Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Who Sets Your Standards?

Have you ever had those moments where you know God is really trying to teach you something, because He keeps dropping you subtle little hints about it? Like, maybe you're going through something and He puts people in your life that are going through the same thing, or maybe it comes up in your daily devotions (A LOT), or maybe you hear a sermon at church that deals with something similar....? These are just a few things that have happened to me recently. God has been at work on my heart again. He's been hitting me pretty hard with some really awesome stuff and I wanted to share it with everyone. :) This is a tough subject for me, though, because it is something that I've struggled with for.... I guess as long as I can remember. But, it's come up so much in my life here lately that I feel like God is just telling me to get it out and let it go. So, this is what He's shown me.

First of all, I should just go ahead and say: I am a very self conscious and insecure person. I just am. I always have been. I over analyze everything and I'm always worried that I'm going to make mistakes. I have a fear of not measuring up to other people's standards or of not living up to their expectations. And, when I don't, I often feel like a failure or like I'm not good enough. I think I've gotten better and lightened up a bit over the years, but I still have a tendency to be that way. Ever felt like that?

Well, I've always tried telling myself that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I need to just live my life for God to the best of my ability and not worry about other people. But, you know what? That is sooo much easier said than done. We humans have a natural desire to fit in and please people. But, the fact is, the more we worry about what other people think about us, the more we tend to fall into the patterns of this world. I mean, think about it. It's easy to fit in with the world. It really is. What's hard is standing out. Especially standing out for Christ.

You see, I know God is calling me to do something different, and the only thing I can do is just trust Him and follow His plan. But, my biggest problem is that what I'm doing doesn't look "normal" to the world. So, I get criticized for it. And, that's hard. But, get this: Christian life is not supposed to be easy. There are countless verses to prove this statement. I'll just share a couple with you.

II Timothy 2:3~ Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

I Peter 4:16~ but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

I've come to realize that God has set standards for my life. God has expectations for me. And, I don't have to live up to the expectations or standards of anyone else but Him. If I base my success or my failure on what others think, I'm going to end up extremely disappointed. Humans are imperfect and they're not always going to give me the answer or the reaction that I want or need. I'll give you two examples.
  1. When we're trying to follow what God has for our lives, we have to die to self and accept God's plan as more important than our own. It's a John 3:30 thing. "He must increase, but I must decrease." But, sometimes we get undesirable reactions from people. We are told that what we're doing isn't good enough and we'll never go anywhere or doing anything in life because of what we're choosing to do. But, my question is: Who do we let be the judge of that? Why should we let ourselves believe that following God's calling on our life is unimportant? Just because other people think that we should be doing something else? Personally, I believe that God's plan for me is better than my own plan for myself.
  2. Sometimes we get a reaction from the other side of the spectrum. Maybe we are told that we ourselves are not good enough for the task that we feel God has called us to accomplish. And, we start to believe that we actually aren't good enough or that we're inadequate. Well, let me tell you something: We are not good enough. And, we never will be. On our own. But, here's the good news! II Corinthians 3:5 tells us that we are inadequate in ourselves, but that our adequacy is from God! By God's grace, we are good enough to walk out His plan for our lives. We just have to do it! :)
A lot of the time, God uses things or people that we would consider to be the most insignificant in order to fulfill His purpose. Look at Moses. He had a speech impediment, so he didn't feel like he could do what God called him to do. But, God still used him to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. Or look at David. He was the youngest of his father's children, he was small, and he was just a shepherd boy. But he took down a giant! God can use you.

So, my point is, if God calls me to do something, I need to automatically say "Here I am Lord, use me!" regardless of what others may think. Instead of listening to all of the other voices and opinions around me telling me what I should or should not be doing with my life, I need to tune God in more than anyone else. I read this verse the other day and it really hit me:

Colossians 2:8~ See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Instead of doing things just because someone else thinks that you should be doing it, why don't we try listening to God's voice and following Him? I don't want to do things just because I was talked into it by someone else or because it's "normal" or because it's what people expect. I want to do things according to Christ and His plan.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

~Do Not Conform, Be Transformed~

James 1:26-27~ If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

I don't know how many times I've read this verse, but for some reason I've always just taken the first part of verse 27 into consideration. 'Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress...' It seems like that's the only part of that verse that most people look at. But, it hit me that pure and undefiled religion in God's eyes is also keeping ourselves unstained by the world.

To me, that means: Not being tainted by the world. It automatically reminded me of:

