Bible Study

Bible Study is on hold until further notice. Sorry for the unexpected delay, but due to circumstances out of my control I cannot continue the study at this time. I am hoping to resume the study in the next month or so. Thank you for your understanding!

Please scroll down for this weeks session if you have already read this intro!

If you have been a believer for any length of time, then you have most likely heard of the Proverbs 31 woman. Maybe you have even studied this topic. Read one of the many, many books, blogs or articles that have been written about the virtuous woman. Over the years, I too have read many different articles, blogs and such. While many are full of wonderful commentary and information about how to become a virtuous woman, I often was left feeling like something had been ‘left on the table.’

For some time I could not quite ‘put my finger on it’, then one morning while I was having my quiet time with the Lord, he revealed it to me. We live in a world where being a Proverbs 31 woman is not considered to be politically correct; it’s old fashioned and goes against the feminist agenda. I have noticed that in many cases the author’s pass over some of the topics completely, or if they do address them it is only on the surface level. They don’t go deep and they definitely don’t write anything that would stir up controversy. I have even read articles in which the author states that what was written was for that time period and does not pertain to women today.

Yet the Bible is NOT an outdated document merely full of suggestions for us to live by. It is relevant even today. God is the same; yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If we are truly following God, then we should do so wholeheartedly and all in, even if WE don’t agree with what the word says. After all HE is GOD and we are his creation!

I really like what my ESV Study Bible says in its doctrine, “The authority of Scripture requires one thing of us; joyful submission as we recognize its claim on all aspects of our lives.”

So over the next several weeks I am going to break down Proverbs 31. Really go deep, research and study what each verse means and how we can implement it into our daily lives. This is NOT necessarily going to be politically correct, it is however going to be inspired by God’s word. If you buy into the feminist movement, then this study is definitely not for you. But if you are wanting to really learn what it means to be a Proverbs 31 women, really stretch yourself; knowing there will be a possibility of having to change the way we have been thinking, been taught, despite what our culture today is telling us, then I hope you will join me on this journey!

Whether your single or married, challenge yourself to be BOLD and RADICALLY sold out for Christ!

Proverbs 31:10-31 (NKJV)

10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.

11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.

15 She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.

16 She considers a field and buys it; for her profits she plants a vineyard.

17 She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.

19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.

20 She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet.

22 She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates; when he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.

25 Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.

27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

 

Proverbs 31 Bible Study – Session One

Happy Mother’s Day!

So glad you took the time to join me in this study of Proverbs 31! Like I mentioned before we are going to go really deep during the next several weeks. That being said we need to approach this study with a willingness to have our minds transformed, change our ways of thinking from what the world has taught us is an acceptable way of living, into believing what the Bible says about the way we should conduct our lives. There will be topics we discuss that we personally might not agree with or that society does not agree with at large…one thing we need to remind ourselves throughout this study, we are not god! He is, he is the one who created us, (Genesis 1) who knows us and what is best for us. (Isaiah 43: 1-28, John 10: 14-15, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 129:1-34, Isaiah 49:1-26…just to name a few). His thoughts and ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We need to put aside our flesh, our wants and desires, and pursue the path God has laid out before us without turning to look back, least we become like Lot’s wife, (Genesis 19:26) who was so immersed and comfortable with her life, despite the corrupt culture she lived in, that she did not trust God had a better plan for her.

*Note, that nothing in this study is written to make you feel guilty or ashamed…if you have those feelings, don’t believe them, that is the enemy wanting to prevent you from growing in your faith. None of us are perfect and we also need to make sure we don’t compare ourselves to others, as we women can be really bad about this! Remember we are all on the same journey, heading towards our true and forever home, but the path in which we do so is completely different and unique for each one of us.

Some of the topics we will discuss will be areas in which we may be doing a great job of following, others won’t take much of a change in thought or lifestyle to align ourselves with Gods word, yet others will take not only a BIG STEP OF FAITH, but TIME as well. We need to be meditating over the word, in prayer and open to allow the Holy Spirit to show us the areas in which we can improve or change. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 3:8) If we come across a verse that does not line up with our lifestyle or that we ‘don’t believe or agree with’…we need to remind ourselves that this life is not ours to do with as we choose (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

We need to be willing to put aside our flesh, to ignore what the world would tell us is OK, to put away our thoughts and justifications and wholeheartedly seek to live our lives as God intends us to do so. That being said let’s begin by taking a look at this first verse.

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10 (NKJV)

Virtuous…possessing good moral qualities.

I remember the first time I read this verse in Proverbs, immediately I thought, “Well I am already disqualified from becoming a Proverbs 31 woman!” There was a time in my life when I was far from virtuous. If you are like me, and have a ‘past’, which is not uncommon, especially now days, don’t freak out! First…if you have placed your faith in Christ and his finished work on the cross, then your past is just that. It’s your PAST!

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

Notice, this verse does not say he will remove, or he is going to remove…it says he HAS removed! You are NOT your past! You are a new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

An interesting fact I heard once…King Solomon had several nicknames and many scholars believe that King Lemuel (as mentioned in Proverb 31:1) might have actually been king Solomon, which means that his mother Bathsheba would have been the one who gave him this advice! How cool is that?! A woman who was an adulterer, among other things, could possibly have been the one who gave this awesome advice! So don’t think for one second that you are disqualified if you have a past!

Second, the virtuous being described here is not the ‘virtuous of possessing moral qualities’, here the virtuous being described is a woman who is noble, trustworthy, an asset, domestically skilled, concerned for her household, diligent, endowed, profitable, a hard worker, generous, wise, in proper relation to her husband, has dignity, strength, instructor, watchful, recipient and God-fearing. (Proverbs 11-31)

Now don’t get me wrong…we should strive as Christian women to be virtuous! Truth is, if we are trying to become like the woman listed above, we WILL be virtuous as in ‘possessing moral qualities’. For as you can see it’s a long list! If we are truly all in, following this plan that has been laid out before us then we will not have time to be unvirtuous…we will be way, way, WAY too busy to be anything else!

If the list seems overwhelming, don’t fear…the good news is that broken down, digested piece by piece, becoming the virtuous woman described here in Proverbs is something we can all attain!

While this verse is clearly describing a married woman’s daily routine, this is still something that single women, with or without children, can all strive towards! This Proverb is describing our role a women AFTER we are married…however this advice was given to a young man LOOKING for a wife. The qualities and traits being described in this Proverb are qualities and traits that a single woman who has yet to wed should be striving towards.

As we get deeper and deeper into this study, some of the statements made will only pertain to married women, and some only to married women WITH children. (When those times arrive, I will make it very clear.) That being said, if you are a single woman, I encourage you to follow along with this study. It will be full of information that although may not pertain to your daily life in this season, someday when your “Boaz” comes along you will be one step ahead.

Another thing I want to point out…notice the question, ‘who can find? Her worth is far more precious than rubies.”

A proverbs 31 woman is NOT common! She is RARE, so rare that she is even more precious than rubies!

Did you know that rubies are rarer and more expensive than diamonds? That at one time in history only kings were allowed to wear them? They represent undying love. How cool is that? Think about this…you are a real life princess, for your father is the most high God…the King of Kings…who sent his only begotten son Jesus to die on the cross for you…his love is forever…it is undying. Just as the kings of the past loved to possess rubies…God is a king who loves possessing you…YOU TRULY ARE MORE PRECIOUS THAN RUBIES!

The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. Proverbs 31:11 (NKJV)

The heart of her husband safely trusts…our main job as women is to be keepers of the home, which we will discuss in much more depth as the study goes on. Being responsible and in charge of the ‘in home finances’ –  the money needed to keep the household running, is a huge part of our responsibility as homemakers. This should not be something our husbands have to deal with on a daily basis. Our husbands have enough to do on a daily basis, that this is a huge way we can come alongside them and help support them. They work hard for what they earn and need to know that when they give us money to buy food, clothing, medicine, gas…whatever the money is given for, that is exactly what we spend it on. That we don’t run off, spending (some or all) of the money on frivolous things. The money is not for us! (Yes, at times we have money to treat ourselves to a new outfit, shoes, hair appointment, etc.) Here I am specifically talking about the finances given to us to keep the home running smoothly.

