Acknowledgements 1: Purposeful Security In A Crumbling World 2: Worthy To Be Called His Beloved 3: Purposeful Shepherding In A Modern World 4: Fulfilling Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Purpose In Your Marriage 5: The Mission Of Motherhood The Purposeful Promise Notes About The Author
Cover Design by Art Bookbindery
Acknowledgements To my Amazing God who calls me His beloved and has given me a purpose. To my loving husband Byron and wonderful children Maddissyn, Killien, and Avynne who daily give me opportunity to be a better wife and mother. To my awesome accountability partner Mandy who has encouraged and pushed me through my struggles to the completion of my very first book. To the amazing women that I blog with at Deliberate Women. Alayna, Annice, Ginny, and Mandy you are a huge part of how this all came together. Thank You!
PURPOSEFUL SECURITY IN A CRUMBLING WORLD Psalm 46:1-11 (NLT) 1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude 4 A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 6 The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voice thunders, and the earth melts! 7 The Lord of Heavenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel[b] is our fortress. Interlude 8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” 11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
WEEK ONE Psalm 46:1 â&#x20AC;&#x153;God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.â&#x20AC;? This verse is a very powerful one in many ways. First, it tells us who God is and second by defining who God is and diving into the meaning of refuge we are told how to claim that in our lives. God is our refuge, our protection from danger, our place that provides shelter, our recourse in difficulty. He is our strength. He is able to resist force, to resist attack, and He is always ready to help in times of trouble. He is omnipotent and purposeful in His ways as He knows the path before we know it ourselves.
Unfortunately, we fall into human self-reliance. We put up barriers to keep the bad things out, but in turn we often wall our self and our families into a fortress of fear and timidity, a fortress that by our choosing is not penetrated by the goodness and blessings that are abounding in Christ. We are specifically told in 2 Timothy 1:7 â&#x20AC;&#x153;For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.â&#x20AC;? While looking at this verse in a new light I can clearly see that selfdiscipline is in regard to my fleshly desire to just stay safe; to remain hidden behind my manmade emotional, mental, and sometimes even physical barriers. To allow my experiences and fear of an unknown future dictate how I live my life today. The problem is humans are near-sighted. We
are incapable of seeing the forest for the trees. In reality, instead of protecting ourselves from outside forces, we trap ourselves in dungeons of our own devise. How many of you can say that you truly feel free to pursue every and all areas that God is calling you to? I know that I am incapable of claiming that at this time. We are stuck, chained up in dungeons of fear and timidity that are keeping us from reaching our truest Godgiven potential. The ability to reach that potential is found in allowing God the opportunity to be your refuge. Recourse is the act or instance of turning or applying to a person or thing for security. This defines refuge in a whole new way for me. The act of turning or applying to a person or
thing for security implies that we have the responsibility to take some sort of action in order to reap the benefits of the person or thing that can provide refuge. Now most of us have already taken action and have applied to our human nature, our desire to block ourselves off from the world of heart ache and pain that exists around us. Unfortunately, in doing this we are blocked from receiving a whole world of blessings that has been promised to us. You see Matthew 28:19 clearly tells us â&#x20AC;&#x153;Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the
age.” If we want to reap the full benefits of Christ’s unending blessings it should be assumed that we are to follow His directives. We were not told to hide out in our houses and await the return of Christ, we are told to run out into the messy world and make disciples of all the nations.
Saying things like, “They didn’t have to deal with the things we have to deal with today” is no excuse for why we are continuing to keep ourselves locked up in our safe, little worlds. Those eleven men just watched their Messiah be murdered publicly in the most grueling fashion of that period. They were looked down upon by many for simply being associated with the name Jesus. Just think
how different our lives would look today if they had chosen to protect themselves from the outside world. Even more than that, think about the things that those men would have missed out on in their own spiritual lives. They spoke in tongues, healed the sick, passed the vision of Christ on to people who saw the glory of Heaven and were witness to its majesty. If they had allowed the crumbling world they lived in to force them into their man-made hiding places they never would have had the opportunity to witness and participate in the symphony that God was and continues to conduct. Each of us has a note to play, each of us has bountiful gifts to share with a hurting world, but we must first allow God to unshackle us from our prisons of fear and
timidity. We must put forth the effort and participate in the action of applying to Him as our only form of recourse. We must let Him be the only fortress in our lives and we must trust that our all-powerful God is a fortress that can move with us into enemy territory. So as we end this devotion today I have to ask, are you ready to let God remove the shackles of human dungeons and to give you the freedom of a fortress that knows no limits, no boundaries? If so please take the time to invite God to do just that. Sometimes the grandest amount of freedom awaits you at the end of what seems a simple and maybe even a silly phrase.
Father God, we apply to You today in this very
moment asking You to take away our fortresses of fear and to cover us in Your FORTRESS Lord, so that we might reap the blessings that you wish for us to have. Give us Your spirit of love, Lord, and of selfdiscipline so that we might fully take on Your purpose for our lives. We ask all of these things in Your holy name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK TWO Psalm 46:4-5 “A river brings joy to the city of our God the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.” In verse one we acknowledged our need to apply to the Lord God almighty as our only form of recourse, believing that He would provide a fortress that moves with us into enemy territory. If we skip down to verses four and five we can see that not only is His protection with us, but that God provides for every need within that fortress and considers us to be holy and sacred. Verse four begins by telling us “A river brings joy to the city
of our God.” Begin by thinking on a physical level why a river would bring joy to a city. During the period that the psalms were written water was not pumped to every house, instead families would need to collect their water by traveling to a well or other source. These sources weren’t always close either. The people of a city may have had to travel several miles to retrieve a resource that we all must partake in for survival. A river that flows freely through the city would bring life to the people and an ease of living that not all were afforded. In the same way, just as Jesus offered living water to the Samaritan at the well (John 4) God allows the river of life to flow through His city; the water that replenishes us. John 4:13 “Jesus replied ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon
become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” With a river of life flowing through the city of the people there should be no question as to why they are joyful. Now here is the key, we must come to understand that the city of Psalm 46 is not the physical city we think of today. It is a spiritual one. Listen to this powerful word of God: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and the spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Does that not blow anyone else away? God is talking to you and
me, in our brokenness, in our hurt, in our insecurity and He is telling us that we need to recognize ourselves as His holy temple. That we have the Holy Spirit, the river of life living inside us. We need to start living like we know that, and we can know who and what we are to God because He tells us time and time again. Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world-like a city on a hill top that cannot be hidden.” Why then, when Jesus himself states it so plainly, are we trying to remain hidden; blending in with a world that is far from sacred and holy? I hide; I try to blend in because I am scared of the consequences of standing out. I’m scared of people who look at me as a stereotypical Christian who led an imperfect past and who now
believe that I want to shove God down their throats. This fear is not my intent, quite honestly. Really, it is the farthest thing from the desire of my heart. However, my human pride and my longing to defend MY honor puts me into a position of forgetting that the desire of my heart that is in line with God’s purpose for my life will never be fulfilled if I am blending in. God has made us His city, His sacred home and holy dwelling. When God is dwelling in us we cannot be destroyed. In fact, God will destroy anyone who destroys His temple. He will protect His dwelling from the break of day. The King James Version states Psalm 46:5b this way “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.” If we put God in our
midst we will not be moved. We won’t be moved by trouble, we won’t be moved by fear, the earth can be removed entirely and God’s city, His dwelling.... YOU and I will not be moved. We won’t be moved by shaking mountains or surging seas. When God is in our midst we WILL NOT be moved. The world is crumbling, our country’s leadership is strained at best, our lives are bombarded with bad news ranging from horrific tragedies, to spiritual and physical attacks on the church, to the moral degradation of the world around us, but through it all God protects His holy and sacred dwelling place. He does not need us to defend ourselves from the attacks of this world, from the attacks of individuals, even from those
individuals that are close enough to really make it hurt. God protects His dwelling from the very break of day, if only we will let go of our human pride and allow Him to do so. Are you allowing the river of life to flow through you? Are you allowing it to bubble up within you? Are you letting go of your human pride and allowing yourself to be the city on a hill that cannot be hidden? If any of these areas are keeping you from the joy of being a testament and a holy sacred dwelling for our God, than I ask you to join me in giving this area of your life over to Him today. Abba Father, we ask that You allow us to break free from the pride that
is holding us back from truly enjoying the joy of Your everlasting life. We know, Father God, that in the grand scheme of things that the petty insults and even the hurtful attacks by those we love will never outweigh the blessings and grace that You have stored up for us if we will only just let You work. Father we ask that You allow Your water of life to bubble up within us with such power that the whole world will know with just our passing that we are Your holy and sacred dwelling place. Fill our lives in this way, Lord. We ask all of
these things in Your precious and holy name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK THREE Psalm 46:6-7 “The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble. God’s voice thunders and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” This verse selection is best related to when broken up into a few sub points. Those 3 sub points are as follows: verse 6a, 6b, and 7. 6a represents what is going on now or the correlation to the world in which we currently live. I mean, who can’t relate to this verse? Doesn’t it sum up the purpose of this chapter...finding purposeful security in a crumbling world. “The nations are in chaos, their kingdoms crumble” (NLT) or as quoted by the (NIV) “Nations are
in up roar, kingdoms fall.” I know that I can relate. We are being bombarded with terms like fiscal cliff, we watch as corruption flows freely into our government, into our schools, and into our homes. We choose television shows or movies to watch with our families by picking out the ones with the least swearing, violence, or sexual content because in this crumbling world it seems like wholesome doesn’t exist anymore. This verse is most definitely relatable. Crumbling means to fall into small pieces, to disintegrate, to break down completely, to collapse. Maybe, we aren’t quite to that definition, but at times it sure feels close. As a parent, that closeness, that sense of urgency is not for myself, but for my kids. By my definition, being a mom
already means and will continue to mean, that no matter what the circumstances may be, I will take on any and all struggles that come our way to protect my children. My insecurity in this chaotic mess stems primarily from not knowing what normal will look like in a few years. Will my children be able to openly worship God? Will there be enough food in their bellies, enough good things in life to make them feel like itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth living? As a mom it is my job to pick up the pieces, but how can I even begin to do that when those pieces are disintegrating before my very eyes? At this point all this relating is making the situation look a bit hopeless, but then we are met in our hopelessness by the action of God. I personally think it is
amazingly cool that we don’t even have to move to the next verse to see the action of God. 6b says this “God’s voice thunders and the earth melts!” What He says to us through this one verse is that, all in one thought, the world can be falling apart and that He is God enough to handle it. He says I am God enough to make the earth melt with just the sound of my voice. I am God enough to hear your pleas that your children will have a life worth living. I am God enough to care for even the birds of the air. Will I not then care for you? Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” I love how The Message states verses 5 and 6, it says, “God
lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything He says.â&#x20AC;? God is not surprised by the happenings of today or tomorrow or of the many tomorrows to come. He holds the whole world in His hands. He is the God who sent Moses to the edge of an impassable sea and then split it open only to let it crash upon the enemy after the last of His people had safely passed (Exodus 14 NLT). Our God is the God who walked on water, quieted the storm with a simple phrase, healed the sick, comforted the lost, faced and conquered death, yet we still doubt Him. God knew we would still doubt, and that is why statement after statement we are continually given evidence and
reminders of just how big a God we serve. Verse 7 states, and honestly I mean it, just states, without exclamation or proclamation “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” Why is this monumental fact so simply stated you might ask? My opinion is that we serve a humble and gracious God. He isn’t an "I told you so" God because if He was, we would be hearing a whole lot of them. You see, He already told us what we can do with the power of His armies behind us in verses 2 and 3. We are plainly told our limitations or lack thereof when it is said, “so we will not fear when earthquakes come and mountains crumble into the sea. Let the
oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” We should be shouting these verses from mountain tops as a battle cry to the world saying, “Go ahead, come up against me and my God and His angel armies. The fight has already been won, and the battle is my Lord’s!” Instead of shouting out and living by our battle cry, however, we end up going from verse 3 to verse 6 where again we are overcome by the chaos and the crumbling. So yet again, our gracious God, who chooses to refrain from saying "I told you so", gently reminds us that He is the Lord of angel armies and He is among us. Who of you is truly living life like you have a whole army
behind you? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an amazing concept to grasp. We are not alone in this chaotic, crumbling world. We are far from alone. What person would go into battle by themselves when they have an army to back them up? What kingdom would sit back and watch the enemy tear them apart when they can enlist and deploy their armies in defense? God did not send us into this world to be defeated by it, to be trampled by the enemiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lies, by their corruption, by their attacks on our beliefs. His battle is already won. He has a plan and He longs for you to be a part of it. He has provided a way. He is ever-present and among us and He has brought His angel armies. Today, are you ready to really grasp the promise of your
God? Are you ready to enlist His angel armies and to walk confidently onto the battlefield with the knowledge that you are not alone, you have never been alone, and you never will be alone? Are you ready to quit doubting, to quit questioning, and to cry out to the world ‘You can take me on, but you will be dealing with my God and His angel armies? The battle is the Lord’s!” If this is where you are today then please join me in asking God for the confidence to do just that. Father God, we come to You gracious and humble, Father, first thanking You for not being an "I told you so" God. Thank You for Your patience. Thank
You for Your reiteration of promises that are sometimes hard for our earthly minds to fathom. Lord we just ask today that You allow us to rest in the knowledge that You are with us always and that You do not send us into battle on our own. Let us learn to rely on You Father instead of ourselves. Through this new-found reliance on You let us fully grasp the confidence You would have us claim in our lives. Let us take on and even challenge the world. Give us faith that can stand up to the strongest of opposition and a desire to fight
against the crumbling world we are in that we might know the true measure of Your faithfulness and the full bounty of Your blessings. We ask all of this in Your name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FOUR Psalm 46:8-9 “Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world. He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” When someone tells you something are you the kind of person who checks the source or do you tend to blindly trust? When it comes to our relationships with other humans, it’s not always a bad thing to know the facts, to follow-up and not always take others at their word. It tends to be human nature to protect oneself as our very personal understanding of deceit often makes it hard to trust without knowing. Those who do believe everything that is told to
them are called naive and gullible. People look at such naivety as a disastrous quality that will only result in disappointments, failures, and being walked all over. Due to our close, personal relationship with the desires of the human flesh and our lack of understanding when it comes to an all-powerful and omnipotent God we often project our distrust for other humans on to our relationship with God. God knows that humans are doubtful creatures. He has been witness to every self-serving and deceitful action and He can easily see why we who are deceitful would be so unlikely to trust those around us. He knows that we have need for proof of His power and so He invites us to see how He destroys our enemies; how He stops wars and breaks the tools of those who go after His people.
