Posted in Spiritual

Called to Virtue: The Pursuit

To the woman who’s reading this,

          First of all, I just love you. You are so beautiful. You have a unique personality and many gifts. You have a story behind your face. Hurts and failures. Joys and victories. I’m cheering you on. My heart wants so much good for each one of you. I’m reminded of where I was in life – not many years ago. My teenage years. And where I am now. A young, married wife just trying to learn and grow. Wow. I just look back on all the lessons I have learned – and some that I am still trying to learn… and I realize that my pursuit of Virtue should have been my top priority constantly. It is so easy to become distracted, I know. However, I encourage you to give everything to God now, not to wait until a more “convenient” time. Being a Christian and pursuing Christlikeness is where it’s “at” and where it counts. I pray something God says through me & this post today will speak to you, and that God will help us on our pursuit to become Virtuous Women.

 

To start out, you must first define Virtue.

According to a couple different dictionaries, Virtue is…

  • Behavior showing high moral standards.
  • Conformity to a standard of right
  • Moral excellence, righteousness, or goodness

 

Secondly, we must look to a Biblical example of Virtue, the “Proverbs 31 Woman.”

Proverbs 31: 11 – 31

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (She is far more precious than jewels.) The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no lack of gain. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters/women have done virtuously, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

I don’t know about you… but reading that passage overwhelms me. Here’s exactly what I think…

To become a virtuous woman seems just downright impossible.

But… Is it, really?

Check out these verses.

2 Peter 1: 3 & 5

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue… giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.

 

You and I are C A L L E D to be women of virtue.

Overwhelming? Maybe. Doable? Definitely.

I am a FIRM believer that God doesn’t call you to something that is impossible.

Is becoming a virtuous woman overwhelming? Maybe. But, is it doable? Definitely!

 

 

Next, you have to study the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” Here’s the list I came up with.

 

Point 1. Qualities of a Virtuous Woman

  • Trustworthy.
    • Not fake. Not a flirt. Not a facade.
  • Good-hearted.
    • Wishing the best for others. Seeking the highest good of those around, even if it’s uncomfortable or unrewarded here on earth.
  • Willing and hard worker.
    • Looking for opportunities to be helpful. Not slacking from work that needs done.
  • Makes her family her priority.
    • Takes care of them. First.
  • Treats her friends fairly.
    • Doesn’t seek to exclude.
  • Planner
    • Looks ahead and doesn’t forget about the future.
  • She knows her worth and value.
  • Consistent.
  • She treats those less than herself with care and love.
  • She prepares and grows in the easy times to withstand the hard times.
  • Resourceful.
  • Strong, but smart.
  • Carefree, not careless.
  • A speaker of truth that is covered in wisdom and kindness.
  • Not lazy.
  • Praiseworthy.
  • Good reputation, inside and outside the home.
  • Cares more about what God thinks that what the world thinks.
    • Charm is deceitful. Beauty is vain. Those things don’t last or matter.

 

(Side note: Wow! That’s a lot. I know. Yikes. But, the great thing is that God has promised to stay right beside us and lead and guide – Every Step of the Way!)

So, OK. We read the list of qualities. It’s not enough, though, to just observe and study the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” We have to move past that into actually “becoming” and “pursuing” the Virtuous Woman we are each called to be.

 

Point 2. How to become like the Virtuous Woman

You must have…

  • Intelligent Perspective.
    • Life is SO much more than just right now and just about you.
    • Don’t forget about your future self. Who you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years.
    • Inside matters more than the outside.
  • Intimate Prayer.
    • Talking to God.
      • On the daily. On the double.
      • If you don’t talk to someone, you don’t get to know them. And, in turn, they don’t get to know you. Don’t let this happen with God.
    • Pouring out your soul.
      • Your thoughts. Your struggles. Your sins. Your feelings. Your nothings and every-things.
    • Listening for God.
      • Taking time to be still.
        • Get over the awkwardness and enjoy His presence.
      • He WILL speak. Through His Word. Through the pastor. Through mentors. Through your conscience. Through your parents. Through music. Through quiet. Through peace.
  • Incredible Patience.
    • It doesn’t happen in a day.
    • It doesn’t happen all at once.
    • It’s more about the direction you are going than where you are.
      • Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t expect perfection. Be prepared to mess up. More than once.
  • Intentional Pursuit.
    • Leaving the past behind. Reaching forward to what is ahead.
    • Letting others be who they are and where they are. You can’t dictate someone else’s J O U R N E Y. You must focus, instead, on Y O U R current growth and journey! (To the unmarried ladies: This means letting your future husband – whoever and wherever he is – stay somewhere out there in your future, where he rightfully belongs.)

