Spiritual Growth

Corrie Ten Boom and Peggy Ray
 
Peggy Ray was born in 1917 in England. During 1935 she studied at Rees Howells Bible School in Swansea, Wales. She was sure the Lord wanted her in His work. One day while walking in the grounds of the school, Rees Howell’s son, who was then the Principal, called her over and asked if she had a call of God on her life.
 
‘Yes’, she answered.
 
‘And where do you feel called to?’ he asked.
 
‘India’ was her reply.
 
He said, ‘You will never go to India!’ Then he looked away a moment, and turning back said, ‘You will go to South Africa!’
 
Peggy said, ‘No, God has called me to India.’
 
She was quite offended by his telling her this, and wrote home to her father, asking permission to leave the Bible School. Her father however insisted that she finish out her year there. While there, she met Phillip Ray, they were married, and within twelve months, they went to South Africa. Phillip pastored the Brakpan Baptist Church, 30 miles east of Johannesburg.
 
Some years later, the Rays’ moved to pastor the Observatory Baptist Church in Cape Town. The meetings were so fully attended, the Deacons would have to close the doors, as there was no more seating. They would tell late comers to ‘Please go to that church down the road – this place is full’.
 
One time while they were still in Cape Town, Edwin Orr and his wife came out to South Africa and brought with them a young woman evangelist, who was quite unknown at the time. They placed her in a Boarding House, but she took ill, and needed care. Her money was running out and she had to be nursed. The Rays brought her to their house and Peggy nursed her. After two weeks, she was well again, but she stayed on with them for three months.
 
Phillip and Peggy found this guest unusual to say the least. She had no meetings except what Phillip could set up for her, and she lived by Faith. She had committed herself to support an Orphanage in North Africa. One day she asked Phillip to be ready to go to the Post Office and send some money for her. She said the Lord would send her the money by 10 pm that night, a Wednesday.
 
Phillip and Peggy had never heard of this kind of ‘living by faith’, and were quite skeptical about the whole matter. When it came time to go to meeting, Corrie said she would stay home and wait for the money. At this point, the Rays were thinking she was not ‘all there’.
 
When they returned from the meeting, he asked if the Lord had sent the money. No, it had not yet come, but Corrie was quite unperturbed and sat on until 10 pm when the doorbell rang. When Phillip went to answer it, there was a man in his shirt-sleeves, on the cold windy doorstep. ‘Is there a Miss Corrie Ten Boom staying here?’ he asked. No, he would not come in, he just handed an envelope to Rev. Ray, to give to Miss Ten Boom. The envelope contained the exact cash amount Corrie needed, including the correct Postage required to send it to North Africa.
 
Phillip and Peggy got down on their knees in their bedroom that night and repented before the Lord of their misjudgment of her. She was a Strong Natural Leader, and had been conducting a daily Bible Study every day in the Rays home, insisting they attend. Whatever duties they had, were to be laid aside for that time! She tended to order the housemaid around as well, and the Rays had found her very hard to live with until they understood the anointing on her life. It was only in later years that she was better known through the publication of her book, ‘The Hiding Place’, and later the film that touched so many lives.
 
Peggy Ray was the Pastor’s wife in Brakpan, who led my wife Rowena, then eight years old, to Jesus in 1942. Peggy related this story to us personally during a visit we had with her in February 2002. Nearly 90, she was at that time still leading a vibrant Ladies Bible Study group every week in Hacienda Heights, California. Peggy Ray went to be with Jesus in 2008.
 
? 2011 – James Cole-Rous.
Perfect Pitch
 
‘We all struggle with doubt, I suppose. Haven’t you?’ I was a bit startled at my sister-in-law’s question. Have I? She had, and I’ve known some who just seem to wake up one morning wondering if God is real or if their faith is a sham. I acknowledge that such doubt is a painful reality for some.
 
I was pondering the issue of doubt during Sunday morning worship time, not because of my sister-in-law’s question, but because of some reading I’d been doing, delving into secular philosophy. We are in the world, but not of the world. To me that means we interact with the culture around us, relate to people of various beliefs, read books and selectively watch movies. I believe Christ called us to be the salt of the earth, so we need to be knowledgeable.
 
Nevertheless, I was feeling a bit smudged by my week’s reading and bemused by some of the new ideas I had encountered. Would it be possible for me to be pulled off course, to be drawn into some belief system that ran counter to Christianity? I wondered. Could I be seduced to the dark side?
 
My kids are very musical, with several worship leaders among them. Over the years of supporting my children in their musical educations, I’ve watched how careful they are to stay in tune. With so many guitar players in the family, we’ve had a high budget for strings and picks. However, the most valued item was a battery-operated tuner, the high-tech version of the pitch pipe. Tuning, I’ve noticed, takes a lot of time. I’ve seen practices and worship services held up for several minutes while someone tuned something just so. Musicians know the importance of being on pitch, of being in harmony.
 
Something about the worship service that morning, the simple singing of choruses, pulled me out of the dim, dusty corner the reading had put me in, and pulled me into the bright sunlight of God’s presence. It might be appropriate to say I was being ‘tuned’ to God’s pitch, that the week’s brush with the world had left me spiritually off-key. While that might be true, I sensed something else in the worship that morning. The words of the gospel caused something to resonate within me in a way the intellectually seductive words of the world did not. It was as though I had a tuner inside perfectly set to God’s pitch. Sometimes I think we vastly underestimate the enormity of what it means to invite the Lord of the Universe into our lives. He truly does set up residence and abide with us.
 
‘The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart’ (Proverbs 20:27).’For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God’ (1 Corinthians 2:11). The Holy Spirit within really does help us discern the things of God. We are ‘truth tuned.’
 
Is it possible to be shielded from doubt and deception in our lives? Christians can and do get lost from time to time. Mental deceptions or emotional issues have sidelined numerous believers. Our human minds and emotions suffer from a type of tone-deafness and are not to be trusted. ‘The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14).
 
My kids, now mature musicians, are quick to tune a guitar. From long years of practice they can quickly discern even a slightly ‘off’ string. While the Holy Spirit is always with us and always on pitch, we, like musicians, need to practice to become mature. Frequently spending time in the Word, prayer and worship seems to be the key to staying spiritually in tune. Practicing the presence of God will give us perfect pitch and protect us against doubt and deception.
 
Margaret Mills. All Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
One Narrow Lifeline
 
Crystal Ortmann
 
Time dragged on at the labor and delivery ward where I worked as an RN. Since the legalization of abortion, our patient load was low. I had one patient that evening and one licensed practical nurse helped me.
 
hospitalbuildingDarla (name changed for privacy) had just delivered a healthy baby and she was carefully tucked back in her bed for further monitoring before being sent over to the post-partum ward. The room was peaceful after the busyness of labor and delivery.
 
Little did we know we were experiencing the calm before disaster struck.
 
Because my workload was easy, I was able to spend a lot of time with the new mother. The LPN working with me occasionally checked vital signs as we all chatted.
 
All appeared normal . . . except I had this strange nervous feeling. Brushing it aside, I continued visiting with my patient. I occasionally massaged the womb externally to make sure it was firm ? a sign that the bleeding was minimal. There was no sign of bogginess, which would have meant possible excessive internal bleeding. Since we weren’t busy, we kept Darla with us on our ward longer than usual, though she didn’t require any special care.
 
As a new Christian, my knowledge of how to know when God is speaking to my heart was pretty rudimentary. I didn’t know how He sometimes nudges us to do things.
 
Although the birthing seemed normal in every way, my inner unease increased. After checking again for unusual symptoms, such as increased bleeding or poor vital signs, nothing seemed amiss. Finally, I felt so anxious, I phoned the doctor, assuming he would think I was a lunatic for calling him about a feeling I had. Thankfully, he was very kind and told me to start an IV just to be sure. A sigh of relief escaped me as I hung up the phone.
 
A Few Seconds Later
 
The IV needle went in smoothly and I was just adjusting the drip when the new mom said, ‘I feel funny.’ I told the LPN to check her blood pressure. There wasn’t one. She had no pulse either. Darla’s veins had collapsed. Without the IV already in place and working, she would have been dead within moments, because it would have been impossible to insert one. This narrow lifeline was open and flowing, pumping life-giving fluid into her. I ran for the phone, called for a crash cart and called the doctor. He told me to insert some medication into the fluids she was receiving to firm up the womb and stop the internal bleeding.
 
The crash cart staff arrived and began to revive her. Her doctor also arrived. ‘If the IV hadn’t been started when it was, she wouldn’t have made it,’ he said. Her newborn would have been motherless and her husband a widower. She’d hemorrhaged internally. The bleeding happened so quickly and so quietly, that had she been in a ward where she wasn’t checked as often, she would have died.
 
After the excitement was over and she was conscious, I held her hand and told her what had happened.’God moved at just the right time,’ I told her. ‘He urged me to call the doctor and start the IV when there seemed absolutely no reason for it. God made me uneasy enough that I phoned the doctor at the necessary moment, because at the second your lifeline was hooked up, your veins collapsed.’
 
Amazed, Darla could hardly take it in.
 
We laughed and cried a little and praised the Lord together. When the adrenaline wore off, I was in awe. I wanted to weep and shout my praise to the Lord who helped me, a brand new Christian, to keep a woman from dying.
 
‘How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. The Lord will protect him, and keep him alive, and he shall be called blessed upon the earth . . . The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; in his illness, Thou dost restore him to health.’ Psalm 41:1-3 (NASB)
 
God gave wisdom when it was needed. He set everything in place so not only would Darla live, but I would learn a deep lesson about God’s moving in my heart. He intervened exactly when it was needed, through one narrow lifeline that saved the day.
A Mother who Fears God
 
BY COOPER ABRAMS
 
Proverbs 31:10-31 The Key Verse is Verse 30
 
Did you know that the idea for Mother’s Day was born in a small Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia? Mothers Day Pres Wilson 1914
 
It was 1876 and the nation still mourned the Civil War dead. While teaching a Memorial Day lesson, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis thought of mothers who had lost their sons. She prayed that one day there could be a ‘Memorial Day’ for mothers. The prayer made a deep impression on one of Mrs. Jarvis’s eleven children. Young Anna had seen her mother’s efforts to hold the war-split community and church together. As she grew into adulthood, the younger woman kept Mrs. Jarvis’s dream in her heart. On the day of her mother’s death, Anna was determined to establish Mother’s Day in her honor.
 