Romans 12:2~ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

  • Conform- "To be or become similar in form, nature, or character."
  • Transform- "To change in condition, nature, or character."
  • Renew- "To be restored to a former state; become new or as if new again."
So, here Paul tells us not to be similar to the world, at all. And, he basically says to be changed to a new person completely, by letting God change the way you think. That way we will be able to demonstrate what the will of God is by our actions.
Now, there are also a few other verses that come to mind that talk about being transformed and what that actually looks like.
This passage is an example of what we are to change from:
Colossians 3:5-10~ Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him--
And, this passage is an example of what we are to change into:
Colossians 3:12-17~ So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
In I John 2, we are also told not to love the world. In verse 15 it says that if we love the world, the love of God is not in us. And, it goes on to say in verse 16 that all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life- none of that is from God. It is all worldly.Verse 17 tells us that the world is passing away, along with all of its lusts. But, those who do the will of God live forever.
I also wanted to talk about a couple of things that are very important to me regarding this subject.
Modest: Observing the proprieties of dress and behavior. Behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.
The word "Modest" applies especially to deportment and dress as outward signs of inward chastity or purity.
We all have our own definitions of the word... "Standards of modesty vary by culture, or generation, and vary depending on who is exposed, which parts of the body are exposed, the duration of the exposure, the context, and other variables."- Wikipedia
I want to point one thing out: God does not go by our standards of modesty. He doesn't care about the standards of our culture or our generation. He Himself, sets standards for us, and we can either choose to follow His or we can follow our society's standards. It's so easy to just go along with what everyone else is doing and follow the different trends.. But, it's so much more worthwhile to follow God and his standards, no matter how hard it may be.
Some of my favorite verses on this are:
I Timothy 2:9-10~ Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
I see by this verse that if I am claiming to be a Christian, I need to act and dress like it. Now, I'm not saying that I think women should have to wear long dresses to their feet and long sleeves or really baggy clothes or anything like that. As a girl, I like to look nice and wear clothes that are flattering (although, my usual is just a pair of sport shorts and a t-shirt, haha.) I would like to be considered outwardly pretty/attractive. But, I don't think that it's very wise for a girl to put her body on display by wearing revealing clothing. Your body should NEVER be on display. Your spirit should be. Christians should look different than the world does, not only inwardly, but also outwardly.
Proverbs 31:30~ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (This is my absolute favorite verse.)
This verse basically tells us that the way we look outwardly is nothing. It is deceitful, because it doesn't always tell people what we're like on the inside. But, our inward appearance is lasting and important.
So, girls, I just want to encourage you to ask yourself these questions the next time you're out shopping: "Would this be pleasing to the Lord?" or "Is it really necessary for me to show that much skin?" Your [future] husbands will be so pleased and thankful that you didn't try to show yourself off to anyone other than him. :)By the way, modesty is an issue for both girls and guys. So guys, you could definitely apply the same verses to yourselves. Your [future] wives will appreciate it just as much as you would from her.
This is a really tough subject. Personally, I don't think that it's wrong for (unmarried) women to go to college and have careers outside of the home, but I do think that it's not the right choice for myself. There are some people that think it's very wrong for women to have jobs and work outside the home, and on the other end there are some people that think it's very wrong for women to be homemakers. It's actually a topic that I struggled with for many, many years, myself.
Here's my take on this subject: I graduated from high school in April 2010, and decided to take the next year off from school. The reason that I did that was because I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to do after that. I had always wanted to go to college and be independent. To say the least (and this is my opinion about my attitude, not my parent's), I was very strong-willed, pretty feminist, and almost slightly rebellious. But, during my senior year of high school, the Lord went to work on my heart. And, let me tell you, it wasn't easy. I went from my junior year, knowing exactly what I wanted to do (Forensic Science was calling my name. It seems creepy looking back on it...) to the end of my senior year, being completely lost about what I was supposed to do. That's when I decided that I needed to take the year off, spend the year praying and meditating on the Lord and what His will was for me. Because up until that point, I had everything planned for myself, and it didn't really matter to me if that was the Lord's plan or not. So, I took the year and was in constant prayer about this. The Lord really hit me hard with Titus 2.
Titus 2:3-5~ Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
These verses apply to me in many ways. I am older to some girls, and I'm younger to other women. So, my jobs as a woman, in general, are laid out before me completely, in these verses.
Now, the way that this ties in with the rest of the note is: The world tells us that women are to be completely independent. That we don't need to rely on men to do everything. And, like I said earlier, I don't think that it's wrong for a woman (unmarried) to have a career outside of the home. Some women are not called to marriage (I've written another post on that topic.) But, we also need older women encouraging the younger women to stay at home and care for their families! The sad thing is that the world seems to *discourage* homemakers. The world tells us that, obviously, women that stay home with their families weren't intelligent enough or didn't have enough motivation to maintain a career. But, for a good number of us, that isn't the case. I'm just as smart as anyone else; I've just chosen a different path, or rather, a different path was chosen for me.
So, older women, I ask you to encourage us younger women to be keepers at home, if that is what the Lord calls us to do! We need all the encouragment we can get! And, younger women, when we are being encouraged to do this, we need to listen. I understand that this isn't for everyone, but we need to be thankful for the encouragment when we get it. And for those of us who have chosen this direction, don't be discouraged by the world. It's hard, but know that the Lord has great plans for you, whether you are out working in the world or at home keeping your house and caring for your family. :)
And, one more thing!
What does it really mean to be a Christian? To me, Christianity is not just something that you pick up on Sunday's for church, but it's more of an everyday lifestyle. Living your life for Christ EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don't want to be the kind of person that lives life however I want to during the week, and then walks into church on Sunday morning in order to "justify" my behavior every other day of the week.
If I make a claim to Christianity, that means that I need to live my life that way. I need to be an example to other people. I need to plant seeds for the Lord.
How am I supposed to know how to live my life?
Psalm 119:9~ How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
So, I need to read the Bible to know how to live. So, for me to know how to live every single day, it would only make sense to read the Bible EVERYDAY!
Deuteronomy 17:19~ "It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes..."
I also want to encourage everyone to read Ephesians 5:1-21. This passage has so much wisdom poured into it about how to live as Christians! :)
These are just three topics that are particularly important to me. I would like to encourage you all to consider the verses that I've shared, and apply them to your own lives in whatever ways the Lord leads you to.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dwell On These Things