Psalm 46:8-9 is calling us to take advantage of that opportunity, “Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how He brings destruction upon the world. He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; He burns the shields with fire.” In those two verses God is calling to His people. He is giving them opportunity to check their facts, to see if He keeps His promises. According to Albert Barnes (1984, Barnes Notes on the Bible), these verses may point particularly to the invasion of Israel by Sennacherib. The story of this invasion can be found in Isaiah 37 with verses 36-37 saying this “That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian
soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. The King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.” While we can look at the time preceding this Psalm and see numerous accounts of God’s constant promise keeping and defense of His people, this story correlates beautifully with the message He is trying to get across. In Psalm 46 we are reminded time and again that we have the Lord of Angel Armies among us. We are then given opportunity to look upon the example of the Assyrian army’s invasion. In the dead of night, just one angel, out of the numerous angels that make up our God’s army, swoops in and kills
185,000 enemy soldiers causing a complete and utter retreat by Sennacherib. Think about that for a minute-- really let it sink in and think about what this one example of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kept promises is telling us. If we had even just this one example, should we ever have reason to doubt? The God of Angel Armies has at His fingertips, the power to send out just one angel and wipe out 185,000 enemy soldiers. With this example alone do we have any room for doubt in our lives? We, however, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just have this one example. God is continually keeping His promises. His goodness, His mercy, His promise-keeping ability is not restricted by our limited knowledge of only self-seeking and deceitful ways. God is bigger
than our expectations. He is bigger than our limitations and our little boxes. We cannot yet see the bigger picture for our lives, we canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see where promises will be made and then where they will be accomplished, but we can be sure that they will. God has provided us with biblical and historical examples of just how little we can see in the moment. I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quit thinking about Moses, and relating to how he must have felt. His story (Exodus 2 is where it begins) starts long before he had any real say in how life would turn out. He was born during a time when being alive and being an Israelite was a threat to the ruling power. Simply being born a boy during this time was a death sentence. He was placed by his
family into a basket and set in a nearby stream in the hopes of saving his life. The Pharaoh's daughter found him and took him as her own bringing on his own mother as his wet nurse. As he grew up his ancestry meant he didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t belong among the Egyptians and his home meant his people didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want him. He longed to defend his people but was quickly despised by the Israelites instead. After becoming fearful of the Egyptians and being turned away by the Israelites Moses fled hoping to never return to the land again. God, however, had a reason for keeping Moses alive. He had a reason for giving him connections to the Egyptians and the Israelites and He was willing to use Moses despite his weaknesses. God kept His promises to the Israelites through Moses. As Moses
followed God’s commands God kept His promises to him and even more than that, He blessed Moses with abundant responsibilities, amazing victories, and even with the opportunity to be in God’s very presence. We can’t always see the big picture, we don’t know what victories lay ahead of us, we don’t know what struggles we might face. We do, however, have the opportunity to look at the many examples of God’s promises kept. We can know that God is not limited by the same struggles our human flesh often confines us to. God wants us to dig into the examples of His sufficiency so that we may be satisfied in Him no matter what the circumstances are that lead us to His big picture. What weaknesses in your life are
you allowing to become obstacles? Moses was scared of His people, both native and those who raised him. He chose to use his poor speaking abilities as an obstacle that would keep him from dealing with His fear. God called him out on it. He allowed his brother Aaron to be his crutch, but ultimately God longed for Moses to rely on Him so that he could become the leader of the Israelites that God had planned for him to be. Moses was a fearful person and it was his doubt that kept him from the Promised Land in the end. Max Lucado stated this sentiment beautifully when he said, "The worship of safety emasculated greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear."
What is holding you back? Are you struggling to stay in your “safety zone” while God is calling you to greatness? What struggles are you using as an obstacle to keep you from facing your fear? Do you want to experience God fully and completely? Do you want to make it to the Promised Land He has prepared for you, to the unsurmountable blessings that await you when you open yourself up to following His purpose for your life? If you are ready to quit hiding behind your weaknesses and to know that God’s strength is sufficient for you, if you are ready to take on the Promised Land that God is ready to give to you when you accept the call He has placed on your life, then join me in claiming that calling and the abundant blessings of God right now.
Gracious God, we humbly come knowing that we have been hiding behind our weaknesses. We have been avoiding the things and places You call us to because we forget You are strong enough to carry out Your promises. Lord we ask that You allow us to come to a full understanding of what You can accomplish if we will only let You. We are ready to quit hiding and we are ready to step out of our safety zone in faith for You are good, Lord, and keep all Your promises. Draw us to You, Lord. Direct our paths and make clear our calling that we might not
be held back as Moses was, but that we may see our promised land. We ask all of this in Your precious and holy name Father, Amen.
WEEK FIVE Psalm 46:10-11 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.’ The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” We are concluding the chapter Purposeful Security in a Crumbling World and the study of Psalm 46. This group of powerful verses has so much to offer and so many insights that we haven’t even begun to touch on. The amazing thing about God’s word is that when you take the time to consider it, to be quiet and bask in the presence of the Most High’s words, they truly do come to life. We serve a living God and He has given us a living Word. Too many
times, we get so caught up in the stresses, obstacles, and the everyday that we become blind and deaf to the life that is before us. The eternal life, eternal blessings, and eternal guidance that God so wishes for us to have. Psalm 46 begins its conclusion with a simple, yet powerful and powerfully spoken directive; “Be still, and know that I am God!” or my favorite translation as given by God’s Word Translation (1995) “Let go [of your concerns]! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth.” (Psalm 46:10.) God calls us to be still. To be quiet and not just physically quiet; He wants for us to quiet our minds, to quiet our fears, to quiet our concerns, and to quiet our assumptions of what God is
capable of. While God most definitely wants our undivided attention He is not asking us to let go of these things that are screaming in our heads for His benefit, He is begging us to do it for our own. We are prisoners to our human flesh and our human understanding for as long as we allow fear, concerns, and assumptions to speak louder than Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s promises. We are His called, His holy temple and sacred dwelling. We are to be lifting Him high, honoring Him and being a light to all who encounter us that our God is the God. Philippians 2:9-11 says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The day is coming when we will see every tongue confess the name of Jesus as Lord. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that day to be the first day that I give God the honor He deserves. I don’t want my concerns and fears to stop me from proclaiming “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”(Luke 19:38), for when I allow my fears to stop me the stones on the ground will take up the job. God can use any means to bring His end, to accomplish His goal, but He chose us as His tools. He has destined every one of us
for greatness. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” God has given us a future, He has provided us with a hope, and His plans for us are for good not disaster, but even more than that He has given us a past, an ancestry. Romans 8:28-31 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with
himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Ask yourselves that last question again; if God is for us, who can ever be against us? Are you allowing yourself to be quiet? Are you soaking in God’s living, breathing word? It is only when we truly quiet our spirits that we can find the full comfort of these final words in Psalm 46:11 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” Our God is for us, He is with us, He is our fortress and our recourse. He desires for us to be full of love and power because it is silly for us to be afraid when He has it handled. Thinking about my
own small children, I often wish so badly that I could just explain to them the lack of legitimacy that the fear of monsters in their rooms holds. No matter how much you explain to a 3 or 4 year old, however, they are rarely convinced and even if you do convince them for the night, the issue is bound to resurface soon. God wants to explain away our monsters of fear and insecurity. He wants to give us hope of a new day with new mercies and light that shines into the darkness of our world. He directs us in how to begin this renewing process, He asks of us only one thing, “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still isn’t always easy, especially in this busy world. Even harder than that is finding the time to dig into His word. Trust me; I
am all too familiar with putting off devotions because life (or one of my kids) is screaming at me “I need your attention now.” It is beyond difficult. It’s frustrating, and all too often tiring to try to squeeze it all in, but quiet time with God’s word is more than important; it’s life-altering. Purposeful security can only begin to be comprehended when you are in tune with the calling God has placed on your life. That calling is discovered in and through the practice of listening to God’s voice. This voice is often small at first, but over time, by stepping out in faith, by quieting the voice of fear, and choosing to listen for the voice of God, it will get louder. The more you set aside fear and timidity and choose a spirit of power and of love the easier it will become to hear God’s
voice, to see where He is calling you, and to step out in faith even while walking through a crumbling world. If you are ready to be still and to allow God to explain away your monsters of fear and insecurity then right now join me in asking Him for His guidance in this area. Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is yet to come. We come to You asking You to teach us to be silent. Lord, we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be silent in just a physical way. We long to be silent emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. Lord we wish to be silent in this way so that we can see Your words come to life. We long to
study You and Your calling for us in a living, breathing, and active way. We ask You to allow us to see You and our time with You as a priority not as just one more chore. Give us a desire and a craving for Your word so that we might be filled with Your promises as we walk through our crumbling world and so that we may be the city on a hill that no one can miss. Let our lives be evidence of the living word that is inside of us. Let us realize that our security lies with You and that it is through Your calling that we will find our purpose Lord.
Help us to realize the specific way in which You have tasked each of us as individuals to share Your hope, and help us to take comfort in knowing that when we are following Your purpose for our lives and You are with us that none can ever be against us. We ask all of this in You precious and powerful name Lord Jesus, Amen!
WORTHY TO BE CALLED HIS BELOVED WEEK ONE This is a chapter that I cannot wait to share with others in person. I feel so strongly about Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s desire for us to feel worthy of His love that I want for everyone-- especially every woman-- to hear this word. I believe that this particular attack from Satan is used most frequently with women. We struggle with insecurities all over the board, but at least for me, they are all rooted in my feeling unworthy to be loved. I feel as though I have come a long way in this aspect of life, but often look back on my years in pre-high school until I got married and realize how little
value I put on myself. I am in no way saying that marriage is where we resolve these feelings of worthlessness, but I got lucky and as hard as marriage was that first year, God put into my life a man who began to build me up after so many failed and emotionally heartbreaking experiences. Satan traps us in lies of worthlessness. He tells us we are not worthy of love, and even more specifically, he tells us that we are not worthy of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love. I touched on it a little bit at the end of the last chapter, but it needs to be reiterated: God has given us an ancestry. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not talking about the ancestry of the earthly family we have come from. While that story can be a beautiful one, it is also imperfect and flawed with disagreements,
deception, separation, and the list can go on. The ancestry I am referring to is of a spiritual foundation. Let’s begin by going all the way back to “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Honestly, I feel like anyone who has ever even heard of the Bible will most likely know that one, but maybe that’s because it was always taught to me as a child in a sing-songy sort of way. This is where it started though. We then have to jump forward to the New Testament words of John, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2. So from these two verses we know God created the heavens and
the earth in the beginning and that God and Jesus were existent from the beginning. We now need to move further into Genesis starting with chapter 1 verses 27-31a “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’ Then God said, ‘Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground--everything that has life.’ And that is what happened.
Then God looked over all he made and he saw that it was very good!” God of the universe looked over everything that He created, including you and me, and saw that it was very good. If God calls something good who are we to call it the opposite? Who are we to allow Satan to steal our joy and our purpose by convincing us that we are unworthy to be loved by God? Let’s take things a step further and reintroduce the verse from our last chapter. Romans 8:28-31 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the
firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Have you been called according to God’s purpose, and by this I mean do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Do you believe that our God is the Almighty King? If you answered yes to those two questions than I have some amazing news for you. God tells us in the verses above that we, His chosen people, have “become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Jesus is our big brother. We are sons and
daughters of the Most High King. If that is not one of the most amazing and life changing realizations than I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what is. God has called us to Him. He has given us a spiritual ancestry that places our value high above gold, silver, diamonds, or any of the other riches of this world. He has made us children of the King, royalty among a helpless and poor world. We cannot reach out and help that world until we realize the power of our calling and quit treating ourselves as paupers, unworthy of even a glance from the King. He wants us to look at His face and see not only goodness, mercy, and grace; He wants us to see our Abba, our Papa, our Daddy. He wants us to realize our status amongst His
kingdom and to realize that He wants nothing more than to love on us and that we are worthy to be loved. Today I have some tough questions for you. First, for those of you who know Jesus, what is holding you back? Why are you buying into Satan’s lie that you are not good enough, that you are unworthy to be God’s beloved? This next question is for any of you that answered no to the question “do you know Jesus Christ as your savior?” What is stopping you? Now is the time, as none of us are promised a tomorrow. There is nothing complicated about become a son or daughter of the King. He is ready, He is waiting, and He longs to love on you in a way you can’t even begin to imagine. If you are
ready to do that today than I ask that you pray with me now. Father God, I come to You with simple words and a simple request for Your amazing gift. I ask You Lord Jesus to come into my heart now and make me whole. Create in my life a new ancestry of spiritual magnificence. Make me a child of the King and allow me to put away all the lies that tell me I am unworthy of Your love. Love me Lord Jesus and let me accept that love and Your purpose for my life. I ask all of these things in Your precious name, Amen.
