She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25 NIV
As I read this, it conjures up a picture of a super hero. But no! It’s a Proverbs 31 woman. This woman is a dynamo. She’s up early. She is a savvy business woman and manages the best of care for her family. I aspire to be like the Proverbs 31 woman.
This is an aspect of her that I have not thought much about. In strength and dignity, she can LAUGH at the days to come. Ha! Ha! Ha!
In order to laugh, there are a few things that she cannot be burdened with: worry, fear, doubt, confusion, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, gossip, comparison, insecurity. And I’m sure there are more.
This lighter burden and purified heart unleash this confident strength and dignity. It is confidence in a power much greater than herself. With that, she can laugh at days to come…
Lord, deposit laughter and joy deep into my heart!
“6 If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7
What does walking in the darkness look like?
It’s stubborn and bull-headed. It’s untrusting of God. We continue to try to maintain control and agendas. We want what we want when we want it. Because we are not well suited for that, we get distracted by having too many balls in the air. It is very “me” focused. We get wrapped up in what we are about instead of looking to our Father. We lose sight of His ways. We become insensitive, inflexible and disobedient. Maybe even thick-skinned. Hard-hearted. We think we know best. We take detours from God.
What does walking in the light look like?
We stand, trusting in God and His word. We surrender to His will. We spend time learning and applying His principles to our lives. We walk a different way; His way. We keep our eyes on Him. We stretch ourselves to walk in what we cannot see. Ever trusting God. We become sensitive, pliable and obedient to His will. We surrender to His love and (sometimes) correction to keep our hearts straight. We seek to see each other through His eyes. It’s beautiful when we see each other with His eyes.
Father, thank you for giving us all Your love and offering a better way. Help me to trust You more every day.
13 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14 NIV
Time is a precious commodity to our way of thinking. It’s how we organize our day and priorities. There are only so many minutes and so many hours to each day. However, it places limits on us that are natural limits. We have to step out of that natural paradigm to embrace a supernatural paradigm.
Man-centered thinking brings God down to our level, limiting Him to what our minds can comprehend. God-centered thinking brings us up to God’s level, opening our heart and mind to embrace the impossible.
God knows this is a stretch for us. That is why there are so many stories of faith of the people who went before us. They are stories of encouragement and instruction. They instill hope and faith in a way of life that surpasses what we know or see. It is the “meat” of mature faith. I believe it is when we are able to step fully into faith that we become undone and willing to step into the unknown.
Father, help me believe in You for the impossible. For in You, all things are possible.
“Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 3:13 NIV
By walking in faith daily — the practice of seeking God, meditating on His Word, trusting God, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and applying these teachings to our lives – we grow stronger in every way. We grow in faith – trust God more. We grow in courage – we are not gripped by fear, worry, anxiety, guilt, or shame. They cannot shut us down or hold us back. We are able to appreciate every day as a gift. We can rejoice and be glad in it! We operate with a heart that has been healed, softened, and occupied by the love of Jesus.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:8-10 NIV
What is a little while? This scripture says that after we have suffered “a little while” Christ will restore us and make us strong. Whew! I am thankful for that. However, am I able to withstand suffering for a little while?
Sometimes it is easier to get through things if there is a goal in mind. Saving for a big vacation or a new car. Saving for a life event like college or a wedding. The process of saving requires choices, decisions and sometimes sacrifice. Suffering. Not having everything you want when you want it. Delayed gratification. We are not used to that in this day and age. We’ve become a right now culture at all costs. Do we understand what it means to wait or delay for the perfect timing? Is that why the word “suffering” is such a turn off?
To suffer can mean to be in pain. But it can also mean to endure or permit. Can we endure and permit delays and wait for God’s timing? To wait for God’s best for us?
I ask myself these questions all the time. I find that when I am feeling rushed into making decisions or choices that it gives me pause. Pause to pray and take God’s plans into consideration above my own. Sometimes, even frequently, the decision or choice I was in such a rush about starts to fade in importance…And I wait.
Lord, remind me to pause and not allow things to rush me. Help me to remember that Your pause brings peace and perspective.
“24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25 NIV
As I was weeding in my yard one summer, I received insight from the dandelions I was encountering. I started to look at them more closely and here is what I noticed:
From a distance they are pretty, adorned in bright colors. They can even appear to be a flower versus a weed to the untrained eye.
As I started pulling them, I realized how deep their roots are – deep and tough. It’s hard to get the whole root off because it breaks easily. Pieces stay that will spring up again.
They spread easily – insidiously. Their multiplication system is very easy – where the wind blows, the seeds go. Indiscriminate. High volume.
It’s also tricky. I started simply picking off the flowers, and then I saw deep down in the core other buds coming up. It was almost creepy they were so hidden.
They choke out healthy grass and other plants. They want all the space. They don’t cohabitate well.
They don’t require care or nutrients to prosper and multiply. They remind me of something so ancient – like original sin. Old and ugly. Life smothering. Steal, kill, and destroy.
Still green, they blend in with the grass except when they bloom (bear fruit).
I won’t dissect every point. From a big picture level I realized this is exactly how Satan operates. By being grounded in God’s word we are not deceived. God’s word, time with Him in prayer, and praise and worship of our King is what nourishes us. They are our fertilizer, rich soil and eternal water supply!
Father, let me absorb all the spiritual nutrition that You so readily provide!
“1The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3 NIV
The image of John receiving this message from the angel of God is a powerful one. Wow. To see and hear from God like John – that would be incredible.
So what does it take to hear from God this clearly? Be still. I think we also have to know how much God loves us in order to fully trust what we hear. It is critical for us to know how deep and how true He loves us.
We will be tested. We will need to stand firm, stand firm in His life and His love. We will be faced with ugliness. Darkness will be all around us. In those times, the hard times, we need to trust God. Trust His love for us.
Father, help me stand. Help me simply stand firmly next to You. Hold my hand. Never leave me or forsake me. I know You never will because You promised.