it all comes down to one thing. God wins. In the end, at the end of time, when all is said and done, God wins. He will defeat the devil and eternity will be wonderful with God in heaven.
Even Satan knows this! He knows that he loses in the end, but by golly, he's going to try and take as many of us with him as he can. Misery loves company, and he will use whatever tool he can get his hands on to get us to join him in eternal torment. I choose God. I choose to be on the winning side, and while I live, I can do my best to live for God so that when I die, I get to die to God. It doesn't matter how I worship, or even where I worship, so long as I do it with my whole heart and for the glory of God.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:14-20
I was reading these verses today, and it was one of those ones that really struck me. Particularly verse 16 and 17. Verse 16 tells us to get in the pot or get out- but to stand on the edge and be halfway in and halfway out is unacceptable. We can't love God just a little. We can't spend time in his word and then turn around and spit on our neighbor. It's all or nothing. If we find ourselves in the middle, that's not good enough for God. He wants our whole heart- not just a part of it. And verse 17 seems to me that it is aimed at those who think they are satisfied with the status quo. This verse is calling out to the people who are "basically good people". People who are kind to others, share what they have, and also have made their own way and are successful financially. Yet these people don't know God, they have not given their hearts to him, and because of that, this verse calls them poor,pitiful, and wretched.
Fortunately, there is a way to not be poor, pitiful, and wretched. And verse 20 gives us that solution. God is always there, at everyone's door, knocking to be let in. All we need to do is hear that knocking and open up. We need to open the door to our hearts and let in the possibilities that await us on the other side of the door. Put that with the other verses, and we also know that it does us no good to just open up partway. It isn't beneficial to us to just open it up a smidge and test the air on the other side. We need to open it up all the way and invite Him in. Welcome Him into our hearts and lives and allow him to change us. The results of opening the door all the way is eternity in His Presence. One small act is rewarded with an eternity of generosity. We are truly blessed to have such a benevolent God.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Since I've started actively studying my Bible (almost a year now!) I've noticed something. I remember an awful lot. Re-familiarizing myself with God's Word has refreshed my mind of verses that I memorized so long ago, or passages in the Bible that I always enjoyed reading. During church the Pastor will use a verse as reference, and I know the verse that comes before or that follows. Or I'll know the context that it was written in and I'll smile because I know what it is referring to.
It's helpful to me sometimes as I'm reading to think about this verse in 2 Timothy. As I'll be reading something and pondering it. Even though the physical Bible was written down by men, it was actually from God. All scripture is God-Breathed. Every word in this Bible was written down because God spoke it into the heart of the man doing the writing. I think about the wisdom books of the Bible- like Proverbs. What a treasure that God thought to share with us all those little nuggets of wisdom! And even as I've been reading through Genesis over and over, there are many things that I look at and go, "now why did God want that in the Bible?" There's a lesson to learn from everything.
I am so grateful that God inspired me to pick up my Bible and start reading more often. And while I've been doing it for almost a year, I still don't know what this blog is about, but I'll keep at it until I feel that I can stop. I'll just keep reading, and sharing what is in my heart. I thank God for that desire.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
"Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, "Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us." Genesis 26: 12-16
So Isaac did move away and set up his camp in a large valley. They dug several wells, searching for water, and every time the herdsman of that area would claim the new well as their own. Finally, they dug a well and were not contested."He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham."
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, "Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?" Genesis 26: 22-27
Remember earlier that Abimelech and the Philistines asked Isaac to move away because he became too wealthy and powerful. After watching Isaac and seeing the Lord bless him over and over, I guess that Abimelech decided that Isaac might just be a good guy to have on his side.
"They answered, "We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, 'There ought to be a sworn agreement between us'-between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD."
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace." Genesis 26:28-31
We see a lot in this chapter how God provided for Isaac. He told him where not to go, and several times The Lord reassured Isaac, saying that he would bless him and his descendants. That had to have been encouraging, not just for Isaac, but for his whole family, for his sons, his wife, and their entire household. And then to see that a great king was coming to ensure the peace between his nation and Isaac just reinforced the knowledge that Isaac was blessed.
The very last two verse made me chuckle at this chapter. For we see that even way back then, daughters-in-law provided grief for parents of a son.