WEEK TWO So we all know one, we might even be the one we know. I’m thinking of the believer who goes around quoting scripture like Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, or 2 Corinthians 12:10a (NIV), “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” These verses are not bad ones by any means. They hold undeniable truths. Unfortunately, these verses have been taken out of context in terms of full biblical knowledge regarding the value that God clearly puts on each of our lives and coupled with very human statements. Because of the way in which they have been used, these verses have aided in promoting Satan’s lies among
believers, in pushing believers away from an active and living relationship with God, and have made many nonbelievers see Christianity as just one more legalistic and rule-filled religion. Starting first with the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul was talking about a very real obstacle in his life. Many believe that he was referring to his eyesight. Verses 7-9 say, â&#x20AC;&#x153;even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from being proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; So now I am glad to
boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” When these verses are put in a bit more perspective, this is what God speaks to my heart. Paul was allowing his weakness to hold him back from God’s full purpose for his life. Maybe, he was even a little ashamed of what it represented. Remember who Paul was, if his eyesight really is the burden he begged God to remove from his life than it would benefit our understanding of these verses to know about Paul’s past. He was the number one killer of Christians in his time, and it wasn’t until he was faced with the very literal blinding light of seeing the Lord that his heart was changed. Paul would have been just like me and you then, blinded not visually but
spiritually by the shameful past we have led. So here’s Paul begging God to take his weakness away, “his messenger from Satan” and the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. We all too often look at these verses and only hear the message from Satan, I’m weak, I’m imperfect, I’m incapable. Christ saved me from sin and I wasn’t even worthy of that so now I should expect nothing more. I shouldn’t expect love, I shouldn’t expect a purpose, I shouldn’t expect to be able to reach anyone or do anything productive, I’m weak and that’s what I will always be.
When we limit ourselves to those statements we choose to limit God in our lives. We forget who we really are, who God has chosen us to be. Galatians 2:20 (KJV) â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.â&#x20AC;? Christ was not telling Paul that he must remain under Satanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oppressive message; He was waiting for Paul to realize that he was no longer the man he used to be. That his message was taken from weakness to strength because he was a new being. His old, shameful past did not define him; it gave him a story. It gave him the exact story that God wanted him to have so that he might be able to
reach the people he was intended to reach. When we allow Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grace to be sufficient in our lives, even our weaknesses can become strengths. We have a testimony, we can relate to the world because we use to be a part of it, but we can bring them hope because we have the truth. We each have imperfections, but it is not often that we realize that God chose us for specific purposes based on those imperfections. Our purpose helps to determine who we will come in contact with. We have been chosen in such a way that those who we meet through our callings will be blessed by the message we specifically have to offer. We, however, cannot come to a place where our weaknesses are made strengths until we quit
allowing our weaknesses to be messengers from Satan and start allowing Christ to be sufficient for us. God did not call us to Him to remain trapped by worldly weaknesses. He did not call us so that we can continue to say we are unworthy of this love. Psalm 147:11 says this, “No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love” and in 2 Corinthians 5:17 it is said, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Are you still living your old life? Are you still allowing your past weaknesses to be a message from Satan instead of a strength from God? If so, let’s start taking steps to rid our lives of
this lie from Satan and to start seeing ourselves as the beloved of God. Begin with me now. Father, we come to You praying that You will guide us in grasping how our imperfections can be used to complete our purpose in You. Help us to no longer see ourselves as weak and unworthy of Your love, and instead to realize that when we accepted Your gift of eternal life that we became a new and blameless being in Your sight. Help us to live like that. Help us to live unashamed of what we have been through, and determined to use our experiences for
Your glory. Help us to realize Your sufficiency has completed all the weaknesses we came to the table with and that we are now cleansed from any wickedness we once held dear. We ask all of this in Your precious name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK THREE You may be sensing a pattern in the prayers that end each devotional. I hope that you do. While there are times that I use names for God such as Most High, God Almighty, Lord; I often end our times of reflection with names such as Father and Abba. Each word that is written, I can easily tell you is of God. Often, as I go back and review each section I am convicted and spoken to by the very words I wrote fifteen minutes before. These words are not my own, and because of that I can guarantee the specific purpose that comes from repetition and reiteration. We all too often think of God in only the big terms. He is larger than life and beyond comprehension which is absolutely true in so many ways. I
am not telling you that I can comprehend God or even that I think we should try to comprehend every part of His being. There are some parts of God that our human thoughts will never be able to wrap around. I can tell you this for sure though, God does not want us to get so stuck on what we can’t understand and so caught up in how “big” He is that we forget who He is to those who have been called according to His purpose. Psalm 139: 13-16 speaks of His very intimate involvement in our existence. Those verses say this, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it. You watched me as
I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.â&#x20AC;? Before anyone else knew of our existence, God knew. He planned and created every delicate and intricate part of our being; from the cells that established the foundation for our growth to our eye color, personality, temperament, and will. He wove us together. Ephesians 1:4-8 reinforces this concept by saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what
he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.â&#x20AC;? God not only had His hands in the very creation of our being, He chose us in advance to be adopted into His spiritual family. Our heavenly Father, our Abba, was never blind to what would come. He longed for a people who chose Him of their own free will and so He allowed for them to have just that. He knew of the sin that would enter the garden that He created
especially for communion between God and man. He also knew that because of that sin we would need an intercessory, a perfect blameless lamb and Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God knew that to bring us to Himself that He would have to do so through Jesus. The same verse also tells us, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.â&#x20AC;? Even though He was fully aware that His perfect and blameless Son would have to sacrifice Himself, God wanted to do this so that we might be adopted into His family. We must also realize that God knew one more thing. He knew that death would lose. The love that the Father had, has, and will always have for His children was going to win. Our Father
could take pleasure in the inevitable because He knew the outcome. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” It was the love of the Father for His children that allowed a reason for redemption. Death lost its power when the love of the Father won through Christ’s sacrifice. The King James Version of Romans 8:10-11 says this, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” When we accept Christ’s gift we are not
only alive spiritually for eternity, but the Spirit that raised up Christ from the dead also raises up our mortal bodies so that we may use this time on earth to fulfill our purpose. Our purpose here on earth is to share the love of the Father with all the world. My question for you today is how are we to do that, if we never allow ourselves to be loved by the Father in the way that He has intended to love us, from before this earth was made? We are still living life like Christ didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t roll the stone away. We are living like the love of the Father didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t already overpower the sin of this world. We are living like we are sinners separated from God instead of children who can take comfort in the love of their Father. Romans 8:15-17a says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;So you
have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” It is time for us to start living the life God intended for and took pleasure in us having. It is time we start recognizing the Almighty God as our Abba, Father and it is time that we start to get to know our heavenly Father on a more personal basis. Daddy, tonight I come to You with a fuller understanding of just who I am to You. When I first came to meet You
I was full of sin, but when I accepted Your offer of adoption my old self was no more and my new spirit and body became alive in You. Father, You picked me out in a crowd of lost people; I was special to You. Just as a mother or father anxiously awaits the arrival of their child, dreaming about what they will look like and who they will become, You dreamed of me. While You were busy creating the universe, You planned me. Abba, I want to know Your love fully. I want to open myself up to accepting every good thing You have to offer
me through the power of Your love. I want to realize the purpose You have for me as I come to a greater understanding of just how much You love me and just how much You want me to accept Your love. I am worthy of love because You chose me. I am worthy of love because You are my Abba, Father. Thank You Father for Your love and thank You for allowing me to realize my worth to You. Please continue to pull me closer to You Abba that I may never feel unworthy to be under Your shelter of love. Allow me to use my fuller understanding
of Your love for me so that I may share that love with all those who are to be called according to Your purpose. I love You Abba, more than words can express. In Your precious, precious name Abba Father, Amen.
WEEK FOUR We began this chapter by talking about Satan’s use of the lie that we are unworthy to be loved by our creator. I also spoke of the way in which even Christians have helped to give this lie more authority in our world. We quote scripture out of context to prove to the world how we are equals with them. We look at creation in human terms and project our human assumptions on the Father. Think over this analogy: When you sit down and create something; whatever you are good at creating (a meal, a painting, a photograph, a dress) what is the first thing you do? I know the first words out of mouth are normally, “It's not perfect, but....” I may be very proud of and excited about my work, but I never see it as
being good enough to be perfect. All too often, we take our human thoughts and feelings and project them on to a God who goes above and beyond our wildest imaginations. Going back to Genesis 1:31a we can again see that, “God saw all that he made, and it was good.” This week we are going to go beyond our own limitations and focus on the ways in which God can abound and will abound in our life if we allow Him the opportunity. We aren’t the first people to doubt and limit God. I am being continually drawn to Moses’ example in Exodus 4:1012 “But Moses pleaded with the Lord, ‘O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-
tied, and my words get tangled.’ Then the Lord asked Moses, ‘Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.’ But Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else.’” I am still lingering over God’s words when He tells Moses that He alone decides who will speak, hear, and see. These words spoken emphasize even further the point made in week two that God gives us exactly the testimony He wants for us to have. God wanted the Egyptians to know who was talking to them, who was sending signs from heaven. The Egyptians knew Moses, he grew up among them. If Moses had been a powerful and
charismatic speaker would those who heard his message have acknowledged that it was from God? God does not call us to meet the standards of human perfection; He calls us to satisfy the needs of our purpose. Yet, Moses could not get past the idea that his weakness somehow made him unworthy of the task that God was handing to him. There was literally a burning bush in front of this man telling him exactly what the Father wanted and purposed for him to do, and he was so stuck on his imperfection that he told the Almighty God, “you have the wrong person.” For those who know the story well, God becomes angry with Moses’ refusal and to put it plainly his lack of faith. God pretty much tells him fine, I’ll let you do it
your way and we will bring in your brother Aaron to be your voice while delivering this message. Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s purpose and goal for the Israelites to be freed from the Egyptians is ultimately completed by using both Moses and Aaron, however, is anyone wondering what Moses might have experienced if he had trusted that his human weaknesses could be made strong when put into the Creatorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hands? I know I am. What would Moses have received? What blessings would have been bestowed upon him? If Moses had learned to have faith in this moment and made a habit of remembering that faith in Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love would be sufficient even in his weakness would he have had no trouble telling the Israelites to take the Promised Land when that choice had to be made? Would he
have gotten to step foot in that land himself? When we choose to fall for the lie that we are unworthy of what God is calling us to, that we are unworthy of the love that He explicitly tells us is meant for us, we are looking at our own burning bush and telling God Almighty “You have the wrong person, you got it wrong, I’m not who you want.” To you, the person reading at this very moment, if you honestly believe we serve the God Almighty do you really think you have a right to tell Him He’s wrong? When we choose to believe Satan’s lies, when we choose to take those lies and make them our own by adding our little phrases about imperfection, we are choosing to tell God that He was wrong for choosing us. That we were too weak, imperfect, and
unlovable to have been given new life through the Spirit. While we live like this, sure we are guaranteed the eternal salvation that comes with having asked Christ into our lives; however, we are missing out on the resurrected life, potential, and purpose that God has planned for us here. We are missing our Promised Land, just as Mosesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lack of faith kept him from his. Today is a day of repentance. We are most definitely worthy of love, and we are not stuck in the trap of death, but when we choose to tell God that He has it wrong and doubt His sufficiency we are choosing to walk around in dead earthly bodies instead of the one the Spirit has resurrected. Romans 8:10-11 â&#x20AC;&#x153;And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.â&#x20AC;? Join me now in seeking our Fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forgiveness for telling Him no. Just as a parent would expect and seek resolution and change from his or her child once corrected, so too does God desire this from His children. Not for His own purposes. The story of Moses and Aaron clearly shows that God can accomplish His plan with or without your cooperation, instead for our own benefit, that we may receive His blessings and promises to their fullest extent. Father God, we come to You asking that You
forgive our foolishness. We have looked at our Creator, the One who has known us before we existed, the one who is standing at the end of our life waiting to welcome us in, and we have foolishly said that You are wrong. We have allowed the lies of Satan to ensnare us and keep us stuck in the clothes of dead men, wondering around as though we can do nothing more because we have already passed away instead of taking hold of the new life that You have given us and running freely into Your arms and into Your purpose for our lives.
Father, we ask that You help us make a habit out of putting our faith in Your sufficient love. Help us, Father God to stop saying no, You have the wrong person and to start saying here I am Father, send me. We ask that You give us the wisdom to see the opportunities You will provide to start living the truth instead of the lie. All of this we ask in Your precious and holy name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FIVE As we close this chapter it is time to address why we hold so tightly to the lie. Why has the lie that we are unworthy of God’s love become so prevalent in our Christian communities? We clutch statements that proclaim to the world that we are the same as them in the same way that a child clutches a security blanket. When the world hears the word Christian they often vehemently spew the word hypocrite in our direction. We are quick to counter back that we aren’t perfect, we are sinners too, we have done wrong things and are undeserving of Heaven. We replay these replies in our heads so many times that it becomes second nature to deny our worthiness to be called God’s beloved. As humans, as sinners
those statements are 100% correct. Imperfection and sin were a part of our being, but God tells us in 1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”, or in Romans 8: 1-2 we are told, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” We have been made new; we have been set free and transformed from sinners into heirs of God. Now, I’m not saying that we should become prideful. We are made new because of what God did for us through His son Jesus. However, we should be boasting of the miraculous change that can
only come of God. If we push away God’s love and never fully accept our new lives than what was the point of accepting His gift in the first place? We are continuing to “live” like we are already dead. What is it that keeps us stuck in a lie that sentences us to death when we have already been promised new life? The answer to that question is a hard pill to swallow. The solution to this problem that constricts and smothers our impact on the world is even more difficult to come to terms with. You see, we put ourselves as equals among the dead, we hide behind the lies and human phrases of selfdeprecation so that we don’t have to face a world that hates us. John 15:18 says, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as
one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world so it hates you.â&#x20AC;? Once you take on the name of Christ as your identification, once you change your eternal address to Heaven, the world will begin to hate you because you are no longer of this world. It is a glorious thing to have eternity in Heaven, but it is often times a burden to live in a place that is not your home. So we reduce our worth to that of the dead. We are so focused on trying to fit in here, trying to not rock the boat, upset the order of this world, or to throw off the balance of political correctness that we shut ourselves off from the only love and acceptance that matters.