On top of spending the money responsibly, it is also our responsibility to spend it wisely. Wait for those sales whenever possible, clip coupons, or download them. Do some research, make sure we are getting the best price for the item we are buying…or perhaps getting creative…reusing items we already have at our disposal. This takes time, it’s not as easy as just going to the store without taking the time to find the best deals around, or clicking the buy it now button without thought to the price of the item we just placed into the cart. It is our responsibility to stretch the money we are given…make it ‘grow.’

Take a moment to read Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Gold Bags

This is a beautiful illustration of the responsibility that we women have been given in running the household finances. Our husbands entrust us to spend the money how we agreed. While everyone does things differently, and each family needs to work out their own system I will tell you just a bit about how this works for us.

About once a year my husband and I sit down to do a budget. If we didn’t, then truthfully, I would have no idea what our bills were, what was coming in, or going out? He is responsible for paying the bills; savings, rent, insurance, internet, etc. I am responsible for taking care of our ‘emergency money’ (not savings, but money put aside for those unexpected bills), food, clothing, fun (our monthly activities/money used to eat out), gifts (birthdays, Christmas, weddings, etc.), and Personal, (This is the money my husband and I both get to spend on ourselves in any way we wish…typically for me its nails, hair or those shoes I just have to have!) This is also the one category that if need be, is cut from our budget! Even though we budget for fun…it is often very low by the end of the month. If my children get invited to an activity and the fun money is low or empty, I will often sacrifice my personal money so they can go. So those new shoes I want…I am NOT buying a pair every month. I usually have to save several months before I can purchase them.

You may be thinking how does the parable of the gold bags have anything to do with this? Well, for one I have a budget…I want to stick to that budget, in fact I strive to do BETTER! I want to be more like the servants I the parable that invested the money and made a profit. I don’t want to be like the servant who was given money and did nothing with it. I don’t ever, ever want to come to my husband asking for MORE money. We set a budget and just like I expect my husband to pay the bills so we have a house over our heads and electricity, he expects me to be just as responsible with the money he has entrusted to me.

There are several months throughout the year in which we have money left over in the food, clothing, gift categories…and on occasion the fun (though not very often)…I keep the money in there, rolling it over to the next month and so on. I NEVER look at it as surplus…when Christmas comes around, I know I have the money needed to buy gifts and I don’t have to approach my husband and ask for a larger budget that month. When we have company over for dinner or a birthday party to plan, I don’t have to worry about my grocery bill that week being slightly larger than normal, and if I go over my budget that week, it’s OK…I have the money! Money saved from all the other weeks that I was under budget in which to do so.

Technically, I am not ‘investing’ the money given to me like in the parable. But the idea is the same…I am being careful, stretching it…never having to approach my husband, asking for more than we agreed upon. I don’t do this just to honor my husband, but to honor God. When I stand before God someday I want to hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Mathew 25:23

Now some of you may be thinking…how awful, she has to go to her husband for money. First off, of course I do…I am a homemaker, I don’t have an income of my own. (Yes, I do make my own money, but I will discuss what I do with the proceeds at a later time.) Second, despite where the money comes from, you or your husband, our husbands ARE the head of us, just as Christ is the head of them. (Ephesians 5:22-21 and 1 Corinthians 11:3) * I will be going much deeper into what it means to be a submissive wife later on in our study. And third…I would much rather him be responsible for keeping track of our money and paying our bills as I already have a plate full! I don’t need the extra stress.

Being submissive to our husbands does not mean we women don’t have a say, or we don’t have a voice, that we are subservient slaves. Notice that my husband and I agreed on a budget. It was not one sided…in fact he gave into my wishes more often than I did his. Once he gives me the money he never sees it again, nor does he ask me to give an account! I can, if he ever were to ask. I have a ledger, I keep track of every penny I spend and where I spend it. But my husband never asks…he trusts me. Just as I trust him to pay the bills we agreed he would pay. I don’t expect him to ever come to me asking for some of the money back because he needs to pay a bill! (When a budget is first set and acted upon, there might be a bit of tweaking needed, but once running smoothly it needs to be kept.) Other than our once a year sit down…we don’t ask each other where we are spending the money. We know…we trust each other. We are a team, working for and with one another towards the same goal!

It’s not just the finances we women have responsibility over, it’s our homes! We need to be in the “know”…to know what our husbands make and what the bills are, even if that is not our specific responsibility.

My husband is always going around turning off lights or electronics that are not being used. This used to drive me crazy! I would leave a room intending to come back within the next five minutes or so, only to find the light I had purposely left on or the computer, was now turned off. (Sometimes both!) After sitting down the first time with my husband and creating a budget I realized why he is so careful. I had no idea electricity could be hundreds of dollars each month…seriously, I thought maybe fifty! Now knowing not only the price we pay each month to have electricity, but also the time my husband has to work in order to pay the bill, I am much more mindful of turning off the lights myself and training the kids to do so as well. It’s just one small way I can honor him and his time, for he works hard to provide for our family.

Yes, we women work hard too! We have to multitask, organize, schedule, run errands, and care for the home. Often we do all this with children in tow; we don’t get sick days and rarely do we get vacations (I mean real vacations, no children, no responsibility vacations)…it’s not easy! But our husbands don’t have it easy either. They have the HUGE responsibility of being the head of the family, the providers, protectors and most importantly our spiritual leader. (See Ephesians 5:25-33)

I for one am very thankful God did not give ME that job title! So at the end of the day, I want to do my job to the best of my ability, so that my husband can do his job to the best of his ability.

I am so thankful, SO VERY THANKFUL, that I don’t work outside the home. The years fly by and soon my children will be gone; I am so blessed to have this time with them. But as we live in fallen world and not a perfect garden, my husband unfortunately does have to get up early five days a week and go to work. He does not get to see or experience all the precious moments I have with our children, as he is away during the day. Yes he gets a recap of the daily events at the dinner table each night, or a picture of a cute moment that I was able to capture and send to him; still it’s not the same a being there.

If his heart did not trust me to run our home and care for our children then he would struggle. He would not be able to leave in the mornings and focus all his attention on his job if I were not trustworthy. If the kids and house were being neglected so I could focus on myself; go out with my friends, shopping, to the movies, etc. (Not that I don’t enjoy a girls night out from time to time…none of the things mentioned here are bad.) But like all things, in excess they are. I am first and foremost a homemaker…my daily responsibility is to my family and our home, not to myself or my desires; spending hard-earned money on things not agreed upon. (Notice I did not say his money…my husband may earn it…but we are a team, it’s our money!) Knowing that while he is a work I am taking care of our children and the house, my husband can focus fully on his job. Without me running our home my husband would not be able to make the money. So you see, we women are a vital asset to our husband’s success! Without us, they would not be able to succeed! So don’t ever think of yourself as ‘just a homemaker’, you are so much more! YOU ARE A RARE FIND…not only are you Gods treasure, you are YOUR HUSBANDS TREASURE as well!

I wish I could tell you that this was the extent of our responsibility as women; wives and homemakers…it’s not! But don’t freak out if you are already overwhelmed, or perhaps think of yourself as domestically challenged…for we women were specifically made for this role; to be homemakers and help meets! We are not alone, not only do we have sisters in Christ who can come alongside and support one another, (1 Thessalonians 5:11 and Hebrews 10:24-25) we have the best ever, amazing helper, living inside us…the Holy Spirit!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah (29:11 ESV)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John (15:16 ESV)

Today I have only just begun to scratch the surface of what it means to be a helpmeet to our husbands. Over the next several weeks I will continue to break down Proverbs 31 and we will cover many more topics. I hope you will join me next Sunday as we study the deeper meaning of Proverbs 31, versus 12 & 13

Proverbs 31 Bible Study – Session Two

Welcome back! I know that at the end of last week’s study I mentioned we would be studying Proverbs 31:12 & 13 this week. However once I got into the study I realized just how much ground I had to cover in just verse twelve alone, so that is what this week’s study is on and I will get to verse 13 next week.