If I could sum it all up for you, here’s what I’d say…

 

In order to become a woman of virtue, it’s gotta be…

†††

“Christ Comes First… the rest follows.”

 

 

(I presented this to the young ladies in our youth group. I made a slideshow presentation. If that interests you, feel free to comment/contact me. I’d love for it to be useful to others, as well!)

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Posted in Spiritual

Chrestotes.

I am a Follower of Jesus.

Jesus calls me to live in Him and His truth. Jesus calls me to show the world that He is the message of Hope. Jesus calls me to a life of fruitfulness. As a Follower of my Jesus, my life should showcase the Fruits of the Spirit to those around me.

Here are a couple scriptures to think about. . .

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:5b

Without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:8

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

What are the fruits that I should be bearing/showing if I want to be a Follower of Jesus?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness (Integrity), Faithfulness, Meekness (Humility), and Self-Control.

I live in the real world. So do you. When I think about this Checklist titled “Fruits of the Spirit,” I cringe just a little bit. That’s a lot. Some days, especially, it feels overwhelming. I get so busy, so frustrated, so impatient, so snippy, so tired.

As Followers of Jesus we WANT to follow His Word, so – you might be thinking  – “How can I make this Fruit-Bearing seem more manageable?”      I am so glad you asked! 😉

Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?

Chrestotes

Chrestotes is the Greek word for kindness.

So, what exactly is kindness?

If you check any dictionary, it will state something like this for kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

I found a great definition for kindness from Tim Keller @ J.D. Greer Ministries (https://jdgreear.com/blog/kellers-definitions-of-the-fruit-in-galatians-5/).

(Warning: It’s pretty radical, but it got me to thinking. . .)

What Kindness Is

Practical kindness with vulnerability out of deep inner security

What Kindness Isn’t

Envy. Unable to rejoice in other’s joy.

What Kindness Morphs Into

Manipulative good deeds. Self-congratulation and self-righteousness.

If our world needs anything these days, it would be kindness.

I must admit for myself that I get so wrapped up in my own world & schedule that I forget to be kind. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t go around being “mean” or “rude.” I definitely don’t put much effort into being “kind,” however.

I don’t for a moment think that mediocre kindness is what Christ has called us – His Followers – to.

It’s time I start being more aware of the world around me. It’s time I start realizing that I might be the only picture of Jesus some people see. It’s time I start owning up to being a Follower of Jesus.

I should be bearing the Fruit of Kindness at a much quicker rate than I am currently.

I must not mask kindness by doing things just for praise. That’s not true kindness.

I must not be kind just to make myself feel better. That is selfish.

Instead . . .

I must be secure in who I am & what I have in order to treat others with genuine kindness in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

I must guard my heart from selfishness and discontentment. Instead of envying others, I should work to rejoice in their blessings and triumphs!

I must look for ways to practice kindness. Every day.

Now, listen — In part of my desire to blog about authentic living, I promise that I practice what I write about. The past two weeks my Bible Study ladies & I practiced thankfulness, this week we are practicing kindness. Each day we are endeavoring to go out of our way – and purposefully look for – an opportunity to bless someone with an act of kindness. We then keep each other accountable by sharing in our group chat!

Most of my acts of kindness this week have been small. Doesn’t matter. Purposefully looking for a way to be kind to others has helped me be more aware of the needs around me and the opportunities I usually pass up.

People sometimes need a smile, a note, a hug, a helping hand, a visit, a gift. . . a friend!

Sometimes this looks like putting my husband’s laundry away. Sometimes this looks like helping a coworker out with a task that needs accomplished. Sometimes this looks like gathering all the carts in the parking lot for the cashier at the Dollar Tree who looks incredibly busy and flustered.

Find a way to be kind. Get out of your comfort zone.

I challenge you to join me in this endeavor! One purposeful act of kindness a day – for at least a week.

I truly think that working on showing kindness each day will help us toward the end goal.

What is that end goal, again?

Following Jesus and His teachings. Living a Spirit-filled life. Bearing fruit.

Kindness is a lifestyle, friends.

