Women: A Different Standard

“My son, I gave birth to you.  You are the son I prayed for” (Proverbs 31:2).  King Lemuel’s mother wanted a son, she prayed for one and God answered.  What’s your desire?  Have you ever thought it would be a selfish prayer?  Maybe God doesn’t see it that way.  Will you believe Him for your answer?

 

“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. …  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. …  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:19, 22, 27).  I must confess I find these some of the most daunting verses in the whole Bible and, reading this blog-post yesterday, I can see I’m not the only one.  I can totally identify with Ginger’s unfavourable comparisons, E.G. this Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t eat the bread of idleness; I’m sometimes still in my dressing-gown at 10 am.  This woman holds a distaff (a tool used in spinning to keep fibres unknotted), and a spindle (used before a spinning wheel).  She makes coverings for her bed; I can’t even sew a button on, but comparison isn’t wise or helpful, so what about these verses?

 

Let’s take them one by one:  First, the distaff and the spindle.  When I think of sewing, I think of dressmakers and the like.  If every good wife made bedcovers and clothes for their families, how would they stay in business?  Could it be that we all have different gifts, and not all of us have the gift of sewing?

 

The Proverbs 31 woman is ‘Clothed in fine linen and purple’ or, as the NCV puts it, “linen and other expensive material”, but are expensive clothes really that important to God?  If they were, why would Paul and Peter encourage women to be more concerned with what’s in their hearts than the clothes they wear?

 

It seems to me that as Christian women, we have a different (and more attainable) standard than women did in the past.  We’re still responsible for watching over the affairs of our household (teaching our children; keeping those we love in prayer), and we can all choose not to give in to laziness, but to make the best use of our time … so if I’m not going out till later in the day and I want to read my Bible in my dressing-gown some mornings, maybe God doesn’t mind all that much.

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Thank you for your likes and comments this month, and especially if you’ve taken up the challenge of reading Proverbs in 31 days.  I know I’ve found it very helpful – not only reading the chapters, but mulling them over and finding something to write about them.  I hope these posts have inspired you to spend time reading God’s Word and to know Him better.

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Hold Your Tongue

“Do not say bad things about servants to their masters” (Proverbs 30:10).  I love how God’s Word is so practical.

 

When I first started going to church, I did a new believers’ course, and one thing I learnt was that as a Christian, I didn’t rule my own life.  Jesus was the Master and I was His servant.  If I think of myself in that way, surely other Christians are servants too.  Now do you see the challenge?  When we’re told not to say bad things about servants to their masters, if Jesus is our Master, it means we shouldn’t say bad things about one another when we’re praying to God.  That sounds a tall order if you ask me, but it can be helpful.  If instead of rushing to talk about somebody’s faults, we ask for God’s perspective on that person, it could completely change the way we see them.

 

This verse in Proverbs is similar to one in Romans:  “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?  To their own master, servants stand or fall.  And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” (Romans 14:4).  God knows those who are His, and just like He’ll finish what He started in us, He’ll do the same in them.  Let’s let Him do the judging while we get on with serving.

 

Linking again with Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart.

An Audience with God

“Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice” (Proverbs 29:26).

 

Have you ever signed an online petition, written to a government department, or seen your MP about a problem?  If you have, why not consider praying about the problem too?

 

I remember seeing my MP about a problem, and all she was interested in was that I was unemployed.  That wasn’t what I’d gone to see her about, but it fitted in better with her party’s policy.  Your MP may have an agenda, but so does God.  His agenda is your wellbeing.  When someone’s important to you, you want to spend time with them.  You love to hear their voice, and you want to know what they’re thinking.  That’s how God is with us; He loves and delights in us, so let’s share our lives with Him.

Happy to see Justice?

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“Those who disobey what they have been taught praise the wicked, but those who obey what they have been taught are against them.  Evil people do not understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand it completely” (Proverbs 28:4-5).

 

How much do wickedness and unfairness bother you?  Has your faith in God changed the way you see the world and what goes on around you?

In the Middle of it All

“”Stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a complaining fool is worse than either” (Proverbs 27:3).  There’s definitely a place for bearing each other’s burdens; for talking over problems and getting things off our chests, but if we constantly complain, we’re not only a burden on the shoulders of those around us, we’re bad for ourselves too.

 

“A quarrelling wife is as bothersome as a continual dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15), and if you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to a leaking roof and raindrops coming in, you’ll know how bothersome that is!  All you want is an end to the problem.  If you’re the quarreller, perhaps all you can see is the problem and you want an end to it too.