On May 12, 1907, a local observance was held which later spread to Philadelphia. By 1910, Mother’s Day was celebrated in forty-five states, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico. Elated, Miss Jarvis told a friend,
 
‘Where it will end must be left for the future to tell. That it will circle the globe now seems certain.’
 
On May 8, 1914, President Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day ‘for displaying the American flag and for the public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country.’
 
I want us this morning to look at the Bible, and hear from God Himself, to see what is His Will for Mothers, and yes, all women.
 
It applies to us all, mothers, fathers, all men and women. But here the God addresses specifically His will and purpose for Mothers. This is the highest calling and purpose of women. This is basic to a full and happy life. To ignore it, means heartache and sorry and great disappointment. To ignore it means to live a life that is less than what God intended for you.
 
I received a letter a week before Mother’s Day in 1992, from such a woman from our home church, Calvary Baptist in King, NC. Her name is Linda Tise. She loves the Lord, it is so apparent that Christ is the center of her life. I was her Sunday School teacher for about three years. I would like to share with you some of her letter.
 
About her daughter she said, ‘I feel like I’ve seen my daughter grow up in the Lord this year, and that’s one of my greatest blessings.’ She explained about the influence of one couple, in the church, on her daughter.
 
She talks about the Revival they had and how many were saved. Several church members were saved including the Pastor’s young son. She encouraged us to stay close to the Lord. She warns of the Devils attempts to destroy us and our usefulness for the Lord. She asks for prayer for several who have needs in the church. She asks for prayer for herself that ‘She and her family would be used of the Lord.’
 
Some would consider her simply a plain country girl. She is always modestly dressed, very respectful and has a beautiful smile. She is a jewel in God’s crown. If you attended the church you would not notice her. But she is always faithful, there at every meeting, ready and doing all she can to serve her Savior.
 
That church has a number of women such as this. You will drop by in the week and see her car outside the church. She is inside cleaning. Unnoticed yet she is faithfully serving the Lord. In 1977, when we first started attending there were only about 40 people. Currently the church attendance is around 700-800 people.
 
Another young mother, named Carolyn, and her two daughters, had received Christ as their Savior. They longed also to see Carolyn’s husband saved. She would regularly ask the congregation to pray that he would received Christ. At the close of many a service she would be found at the front of the church on her knees praying with her daughters for her husband to be saved. She was not ashamed to come forward and pray for her loved one and her family. She faithfully attended church and taught a children’s class. Year by year went by without any change on her husband’s part. But she remained faithful to the Lord, devoted to our church and lived a godly life.
 
In 1986, in July…on Sunday morning at the close of a service the invitation to receive Christ was given and her husband Junior Martin came forward and was gloriously saved. The family was then complete in Christ. God greatly used them there in that Church. They are not in the lime light, you would not notice them, but they love the Lord and faithfully serve Him.
 
Years earlier a another dear Christian lady loved her husband and prayed that God would save him. She never nagged at him about it or argued. Each Sunday she would get her son and herself ready for church and faithfully attended year after year. Her husband showed absolutely no interest in God. She was always modest in her apparel, a loving wife and mother and lived a godly life. One day God touched her husband’s heart and he came to Christ. An important part in that was his wife’s testimony. Her husband stands before you today as your pastor.
 
Why has God used these three women? They love God and He is the most important thing in their lives.
 
I. A WOMAN WHO FEARS THE LORD SHALL BE PRAISED. Prov. 31:30
 
A. Verse 30 of Proverbs 31, is the heart of the matter. ‘A woman who feareth the Lord shall be praised.’
 
B. What does it mean to fear God?
 
1. The introductory illustration shows the practical working of a Godly woman who feared God.
 
2. The Hebrew word is ‘yir’a” and means an “emotional reaction, terror, or to be afraid, and to have reverence for God, a deep respect.”
 
3. In many places in the Old Testament the use of the terms, to fear God, and proper living, are so closed related they are virtually synonymous ideas. If a person feared God, it resulted in living a godly life. The fear is seen as the motivation which produced righteous living.
 
4. Exodus 1:17 The midwives feared God and would not kill the new born baby boys. In Exodus 1:21 God richly rewarded them.
 
5. Godly fear is the result of believing in God! When one’s sees who God really is it will bring about a godly fear of God. Most people have such a small view of God. Yet, He created all the Universe…the Bible says he spoke it into existence out of nothing. Compared to us He is so much more than we can even fathom.
 
6. True belief, causes a deep reverence, and respect of God.
 
When I was in Germany, 1962, we had an IG (inspector general)inspection. This man was the final authority over all of us including our Group Commander. We were not in one sense terrified of him as he would not kill us, or harm us….but he had the power to approve us or fail us as a Combat Missile Group. If we failed…it would be really hard on us all. But because we respected his authority and power over us we worked really hard to prove ourselves as Combat ready.
 
As we stood in ranks, he inspected me, and ask when I was from. I was not terrorized to the point that when I saw him I wanted to run and hide. I was not afraid of him, because I was sharp! I was spit-shined head to foot….I knew my general orders, my uniform was perfect…because I was prepared and a good soldier there was nothing too be afraid of. I was the Groups Communications Center Chief and when he later inspected my center there was no problem…why? By Army standards I and my center and people were living righteous! That means we were obeying our orders and doing right. Yes we feared him, but we were not afraid because we were ready.
 
I believe it is similar with God. When a person comes to the knowledge of who God really is….they quit all the rebellion and fooling around. They get serious about serving God who created them!
 
They then want to obey God, follow Him and live their lives to His glory. As examples of His Grace they will show God to the rest of the world.
 
A man or woman who will not live for God, should really in all seriousness examine their lives, to see it their really believe in God with their heart or merely have a head knowledge of the fact of God’s existence.
 
II. THE WOMAN (OR MAN) WHO TRULY IS SAVED IS MOTIVATED BY A GODLY FEAR OF GOD.
 
A. The overwhelming examples of the use of the word in the Bible, is most always used as the reason, or motivation, of why a person would serve God.
 
B. Look at Prov. 31:10. ‘Who can find a virtuous woman?’
 
Ladies are you a little intimidated by this description that follows?
 
Verse 30, is written as a question, that answers itself. The answer is very obvious! All my commentaries on the subject say it is a rhetorical question and the answer is NO! However, I strongly disagree. To say the answer is no, is to deny the power of God in a woman’s life. I say YES! The key is Verse 30, a woman, a mother, will be a glory and praise to God if at the center of her life, Christ Jesus is first…she fears, reverences and loves God and that motivates all she does. Yes, there are many virtuous godly women who love God and honor Him by their lives.
 
The word ‘virtuous’ refers to a woman’s character of being a woman of strength and real ability. The Hebrew word is ‘chayil’ (khah’-yil) and means strength, valiant, virtuous, one of valor, power and strength. Her strength or virtue is in her character of being a godly woman therefore she can be used of God as a blessing to others.
 
C. The woman that fears God will be praised. Both by God and among those who know her. The virtuous woman was a hard worker. She was not lazy, she kept her family and home in order. And that was a testimony of her love of her family and love of God.
 
III. The Virtuous Woman is Trusted by Her Husband.
 
A. Trust is something that is earned.
 
Trust does not come automatically to anyone or to a person simply because the hold a position. Many parents are not respected by their children because they have not earned their respect. Many wives and husbands suffer greatly because their spouses do not have confidence in them. I believe everyone initially wants to trust other people. But trust will only come from the experience of observing the person and how they live.
 
B. A godly woman will earn the trust and respect of her husband as she lives a consistent righteous life before him.
 
She honors the Lord and that manifests itself outwardly to others so that they trust her. One the of the great benefits in living for the Lord is that you live a life of character and people learn you can be trusted. Think about that in the context of a woman winning her family to the Lord and influencing them to serve the Lord. If her husband is lost, her virtuous life will be an positive influence and a testimony for the Lord. Her godly life will be a testimony and example to her children of God’s saving and life changing grace. God’s influence in a woman’s life will show her family how good it is to live for the Lord.
 
The opposite is also true. A nagging, never satisfied, always complaining and unstable wife will not gain her family’s confidence. It boils down to a matter of love. True love puts aside one’s own desires and seeks the others well being. A selfish wife or mother shows she really does not have a deep love for her family. They in turn will cannot return a love that they are not shown.
 
There is a comedian whose is always saying ‘I don’t get no respect!’Listening to his sinful statements that are supposed to be jokes will show you why he gets no respect. He does not deserve any respect because he is disrespectful. You cannot expect people to respect you when you do not respect them. Speaking down, being overbearing, complaining, or mistreating a spouse is a sure sign you have no respect for them and in turn…what goes around comes around. Respect and confidence are earned by one’s behavior.
 
C. Verse 26 says the virtuous woman is wise and kind.
 
Where do you think this woman will get her wisdom? Psalms 111:10 says, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.’ Wisdom comes from a fear of the Lord and understanding His commandments.
 
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 instructs the believer about the effects of love. ‘Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.’
 
IV. FAVOR IS DECEITFUL, BEAUTY IS VAIN. Prov. 30:30
 
A. Favor is deceitful.
It is referring to living one’s live seeking the favor or approval of others. Means living to impress others. Sure it is all right to look nice to look one’s best. But dressing to attract attention is sinful because it is based in pride.
 
B. Beauty is vain.
 
The word ‘vain’ means worthless or of no value. Over dressing, and making one’s appearance the driving force in a person’s life, is worthless says God.
 
