Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wilderness – Way to Spiritual Growth

The key verse to this message from God is Luke 1:80 (Amp) “And the little boy grew and became strong in spirit; and he was in the deserts (WILDERNESS) until the day of his appearing to Israel [the commencement of his public ministry].”
What is Wilderness?
Wilderness, in the literal meaning, is a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland. Wilderness in the spiritual sense is a state of being in loneliness, deprivation of companionship, dreariness, barrenness, depopulation, lack of abundance, uncomfortable situations, lack of safety and security, and in OBSCURITY (the condition of being unknown/ not popular/inconspicuous).

Why Wilderness Experience?
Thou shalt remember all the way in which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee, to tempt thee, to know what was in thy heart. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6).

1. In wilderness, the Lord tries us to know what is in our heart. (Deut 8:2)
2. In wilderness, our Spirit becomes STRONG. (Luke 1:80)
3. In wilderness/ in times of trials, we are formed and molded for the DIVINE PURPOSE.
4. In wilderness, we get qualified to receive blessing (goodness) from the Lord after being tested and tried (Deut 8: 2, 6).

Who were some of the people who went through such wilderness experience in the Bible?

Abraham and Sarah – Abraham was righteous, god-fearing, was having an intimate relationship with God Jehovah. Nevertheless, Abraham and Sarah were barren until the age of 100 and 90 respectively. The promise of God for Isaac came at the age of 75 to Abraham and He waited for 25 years for the accomplishment of the promise.

Zechariah and Elizabeth - “In the days when Herod was king of Judea there was a certain priest whose name was Zachariah, of the daily service (the division) of Abia; and his wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they both were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren; and both were far advanced in years.
The couple was praying for a child for a long time and they became very old, yet the prayer was not answered until the Angel of the Lord visited Zechariah and says that their prayer was answered. Luke 1: 13 “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

Hannah: She was the wife of a man named Elkanah. Elkanah had 2 wives one was Hannah and another was Penninah. Penninah had children and Hannah had none. Hannah was going a through a wilderness of barrenness and reproach. “and the LORD had closed her womb. Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year.” I Samuel 1:6,7

Joseph: Joseph is a well-known bible character who went through wilderness experience in his life. He was hated by his brothers because of their envy, was separated from his father, sold as slaves to strangers, spent his precious time of his youth as a slave doing all kinds of chores. He exhibited loyalty, sincerity in his work, did good but got back bad, was falsely accused of committing adultery, was put in prison. He did good things to his fellow prisoners but was forgotten. He was going through wilderness experience for 13 long years.

Moses: He was brought up as a prince and was educated in the palace, yet he had run to out of his country in order to save his life and had to take up a profession which was totally not related to his upbringing and education. His wilderness was taking care of his father-in-laws sheep and cattle for 40 long years.

What is the outcome of the wilderness experience in these people lives?

Abraham and Sarah: Got Isaac the promised son, who is the Old Testament shadow of Christ. Abraham is blessed by God as Friend of God, Father of Faith, and Father of Many Nations. Sarah is blessed by God to be the mother of a nation through whom the world is blessed.

Zechariah and Elizabeth: Became the parents of John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Christ, the messiah, and the greatest among all who were born of women. Matthew 11:11 “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”

Hannah: Became the mother of the greatest Prophet of Israel Samuel. She also became the mother of Samuel’s siblings. God blessed her with multiple children with the first one being the one of the greatest in the History of Israel.

Joseph: He became the second-in-command to the King of Egypt, The Pharaoh. He also became the savior of his community and fulfilled the God’s Purpose of saving the Israelites and sustaining them in a foreign land.

Moses: He became the leader, law-giver, prophet of Israel. He led the Israelites out of the land of bondage to the Land of Milk and Honey.

In summary, the duration/severity of the wilderness is directly proportionate to the outcome that is purposed in our lives. The greater is the outcome lengthier/tougher is the wilderness. The above-said people got an extraordinary outcome of their wilderness in their lives. There are no short-cuts for spiritual growth and maturity. We can find a way to escape the wilderness and be smart to learn from other’s experiences, and we will surely get points for preaching and praying, but character formation and molding of our personality to fulfill the god-ordained purposes will be lacking. We have to yield ourselves to go through experiences of wilderness for our growth and for fulfillment of our God-Ordained Purposes.