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:12 (NKJV)

In order to do our husband ‘good’ it requires us to be humble, to put aside our wants and desires, and become God fearing women who are very much family oriented, over a modern ‘liberated’ feminist. One way we can ‘do good’ for our husbands is to be full-time homemakers, opposed to having a career. This however is not what I am going to be discussing here, I will address what the Bible says about being a homemaker in a later session. Today I will be focusing on another huge way we can ‘do good’ for our husbands; honoring his role as the head.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV)

I am amazed in conversations I am party to just how many Christian women believe this is not something relevant in today’s world. Our culture would have us believe that being submissive to another person is old-fashioned, outdated, even wrong. The thing we have to remember is that we are to follow God’s word, whether we agree with it or not. Despite what the world would have us believe. God has not changed, he is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings… Hebrews 13:8-9 (NIV)

We have this bad image of what being submissive actually is. From very little on we are fed propaganda that women are the same, if not better than men. That we can do anything a man can, probably better. That we can have it all, a career and a family. That we are just as strong, hear us roar! The truth is there ARE differences between men and women…we ARE NOT the same! God created us women to be the exact opposite of men. It was not good for Adam to be alone, so God created women to be his helpmeet. (Genesis 2:18)

Being our husband’s helpmeet is not a degrading term or position in any way. Everything our husbands’ lack, we have. Just like the things we lack our husbands have. We were created male and female with very distinct differences and very distinct roles. Created to come alongside one another, for this lifetime, to function as a team. Created with our differences on purpose! Most men could not do life without a woman at his side, just as most women could not do life without a man at her side. (I say most, because there are times when God calls a man or woman to live a celebrant life, not entering into marriage.) But by far God created the vast majority of men and woman to enter into a marriage relationship.

Now I know some of you are thinking, many men and women today are living unmarried and surviving just fine. Yes, many people today are choosing not to marry. Truth is God did not intend for us to go through this life without a partner. Remember he created Adam before Eve. He always planned on making Eve, but he waited, allowing Adam to name all the animals first so that Adam realized that he was alone and in need of a partner. And how excited Adam was when he woke from his sleep to see the woman God had created just for him! Whatever Adam lacked, Eve had. Yes it’s these differences themselves that often drive us crazy in our marriage relationship! That is why God being the center of our marriage is so very important. We need Jesus as the glue that holds us together, and we need to trust that God knows what he is doing…after all he created us.

Women are not better than men, nor are men better than women. We were each created to be uniquely man or woman. Yes, we women are capable of doing all sorts of things! We are smart, we do have value. We are strong…very strong, we have to be strong in order to give birth, however most of the time we are NOT as physically strong as men.

1 Peter 3:7 describes us women as being the weaker vessel. This was not said to belittle us or devalue women in any way. Peter was simply pointing out a fact. Women are the weaker vessel. While we are typically physically weaker than men…we are also emotionally weaker. It was Eve who was deceived in the garden. Now before you get upset please hear me out…yes, Adam willingly choose to disobey, just as Eve. But have you ever wondered why the serpent approached Eve first and not Adam? We women tend to make our decisions based on our feelings and not wisdom.

The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death….Proverbs 14:12-13 (KJV)

Men for the most part, do not make decisions based on feelings. It is for this very reason that God placed men over us. Being submissive to our husbands does not mean we are slaves. That we have no say or that our husband can order us about and we have to respond to his every whim. Remember you and your husband are a team, each with a job description given to us by God himself. Our husbands are told to love us a Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5: 25-30). They are to be our cover spiritually, to be the ‘priest’ of the family. It is the man’s job to make sure his family is involved in church, reading the Bible, growing closer in relation to the Lord. It is the man’s job to be our protectors. He is responsible for making sure we are safe, and that if need be, has the skill and tools in which to do so. It is the man’s job to go to work each day to provide for the needs of his family. He is responsible for making sure his family has a roof over their head, that there is enough money for food, clothing and other household needs. It is his responsibility to make sure the house is in good repair; keeping the appliances working, the roof from leaking, the grass cut. It is his responsibility to keep the vehicles running well. The man is supposed to be the disciplinarian, not the mother, we were made to be the nurtures. Yes from time to time we have to discipline our children…but for the most part our husbands should be doing this. And he is commanded to do all this in love…just as Christ loved the church.

So you see our husbands are not to boss us around, or control us. He has been given a position of leadership, not dictatorship. And while he is commanded to love us, we are commanded to honor him.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband. Ephesians 5:33 (KJV)

So practically how does this look? The feminist would have you think of a submissive stay at home wife as someone who is sleep deprived, pregnant for the umpteenth time. An unhappy homemaker who does nothing for herself, but cooks, cleans, and serves her kids and husband day in and day out. That the man comes home and lies on the couch watching his sports while the wife is stuck over a hot stove with small children crying as they cling to her legs. If the husband calls for his wife, she drops whatever she is doing to serve him. That she gets no help, she is suppressed and has no freedom or rights.

YES we ARE going to have those moments when we are tired and have screaming kids hanging onto us…but this is NOT what daily life is like in a household where the man and woman are operating in the roles in which God has placed them in. While each family runs differently, I will give you a glimpse into our daily routine.

My husband rises early…very early each morning, before the sun rises to have his time with the Lord. He then gets ready for the day and just before he leaves to go to work, he will wake me, if I am not already awake, to pray with me and say good-bye. I then have my time with the Lord while the children are still sleeping. When I am finished, I wake the children and prepare a quick breakfast which we sit down at the kitchen table and eat together. After breakfast we do a few light chores, then we begin school. Once the school work is finished (or mostly finished) we walk to the gym. As I exercise, the children play. After my workout, we walk home and I quickly get myself ready for the day. Depending on our schedule, we usually rush out for Bible study, library time, doctors’ appointments or other such things. After our morning activities, it is time for lunch. Again we eat at the table, though depending on the season and nice days, about three to four times a week I will pack a picnic lunch and go to a local playground. After we eat, my younger child plays a bit while the older finishes their school work. When we come home its quiet time, yea! My time to make phone calls, check my email, work, write…stuff that needs to be done without noisy kids in the background. Then after an hour or two of quiet time (which depends on my toddler actually falling asleep) we often have a playdate scheduled, errands to run or more appointments. After that it’s time to head home as evening is quickly approaching! About this time my husband too arrives home. He does not come home and sit on the couch watching T.V while I “slave away”. He is spending time with the kids so I can have a break; and by time I don’t mean sitting them on the couch beside him. My husband will often take them on walks or has them help while he does projects around the house. On occasion he will help them with a school project, or has his own errands to run, in which case he will take one or both of the children with him. Now as far a dinner goes, we eat out a lot, which I am thankful for as I hate cooking! Thankfully my husband loves to eat out and we can afford to do so. However when we do eat at home it’s about 50/50 when it comes to who is preparing dinner, as my husband likes to cook and does not mind doing so, which again I am thankful for! But no matter where we eat, out or home, we all sit at the table and eat our meal together. (I stress this because it amazes me how many families don’t make eating meals together a priority.) Many nights after dinner we are once again rushing off to small groups, youth groups or other extracurricular activities. Sometimes we all go, sometimes it’s a men’s group and I stay home with the kids, sometime it’s a women’s group and my husband stays with the children so I can go, and sometimes the children are both gone. I like those nights! For other than our date nights, it not often that my husband and I get one on one with no interruptions to our conversations. It’s late when our day finally ends and once the children are asleep my husband and I try to have some time together in God’s word before we go to bed exhausted.