"When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah." Genesis 26:34,35
I do wonder what they did to cause grief to Isaac and Rebekah. I imagine that the women, who were Hittite, had not been raised in the same manner as Isaac and Rebekah. Perhaps they didn't adhere to the same customs and rituals and that really bothered Isaac, and most likely bothered Rebekah the most. I wonder if perhaps Esau's wives were on the lazy side, not bothering to help with the cooking and tending of children and crops and such. Unfortunately for me, the Bible does not expand on that at all, but perhaps this would be encouraging to parents everywhere, to see that even Isaac and Rebekah faced the trials of daughters-in-law.
Friday, August 10, 2007
21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
23 The LORD said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them." Genesis 25:20-26
For twenty years, Isaac and Rebekah tried to have a child. Many people these days give up having a child after a few years- imagine trying for 20 years! Being hopeful every month for 20 years and then having the time of the month come and be disappointed over and over. And then it finally happened, they conceived. Having been pregnant a few times myself, the feeling of a baby moving inside is truly unique. Many times it's downright uncomfortable. So to have two babies moving against each other... I imagine many times Rebekah thought herself terribly unlucky to have such activity in her womb.
Then God told her there were two babies, and she became excited- not only was she going to give Isaac an heir- but there would be two of them. All her patience resulted in two babies at once. What a true blessing for her. She carried her babies to full term, and gave birth to Esau and Jacob.
"The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom. )
31 Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright."
32 "Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?"
33 But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright." Genesis 25:27-34
The firstborn son in a family was entitled to all that belonged to their father. When their father passed on, all that was his would pass to Esau. But at this point, Esau gave his right to everything to his brother Jacob- all for a bite of stew. Esau feared he was about to die from hunger, and if he had died, the birthright would have passed to Jacob anyway, so he traded his birthright for a meal. Once he had finished eating, he realized what he had done, and this really caused him to resent Jacob. Jacob was already his mother's favorite, and that had to hurt Esau, so to now be second to Jacob in the eyes of their father had to be something. This was kind of the beginning of the end for the relationship between Esau and Jacob.
It's interesting how one thing- one short conversation or interaction can affect the relationship forever between two people. I do wonder what it was that made Jacob ask for the birthright in exchange for food. And I wonder if he knew that the realtionship with his brother would be forever damaged by that specific moment in time. This is a helpful reminder to me to always think before I speak. Think to make sure that what I say does not affect my relationship with someone else.
There will be more to come from Jacob and Esau. Stay tuned.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
12 Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'-let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master." Genesis 24:12-14
And before the servant had even finished praying, a woman appeared at the well.
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor. 16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water from your jar."
18 "Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
19 After she had given him a drink, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking." 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?"
24 She answered him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor." 25 And she added, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night."
26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27 saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives." Genesis 24:15-27
The first woman he came upon was the one he was sent to find. The servant shared this story with her father and brother, and they agreed that he had been sent by God and that Rebekah should go with him. The next morning, the men asked the servant to stay longer, and wanted 10 more days with their daughter. The servant wished to leave right away, so they all agreed to leave it up to Rebekah.
"So they called Rebekah and asked her, "Will you go with this man?"
"I will go," she said." Genesis 24:58
Just like that. Think about this one. She was agreeing to go with this servant to marry his master- whom she had never seen. Rebekah was also placing her trust in the Lord, and that this marriage was his will for her. She didn't even hesitate or ask questions, she simply said "I will go." Would we do that? If God presented us with direction in a strange manner, would we go? Would we drop everything we know and leave those we love for an unknown future? That's quite a question isn't it. And Rebekah did it- she left her home to marry someone she had never met.
64 "Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, "Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?"
"He is my master," the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.
66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." Genesis 24:64-67
Not only did Rebekah marry Isaac, but she helped him to get over the death of his mother, who he was very close to. That in itself was likely a gift for Isaac. He now had someone to love and to share life with, his wife was a true gift from God. God took care of Isaac's need to love by bringing Rebekah to him from far away. What we can take away from this is that there are no needs to great for God to take care of. What a great message to start the day with.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 "I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead."
5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 "Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead."
7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, "If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you." Genesis 23:1-9
This chapter goes on with Abraham and the Hittites arguing back and forth. The Hittites tell Abraham that he is welcome to have whatever land he wants to bury his wife. Abraham is insistent that he pay for the land to make it his. This goes back and forth before Abraham reaches an agreement with a landowner for some land- and he pays for the land what it is worth. He honored the memory of his wife and the life they lived together by purchasing the land at whatever cost. He wanted her body to be at rest and at peace, with no chance of it being disturbed by whoever owned the land. Abraham also ensured that his family now had a burial site, so that when his time came, he would be buried next to his wife, and his sons after him should they choose to do so.I also think it was honorable of Abraham to insist that he pay for the land. The Hittites would have gladly deeded him the land without payment, they loved Abraham and considered him a prince. Yet Abraham did not want to take away what another man had earned, or worked heard to purchase themselves. Instead he insisted that he compensate the Hittites for their generosity.