In conclusion, WILDERNESS is the WAY TO OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH and there are no other short-cuts to grow and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13), James 1:2-4

But the GOOD NEWS is that “THE LORD IS WITH US” as we go through the god-ordained wilderness experiences. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6). HE SUSTAINS US IN THE WILDERNESS AND TAKES US INTO THE PROMISED LAND. WE HAVE TO LEAN ON TO THE BELOVED WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE WILDERNESS as mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:5 “who is this coming up from wilderness leaning on her lover?”

Dearly beloved, it is our part to prove faithful and obedient to Him through the testing times. May the Lord strengthen us to successfully pass through the wilderness, maturing unto the fullness of Christ.

Be Blessed!!

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Protection is the act of protecting or the state of being protected; preservation from loss, injury, or annoyance. It also means defense and shelter; as the weak need protection.

Are we thoroughly protected from annoyance, loss, injury (emotionally or physically)? – No!! The fact is everybody is attacked in some form or the other. Certain things are the consequences of one’s own act and some do happen without any reason. Psalmist says in 109: 3, “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me WITHOUT CAUSE.” Psalm 35:19 “Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies WITHOUT CAUSE; let not those who hate me WITHOUT REASON maliciously wink the eye."

You and I are in this world full of pride, deception, dishonesty (with no integrity), ungodliness, wickedness, hatred, jealousy, envy, sarcasm, and all kinds of evil. We are in a ruthless dog-eat-dog society. People may become malicious and jealous about other's growth and opportunity and somehow want to pull others down, if not for any other reason than to just derive a kind of happiness (utterly sadistic!!).

Christians are called to be like “innocent children amidst the perverse generation.” Though we are innocent in conducting our matters, are we well-guarded from the harmful actions and attitudes of others in family, office, church, and in society? Are we protected, safeguarded, covered, sheltered, screened, and shielded from the evils against us. INNOCENCE IS NO PROTECTION FROM THE EVILS IN OUR SOCIETY. Are we always in the victim mode from the attacks that harm us? Do we have to get hit at all times even for doing the right thing? Are we to just keep running like King David away from the pursuing people?

Over the years, I have understood that we can be attacked in all spheres of life and no area of life can be excluded from harmful attacks.

I was looking for some prayer format for protection that could be offered for protection against outside jealousy, envy, malice, etc. I came across the following one of Patrick, the missionary of Ireland.

Prayer for God's Protection and Christ's Presence:
“As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today...Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen. “

According to history, Patrick is a missionary who led multitude of pagans in Ireland to Christianity. History also adds that he almost changed Ireland to a Christian Nation.
Though the in-depth meaning of this prayer is impressive, I was not quite satisfied until I GOT the RHEMA WORD OF PROMISE from – Psalms 121: 4 through 7.
“Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield]. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. THE LORD WILL KEEP YOU FROM ALL EVIL”

The latter part of the verse is sooo convincing and I am thoroughly satisfied in mind and spirit. This is the confidence we have in the ONE who protects us. He is a constant guardian, faithful keeper, completely shielding us from all evils. We can sleep and rest without worry, knowing that ONE who keeps us will neither slumber nor sleep. THE LORD PROTECTS US FROM ALL EVIL. 
If anything tries to hurt you, it has got to penetrate through the hedge of God around you. Surely and certainly it turns out for your GOOD and not for EVIL, because as it gets through HIS hedge the effect of the attack is altered from EVIL to GOOD by the MIGHTY GOD.

The Lord says, “Because ______ (put your name) loves me, I will rescue her/him. I will protect her/him, for she/he acknowledges my name. She/he will call upon me and I will answer her/him. I will be with her/him in trouble, I will deliver her/him and honor her/him. Psalm 91: 14, 15

So, we have the blessed assurance that we are well-protected by the Almighty God and let us claim and declare the promise of God for protection in our lives.