Well, Sunday night I was convicted that I have been spending way too much of my time dwelling on things that are not in the least bit profitable. I think God has been trying to get hold of me for a few weeks now and I guess I've been unintentionally resisting. I have had so much on my mind lately that I feel mentally exhausted. Obviously, I haven't had enough Jesus in my diet, because according to Philippians 4:7, "the peace of God...will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." So, seeing the truth in this verse, I have realized that God can give me peace from my exhaustion. He has hit me with a few key verses the past couple of days and I thought they were worth sharing.
The first verse that came to mind last night was Philippians 4:8. And, I think the only reason for that is because of the last few words in the verse: "...dwell on these things." And, then I felt compelled to dig in and study about what I'm supposed to be dwelling on. So, here we go!
Philippians 4:8~ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right (just,) whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
  • So, what is truth? Prime example:
John 1:14~ And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 14:6~ Jesus said to Him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jesus Christ IS truth.
  • What is honor? Well, to be honorable, is to have a good reputation. To have a good name. To be honest. Fair. To have integrity. And the very first person that came to my mind when I was thinking of someone honorable was : Jesus. I mean, He came to this earth in human form, died a terrible death, and then rose again, ALL FOR YOU AND ME! If that's not honorable, I don't know what is.
Jesus is honorable.
  • What is right or just? The Webster's dictionary gives this definition for 'just:' Acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good; righteous. Who comes to mind, yet again? Take a wild guess..
I Peter 3:18~ For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit...
Jesus is just.
  • What is purity? To be pure is to be spotless, unblemished, blameless, etc. You want to know who is the very definition of purity? I think I see a pattern developing here.
I Peter 1:18-19~ ...knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
Hebrews 4:15~ For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus is pure.
  • The definition of 'lovely' is: Delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace; attractive. Now, I for one, do not think that Jesus was physically beautiful. I almost feel bad for saying that, but if you look at the Scriptures, it clearly says that He wasn't. I would probably say that he was closer to being down right ugly. That sounds even worse!
Isaiah 53:2-3~ He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
It seems to me like He was actually a very unattractive guy. Physically. But, guess what? I, personally, think that Jesus was the most attractive person that has ever walked on this earth. Spiritually. His inward appearance is incomparable. No one can match it. He had (has) amazing character. And, since the Bible tells us (over and over again) that it is what's on the inside that counts (I Samuel 16:7,) I consider Jesus to be VERY LOVELY person.
  • Good repute? That's an interesting one. To me, this means to be well spoken of or to have a good reputation. And believe me, Jesus Christ is well spoken of around our house. I'll tell you why that is.
John 15:13~ Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.That is the ultimate example of love. For Jesus to give up His life for us is priceless.
He has an amazing reputation.
  • The definition of 'excellent' is: Superior; very good of its own kind; eminently good. I encourage you to read all of Hebrews 1, which talks about Jesus' superiority, but I'll share the first 4 verses just so you get a piece of it.
Hebrews 1:1-4~ God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
Jesus is excellent.
  • Now first of all, I'd just like to say that if Jesus fulfills all of these characteristics, I think He's pretty praiseworthy. But, we are also commanded, all through the Bible, to offer Him praise. I'll just list a few examples, though.
Psalm 145:3~ Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
Psalm 96:4~ For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 150:2~ Praise Him for His acts of power; praise him for His surpassing greatness.
Jesus is praiseworthy.
As I was thinking about Philippians 4:8 last night, I was trying to think of things that fit the descriptions in this verse. And, although there are other things that do fit those descriptions, I kept coming back to the ONE who fit them perfectly. Jesus Christ is the pure essence of Philippians 4:8. So, it seems to me, that whenever I am being totally focused on myself and whenever I have other things taking up all of my time, that is sin. Whenever I'm feeling exhausted because of what I'm choosing to dwell on, that is sin. My thoughts need to be completely consumed by Jesus. At all times.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do You Know What Love Is?

I am at this very moment listening to Mariah Carey's rendition of "I Want to Know What Love Is." And, with today being Valentine's Day, my mind has been mulling over the thought "What is Love?" It seemed only appropriate for the subject of my next Bible study to be Love. And what better place to start than the "Love Chapter" in I Corinthians? That's where I'll begin and I'll expand from there!

I Corinthians 13:4 (I'm going to break the verses down to write each definition of the word love. And, I'm going to list a couple [or a few...] verses after each definition to go along with it.)
  • Love is patient.
Romans 12:12~ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
I Thessalonians 5:14~ We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Ephesians 4:1-2~ Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all himilty and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love....
  • Love is kind.
Ephesians 4:32~ Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Colossians 3:12~ So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience....
  • Love is not jealous.
Genesis 4:3-15 tells the story of Cain and Abel. Of how the Lord was pleased with Abel's offering, but not with Cain's. Cain was jealous of Abel because of this, and he rose up and killed his own brother! Because of Cain's jealousy and the fact that he acted on it, the Lord cursed him.
Genesis 37, 39-50 describes the story of Joseph. This is probably one of the best examples of jealousy that I can think of. It describes Joseph's life from the time he was 17 years old up until his death. We see how his life played out, from him being his father's beloved son, to his brothers letting their jealousy get the better of them and selling him into slavery. But, praise the Lord, the story didn't end there. Joseph was exalted in Egypt after a couple years of hardship. And his relationship with his family (his brothers, especially) was restored.
  • Love does not brag.
James 4:16~ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
I Corinthians 3:21~ So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to You...
  • Love is not arrogant.
Romans 1:28,30~ And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.... slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents....

