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Proverbs 31 Woman

Lesson Nine | Devotion #6: Proverbs 31 Woman
Chris Cain

A-B-C Easy as 1-2-3

I love the cleverness in acrostics and acronyms.  Songwriters use them, school teachers use them, we see them used in memes, plastered to refrigerators, and all over social media.  Some popular acronyms I have seen are TGIF-Thank God It’s Friday, ASAP-As Soon As Possible, and one we see in Christian circles, GRACE-God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

There are 22 verses in the last chapter of Proverbs that make up an alphabetical acrostic poem. What a fun and ingenious way to memorize and learn how to be virtuous. Today’s “World Changer” is The Proverbs 31 Woman.  A good majority of you probably want to close the book on today’s devotion thinking, “I am not a woman; this is not for me,” or “I am never getting married, so this does not apply to me,” and even “This perfect woman is not real and this list is not achievable!”  Please stay with me.

I believe that if you are a follower of Christ, then Proverbs 31 applies to you regardless of age, gender, marital status, or the number of children you may or may not have.  The picture of this virtuous woman tells us she is faithful, diligent, kind, generous, strong, and more.  Check it out for yourself in Proverbs 31:10-31.

  “An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 ‘Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.’
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.”

This “list” should not overwhelm us. After all, these are character traits that are scattered all throughout the book of Proverbs, and actually throughout the entire Bible.

Look at verse 10.  An excellent wife who can find?  Well, if Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church (us) is the bride, well does that make us a wife?  What I see here with the Proverbs 31 Woman is a call to holiness.  Jesus is making ready His Church.  Ephesians 5:27 says, “So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”  We do not have an excuse for ungodliness. Jesus is coming, and He is coming for a glorious Church, a Church that is holy.

Do you want to be a “World Changer?”  This is it. A-B-C, easy as 1-2-3.  It includes reading, memorizing, and obeying the Word of God. Together, we the Church can further His Kingdom.  We can help change the world.

Esther

Lesson Nine | Devotion #3: Esther
Chris Cain

Independence Day

 “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

“…for such a time as this.” Queen Esther of Persia had a chance to save her people from Haman’s wicked plan of genocide. Esther’s story is one of the most riveting events in the Bible, and she is a definite World Changer. She did take a stand and save the Jews. To this day, the deliverance of the Jews is still being celebrated during a special festival called Purim. Most of us can only dream that we could do even a fraction of something as courageous and memorable as saving the world from extinction, right?  Maybe it is something like the more than two-decade old movie, Independence Day.  Bill Pullman as the President of United States gives a brave speech just before Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Randy Quaid fly off to decimate some far away from earth destroying aliens. “Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom…Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution…but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night!’ We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

Esther: An orphaned Jewish girl who somehow becomes the queen of Persia then saves the Jews from being wiped out. Her story is told in the book of Esther.  It is ten chapters that are so incredibly captivating you cannot seem to turn the pages fast enough.  As you read, God’s presence is displayed in every detail and every scene of this story, but yet His name is not mentioned once. So, what then are we to learn from this besides a good history lesson?

“Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, ‘Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish’ Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.”  (Esther 4:15-17)

Wow. All the Jews fasted for three days as well as Esther’s female servants. Fasting, as we know, is waiting on God in prayer.  Have you ever fasted and prayed and waited, waited on God?

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

We see that Esther and many others fasted and prayed and she was strengthened. It is a kind of strength that is not synonymous with human brawn.  No matter what we face, we cannot have an “independent-I can do this alone-prideful” attitude.  We need the strength of God. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Next time you are daydreaming of your own “…for such a time as this” moment,

remember, your independence comes from your dependence on Christ.

Oh, Happy (Independence) Day!

Ruth

Lesson Five | Devotion #6: Ruth
Chris Cain

There Is Hope

I would like to introduce Ruth to you. Ruth is a true “World Changer” and an incredible “Proverbs 31 Woman.” Gasp! What? How can Ruth be a “Proverbs 31 Woman?” She did not spend all day making linens and clothing for her husband and home. She was widowed and homeless. Ruth did not go and purchase a field; she was a foreigner who worked and toiled in other people’s fields all day snatching up the leftovers. She did not even have any kids standing up and praising her, for she had no kids. This is Ruth, hopeless Ruth, the cursed Moabite woman.

“No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever.” Deuteronomy 23:3

Here we see that if you were a Moabite that you could not enter into the congregation of God. Sounds pretty hopeless.  On top of that, Ruth lost her father-in-law, her brother-in-law, and her husband.  Now what? Her mother-in-law, Naomi who is deeply bitter and saddened, encourages Ruth to return to her own family and her gods, but Ruth chooses to go with her mother-in-law Naomi.