Seeking to impress and gain favor and to hear ‘Oh, isn’t she pretty!’ is vanity. Think of the sorrowful life so many women live trying to look like a Barbie doll? What wasted lives.
 
I watched a few minutes of a TV program on the problem of Anorexia and bulimia in young girls and women. These woman were obsessed with the way the look and they starved themselves sick trying to look good to others. Sometimes their obsession kills them. The reporter told them as had their family and doctors that they look nice, but it did not matter. Their pride in their appearance controlled them.
 
C. This passage is written in Hebrew poetic form, which has two negatives, and two positives. The two negatives are the same thing.
 
1. The word ‘praised’ is taken from a word that means to ‘shine.’
 
2. This is true praise, virtuous praise, deserved praised, reward that is lasting. Because the actions produced came from a deep reverence, love and fear of God. Did you notice that her children and husband also praise her.
 
3. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
 
The context of this instruction begins in 1 Timothy 2:1 and is Paul’s exhortation for believers to pray,
 
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:1-5)
 
The word ‘modest apparel’ means in clothing that is modest, in good behavior, and seemly. The word ‘shamefacedness’ means a having a sense of shame or honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect. The word ‘sobriety’ means having self-control and sobriety. The phrase ‘not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array’ refers to dressing to advertise a woman’s sexuality.
 
In biblical times the women who wore these things were prostitutes. Today a woman can dress nicely and were her hair braided. She can wear jewelry and nice clothes, but as a Christian she should dress modestly. I do not think we need to go into specifics about what is modest. If it is worn to draw attention one’s body is it immodest. If it is tight fighting and or short it is immodest. Shamefacedness means having a sense of regard for others and respect for one’s self, for husband and family.
 
If you want an example look at my wife. She always dresses modestly because she loves the Lord, and she loves her husband. I am proud of her, and to me she is the most beautiful woman on earth.
 
Conclusion:
 
1. The woman whose life is truly meaningful, is a woman who loves and fears God.
 
2. What influence is a God fearing Mother? What greatness and good can she inspire in her family and those who know her?
 
3. When you study some of the great, positive, history-making figures, you will often find they speak of the influence of a parent.
 
Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, ‘All that I am I owe to my angel mother.’ General Douglas MacArthur said, ‘My sainted mother taught me devotion to God and a love of country which have ever sustained me. To her I yield anew a son’s reverent thanks.’
 
The great preacher G. Campbell Morgan had four sons. They all became ministers. At a family reunion a friend asked one of the sons,
 
‘Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?’
 
With his eyes beaming with delight, the son looked over to his father and said, ‘Why, it’s Mother!’
 
God wants women with open hearts who will be faithful Him, and live lives that honor and bring glory to God. Women willing to raise their families, to guide their households towards God.
 
Maybe you do not match up to the woman of Proverbs 31: Few do…but that does not mean you can’t?
 
Maybe in the past you have not been the Mother you needed to be. We all look back and see our mistakes…yet God is the God of new beginnings!
 
Today, you can make that full commitment to the Lord!
 
To read more inspiring teaching by Cooper Abrams click here on Bible Truth
A Virtuous Woman
 
David Arnold
 
Concerning D. L. Moody, Henry Drummond wrote, ‘If you were to ask Mr. Moody what, apart from his personal faith, was the secret of his success, of his happiness, and usefulness, he would assuredly answer, ‘Mrs. Moody.’?[1]
 
Proverbs 31:10?31 describes ‘a virtuous woman’. First, in verse 10, we find the inquiry, and then, in verses 11?31, her description.
 
First, the inquiry: ‘Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies? (v. 10, NKJV).[2] ‘Virtuous’ means ‘a noble, capable wife; a woman of strength, moral goodness, and resolution’. The same phrase is found in Proverbs 12:4 and is translated, ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.? Such a woman’s worth is ‘far above rubies?, meaning ‘more valuable than precious stones and costly pearls’. The Septuagint states, ‘Such a one is more valuable than precious stones.’
 
“All other goods by fortune’s hand are given;
 
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven.?[3]
 
Second, the virtuous woman is described in seven ways:
 
1. Her Husband (vv. 11, 12, 23).
 
First, she is trustworthy. ‘The heart of her husband safely trusts her? (v. 11). Her husband can go forth to his daily occupation, having full confidence that she will conduct herself honorably.
 
Second, she is contributing ‘so he will have no lack of gain? (v. 11). She will not squander what they have built together, but will improve upon and increase it.
 
Third, she is good. ‘She does him good and not evil all the days of her life? (v. 12). Her love does not diminish or change in the good and bad times; it is perpetual. She does him good, not only all the days of his life, but also of her own. If she survives him, she still does him good in the care of his children, estate, and good name, and all the concerns he left behind him.
 
Fourth, she adds to her husband’s reputation. ‘Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land? (v. 23). The saying, ‘Behind every successful man is a good woman’, is still very true. She enables her husband to be his highest and best self, not by fading into the background, but by supporting and loving him. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons, and they all became ministers. At a family reunion, a friend asked one of the sons, ‘Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?? The son looked at his father and promptly replied, ‘Mother!?[4]
 
2. Her Home (vv. 13, 15, 17?19, 27).
 
First, she applies herself by being diligent, pleasant, and cheerful (vv. 13, 19). ‘She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands? (v. 13). Spinning at the loom was the chief occupation of women in ancient times. Wool was used for clothing, and flax for various domestic uses. She does this ‘willingly . . . with her hands,? or ‘with willing hands, laboring diligently and finding pleasure in doing so’. Actually this reads, ‘She works with the counsel and delight of her hands.? While applying herself, she retains her femininity. ‘She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle? (v. 19). These instruments, or tools, were often used as symbols of womanhood and femininity, in contrast to the use of the bow and arrow to symbolize a man’s strength. This verse may be interpreted, ‘She is truly feminine, or in spite of her hard work and family involvements, she never loses her feminine charm’.
 
Second, she is diligent. ‘She also rises while it is yet night? (v. 15). In Eastern houses, a small lamp was always kept burning. The careful housewife would rise at midnight to replenish the oil, and before dawn, she would be up and stirring. This speaks of being diligent in her care of the family.
 
Third, she takes care of her health. ‘She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms? (v. 17). This phrase is metaphorically expressive of how she watches over her physical well-being, so as to maintain her energy and strength.
 
Fourth, she is prudent. ‘Her lamp does not go out by night? (v. 18). The oil lamps of ancient times would burn all night. The meaning is, she has plenty of oil. She is careful to fill up her time, and does not squander away her life.
 
Fifth, she is active. She ‘does not eat the bread of idleness? (v. 27). She refuses to sit still and do nothing. Recognizing her own gifts and talents, she contributes to her generation.
 
3. Her Management (verses 14?16, 18, 21?22, 24, 25, 27).
 
First, she is a wise shopper. ‘She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar? (v. 14). The Septuagint states, ‘She is like a ship trading from a distance, and she herself gathers her livelihood’. The implication is that she searches for the best buys.
 
Second, she is a good manager. She ‘provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. . . . She watches over the ways of her household? (vv. 15, 27). The word ‘portion’ means ‘an allotment of work,? or ‘the daily task assigned.? She carefully plans and directs the daily tasks and responsibilities of the servant girls.
 
Third, she is a good investor. ‘She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard . . . . She perceives that her merchandise is good . . . . She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants? (vv. 16, 18, 24). In buying, selling, and investing, she demonstrates good financial sense.
 
Fourth, she is conscious of her appearance and that of her children (vv. 21?22). Her children are “clothed with scarlet,? meaning ‘good clothing’ (v. 21). Her own apparel is attractive, yet modest. ‘Tapestry,’ ‘fine linen,’ and ‘purple’, are all expressive of how she dresses well (v. 22).
 
Fifth, she is an optimistic planner. ‘She shall rejoice in time to come? (v. 25). Because of her planning and preparation, she looks forward to the future with confidence, not with anxious care.
 
4. Her Compassion.
 
‘She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy? (v. 20). While caring for her own with unselfish love, she also reaches out in compassion to those who are in need.
 
5. Her Talk.
 
‘She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness? (v. 26). She guides her family with words of wisdom. Her language to those around her is regulated with love. Some read this, ‘In her tongue is the law of grace, or mercy’. On her tongue is the law of kindness
 
6. Her Beauty.
 
‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised? (v. 30). Outward beauty is temporary, superficial, and deceptive. Knowing this, she develops her spiritual beauty, which is enduring, deep, satisfying, and worthy of honor.
 
7. Her Crown.
 
First, she has moral force and courage. ‘Strength and honor are her clothing? (v. 25). Second, she receives respect. ‘Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her? (v. 28). Third, she is exalted. ”Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all’? (v. 29). Fourth, she receives praise and honor. She is to be honored, loved, and respected by her husband and children. ‘Give her of the fruit of her hands? (v. 31). She is to be held in high regard by society. ‘Let her own works praise her in the gates? (v. 31).
 
Marvin Tate said, ‘The real worth of a woman is her devotion to God. She should be given the praise she deserves. She is no slave of a master husband, but a person in her own right, who takes a full and honored place in the life of home and community.?[5]
 
[1] Henry Drummond, God’s Principles for Daily Living: The Book of Proverbs, vol. 14, Adult Student (Des Plaines, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press, July?Sept. 1966), 70.
 
[2] All Scripture verses are quoted from the New King James Version.
 
[3] Alexander Pope; quoted in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, vol. 9, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d.). 606.
 
[4] Available online: http://www.bible-truth.org/msg78.html.
 
[5] Marvin Tate, The Broadman Commentary, Proverbs (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1982), 99.
The Power of Prayer
 
“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16
 
Sweet Communion
 
As a child of God, the most rewarding treasure is that we have been given the privilege of coming into His presence. Paul expressed his heart when he said in Philippians 3:8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
 
Mary of Bethany set the example for us when she made the life changing decision to sit at the feet of her beloved Savior instead of first getting involved with earthly activities. Mary knew from that humble position she could receive all God had for her.
 