So often we start our serious Christian walk on fire for God. We are exuberant about our newfound life. However, even those of us who have been close to God from an early age have seasons of loneliness. We have seasons where other Christians have failed us and nonbelievers mock our lifestyle. We have times when the hate the world throws at us coupled with the growing distance we put between ourselves and God’s love breaks us. We long to just fit in. We desire to feel loved, appreciated, accepted. In these times we often tell our unsaved friends something like “I’m a Christian, but I’m not going to shove it down your throat”, as we submerse ourselves further into their culture. The more we bury ourselves in these lies the more we begin to look like, act like, and
feel like the dead. We have made every effort to look like we belong in this world and in so doing have removed our perception of God’s love. This point I want to make very clear: God does not once stop loving us. He does not remove the gift of salvation simply because we are not fully claiming all that it is meant to be. God’s love is unconditional as is His mercy and the amazing gift of salvation. It is our perception of that love, our feeling of closeness to God that is hindered by our own actions. God has not chosen to remove His love; we have chosen to take on an attitude of separation from God. We are clinging so tightly to the acceptance of this world that we don’t even realize that we, the
living, are being manipulated and used by Satan to fulfill his purpose here on earth. Our reach is being limited by our ‘I can play both sides of the fence’ mentality. Our testimony is being tamed as we choose not to boldly speak the truth that so many desperately need. Our faith is being discredited as we limit it to Sunday morning and Wednesday night services. We have bought the lie because the world hates us and we have chosen to focus on that instead of on the indescribable love that our heavenly Father longs to pour over us. John 15:2027 says this, “Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they
had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ But I will send you the Advocate--the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.”
We are hated because Christ was and because we have taken on His name. We are called brethren and children of God. When we are tempted to focus on the hate of this world, it only takes a quick shift of vision to see the cross that Jesus bore for us and to realize the true and perfect love of the Father. We are choosing to live like the dead, but God provided a way for us to be the living through His Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. When Jesus physically left this world He did not leave us alone in it. He gave us the Spirit who will continue to minister and testify to us about the Father and His will. We belong to Christ for all eternity and He continues to live among us through the Spirit so that we may never have to experience the loneliness of
separation from Him for as long as we choose to be in communion with Him and to have an attitude of openness towards His loving will for our lives. Beyond the testimony of the Spirit is the call for us as Christians to also testify Christ and His love. When we choose to live the lie so as to be accepted by this world we limit this testimony and hinder the love of Christ from being evident on earth through our lives. 1John 4:19 says, “We love each other because he loved us first”, but how are we supposed to share Christ’s love with one another if we have separated ourselves from it as we hide from the hate of this world? To fulfill our purpose, to be the testimony God has called us to be, and to feel God’s love in our lives to the
fullest we have to quit using the lies of Satan as our hiding place and refuge from the world that hates us. We need to start claiming the life that is ours, and stop pretending to be dead when eternal life is flowing through us. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s begin to take refuge in the living God today and put behind us the things of this dead world. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s start living like we can never be anything less than His Beloved! Father God, today we come to You asking for courage and strength to live in a world that is not our home. We ask that You urge us to closeness with You so that even on our loneliest days here we may know that Your Spirit is living in and among us. We ask
that You give us the courage to quit hiding behind the lies that cause us to blend in with the dead. We instead desire to hold fast to You and Your love that we may begin our eternal life here and now. That we may not waste the time that has been given to us to reach the dead with the truth of Your love and life. We ask that You begin this work in our lives now and that we may become effective stewards of Your love. We pray that You wash us with Your love. Soak us in it, Father. Let us recognize that we will always be a child of the
Most High King, that we are now and forever more Your Beloved. All of this we ask in Your Sonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s holy and precious name, Amen.
PURPOSEFUL SHEPHERDING IN A MODERN WORLD
WEEK ONE Honestly this chapter, more than even writing the whole book, intimidates me. Discipling or shepherding others is one of the most important aspects of a purposeful life for Christians. We are called many times and in many different situations to disciple. The most commonly known call comes directly from the mouth of Jesus when He says in Matthew 28:18b20 â&#x20AC;&#x153;â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach
these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Great Commission is the way in which these verses are labeled in my Bible. My favorite definition for the word great, in terms of this calling, is “remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness” (MerriamWebster). The task that we have been given is remarkable in magnitude. When we take on the task of going into the whole world and giving them Jesus, we are taking on a huge feat. We are taking on a task that’s degree, magnitude, and effectiveness are so remarkable we may will never know the reach of this calling until Heaven.
Now, if that realization wasn’t big enough on its own it is an absolute must to hear what commission means. “An authorization or command to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts; authority to act for, on behalf of, or in place of another.” (Merriam-Webster). Let’s go back and reread Matthew 28:18-19 “Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Jesus, who has all authority in Heaven and on Earth has authorized, and I would even go so far as to say commanded us, to act on His behalf or in His place. He was well aware that His time here on
earth was over until His second coming. He is also aware of the many who are still yet to come. For this reason, with His disciples then and with His disciples today, Jesus assigned us this amazing, life encompassing task. Discipling this world goes beyond getting others to accept Jesus as their savior and baptizing them. It reaches deeper, it entails more action, and it means opening up, getting real, and being honest about how messy life can be. All too often we stop at verse 19 and think that if we fill our spiritual quota of _____ amount of souls won to Christ that we will have fulfilled the Great Commission. When we forget the second half of our calling we forget the heart of Christ. Verse 20 says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Teach these new disciples to obey all the
commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.â&#x20AC;? God calls us beyond soul winning and into the challenging role of shepherding. He was a shepherd to His disciples as He walked this earth and even today He shepherds us through His spirit. Those of us who are lucky enough to know our amazing Savior have been blessed with the gift of an eternal shepherd. A shepherd who walks with us in good times and in bad, who directs us, and who continues to teach and reinforce the commands and promises He has given us from the beginning. We unfortunately live in a world where many have yet to even be introduced to the gospel let alone have a personal
relationship that grants them the privilege of a shepherd. It is for this reason that God has given us the responsibility to act and to reach the world with His love that they too may experience the protection of The Shepherd in this crazy and crumbling world. Shepherding looks so very different from one person to the next. For a wife or a mother, reaching the world may never move beyond your door step and we will discuss both of those amazing aspects of discipleship in later chapters. In this chapter, we will particularly be addressing what this generation of young God-fearing women can do for the next. Many of the aspects addressed will apply to everyone, but I believe that it is extremely important for young Christian
women to start taking purposeful action to protect the next generation of girls. So many girls are struggling with relationships, sexual and physical abuse, eating disorders, depression and the list could go on and on. God called us to bring the love of Christ to this broken generation and it is about time we start acting on this calling in a tangible way. If you are ready to begin your work as shepherd to a lost, lonely, and despairing generation than join me right now. Father, we come to You taken aback in many ways by the realization of just how much weight this task You have given us holds. In many ways it feels intimidating, but Your promise of
continued guidance and shepherding through Your Spirit gives us strength and a vision for the future. Right now Father God, that vision is on the next generation. It is on the impact that we might have in the lives of young women who are lost and hurting; women who are looking for guidance from outside sources. Our focus is on women who are thirsting for new life, yet have no idea what the Spirit of the Living Water can do for them. Father we ask that You give us a heart full of Your love, compassion, and grace for these women.
Prepare us, oh Lord, for this great task. Make our hearts ready and our vision clear, Father God. We ask all of this in Your precious and holy Sonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name, Amen.
WEEK TWO We began to address the Great Commission in last week’s devotional and what the commission truly means. Too often Christians see this calling as a race to see how many souls we can “win to Christ” while overlooking the second half of the command that directs us to teach those we bring to the Lord what the life of Christ really looks like. Before any of us can be capable in this area we must first be living a life that exemplifies the nature of Christ. We must be walking in such a way that the Good Shepherd’s very nature emanates from our being.
What is the nature of God? Who is He and what has He called us to be in this world? These are very important questions when pursuing a closeness with God that will allow you to be a good and effective shepherd to our world today. Christ discipled people in some very radical ways for His time. He had dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes, He opposed the “great” religious leaders of His time, and He corrected those around Him in a compassionate and loving manner. We are going to look at a few of these examples today. First let’s look at how Jesus brought in His 12 disciples. Matthew 4:18-22 says, “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers--Simon, also called
Peter, and Andrew--throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.” My first thinking about these verses is, wow! Jesus had not yet even begun His ministry. While word may have gotten around that He was the result of a virgin birth, He really hadn’t “made a mark” on the world yet. However, these men willingly got up, left their careers and their families and followed Him. I
thought to myself, how awesome it must be to have that kind of presence and then I realized that I can. We are most obviously not God, however, when we accept salvation by dying to ourselves we allow Christ to live in us and we therefore have the capability of reflecting this nature from the inside to those who come in contact with us on the outside. Next, from these verses we must read the calling of Christ. It says in verse 19 that, “Jesus called out to them, ‘Come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Jesus does not tell them “hey, I want you to go out and bring people to me that will faithfully follow me and I want you to do it with zero experience.” No, instead He invites them to follow Him and to learn from Him
so that they too may have a presence that allows others to feel secure in dropping whatever is in their lives now in order to serve God. We must also look at the number of people that Jesus considered His disciples. He was of course open to and actively teaching and preaching to mass amounts of people. He even had several very close relationships with men and women who are not considered to be one of His “disciples” but, He only chose 12 men with whom He would expend mass amounts of time and energy during His time here on earth. Even among these 12, Jesus had three men in whom He took particular interest. Mark 3:1315(NIV) says this, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to
him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.â&#x20AC;? Jesus, just like us, was well aware of His limited time here on earth. He had a mission to fulfill. His purpose here on earth was to die for sins and to give us a way to Heaven, but He knew that this message of salvation would only survive as far as those around Him would choose to take it. Jesus spent a lot of time preaching to all who approached Him, but He chose just twelve men to take with Him wherever He went so that the message of truth could be passed on. Just like Jesus, we are called to be a light and to use every opportunity to open up the doors for all around us to believe,
however, we must also take the time to truly disciple a smaller group. Each individual from that smaller group will then have the resources that they need to disciple to their own small group and so on until we have finally reached the ends of the earth. Luke 8:1 says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,â&#x20AC;?. Jesus took His disciples with Him everywhere. In the time that He was here on earth He was always in close proximity to them. Even more than the parables and the healing of the crowds that Jesus taught others with, the disciples learned by every day observation. The example of God was never far
from their sight. They ate, drank, slept, and traveled with the Son of God. They got to know His nature and His calling through simple, casual, and daily observation. They were learning even when they had no idea that He was teaching. This aspect of discipling ties in closely with that of having a small group to focus on. It would be impossible with the limited time that we have here on earth to form and maintain meaningful, deep, trust-filled relationships with every person we have witnessed to, and for this reason we must rely on a network of other discipled believers to aid in the task of reaching the whole world. We are coming up short in the area of discipleship too often because we are stretching ourselves too thin. We must take a
step back and really ask ourselves is my evangelism being effective or am I just tallying up souls won? If you have come to realize that you arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t being an effective shepherd than now is a great time to dig into the Gospel chapters of the Bible. Dive head first into Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Focus your attention on getting to know your shepherd so that you may emanate His being in your life and in your approach to discipleship. Then begin praying that God would give you a target person or persons with whom to start developing a relationship. While I strongly believe that young, Godly women have so much to offer hurting girls of the next generation, God may be calling you to a different person or group of people and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s okay. Follow that calling and pursue the
development of a relationship that will lead to one more person excited and ready to disciple others. Father, tonight we ask that You draw us near to You. Allow us to see Your nature in a clearer and more purposeful way that we might emanate You, Jesus. We ask that You change our focus from tallying up souls won to developing close knit relationships with those You have called us to guide. Give us a fire for this work that does not end, Father God. Help us to make this commitment to those who are called according to Your name
and to follow through with that commitment all the days of our lives. Prepare our hearts now, Lord, for the people who You surely have planned for us to invite in to our lives. Help us, Father God, to open up and get messy, to develop relationships of trust and openness. Teach us, Father, that we might teach those You bring to us. We ask this in Your precious and holy name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK THREE Discipleship is hard work! I’m not saying this to scare you or discourage you from being a part of this amazing work, but for your sake and the sake of those you will disciple, I want for you to know what it really means to take on this commitment. Discipleship is just that; a commitment. Even after you have gone from intense, spiritual shepherding of a “spiritual baby” to more of a mutual accountability with those you shepherd, I guarantee that those you take the time to build these intense and intimate relationships with will still be watching you for cues in their own lives. Discipleship should be similar to parenting in many ways.