My days are full, and I am often tired…but I would not trade my place for the world! I am not a slave to my husband…I am his partner. He does what he needs to in order to provide for our family. I do what I need to in order that he can go to work and provide for our family; so that he will not have to worry about the kids or house and can focus fully on his job. Our job as homemakers is super important! I get to eat three meals a day with my family (or most members). I get to teach my children, not just through books but through real life experiences that we encounter on a daily basis. I choose my schedule, I am in control of what we are going to do on a daily basis. When my husband wakes me in the morning, he is not doing so demanding that I get up and start my day. Truth is if I wanted to go back to bed for another hour or so I could, but if I did that then I would not have uninterrupted time with the Lord each morning, so I choose to stay up. My husband does not leave me in the morning with a list of to do’s for me. Sure there are times that he will ask me to run an errand or make a phone call for him because he is at work and if it makes his day easier, why would I not want to help him out? He works hard! He sacrifices time away from the family so that we don’t go without our basic needs…in fact he sacrifices to provide well above just our basic needs so we can have most of our wants too. While my day is mostly occupied with me serving the other members of my family, I do have ‘me time’ carved out. I carve out time to go to the gym five days a week and I get ‘me time’ for an hour or two each day while the kids are having their quite time. Not to mention the times I am at a women’s Bible study or small group having me time.

Yes I am the one who most of the time does the housework, but I don’t see housework as me being a slave to my husband. It’s a way to honor him, while I DO NOT clean my house on a daily basis, I do make sure things are picked up; dishes are not sitting in the sink or toys are scattered all about the house. Little stuff like that so my husband can come home to a relaxing environment. I do have a cleaning day once a week, where the entire house gets scrubbed. Why wouldn’t I be the one to clean the house? I am home many more hours than my husband is each week. Why wouldn’t I be the one to run most of the errands, again I have more free hours in which to do so. This does not mean my husband does not help. He does often. He helps care for the kids. Like I mentioned, he even cooks dinner about 50% of the time we eat at home. And most of the time he is the one who cleans up after those meals we eat at home. But he has his own responsibilities, he does all the yard work, the household repairs, the vehicle maintenance, he even does his own laundry, all on top of his full-time job. I should not expect him to take on my responsibilities, nor does he expect me to take on his responsibilities. Despite what the world would have us believe, God has laid out certain gender roles for men and women to follow.

So if we are running our household as ‘equal’ partners then where does this whole submissive thing come in? Well in many ways. I am submitting to God’s will by being a stay at home wife and mother rather than having a career; putting my time and energy into raising the next generation of godly men and women. I am submitting to God’s will when about the time my husband comes home I am making sure the children are not fighting or throwing a tantrum, that the house is picked up, not spotless, but comfortable so that it’s a peaceful place for my man to return to after a long day’s work. I am submitting to God’s will when I greet my husband with a smile and a kiss, not throwing my cares and burdens of the day at him the moment he walks through the door. I may not have written in my daily description above about all the toddler tantrums, and teen pushbacks, or the traffic I was stuck in making me late for that appointment, or any of the other challenges I face on a daily basis…trust me, they are there! It’s not that we don’t discuss those issues, we do, usually at dinner, sometimes later on, just not the moment he walks through the door. (Remember…our husbands too have issues they have dealt with all day long. Different YES, but still stressful. They too need time to unwind.) I am submitting to God’s will when my husband and I have a choice to make; it could be anything from should we go on vacation this year, send a child to summer camp, or relocate for a new job? I honor him when we are not in agreement by allowing him to make the final decision, that I do not pushback, argue, or disrespect him in any way. I may not agree with his decision, but I choose to fully support it.

This is not always easy. There are many times when I don’t agree with my husband’s decision, but no matter my feelings, God has commanded me to submit to him. If I am going to try my best to follow God, then I need to be submissive even when I don’t want to! I have heard many women say “Well, if my husband was not such an idiot then I would submit to him. But because he can’t do anything right, then I have to be the one in control.”

First I will point out that God did not say “Wives submit to your husbands only if he is smart, if he is capable, if he is….” You fill in the blank. There are NO conditions…we are to submit period! Second this is why it is so very, very, very important, I am speaking to all YOU SINGLE LADIES, that you pray and are seeking after a godly man; a man daily seeking God, God’s wisdom, and a man’s man. Not one of these ‘snow flakes’ that are so prevalent this day in age. A man who takes his role as father and leader seriously. Thirdly, we cannot expect our husbands to always make the best or correct decision, they too are flawed sinners. Remember, just because they are men does not mean they are smarter or better…it only means that God’s order is man is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of man. If there is something that a man and wife cannot come to an agreement on, then God’s ‘tiebreaker’ is that the man has the final say.

THIS IS SO HARD…so hard to let my husband make his choice, especially those times that I KNOW he is not making the correct decision. But if in those times, I submit like I the Bible tells me to do, the following things occur. One because of my obedience, God protects not only me, but our entire family from any harm that would have or should have come from that situation. Two, my husband learns from his mistake, and isn’t that how most of us learn? Through our mistakes, which means he most likely will grow and won’t make that same mistake again. Third, our children witness first-hand how God will bless us if we are striving to follow him despite our flaws. Fourth and my favorite…my husband always comes to me after the fact and says those words we all want to hear, “You were right!”

Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is an amazing, God-fearing man who thankfully most of the time does make the correct decision when the two of us are not in agreement. And while there are times that I was ‘right’, there are even more times the decision he made was the best. Once I step back and reflect, I can see that the way I was looking at that particular subject, I was being led by my feelings. Had my husband given into my ‘way of thinking’, we would have found ourselves in trouble.

If you are struggling to let go and let your husband take the lead, pray about this. If you come to God and ask him to help you, he is going to give you the strength to do so. Especially if what you are asking aligns with his word!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Mathew 7:7 (ESV)

Sometimes it’s not necessarily us women who are unwilling to follow the role God has laid out before us, but the men. It is not uncommon these days for women to be the head because the men refuse to do so, or do not know how to do so. Unfortunately we have lost the morals and work ethic of our grandparent’s generation and the generations before them. A whole generation of men were raised so privileged, spoiled; given everything that it’s not uncommon to find young men still living at home. Many were raised by women alone, with no father in the picture to be a role model. From this we have a generation of men who do not know how to do simple things like work on a car. They cannot change the oil, spark plugs; do minor upkeep and repairs at home. Instead they have to rely on others to keep their vehicles in running condition. I wish I had a dollar for every man I have seen standing on the side of the road with a flat tire, holding a cell phone to their ear while wearing designer jeans and a $100 haircut; I would be rich. They are working…otherwise they would not be able to afford all those luxuries, but most of them come home and sit in front of the T.V. for hours often times playing video games like little children. Just as they rely on a mechanic for the simple car repairs, most of them have never planted a garden, mowed the lawn, patched a roof, fixed a broken dishwasher, toilet…the list goes on and on. And many, many men, even in ‘Christian’ households are not taking their role seriously as priest. If the family goes to church at all, it’s because the wife is making it happen; she is taking the lead. Now don’t get me wrong, if the man refuses to be in a leadership role, especially when it comes to the spiritual things, we women have to step up. But remember despite our best intentions, it will never be as good as God’s plan.