I Corinthians 13:5
  • Love does not act unbecomingly.
I Timothy 4:12~ Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
Colossians 1:10~ ....so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God....
Ephesians 5:3-4~ But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
  • Love is not self-seeking.
I Corinthians 10:24~ Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
Philippians 2:3-4~ Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • Love is not provoked.
James 1:19-20~ This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Proverbs 14:29~ He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
  • Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.
Ephesians 4:32~ Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.
I Peter 4:8~ Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

I Corinthians 13:6
  • Love does not delight in evil.
Romans 12:9~ Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Proverbs 8:13~ "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate."
Psalm 97:10~ Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
  • Love rejoices with the truth.
** John 14:6~ Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
III John 4~ I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
Philippians 4:4~ Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
I Corinthians 13:7
  • Love bears all things.
  • Love believes all things.
  • Love hopes all things.
  • Love endures all things.
Genesis 29:20~ So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
Psalm 100:9~ For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Mark 9:23~ And Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."
Psalm 84:12~ O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Romans 5:3-5~ And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
I Corinthians 13:8
  • Love NEVER Fails....
Proverbs 17:17~ A friend loves at all times....
Song of Solomon 8:6-7~ "Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on you arm, for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.
I Peter 4:8~ Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Jesus Christ, the ultimate Lover of our souls, proved every single point out of this passage when He gave up His life for us. He loves us so deeply that He was willing to give up His life for us. This is the kind of love that we need to pursue and practice.
Love is not just a feeling. Feelings come and go. If love were just a feeling, it wouldn't be worth much. If love were just a feeling, Christ would not have taken our place on the cross. Love is a commitment. Love is long-lasting. Love is never ending. The only way to know this kind of love is to know God, because God is love.
I John 4:7-10~ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
So, now the question remains: Do you know what love is?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'm Back and Focused!

Alright, I'm back! I have finished my first major task! Yesterday was the day that I taught a group of youth girls for the first time EVER. Praise the Lord, it went amazingly well, and I had a great time doing it. We had a day of fun and laughter and also of serious conversation. I learned sooo much while working on the study myself, and I learned a lot from my experience of teaching yesterday. So, needless to say, it was an overall great day. Now all that is left is all of my extensive crocheting! But, even with all of that, I'm going to try my best to get back into the swing of my Bible studying and get back to my resolution of posting a study a week. Let's see how it goes, shall we? :)
Oh! Another thing: I think I'm going to add some music to my blog. I need some music on here, as I happen to be a music fanatic. I just absolutely love it, and it seems too quiet here. So, hopefully, I'll have that going soon!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Look At Her Heart: Godly Womanhood