Do we want to know His heart, His will, to know who He is? In communion with our Father we discover that we are loved and accepted by Him. If we do not spend time with Him we will fail to recognize how special we are and how much He loves us. Love rules at God’s throne. You cannot embrace God and not embrace His love. There is no prejudice there, no pride nor jealously. The only title there is God and His children that have committed their lives to serve.
 
Shall we travel the journey of prayer together enjoying what He says personally to each of our hearts? Let’s arise from our bed of doubt and walk as whole men and women. It can happen through prayer. Well, Friends, come aside with me and let’s rest awhile. Let’s go into the throne room and kneel before our maker and king. He so wants our undivided attention. He is waiting!
Prayer Has Unlimited Resources
 
We have been invited to partake of the unlimited resources of God. He has said, “Call and I will answer.” Prayer is not confined to the laws of space; prayer can be launched in a moment, and at the speed of thought reach its mark. The power of prayer and communication with the Father worries the devil. Prayer surrenders the battle to God, and it puts God and all His resources against the enemy. We can stand and declare, “There is no weapon formed against us that shall prosper.” (Isaiah 54:7)
 
For example, Joshua prayed and the sun stood still; Elijah prayed and heaven was locked and it did not rain for three and one half years; Daniel prayed and God revealed to him His plans for the future; the church prayed and Peter was escorted out of prison by an Angel; Paul and Silas prayed and God shook the earth and they walked out of a prison cell. We can give example after example as to all the available resources to us through prayer. It is unlimited because we have an unlimited God who keeps His Word.
 
Persistent Prayer
 
Persistent prayer will be transformed from discipline, to desire, to delight! We will experience divine preservation as we put on the whole armor of God and pray a hedge of protection about ourselves, our loved ones and for whomever God calls us to intercede at that time. Persistent prayer will not give up.
 
Jesus gave a good example of unrelenting prayer in Luke 18:1-8 when He explained the parable of the persistent widow. He said man should always pray and not faint. This widow in the city kept coming to an unjust judge to take revenge against those that were trying to harm her. For awhile the unjust judge would not take any action; however, because of her persistence he gave in and granted her request. Jesus ends the parable by saying ‘Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly. But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?'(NLB) Will we stay persistent when there seems to be no answer in sight? Our faith must prevail when we are under pressure and want to give up. To grow weary and faint is to lose faith in God’s promises. The question is, ‘Will we keep the faith when times are tough?’
 
Beware Of Distractions
 
To spend time with God is a choice we have to make even when our flesh wants to take another direction. We have to fight the good fight of faith, and choose to spend time alone with the Father. We must be aware of the tactics of the enemy. He will do anything to cause distractions. We have to remember when we give him our time, that we give him our attention and our strength.
 
Prayer an Open Door
 
In the book of Revelation John was abandoned to the Isle of Patmos. It was one of the worst pieces of real estate on all the earth. No one was there to say, “John, I know how you feel.” But heaven was there with him. John saw an open door to another world. Have you ever felt abandoned? Just remember John; Man may close his heart to you but God never will. God showed John an open heaven. He saw praises going up around the throne room and that was enough to renounce anything the enemy might have used to discourage him. Praise is the language of Heaven, and there is where we find God, for He does inhabit the praises of His people. I have to say that these verses in Revelation 4:1-11 are some of my most favorite in the Word of God. I sense such an overwhelming joy in my Spirit to praise God and to be right there with them in the throne room.
 
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
 
“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
 
“Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ” Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (NKJ)
 
We must look for that open door where God reveals revelation knowledge to us. In that open door John heard the praises around the throne, “Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy.”
 
O My, let us join in the chorus! I can hear it with my spiritual ears, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” What a Savior! When we praise, God’s power is released. When we complain, Satan accommodates.
 
I choose to bow with John and see the open door. I choose to stand around the throne praising My God.
 
We can measure our depth in Christ by the quality of time we spend with Him.
 
Joan Buchanan
http://godshearttoyours.org/
Growing Faithfulness at Home
 
In my grandmother’s day, a sampler reading ‘Fidelity’ hung just inside the door of many homes. Written in old English script, a bride embroidered the phrase on cloth and then framed it as the watchword for their new home. It showed the intention of the new bride and groom to be faithful in every area of their new lives together.
 
A person of fidelity is . . .
Faithful. Being “full of faith” implies a closeness with our heavenly Father. In the Winter Olympics the dance skaters are judged on their closeness to one another. They have to skate-dance as one, to move as one. Our faithfulness to our Lord will be seen in our closeness to Him, our oneness with Him.
 
Honest. Truth is “spoken honesty.” Honesty is living our lives so that truth over-shadows everything that we say and do. Jesus said of Nathaniel, “?Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false'” (John 1:47).
 
Loyal. We sometimes say a person is “true blue.” Blue is often used in national flags because it symbolizes loyalty. Flying the flag of loyalty over our lives is good, too–loyalty to God, loyalty to family, loyalty to friends.
 
Many other words and phrases describe a faithful person: trustworthy, dependable, true. We say a faithful man keeps his promise, lives what he teaches or is a square shooter.
 
In early pioneer days to question a man’s faithfulness was a ‘shooting matter.’ The sale of thousands of acres of land was sealed with a handshake and the word of two men. By contrast, in our day situation ethics are demonstrated daily on TV and unfaithfulness is modeled as the norm on many programs. If believing parents don’t teach faithfulness to their children, who will?
 
Modeling faithfulness is essential. Our children pick up on our true beliefs by osmosis through the way their parents act. There should be no divergence between what we teach our children and the way we live our own lives. What we say should equal what we do. In reality, we are all human. We all err. When we do, wise parents will be frank with their children and admit their mistakes.
 
When our nephew and his family started on their vacation, he said to his children, ‘I’ll buy you all ice cream any time you find me driving even one mile over the speed limit.’ They learned faithfulness in obeying the law by their father’s honesty in driving.
 
Instruction in faithfulness is helpful, too. Bible stories are instructive, showing the reward for faithfulness and the consequences for unfaithfulness. Reading stories about faithful people helps a child to raise the bar of his own expectations of himself. (Together, you might want to read ‘The Gift Mitt’ on the children’s page of this website.)
 
Discipline may be necessary for unfaithfulness. When a child says he will do something, parents can help him keep his word, even when the child has changed his mind. Discipline needn’t be harsh. Children learn, too, by having parents bring gentle pressure.
 
Pray together. Ask God, as a family, to help you be a family and individuals of integrity. He will help you to grow faithfulness at home.
Crown of Creation
 
My daughter loved to play dress up. She could pretend for hours that she was anyone or anything she wanted to be. She loved dressing up as a princess. She would walk around with her crown on her head and her sweeping train (made of a bed sheet), along with a construction-paper scepter, and she was ready to rule her kingdom. With a flick of her hand, her teddy bears would scurry to do her bidding. She had absolute power, and she got to wear a crown! At the sensitive age of ten, she no longer plays dress up, but she still loves to imagine that she is the princess (as do most women of any age)!
 
Although few of us will ever be princesses, the Bible states that we are royalty. In Genesis 2:22, our Heavenly Father created woman to be a helpmate for Adam. She was created last–not because God forgot about her or because she was not special enough; God created Eve to be the “crown” of His creation.
 
Just as a queen’s crown is a symbol of her authority, a woman is the same representation of her husband’s, and ultimately God’s, authority. First Corinthians 11:7 states, “The woman is the glory of man.” Glory is defined as “a great honor and admiration.” Because we are women, we are the glory of our husbands! We have achieved great honor, not because of what we have done, but rather because we were made that way.
 
I have always been a bit envious of the Proverbs 31 woman. I wish I could do half the things she does. I cannot sew, I have never made a covering for my bed, nor have I ever planted a vineyard. Even if I never achieve those things, I know that my household and my husband will be looked upon with favor. Verse 23 says, “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Ever wonder how that applies to a “noble woman”? I had always seen that verse as an interruption of who the “noble woman” is. Here she is, being busy and taking care of her family, and we see an interruption with her husband sitting at the city gate. But, if we look at the surrounding verses we can see that it is because of her love, her hard work and her effort for her family that he is able to sit with pride among the elders at the city gate. She is his “crown.” She is the “proof,” if you will, that he is the provider and the authority that he is supposed to be.
 
As women we are to walk beside our husbands, under their authority, and stand behind their leadership. All that we do is for their glory, but ultimately it is for the glory of our Heavenly Father. First Corinthians 11:12 states, “For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” Everything, including women and our cherished place in the heavenly realm, comes from God.
 
One day, when we reach paradise, I know that I will come before my Maker and lay down at His feet the crowns that I have been rewarded for this life. I am so glad to know that daily my husband lays the “crown” he was given on earth at the Maker’s feet. There is no place I would rather be.
Awaken My Love
 
Arise and come along
 
Song of Solomon 2:10-13 “My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!”
 
Solomon is calling the Shulamite to awaken and enjoy the changing of the new season. He has let her sleep long enough, now she must arise! Life away from His presence has been like winter. Notice, the flowers appear, as if they had been gone. The distinctive cooing call of the turtle-dove is one of the signs of coming Spring. This is a time of new beginnings, the cold hard days of winter are now disappearing. A new and refreshing time has dawned, she must arise and come along.
 
Can’t you see the love in this passage as Solomon calls, “His Love, His fair one.” He wants her to “come away.” I hear the voice of Christ in these verses calling out to His Bride, “Rise up and go forward.” The Lord spoke to my heart several years ago and said, “There are dimensions and revelations in me you know nothing about, you must pursue me.” We must wake up and come along, He is waiting!
 
Springtime is an occasion for refreshing; it is a time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, the fragrances, colors and all that God has given us to enjoy in spring. He clothes the landscape with enchanting bursts of colors, like an artist painting a portrait on canvas.
 
Just like God has determined seasons for us on this planet, so does He bring about seasons and changes in our lives. It is our commitment to the Savior that allows us to meet these continuing challenges of everyday life. Our lives as believers in Christ are always a series of new beginnings. If we go to sleep spiritually we will miss out on what God is saying in every season of our life.
 