Single women…watch for these things and trust me when I say WAIT, don’t settle for anything less than what God has for you. Look for a Boaz, a man who is God-fearing, a hard worker and takes his role as a man seriously! They are out there…men who were raised to be men. And don’t let your children have those video games and limit all electronics for both boys and girls. I won’t get into it here in-depth, but do some research…how video games rewire our brains, or how children and youth with access to electronics are more likely to get addicted to pornography, even at an early age! I don’t know if you noticed when I gave a description of our days, the lack of T.V.? Rarely do we watch television in our house, not never, just not often. We have movie nights or occasionally on rainy days the kids are allowed to watch some T.V., but for the most part the T.V. is off. And when it is on, it is limited and highly monitored. In fact we recently decided as a family to cut cable completely because we hardly ever watched it. And guess what…we don’t miss it! And those video games we don’t even own any. We did, once, but again we rarely ever used it so we sold it. Not only have I researched the dangers of video games but I have firsthand experience of what it was like to live with a video game addict in my first marriage. Knowing what I know, we don’t allow our children to have video games or other electronics. It’s not worth it, especially when there are so many other wholesome activities our days can be filled with. Time is a precious gift from God that once gone you will never get back. Why waste it in front of a device?

If you are married to a man who does not know how to take the lead, or won’t…pray and submit to him regardless!

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 1 Peter 3:1 (NIV)

Do your best in your role even if he refuses to follow his, that by him observing you, he will begin to take his role as head seriously. And you don’t have to be alone in this venture…if your husband does not know how to be the head, then find and connect with a few godly men who are willing to come along side your husband, to be role models who will help and encourage him to step out and take the lead.

Mom’s raise your sons to be godly men! If you are one of those single mom’s raising a boy(s)…find a few god fearing, trust worthy men who are willing to be a part of your son(s) life. A man who will teach your boy(s) how do fix things, do yard work, hunt, fish…teach them that it’s OK to be a manly man! In fact it’s more than OK, it’s God’s plan! (Genesis 5:2) And women with daughters, we need to raise them to settle for nothing less than a godly man’s man! Drill into them that they are worth the wait! The enemy has attacked traditional gender roles, through divorce, fatherlessness and through political correctness. Just look at all the television shows in which the father is shown as the idiot! Choose to raise up a generation that will not conform to this world, but transform the world!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

God has given us clear roles as men and women. He has clearly laid out in the Bible what it looks like to be a women, wife and mother who follows Christ. This world, this life is NOT about us! We are not placed on this planet to be comfortable, to feed our wants and desires. If you are truly wanting to follow God then you need to submit to your husband and let him take the lead as head of the family. It may not be an easy step and most likely will require adjustments in your lifestyle. It may not even be something you’re in agreement with, but if you want God’s full blessing, it starts here. What a great example to your children, as they watch you, they see mommy (and hopefully daddy) putting away their wants and desires to fully submit to the will of God! Doing what the Bible says by ‘taking up your cross’. (Matthew 16:24-26)

What a beautiful example we have of submitting to the will of God in Luke 22:42. Jesus is in the garden praying fervently to God the father about what he is about to endure on the cross, yet his words are ‘not your will but mine.’ Remember this life is not about us! Our purpose for being here is to make disciples and live a life that brings glory to God. Blessings will come, the desire to follow God’s will for your life fully and completely will come if you are seeking to live your life for Him. Despite how you are feeling or thinking about this submission piece, I guarantee if you are obedient to God’s word you won’t regret it. You won’t look back on your life someday and wish you had not been submissive or honoring to your husband, that you had not followed God’s will. God made us! He knows how we work, think, run…how we should live in order to live this life to the fullest, filled with his peace and joy! While life will always have its ups and downs, even when we are living with Christ, it will be a whole lot harder if we try to do so pushing back against God’s will for us.

And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Acts 26:14 (NKJV)

Is God calling out to you asking why you are so bent on doing things your way? Humble yourself before him and ask him to help you change your thinking. To give you the desire and will to follow his word no matter your feelings, no matter what those in the world around you are choosing to do; even other Christians who are living their life doing what pleases them, opposed to doing what pleases God. Choose to obey and you will be amazed at the work God does in your life! It will be an adventure you will never regret!

I hope you will join me next time as we cover Proverbs 31:13 & 14.  *Note I will not be posting another Bible study until June 3rd. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Proverbs 31 Bible Study – Session Three

Welcome back! Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend filled with family, friends and fun. How blessed we are, because of the sacrifice of others, to live in this great nation. Let us never forget the greatest sacrifice of all, Jesus! Without his willingness to go to the cross, as the perfect sacrificial Lamb, shedding his blood, for our sins, we would not have any hope, peace or joy, in this life or the life to come.

Last time we dove really deep into Proverbs 31:12. This week we are taking a closer look at versus 31:13, 14 & 15.

She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. Proverbs 31:13 (NKJV)

 Seeking wool and flax…thank goodness we don’t live in Biblical times! Being a homemaker today is so much easier than it was back then. When we need food or clothing we go to the store and buy it…even better yet, we stay home and order the items needed online to be delivered right to our door. This was not the case back then. If something was needed for the household the women had to make it themselves. Need new cookware? They made it. Kids are growing like weeds??? They had to purchase the raw wool, then weave it, dye it, then finally turn it into a garment…a lot more work went into running a household! We may not have to seek wool and flax literally, but our needs are still the same. Kids grow and we need to cloth them and so on. Like we discussed in study one, we need to do this in a responsible way; stretch that money. This is something we should do even if we are financially blessed! Remember we are stewards of all the resources God has given us. Since we already discussed responsible stewardship of the household funds, I am going to focus on the word willingly!

There are many, many, many Thursdays that I wake up dreading the day! I say Thursday because for me Thursday is my cleaning day. I love a clean house…I hate cleaning! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the house stayed clean????…well we are not yet in heaven, so that dream will have to wait! Not only do I clean, I do laundry and usually a few errands as well…like I said I really dread Thursdays!

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. Proverbs 12:11 (NIV)

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17 (NKJV)

As we read above, work, despite how we feel about it, work is a good thing! And not only are we to work hard, but work willingly. We need to complete our daily tasks with a happy heart.

 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Philippians 2:14 (NIV)

Our families should not have to hear us bicker and complain each time we are scrubbing the toilets or washing dishes. Taking it a step farther, we should actually be rejoicing over the tasks that lay before us daily. If we really think about it, we are so very blessed. Blessed to be able to wake up and get out of bed each day, not to mention all the other blessings that we all the time take for granted! Instead of complaining that I have to do laundry or other chores, I often remind myself that I would rather clean toilets than do yard work or change the oil on our vehicles, as is my husband’s responsibility! I would much rather be cleaning my house than working outside of the home, even if it’s not glamourous. I am blessed to have a house, a family. I would not be cleaning or doing loads of endless laundry if I did not have these blessings.

Of course, not all work is necessarily a chore. We all have different likes and dislikes. Some of you might enjoy cleaning…even toilets! One of my duties that I absolutely LOVE is turning our house into a home. I love interior design. I love painting and decorating! I even love the challenge of doing so on a budget. Finding a piece of furniture at a flea market, or thrift store…sometimes even the curb, (it’s amazing to me what people throw out), and turning something outdated and old into a great ‘new’ piece! My house is filled with other people ‘discards and trash’ and yet almost everyone who comes over compliments me; they are often surprised to find out I did not spend thousands to furnish my house.

The challenge is treating the tasks that we don’t like those we do! Whether we like or don’t like the task that is before us, we need to complete everything with a happy, willing heart. We need to be careful not to let our emotions get in the way, despite our feelings. One example…If your child came running into the house, leaving their muddy foot prints all over your just cleaned floors. We need to be careful in that moment not to snap. Take a moment to pause…look assess the situation. Perhaps they picked you some flowers (yes probably flowers out of the baskets on the front porch that were not meant to be picked.) And they are so excited to present them to you, that removing their shoes before running inside was just not on their mind. If we, because we are already agitated, snap at out child in that moment because we are doing something we don’t like…and now have to do it again, we lose out on such a precious moment. Now I am not saying that this scenario or others similar, are always the case, or that it could not be used as a teaching moment. I am just saying we need to be careful not take our anger or frustration out on our family members. Having to mop a floor twice is never fun, or whatever the task is…especially in cases when we are doing something we really don’t care for. Still, we don’t want to take our frustrations out on others.