In this same way, our generosity can be rewarded by God. How many times do we give generously with no thought of ourselves. Every time we donate food to the food pantry, or give money to help support a missionary, God takes notice. He sees the spirit of our heart when we give of ourselves. And when we give freely and generously, that generosity is often rewarded. That doesn't mean that rewards are the reason to be generous, but maybe it can be an impetus for extracting a more generous spirit. Someone who has maybe been stingy for their whole life and sees the benefits of giving generously could be changed into a more generous person. Watching a child's eyes light up when they receive that Christmas gift that they didn't think they were getting is priceless and reward enough itself.
There are many lessons to be learned from Abraham, and tomorrow, we'll see how he finds a wife for his beloved son, Isaac.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
"Here I am," he replied.
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.
As a Mom, this chapter in the Bible always gets me. My children are my world, and I just couldn't imagine being willing to sacrifice them to God in this manner. I read this chapter and I am so grateful to Jesus for being willing to take the place of the ritual sacrifices. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we don't have to. And yet...
Maybe there's a different message here. One of giving your child, your gift, back to God. I wonder what went through Abraham's mind as he prepared to sacrifice Isaac. He had great faith in God, and I wonder if he thought he was merely sending Isaac back to God in Heaven. Thankfully, God intervened. He saw Abraham's heart and knew that Abraham would do anything for his God and spared Isaac's life. Instead of taking his son, God allowed Abraham to mentor Isaac and share the love of God with him. This carried on through Isaac's life and to his sons after him.
But let's think in terms other than children. Think about the gifts you possess, the talents that God has blessed you with. It's always at the forefront of my mind how I can use my gifts for God. How can I give my gifts back to God in a manner that pleases him? How can I use my gift of cooking for his glory? How can I use my gift of writing, and the gift of hospitality? How can I use the gift of homemaking? Many of these I still don't have answers for. The only one I know about at the moment is the gift of homemaking. I use my talent at cleaning to clean God's House once a week. To many, that may not be a talent, but I assure you, I have seen people who did not know how to clean properly. How can I use my gift of hospitality more? That I still don't know. We host our small group in our home, but I sense there is going to be more to come of the hospitality. And the rest...cooking? I have no idea. I know God has a purpose for that more than simply feeding my family (albeit important) but that has yet to be revealed to me.
But I think one way that you find out how you can use your talents for God is to give them to him in the first place. You say here Lord, here is my talent, use it in whatever way you see fit. To many of us, our talents are precious to us, like Isaac was precious to Abraham. Would you pass the test? Would I pass the test? If God asked me to give up something precious for his glory, could I do it? That's an attitude to strive for, to be able to say, Yes, Lord, here is my talent.
Monday, August 06, 2007
6 Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." 7 And she added, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." Genesis 21:1-13
I'm back in Genesis this morning. Apparently God has a few things for me to understand about Genesis. This week we began a new series at church about exploring the Old Testament, and right off the bat were talking about Genesis and many of the truths hidden within. I've also been reading a fictional book set in the days of Joseph, and add all this together, I think I should stay the course in Genesis.
Two weeks ago when I took a break, Sarah was pregnant, and today we see that she gives birth to a healthy son whom they named Isaac. After he was born, we see that Sarah's views of Hagar and Ishmael have not changed, she still doesn't want them around. In these days, it's helpful to understand birth order and family inheritance. The firstborn son usually inherited their father's wealth, status, and anything they owned when the father died. Sons who were born of servants or concubines only received this inheritance if their fathers claimed them as firstborn son. But usually the firstborn status was reserved for the first son of the first wife. In this case, Ishmael was born first, and Abraham recognized him as his son, but Isaac was going to get Abraham's inheritance. Sarah wanted there to be no doubt of this, so she asked that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away, thus removing Isaac's competition.
This whole ordeal plagued Abraham. He did love Ishmael, and worried about sending him away from his care. But God promised Abraham that Ishmael would be great to relieve Abraham of his worries. What I read in here today is that God not only provides for our physical needs, but our emotional and mental needs. Abraham wanted to please his wife, but didn't want to lose his son to who-knows-what. GOD put Abraham's mind at ease, telling him that Ishmael would have great things before him, thus allowing Abraham to please his wife and send Ishmael away, knowing he would live and grow. God can put our mind at ease too if we ask him to. On those days where we are stressed out and busy and aren't sure where we should allocate our time, God can help us make the best decision and be at peace with that decision.