We must be ready for our roots to go deeper as growth comes with each new season. The Lord specializes in roots. We are often more interested in fruit, but God is also watching over the roots. A gardener will tell you that if plants have a good root system they will flourish and grow. However, if the plant does not have absorption of water and good nutrients it is not likely to germinate and reach its full growth.
 
If we have the Holy Spirit flowing in and through us, it will bring deeper levels of enlightenment and growth. The Power of the Holy Spirit sets us free to live in victory in the Kingdom of God. Kingdom living will cause us to boldly declare, “Whatever season we are in, whether it is fall, winter, summer, or spring, we can go through each change with assurance that God is in every season.” We can allow the fragrance of His tenderness to be a sweet smell. He wants us to grow up and be prepared as a “Bride adorned for her husband.” Therefore be ready for some good changes in the days ahead. It is a new season. Awaken and come along!
 
Jesus is Coming Back.
 
I believe at this moment in time we had better wake up to the fact that Jesus is preparing for His return. Stay attentive to His voice through His Word and fulfill the destiny He has ordained for you. We must stay alert and keep our hearts awake. God’s alarm has been sounding and yet some of us appear to be in a deep sleep like the Shulamite. It is as if we have been lulled to sleep by a pill called “materialism.” We must not allow the enemy of our soul to steal our time, when time is running out! The Spirit is saying, “Wake up, my Love, and come along.”
 
Revelation 3:3
“So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.”
 
Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”
 
Take a quiet time break and allow the Holy Spirit to speak.
 
1. What are some good changes that have taken place in you this week?
 
2. What have you learned from some of your recent changes?
 
3. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now?
 
4. Are you ready for a new beginning?
 
5. Are you prepared for the greatest change of all times, the returning of the Lord?
 
Joan Buchanan
http://godshearttoyours.org/
Our Closest Friend
 
‘Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable,’ Louisa May Alcott said.[1] Friendships don’t just happen. Usually they are forged between people who enjoy the same pursuits and have similar tastes.
 
When we marry, our bond with singles is no longer as close, even when we still like our single friends. Our marriage changes the interaction. We are now closer to married friends than when we were single.
 
The same sort of thing may happen in our spiritual lives. When we come into right relationship with God, all other friendships are affected. Our closeness with other people who walk with God may be strengthened, while others become less close. The pebble of a new relationship with God, tossed into the pool of our lives, causes ripples and waves, making the reflections of other people’s lives on our own to waver and dance.
 
Once our relationship with God is made right, what criteria can we use to forge new relationships and maintain old ones?
 
Loyalty. Mark Twain wrote, “The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.”[2] A true friend will stand with her companions even when they are in trouble. It doesn’t mean that she agrees with what her friends did; only that she is fiercely loyal to her friends.
 
If those we were close to before we knew God would weaken our relationship with Him, our loyalties need to change. Let’s ask ourselves, ‘Will I be more loyal to God, or to my old friends and their activities and places of pleasure?’
 
Leadership. Of course, we need to maintain friendships with our old buddies, but the leadership may have to change. Before, we might have been a follower, doing whatever our friends chose to do, or going with them wherever they led. Our new close relationship with God may caution us about going certain places and doing certain things. Will we follow God’s leadership or that of our old friends? We may need to become the leaders in our group to help steer our unbelieving friends into activities that please God.
Love. True friends are the ones who are always in our hearts. Even after a long separation, conversations take up right where they left off. If a friend dies, we may continue to think of things we would like to share with the person. Love’s bond between fast friends is strong enough to weather any storm, to take the buffeting of any gale.
 
Even though our relationship with God may change our status with our friends, we will speak to them about their relationship with God, not in a ‘preachy’ way, but out of concern and love. Each person will either accept or reject interaction with God. We can’t force our friends to make peace with God, but we can love them and continue to hold them dear to our hearts before God’s throne.
 
Once in a while, we may have to choose between our friends and God. Even though we may experience the pain of rejection by our closest friends, our bond with God will be deepened and strengthened, and our fellowship with Him will be sweeter than before. He will become our closest Friend.
 
[1] Available online: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/louisamaya385655.html.
 
[2] Available online: http://www.twainquotes.com/Friendship.html.
Cast Your Bread on the Waters
 
Scripture: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1
 
Reflection: God’s acts of kindness through you will bring rewards that continue into your future. The good deed you do today may benefit you or someone else at the least expected time.
 
Will you stop and ask God to show you who you are supposed to reach out to and touch with His love today? There is nothing more rewarding than giving a helping hand to one in distress in the name of God. Good deeds come in various ways, just let God tell you how. Don’t stop and reason, just obey God. It will make your day, there will be no time for the “poor me syndrome.”
 
Our expressions of God’s love will be remembered by Him. What we do as an extension of God’s hand is never forgotten by our Heavenly Father. It is very important to remember that we do it as unto the Lord; that is what pleases the Father’s Heart.
 
“Casting out good deeds” means to release it and let it go. In time it will find its way back. Isn’t God awesome!?
 
The story is told about a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, one day he found that he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry.
 
He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.
 
Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”
 
You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept payment for a kindness.”
 
He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”
 
As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was stronger, too. He had been ready to give up and quit.
 
Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.
 
Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.
 
Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.
 
Dressed in his doctor’s gown, he went in to see her. He recognized her at once.
 
He went back to the consultation room, determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to her case.
 
After a long struggle, the battle was won.
 
Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, and then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:
 
“Paid in full with one glass of milk.”
 
(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.
 
Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: “Thank You, God that your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands.”
 
Prayer: “Thank you, Father God, that today we, as your children, are reminded that life should be lived like the Good Samaritan. Help us to find our hands doing what you tell us from our heart. We will not put our acts of Kindness on display, we hand it all to you in the name of the Lord our God. Speak to us, and give us direction. Father, who needs us to be your hand extended today?”
 
Meditate on God’s Word:
 
Luke 10:33-37
 
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’
 
‘Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?’ And he said, ‘He that shewed mercy on him.’ Then said Jesus unto him, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.'”
 
James 2:14-17
 
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
 
Luke 6:38
 
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
 
1 Corinthians 13:1-8a The Greatest Gift
 
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
 
Luke 24:6
 
“He is not here, but He has risen…”
 
Joan Buchanan
http://godshearttoyours.org/
A Heart for God
 
Michal, King David’s wife, leaned against the window frame, watching the Ark of the Covenant come home after many years of being excluded from Jerusalem. In the road, King David leaped and danced to show his joy at the return of the Ark. It symbolized the Presence of God. Michal watched, perhaps from behind a curtain, and loathing filled her heart that her husband, a king, could act so crudely, even disrobing in his desire to be transparent before God.
 
When all of the sacrifices had been offered, the Ark of the Covenant had been set in its place, and the celebrating had died down, King David returned home to be greeted by an acid-tongued wife. ‘How ‘kingly’ you were today, dancing and leaping about and disrobing in front of the servant girls of our slaves!? she commented. ‘How bawdy you are to be so lewd and vulgar!? (2 Sam. 6:20-21, author’s paraphrase).
 
David’s wife despised him! Her sour-hearted soul spilled out verbal bitterness on the man whose life she had once protected?the man she had once loved (1 Sam. 19:11-17)![1] Michal had developed into a self-focused woman who concerned herself with appearances and who hid her spiritual deficiencies behind a well-kept fa?ade.
 
The prophet Samuel and the apostle Paul both testify that David was ‘a man after God’s own heart? (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). David had learned a lesson that Michal had not: ‘Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart? (1 Sam. 16:7).
 
In the Psalms, David laid his soul bare before the Lord, telling God exactly how he felt and what he was thinking. Many times, when David felt despair, he came to God in prayer and laid his heart open before God. He cried out to God: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting? (Ps. 139:23-24). Just as Jesus had said of Nathaniel, it could be said of David: ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false? (John 1:47).
 
David learned the source of his strength and fidelity early in life. He wrote: ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. . . . I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you? (Ps. 119:9-11).
 
Unfortunately, later in life David forgot the lessons of his youth. He became involved with another man’s wife and even devised a plan in which her husband would die (2 Sam. 11). However, when the prophet Nathan confronted him, David didn’t let his act of folly keep him from repentance. He laid his soul naked before the Lord, begging for forgiveness and mercy.
 
What a contrast between the hearts of David and Michal. Michal allowed her heart to grow bitter. Had she placed God first in her heart, she could have been as sweet and joyful as she had been in her youth. However, she made herself, her wants, and her opinions the watershed between what was acceptable and what was not. God’s judgment fell on her body because of the sourness of her spirit, and she was never able to bear children (2 Samuel 6:23). We can only hope that, in her later years, she learned the joys and delights of developing a heart for God.
 
Will we follow Michal’s example? Or will we, like David, have a heart for God, standing before Him with a naked soul and ‘without fault? in the light of His piercing gaze
 
[1] All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version?. Copyright ? 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Women of God
 
Miriam, Moses and Aaron’s sister, was one of the Old Testament prophetesses, a singer. Her songs exalted God for His mighty works (Exodus 15). Later, she became manipulative and was judged by the Lord: she became a leper. After she repented of her wrongdoing, God healed her (Numbers 12).
 
In the Bible, a number of women are called prophetesses. Their assignment was to ‘tell forth’ the word of the Lord. That ‘telling forth’ took many forms–some verbal and some actions.
 
Deborah was also an Old Testament prophetess (Judges 4:4.) She became a judge of Israel, noted especially for her anointing in battle. When she told Barak to go to war, he demurred, asking her to come along to ensure success. She went; however, because of his lack of faith, Barak was not credited for the victory–a woman was (Judges 4:9, 18?22; 5:24?27). Deborah was also a singing prophetess.
 
Noadiah is less well known, perhaps because she used her abilities to try to intimidate Nehemiah and stop him from rebuilding Jerusalem. Nehemiah asked God to remember what she had done (Nehemiah 6:14). Noadiah’s ministry remained clouded.
 