 

I don’t claim to have the answer in your situation, but there is a verse at the end of this chapter that might help.  “There will be plenty of goat’s milk to feed you and your family and to make your servant girls healthy” (Proverbs 27:27).  In other words, God’s plan is for us to have plenty to meet our needs – not our wants, but our needs.  Whether it’s a quarrel with your spouse you’re in the middle of, or another problem – big or small, why don’t you step back from it for a few minutes?  Try to think of ways God has met your needs – the clothes you’re wearing, the food on the table, etc.  We can overflow with thankfulness when we know that with God, we may not have everything we want, but we have enough.

 

Just because I’m writing this, please don’t think I have it all together.  There are days I get really fed up with the doors that seem to slam in my face.  At those times, hearing other people’s unanswered prayers can discourage me and prayer can even seem pointless, but when I stop to think about it, when I think how God’s answered some of my prayers – how He’s brought someone along just when I’ve needed help, or got my mum through the chemotherapy, I know it’s not pointless after all.

The Thing About Curses

“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest” (Proverbs 26:2).

 

I wanted to share this verse today because when I’ve heard in the past about people being cursed I’ve felt some fear, but I think this does something to dispel that.  The New Century Version is the Bible I read most, and this verse in the NCV makes it even clearer.  “Curses will not harm someone who is innocent; they are like sparrows or swallows that fly around and never land.”

 

The thing about curses is, they needn’t rest on us.  When we put our trust in Jesus, God looks at us through Him, and it’s as if He’s looking through rose-tinted glasses.  Because of Jesus, our guilt is gone.  God sees us as innocent/blameless, and that’s what gives us authority over our enemy, the devil.  In this authority that Jesus has passed on to us, there’s power available to break every curse.

 

There are some times (and this is one of them) when I feel that what Jesus has done for us is too high and too wonderful for me to fully comprehend it, and all I can say is thank You.

Behind the Scenes

“These are more wise sayings of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah” (Proverbs 25:1).

 

I like this verse because it reminds me there are no small, insignificant tasks in the kingdom of God.  Solomon may have been the king God made great and wise, but these men got a mention too.  All they were doing was copying the words Solomon said.  They must have had an education to be able to write, but it didn’t require much brainpower.  It did require faithfulness though, to keep turning up for duty.

 

I don’t know whether Solomon’s words would have been so radical, they couldn’t have got bored with them.  Perhaps, or maybe the job of copying was tedious; maybe they sometimes wanted to be the ones with wisdom, instead of minions under his command.  They might have felt privileged if they’d realised their work didn’t go unnoticed, and people would still read about them thousands of years later.

 

What are you doing for God?  Do you feel unrecognised?  Your work and attitude don’t escape God’s notice, and your example might just inspire somebody else.

Good Life-Motto

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“Don’t envy sinners, but always respect the Lord.  Then you will have hope for the future, and your wishes will come true” (Proverbs 23:17-18).

 

It can be so easy to envy people whose choices haven’t been God-honouring, and yet their lives seem full and happy, but here God gives us the alternative.  Great verses; I want to remember these and live them.

Behind Locked Doors

“The lazy person says, ‘There’s a lion outside!  I might get killed out in the street’” (Proverbs 22:13).

 

Now don’t get me wrong; I’ve never said that, but I have had that kind of attitude.  In worrying there’s a lion outside, what’s the lazy person doing?  Finding an excuse not to go out.  If I don’t have the confidence to do something, I’ll find excuses too.

 

I’ve never had much confidence on buses.  I’ve been on them before, with somebody helping me on at one end and someone else meeting me the other, but never by myself.  My excuses?  There’s a whole list.  I know bus-drivers have to run to a timetable, and that bus companies aren’t always very sympathetic to the passengers.  I can just imagine a driver speeding away while I’m still fumbling around with my cane, trying to find where the steps are to get into the bus.  Some of the seats on buses don’t have seatbelts, and a lady I know fell off one of those seats when the bus lurched forward, thankfully not breaking anything but ending up very bruised.  Trains are better because you can book the assistance, but you can’t on buses, so if I ever had to change buses to get somewhere, the thought of getting off one bus and finding where my next one has stopped all by myself is very daunting.

 

See what I mean?  But I know blind people do manage not only to get on and off buses, but to swap between one and another.  To tell you the truth, I’m embarrassed I can’t do it.  I think I’d have a fuller life if I could, but where to start?  With my local shops near enough to walk to, it’s so much easier just to carry on doing only the things I need to, and keep my list of excuses.

 

Maybe I’m just like that lazy person …

 

But I shouldn’t be.

 

Last Sunday, we sang a song at church:

“There is power in the name of Jesus

“To break every chain”.  We’ve sung it lots of times before, but this time, I thought about my life and really felt that God wouldn’t want me stuck behind my front door as much as I am.  Then my pastor preached on John 20:19-23 – Jesus’ followers after His resurrection, stuck behind locked doors for fear of the Jews!  The locked doors didn’t get in Jesus’ way.  He appeared despite them and His first word to them was ‘Peace’.  What if God wants to break our chains, and give us peace instead of fear?