Well, this week I'm going to talk about the definition of a godly/virtuous woman. I talked about the qualities/characteristics of a godly man a couple weeks ago, and I thought (afterwards, of course) that I probably should have done a study on godly women first, haha. I'm aiming this toward women in the sense that we need to be striving to be godly women. But, I'm also aiming this toward men. Because men need to know what to look for in a girl! Men need to see past that pretty face and actually get to know her. Know who she is. Not in herself, but who she is in Christ. :)
I'm going to talk about the verses (or parts of verses) in Proverbs 31 that really stand out to me, and several other verses and passages that refer to godly women. Keep in mind, no one starts out their newlywed life perfectly as the Proverbs 31 woman. And, most of us will never be able to fully attain that status. But, that's ok, as long as we are striving to follow God's will for our lives. Let's begin, shall we?
  • Proverbs 31:10~ An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
Now, to be an excellent wife, you must first be a godly woman. So, I'm going to use the phrase "godly woman" in the place of "excellent wife." Just to make it clear what is expected of an excellent wife.
The Hebrew word for excellent, translated, is Chayil. Here it means: Strong, efficient, or able. I believe this is mainly referring to a woman who is strong in her faith and convictions. But, it can also mean physically strong.
Efficient- Able to accomplish a purpose; functioning effectively; Being effective without wasting time or effort or expense. --An excellent woman is a hard worker and doesn't waste time while getting things accomplished.
An excellent wife is more valuable than jewels. In the King James Version, this verse reads: "...For her price is far above rubies." Think about it: Rubies would not be worth very much if you could find them anywhere and everywhere. But, they are very valuable because they are so rare! A godly woman is hard to find, and therefore, very valuable.
  • Proverbs 31:11~ The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
A godly woman is trustworthy. Synonyms of the word "trustworthy" are: True, Honest, Faithful, Reliable, Dependable. Her husband can put his confidence in her!
  • Proverbs 31:12~ She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Her husband's happiness is always the godly woman's concern. She does him good. Not evil! Her love is not dependent on how she is treated by her husband. Her love is consistent.
Let's face it, if we let our attitudes toward other people depend upon the way they treat us, a lot of the time, we would probably really dislike everyone. Our God has an unconditional love for us. And, if we are following Ephesians 5:1-2, we should have an unconditional love for others. That doesn't mean that we won't ever get angry or upset, but that shouldn't change the way we treat people.
Ephesians 4:26~ Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
I really love Proverbs 31:12. Mainly because of this part: "...all the days of her life." Notice that it says *her* life. It doesn't say *his* life. A godly woman should do her husband good all her life. This means doing him good from the day of marriage until death. But, to me, this also means doing him good even before marriage. Be wise about your relationships with other people. Think things through before you act. Make sure that you're not making a life decision that could negatively affect your marriage in years to come.
  • Proverbs 31:17~ She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
The KJV reads: "She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." The Hebrew word for loins, translated, is Mothen. It means: The hips or abdominal region, and it also means the Heart! A godly woman has an inner strength which energizes her and enables her to accomplish physical tasks which require physical strength. Where does this inner strength come from? There are tons of verses that answer this question, but I'll just list one:
Psalm 28:7~ The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
Women often deal with situations where physical strength is needed. So, taking care of your body, physically (not just spiritually), is also very beneficial. Take care of yourself and glorify God. :)
I Corinthians 6:19-20~ Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
  • Proverbs 31:20~ She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.
Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11~ "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks... For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying. 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'"
  • Proverbs 31:23~ Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
Notice: This verse says nothing about the woman. Interesting, isn't it? But, look at:
Proverbs 12:4~ An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.
A godly woman brings honor and glory to her husband. A crown is a grand piece of jewelry, and a godly woman is such to her husband. A godly woman is not only a reminder to others of *her* character, but also of her husband's character. He must have good character for him to win over such a godly woman. Where would the man in Proverbs 31:23 be without his godly, excellent, faithful, loving wife?
  • Proverbs 31:25~ Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.
Do you see that? Strength and dignity are her clothing... That's an interesting thought, huh? It doesn't say anything about her outward, physical clothing. It's talking about her character! The Hebrew word for strength is translated "Oz." Here it means: Bold, Loud, Mighty, Strong. The Hebrew word for dignity is translated "Hadar." It means: Beauty, Glory, Honor, Majesty.
Strength (boldness) comes from the Lord. Ephesians 3:11-12 says that we have boldness through our faith in Christ. II Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and discipline.
Proverbs 28:1~ The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
A Biblical example of a bold woman is: Esther, queen of Persia. She was certainly an extraordinary woman. She showed boldness to the extreme! She risked her life by going before the king without being summoned (which was punishable by death!), in order to deliver her people! That takes a lot of courage! More courage than most men possess. So, a characteristic of a godly woman is boldness. Most of us today do not come face to face with life or death situations, so I think we can handle the little day to day things that require boldness.
Verse 25 also says "...and she smiles at the future." That is one really awesome verse, but at the same time really convicting. The godly woman looks at the future with confidence. She has no reason to fear or worry. She is sure of her salvation and her eternal future! She may not be sure of her future on earth, but she has no reason to worry about it. The Lord's compassion is new every morning! We have no reason to complain! Rejoice!
Philippians 4:6-7~ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:27~ "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"
Psalm 118:24~ This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Lamentations 3:22-23~ The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
  • Proverbs 31:26~ She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness in on her tongue.
What is wisdom? An easy definition for wisdom is: Knowledge. Well, where does knowledge come from?
Job 28:28~ "And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil in understanding.'"
Proverbs 1:7~ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Fearing the Lord (This does not mean to be literally scared into submission. It means to have a reverential trust in Him. To stand in awe of His power.) is wisdom. Simple as that. Now, where does fearing the Lord come from? I believe that in order to fear the Lord, we must know *why* we fear Him. How do we know why? By reading His word! Reading it, studying it, meditating on it! Colossians 4 is a great reminder of the way that we ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2-6~ Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Ladies, we have to conduct ourselves with wisdom, in order to speak with wisdom! Sometimes we may not feel very wise... But, when we have days like that, all we have to do is go to the Lord in prayer and ask for His wisdom!
James 1:5~ But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Proverbs 10:31~ The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, but the perverted tongue will be cut out. --- OUCH!
Here's another thing to keep in mind:
Matthew 12:34b~ "...For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart."
If you have a heart of wisdom and kindness, you will speak words of wisdom and kindness! Always be careful with the way that you speak! Your speech always reflects your heart.
I remember several years ago, I went to a Bible with some girlfriends of mine, and this verse came up. One of my older friends was talking about it and she gave a very clear rule that she has set for herself according to this verse. "If I am not speaking with wisdom or kindness, I don't even need to open my mouth." Wow. Such a hard thing to do... But, who ever said that it would be easy?
Colossians 3:12~ So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience...
  • Proverbs 31:27~ She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
The godly woman manages her household well. That is her job, and she takes responsibility for it. I'm probably going to be stepping on toes with this one. I realize that this is the 21st century, and women have equal rights and everything. Personally, I'm all for the civil rights movement. But, just because we are all created equal, that doesn't mean that men and women were not created for different purposes. Men were created to be providers, and women were created to be helpers. This is why I love Titus 2 so much.
Titus 2:4-5~ ...so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Side Note: I'm not one to say that it's wrong for girls to go to college and get jobs and all that jazz. But, I do think that once a girl (or woman) gets married, her #1 priority should be her family. If school or a job gets in the way of her household management, then there's a problem and it needs to be corrected. That's just my personal opinion.
One main way that she manages her house, is by being attentive to her family. She is constantly keeping an eye out for any danger that may harm her family, whether that be bad company, dangers of television or internet, etc. Just keep up with what is going on with each person in your family. Stay in tuned to what they are thinking, doing, where they're going, what they're watching or listening to, who they're hanging out with.
Women (I'm mainly speaking to wives in this section, but it is applicable to all women) have a lot of responsibilities in regards to the home. Godly women look well to the ways of their household! They feed their families, they clothe their families, they take care of their families when they are sick, etc... Women, it is your job to make sure that these tasks are done! God created you as a helper!
  • Proverbs 31:28~ Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
A godly woman is respectable. Her husband praises her and her children rise up and bless her. She obviously does her job as a wife and mother pretty well, haha.
Proverbs 11:16~ A gracious woman attains honor, and ruthless men attain riches.
We can obtain honor and respect by being gracious. Most highly respected women are known by their grace. The definition of gracious is: "marked by kindness and courtesy" and also "merciful, compassionate." I've already covered Proverbs 31:26 and talked about kindness being on the godly woman's tongue. I think this an incredible reminder:
Proverbs 16:24~ Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
  • Proverbs 31:29~ "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."
Just so everyone knows, this is one of my favorite verses in this chapter! And the reason behind that is, because the woman's husband is praising her. He is showing his absolute love and adoration for her. He compares her to other women, but tells her that she is the best of them all! He recognizes that, of course, she is not the only godly woman out there (although, he knows that according to Proverbs 31:10, they are rare), but to him, she surpasses all others. To him, she is the best gift that God could have given to him, this side of heaven. Praise the Lord for this kind of love. Just as a reminder: If you find a godly man that loves you this way, hold on to him (given that you feel the same way about him.) This kind of love is also very rare.
  • Proverbs 31:30~ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
I said that the last verse was one of my favorite verses in this chapter, but this one absolutely takes the cake. It is my favorite and probably always will be. In this day and age, there is so much pressure put on girls to look a certain way; to fit a certain mold. Being thin and wearing the trendiest, most expensive clothes makes you beautiful, right? And, being beautiful makes you a good person, right? Wrong and wrong. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with wanting to look beautiful, but being beautiful is not what makes you godly. Our main focus should not be our outward appearance.
I Peter 3:3-4~ Your adornment must not be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
This verse doesn't say that our outward beauty is precious in God's eyes. It says our inward beauty! A gentle and quiet spirit is precious in His sight. Bringing attention to ourselves by our outward appearance is not precious. The attention that we draw to ourselves should be through our inward appearance.
There is too much emphasis put on external beauty today. Modesty is so rare, because girls think that they need to put themselves out there and be eye candy in order to get guys to like them. But let me tell you, if guys are only drawn to your outward appearance, there's a problem. That is not the kind of guy that you should want, anyway. Your outward appearance may sometimes be what catches a guy's eye, but he should be more drawn to your inward appearance than anything else about you. External beauty is not long-lasting. You need to remember that. If you date or marry someone because of their looks, you're eventually going to wake up one morning and realize that they're not quite as attractive as they once were. Beauty is fleeting.
I Timothy 2:9-10~ Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
It's simple. If we are claiming to be Christians, we need to show it by the way we dress and the way we act. True beauty only comes through fearing the Lord.
Psalm 90:17~ Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.
The Hebrew word for favor in this verse is translated Noam. It means: Beauty. :)
  • Proverbs 31:31~ Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
A godly and virtuous woman will be rewarded for the way she lives her life. She will be praised for it. Her good works are not in vain!
Hebrews 11:6~ And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
I Corinthians 15:58~ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