Be Blessed!!

“And He never sleeps, He never slumbers, He never tires of hearing our prayer. When we are weak He becomes stronger. So rest in His love and cast all of your cares on Him”

Written By: Shanta Daniel
[Copyright@ Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety, but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind, including the author and ministry name at the end]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Can You Have a Truly Fulfilling Marriage?

The fullest statement of Divine Love in any earthly relationship, is that which should be found in a Christian marriage. The husband is given the glorious privilege of representing Jesus Christ in the relationship and the wife has bestowed upon her the great privilege of representing the Church.

It is indeed a mystery. The implications of such a correlation of the eternal, Divine relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Body of Believers with that of the temporal, human relationship between a husband and wife is, to say the least, an astounding wonderment!

Matthew 19:5-6: And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Eph 5:31-32: For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

What do we really understand about all this?
The husband and wife actually become one in spirit and flesh! This unregenerate, perverse world only knows and centers on the, "flesh" part.
(Also, please note how many problems come in the picture when parents become involved in, "running the marriage!") Once the man has left his parents, there is now a whole new family of which the husband is the, new authority in the home and he is directly under the authority of Christ.

Now, God does not expect us to have an absolute, perfect understanding of this marvelous mystery. However, He does expect us, indeed commands us, to obey those clear instructions, which He has spelled out in His Holy Word, the Bible.

Question: Does your marriage reflect the Divine Love of the Savior?

Here is a checklist for the Husband and Wife:

Things to do:
Husband, do you?

1. Love your wife (love her as Christ loves the church, love her like you love yourself; like you love your own body; [assist her(sacrificially)even in menial duties(love expressed)])? Eph. 5:25, 28
2. Honor your wife (treat her as the most special person in the whole world; cherish her)? 1 Pet 3:7
3. Live with your wife with understanding (are you considerate of her needs, being aware her emotional/psychological makeup etc.)? 1 Pet 3:7

Wife, do you?

Read Proverbs : 10-31
1. Love your husband (are you concerned about his every need and are generally supportive of him)? Titus 2:4, 1 Pet 3:6
2. Obey your husband (as the church submits herself to Christ, quick to do what he says [as long it is not contradictory to Lord's Will] without giving a debate, without challenging him or expressing bitter sarcasm)? Eph 5:22, 24, Col 3:18, Titus 2:5, 1 Pet 3:1
3. Respect your husband (privately and publicly) that is in thought as well as in words, tone, facial expressions, gestures, in speaking to others about him etc.) Eph 5:33a
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Eph 5:22-25

Any major problem in marriage is usually due to a lack of proper love (which really covers the other qualities mentioned above as well) on the part of one or both of the individuals.
Note: God does not say to modify or regard as non-applicable any of His commands because the other partner does not measure up to our expectations spiritually, mentally, emotionally or physically. Nor does he ever mention that these commands are culture-specific. This is Love Divine.

As far as the physical (sexual) relationship in marriage is concerned, Scriptures declare that the spouse is to give his/her body over to the other spouse and not regard it (selfishly)as his/her own. Again, the self-sacrificing statement of true love is expected once again in everything, including in the sexual relationship between a husband and his wife.

You can be happy in every way, (including experiencing sexual fulfillment) when you are obedient to Jesus.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Proverbs 5:18

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 1 Cor 7:3-5
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4

Things not to do:
Husband, do you?

1. Behave unfaithfully to your wife (are you adulterous? do you flirt with anyone in gesture, speech or thought?)Ex. 20:14, Malachi 2:14, Matt 5:28
2. Get bitter with your wife (do you despise her, refuse to forgive or forget any past difficulties or communicate with her?) Colossians 3:19

Wife, do you?
1. Behave unfaithfully to your husband (are you adulterous? do you flirt with anyone in gesture, speech or thought?) Ex. 20:14, Prov. 12:4
2. Try to lord it over your husband? (are you bossy in speech or gesture, privately or publicly?) 1 Tim 2:12

If any of these above mentioned things are present respectively in either partner, then it is no wonder that there is so many troubled marriages today, especially in the Church!
The whole trouble with people begins when any of God’s commands is treated as optional instead of instantly giving, implicit obedience once the knowledge of God’s Law of Love is made known to the understanding.