Once you have committed to a relationship of shepherding another human being, you are in it for the long hall. As a parent, I am here to guide and direct my children in constantly growing and changing ways, but nevertheless I have been tasked to guide them all the days of their lives. Right now, that consists of telling them no, giving them boundaries, being patient, and offering grace even as my 3 year old tells me Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not his best friend anymore. In the same way, when God places someone in our lives and we commit to shepherding him or her throughout his or her spiritual life, we are committing to do that through the times that call for correction, through the times that they hate us for speaking Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s truth, through the good and through the bad. We are called to commit, just as Jesus
committed to His disciples and just as He committed to us. Jesus shows us what true commitment is by loving us more than life itself, by loving us enough to face separation for a time from God so that He could conquer death and save each of us. To take this point home we must reference Matthew 26:36-56 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and
bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same
things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” Even as His disciples could not keep their eyes open for a few hours and pray with Him about His impending death, Jesus was still faithful in His commitment to save them. This is the example that Christ has left us regarding what our commitment to those we will shepherd should look like. Committing to shepherding another individual will be hard work. It requires that we keep our own lives in check and are daily pursuing the will of God. It
requires that we are there for another human being during good times and bad. That we are gentle in correction even when the answer seems obvious to us. That we are consistent in what we teach. That we unconditionally love someone who may have been a stranger just a short time ago. That we keep all of these things up even after the feeling of excitement over a new believer wears off. Discipleship can be amazing, rewarding, and chalked full of blessings, however, it can also be draining, taxing, and discouraging at times. The result of another follower who is capable of reaching out and giving the message of Christ to others is always worthwhile, but the path to that point isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always easy. In
those times when the task set before me isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easy, I try to pull from the amazing strength of our Savior. He lives in us! His strength is our strength! If He can face death knowing His disciples whom He lived with daily, loved dearly, and taught thoroughly were completely clueless as to what it was all about that night, then surely I can face the trials of shepherding those He brings into my life. Jesus, we thank You for Your example of strength, mercy, and commitment. It is hard to even imagine the anxiety of knowing what was coming and the disappointment that those closest to You were in no way in tune
with the reality You were facing. Lord, today I am so grateful that they werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t, for it is through this example that I can even begin to understand what truly love based commitment means. Lord Jesus, I ask that You give me the strength to bear through the rough times with even a small percentage of the grace You show to us over and over again. I ask for the strength to stay committed even after the excitement has faded. Help me to remember that our true excitement is yet to come. Lord Jesus, prepare my heart for the commitment it is
about to make. Keep me steadfast and true in this task not only to those who are brought into my life, but most importantly to You. In Your precious name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FOUR When it comes to effectiveness, shepherding requires a lot and then not so much all at the same time. An effective relationship between the discipled and the shepherd requires a strong level of trust and intimacy. This cannot and will not be achieved by holding back and only showing those around you the clean cut Christian appearance you mask yourself with. If it is effective shepherding you want than you have to be prepared to get messy! We each have a story, a past, a million and one daily shortcomings. Each of those unique and sometimes painful aspects of your life have made you exactly the person you need to be
to shepherd the lost that Christ leads to you. We touched on this a bit during our chapter Worthy to Be Called His Beloved when talking about Paul and his longing to get rid of the thorn in his side (2 Corinthians 12). The message God gave us through Paulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s testimony even today is that our message has been taken from weakness to strength because we are new beings. Our pasts should not shame us into hiding; they give us a story that if brought into the light will allow us the opportunity to touch the lives of many. Paulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s testimony teaches us that opening up about our past is a way in which to establish trust. By sharing our own testimony we have the opportunity to meet those we shepherd in the place they are right now. Who of us came to
Christ spotless and perfect? The answer is none of us. I can’t even say that since coming to know my savior that I have walked a path of spotless perfection. It is this ability to relate, this vulnerability that allows us to come across as approachable to others. God has turned our mess into a message, but if we spend our time focused on how to cover up the mess that we were before we were renewed we will lose the opportunity to use our newfound message for Christ’s will and purpose. Paul isn’t the only example of such a “shameful” past being turned around and used for God’s glory. Let’s take a look at Peter in Luke 22: 31-34 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of
you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Peter’s story doesn’t end there; let’s fast forward to the Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. You can read the whole story of what Peter
preached that day in Acts 2, but to sum it up, here is the conclusion in verses 36-41: “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day— about 3,000 in all. Through Peter’s testimony we can begin to truly see that we have the authority to speak the truth even when our life hasn’t always lined up with what we believe. In order to productively and effectively shepherd someone
you must understand that your past does not limit your authority for correction. We all came to Christ imperfect and messy, and yes that needs to be out in the open when it comes to a shepherding relationship. It’s what makes you relatable. However, when you allow your past to define who you are now and what you can say, see, and correct; you have taken it too far. We too often take Holy-Spirit-breathed, Godgiven correction and sweep it under the rug. We’ve taken on the view of the world that says we are hypocritical if we have ever had a misstep and offer up correction to a brother or sister in Christ. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) says this, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant
of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Galatians 6:1 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” When we have been filled by the Holy Spirit and are in communion with God it is not our own correction that we will be giving but that of God. As was said in Timothy, if we are seeing a sin in another and we are scripturally basing our correction then we are speaking the very words of God. I do believe, however, that Galatians gives us a great reminder of the humility in which we must approach
correction. It warns us of the fleshly world we live in and it helps to remind us to keep in check our purpose for correction. If we are correcting to shame another individual, then we are not being gentle or humble as Christ was, but if our purpose is in seeing their restoration to a unified walk with Christ, then we must not back down due to our imperfect pasts. As I stated at the beginning, effectiveness requires a lot and a little all at the same time. We are required to be open and honest so that we might build a trusting relationship with those we are shepherding. We are required to be bold so as to not let our past restrict us from speaking words of truthful, gentle, and humble correction to those who are learning from us. The challenge of
these simple tasks is that we must step out of our comfort zone in order to perform them. We must risk what people will think of our past. We must risk that our correction will not be taken well (as correction often is not the first time around). We must risk rejection and hateful words thrown back in defense, but here is the thing: When you get past the initial reactions; the anger, the surprise, etc. you get the reward of a deeper stronger relationship. You get the reward of truly experiencing a relationship of shepherding, for it is only when you breach the boundaries of comfort that you can move into a relationship of trust and intimacy. Father God, Today we ask that You allow us to get comfortable with our
testimony. Open us up to fully forgiving ourselves for our past so that we might allow You to use the mess we were as a message to those who need You. Give us the strength to step outside of our comfort zones, to get messy, and to be fearless in sharing who we were so that it can easily be seen who You are in us now. Give us the wisdom and the boldness to correct when necessary. Do not let us be held back any more by the trials of our past or the imperfections we hold, instead allow us to boast of Your grace, humility, and Your correction. Help us to
stay scripturally focused and to gain our bold stance from Your word. Keep us from veering toward correction that shames and degrades. Instead allow the correction we speak to bring healing and vision to those we will shepherd. We ask all of this in Your holy name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FIVE Throughout this chapter we have discussed many aspects of shepherding. We were introduced to the Great Commission in a new light that begs us to go farther and invest more. We have looked at our inspiration and role model, while addressing our need to know the nature of Christ so that we might become effective shepherds. We have addressed the need for commitment that stays the course even when the winds blow and the rains come pouring down. Last week, we dove into the trust factor and the need to get real. This week, as we finish up, comes calling and direction. Again, we will be gaining our insight for this particular aspect from the Great Shepherd, Jesus
himself. While there are no specific verses on this particular aspect I feel led to share the message that the Holy Spirit has put on my heart. While Jesus had numerous strong relationships with both males and females and was not one to shy away from showing Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love to even the most destitute and looked-downupon women of His time, His disciples were all male. This in no way means that women did not have a special role in the ministry of Jesus. As God, He could have entered this world in whichever way He wanted but He chose to begin His life here on earth through a young, virgin girl. Luke 1 will clearly tell you this story. Then another great example of womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s importance to Jesus is in who He first revealed himself to
upon resurrection. Matthew 28:510 says this, Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come; see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” 8 The women ran quickly from the tomb.
They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” I bring all of this to the table to say, Jesus didn’t choose all male disciples because He had something against women, or because there was no place for them among the religious rulers of His time. No, Jesus chose male
disciples because the bond, the trust, and the intimacy in which they were going to partake would be more effective and less distracted from its purpose by developing such a relationship with those of the same sex. For this reason, while we are most definitely called to witness to all who we encounter, it is my belief that a shepherding relationship is most commonly intended to develop between those of the same sex. Not only will this allow a truer and deeper relationship that is not hindered by fleshly goals, but it also allows for understanding that might otherwise be lost. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s be honest, as is evidenced by most any marriage relationship, it is hard work to get to a point where you can even begin to understand what
the other truly needs. Men and women are built uniquely different and reflect two very important parts of the heart of Christ. We are both necessary, yet for different aspects of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plan. When we allow ourselves to seek shepherding relationships with those of the same sex we also allow ourselves the unique opportunity to nurture the heart of other women, to provide for them a piece of the heart of God that men do not possess. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face it ladies, even after eliminating the male aspect of the world when it comes to shepherding, we are still faced with an insurmountable task. Our world is full of young girls, of young women, middle aged women, older women, who are all hurting, searching and longing for
this unique desire of their hearts to be satisfied. Here we are, Disciples of Christ, holding the knowledge and key to that satisfaction. We have the amazing opportunity to introduce the women of this world to the fulfillment of Christ’s love. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but what I would have given as a young, hurting, teen girl to have a woman of God step in and shepherd me through one of the most heart wrenching, confusing and painful times of my life. I was a girl who had been disappointed by the “Christian” boys in her life whose interests were hindered by the ways of this world and who were also in desperate need of a person willing to shepherd them through an awkward time called junior high and high school. I was
a girl whose Christian parents saw the hurt caused by other Christians and felt unsure of how to keep directing me toward Godly men as they were failing me in ways that related more with the world than with God. I was a girl who wanted desperately to feel like I belonged, like someone wanted me. A girl who wanted that ache and desire for closeness to be satisfied, and most importantly I was girl who even given my Christian background had no clue that the satisfaction I desired, the fulfillment of my heart that I so longed for was never going to come from a man. To this day, that emptiness has not been fulfilled by a man, not even my husband. I am lucky that over time, due to my relationship with Christ from childhood, that the Holy Spirit was able to do a great
work in me and was able to bring me to an amazing revelation that the only thing I needed to satisfy the longing of my soul had been with me all along. My ending is unfortunately not shared with every other girl who has ever felt the same. I had a solid foundation to fall back to; I had the Holy Spirit to draw me out of my worldly hiding places. So many women, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the same opportunity; at least not yet. Christ is calling you to find these women, to reach out to them, to call them out of hiding and to guide them into the fulfillment of the Fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love. Are you ready to fulfill your purpose?
Father God, We ask that You prepare not only
our hearts as we prepare to shepherd lost and hurting women, but we ask that You also prepare in advance their hearts that they might readily receive Your message of love and fulfillment. Continue to guide us and direct as we pursue Your ways that we might become more effective shepherds. Allow us opportunity and give us a targeted group or individual with whom to pursue. Open up our hearts and minds as we take real action to step out of our comfort zones and into the mission field. Jesus we ask these
things in Your precious and holy name, Amen.
ULFILLING GOD’S PURPOSE IN YOUR MARRIAGE
WEEK ONE For married women, one of the greatest factors in fulfilling our God given purpose is found in our marriage covenant. Women possess a very unique piece of God’s heart, a piece that men don’t have and often don’t understand. For this reason, God made a man for a woman and a woman for a man. God does call some to remain unmarried. Paul even suggests this calling as being the best way in which to pursue full time ministry saying in 1 Corinthians 7:8, “ so I say to those who aren’t married and to widows--it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.”
However, for those who do marry, your marriage covenant becomes one of the most literal connections to your relationship with God. When a husband and wife come together under covenant as is intended, their two very different hearts will join in a way that mirrors the heart of God as a whole. Wives have been tasked with a great and powerful position. Our words and actions hold more weight than most can understand. While the concept of submission often repulses us, we tend to enter a relationship unaware that God has designed marriage to be a holy joining of two people who willingly submit to and love one another. Matthew Henry states simply and beautifully the
relationship of man and woman as God truly intends it when he said-The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Our calling as wives goes far beyond submission. We were created to fulfill a purpose in the lives of our husbands, to fill in the gaping hole of loneliness, and to offer our husbands a new and unique view of God that only women truly possess. We were created to be our husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s helpmate, and throughout the next
few weeks we are going to explore just what it was we committed to when we signed our marriage license. We are going to pursue what it realistically means to be a Proverbs 31 wife . We will address how we can apply some key concepts from scripture to our marriages; which will in turn, allow us to see the fruit of our labor as our marriages prosper and flourish. I was torn between tackling this chapter on marriage first or moving into a motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mission field, which lies primarily in her children. While I whole heartedly believe that motherhood is one of the most challenging and rewarding mission fields, I also believe that the absolute best gift we can give our children is that of a healthy and fulfilling marriage to
our husbands. For those of you who are facing being a mother alone due to an uninvolved father, through divorce, or through widowing my heart goes out to you. You have the job of being both mom and dad. While many things in this chapter may not apply to you, the type of woman who is successfully able to apply the Proverbs 31 virtues to her life is not just found among married women. God has called you to take on these attributes and to become a woman who can handle even the most difficult of situations in a virtuous way. So I urge single women to glean what they can from this chapter as well. To prepare our hearts for the task of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman, we need to ask that our heads and hearts be cleared of
preconceived notions. Notions that tell us what we can and should have no matter what. Marriage requires that two people enter into an oath and choose to put aside their wants and desires to better serve the new being as a whole. We are naturally a selfish people. We put our wants above those of others. That is a mindset that has to change. So pray with me today for a new and God-given attitude when it comes to your marriage. Father, we ask that You open our hearts and change our attitudes of self-love into attitudes of love towards others. Let us be open to change in our lives that we might be able to apply the biblical virtues that You would long for us
to have. Help us to realize that taking on these new attitudes will not make us weaker, but in fact, will give us more power to work in the lives of our husbands. Give us the strength to overcome our fleshly weaknesses and to take on a spirit that is filled with Your truths. In Your name Father God, Amen.
