Proverbs 31:25

Proverbs 31:25

Proverbs 31:25

AMP: Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future (the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it)!

CEV: She is strong and graceful, as well as cheerful, about the future.

MSG: She always faces tomorrow with a smile.

September 11, 2001 rocked our world, rocked our sense of safety and security.  Wall Street was closed for several days.  Many airline companies have either closed or filed for bankruptcy.

It seems that we hear of more businesses failing, or at least cutting back their workforce.  Many people who planned to retire in a few years find that they are now joining the ranks of the unemployed. 

Nothing is certain anymore.  Life as we once knew it will never be the same.

Yet, the virtuous woman has a position that is strong and secure.  What position would that be?  It’s the one of being in the shelter of the Most High God.  It’s knowing that her house is built on the Solid Rock.  She knows that the righteous will never be forsaken, nor will their seed ever be begging for bread.  She has a strong confidence in her God, in what He is able to do.  That is why she is able to face tomorrow with a smile.  That is why she can declare that she is able to lie down and sleep in peace — she KNOWS God will sustain her.  (Ps. 4:8) She knows that her sleep will be sweet.  (Pr. 3:24) She has learned that God will give sleep to those He loves.  (Ps. 127:2)

How are you sleeping at night? 

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

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Are You Depreciating?

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Are You Depreciating?

I’ve been driving a 1989 Buick for about eight years.  It’s been a very good car, but has recently been having some trouble, so we have gone to a few used car lots, trying to figure out if we should trade up to a newer car.  I learned a long time ago that it’s not wise to buy a brand new car because they depreciate so quickly once you drive them off the car lot.

Thinking upon depreciation, it got me to thinking about how we can depreciate in our husbands eyes if we aren’t careful.  Proverbs 31:10 tells us about the worth of a virtuous woman.  Obviously, this woman’s worth is more valuable as time goes by, but how many of us get lax in what we are doing, and could honestly say that we are ‘depreciating’?  Webster’s New World Dictionary defines ‘depreciate’ as: “to lessen in value, to belittle.”

One way that I think we can depreciate is through thinking that we can change our husband.  In times of conversation, he may just be wanting to vent his frustrations from the day.  He isn’t looking for any advice; he just wants a listening ear.  But, what do we do?  We try to ‘fix’ him.  We tell him what he should have said, or should have done.  If he tells us what he did say, we may find ourselves saying, “Why did you say that?  Why didn’t you tell him….?”  What we don’t realize is that when we give our husband advice when he hasn’t asked for it, we are attempting to change him.  Eve did that, and look where it took her and Adam.  We are still suffering the consequences of how Eve desired to change her husband.

We depreciate in value when we are like the quarrelsome wife.  Sometimes we may even hear our husband say, “You never agree with anything I say or do!”  You may wonder what caused such an outburst like that from him.  After all, you were only trying to help!  What we don’t realize is that our constant attempts to try to ‘fix’ him are really disguised criticisms (or belittling him).  When we criticize him, we are telling him that we don’t really accept him as he is.  Yet, in I Corinthians 13, we find that love protects.  Disguised criticism doesn’t protect, but rather, it attacks his manhood.  It also takes away that safe place where he can vent from time to time.  We are told in Matthew 7:1 that we shouldn’t criticize, yet many times, we find ourselves criticizing the person whom God has placed in authority over us.

One of the best gifts we can give someone is a listening ear.  There have been many instances of a husband having an affair because his wife would never listen to him, so he found someone else who would.

We depreciate when we constantly interrupt.  If our husband is trying to talk to us, and we keep interrupting him, we may miss out on learning new things about him.  We might be able to learn about his deep thoughts, feelings, desires, and his character.  We need to learn from our husband in quietness. (I Tim. 2:11)  Too often, we fail to truly listen, causing our husband to give up in trying to express himself. Most men get tired of competing for a chance to speak, so they eventually begin to just shut up.  They’ve been out working, fighting all kinds of battles during the day.  They aren’t about to battle it out with their wife for a chance to speak. 