I just have a few more verses to share, I promise! I'm sorry this post is so long already, but I have very strong beliefs on this topic, and I need to get my thoughts out So here we go!
  • A godly woman should have a servant's heart.
First of all, Ephesians 5:1-2 talks about being imitators of God. Jesus Christ was the ultimate in servanthood! We need to strive to become more like Him!
Mark 10:45~ "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Galatians 5:13~ For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Philippians 2:8~ Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Christ came to this earth to lay his life down for us! He came to serve, not to be served. If He could lay His life down so willingly for a bunch of sinners, then why is it so hard for us to lay down our lives and serve other people, daily? No one is asking us to literally die for them, but dying to ourselves is one of the most drastic things that we can do in someone's life. Even giving up a little bit of your time to help someone out with something simple can make a huge impact.
  • A godly woman should be submissive to her authority.
We all, men and women, have some type of authority over us. We are all under God's authority, but women are also always under the authority of men. Most women look at this as being condescending. But, the fact of the matter is, women were created for men. To be helpers. Men need us. But, women, although we have a great ability to help, need authority. Women are easily driven by emotion, rather than logic. Men are (usually) the opposite.
I Corinthians 11:3~ But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
Before a woman marries, her authority is her father. After marriage, that authority transfers to her husband. Wives are to submit to their husbands.
Ephesians 5:22~ Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Hebrews 13:17~ Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (This verse is not speaking specifically to wives, but I think it's very fitting.)
*Men, when you're seeking a wife, look at how girls treat their fathers. You want a girl that treats her father with the utmost respect. If she doesn't, why do you think that she'd treat you any differently? Look at her relationship with her father. He was the first man in her life, so watch the way that she treats him. She should love and respect her father. If she does, chances are, she will love and respect you, as well.*
One last point! :)
  • A godly woman should work, serve, and do all things with joy.
Of course, we all slip up sometimes and we're not always going to be joyful. But, we should be striving to do that. We don't always realize it, but our attitudes are a reflection of our faith. Our attitudes can either work for or against our witness.
Philippians 2:14-16~ Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
Colossians 3:23-24~ Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

There are sooo many other verses that I could use to describe a godly woman, but all of these are the ones that stood out to me the most. I learned so much through working on this study and I was convicted of so many things. I do not measure up to the godly, Proverbs 31 woman in even 1/4 of the ways that I should. I have many issues that I need to work out, and seek the Lord's help with! But, I praise the Lord for showing me these issues now, before it's too late! Thank you so much for reading this extremely long post! Please share your thoughts with me! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Well, I should've written up a post yesterday... But unfortunately (Not really unfortunate. Just unfortunate for my blog!), I have a lot going on right now, and I don't have a lot of time for anything more than my daily reading. I'll fill you in on what's going on. I'm working on 2-3 different projects.
  1. I'm reading through a book titled "Great Love for Girls." I am going to be teaching a purity/abstinence class for teenage girls at a local church on February 11th. I just received my book on the 12th of this month, and I am trying my best to read through the whole thing and take good notes! I'm also going to have to come up with some verses and things to talk about for myself. It is going to be an all-day event. From 8 a.m.-about 4 p.m. We'll have 3 breaks in between each 1 1/2 hour long session. It's going to be a long, nerve-wracking day. I say nerve-wracking, because I am a terrible public speaker! And, this will be my first time ever teaching a class. But, it will definitely be worth it! :)
  2. I am crocheting baby blankets to sell. I have 4 orders for the next four months, I think. I have to have 2 by the beginning of February! And, I'm not even close to being done!