It would be like our husbands coming home and complaining about work each day. Now I know that happens from time to time. Our husbands will have seasons where they just really don’t like their job. But can you imagine how you would feel if the complaining was constant? Or that in his complaints your husband made statements like, “I really don’t like having to work just so you all can eat, be clothed, play soccer, dance…” Or any other number of reasons. If we were hearing those words on a daily basis, or often, it would make us feel really bad. (Even if the complaints are not based in truth, or our fault.)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)

The same goes for us! We need to be careful about what we speak in front of our family. I mentioned in last week’s study that I just really don’t like cooking. And I don’t! But I also don’t speak it each time I am in the kitchen preparing a meal. I don’t want my children not to enjoy their meals because I complain the entire time I am preparing the food. I don’t want them to feel guilty about eating. Like the above verse says our tongues have power! If I am bitter and angry as I go about my day…it will eventually rub off on those around me. And if my family members themselves don’t follow my lead by becoming bitter and angry themselves, it’s still not a leap to say they could easily come to resent me. Remember when we are doing those tasks, especially the ones that are not fun, whether it’s changing poopy diapers, cleaning toilets or cooking meals, whatever those tasks are, do them with a happy, thankful heart! Life goes fast, the seasons will change…we need to pause more often and be thankful for each season God has blessed us with.

This is not easy…there will be days when we question why we are doing this? How we are going to manage or even question whether or not we are even capable. Just remember this. The why is for God. We are living our lives for him. (1 Thessalonians 4) He is by our side each and every moment giving us the strength to get through each day. (Psalm 46:1) He has chosen us for this time and place and he equips us with all we need to ‘do life.’ (John 15:16 & Hebrews 13:20-21) We need to remember that others are watching us, even if it’s only our children; they are watching to see how we respond and react to our environments. We need to model an attitude of gratefulness in all situations. (Yes even gratefulness when stuck in traffic!)

What better model for your children than you? We are all going to face tasks, jobs, things we don’t want to do on life. We need to be that example for our children that no matter what we are doing, do it will a happy, grateful heart. Do your best…because ultimately we are not doing it for ourselves, or for others, but for God himself.

She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14 (NKJV)

This is another verse that makes me grateful that I live in this day and age. To get healthy nutritious food in which to feed our families with no longer requires us to travel or work nearly as hard as it did for mothers even just a few generations back. While we can grow healthy and nutritious foods in our backyard gardens, we are also very blessed to have so many grocery stores, farmers markets of farm stands, typically within a reasonable drive, to purchase healthy foods. Just like our other household needs, we even have the option now of having our food delivered right to our doorsteps. Feeding our families healthy foods is another way to honor God.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV)

As we see here, our bodies house the Holy Spirit…God lives within us! Back when the temple in Jerusalem was up and running, the priests would not have dared bring anything into it that was ‘unclean’. Doing so would have immediately brought down the wrath of God upon them. Now thankfully we are not under the law, Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection has paid the price for our sins and we now walk in his righteousness. Still when you really think about the fact that the God of the universe, the God who made everything…is dwelling inside us, it makes it a lot harder to want to bring anything unclean into our lives, not just food.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should never eat pizza or have cake and ice cream. Those things are just fine in moderation. However we need to make it a priority to eat heathy foods. As mentioned I really don’t like cooking. Still I have the responsibility of providing nutritional foods for my family. T.V. dinners and prepackaged processed foods are just not going to cut it. Truth is, I don’t cook very often. I do however chop fruits and veggies daily. Fruit is often what is on the menu for snacks, salads and veggies for lunch and dinner. Now don’t get me wrong…we eat other foods. Tacos about once a week, but again I choose healthy cuts of meat, cheese without hormones when possible, and we top our tacos with avocado, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, corn, beans, rice…lots of veggies. In fact I typically use only a half-pound of meat for four people as we supplement with so many veggies.

It is our responsibility to eat as healthy as possible. Now this being said…we live in a fallen world! No matter what we eat, (I am speaking of ‘real’ foods here, not fake or processed); organic or regular, all have been corrupted from its original state. Nothing we put into our bodies had been untouched, uncorrupted by this fallen world. This is why praying before our meals is so very, very important!

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NIV)

Mealtime prayer was not implemented only to remind us of Jesus sacrifice each time we sit down and break bread, but to heal our food as well. God will turn our ‘fallen corrupted food’ into nutrition and energy for our bodies if we ask.

So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless our bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. Exodus 23:15 (NKJV)

Next time you sit down and pray before you eat, don’t do it out of habit, or ritual, but take it seriously and make it truly heartfelt! There is power in prayer! And remember there is no longer any dietary restrictions on us. If you want to be vegan, go for it! If you want to practice the Daniel diet or a number of other diets out there you may. However, if you prefer to be a meat eater, there is nothing wrong with that either.

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it entered not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) Mark 7:15-19 (ESV)

We need to be careful not to make others feel bad about what they eat. Yes, if asked we can point to healthier food options. But to make statements like “we cannot eat pork, its unclean,” is not a true statement. Yes, there are other meats that are much healthier than pork, but according to this scripture above, as well as others in the Bible, all foods are now clean. We have no restrictions! (Again, I am speaking of real food here.)

She rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. Proverbs 31:15 (NKJV)

  Here is yet another scripture that makes me so grateful to live in this day and time! I am NOT a morning person! Never have been and doubt I ever will be. The thought of having to rise before the sun is up makes my stomach turn! Years ago…even as recent as a few generations back, the need to rise before the sun was a necessity. Just serving a meal was a big ordeal. They did not have the luxury and conveniences as we do of refrigeration and premade food items. Men, women and children had to rise early, care for the farm animals and other such chores before the day even began! Most of us today don’t have maidservants, in addition to our families that we are responsible for. Instead we have appliances to help us accomplish our daily tasks. Depending on the time of the actual sunrise, there are those of us that do rise before the sun, but typically we are not doing so in order to make bread from scratch, feed the animals, feed our servants and so forth.

While it is no longer necessary to rise so very early…rising early is something that we should do. YES, I just said that…me who is definitely NOT a morning person! We need to rise early in order to have our time with the Lord each day. This is very important! I would even say one of the most important things we do each day. Do we necessarily need to rise before the sun in order to have time with the Lord? No, that depends on your schedule. I have heard many people over the years, say that as long as you spend some time each day in prayer and in the word, that is ok…and I agree to a point. Spending time with the Lord at some point throughout the day is better than not doing so at all. However, I would say we should strive to give God our best…our first. Make your mornings your first fruits. After all, our most important relationship, even more so than our families, is with God. Why should he not be first?

Can you imagine, if when you woke each morning, you did not speak to your spouse or children? In fact you did not speak to them until you have accomplished all of your tasks for the day. Only then, at the end of the day, when you are tired and worn out, you finally engaged with them. Giving them a few minutes of your time right before you go to bed. What kind of relationship would you have? How would you feel if that was how your family members treated you? How do you think is makes God feel? He deserves not only our best, but our first! We need to rise early each day in order to spend time with the Lord before our day begins!

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 (NIV)

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:3 (ESV)

If this is the model Jesus gave us, should we not strive to follow his lead? I have heard many women over the years complain that they don’t feel close to God, or that they don’t hear Him. But when asked how their prayer life is, or if they are spending time in the word daily, they admit very little or no time at all is spent with the Lord. How sad is this! Our generation, more so than any other generation before us, has no excuse not to be in the word daily. We have so many versions of God’s word available in book form, online, DVD, CD…in many languages…we have no excuse! I have even heard ‘I just don’t have time…our schedule does not allow for it.’ Without sounding harsh…then I would say take a look at your schedule. Make some changes. We tend to chalk our lives full of activities. While being active and having a social life is important…more important is a relationship with God. Does each child really need to be involved in more than one extracurricular activity?

