Friday, June 27, 2008

Trust the Lord

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil." Proverbs 3:5-7

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Question of the Heart

Of all the verses regarding the Proverbs 31 woman, the one that has always challenged and convicted me the most is verse thirteen.

She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.” Proverbs 31:13

This verse shows that she was active in her work by using the words “looks” and “works”. But the word that really is convicting to me is the last one, the word delight. She was not just doing the labor, but had a God-honoring attitude to go along with it. So what does the word delight mean?

Delight: A high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture. Something that gives great pleasure.*
A high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy. To be greatly pleased or rejoiced.**

Delight is more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.**

By looking at these definitions, we can see that working with her hands gave her great pleasure, it pleased her, it gave her joy and satisfaction of mind. Why? Because she had the opportunity and the capability of serving others, of blessing them; she knew that it was pleasing to the Lord for her to delight in her activities. And because she knew that in each task of the day, she was not only serving her family, she was also serving the Lord.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24 (emphasis added)

It is often difficult to keep this in mind while doing the mundane tasks of every day life. Certainly, we may take care of the dishes, do the laundry, dust the furniture, but scripturally, we are to do much more than that. We should view each act of service, each mess to be cleaned, each dish to wash, each piece of clothing to be ironed, as a way to serve our Lord and those around us.

While we may think that we are simply doing these things to serve our families, Scripture tells us that it is our Lord Jesus Christ whom we are serving! He is watching us, and He sees how we respond in different circumstances. 

He knows what the condition of our heart is as we respond to a request by our parents, or as we clean up one of the ever-occurring spills on the floor. He sees not only our outward actions, but He can see just as clearly what we are thinking and what we are feeling. (“for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.” 1 Chronicles 28:9)

An attitude of delight is not an easy thing to have. It takes concerted effort and dedication on our part. To do it, we must put aside our own wants and desires, and instead seek to please our Lord, and the ones that He has placed around us. We are to have an attitude of delight and gratefulness that God has given us the abilities to serve our families and our Lord.

I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

* Random House
** Websters

-Posted by Leah

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Love - Part 9: Does Not Take into Account a Wrong Suffered

Love . . . does not take into account a wrong suffered,” 1 Corinthians 13:5

This is one more quality that comprises a true and godly love . . . and it encompasses having a heart of forgiveness. By definition, the phrase “not take into account” means to “not consider, to not take notice of” (taken from an online dictionary). 

On the contrary, though, when wrongs are done against us, our human, fleshly nature is so quick to take offense, to have hurt feelings, to respond in anger, yet God has called us to not even notice when a wrong is done to us. What love, forgiveness and grace!

As always, our Lord has given us in Himself the perfect example of forgiveness, of “not taking into account a wrong suffered”. The epitome of forgiveness is shown in Christ’s words as He hung upon the cross, bleeding, bruised and dying, bearing the sins of the world: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). 

What wrongs have we endured that can compare with such as what our Lord has suffered? Yet, He revealed His heart of compassion and forgiveness with this petition to His Father.

Consider ourselves; we were condemned sinners under the just judgment and wrath of God. Yet God made His Son, Jesus Christ, “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). By this, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). 

Christ died in our place that we might live through Him having believed in His name. He declared “ ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die . . .’ ” (John 11:25-26) for “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2).

The Lord has commanded us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32). Just as Christ has forgiven us, so should we forgive those who do wrong to us. 

This brings to mind the parable in Matthew chapter 18. A slave owed the king a great debt and upon pleading with him for mercy, the king “forgave him the debt.” Right after this act of great forgiveness and mercy that was shown to the slave, he proceeded to act corruptly and selfishly to a fellow slave who owed him but a small sum. 

From him, the first slave demanded immediate payment which the second slave was unable to give. The first threw the second into prison . . . did he not remember that just a short time ago he was in the same situation? Did he not remember what great debt had been forgiven him?

How often does this same response pour forth from our own hearts? When we choose to not forgive but to take into account a wrong suffered, the consequences of this unforgiving heart will be grievous. Not only is this heart in disobedience to our God, but it bears the fruit of anger and bitterness which will infiltrate their poison throughout all other areas of our lives.

God has called us to respond to any perceived or genuine wrong committed against us, not as our fleshly nature would, but with a godly love. If we truly kept in mind how great of a debt we were forgiven, forgiveness of others would spring willingly from our hearts and would flow from a deep gratitude to God for the forgiveness that He has given to us.

As women striving to adorn ourselves with true beauty which comes from “the hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:3), how great should be our desire to adorn ourselves with this aspect of love: a forgiving spirit. Having a heart of true love filled with compassion, mercy, grace and forgiveness. In these is true beauty manifested and this will bring glory to our Lord.

“. . . as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:12-13

-Posted by Sarah

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How Great is Our Lord!

"I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth . . . Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You. How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance." Psalm 89:1, 14-15

-Posted by Sarah