Another way we can quickly depreciate is by failing to respect our husband.  Part of fulfilling that command is to admire him.  Men love to be admired!  Often, an affair starts because a woman starts to admire a man and he falls for it because his wife has stopped admiring him.  The sowing and reaping principle works well here.  When we are faithful to admire our husband, we help him to love himself.  That may cause him to begin to nourish his relationship with you, to treasure and protect you like he is commanded in Ephesians 5:28-29.  Actively look for ways to praise him.  One thing my husband does frequently for me is to open jars.  I get frustrated because I have no strength in my hands.  I am grateful for a strong husband who can help me get those stubborn lids opened!  After he opens it, I will gently stroke his arm, commenting on his strong muscles.  What man wouldn’t love to hear things like that?

When people begin to look at buying a used car, they will often check the ‘book value’ of that car.  What is your ‘book value’?  Does Father need to do a little refurbishing on you?

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Proverbs 31:24

Proverbs 31:24

MSG: She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to dress shops.

CEV: She makes clothes to sell to the shop owners.

AMP: She makes fine linen garments and leads others to buy them; she delivers to the merchants girdles (or sashes that free one up for service).

Have you ever met a woman who never felt that she could be in ‘service’ for the Lord?  She may be a woman who is bound by her past mistakes.  She may need a godly woman who can mentor her, helping her to find a ‘sash’ that will free her up for service.  Are you willing to be available to help another lady find that ‘sash’ which can bring freedom to her?

Another way of viewing this text is to see that this woman is an enterprising woman.  She has her own business to run, yet it’s obvious from previous verses that she doesn’t neglect her Lord, her family, or her household duties in pursuing a career.  She has her priorities in order.

It is also implied here that her garments are of fine quality.  She isn’t one who is given to being lazy in making her garments, causing them to look shabby.  Her items are so nice that they are sought by the merchants.  She has earned quite a reputation for herself by making such fine quality merchandise.  The merchants know that they can trust her to make things which will last, giving them great value for their money.

Do you need help with your ‘sash,’ or are you able to help someone else with theirs?

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

Dehydrated

Dehydrated

I recently started donating plasma to earn some extra money. One of the first things I learned was to keep myself hydrated.  Being well-hydrated allowed the machine to pull the plasma from my blood a lot faster and it lessens the amount of time that I am hooked up to the machine.

Plasma is manufactured into a wide variety of lifesaving products that can benefit those who have hemophilia and immune system deficiencies.  It is also used to make products to help treat diseases like tetanus, rabies, measles, rubella, and Hepatitis B. 

One day when I donated plasma, it became obvious that I was dehydrated.  It was taking much longer during each cycle to collect the blood and separate the plasma.  When the machine is pulling the blood out, I have to pump my fist.  That particular day, I was wearing myself out with all of the pumping, yet feeling like I was getting nowhere.  I could watch the machine and see how slowly things were flowing.  Finally, after one hour and fifteen minutes, they had to just disconnect the machine and take what plasma they did get, rather than waiting to collect the normal amount from me.

It occurred to me that we can become spiritually dehydrated.  Jesus tells us in John 4:14 that if we drink the water which He supplies, we won’t ever thirst again.  In keeping ourselves hydrated physically, it requires that we drink water before we actually feel thirsty.  If we feel thirsty, then we are already dehydrated.  It’s the same in the spiritual realm.  We need to drink of the Living Water before we feel the need for it.  Then, when the days of trial and testing, sickness, or even an overloaded schedule come, we have some Living Water already stored up to keep us spiritually hydrated.

Just as my plasma flow was slow because of dehydration, my spirit will be slow to be in step with God’s will my life if I’m spiritually dehydrated.  I will be less apt to feel those gentle nudgings of the Holy Spirit.  I won’t be as willing to set aside my agenda for God’s agenda.  If I’m spiritually dehydrated, I will be much more likely to walk in the flesh, giving in to anger, bitterness, wrath, filthy language and selfishness.  (Col. 3:8) I will have a very hard time showing a love that is kind, patient, humble, self-sacrificing, and rejoicing in truth.  My love will be less likely to protect, trust, hope, and persevere.  (I Cor. 13)  On the contrary, when I stay connected to the vine (Jn. 15), drinking of the water that comes from the Source of Life, I will be able to clothe myself with compassion, being kind, humble, gentle, and patient in my words and actions.  (Col. 4:12)

Just as I had to pump really hard to keep the blood flowing at a faster pace, when I’m spiritually dehydrated, I begin to strive in my flesh, forgetting that apart from Christ, I can do nothing.  (Jn. 15:5)

When I am hydrated, I am able to donate the maximum amount of plasma, which can help to give life to someone else.  When I’m spiritually hydrated, I can be a life-giver to those around me.  I can encourage the weak, reach out to the oppressed, and pray for the sick, imparting to them life-giving words of scripture.