In the New Testament, Anna is probably the most well-known prophetess (Luke 2:36?38). She was 84 years old! Apparently, age does not prevent one from being a prophetess. Anna lived on the temple grounds. Her heart was so in tune with God that the Holy Spirit indicated the Baby Messiah to her when Mary and Joseph brought Him to the temple to present Him to God. She thanked the Lord for the Messiah and proclaimed His advent to those who were expecting Him.
 
Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Not much is said about them except that they were unmarried. Since the marriageable age in that time was very young, youth, apparently, was no deterrent to becoming a prophetess. Joel records: ‘Your . . . daughters will prophesy’ (Joel 2:28).
 
Other godly women in the Bible are not specifically named as prophetesses, but they were anointed for the work of the Lord as surely as those who were named so.
 
Sarah was anointed to birth God’s chosen nation. Unfortunately, when her faith waned and impatience clouded her judgment, her actions gave birth to not only one, but two nations, which now war with one another.
 
God anointed Esther to represent Israel in an ungodly palace (Esther 7:3?4). Ruth loved under God’s anointing; she refused to leave a bereaved mother-in-law (Ruth 1:15?19). Dorcas sewed clothes under the anointing of God (Acts 9:36?42). Their ‘telling forth’ of God’s love was more silently spoken.
 
God anointed Eunice and Lois for living God’s Word in their home (2 Timothy 1:5). Their ‘telling forth’ trained young Timothy to grow in godliness. They became the mother and grandmother of a minister–no small feat, since Timothy’s father was a Greek.
 
To be a woman of God, we don’t have to be prominent in ministry or powerful speakers. We don’t have to be a certain age or have a special assignment from God. We need only to be true to the work that God has given us to do, whether it is telling forth God’s message by word of mouth or by acts of compassion and love.
 
Raising a family of children who love God requires many years of instruction in God’s truths. We need patience, tact, and commitment, but we often feel we are not measuring up to the task. Faithfully fulfilling God’s calling to tell forth His Word, we ask the Lord for His strength, guidance, and anointing.
 
Do we have God’s anointing for ‘telling forth’ His message? We may not be prophetesses, but are we women of God?
How to Be Your Spouse’s Cheerleader
 
The gift of encouragement can literally light up a person’s life. Florence Littauer in her book, Silver Boxes, talks about the power of our words, which can bring life or destruction. Paul admonishes us, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen? (Ephesians 4:29). Littauer says that our words should be like a silver box with a bow on top! Every word is a gift or present you give someone.
 
Mark Twain states, ‘The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning?and the lightning bug.? Words have the awesome power to build us up or tear us down emotionally. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, ‘The tongue has the power of life and death.? A word of encouragement is one of the most powerful gifts we can give to someone, especially our spouse.
 
Whether we are called to fill a full-time pastoral position, teach a Sunday school class, lead a home-cell Bible study, or volunteer for visitation in our local church we are involved in ministry. Ministry in the local church includes both men and women. Paul says that the Spirit has distributed the gifts to ‘each one? for the profit of all (1 Corinthians 12:7). Most biblical scholars agree that ‘each one? denotes both women and men.
 
The apostle Peter encourages, ‘Each [of you] should use whatever gift [you have] received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms? (1 Peter 4:10). How can we encourage our life partner to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for his or her life and to utilize his or her gifts to the fullest potential? Here are a few suggestions:
 
Build a Support Network?Develop a fellowship of colleagues who will support you and your spouse. Take time to talk, laugh and even cry together. Let it be a safe place where you can exchange ideas, experiences, problems and solutions. Most important, you’ll be able to be yourself and celebrate your commonality.
 
Schedule Time for Relaxation?Plan weekly ‘dates? with your spouse. This should be a time when you do something that you both enjoy. Whether it’s coffee at Starbucks, lunch at your favorite sidewalk deli, a walk through the nature reserve or an evening watching a favorite movie while sharing a bowl of popcorn, endeavor to make it special and just for the two of you.
 
Invest in the Future?Identify each other’s gifts and take determined steps to encourage the development of those gifts. Support new ventures for further education, a favorite hobby or an evening vocational class. Celebrate achievements, such as an earned degree, completion of a class, a realized goal or breaking a current record.
 
Encourage Fresh Spiritual Disciplines?Challenge each other spiritually to new levels. Perhaps this would include a weekend in the mountains spent in prayer and Bible meditation, or it could be as simple as starting a new physical exercise program on a daily basis. Establishing a new discipline in your life and working at it together will be both rewarding and mutually beneficial.

 
Many other individuals may encourage and praise your mate, but let your affirmation and words of encouragement be the loudest.
A Perfect Fit
 
Christmas is approaching and many people may feel as I do; so many delicious foods and I have little or no willpower. They are just tantalizing me. How can I possibly refuse to eat? I’ll diet another day.

As the holidays approach, I know that Christmas isn’t all about food, gifts, parties or clothes; it’s all about Christ!
I truly do want to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and focus on becoming more like Him. That’s what all Christians should do. But, how can I do that, and what must I do?

The book of Colossians, in chapter 3 verses 1-4, gives us some very practical instructions as to what we must do.

So, if you’re serious about living this new life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ ? that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective. (The Message by Eugene Peterson)
You might ask, does this mean I can’t have fun, go to parties, and give gifts.How about other things, things that represent Christmas to me?

As we look further into Colossians 3, we see that Paul describes what a Christian must be doing.

“Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve striped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with His label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.

Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (The Message by John Peterson)

Have you ever gone shopping, hoping to find the perfect garment? You perhaps, may go from store to store looking for the perfect one. We want the one that flatters our figure, the perfect color to complement our complexion, and something that’s not too short or too long. And, let’s not forget about the price…we also want the perfect price.

We must also be active in putting on our new wardrobe. We must take care of our new garment properly, carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions. We mustn’t throw it down or let it get dirty and wrinkled. No, our new wardrobe must last a very long time.

Just as consciously as we say no to a second helping of chocolate cake, so we must also consciously follow the instructions given to us in the previous verses.

As we put on the new wardrobe God has given us, let’s remember, our new garments are never to large or too small. They are always perfect, designed just for us with the most prestigious label imaginable. The label reads; Made Just For You. With Love, Jesus.

Now that is a true Christmas gift. Christmas really is all about Christ.
Declare Her a Lady
 
Mama used to tell me, ‘A lady is known by the condition of her handkerchief and her shoes.’ She had an array of handkerchiefs bordered by lace, crochet or tatting. Ladies dressed up even to go shopping in those days, and Mama carried a handkerchief that matched the rest of her attire. She picked it up daintily at the center and then held it lightly in her left hand or latched it securely under her Spandex? watch band. When she went to church, a lacy handkerchief was placed in the flyleaf of her Bible, with the lace showing from the edge of the cover.

Mama brushed her own shoes (only one or two pair of serviceable black) every time she went out–at least until she married Papa and he began doing it for her. He would smile with pleasure as he brought up a high shine with the deft flicking of the brush and a steady wrist. Making Mama pretty delighted him.

Mama tried to make me, her only daughter, into a lady, too. However, I grew up with a distinct preference for my brother’s jeans (they didn’t make them for girls back then) and tennis shoes. Mama would sigh and determinedly wrap my hair in rag curls every Saturday night.

Mama’s dictum about handkerchiefs and shoes would hardly hold up in this day of tissues and track shoes. So what does it mean to be a lady?

Peter, in his instructions to wives (1 Peter 3:1-6), recommends ‘the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.’ In this day, when just listening to the news in the morning can keep one’s heart and mind in turmoil for the rest of the day, maintaining ‘a gentle and quiet spirit’ is no small task.

Peter points us to Sarah as an example. She was submissive to her husband, calling him “lord” (KJV) or “master” (NIV). If I tried that with my husband, he would look at me with astonishment and perhaps ask if I were ill. Actually, I don’t think Sarah was always so submissive; she must have seemed like a harridan when she confronted Abraham with her irritation with Hagar. Even though the Abraham-Hagar union had been her own idea, she blamed Abraham and demanded that he send Hagar away. It could not have been a ladylike confrontation.

However, Sarah must have learned many things in her long life–submission being one of them. Perhaps as she learned submission to God, she found submitting to Abraham easier. I know that when I am irritated with my husband, I find that my relationship with the Lord has cooled. Submission in marriage, one to the other, follows submission to God. Then a gentle and quiet spirit follows.

We used to sing a chorus by Albert W. T. Orsborn:
‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
Oh, Thou Savior divine,
All my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

Let us ask the Lord today for a submissive spirit to Him and to our spouse and for a gentle and quiet spirit. With that start, peace can pervade our homes. Then our loved ones may say, ‘Declare her a lady, a woman of God!’
The Voice of God
 
‘Hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 15:5)

Several years ago when Billy Graham was asked what he thought about the ‘God is dead’ movement he replied, ‘It can’t be true, because I just talked with Him this morning.’ Indeed, God is very much alive; He still speaks and His voice can be heard.

I. God wants us to be acquainted with His voice, to recognize it when He calls to us. He speaks to us in a variety of ways.

On occasions He will speak to us audibly so our human ears can hear. Adam heard the voice of God on many occasions, but he will never forget the time when The Voice called him, “Adam, where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8). While Moses tended sheep in the wilderness he heard the voice of God calling him: “Moses…the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3:4,5). Exiled on the Isle of Patmos, John said, “I heard a great Voice” (Rev. 1:10); it was Jesus. Paul will never forget the time when a light shone from heaven and a Voice called him: “Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4). There are many other similar incidents recorded in Scripture.

God’s voice speaks to us as we read the Bible. On many an occasion it seems as though the words leap out of its pages and strike our hearts. The written Word is so important it was purposely inscribed so it could be oft repeated to continuously remind us of what God desires to share with us. The Ten commandments is God speaking to His people. “And the Lord said…” (Ex. 20). In the days of King Josiah it was the written Word of God when read to a backslidden Israel, that caused the people to repent and turn from idolatry (2 Kings 23:2).