What to do when you are right and he/she is wrong?
Here is perhaps the most famous initial complaint heard in marriage counseling sessions all around the world.

First, we must be sincere before God because He will call us into judgment one day if we are not truthful in our speech or motives (Prov 21:2). Is it really true that you are right with regard to the above-listed commands that apply to you particularly? Is the other person truly the only one to blame for your marital problems/difficulties?
If not, then you do your part; obey the commands of God which apply to you; whether you are the wife or whether you are the husband) and the problem may well, solve itself all of a sudden.
1 Pet 3:1

If it is true that you are the completely, “innocent” party, then here is a wonderful solution for your situation, the “only” (workable) solution. Do your part faithfully and continually anyway, regardless of whether that person is obeying the Lord and doing, his/her part or not. This is not optional! It is the command of God!
Then God can also use us to be His instrument in, winning over our spouse back to God and ourselves. 1 Pet 3:1

If you are provoked or simply lose it, then ask God for forgiveness right away and forgive one another as Christ forgave you.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Ephesians 4:26 - Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {quarrel: or, complaint}

Colossians 3:13 - We refuse to obey to our own peril and will be held responsible (before the Lord) with the other disobedient partner for the ruin of our marriage.

Of course, the Good News is that with God all things are possible. That is even a failing marriage, a marriage that is about to "die" can be, "resurrected". This can and will happen, if we, in faith, simply obey God, putting all our feelings aside. God never says, you may obey some of my commands when you choose to do so or you may obey my commands when you really feel like it. No! We must follow His marriage preserving, peace producing, love-fulfilling commandments and then we will not grieve the Holy Spirit but rather enjoy Life and Divine Love with our spouse! (Psalm 128)

All couples would do well to read, the Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible in order to remember/understand what Divine Love really is.

Pay particular attention to verses 4-7:
(Charity is used here for love)
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, {vaunt meaning to speak boastfully} Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; {in the truth: or, with the truth} Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The Lord does not want an immature, self-pleasing, lustful, carnal, material-oriented, superficial, worldly love that is so prominent in this age. As Christ is the head, so the husband is given the authority in the marriage relationship. As the Church is the body of Christ, so the wife is given the duty of submitting to the Head, which in the marriage context is the husband. The husband must lead the family and the only way he can do this properly is to seek God daily himself and then give of the wisdom and Christlikeness he receives daily to the family. The husband is the priest of the house; he must read the Bible and pray daily for guidance from God and in turn, lead and guide the family, ensuring a spiritual atmosphere in the home. The wife must also seek God daily in reading the Bible and praying sincerely, in order to support her husband in maintaining that spiritual atmosphere. Both the husband and wife must obey the Word implicitly and their goal should be to become more and more Christlike in attitude and action. This point cannot be emphasized enough. There are many spouses who read and pray daily, like a mechanical chore and never grow up spiritually because they don't apply the Word to themselves and obey God immediately.

Also, in passing it must be pointed out that the children will only grow up right in the presence of God and before the husband and wife when they(the children) don't see hypocrisy. Instead, in a godly family, the children will see love and faith in action, daily. Many a conflict between a husband and wife result from playing the blame game for the disobedience of rebellious children when actually the spouses have been hypocritical before the children, who have been subsequently "driven" away from God. If you have sinned, husband and/or wife, then repent and God will mend that which is broken. He is a God of miracles and He is able!

If ever you are tempted to think, "How can I ever forgive my spouse for doing such and such a thing to me; to irritate me, to embarrass me, etc., just remember that God in Christ has forgiven you a much greater debt of sin on your part than you'll ever have to forgive your spouse for. If you are sincere, then you will readily forgive him/her and show self-sacrificing love.

As simple and straightforward as the checklist may appear, it is actually the measuring stick by which we can know how we are doing in making our marriage, "heaven on earth" for ourselves and for our spouse. So, please, please just do it.