How about you?  Are you feeling dehydrated?

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Proverbs 31:23

Proverbs 31:23

AMP: Her husband is known in the city’s gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.

CEV: Her husband is a well-known and respected leader in the city.

MSG: Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.

Proverbs 12:4 tells us that a virtuous wife is a crowning joy to her husband.  A king who wears his crown is easy to spot because he stands out in a crowd due to the brilliance of the jewels in his crown.  So it is with a man who has a virtuous wife.  That is why he makes her a focal point in his life.  He lifts her as one lifts a crown to put it on.  Why does he do this?  She does him good (v. 12) and he can fully trust her (v. 11).  She’s not spiteful or a nag (v. 12).  She enriches the lives of her loved ones by being mindful of their needs. (v. 14-15)  She’s able to think for herself, not seeing submission to her husband as being a doormat. (v. 16) 

Another reason she is a focal point in his life is because she doesn’t live by her emotions, falling apart the instant he walks in the door because of how hard her day has been. (v. 16) She also uses the mind God has given her to benefit her family, therefore, doing him good once again (v. 12).  He is also touched by her compassion for other people. (v. 20)

In spite of how busy she has been during the day, she still has time and energy for her husband at the end of the day.  (v. 18) She makes home a refuge for him. (v. 22) She keeps his clothes washed, dried, ironed, and helps him to look neat. (v. 21)

She blesses her husband because she is also a great conversationalist; however, she knows when he needs silence. (v. 26) The message Bible says in verse 27 that she keeps her eye on everyone in the household.  I would venture to say that this woman flirts with her husband while she is keeping her eye on him.

Do you need to do some flirting?

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

Dangers of Usurping Our Authority

Dangers of Usurping our Authority

If you are like me, when you hear the word “submit,” an automatic wall can pop up around you. So many of us have gotten sucked into the beliefs of the culture we live in, rather than staying rooted and grounded in what the Word has to say on this subject. Because of that, I wanted to look at a couple of examples in scripture of women who usurped their authority.

Our first example is Eve. She used her persuasive power to talk Adam into giving up his leadership and following her fleshly desires when they ate the fruit. We still suffer from the consequences of their actions. If we take the time to contemplate how our lack of submission or obedience can affect future generations, we might be less inclined to give in to our flesh.

Solomon’s wives turned his heart to other gods when he allowed them to assume the leadership role in the marriage.

Sarah talked Abraham into using Hagar to fulfill God’s promise to them regarding a son. There has been a constant conflict since that time between the Arabs and the Jews. Even this very day we are facing some of the remaining consequences of Sarah “usurping her authority.” Daily, we have precious soldiers losing their lives, or being wounded in Iraq. If Sarah hadn’t taken the lead on this issue, I have to wonder if we would even be in Iraq right now.

Submission to our husbands is seen by God as an actual part of our obedience to Christ. We are told in Eph. 5:22 to submit to our husband as “unto the Lord.”

What do you do when you feel it’s God’s will to do a certain thing, but your husband tells you not to do it? Num. 30:6-16 has some wonderful insights. I will highlight a few of them here, but in your quiet time, I would suggest that you take the time to read all of it. “If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself, and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows…will stand. But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow…and the Lord will release her…Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes…If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he is responsible for her guilt.” (NIV) You can see here that if our spouse says no to something, then he is taking the full responsibility on the issue. Seeing this gives me a new respect for the leadership that is upon my husband’s shoulders.

In I Sam. 1, we see the story of Hannah pleading with the Lord to give her a son. She makes a vow to dedicate him to the Lord’s service. Notice in verse 22, Hannah tells Elkanah that she is going to present Samuel before the Lord, to live there always. In verse 23, Elkanah tells her, “Do what seems best to you.” (NIV) If he had told her not to do it, even though she had made the vow to the Lord, God would have released her from that vow.