I said I have 2-3 projects... I'm combining that in there with #2, haha. Those blankets count as like 4 projects, though! So, needless to say, I'm busy right now, but I'm slowly working on a study, ok? I hope to have it written up and posted by next week. So, look forward to: Look at Her Heart: Godly Womanhood. It's going to be exciting, Lord willing! I'm enjoying the study when I have extra time for it! :) Thanks for your patience! I hope you all (whoever is actually reading this) have a great week!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Look At His Heart

We have all of these ideas about what a godly wife should be. Proverbs 31:10-31 is dedicated solely to defining a godly woman. And this is really great for men, if they are seeking a wife, and for women, as they prepare to fill that role. But my question is this: What does a godly man look like? And, I guess another question is: Is he husband material?

It seems as though this question is sometimes overlooked. Girls tend to rationalize when it comes to guys. We see a pretty/handsome face and think "Wow, I'm gonna marry him!" (Hopefully my family isn't the only one that does that!) But, my challenge for all of you girls out there (and guys, too. But, I'm aiming this more towards girls.) is: Look past his face and try to see his heart.

I was convicted of this during church last week. The sermon was about repentance, and to make a long story short, the preacher said this about how we are to change the way we see people:
"As Christians, we should look past all the exterior and see each person for who they truly are: Created in the image of God. No one is in any place to judge someone for who we think they are."

I thought this was great, because I've always loved the end of I Samuel 16:7~ "...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

So, if God looks at the heart rather than the outward appearance, what does that mean I should do? An answer from Scripture is:

Ephesians 5:1-2~ Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

We are to imitate God as children. Isn't that a sweet comparison? You know how little girls play with baby dolls and treat them so special, as if they are real? Or how little boys will play with toy tool sets or walk around wearing Daddy's shoes? Children look up to their parents. They imitate them. As Christians, we are to look up to our Heavenly Father and imitate Him. It also says to walk in love. According to I John, God is love. Yet another reminder to imitate God. :)

So, that is my challenge. Look past the face. Now we can go into what a godly man actually looks like. Now, just as a reminder, all of the things that I ever write are my thoughts and beliefs that I have gathered from Scripture, myself. You may have different thoughts, and I encourage you to explore them and draw your own conclusions. I'd even love for you to share what you find with me! :)

  • First of all, a godly man should love the Lord with all his heart.
That is a command in Matthew 22:37. I, personally, believe that this is the most important standard that EVERY girl should have. If he doesn't love God, he CANNOT truly love you. Why do I say this? Because, like I said earlier, I John says over and over again that God is love. God is true love. Always. He demonstrated that love for us by sending His only Son to die for us (Romans 5:8.) It also says in I John 4:19 "We love because He first loved us." A man has to accept God's love first, and only then can he love others.
  • A godly man should be strong and growing in his faith.
There are several examples of godly men in the Bible, but I'll just talk about one: Abraham. Abraham was a godly man that followed the Lord completely by faith.
Romans 4:19-21~ Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with repect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

Abraham is a good example of a man who was strong in his faith. I believe he is a great example for all men to follow.

I Corinthians 16:13~ Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

This verse talks about standing firm in faith and being strong. :) You know what's interesting? The very next verse says "Let all that you do be done in love." Showing love to people is also a sign of strength.

Now, for a person to be growing in their faith, they must be in the Word daily. We are not meant to just pick up our Bibles on Sunday for church and then put it back on the shelf at home until the next week. We are not meant to just take our preacher's word for it when he preaches a sermon on any topic. We are supposed to read/study the Word daily for ourselves. We need to completely satiate ourselves with the Word.

Acts 17:11~ Now these were more nobleminded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Colossians 3:16~ Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in you hearts to God.

II Timothy 3:16-17~ All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
I like that last verse. All Scripture is profitable, so that we may be adequate and equipped for every good work. It is sooo important to be in the Word, for this very reason!

Ephesians 6:10~ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

If you go on through Ephesians 6:11-17, it explains exactly how to be strong in the Lord. It is all by, basically, staying in the Word! Amazing. :)

One last passage for this section:

Colossians 2:5-7~ For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

  • A godly man should be committed to the Lord. He will do the right thing, even when it's not convenient or easy.
I Thessalonians 2:1-2~ For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.

II Timothy 3:12~ Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

These are examples of Paul being so committed that he would go through persecution and he still chooses to share the Word, preaching and teaching. An example that we should all follow. :)

  • A godly man should be a man of integrity. The definition of integrity is: honesty/truthfulness. He should be a man of his word. (To me, being honest also means being the same person no matter what crowd you're in. Being yourself no matter what.)
James 5:12~ But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

Psalm 25:21~ Let intregrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.

Proverbs 2:7-8~ He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.

Proverbs 11:3~ The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will desrtoy them.

Job was an example of a man with integrity. Job 2:3~ The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause." Job stayed true to the Lord even after he lost everything!

  • A godly man should be devoted to prayer. He must be devoted to prayer, but also believe "For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37.)
I Thessalonians 5:17-18~ ...pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

James 1:5-6~ But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Philippians 4:6~ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you requests be made known to God.

  • A godly man must be a hard worker. In whatever the Lord may have you doing, work hard at it. Whether it's school, work, hobbies, or whatever... Work hard.
Colossians 3:23-24~ Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the ingeritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Ecclesiastes 9:10~ Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might....

Proverbs 14:23~ In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Ok, that was my very basic checklist of what a godly man should be. Those are the top characteristics on my list. But, I have several more verses to share that are also very important characteristics that I look at. These verses have a lot in them, and no one will ever be able to follow them all perfectly. But these are the things that all Christians should be striving for.

I Timothy 4:12~ Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

Titus 2:6-8~ Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyong reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Colossians 3:12-14~ So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Romans 12:9-21~ Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

That's about all of the verses I'm going to use there.... I think. I want to touch on my idea of "husband material" for just a minute. Or two... Or more. These are just some things that you need to know before you marry someone. I believe that the most important things to know (after you know what a godly man is) are that:

  • Husbands MUST love their wives.
Ephesians 5:25~ Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her...