WEEK TWO God has given us the unique task of being our husband’s helpmate. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition is simply put, “one who is a companion and helper; especially: wife,” but this definition doesn’t even begin to describe what it is we have been tasked with. God gives a great guide and directive as to what He has called us to in Proverbs 31. Let’s take a look now at exactly what Proverbs 31:10-31 has to say. Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good,
not harm, all the days of her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work for her servant girls. She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with
kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. Looking at verses 10-12 we find this, “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly
enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Even those three verses seem like a lot to live up to. They first verse does in fact say, a women like this is a treasure to find. So how do we become that treasure? How do we become women who will greatly enrich the lives of our husbands; who will bring him good and not harm all the days of our lives? Honestly, I don’t have all the answers. I’m not a perfect wife by any means. I make mistakes. While some days I may feel like I’ve got this Proverbs 31 thing nailed down, many others I just can’t get a grip on that quickly crumbling ledge between kind of making things look good on the outside and openly cursing the ground my husband walks on. Either way, a far cry from bringing him good not harm. The
great thing about this chapter is that it doesn’t just leave you hanging with this task and no directive; instead each verse delves further into how you can become a woman your husband can trust, and the kind of helpmate that can enrich her husband’s life instead of harming it. Verses 13-18 say, “She finds wool, and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchants ship bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her house and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.” These verses talk about
many factors in this womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life that would not only help to provide for her family, but they would also give her husband a reason to trust her. I see the virtuous woman, as a sort of old time thrifter. She was a woman who made the most of her dealings. She was willing to bring in food from afar to feed her family, she was up and ready before day break in order to have a plan set in place. She was business savvy, as she inspected the things she was going to invest her time and money in before jumping into them. She was a hard worker and made sure that her choices were profitable for her family. She rose early, and she went to bed late. She was willing to work for those she loved.
In my own life, I can see plenty of areas where I can achieve some of the same things. We don’t see the virtuous woman complaining about what her tasks are; we see her taking charge of them and embracing them. She is not busy worried about what her husband is doing. Instead she is focused on what she has been given in life. I don’t know how many times I have gone through my evenings doing the tasks that are set before me, perfectly content in doing so, when I am home alone and my husband is at work. It seems without fail though, that every time he has a day off and I am out in the kitchen loading the dishwasher or switching laundry in the laundry room, that my anger level goes from nonexistent to boiling over. It’s not even that my husband
wouldn’t be willing to help if I asked. It’s that he doesn’t think to volunteer himself to do something that he normally isn’t responsible for and doesn’t even seem to take notice of most of the time! Every weekend I prepare myself, I go over the woman I want to be, and almost every weekend I come up short in this area. What strife would I remove from my marriage, what good things would I enrich my husband’s life with as well as my own, if I could focus not on where my husband falls short, but on when and where I can support him as he needs it. We have been tasked to be the helpmate to our husbands. We are their partners in crime, their crutch when they need it, and their encourager who brings good not harm. When we remove our
responsibility to provide help and encouragement; and we justify the harm we can and do at times cause, we miss out on the blessings that will come from an equally yoked partnership. We play a vital role. We alone are capable of filling the position of helpmate in our marriage relationship. Father God, Lord we come to You asking for an open heart and mind toward the tasks that are set before us. Give us the soundness of mind to realize when our actions or our words are bringing harm to our spouses and to our marriage relationship instead of good. Help us to find ways that we can
enrich our marriages. Give us the wisdom to discern what things are worth our investments, whether they be time or money, and what investments need to be let go. Give us energy Lord to wake up every morning with a heart for Your plans in our lives and to go to bed every night having succeeded in their completion. We ask that You continue to speak to us through these verses as the weeks continue. In Your precious name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK THREE This week I want to look at verses 19-21 and relate them to the beliefs and values of today’s society. These three verses say this, “Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.” This is a woman who sets an example for her children, her family, and her community. She works diligently to not only provide for her own family, but she is also capable of providing for the poor and needy. She has so diligently worked to provide for her household both physically and spiritually that verse 25 says, “She is clothed with
strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.â&#x20AC;? Who hear would love to be able to say they laugh without fear of the future? I know this is a claim that I would love to lay hold of. I want to provide for my family in such a way that we are amply prepared for the cold. I want to provide in such a way that giving to the needy and extending a helping hand to the poor is not a question but a way of life. Finally and most importantly, I want to provide an example to my family that fully trusts in the shelter and provision that my God always gives. In todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s take, take, take world applying these verses can be more difficult than they seem. We are bombarded with new and
improved electronics that we absolutely must have, and that are way more expensive than the one we bought last month. Our children sit in shopping carts saying that they want everything in sight, and feel justified in this attitude because society promotes and praises it. We have a hard time making our children wait for material items and buy things that are unnecessary, and even useless in order to satisfy their ever thirsting and shorter attention spans. Now, I have nothing against technology, nothing against toys, or even the occasional frivolous shopping spree, but is it possible to be a virtuous woman when we continually put our own desires over those of others? Francis Chan said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The concept of downsizing
so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful...and nearly unheard of. We either close the gap or don’t take the words of the Bible literally.” We have been called to give, called to use our resources wisely, and called to trust. We often look at the act of giving either of our time or our money as a subtraction of what we currently have instead of as an investment in our heavenly treasure. We don’t give because we are scared that we will be unprepared for the future, yet we spend unwisely and build up our treasure in earthly things. We also often forget that God is the giver and the taker of all things. If we choose to give, He will provide for our needs.
Now what does it realistically mean to prepare for the future? Obviously, not all of us are skilled in the areas of spinning thread and twisting fiber, but we can choose to spend our family’s resources well and we can learn to prioritize in such a way that money issues never have to be a cause for argument in our marriage. For those who don’t sew their own clothes, think second hand, discounts, coupons, and most importantly ahead. We all too often get caught up in what we want now instead of what we will need tomorrow. It’s probably not the best idea to spring for the new phone or the fancy vacation if it means that we will be unable to buy the kids school supplies the following month. If we think ahead, if we preparedly store up, clothing, food, etc., we will
always have enough to provide for our family and to offer a helping hand to those in need around us. For some women, this is strength of theirs, but for others it will be a struggle at first. It takes time and practice, but eventually living frugally so that you may best provide for the needs of others will become second nature and it will be an attribute that will make you attractive to those around you. Your ability to give, and your ability to provide will bring other women to your door asking you how to do it. None of us wants to struggle to provide for our families, but we all too often overlook the easiest solutions to those struggles. When we choose to put the treasures of this world in front of our heavenly treasure we will cause financial strife in our
marriages and place unnecessary burdens on ourselves. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to tell the world and its commercially driven propaganda that we arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t buying it! Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to start living for a better tomorrow instead of for a temporarily satisfied today. Lord God in heaven, we ask that You give us a desire and a determination to be able to look towards the future with light hearts and laughing spirits. We want to serve Your people Lord both in our families and in the world around us. We want to be capable of providing for both without worry or hesitation. We want heavenly preparedness to be a way of life, not a
struggle. Teach us to discern the difference between wants and needs, for ourselves and our families. Teach us to spend wisely and to work diligently in whatever our giftings are that we might provide for our families well into the cold months of winter without worry. Give us a heart for the poor and the needy that we might see this world as bigger than ourselves, and so that we might reach an economically struggling nation with the heart of God through selfless giving. We know that our giving can never match the gift that You
gave Jesus, but we long to have a heart that yearns to mirror Your example, to become more virtuous, and more like You. In Your precious and holy name, Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FOUR This week’s topic of discussion is a close personal struggle of mine. I find myself constantly struggling to hold to this commitment and virtue as I am continually reminded that it is one of the most important pieces of wisdom God has given me to support my husband and further encourage the prospering of my marriage. This wisdom can be found in Proverbs 31:26 which says, “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 was a wise and self-controlled one. How often do we follow the instructions of this verse? When we speak are our words wise, are
they of instructional worth, are they spoken with kindness. Even in times when my husband and I aren’t arguing, my words don’t always follow these guidelines. I will say things that I believe are of use and are instructional or wise, but the way in which I say them is often looked at as unapproachable by my husband. Sometimes I just think I am being wise when, in all actuality, my words lack very little meaning or worth. The problem lies in what I believe to be two main issues. The first being, that we often choose our own advice instead of seeking the counsel of God and bringing His message to our husbands in their time of need. Proverbs 19:2021 says, “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can
make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Psalm 119:105 (ESV) tells us, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” While there are many, many verses that can be used to show just how wise it would be for us to seek out the heart of God in matters of our lives, I am going to use just one more. Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When we choose to seek the advice, instruction, and refining of God we will be offering our husbands not just advice, but God-given instruction full of wisdom and worth.
Our second issue is that we lack the patience to give our initial response processing time. We are so quick to speak, what very well may be words of Godly wisdom, that we forget to monitor our approach and our tone. We forget, that our husbands are men who crave honor and respect just as much as we as wives crave love and security. They often need and desire our help, but when we approach this need with disdain or condescension we shut them down, emotional, mentally, and physically. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” We are called to be an encouragement and a help to all we speak to, but this
is an especially important aspect of our job as helpmate. We were created as the supporters and encouragers of our husbands; to partner with them in times of trouble and times of triumph, but we cannot be successful in this task if we make them feel incapable or less than us. Truth, they will not have every answer. Truth, they may be following a path that is less than what God would desire for your family. Truth, your God-given message, no matter how wonderful it is, will never be received by your husband if your approach demeans and discourages him. Today, as we ponder this virtue of choosing our words and our approach carefully, let us pray
for the wisdom of God that we might know how to seek Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart in our marriage journey and for patience that we will choose to speak wisely and kindly. Lord God Almighty, We come to You seeking Your refining in our hearts and lives. Call us to You, that we might seek Your Godly wisdom and discernment in our families times of need. Give us direction that we might aid our husbands when things are not clear before them. Give us patience and kindness in our approach, that the words You give us may be heard. Help us to lean not on our own
understanding but on Your divine direction and wisdom. We ask all of this in Your precious and holy name Father, Amen.
WEEK FIVE I want to point out, as we wrap up this chapter, how emulating this example and following the advice and guidance that God has given to us through this chapter of the Bible, which explicitly speaks to women, can change our lives in great ways. If we look at each chapter we have already moved through we will be able to see that a Proverbs 31 woman is capable of handling them all. She is a witness and an example to others, she is unafraid of the future, she trusts in a God who is bigger than the crumbling, she understands her worth and finds that worth in the Lord. For our last lesson on marriage I want to discuss how to keep the attention of your
husband. We see husbands and wives get discouraged and distant in their marriages often. We feel like we have nothing in common. We attempt to get the attention of our husband through things of this world such as a new outfit, haircut, etc. While making the effort to be more than just “mom” to your husband, taking the time to get dressed up every once in a while, and put forth a little extra effort is a wonderful way to address our husband’s needs; we often overlook the aspects of a woman that are far more attractive than things of this world and capture not only our husband’s attention, but his heart. Proverbs 31:28b-31 says, “Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you
surpass them all!’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” We will not always have the beauty of youth; we won’t always have the innocent charm of being a new and undiscovered conquest. These things will pass in time as everything has its season, but a woman who fears the Lord is always a blessing to her husband. The Bible tells us often that fear of the Lord brings wisdom and is wisdom. 2 Samuel 23:3-4 “The God of Israel spoke. The Rock of Israel said to me: ‘The one who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of God, is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the
gleaming of the sun on new grass after rain.’” Psalm 19:9a “Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.” Proverbs 9:10 “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” The Bible then tells us what wisdom is and how it benefits those who have it. James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” What husband could resist a woman who is like the light of morning at sunrise, a woman who is a portrait of a cloudless sky, or the gleaming sun on new grass
after the rain? How much will he benefit from a woman whose knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment? Who wouldn’t want a woman who is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere; a woman whose words bring healing? Fear of the Lord, willingness to listen to and wait on His timing, His instruction, and His way make a true Proverbs 31 woman indispensable, irreplaceable, invaluable. The key to becoming a woman who is praised by those around her is to be in tune with God. The end of verse 31 in Proverbs 31 says, “Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” When we are tune with the heart of God, when we are following His will, and through the reading of the
Bible can truly understand the desire of God’s heart for our lives, we will see the fruit of our works become testimony of our relationship with Him who made us. Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” Father God, we desire to know You more. We desire that every aspect of our lives become a testament of Your heart. We long to become a helpmate who is invaluable and irreplaceable to her husband. We want our marriages to be based not on earthly things that will pass, fade, and deceive, but on the
perfect will and testament of a Living God and Savior in our lives. We ask that You give us the strength for the day to day. Those days that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to wait patiently, speak kindly, and choose to do our husbands no harm and instead to bring only good into their lives. They will come, and we will struggle, but we believe Father that You are faithful to complete good works in those with whom You start them. We know that as we continue to seek Your heart and will for our lives, that You will continue to reveal them and to provide us with
opportunities and determination to use our new found wisdom. We pray for healing over marriages that are struggling, we pray for firm foundations to remain unshaken as the tests of this world come pouring in, and we pray that newly established relationships take root in You instead of each other. We ask all of this in Your precious and holy name Jesus, Amen.
THE MISSION OF MOTHERHOOD
WEEK ONE We have covered so much in the last four chapters, and learned much about our calling and about finding purposeful security. Today, we embark on the adventure of applying what we learned to one of our greatest mission fields. As moms right now, moms soon to be, moms eventually to be, and even as second moms to children who are not our own there is so much we can give to the children in our lives. We have so much to offer and to teach, but we are often too distracted by I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t attitudes to allow our God given gifts,
abilities, and positions an opportunity to be used. We get distracted by things of this world, we get distracted by every day obstacles, and sometimes we even get distracted by ministry itself. We minimize the roles we have to play, thinking of ourselves as “just” moms. We focus too much of our time on things that aren’t nearly as important as our role in the instruction of our children because we feel that we aren’t doing enough, or because we hear more praise and acknowledgement from outside sources than we do from our children or our husbands. As we minimize the role we have been called to play, we search for fulfillment from other roles and as we spend time searching for fulfillment and acknowledgement
from the other positions we have taken on, we miss the point. I was pointed to a new favorite verse regarding our children by Ruth Schwenk at TheBetterMom.com. She used Psalm 127:3-5 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warriorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers.â&#x20AC;? Ruth also went on to share that the word for reward is Sakar, which literally translates to wage. Our children are a wage which has been given to us. They are something that if invested well will prosper. They are also compared to arrows in this verse. Arrows if properly aimed, guided, and shot by a gentle and
well trained hand will hit their mark. Our children are our legacy. We look at being a mom, too often, as a mundane task. We see the everyday in front of us and forget to look beyond the trials, frustrations, and obstacles of today to what lies ahead. We Miss The Point! We miscalculate our impact and our influence. We forget what our goal is. Today is day one of a new mind set. Today we will choose to embark on a journey for the hearts of our children. We will set forth on this path remembering that they will develop the attributes that they see. We will remember, that in order for an arrow to hit its mark, it must be released by the hand of a welltrained marks man (or woman). Today is the day that we choose to fully acknowledge the power a
motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guidance has over her childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tomorrow. We embark on the mission field now. Father God, we come to You first off thanking You for the children that are in our lives. We thank You for the opportunity to impact their lives for You and to guide them into their own mission fields, whatever and wherever they may be. We ask that You help us to stay focused on our roles and on the impact we will have on our children. Help us to make that influence one that will point at You and Your faithfulness. Allow us to always remember the
blessings our children are and the world that they will one day influence in great and miraculous ways. In Jesus precious name we pray, Amen.