God does not beg for obedience but commands us.
However, we in the Spirit of Christ, like Paul the apostle, are constrained by love to plead with you, so as to help you foil the devil's plan of creating unnecessary tensions and quarrelings amongst yourselves and showing you that the battle, first of all, is spiritual in nature.
We must not deal with anyone after the flesh(carnally/worldly) anymore, especially our spouse.
We beseech you, because most probably you don't know what joy, what happiness you are missing when you are not doing what the Word says about walking in the Spirit in married life. This article is intended to lead you to be truly fulfilled in what God has for you in marriage. That is please, just obey what God tells you to do (husband and/or wife), turning your back on all other negative things the devil tries to make you feel or think.

Please obey your Heavenly Father without questioning and without delay and He will strengthen you and pour out His Love upon you in an even greater measure and will make you and your spouse a most powerful, united weapon against the devil and his demons!

Just remember that a man and his wife united in prayer is the thing the devil hates most in a marriage! Why? This seeking of God together in prayer will lead to their effectiveness as a couple in the kingdom of God. It is like Christ and His Church united forever; NO MORE DEVIL IN THE PICTURE! HE (THE DEVIL) CAN'T COME IN BETWEEN THEM ANYMORE AND SO THEY WILL BE IN LOVE ALWAYS; WITH GOD AND WITH EACH OTHER!

In the midst of a decadent, hopeless world in which actually, the love of many will wax cold because of the all pervasive nature of sin in society (Matt 24:12), we are commanded to be the expression of the Divine Love between our Blessed Savior and His Body, the Church, as everyone witnesses our Christian marriage to the praise of His Glory.

Written By: Bro. Pradeep Stephen
New York, USA

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Proverb 31 Woman!!

Proverbs 31: Portrait of a Godly Woman
For thousands of years, God-fearing women have looked to the noble, or virtuous (KJV), woman of Proverbs 31 as their ideal. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, probably had this role model of the virtuous woman in the forefront of her mind from earliest childhood. Most Jewish women did, for this poem was traditionally recited in the Jewish home every week on the eve of the Sabbath.
But what about today’s woman? Of what value can this ancient poem be to the diverse, complex life-styles of women today? To the married, to the single, to the young, to the old, to those working outside the home or inside the home, to those women with children or without children? It is more relevant than you might at first expect — although it is also too good to be true.

The Proverbs 31 woman was the wife of a city elder (verse 23) and a respected figure in her own right (verse 31). Some of her many responsibilities included buying and selling merchandise. Illustration by Larry Salk

When we examine this ancient biblical ideal of womanhood, we do not find the stereotyped housewife occupied with dirty dishes and laundry, her daily life dictated by the demands of her husband and her children. Nor do we find a hardened, overly ambitious career woman who leaves her family to fend for itself.
What we find is a strong, dignified, multitalented, caring woman who is an individual in her own right. This woman has money to invest, servants to look after and real estate to manage. She is her husband’s partner, and she is completely trusted with the responsibility for their lands, property and goods.
She has the business skills to buy and sell in the market, along with the heartfelt sensitivity and compassion to care for and fulfill the needs of people who are less fortunate. Cheerfully and energetically she tackles the challenges each day brings. Her husband and children love and respect her for her kind, generous and caring nature.

But with all her responsibilities, first and foremost, she looks to God. Her primary concern is God’s will in her life. She is a woman after God’s own heart. Let’s examine the characteristics of this remarkable woman — a role model for Christian women today.

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." The Hebrew word chayil, translated here "noble," or "virtuous" (KJV), means a wife of valor — a strong, capable woman with strong convictions. This description of the ideal wife does not agree with those who associate femininity with weakness and passivity.

"Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Her husband trusts her management of their resources. Her industriousness adds to the family income. 

"She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."  This woman does not do right only when it is convenient and profitable. Her actions are not based on how she is treated by others or by what others think. Her character is steady. She is reliable and dependable.

"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands." This woman enjoys working so much that she plans ahead for what she needs in order to accomplish her responsibilities.

"She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar." The trait not to settle for the mediocre is portrayed by a woman who goes the extra mile for quality items.