God’s voice quietly speaks to our hearts. On occasions, God’s voice can come like the sound of mighty rushing waters, but when God spoke to Elijah it came as a “still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12). He comes gently and kindly to whisper His love and to assure us He is aware of our plight and is at our side. His tenderness in no way diminishes the power and authority of His voice.

God’s voice is heard in our conscience. (Rom. 2:15; Heb. 9:14). Through their conscience — God spoke to Joseph’s brethren — Gen.42:21; to David — Ps. 40:12; to Belshazzar — Dan. 5:6; to the Pharisees — Jn.8:9).

God’s voice comes to us by His Spirit. Paul and Barnabas were “Sent forth by the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:4). “The Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them” (vs.2). No doubt this came through prophetic utterance, using the tongue of a believer anointed of God. God also speaks privately to our hearts by His Spirit. “When He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). See also Romans 8:14,16, 26.

God’s voice comes to us at times through visions and dreams. He spoke to King Solomon in a dream saying, “Ask what shall I give thee.” (1 Kings 3:5). Egypt’s Pharaoh received a dream that was a message from God (Genesis 41:28). God spoke to Cornelius in a vision (Acts 10:3). He also gave Peter a vision that directed him to minister freely to gentiles (Acts 10:10,13,15). God spoke to Paul in a vision, giving him a new direction for ministry (Acts 16:9). Ezekiel heard God in a vision: “The vision which I saw…and beheld the glory of the Lord…and He said unto me…” (Ezek. 43:1-7).

Nature and all of creation is God’s voice speaking to us. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19). Nature’s amazing panorama is God’s way of speaking to people about His power and majesty. (Romans 1:18-20; Ps. 97:6). “He left not Himself without witness” (Acts 14:17). Planets, mountains, rivers, and all living creatures are part of God’s voice to us.

God’s voice is heard in our circumstances. The plagues of Egypt spoke to Pharaoh (Ex. 7:16). Israel’s captivity was God’s voice speaking to them to confess their sin, repent, and return to Him. Israel crossing the Red Sea was God’s voice to Israel, to Egypt, and to the world, declaring that He is a Mighty Deliverer and worthy to be praised. We need to recognize God in both our negative and positive circumstances.

God’s voice is clearest — through His Son Jesus Christ, who is called “The Word.” (Jn. 1:1). “God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1,2). Through Jesus, we can have a clear understanding of God the Father. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” ( Jn.14:9). God reveals Himself through His Son as a kind, generous, patient, forgiving God, and willing to accept us all. “Come unto Me all…”

II. The Purpose of His Voice

To communicate with us. He reveals Himself as The Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Eternal and Immutable God. His voice teaches us He is loving, generous and gracious.

To Fellowship with us. “If ye abide in Me I will abide in you.” (Jn. 15:4). “I knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20; Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Jn. 1:3).

To instruct us. Mt. 7:28,29 “the people were astonished at His teaching.” His voice will guide us through life. He will show us how to live and make our life meaningful and fulfilling. He will lead us “into all truth.” This includes the physical, social, material and spiritual facets of our existence. He wants to be proud of us, so gives us the best of instruction.

To warn us. His voice warns us of hidden dangers and snares set by the enemy. He advises us of the devil’s intent: “Satan desires to have you so he may sift you as wheat” (Lk. 22:31). “Beware of the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). The “devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).

To give us revelation. His voice will show us things to come. He will reveal His will for our lives. He will make known His secrets and His plans to those who live close to Him. (Jn. 16:13).

III. What does He expect from us?

He expects us to stay in touch. He wants us to listen to Him, to keep our hearts (our spiritual ear) in tune with His voice. “If any man hear my voice…I will come in to him” (Rev. 3:20). “He that hath an ear let him hear…” (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 29). We need to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with His voice, so that another’s will not confuse us and lead us astray. (John 10:4, 5, 27).

He expects us to long for His Voice. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God” (Ps. 42:1). We need to say to Him, “Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3:9). He expects us to meditate on His word: “I will meditate in Thy precepts:” (Ps. 119:15; Josh. 1:8).

He expects us to heed to His word. “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only…not a forgetful hearer, but a doer…this man shall be blessed” (James 1:22,25). See Romans 2:13. Moses urged his people to gather together with their children, “That they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord God, and observe all the words of this law” (Deut. 31:12, 13). God’s voice will never tell you anything that is contrary to His written Word.

How familiar are we with God’s voice?

Desire to hear it! Listen for it. Familiarize yourself with it. Cherish it. Obey it.

Never forget it. And you will Enjoy it through eternity!
Hagar, a Woman of God
 
Surely she couldn’t be a woman of God! But she was.

Hagar, a woman of God? Wasn’t she the interloper in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah? Surely she couldn’t be a woman of God! But she was.

WE HAVE TWO STORIES ABOUT HAGAR IN THE BIBLE.

In both of them, she runs away. However, God stayed close to her, ministered to her heart, and told her what to do.

The first time she ran away, she carried Ishmael, her unborn son (Genesis 16:1-16). She had listened to Sarai, not God, and had become Abram’s mistress. Hagar, an Egyptian, may have been Pharaoh’s daughter, a convert to Abram’s God, or she may simply have been one of the slaves, or chattel, that Abram had acquired while he was in Egypt. Her name means ‘fugitive.’ She became well acquainted with the runaway road.

Both Sarai and Abram used Hagar’s body for their own purposes. Sarai wanted a child. Abram wanted descendants. Hagar consented to their ungodly, selfish scheme and became pregnant with Abram’s child. Her friendship with Sarai broke down and she came to despise her mistress. When people who know God determine to get their own way by their own methods, sorrow is certain to follow.

The second time, Hagar runs away with Ishmael (Genesis 21:8-21). Now a young boy, Ishmael had ‘mocked’ during Isaac’s weaning ceremony. Sarai became angry and demanded that Abram send Hagar away. Hagar again found herself in the desert without water and with a dehydrated son. Sensing that he would die, she hid him under a bush so that she would not have to see his dying gasp.

BOTH STORIES CONTAIN FOUR COMPONENTS.

Hagar–the woman who knew better than to be a party to sin, but who consented anyway. In her grief, she thought she had no one to turn to. Her anguish was acute.

The desert–a symbol of bleakness, desolation and despair. Sin will always lead us there, but we never go alone no matter how abandoned we may feel.

Water–the symbol of life, physical life and spiritual life. Each of us errs at one time or another or deliberately sins. When we do, Satan wants to fill us with despair and tell us that our walk with God is over. Hagar’s story reminds us that God has new life for every sinner.

God–He saw her distress, her tears and her regret. He told her what to do and opened her physical eyes to see His provision for her. He opened her spiritual eyes to understand His will for her life and the life of her son.

HAGAR DID THREE THINGS IN RESPONSE.

She listened to God. She had listened to people and that error had brought her to the desert. Listening is intentional hearing. It takes effort to listen to God, but she exerted it. Oh, that she had intentionally heard God’s voice in her heart first!

She submitted to God. In her error she had submitted to Abram and Sarai and their ungodly plan. Now, in repentance, she determined to submit to God.

She obeyed God. She had learned, through hard experience, the pains of doing her own pleasure. Now, she learned that obeying God would never lead her wrong.

Yes, by the end of Genesis, we can call her Hagar, a woman of God.
Salvation From Generation to Generation
 
Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and . . . now lives in you also’ (2 Timothy 1:5). Salvation passed from generation to generation: from Grandmother Lois to Mother Eunice, and then to Preacher/Pastor Timothy. What did these women do to so powerfully impress godliness from generation to generation?

Most parents want their children to love God. We can tip the scales toward a lifetime of loving God by leading our children, early in life, to accept Christ as Savior. By so doing, we will spiritually impact the next generation.

Accepting Christ as Savior is an individual decision. No one can say, “My mother’s faith in God saves me!” Each child must put his own faith into action. He must assent to the fact that Christ’s death and resurrection are able to cancel his own sin. However, mere assent will not save; he must also accept Christ as his Savior. Some folks assent that they are sinners and need a Savior, but never go so far as to accept the covering for their sin that He has provided.

How can we as assenting and accepting believers in Christ Jesus ensure that our faith will pass to the next generation? There are two ways: (1) through our example and (2) through our influence.

Lois and Eunice were not powerful spiritual leaders; they were just housewives, mothers and grandmothers, like most of us. They could say with Paul, “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him” (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul adjured Timothy, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you” (v. 14). His godly grandmother and mother were the depositors who had daily embedded godly teaching in Timothy’s life. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

Our example is overt. Our influence is subtler, less obvious: the simple living of godliness.

My mother read her Bible every day and quietly praised God for Scriptures that touched her heart. She often went to bed earlier than the rest of the family. I remember hearing softly murmured prayers for my brother and myself coming from her darkened bedroom. Her quiet influence powerfully touched me. I saw Christ in her.

Why should we fear to spiritually persuade our children? We influence their hygiene when we insist that they bathe and brush their teeth; their health when we ensure that they eat well-balanced meals; their social lives by teaching them etiquette, how to cement friendships and use good social skills. We influence their future work ethic by insisting that they go to school, get good grades and finish their projects. Why shouldn’t we guide our children’s spiritual health by reading God’s Word to them every day, taking time to pray with them and seeing that they attend church with the family?

Allen Groff, a minister, said, “Our influence is almost immortal.” Our godly example and spiritual living work powerfully, hand in hand, to pass down our faith to a new generation. Will our children “catch” salvation from us?
I Swear To Tell The Truth
 
‘I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

Several years ago, I was involved in a car wreck. I learned very quickly that the police did not especially want to hear my version of what happened but they did want to hear what the eyewitnesses to the collision had to say.

Now, they could have talked to someone who did not actually see the wreck, but who had only heard about it. However, that would be called hearsay, and the police were not interested in hearsay; they were only interested in the facts. In order to determine the facts, it was necessary for them to interview the actual witnesses, who saw with their own eyes what transpired.

