Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Single? - Part II: Do Good To Him

This is Part II in a series of posts on living as a Proverbs 31 single.  To read Part I, go HERE.

We've probably all read Proverbs 31 (several times) and wanted, sincerely, to be like the woman it describes--to love and care for our husbands, to provide for our families, to be industrious, to let the "works of our hands praise us."  But, how are we to approach this passage who are not yet married?  Those who don't have families of our own?  Are we to just pass over it--praying that some day perhaps we'll have cause to come back to it?  No!

I want to challenge you, if you are a single Christian woman, to see the Proverbs 31 woman as you have never seen her before!  As married to Jesus Christ Himself and serving her precious family, His Church!  And this is you, if you have been born anew into the family of God!  Christ is not only your Brother, He is your heavenly Bridegroom!  We will be married to Him forever and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him for eternity!  We can begin now to love and serve Him as His faithful Bride, and Proverbs 31 teaches us how!

Join me as we study Proverbs 31 together and learn to please our Beloved Husband, Jesus Christ!

Part II: Do Good To Him

She does Him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
- Proverbs 31:12, NKJV

This verse is so small, but so mighty!  If we grasp it, everything else falls into place.  We've spoken already about how the heart of the virtuous woman's Husband safely trusts in her.  We've spoken already about how because of her He has no lack of gain.  We've said that it is possible for God to trust us and for God to in some sense gain by us.  (See Part I)  What is this verse saying that those first verses weren't?

1. The Christian does Christ good and not evil!

This is such a simple statement.  You might be thinking...well, of course...  But what does this mean for our everyday life?  How often are we really actively doing Christ good and not evil?  How often are we doing Him evil by the words we say, the attitude of our hearts, the things we do to other people, or the things we fail to say or do?  Don't you know that whatever you do to one of His own, you do to Him also?  How are we treating our Christian brothers and sisters?  Do we love them?  Are we encouraging them?  Are we forgiving them as Christ forgave us?  What is the attitude of our hearts?  Do we hate or do we love?  Check yourself!  Loving others is how we love Christ!

2. The Christian never quits!

Being a Christian is a 24/7, 365 days of the year commitment!  No holidays!  You are born into can never be born out of it!  A Christian, therefore, isn't a Christian for an hour and a half on Sunday and then not a Christian for the rest of the week!  No!  A Christian is a Christian always!  All the days of her life!  Now and forever, our goal is to do Christ good and not evil!  Let us strive and press on toward the goal of the upward calling in Christ Jesus, encouraging and admonishing each other even as we see the Day approaching!

God bless you all!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Single? - Part I: Giving Back to Him

The other day, I thought of something that I hope will bless some people. I believe it was Holy Spirit inspired, but to know for sure, you will have to search the Scriptures to find out, because the Spirit of God cannot contradict Himself, and the Scriptures are after all His Words.

Most of us know what Proverbs 31 is about. It's about the virtuous wife. Many of us also know some of the history behind Proverbs 31--that King Lemuel's mother, wanting to teach her son his Hebrew alphabet and the type of woman that would make a good wife for him someday, taught him an acrostic: Proverbs 31:10-31.

Often times, as Christian women, we look at Proverbs 31 and we say things like, "I'd like to be like that...when I have a family" or "...when I get married" We often forget, that if we look at the Old Testament with a New Testament perspective, many passages can take on new meaning for us. In other words, we can be Proverbs 31 women right now...

You say: how?

Well, Who is your first love? Is it not Jesus Christ? Is He not the Lover of your soul--the Husband of your youth? Are we not called to love Him no less than a wife is to love her husband? Are we not called to serve His people as our own family?

I would like to challenge you, my Christian sister. If you are single, think of yourself as single no more. All the mandates of Scripture to love your Husband apply to you as the Bride of Christ!

I'd like to begin a series, taking us through Proverbs 31 from the perspective of a "single" Christian woman, who sees herself (along with the rest of the Church of Christ) as married to Christ Himself--our heavenly Bridegroom!

This begins Part I: Giving back to Him.

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

Approaching the text from the perspective of a "single" Christian woman seeking to love Christ as her heavenly Bridegroom, what do we learn from this passage?

1. God's Trust - Can Christ trust you?

Before you say that God never puts trust in people, hear me out. Is there not a sense in which Christ trusts His disciples to obey Him? Is there not a sense in which He makes Himself dependent upon us to do His will? It is true that He moves in us to will and to do His good pleasure. But if no one does anything, the Kingdom of God does not advance. God has chosen for it to be that way. He has chosen to use us as His means of advancing His Kingdom. We are but earthen vessels in which is stored the treasures of Heaven--we may be nothing; the One who uses us is everything--but He uses us; He has chosen us. Can He trust you? Remember the parable of the talents--the disobedient servant who did nothing and was able to offer his Master nothing when He came to collect what was His. Can Christ trust you? He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. Just remember that it is not in our own strength--only through Him can we do all things.

2. God's Gain - What are you giving back to Christ?

Again, it might seem strange that we can give anything to God. But this is the way God has chosen. He commands us to give our first fruits. He has ordained praise out of the mouths of babes. He accepts the crowns of the saints. He accepts our worship. He accepts our sacrifices. He accepts our lives as fragrant offerings at His throne. He accepts our service. However, our gifts must be offered in spirit and in truth. He does not accept hypocrisy. He does not accept self-righteousness. He accepts the broken and the contrite. Those who know He is their only hope and prayer. Their gifts are precious to Him. So, what are you giving to God? Remember, He knows your heart. Remember, too, that He has given you everything you have so that you can offer it back to Him in service and in praise. What are you doing with what He has given you?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Why is the Bible so hard to read?

Why does the prospect of Bible reading so often seem like self-administering a lethal injection?

Well, because in a sense, that's what it is. Scripture is a death sentence for the flesh. And by the "flesh" I mean all of our sin habits that are contrary to God and His Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12, ESV

To have our thoughts and intentions discerned is not often a comfortable activity. We know that if we go to the Word of God, we're in the Holy Spirit's territory. He's going to convict us of sin, expect us to repent, and we're going to have to change. And that's a painful prospect.

When we look at the Bible, it's no wonder we don't want to read it.

But, friend, let me tell you a secret. If you are a Christian, you don't have to fear reading your Bible. And if you are afraid and if you do think of it as uncomfortable, chances are you're being fed Satan's lie that God only means to condemn you. Which isn't true.

If you are a Christian, God is for you and not against you--you are not condemned. So, when the Holy Spirit convicts you through His Word, He does so as a loving Father disciplining and chastising His children for their good.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. - Hebrews 12:6, ESV

And God also promises that He will not break those who are already broken and contrite over their sin. He is merciful and He is meek. He is gentle with those who need gentleness.

Of course, discipline is not a pleasant experience. But, it yields something beautiful--righteousness.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11, ESV

God is all about making His children more like Christ. The question is--will you let Him? Will you surrender to His conviction? Will you allow Him to rebuke and correct you to make you more like Jesus? Or will you resist?

Let me assure you that He's going to have His way, whether you like it or not. He doesn't need your permission to make you more like Jesus. But there are many advantages to being cooperative (and even proactive) in this process of becoming more Christlike.

  1. You will have a healthy relationship with God.
  2. You won't always have to endure correction and chastisement.
  3. You will be filled with the Spirit and the fruits thereof: patience, peace, kindness, joy, etc.
  4. You will sin less.
  5. You will please God.
  6. You will become holy and of greater use in God's service.
The list is pretty sweet, if you ask me! =)