"She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls." Though the woman described here has servants to take care of many of the household duties, she sets the pace. She understands that good managers have a responsibility to take care of those under their authority. That is one of her top priorities.

"She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard." Every woman doesn’t have to go into real estate and horticulture — the principle here is that this woman uses her mind. She does not act on a whim, but logically analyzes a situation before making a decision. Her goals are not only short term — she envisions the long-range benefits of her decisions.

"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." We get a picture of a woman who vigorously goes about her duties. She keeps herself healthy and strong by proper health practices — good diet, adequate rest and exercise. Many people depend on her.

"She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." She knows that her merchandise is good and takes pride in doing a good job. Night or day, no one worries that her responsibilities are not taken care of.

"In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers." The example she sets is one of skill and industriousness. Whether this woman would be a computer programmer, a concert pianist, a mother, or all three, she develops her talents and hones her skills through education and diligent application.

"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Although it’s good to donate to needy causes, this means far more than writing a check. This woman shows personal concern. She visits the sick, comforts the lonely and depressed, and delivers food to those in need.

"When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet." Providing clothing for the family is one of her responsibilities. She takes this seriously, and plans ahead. She does not practice crisis management.

"She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple." This woman has high standards and dresses properly for the occasion.

"Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." This man does not have to spend half his time trying to straighten out problems at home, and his success in the social world comes partly from her support, just as her success comes partly from his support. The original woman of Proverbs 31 couldn’t phone her husband for his opinion on matters. She made many of the day-to-day decisions about their property and goods. He trusted her to manage the estate efficiently.

"She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes." This woman runs a business from her home. Her efforts and industry add to the family income.

"Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come" (NKJV). Not only does this woman benefit each day from her wise and diligent actions, long-term lifetime benefits and rewards lie in store for her.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." This woman is well read and has the facts. She knows what she is talking about. Whether about her job, her personal values or her opinion on world events, she is able to express herself intelligently, tactfully and diplomatically. People come to her for good advice.

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." She is an organized, energetic person who carries out her responsibilities.

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." This woman is not a doormat, slavishly trying to appease and please her family, no matter how unreasonable their demands. She is honored in her home. Here we gain an insight into the character of her husband as well. He teaches their children to respect her and the virtues she personifies.

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." High praise for this extraordinary woman — a role model for women of all time.

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Here is the key to this woman’s effectiveness. Her priorities are determined by God’s will, not her own. She is concerned about what God thinks, rather than with what other people think. Physical beauty and clever conversation are admirable qualities. But if a woman’s beauty and charm are the extent of her virtues, what happens when time and the trials of life take their toll? This woman does not depend on beauty and charm for her success. She recognizes her need for God.

"Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." This woman is actively doing, not merely talking. She does not boast about her plans for the future or her successes of the past. They are obvious.

Does this woman sound too good to be true? Perhaps she is. The woman described here is an idealized woman, a composite of many capable women. After all, not all people have the same skills. Some women’s strengths are in music or art. Others may be in mathematics, teaching or business. Some are better managers and organizers than others. While some women may excel at coming up with ideas, others may be more skilled at creating or producing what has been invented by someone else. No one excels at everything.
Some women work for several years after high school or college before marrying. Others, for one reason or another, do not marry at all. Does this mean that unmarried women cannot be Proverbs 31 women? No. Although this chapter describes a married woman, marriage and motherhood are not prerequisites for the successful Christian female’s life. The essential characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman can be applied to the single woman, too.

The model woman described in Proverbs is a portrait of ideal womanhood. The focus of this portrait is a WOMAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, NOT HER SPECIFIC ABILITIES OR MARITAL STATUS. The Proverbs 31 woman realizes that regardless of her natural talents or acquired skills, or all her accomplishments, her strength comes from God.

WHO IS A VIRTUOUS WOMAN TODAY? Proverbs 31 tells you that IT IS THE WOMAN WHO PUTS GOD FIRST. The ideal woman of Proverbs 31 should encourage all women everywhere. Cultures change, but this woman’s God-inspired character still shines brightly across the centuries.

Sheila Graham
Copyright © 2003

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