WEEK TWO Who would you like for your children to become? What kind of life would you like for them to lead? As for me, I want to see my children be faithful servants of the Lord. I want for them to always be sure of their salvation and to know that their salvation is their own, not simply a result of what mom and dad have told them to be. I would like for them to be devoted and deliberate in their walk with God. I want them to know our Savior personally. In a world where children grow up with constant distractions, how can we bring this through to fruition? They have magazines, televisions shows, and movies telling them who, how,
and what they should be. They are overrun by sexual images that make young women feel bad about themselves and prey on the visually led minds of our young men. Some may say that protecting or sheltering your children from these things is the way to go, and sure we need to protect our kids from certain things that are not age appropriate. However, this method will never successfully create a devoted walk with the Lord. Christ, while not of the world, was most definitely in the world. His earthly life was fully committed to being in the world spreading the word and the light to anyone who would listen and even to those who wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. If we want our children to live Christ like lives, then we have to encourage them to walk as Christ
did. Keeping them from the world will never accomplish that. The accomplishment of this task is a delicate balance. We must not immerse them with sinful or worldly things. We want to encourage a desire for Godly things. We want for our kids to choose quiet time with God over watching a mindless or inappropriate television show. We want our children to have hearts and minds that are convicted to give to those in need. We desire for them to never have any doubts that Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s way is the best and only way, yet we overlook the best and easiest way to ensure that all of these desires we have for our children will be fulfilled. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV) says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and pin them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.â&#x20AC;? These verses spell out the recipe for ensuring that our children grow into all the God given qualities we hope for them. If we want our children to live Godly lives, then we must show them how. I love how the NIV says to impress Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commands on your children. We are literally supposed to mark their lives with the commands of God. Those four
verses say much about speaking the commands and writing them down while saying very little about actual action, however, if you study those words for a few minutes it becomes glaringly obvious that it is impossible to keep yourself from action when you are continually dwelling on the commands of God. If we love God with all our hearts, souls, and strength, if we talk about Him when we sit at home or are on the road, if we talk about Him when we lie down to sleep and when we get up in the morning, if we tie His truths to our hands and pin them to our foreheads, if we cover our homes in them, how will we be able to do anything other than follow them? It is when we live God in our own lives that we will begin to see the mark of God and His commandments on the lives of
our children. Our living and active example of God in our own lives is the most effective tool for impressing the will of God on the hearts of our children. When we live Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s will in our home, on more than just Sunday morning, our children will learn that our God is a living God. If we would like for them to be excited about their faith, then we must teach them that there is something to be excited about. The only way we can show them the excitement of an active faith is to live an active and exciting faith ourselves. So today we must ask ourselves, do I live my faith daily and out loud in front of my children? Do I let my kids see me praying, reading the word, worshiping? Do I talk to them about how God and His
commands affect my decision making, my finances, or even my media choices? Am I openly praying over them, blessing them, and quoting scripture to them? If you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t answer yes to each of these questions please know that you are not alone. I feel much closer to God in so many ways, but I am truly falling short of showing this closeness to my children in ways that they can understand and relate to as little ones. Today, I stand with each of you asking God for help in this area and openly committing to actively living my faith in front of my children. Father God, help me to live my faith out loud and in front of my children. Help me to guide them not by my
words, but by my example Father. Give me the humility to drop to my knees in front of them so that they can learn what it means to pray. Give me the energy to be patient and include them in my quiet time with You that they may develop their own desire to search and learn Your word. Give me age appropriate wisdom to explain why our familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decisions are based on Godly advice and not that of the world so that they may learn to not bend in the storms of peer pressure. Give me Godly words to pour over them and to bless them with
that they may see Your love, grace, and forgiveness in a very tangible way within our own home. Father, thank You for the conviction and the realization that I have the opportunity to give my children a future that is firmly founded in Your truth. Help me to complete that task fully. We ask all of this in Your name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK THREE Last week we talked about living God out loud in our lives so that our kids may come by the skill naturally. I truly believe that if we live in such a way we will be able to steer our kids clear away from some of the largest temptations in life. I believe we will raise up a generation of children who will head into college sure of their faith, and children who will complete higher education still sure of their faith. However, our children are human, just as we are. They will make mistakes, just as we have. How those mistakes affect their lives is
largely up to our reactions as parents. We, of course, all want for our children to follow plan A. We want them to be good Christian kids who always tell the truth, who actively live their faith, and who at the very least never get themselves into any major dilemmas like underage drinking, drug use, premarital sex, or pregnancy to name a few. We tell them consistently what we expect of them, but we often forget to remind them of what will happen if plan A has to get thrown out the window. Often, we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even know how we will or should respond. As our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guiding force from infancy through adolescence, it is our job to get it
together before plan A goes a bit differently than we expected. Where to start is simple, let’s dig into scripture and view the example that God himself has given. The book of James has two excellent verses we will be using today. The first is out of James 1:5, it says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” There will be times when our children seek our wisdom on good terms, but there will also be times when they ask for wisdom after they have already gotten themselves into trouble. James 1:5 doesn’t say, ask for wisdom when you have everything together and don’t ask when you are knee deep in sin. The verse simply says, ASK. This verse also tells us that our God is a generous God who will always give you
wisdom and He will never rebuke you for asking. We are all, I’m sure, very intimate with the humility that always comes with asking for help. Our God looks not at the situation we have gotten ourselves into, but instead at the humbled heart that has come asking for help. In this way we should respond to our children’s needs in their times of turmoil. James 3:17 also adds to the understanding of a Godly response by saying, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” I don’t have any examples of dealing with a teenager during a very difficult situation. I do know, that even
now with small children, whose large faults are so minimal in the grand scheme of things, that my response to their failings and to their desire for parental wisdom and guidance often does not follow the guidelines of James 3:17. My wisdom and correction are very often lacking in the areas of peace and gentleness. My wisdom often falls short when it comes to yielding to others. I like to rush ahead and get things done and over with, taking very little notice that at times my young children are struggling to catch up, understand, and develop the skills needed to apply that wisdom. I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even say that I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t show favoritism. No, not favoritism among my different children, but favoritism in one child. When my
child is not making mistakes or quickly catches on and adheres to the wisdom I offer, life is good. We are on good terms and our relationship lacks the friction, frustration, and at times even disdain that is often offered up during one of our bad days. While this may seem minimal to us as adults, when it comes to a situation of childhood disobedience, our response in even these small situations is being constantly and consistently ingrained in our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heads. Our response to the small things now will dictate to them how things will go for large obstacles later. They might not realize it right now, but it is sticking with them. We now move from Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s example of wise guidance to
affirmation and application of who He is and who He calls us to be. Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Matthew 7:12 is often taught to children, yet all too often forgotten as adults, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” We want for God to be gracious, patient, loving, and kind while dealing with our mistakes and downfalls, yet we often exasperate our children in our responses to their mistakes. This exasperation can cause our children to feel forced into bigger and more damaging situations of sin. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV) is one of my favorites, saying, “Do
not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.â&#x20AC;? So much is packed into those verses from Ephesians. When it comes to our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mistakes we get so caught up in the fact that plans have changed and their lives are going to be different. They are going to have to face some uncomfortable consequences. Quite honestly, as a parent, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart breaking to know that their
lives may be changed forever from the original sin free plan A. I believe we can probably compare our feelings to those God experienced when Adam and Eve sentenced themselves and the rest of mankind to a life outside of the Garden. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s devastating, and consequences did occur, but God did not yell and scream at Adam and Eve. Though they were sent from the Garden God did not abandon Adam and Eve. He gave them a plan B. He developed a new way for them to worship through atonement sacrifice. He made every effort to show them how even though they had sinned in a life changing way, His love was unconditional. When our children come to us seeking help and wisdom after
a mistake has happened, after a sin has already changed their lives, we must be willing to build them up according to their needs. We need to be prepared to forgive our children just as Christ forgave us. We must be prepared to help them transition from plan A to plan B all the way down to plan Z if need be. Yes, it is heartbreaking to see them suffer. Yes, it is disappointing to see them stray from what they have been taught. Even more heartbreaking and disappointing than those two things is to choose an ungodly response to our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mistakes and to watch our sinful response result in pushing our children further from the Lord, further from the protection of parental guidance, and much closer to mistakes only made out of a response to our lack of
gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. Col. 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” To get to this point, when it comes to end game adolescent mistakes like unplanned pregnancy or drug abuse, we must practice Godly responses to our children’s childhood mistakes now. Father God, we come to You asking for Your wisdom as we pursue sharing Godly wisdom with our children. We long to send a message to our kids that our love is unconditional and the wisdom we want to share with them is peaceful, gentle, loving
no matter what the situation. We know that our own hurt over the decisions of our children can often cloud our ability to respond to them in a Godly way. We ask that You help us to remember Your response to Your people over and over again, from Adam and Eve right through history until You arrived at us. Help us to apply the heart You have for Your children to the responses we offer to our own. In Your precious name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FOUR As we talked about in the very first chapter, our world tends to feel like a scary place. The end of days often seems to be right around the next corner. Our children and their safety often take center place in our minds when we think about what may be coming down the line. We may be thinking that with everything that is going on in the world that it is time to raise up warriors. To be quite honest, it is time, but the armor clad soldier with heavy fire power and anti-artillery vehicles is not the biblical warrior we are called to raise up. Revelation is
filled with the accounts of the wars of the end times. It also tells us of the land slide victory that Jesus has over Satan and all the evils of this world. Just as in any other epic battle we have seen fought in the Bible or in our own lives, God does not need our strength (nor our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strength) He needs our obedience and our devotion to follow His commands. We are very directly told how to prepare for battle, therefore, we are given the exact formula needed to prepare our children as well. Ephesians 6:10-18 says this, A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s armor so that you will be able to stand
firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace
that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. As I read these verses, and I began to ponder how I can raise up warriors for God I was struck strongly by a couple of pieces of
information we are given. At the very beginning we are told “For we are not fighting against fleshand-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. I have heard often, from some religious leaders who I greatly respect and look to for advice, that we will see the mark of the beast as more of an attack on our children’s minds than a forceful placement of a physical mark.
I don’t claim to know the future, nor do I think anyone is capable of knowing all that will come in those days, but I can say that I cannot disagree with the
facts that are before us. Our children are being mentally attacked on a daily basis. From sexual imagery to making sinful worldly lives filled with drug and alcohol dependence look like “fun” our world is very quickly creeping into every aspect of entertainment, education, and even into such areas as our pediatrician's office. Ephesians 6:12 clearly tells us that we aren’t going to be coming up against a flesh and blood enemy. We aren’t in need of physical weapons. We will be facing the evils of an unseen world, the mighty powers of this dark world, and the evil spirits of heavenly places. To take physical weapons into this kind of battle, would seem to me to be much like taking a knife into a gun fight.
I was also very struck by verse 13, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.” If we want our children to be able to resist the onslaught of worldly imagery, ideology, and indoctrination we must teach them how to put on every piece of God’s armor. We must give them the belt of truth, armor of God’s righteousness, the shoes of good news and peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit if we want to see them “stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Father God, help us to understand the kind of warriors that are needed for the end times. Help us to remember that it is
through Your strength and our willingness that we will see progress. You do not need us or our children to accomplish Your victory, but through our willingness to follow Your commands we will become and our children will become warriors for Your name sake. Thank You for Your everconstant reminders that You hold the future, even when it comes to our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s futures. In Your precious name Jesus, Amen.
WEEK FIVE It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t strike me as a coincidence that Ephesians 6:1018 comes just a few verses after instructions regarding obeying parents and not exasperating children (Eph. 6:1-4). These verses are a clear directive of what we must be doing, but there proximity to other instructional verses puts into perspective just how far reaching that directive is. As parents it is our job to train up the next generation of warriors. It is also our job to know what that means and to protect our children
from unnecessary injury due to so called “Christian” training. I have had my fair share of “Christian warrior” experiences that looked much more like a para military camp than a place to gain spiritual knowledge and insight while relying on God’s strength. These experiences often seem harmless from the outside. They are preparation for the mission field, for the experiences that will be faced on the front lines, but in all actuality they often serve to further confuse teenagers who are searching for a way to practically obey God’s commands. This sort of training does not raise up a generation of God fearing and God reliant youth, instead it raises up a generation of angry adults who feel like nothing they can do physically, mentally, spiritually is
working. They are drained instead of filled from their experiences. What is the reason for this sense of draining? Shouldn’t we be training up mission minded children, shouldn’t we be raising them to fight the good fight? While the answer to the last 2 questions is yes, the para military sort of education will never be effective. We cannot train up an army that is physically powerful and expect much in terms of lasting spiritual strengthening. What Bible story have you heard where the ending goes something like this, “and they won because their army was powerful and they had numerous men who were capable of taking down anyone who came their way?”