When my daughter was three she was taking dance, participating in Awana, and the Upwards Basketball. While none of these things in themselves are bad…we were spending several hours week away from home, driving to these various activities. (Remember these were just our extracurriculars…we still had pre -school, appointments, playdates and other such things on our schedule.) It hit me one day…what was I doing? Yes, I wanted my daughter to have experiences, to be well rounded…but at what cost? She was only three, and here I was setting her expectations for the rest of her childhood, possibly her life. (Possibly expectations that the world revolved around her.) And what then, if more children were added to my family? Would they each get three activities???? I would NEVER be home! It was at that point I made a decision…we would finish out the season and then my daughter could choose just one activity she wanted to participate in each year/season. Now that I have two children, I am so thankful I have implemented that rule. I cannot imagine our lives had I not! Our schedule is still busy! We are often chalked full of activities each week. However we manage to sit down and eat dinner as a family every night! And the truth is, she is not missing out on anything!

That was just one example…If we are willing to move our schedules around to make time for date nights, outings with our girlfriends, time for our mani/pedis, or hair…we have no excuse NOT to make time with the LORD. If your schedule is set in stone, and there is no way to move things around, then get up an hour earlier each day. Give yourself plenty of time to spend in worship, prayer and the word…in His presence so you are not rushed. I guarantee you it will be worth it! Starting your day off right in the presence of the Lord will always set your day on the right path. You will unlock all the blessings God has for you that day. You will be better equipped to deal with anything that ‘life’ throws at you that day. You will experience God’s grace, joy and his peace at level’s you cannot even imagine!

Four years ago I hardly ever read my Bible. (Before that, never.) And prayer was something I did only when I needed something from God, or before meals. It was during a women’s small group that we were all challenged to give one hour a day, preferably in the morning, to God. I did not want to do this, mostly because I thought ‘how boring’. How could I spend one hour reading and in prayer? I might need ten minutes, but not an hour. But I was committed to the group, so I gave it a try. To my amazement, an hour was not long enough! Yes, at first it was awkward and a little uncomfortable. I did not need more than twenty to thirty minutes. However I kept doing so and over time, (within a week), the whole experience changed. I began to hear God speaking to me like never before. My eyes and heart were opened to the Scriptures like never before, and I could not get enough! The healing, the peace, the joy, I experienced was almost overwhelming! Like a drug, I could not get enough. I was hooked. I cannot ever imagine living life without this precious time each morning. I look forward to it…I crave it…and I wish I had more than an hour to an hour and a half to spend each morning in the presence of God!

So how do I do this? I have had many of my friends ask who also have young children or toddlers. Well, I try and wake before my kids. This does not always happen, sometimes my toddler wakes before I do. On those occasions he lays in bed beside me while I have my time with the Lord. If he cannot be still and or quiet, then I place him in front of the television. YES I DID JUST SAY THAT! Other than special occasions, it’s really the only time he gets to watch TV. Again, this does not always happen. Most mornings I do rise before him. But, even if this was the case…even if he sat in front of the TV for an hour each morning just so I could spend my time with the Lord, then it’s worth it. My relationship with God comes first! It’s not like I don’t listen out for my toddler…I know exactly what he is watching, I can hear if he leaves the living room; he is in no danger. Both my children know, that mommy’s time with the Lord is just that…mommy’s time. The rule in our house during my time, is unless you are dying, then don’t bother mommy.

If you have not been faithfully spending time with the Lord each day. Then I challenge you to do so. Find a quiet place, free of distraction, and just spend time in the presence of the Lord. There is not ‘right or wrong’. I have tried the whole prayer closet thing, for me it did not pan out. I am most comfortable sitting on my bed. Find a place that works best for you! Make sure you have a Bible, and a notebook/pen. Also make sure you don’t have any devices that will distract you and that the television is on. If you do have a device, so you can have a time of worship…make sure that is all you are doing. Do not have worship music on, then start checking your email or social media. The enemy loves to distract during this time! (It’s amazing how many text messages I receive each morning during my time with the Lord!) Push through the awkwardness, don’t let yourself become frustrated if while reading the word you are at first confused…things will change for the better! It will become less and less awkward and you will begin to understand what you are reading as the Holy Spirit reveals it to you. And don’t feel bad if you have to place your child(ren) in front of the television with a bag of cheese puffs so you can have your time! Just keep at it…your life will NEVER be the same!

Hope you got a lot of good information out of this lesson…until next time!

Proverbs 31 Bible Study – Session Four

Welcome back! Sorry for the unannounced break in the study. Some unexpected events have popped up, and my summer thus far has definitely been an adventure! I hope you are enjoying your summer as well. Last time we discussed Proverbs 31:13, 14 and 15. This week I will be breaking down verse 16, concentrating on this verse alone as there is a lot of ground to cover here. Again, this is going to be a week in which the topic discussed is one a majority of the world does not agree with what the Bible says. This week’s topic might make you feel uncomfortable, possibly question some life choices you have made. Remember, being uncomfortable is not necessarily a bad thing! If our spirit is in unrest because of something that is revealed to us, it just means we need to approach God in prayer and be willing to hear from him.

She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. Proverbs 31:16

This verse here is one that many women today use to justify having a career. The question is not can a woman have a career; we already know it’s possible. Women all over the world have careers. The question is should we have a career?

The truth is you can’t have it all. If you believe you can, then you are believing a lie. If you are working outside the home forty plus hours a week, then chances are someone else is ‘raising’ your child(ren). Your household responsibilities are put off; unless you hire someone to clean and run your errands for you. If you are not hiring help, then most likely your husband is having to help pick up the pieces. Something that is ok on occasion, for there are times when my husband does the grocery shopping for me, or cleans the kitchen…but the truth is this is NOT his responsibility. As the wife it is mine…as a wife, it is yours.

This sounds harsh…and perhaps it is. Once again I want to remind you that I am not speaking from a place of condemnation or judgment, I am simply speaking the truth out of love. We need to remember this life is NOT about us, our wants and desires. We need to follow God’s word even if his word goes against what we feel is correct, or right…remember He is God and we are his creation. While it’s ok for us a humans to disagree with God’s word, it does not mean that it’s ok for us to disobey his word. No matter our thoughts or feelings we are to obey God. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours! (Isaiah 55:8-9)

So let’s look deeper into this subject. Working, is it wrong for women to do so? Let’s see what the Bible says.

And so train the young woman to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)

NO, absolutely not! In fact as we read in the verse above, working is ok. And in our verse today we see that the Proverbs 31 woman is obviously doing something to make money in order to purchase a vineyard. However did you notice the phrase ‘working at home”? She is working, but she is doing something that does not requires her to spend several hours a week outside the home. Once again I stress that as married women our top priority is to be homemakers. How can we do this if we are working outside the home full-time?

The definition of career is – an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.

Significant – sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy.

Notice the underlined words…significant and great or important. Like I said, you cannot have it all. Either your time and energy goes into your career…or it goes into your family/household. One or the other will suffer; sometimes both. If your full-time attention is on furthering your career, then your family is suffering. If your full time attention is on your family and you do have a career, then you’re not doing your best at your job, and then the questions becomes why are you there?

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

As we see here, while we are not working to impress men, we are working for the Lord. We are to do our best. So then the question is, should a married woman have a career??? Well according to what we just read in Titus, NO. Like it or not…the Bible clearly lays out the role of a married woman. We are to be homemakers!

Many women today don’t want to hear this. They want to go to school, be educated, have a career and then maybe someday enter into marriage and then possibly children. Often times we want these things on our own time frame. None of these things just mentioned in themselves are bad…education is great! Having work experience too, is a great thing. We just need to do these things in God’s order, not ours.