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’”  Ruth 1:16,17

This would have been a pretty big deal in that culture for Ruth to follow Naomi.  That is some serious commitment to her mother-in-law.  But also, Ruth desired to follow after Naomi’s God, the God of Israel.  The story continues, and this is the part for which you have probably been waiting.  It is a love story, the beautiful romance! Ruth meets a wealthy landowner named Boaz who has allowed her to glean the leftover grain from his fields. She found favor in the eyes of Boaz because of what he had heard of her actions and character.

“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” Ruth 3:11 NIV

She is a woman of noble character.  She is a ‘Proverbs 31 Woman.’ She earned that title even though she was childless, homeless, and husbandless.  No matter what our storms and circumstances are, we can choose to demonstrate noble character.  As we read on, Boaz and Ruth do marry, which means that Naomi gains a son.  Boaz and Ruth go on to have a son. This son is in the direct lineage of Jesus.

There is hope! And oh, by the way, if you are wondering about that curse, Isaiah 56:6-7 says, “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 

We see that Ruth chose to join herself to the God of Israel.  There was a turning to God. If you have had some troubles in this life, if you have lost a loved one, or have been living your life in such a manner that you feel there is no hope, you need to know this truth. There is hope, hope for all.  Hope is the great world changer!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13.

The Powerful Birth Story

Mary • Devotion #5: The Powerful Birth Story
Chris Cain

Have you ever noticed that when you are in the presence of a group of women, and one of them is pregnant, the bulk of the conversation surrounds one’s birth experience?  Details of due dates, choice of hospital, the method of induction, labor, and dilation are just some of the topics and stories being shared.  Some women will write down their birth story, while others will blog or scrapbook all about the experience.

I was asked to contribute to this book just two days after my third grandchild was born. My son and daughter-in-law had just experienced first-hand, one of life’s most powerful experiences.  It is a memory they have captured and will tell for many years to come.

Luke 2:1-7 says, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

I read Luke 2:1-7 in several different Bible translations and most translations have titled this passage as, “The Birth of Christ” yet there were not many facts that made it much of a story. I wanted details. How did pregnant Mary survive the 60 plus mile donkey ride?  Did her water break?  How long did she labor?  Luke does not awe us with stories of booming fireworks in the sky and does not make mention of God’s mighty hand at work. Instead, he seems to share more on the Emperor and the governor of Syria. It is basically the powerful showing off their power while Joseph and Mary appear to be left quite powerless. But let us not miss the significance and power of Luke’s account.  What we think is a frightful and sad birth story is truly a delightful and humble circumstance of God’s powerful redemption plan.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 1:12-13 adds, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

If you have been born again, you have a birth story to share.  Do not underestimate the power of your story that can point people to God’s bigger story; the story of the Gospel of Christ which is the greatest and most powerful story ever told.

Promise Fulfilled

Miraculous conception and birth #5  November 10 Promise Fulfilled

I want what I want, and I want it now.  We have all heard that phrase in mainstream song lyrics, out of our children’s mouths, and of course on the movie screen spoken by the infamous Veruca Salt.  Perhaps you have spoken those words yourself.  And are you not glad that you did not get what you wanted when you wanted it?  God ALWAYS has a better plan.  We call that, “His perfect timing.”

We all know how challenging it is waiting and trusting in His perfect timing. All week long you have been reading and studying about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  Does God’s “perfect timing” have anything to do with them?  I mean, after all, Elizabeth was barren, and they were both at least 60 years-old which had meant their time to conceive had expired quite some time ago. Who cares about timing, it is a hopeless situation for sure.  Or is it? 

Luke 1:24-25 says, After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’”  Verses 57-58 adds, “Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.   And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.”

Wow. Promise fulfilled. The shame, the disgrace, the reproach, and the disappointment has been taken away. God does accomplish His perfect will in His perfect timing and sometimes in very unexpected (perfect) ways. Our God is a God of the impossible. There are thousands of promises in the Bible, and they help carry us through times of support and need. If you are in a difficult season and craning your neck to look ahead, please do not miss out on seeing what God is trying to show you during your time of waiting. Keep praying as Zechariah did. Remember God is faithful. He is true to His people; He is faithful to His Word and faithful to Himself.  He is Perfect, each and every time.

Chris Cain

Women’s Ministry Director



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