I hope I can apply this. :-) It's really strange being where we are right now. It's like a point of limbo. We know that something is on the verge of happening- something great. Andy could get a new job- that new job could potentially take us elsewhere. Or Andy's new job could keep us securely where we are. Or. Andy's current employer could find himself with plenty of work for all his crews, giving Andy job security right where he is. There are so many options! And while we are not sure of anything, there are a few certains that we can pray for. Right now we are both praying heartily for Andy's boss. He's a wonderful boss and it's really affecting him that he can't keep his employees busy. We are also praying for God's constant provision for us, as well as for guidance in the right direction. And really, we can't do much else but wait. And wait we are. I really do want to give this whole situation to God, but it's really difficult to be able to let it all go and say, "okay God, have at it." And to a point I do, but it sure would be nice to know...
Lots of somethings to pray on, and lots of somethings to leave up to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Friday, August 03, 2007
As we're going into a busy weekend, I think this verse is perfect for today. As a church we are spending another weekend serving our community, and I think it's important to keep this in mind as we do serve. We should not look at appearance as we reach out to our neighbors and friends. We need to keep in mind their hearts, and one thing they all have in common is that those hearts need to be filled with the love of Jesus. I pray that we will all be up to the task and that we will be able to reach out to those who need us. And I especially pray that the example we are setting by working with another church in this endeavor is contagious. That our area churches can unite and reach out to everyone, so our community can be well again.
I hope when people look at me, they don't look at my appearance, but at my heart. And I hope that what they see is good and something that I can be proud to show My Lord.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22
Every once in a while I read something in the Bible that makes me pause. It makes me really think about what I'm reading and what it means to me. This one kind of made me stop and think yikes! I think it's probably not uncommon for a lot of people to hear what is being said in the Bible and then they smile and think "isn't that nice," or something like that. This verse is pretty straight up and straightforward and says stop sitting on your backside reading this book and do what it tells you! Just reading the Bible or listening to it being read is not going to be beneficial to the people around us. Myself reading the Bible is not helping my neighbor in any way. It's when I take the information I've gleaned from the Bible and use it to help me share Jesus with my neighbor. When I put my faith into action and treat that person with kindness.
"Do what it says." That's a bit of a command don't you think? Not really a suggestion here this morning. So today's challenge is to do. To take some kind of action and not just think about some action.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I saw this verse this morning on Verse of the Day and it truly warmed my heart. I have decided to pause in my Genesis going-through. While I enjoy going methodically through a book of the Bible for my own personal study, it's another thing to blog about it. It's kind of boring, actually, and that's not what I'm looking to do here. I want my reflections here to have personal bits to them, so that I can look back and see where I've been. It's hard to inflect something personal into everything. So I'm not sure what the next step is. I'll just continue to take this blog one day at a time and see where it leads me.
That being said, I want to reflect a little further on Lot's wife. As they were leaving the city to be destroyed, she looked back, and turned into a pillar of salt. We could very easily discuss the chemistry lessons there and the mere weirdness that she turned into salt, but I think about the part where she simply looked back. How often do we do that? Do we look at yesterday and wish we'd done something different. Or do we think about decisions we've made in the past and wish we'd made different ones? Or are we like Lot's wife, who looked back, regretting leaving the past? I certainly don't regret leaving the past behind me, I don't regret any decisions I've made in the past, because I think they've shaped the person I am today. I may look back at a moment with fondness, but I certainly don't want any do-overs.
Today's verse give me encouragement to continue forging ahead. God is my shield. With him before me, I can accomplish anything. With him before us, Andy and I can accomplish anything together. Our hope is completely in his word right now as the winds of change very well may be upon us. We have been mentally preparing ourselves, and it looks like the time has arrived where he will be seeking out a new place of employment. We have His assurances from His Word that He will continue to provide for us, and that even at this moment, the perfect job is being prepared for my husband. I think we're both actually a little anxious to find out where this is going. And logically, I would certainly feel better if I had a clue what was going to happen or where he was going to end up. But this is a moment of faith for us. A leap of faith that God has told us that it is time for something new. I pray that he will continue to be our shield, and will lead us in the right direction.