This has not even once been the case. No, instead we see God asking not-so-powerful men to cut their already minimal numbers so that there will be no doubt in the people’s minds that the Glory is to God. These not-so-powerful men and women have one thing in common, that is their willingness to obey God and follow where he is called even when the odds are not in their favor, even when the task is gigantic, the journey is long, or the fruits of their labor will go unseen by their own eyes. These, the chosen people of God’s army, are simply available and willing. So how do we train our children for these types of leadership positions? Ephesians 6:10 “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty
power.” We must first teach them that the power to do what God wants will never come from them. We are called to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Next, verses 11 and 12 call us to put on the full armor of God and to remember that we are not fighting against “flesh-and-blood enemies,” we are fighting something that none of us can even truly be sure of. Eph. 6:12b “but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say that I have very little idea what I am to be looking for. I do know that if I am pursuing God’s will that His purpose and His direction will be made clear. Finally the last verse (13) leading up to the
description of God’s armor tells us, that if we do these things, we will find ourselves (and our children when they are trained to do the same) standing firm after the battle is over. Verse 14 “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” We are told to stand our ground, but we are not told simply to stand up for what we believe, think, feel, we are also given the directive to put on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Truth is simple to define. It is what is true, what is fully unequivocally truth. Not what we learned from religion or our particular denominational practices and customs or even what we have learned from our parents as truth. We are told to
belt ourselves with truth. Real actual truth and we are to stand our ground for that truth. Righteous, according to MerriamWebster is, “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.” This further reinforces that while we are to teach our children to stand their ground, we are to teach them to search out and stand only for the truths of God. In this way they may be free from guilt or sin and may act in accordance with the law that can only come from the giver of truth. I believe that verse 15 can be taken on a couple of different levels. It says, “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the good news so that you will be fully prepared.” Fully prepared, to me, speaks of 2 things. The first
being that we and our children need to be prepared for what’s to come by knowing that wherever we may go the good news doesn’t change. Christ has already won. He rose from the grave, He saved me and you, and whoever accepts His gift. The battle is the Lord’s and the Lord has won. If we keep this good news with us wherever our feet may lead, we will never have a need or place for fear in our lives, for the good news will always carry us through what we are called. Second, by wearing the shoes of peace that comes from the good news, that peace will be the first thing to hit every land (or situation) we come to. We will always have the good news as our first offering to all we come across. Is that not the most important message one can receive?
Next we come to verse 16 which says, “In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.” Our shield in many ways is a warrior’s first line of defense. It is, essentially, what allows him or her to push further into enemy territory as it blocks the incoming blows of enemy fire. In a spiritual battle it makes perfect sense that our shield should be one of faith. So often, as we have already seen throughout other chapters of this study, Satan attacks not with physical blows, but with those of fear, doubt, and insecurity. What better defense against such tactics can we provide for ourselves and our children than a secure faith capable of putting Satan's lies back in their place?
Finally, verse 17 says, “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As I stated in our previous devotional, I strongly believe that our children will be more mentally attacked than they will ever be physically attacked. Let’s think about the Antichrist and the false prophet spoken of in Revelation. Are they going to come in with guns blazing and their true purpose showing? No, Revelation 19:20 says, “And the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast-miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.” The helmet’s importance, its only job was to protect a warrior’s head from enemy attack. Salvation
means simply, “preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil” (MerriamWebster). The helmet is literally intended to protect our heads, or as I see it our minds, from destruction and evil. The helmet of salvation will preserve all the things that have been discussed, protecting us from the destruction of our mind throughout the ensuing attacks of the enemy. While at the same time, our only tool for offensive measures is the sword of the Spirit, or the living, breathing word of God. We are given as our only means of offense, God’s word. In one very simple sentence He is telling us that we need not defend ourselves, because He has got it under control. We can be confident that the word of God is as powerful today as it was in biblical times. I
whole heartedly believe that we are not just referring to the Bible in this verse but to the actual word of God that is being spoken on our behalf and on our children’s behalf daily. God has not stopped speaking for us, defending us, or fighting for us. He is, in fact, daily by our side helping us to put this armor on. So practically how can we apply each of these things to the lives of our children? How can we help them grasp the importance of God’s armor and encourage them to live daily with it? I believe verse 18 helps us to begin this task as it says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Are our children not included in the term “all believers
everywhere”? We must continually be alert and persistent in our prayer for them. Praying for them in all occasions. In their times of joy and break through to God’s purpose for their lives, in their valleys and times of silence. In the times where their actions are not what we wanted for them or expected of them and in the times when they are fully pursuing the Lord’s will. In all of these situations the enemy is waiting and watching for an opportunity to fire in arrows of doubt and fear. Next, we must encourage them to be independent thinkers. Verse 14 tells us to stand our ground for righteous truth. If we never encourage our children to question what they are taught, then how can we expect them to stand for truth? Truth must be
discovered and learned and appreciated. All too often we pass to our kids our salvation instead of encouraging them to find their own. The truth of this matter is, we cannot accept Christ for our children. We cannot pursue a relationship for them and we cannot convict them. Only God can do the convicting, but our children will be less likely as adults to develop a relationship where they are able to recognize Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voice, guidance, and conviction if they are not taught to challenge and pursue truth for themselves now. I believe that verse 15 is one of the easiest to enact. Teach your children the good news. Actively and genuinely appreciate the peace that comes from that good news in your own life. Openly and visibly
(in front of your children) share that good news wherever you go. Make it a habit to have the good news and its peace be the first thing that hits the ground every morning. Live your life in a way that reflects that peace in the best of times and the worst of times. Let your children see through your everyday example that this world is not and never will be our home, but our home is coming and a day when peace covers every aspect of life is just on the horizon. Verse 16 seems to fall right in line with 15, but in practice it always seems a bit more difficult for me, developing a shield of faith. So often we still struggle with the flack that comes from catching some of those fiery arrows. We have insecurities, doubts, and fear. It often becomes
difficult to live a life of faith. However, our kids follow our example not our words. If we want our children to be warriors who are fully protected, if we want them to have big shields that are held high and in position, then we must give them a life to mimic which does the same. Children wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be able to develop a strong faith if they have never had the opportunity to observe one. So the application requires much work on our parts. Living our lives in faith, not always being sure of what is to come, but living it unafraid despite our lack of insight into the future. Hebrews 11:1 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.â&#x20AC;? By living this verse we will give our children the opportunity to see some of the things that we
cannot, which in turn will allow them to develop a more confident faith. Once again we come back to verse 17. We must begin this task by helping to shield the minds of our children while they are still developing the ability to shield themselves. While they are developing their understanding of truth, we are to be nurturing their desire and development of a communed relationship with God. We need to encourage good. We need to teach them to “Fix [their] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” We must show them how to “Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” Philippians 4:8. If we do not fill their minds with these things, then when it comes
time to put on the armor of God they will have nothing to protect with that helmet. They will not have the power of the Word of God as they will have no idea how to hear or rely on His living and daily guidance. These tasks are not for the faint of heart. These tasks cannot be performed by someone who is only halfheartedly pursuing their own relationship with God. They take lifelong commitment and dedication, but what wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t we do as mothers for our children. By now, I hope all of you see that the Mission of Motherhood is nothing to laugh at. It is a lifelong, mentally, emotionally, and physically draining mission field. Motherhood can also be one of the most rewarding, long-lasting, and far reaching mission fields you
will ever encounter. You may not always see the fruit of your labor, but by training your children in the ways of the Lord you are providing many more arms of Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love to wrap around the world, feet of His peace to go into the world, minds that are capable of understanding and explaining the truth, and hearts that are full to the brim with the love of Christ. So today is the day to look at your never ending job as a mom less as monotony and more as purposeful adventure. Father God, even now as babies wake from sleep crying and deprive me of my own sleep. As I live in days of utter chaos and spilled cereal. As I come home to a house being twice as
wrecked as it was before, even though I was pretty sure it couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get any worse, let me remember the purpose I hold. As diaper changes and kissing boo booâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s turns into answering the tough questions, saying no, setting limits, and being the mom my preteen and teenager donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always like or appreciate, help me to remember my purpose. Help me to recognize my mission field and take my job seriously even when it seems that no one else does. Help me to pursue my own armor of God and to put it on daily so that my living breathing
example will go hand in hand with my verbal teachings of Your word. Prepare me Lord, lead me Lord, as I prepare and lead my portion of the next generation of Christian Warriors. In Your powerful and mighty name Jesus, Amen.
The Purposeful Promise The time has come to wrap things up. We have traveled the journey of this study for many weeks and have learned so much during that time. I would like to believe that together we have discovered many different aspects of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s purpose for our lives. That we have come to a point where we recognize our place and our title as Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Beloved. That through realizing our position in His family that we have become more comfortable with stepping outside of our worldly comfort zones and into the heavenly security that can only come when we choose to face the uncertainty of the future without fear, confident in the provision of our Heavenly Father.
While it is often easy to be sure of the things we learn while we are learning them, it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always easy to keep them present in our mind as time goes on and life gets in the way. For this reason I felt it very important to end this study with a promise that we can each print out and sign. Something to remind us daily of who we are and what our purpose is. There are two promises, one aimed toward the married woman and one toward the single woman. Each is similar in direction, but each addresses the differences in calling and purpose that the two groups will experience. Before you print and sign this promise. Read each word carefully; recognize the importance of each promise. Then I urge you, sign this commitment
only if you are ready for God to give you the opportunity to keep them. Because He will give you opportunity. Thank you for joining this study with me and discovering alongside me. Now go and live life like you are His beloved, being secure in His never ending and never broken promises.
The Wise Wife’s Purposeful Promise I DO purpose myself before God to be the Helpmate He has created me to be. I PROMISE to commit myself fully to this position and in doing so will entrust myself to God, will follow my husband’s lead, and I will use my gifts and abilities to effectively support and aid my husband. I PROMISE to be a woman with whom my husband can have full confidence in; being faithful in our marriage physically, mentally, and emotionally. I PROMISE to be respectful and pure in conduct, submitted to my own husband. I PROMISE to speak kindly and with wisdom to others, holding my tongue until God has given me faithful instruction to share and a pleasant spirit with which to deliver the message. I PROMISE to sense the worth of my work and will eagerly provide for my family’s needs seeing to it that our time and resources are spent wisely. I PROMISE to set forth an example for my children by assisting anyone in need and having a desire to aid the broken hearted. I PROMISE to be an example to my children of a woman who fears the Lord. I PROMISE to be a small glimpse of the Father’s love to my children by providing them with protection, comfort, compassion, acceptance, and security. I PROMISE to be a refuge to them even and especially when Plan A does not turn out as the may have hoped.
I PROMISE to show self-control, being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I PROMISE to be quiet and gentle in spirit practicing a love towards others that is patient and kind; lacking in envy, dishonor, selfishness, anger, a record of wrongs, and does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. A love that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. I PROMISE to face tomorrow with a smile confident in my Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s provisions and in my husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spiritual ability to lead our family. I PROMISE to honor God and my family by exemplifying Proverbs 31 and striving to be both a Wife and Mother who can be called blessed.
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The Wise Womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Purposeful Promise I DO purpose myself before God to follow His will and purpose for my life whole heartedly. I PROMISE to commit myself to His calling fully, choosing to follow wherever He may lead, from my local church to a mission field half way across the world. I PROMISE to be a woman of purity, keeping myself pure of mind, body, and spirit, fully satisfied by the love of Jesus and His desire for my whole heart. I PROMISE to be respectful and pure in conduct that I may never be cause for a sister or brother in Christ to sin. I PROMISE to speak kindly and with wisdom to others, holding my tongue until God has given me faithful instruction to share and a pleasant spirit with which to deliver the message. I PROMISE to sense the worth of my work and will eagerly take my position on whatever mission field God calls me to. I PROMISE to assist any who are in need and to fuel a desire to help the broken hearted. I PROMISE to mentor and be an example to the young women around me of a woman who fears the Lord. I PROMISE to be a small glimpse of the Fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love to the women that I mentor by providing them with protection, comfort, compassion, acceptance, and security. I PROMISE to be a refuge to them even and especially when Plan A does not turn out as the may have hoped.
I PROMISE to show self-control, being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I PROMISE to be quiet and gentle in spirit practicing a love towards others that is patient and kind; lacking in envy, dishonor, selfishness, anger, a record of wrongs, and does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. A love that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. I PROMISE to face tomorrow with a smile confident in my Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s provisions and never fearing the future. I PROMISE to honor God and my ministry by exemplifying Proverbs 31 in all aspects of my life.
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Notes Barnes, Albert. Barnes Notes on the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996. Print. Chan, Francis. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed By a Relentless God. Cook, David C. 2008. Print. Grant, Natalie. “Alive (Mary Magdalene).” Music Inspired By the Story. EMI Christian Music Group/Provident/Word. 2011. MP3. "Great." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2014. <http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/great>. "Helpmate." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2014. <http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/helpmate>. Henry, Matthew. Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible. Hendrickson Publisher, 2009. Print. Lucado, Max Fearless: Imagine your Life Without Fear. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Print. “Righteous.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2014 <http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/righteous>. Schwenk, Ruth. “Your Parenting.” Women Living Well. Maranatha Bible Church, Akron. 10 Aug. 2013. Conference.
About the Author Lindsey is a 25 year-old follower of Jesus, wife, and mother of three small children. She is a part-time autistic outreach aid and a full-time mama. Lindsey blogs at The Resolved Life and also blogs and writes a weekly devotional for Deliberate Women. Along with the typical tasks of motherhood, Lindsey is choosing to homeschool her children and is currently schooling 2 out of 3 of her little ones. She has had the opportunity to learn so much through the writing of this devotional and is looking forward to where God may be leading her in the future.