In Acts 16:1, we find that Timothy’s mother was a Jewess, but his father was a Greek (an unbeliever). By law, Timothy was to be circumcised. Because of his father being Greek, his mother did not take him to be circumcised. God held Timothy’s father accountable for this, not Timothy’s mother. When Timothy became of age, he chose to be circumcised. (v. 3) You can see here that Timothy’s mother had a submissive heart toward her husband. Could her obedience to honoring and submitting to her husband have anything to do with how God used Timothy? I believe that it is quite possible.

We may be submissive to our husbands most of the time, and we may feel pretty good about doing that. However, we need to remember what the Word says in I Sam. 15:22. To obey is better than sacrifice. As wives and mothers, we are well acquainted with sacrificing. Regardless of how much we sacrifice, God wants us to be careful to obey in everything, to submit in everything. (Unless the submission would require us to sin against the Lord.) You see, unless there is obedience all the time, there is no obedience any of the time. If we choose when we are going to obey, we’re not really obeying at all. We are just choosing to do our own will, which happens to agree with our husband’s will at certain times. John 14:23 tells us that if we love Jesus, we will obey the teachings of Christ. In verse 24 it says that those who don’t love Jesus will not obey His teachings. Those are some really tough words to swallow, but if we remember that our lack of obedience in this area can have effects that are felt for many generations to come, it may drive us to our knees and depend on our Loving Father like we have never depended on Him before.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Proverbs 31:22

Proverbs 31:22

CEV: She does her own sewing and everything she wears is beautiful.

MSG: She makes her own clothing and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

AMP: She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry.  Her clothing is of linen, pure and fine, and of purple (such as that of which the clothing the priests and the hallowed cloths of the temple were made).

I have to admit, I will never fit this verse, as far as sewing goes!  Sewing is not something I enjoy, although I do like to crochet afghans.  To help those of you who may be plagued with guilt over not sewing your own clothing, keep in mind that during the time this woman lived, sewing was something done by most women.  Times and cultures have changed drastically since then.  Not to mention, it can get very costly to sew.  I’ve heard many women say that you are better off financially if you watch the clearance racks, shop at resale shops, or garage sales.

In looking at the CEV verse, it mentions that everything she wears is beautiful.  The world’s standard of ‘beautiful’ is anything that looks voluptuous, showing off our bosom, our legs, or fitting tightly across our backside.  We will see clearly in the scriptures today that our virtuous woman could not have possibly dressed in this manner.

In Is. 61:10, it mentions how the Lord has clothed us with garments of salvation, covering us with a robe of righteousness, as a bride adorns herself with jewels.  What jewels?  Could this be talking, in a spiritual sense, of clothing ourselves with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  (Gal. 5:22)  In looking at the other verses which describe the Proverbs 31 lady, we see that she fit these characteristics.

In I Pet. 3:3-4, Peter tells us that our beauty shouldn’t come from outward adornment, like wearing expensive jewelry or costly clothing.  Rather, our beauty should be that which comes from a gentle and quiet spirit.  This kind of beauty is such that it isn’t easily disturbed by circumstances, giving in to whining, moaning, yelling, or fits of rage.  It is also of such that it doesn’t allow that inner tranquility to be easily disturbed by the comments of others, feeling that we must lash out in defense of ourselves when someone else judges us unjustly.

I can picture this lady ‘stitching’ spiritual garments into place, teaching herself to walk daily in the beauty which God desires for His daughters.  I can picture her teaching these truths to her children with her words and actions, since this is a very important truth for them to learn.  We can learn much from her example.  Are we taking the time to teach our children to dress modestly, being more concerned about our inner beauty, rather than being sucked into Hollywood’s version of beauty?  Are we teaching our sons that girls who dress immodestly are girls which they should avoid like the plague?  Our former pastor used to tell us to ‘pick our battles.’  THIS battle is one worth fighting!

The Amplified version mentions the color purple, which represents royalty, or the best.  Are we dressing our family in the best, or only in what will get us by?  I’m not referring to spending lots of money on clothing.  For our family, the ‘best’ is often the best value for our dollar.  My daughter always looks like I’ve spent a fortune on her clothing, but I haven’t.  For instance, one year, she had a fall outfit that cost $75 originally, but my mother bought it for $5.00.  It obviously looked like it cost quite a bit, but it didn’t cost me a penny!

Are you clothing your family in the best?  Are you clothing them spiritually with garments of righteousness through Biblical teachings?

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

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