This is the premise of 1 John. Basically he says, I am an actual witness to, had fellowship with, and therefore, have firsthand knowledge of Jesus. We don’t read anywhere in 1 John that he believed hearsay of what someone else experienced; no, he was there. He knew Jesus personally. You might say he was up close and personal, a special friend of Jesus. So, if we want to know about Jesus, it makes sense to listen to what John has to say, doesn’t it?

Personally, I am not someone who just goes along with ‘he said, she said”. In such situations, we can be relatively sure that the truth is embellished or some of the facts may accidentally be left out, and of course, personal viewpoints generally always become a part of the scenario.

As we review 1 John 1:1-4, we read once again John’s testimony. No, he is not in a court of law, but his own hand wrote these facts.

In 1 John 1:1, the subject of the ensuing four verses that form a single sentence in the Greek is, ‘We proclaim.” John is talking about a topic, which we understand to be The Word of Life, namely Jesus.

We are generally accustomed to putting words together when we wish to have conversations, to interact with others, or to describe something: which is what God was doing when he inspired John to write the believers. He was communicating with us through His Son, Jesus. ‘ The Word became flesh and lived among us.” (John 1:14).

Referring back to John’s eyewitness account, he reiterates that he saw with his own eyes, not just a passing glance, but that he REALLY saw, studied, observed, contemplated, and mentally processed his interaction with Jesus.

I am a people watcher and I enjoy being in a setting where I can observe people. It is especially interesting for me to sit in an international airport somewhere and observe people. One of my favorite airports is in Singapore. People from all over the world pass through the Changi International Airport there. Sometimes people are exhausted from spending hours on a flight, while others are just embarking on their journey and are still fresh and excited. Another group consists of those who are nearing the midway point of their destination. In any case, these situations are reflected in their behavior.

A component of ‘people watching’ which I enjoy, is studying the actions and demeanor of travelers. Some, I merely glance at, while I spend more time watching and contemplating what others are like in their personal lives, even though I never have interaction with them. I may only have a few minutes to watch and observe these people, whereas their friends and relatives have days, weeks, months, and years to become personally acquainted with them.

Incidentally, John also had time to become personally acquainted with Jesus. I trust what he had to say about Jesus. Their relationship endured over a significant amount of time. Hisencounter was not at all like mine, watching people at the airport ? No, his encounter was a very personal one.

I also believe the eyewitness account of John. I trust what he says. His observations are based on his relationship with Jesus over a considerable amount of time. He is a credible witness and his testimony would hold up in a court of law, which is good enough for me.

John tells us that Jesus is indeed the Word of Life, and I believe it. I put my faith and confidence in Him. He is trustworthy; I do not doubt Him. But don’t just take my word for it; decide for yourself! Study, contemplate, and mentally process your thoughts on the Word of Life. Pray that the Holy Spirit will speak through your mind, so you can join with John and declare ? Jesus is indeed the Word of Life.

Phyllis Wheeler ? January 14, 2011
Dorcas
 

Occasionally I sit in on one of our Women’s Ministry Bible Studies. Currently they are involved in a study of the Women in the Bible. I would like to share a story with you, and the insight that God gave to me as a’Woman in Ministry’ through this time of fellowship. It’s a story of a woman who was a believer just like us, and she served the body of Christ that she was involved in. (Note the meaning of her name in Aramaic and Greek means ‘gazelle’)

Acts 9:36-42 ‘ There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her friends prepared her for burial and laid her in an upstairs room. But they had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, ‘Please come as soon as possible!’ So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other garments Dorcas had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, ‘Get up, Tabitha.’ And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he showed them that she was alive. The news raced through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.’

Verse 39 records that when Peter arrived the room was filled with widows who were crying and showing him all the clothing that she had made for them and telling him all the kind things she had done for the poor. This woman, Dorcas, was in ministry as she took care of the women who had no husbands to care for them. For many of them, the clothing she made was all they had. Many had coats for the winter. (She probably cooked for them too!) The scripture records that she made other garments, they could have been clothing for the poor children in the neighborhood. She was into her ministry. She was serving the harvest. She had a testimony. God raised her from the dead and when she was brought back to life her testimony spread like peanut butter and jelly! (My favorite)

We too have been brought back to life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, our once and for all sacrifice. As women in ministry, we are called to sing, play and tell about it. As I began to ponder this woman’s ministry and how important she was to her community, I thought about the significance of her name. The Hebrew people did not just name their children after their favorite soap opera star. (Oops!) They were named after the very character of the person. (Do your homework and check it out for yourself) The Lord said to me that the gazelle was created to be a beauty animal. God created the gazelle to be an animal of beauty, can you imagine! My mind began to see a picture of a gazelle running through a meadow. I began to think of how that relates to ministry and me, after all, it was discussed at a woman’s bible study. Then it came to me, we were also created to be just as graceful in our ministry. As people see us do the work of our God, they will be encouraged because the joy of the Lord is our strength. Verse 42 says that after she was brought back to life, news spread all over the place and many believed in the Lord. Just think about it, the story of Dorcas even found its way into the pages of our Bible. We could see her good works and give God praise for it. Romans 15:4 states, ‘The things written in the past were written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.’ Did you know that when you said yes to God regarding the calling on your life, you are affecting eternity in the lives of others? That means that your testimony is recorded forever because others will tell about how they got saved or encouraged. The testimony of Dorcas lives on forever in the pages of our Bible, the Holy Spirit saw to it.

What will be said of the call upon your life? I want to be known as David is known – ‘Debbi was a woman after God’s own heart.’ Let us move on to do the work that God has called us to do with honor, giving God the glory with everything we have. Dorcas had a gift, a gift that she gave herself to. I Timothy 4:14 reminds us not to neglect the gift. We are to give ourselves to it being diligent about it. The more we give ourselves to our gifts, the more others will watch our progress. When you are doing what God called you to do, you make a difference in the lives of others.

Even if you have just started in your ministry, 1 Timothy 4:12 says, ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.’ That can be in youth and in the first stages of your ministry. Just do something and be comfortable in it. All things work together for good for those who are called according to God purpose. That’s you, girl!

What has God shown you about you and your ministry? Do you face any challenges that you want to talk about? I would like to hear about it!

Copyright ? 2001-2003 by C. M. Press, LLC. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information, please visit www.experiencingworship.com
Parenting With a Plan
 
Have you ever met a woman that exudes self-confidence? She has no fear of the future because she is confident that her children are well prepared for life. She is wise with the family finances, and her husband considers her his greatest asset. Her friends and family know her to be a wise person of the highest quality. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 was such a woman.

Verse 21 says, ‘She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet’ (NKJV). I am convinced this virtuous woman was a proactive woman with a vision for the future. Though we read she was busy with many daily household tasks, such as shopping, sewing, and cooking, she also prepared for the future.

In pre-modern cultures, warm days were spent getting ready for winter days. Cold weather could include days of isolation spent indoors. Food had to be stored for the family and the flocks. Winter outerwear had to be made or mended. The house had to be winter-ready and in good repair. In some parts of the world where the winter season was harsh, planning had to be done down to the smallest detail. Work, educational, and entertainment activities were prepared for family members to occupy themselves during the snowy weather. The lady of the house was at the helm of this planning.

The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 planned well for the winter months. Her household was clothed in scarlet. We know cloth in red, purple, or bright colors was more desirable and expensive in Bible days.

This household manager not only planned for the basic needs of her household, but also planned to provide the very best for them. My four children are ages fourteen, twelve, ten, and eight. What can I do to make sure my children are ready for the future? Goal setting and planning do not come naturally for me. But I know I can gain wisdom from the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 in that area of my life. I know unless I set specific goals, details will be missed and I will look back on this season with regret.

My chief goal is that my children will be followers of Christ. I know a personal relationship with God is something that cannot be transferred to another individual. But I desire to show my children that the life of a believer is the best life, a life of blessing and joy.

I Want Them to Love Church

My husband, John, and I have decided to make church attendance a priority for our family. Even when we are on vacation we attend church. There is no perfect church, but God’s Word says the local church is part of the body of Christ. So we never let our children hear or speak negative words about church.

Though my children have friends from school and in the neighborhood, their best friends are from our church. We regularly have other families from church in our home. God created us to be social beings, so we are committed to guiding our children as they develop Christian relationships.

I Want Them to Love God’s Word

I know adults who do not maintain the daily discipline of reading the Bible. Some have never read a book of the Bible from start to finish. I never want my children to be intimidated by God’s Word. I want them to know it is understandable and is God’s voice speaking to them.

By the age of ten, I require each of my children to read one of the four Gospels. After that they may choose various New Testament books to read.

Then I lead them to Proverbs, Psalms, and some of the Old Testament books. Though I read the Bible aloud to them several times a week, I want them to develop their own devotional time also. When life gets hectic and I know my children haven’t made time for God’s Word, I remind them to read a few verses before they drift off to sleep. Reading God’s Word is a key to their spiritual development and to their own personal walk with the Lord.

I Want to Introduce Them to People of Faith

I want my children to be acquainted with heroes of the faith. So I read aloud to them biographies of famous people like Mother Teresa, Mark Buntain, and Hudson Taylor. My oldest son just finished reading the autobiography of George Mueller, a man of great faith and prayer. Mueller experienced many miracles, often trusting God for daily provision.

We’ve had the opportunity to have various ministers and missionaries in our home. What a joy to hear first-hand experiences from men and women who are dedicating their lives to the service of the Lord. By introducing our children to historical and modern-day men and women of faith, they will see that a life lived for God is the most exciting pathway to choose.

I know that my children must choose to follow Christ for themselves. But if I am wise and plan well during this season of life, then when the winter season approaches I will be unafraid, for all my household will be clothed in scarlet, well prepared for the days ahead.

‘Her children rise up and call her blessed’ (Proverbs 31:28, NKJV).