May we work on kindness, practice kindness, and become kindness.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Take the first step.

Sometimes, it is just about taking the first step. The step of obedience. The step of trust. The step of faith.

Joshua 3:13-17:

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),

16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

Background:

Moses chose Joshua to replace him as the leader of the Israelites after he passed away. As Joshua faced this new door of opportunity and leadership, God assured him of the following: “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). What a promise! Now, after wandering in the wilderness for forty years, God’s people were ready to follow Joshua into the Promised Land. They were ready to conquer in the name of the LORD. They were ready to see and retrieve the wonderful land that God had promised to give them.

Point 1: Consecrate your life

First things first, though, they were commanded to purify themselves. According to the commentary in my Life Application Study Bible, “The consecration ceremony pictured the importance of approaching God with a pure heart.”

Application:

What about you? Have you consecrated or given your life completely to Christ’s control? Are you bearing Christ’s name wherever you go? Have you obeyed God before you take the next step, before you expect Him to answer your prayers or give you a blessing? Are you walking in all the light God has shown you (1 John 1:7) before you claim the promise in Romans 8:28 that “ALL things work together for good to those who LOVE God”? You can’t live for yourself and expect to reap the benefits of being God’s child.

Point 2: Listen to God’s voice

Next, Joshua commanded the people to – before commencing battle – come together and listen to what God had to say (Joshua 3:9).

Application:

When was the last time you TOOK the time to stop and listen to what God has to say to you before you rushed into a decision, gave an opinion, etc.? According to my Bible’s commentary, “Before making your schedule, take time to focus on what God wants from ALL your activities.” Wow! God should rule and reign in your daily choices and activities.

Point 3: Take the first step

Then, God gave His people “specific instructions” (Joshua 3:13) on how they were supposed to start their journey to overtaking their enemies, which happened to be crossing over the Jordan River, currently in flooding season. The priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant were supposed to STEP into the water. When their soles – bottoms of their feet – NOT just tiptoes – were in the water — then, and ONLY then, would God perform His miracle. He was going to PART the huge Jordan river. Say, what?! Yes, for the second time in their history, God was showing His people who was boss. He controls the winds, the waves, and even the weather… Everything!

Application:

What difficult task has God ordered you to do? What step has God commanded you to take? What situation is facing you that has you shaking in your boots? Sometimes it is just about taking the first step. Surrender your life to God’s control. Choose serving God over everyone and anything else. Read the Bible. Listen to what God has to say to you, and then. . . OBEY. Do whatever God wants you to do. It might be something simple. It might be something complex. Either way, you MUST take that first step. If the priests had decided they were going to stand on the bank of the Jordan River until God parted the waters, they would STILL be standing there. They had to step into the raging river before God performed the miracle – before He stopped the waters. It might seem foggy in your life right now. That first step might be incredibly scary. HOWEVER – don’t let that stop you! Don’t “tiptoe” into what God tells you to do – plunge into the river. Trust that God is with you. Obey quickly and fully. Then, the waters will be part, the skies will become clear, and the presence of God will surround you.

The first step is the hardest. If you never take it, though, you’ll never know what miracles God was going to perform in your life. Take that first step of faith.

Resources:

Life Application Study Bible, New American Standard Bible – Updated Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

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Posted in Spiritual

Truths for your Monday blues.

  1. God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
  2. If you are a child of God, all things in your life – no matter how impossible they seem – are working together for GOOD. (Romans 8:28)
  3. When you just don’t know how to pray or what to say, the Spirit is making intercession to the Father for you. (Romans 8:26)
  4. God promises His peace. Perfect peace. Claim it! (John 14:27; Isaiah 26:3)
  5. The God of the Universe – the One who controls the Angel Armies (Hosts) – is on YOUR side! (Psalm 46:7)
  6. Your enemies are nothing compared to your big God. God’s got you! (Psalm 18:2-3)
  7. God’s love and compassion for you lasts forever. (Psalm 136)
  8. Don’t let the devil hold your past sins over your head. As far as the sky stretches from east to west – that’s how FAR God has removed your sins from you! (Psalm 103:12)
  9. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, your mansion in heaven is being prepared for you… right now! Jesus is going to come back and get you to spend forever with him! (John 14:1-3)
  10. You serve the living God.. the Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End. Read the back of the Book – God wins! (Revelation 22:13)

(Photo creds: unsplash.com)