Ephesians 5:28-30~ So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

  • Husbands should be able to "wash their wives in the Word." I believe this to mean that they should make sure that their wives are in the Word daily, they should constantly encourage their wives with Scripture, they should challenge their wives, and stimulate their minds to think about Scripture, in different ways.
Ephesians 5:26-27~ ...so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
  • Husbands should be able to lead, but not lord over their wives.
Ephesians 5:22-24~ Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

I Peter 3:7~ You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Husbands should accept their role as the head of the family, only under Christ. And, they should not take advantage of this role by abusing their authority. Husbands should lead their family under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26.) They should lead, alongside their wives, but also be able to make final decisions for their families.

  • Husbands MUST be able to provide for their families.
I Timothy 5:8~ But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

That's a pretty intense verse, right there!

  • Husbands should want to have and raise a godly family, walking in the Truth.
III John 4~ I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
  • And, last but certainly not least, husbands should know that when they get married (given that they marry a godly woman,) they are receiving a good thing.
Proverbs 18:22~ He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 19:14~ House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 31:10~ An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Girls, you are priceless. You deserve a man that knows a good thing when he has it, and that treats you as such. No excuses. You are worth it. A man like this is worth waiting for.

The last passage that I'm going to share is out of I Corinthians 13. I'm going to share the definition of love. This is something that everyone needs to know, so that they will be able to recognize it.

I Corinthians 13:4-8~ Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.....

Thanks for reading all the way through this! I know it's long, and it took me forever to work on... And, I probably should have done a study on what a godly woman is first, but this came to my mind during the middle of the week, and I wanted to get it all down before I forgot! So, it is what it is. Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. I would appreciate your encouragement or [constructive] criticism. :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saved By Grace, Not By Works

Ok! It's time for my first Bible study post! :) This is a topic that has been on my mind since early December and I'm sooo happy to finally have it all written down! I would really appreciate any feedback/insight that any of you may have regarding this subject. Please feel free to comment and to pour some wisdom into my post! :)

Ephesians 2:8-9~ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
According to this passage, we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not saved by works. Romans 3:28 states, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." Romans 4 uses Abraham as an example of this.
Romans 4:1-3~ What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (That was first written in Genesis 15:6.)
Abraham was justified by faith, not by his works. I have also had James 2:14-26 pointed out to me. The main verses that have been applied were verses 21-26 that talk about Abraham and his faith/works.
James 2:21-22~ Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.
Abraham had faith, he acted on his faith (works,) and his faith was perfected by his works. Clearly explained. You have to have faith first. You act on your faith, showing your faith/salvation. Your faith is perfected. That's the process. It's simple. The book of James is addressed to believers. It isn't talking about how to be saved, but it is talking about how to live our lives as Christians. Living out our faith is what is being discussed in chapter 2. It isn't telling us that to be saved we must do good works, it is telling us that we should show our faith by our works. If we aren't living it out, we may need to ask ourselves if we are truly saved. I'll address that a little later on with a verse from II Corinthians 5.
Romans 4:4-5~ Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness...
Our works are not credited as a favor, but as what is due. We owe it to God to do good works, but those works are not what saves us. Our belief in Him justifies us.
This next passage is one that has just recently come to my attention. Well... Actually, I've read it over and over and over again, but you know how sometimes you just have a revelation about a passage and the Lord reveals something new to you through it? Well, that happened to me with this passage:
John 6:26-29~ Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
The work of God: That you believe in Him whom He has sent. WOW. That is ALL it takes!!! Is that not amazing? It is so simple! It is our sinful pride, as humans, that causes us to think that we have to earn our salvation. We think that we MUST do something for ourselves. But, the truth is, we can't do anything. We can never be good enough to earn salvation. We cannot work hard enough.
Now, I'm not saying that good works are completely unnecessary, but they do not save you.
Ephesians 2:10~ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
According to this verse, we were created for good works. Good works should be a result of our salvation. Good works mean nothing without faith in Jesus Christ. Good works are very necessary, especially in the fact that they can be/are the way we show our salvation. Once we accept the gift of salvation, if we are truly saved, we will be a new creature.
II Corinthians 5:7~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
We should have a completely different mindset and be living our lives according to God''s word, if we have truly accepted Christ. Some people believe that repentance and prayer could be considered "works" of salvation. I see them as a part of faith or trusting Christ. You cannot truly accept Christ as your Saviour unless you see that you are a human with a sinful nature that *NEEDS* a Saviour. You must be able to repent, in order to accept Christ.
Romans 10:9-10, 13~ that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation... for "whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
**Side note**
Another point that people try to make is that it is possible to lose your salvation. I don't believe that way. Our salvation in Christ is not temporary, but eternal. There is nothing that you can do to remove yourself from Christ's hand, once you are saved.
John 10:28-30~ "...and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
We will make mistakes, but we're human. We will never be perfect and we will never be able to live a sinless life. But, no matter how badly we mess up sometimes, God will never let us go. That doesn't mean that we should just continue in sin, because we are under grace. Paul warns about this in the whole chapter of Romans 6.
Romans 6:14-18~ For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
I believe that once you're saved, you're always saved. Good works do not lead to salvation, but they should be a result of salvation.
I'd like to close with these passages:
Romans 14:22-23~ The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Hebrews 3:13~ But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We all believe differently, and I love being able to express my opinions and beliefs and being able to hear about the beliefs of others. I'm not the judge of who is right or wrong. But, I think these are definitely the kinds of topics that we, as believers, should be discussing. Not to bring each other down with our disagreements, but in order to build each other up, challenge each other, and encourage each other in Christ.