A single woman does not have the responsibility of a husband and children, so if the Lord is leading her to get an education and have a career, then doing so is not going against the word of God. If the Lord is leading you in this direction, then remember, you are living for him. You are not to be in a relationship, living with a man. You are to be living a celibate life. However as we read in 1 Corinthians 7:32-40, most people are NOT called into this lifestyle. In which case, go to school, get that education, and have that ‘career’ UNTIL you are married. Even after you say ‘I do’ and walk down the aisle does not always mean your career is over. If you are married and do not yet have children, and only if your husband is in agreement for you to continue working, then you are not going against the word of God. But make sure you are not neglecting your household duties!

Now I know this is not a popular stance…even more so when I added the phrase, ‘only if your husband is in agreement.’ First, I will remind you once again, that this life is not about us, what makes us feel good, what we want to do. If we have placed our faith in Christ Jesus, and he is our LORD and savior, then we need to forsake all to follow him. (That includes forsaking our wants, desires and dreams if they go against His will.) As we read above, His will is not for us married women to have a career, especially when we are child rearing! You can always return to the workplace after your children are gown if this is something your husband is in agreement with. Second, once we say those words ‘I do’ entering into a marriage covenant, our husbands become our head. Every decision we make needs to go through them. Like we discussed in previous studies, we are the weaker vessel. God has placed our husbands as the head for our own protection. We need to honor their position, and in doing so we are honoring God. While the Bible does not specifically mention it, I can guarantee you that the Proverbs 31 woman did not purchase that field without consulting her husband first! Yes, even though it was something she purchased with her own money.

Once children come into the picture, then as this point in time our job is to be a full-time homemaker. What about a single woman with children??? This one is a tough one. The problem is God never intended us women to be single mothers. But because we live in a fallen world, more and more women are now having to raise their children alone. In that case the women has no choice but to be the bread-winner and head of her home. Because this is not God’s way there is no good solution. However there are still steps that can be taken to make the best out of a not so ideal situation. Is there a career that would afford you more time at home with your children than others??? Teachers have holidays and summers off. Flight attendant, a nurse…or even better do you have a talent or skill that would allow you to work from home? Start your own business? Photographer…in home child care among other things??? You may have to get creative, but thing is for sure, if you pray about it, God will guide your every step…remember he is for you, not against you! (Romans 8:31)

Many women, even Christian women will not be in agreement with the above. Once again what does the Bible say?

And so train the young woman to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)

These are not my words, but Gods! We cannot pick and choose what we are going to believe, not if we are truly devoted to following God. This is not saying that we women we cannot be educated, this is not saying that we are not capable of having a career, or that we are not just as smart as men, or as talented. This is a lie, one the enemy would have you believe to discredit God’s word. We are just as smart, just as capable…but God has an order. He has given us his order and instructions for our lives in his word and we are to follow it as best as we can.

I know that many of you reading this, whether you are in agreement or not, are thinking staying home might be nice, but not a reality these days. Once again I want to remind you that the Bible does not say we women cannot work! It just states that we women should not have careers. We need to make our families and our homes our top priority. If helping to supplement your husband’s salary is a must for your family, then once again I say get creative. Find a job that only takes you out of the house part-time. Or even better yet, find something you can do from home. Or something that the whole family could be involved with. If for some reason you cannot find something part time…then work somewhere where you can be WITH YOUR CHILDREN! If your children are young get a job at a daycare center. School aged kids, find employment at their school.

The other thing to take into consideration…do you really need to work? This is where you need to look at your life, your lifestyle, and be completely honest. Are you trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’? Do you really need the big house, the new cars, cable T.V, the latest phone or iPad the latest clothing fashions? Do you really need to eat out as often, or even take that yearly family vacation? If we are we are completely honest, we all WANT these things, but do we NEED them?Now add up the cost of transportation to and from work, wardrobe, childcare, plus the time away from your children…is it really worth it? Could you find a way to make money from home, or even cut your hours to part-time? Pray about this…if you are really wanting to follow God’s word and become a fulltime homemaker, he will open those doors to you. It might not be easy…you may have to shop at the thrift stores to cloth your family, clip coupons and get creative to stretch your grocery bill each month. You may not be able to eat out very often, your husband might even have to take a bagged lunch to work. You may have to skip that family vacation for a year or two. You may even have to sell a vehicle, going down to one; take and pick up your husband from work on the days you need a vehicle. You might even have to move into a smaller house. There may be many things you have to cut back on or go without. Just remember this…it’s only for a season. Your children are only small once. I have never heard a woman regret the choice to be a stay at home mom, though I have on several occasions heard women who regretted their choice to have a career, wishing they had spent more time with their children.

The other thing to remember is that as a child of God you will never, ever go without your basic needs being met!

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can ass a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these… Matthew 6:25-24 (ESV)

We are not promised an ‘easy life’ while on this earth. We may not live in the fanciest house, drive the most expensive cars, have all our wants and desires! But we will never, ever, lack our basic needs!

Again there will be women who read this Bible verse and think, ‘I don’t want to be a stay at home mother.’ If you are still single, then pray about that. Perhaps you are one of the few that God is calling into a life of service to Him. If you are already married, then unfortunately at this point if you choose to ignore what the Bible says, you will have to face the consequences. Remember, this life is not about our wants and desires. This is often a hard concept to digest as we are told from very little on that life is about what brings us pleasure. If you don’t have the heart to be a homemaker, but you are married especially with children, pray about this. God will change your heart, especially if you are wanting to follow His will for your life! It may be a challenge and not come as easily as it does for one who longs to be a homemaker, but in the end if you put your desires aside you will live a much more fulfilling life!

Now looking back to our verse. We see the Proverbs 31 woman has made money and then used her profit to buy a field and plant a vineyard. Obviously her husband is making enough money that they don’t rely on her income to supplement his. Notice, that even though this is the case, she does not spend her money on herself. She is investing her money, thinking about her family first and making sure they have a secure future. Now is taking a small bit of the money we make and investing it in ourselves wrong? No, not at all, however we should do our best to follow the lead of this Proverbs 31 women by making wise investments on the money we make.

I am blessed that my husband too makes enough money to support our family. I don’t have to work, in fact I was not planning on being an author and running a women’s ministry. I was content being a wife and mother. So when God revealed his plan to us, from day one I vowed to use all my profit to further His kingdom. 100 % of the profit that I make from my book sales goes right back into my ministry. I may not be investing in a physical vineyard, but I am investing into a spiritual one. Knowing that women all over the world are being blessed, drawing close to God, falling in love with the Lord and immersing themselves in His word, brings me much more joy than I would receive from living in a bigger house, driving a fancier car or any number of the other worldly pleasures out there.

I leave you with these thoughts. If your life right now is not aligned up with what the word of God says. Then come to him, pray, fast even, if led to do so. See what steps you can take immediately to make your life come into a closer alignment to his word. See what steps you need to make in the future so that eventually you will be able to live a life in accordance to his word. (We need to do this in all areas of our lives, not just about being a stay at home mother and wife!) Don’t walk away feeling shame, guilt or defeat if you are currently far from his will! That is what the enemy would want. The enemy would want you to give up, decide that it’s just not possible for you to be a stay at home wife and mother, to give up. Remember all things are possible through God! (Mathew 19:26, Luke 1:37, Philippians 4:13 just to name a few).

Don’t compare yourself to other women! While we are all on this journey called life, each one of us are on a different path. Trust me, even those of us that may be walking slightly closer in alignment to the will of God, still don’t have it all together! We are all a work in progress! Talk to your friends who are stay at home moms. Ask them to be open and honest with you. Ask them to share what sacrifices they have made in order to be full-time homemakers. Not only will it encourage you, it will also encourage them, as they recount the times the Lord had come through in providing for their needs.

Hope you are enjoying this Father’s Day weekend with loved ones! I will do my best to get next week’s bible study out on time, but like I mentioned earlier we have had an unexpected event. Until next time may God bless you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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