Encouragement for Women

Home Sweet Home

Home. “The house of the Lord.” The concept of a specific place to dwell has a deeply emotional effect on the heart of every person. Imagine what it meant to David, a shepherd who knew all about the nomadic life. Shepherds were on the move their whole lives, regularly pitching and moving their tents as they rotated through the fields to keep their sheep happy and the land healthy.

David’s life was a pilgrimage, a journey home. He traveled through many fair meadows and dark valleys. He had his share of storms and adversaries. But God, the Good Shepherd, never failed to care for him. In Psalm 23:6 David reveals he’s ready for his troubled trek to end. He’s ready to go home!

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What did David mean by “the house of the Lord”? We know he’s not referring to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem because it wasn’t built yet. And it wasn’t the house David wished to build for the Lord because he uses the word “forever,” and no man-made house lasts that long.

No, David must be referring to something far greater than a building. A forever fellowship with Jehovah beyond the grave. David was a king—and a wealthy one at that. And he possessed worldly riches and had access to any pleasure. But these worldly pursuits didn’t—and couldn’t!—compare with the eternal pleasure of being at home in the house of the lord… living with the Lord of the house forever!

I well remember wrestling with my emotions when our daughter Katherine graduated from college and wanted to live in an apartment with a group of her college friends. Why would she want to live with a group of young women when her own home, the place where she belongs, is only eight minutes away? What’s wrong with living here?

But Katherine was 22 years old, and the move was an obvious next step on her way to independence and maturity. So off she went to an environment that turned out to be a blessing. She learned how to cook for others on a regular basis, to keep her part of the apartment clean, to enhance her side of the bedroom with her things, and to get along with others on a day-in day-out basis.

But I’ll never forget Katherine’s words the day she moved back home as she prepared for her wedding. She sank into the sofa with a sigh and exhaled, “Mom, it’s ok out there, but it’s just not home!”

I think Katherine’s sentiment is what David is telling us: “It’s OK out here (in the world, in the marketplace, in our friendships, in our experiences, in managing our challenges), but it’s just not home!” We yearn to be in a permanent, loving family, not just guests or people passing through momentary situations and relation­ships. And that’s what our forever home means to us!

May our hearts ever reflect this truth as we contemplate the hope we have of an eternal home where we dwell with the Lord forever.

A Prayer to Pray:

Lord, help me to relish in the “home” that you have for me made up for me —  built of Your unconditional love, Your eternal life, and Your joy everlasting.

For more encouragement your daily life, check out my book, Quiet Confidence for a Woman’s Heart.

Listen to God, not the World

In Paul’s day, women were coming to faith in Jesus Christ out of pagan religions. They sorely needed the godly teaching and example of older women in both the spiritual and practical things of God. And the same is still true today. Women who come to Christ need help as they seek to put off the teachings and standards of the world and put on the behaviors the Word of God teaches.

So how do we keep from listening to the world? Here are some ways:

  • Avoid reading the women’s magazines on the newsstands or checkout counters. Or if you do, read with discernment. One glance at the touted contents on the covers will tell you they are filled with worldly wisdom rather than godly.
  • Be discerning about women’s talk shows. Again, about five minutes of any one of these programs will commu­nicate that you are getting a dose of the world’s view of your role as a woman.
  • Surround yourself with friends who are a godly influence.
  • Stay in God’s Word. Your best choice of input is always the Bible. Read it. Relish it. Rely on it. And let it rule your life.
  • Read daily from a trusted book on godly living. I found out firsthand that the simple act of reading just five minutes a day keeps me sharp, keeps me thinking, and keeps me on our my toes when filtering out the influence of this world.

Are you a new Christian? Open your eyes and look around. Spot an older woman who’s been a Christian for a while and watch how she loves her husband, how she balances the responsibilities of work, family, and church.

Then go one step further—ask this older woman if the two of you could talk. It doesn’t matter where (let her determine the place). And remember, you’re not asking for a long-term commit­ment to a mentoring or discipleship relationship. Your meeting may work its way into that, but just ask to get together once.

Prepare yourself for the meeting with your questions gleaned from your reading and studying God’s word. Arrive with a set of questions and a Bible, a journal or notepad, and a pen. Share your questions with her, and then allow this wonderful woman to share her insights with you. Perhaps at some future time, God will give you the opportunity to pass it on to another younger woman!

A Verse to Recall:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

For further study on the importance and blessings of God’s priorities for your life read my book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

Finding Friends

As a Christian, you already have a perfect friendship. You have a friend in Jesus Christ. God’s Son, Jesus, has chosen you to be His friend. Just as with His disciples, Jesus speaks of you as His friend: “You are My friends… I have called you friends” (John 15:14-15). With Jesus as your friend, you really don’t need anyone else.

But God also provides other people with whom you can and should have friendships. Women you meet at church are a natural starting point. And what about making friends with those in your community? Recently I spoke at a women’s conference in California, and while I was there, I spent time visiting with a former next-door neighbor I hadn’t seen in several decades. Amazingly, we picked up right where we had left off, before we both moved away those many years ago!

There are two other sources of friends that we often forget about. One is your parents. There is nothing weird about having your mom and dad as best friends. They are God’s gift to you. No one loves you more, or cares for your best interests more, than your parents. Make it a goal – and put in the time, effort, and money – to develop a deeper level of friendship with your parents. Work on it today and every day. And in later years you will be blessed and so glad you did.

Two, you also have friends in your brothers and sisters. As a child, you probably thought, Friends with my goofy brother? No way!  or Friends with my pesky little sister? You’ve got to be kidding! But in truth, your friends throughout life come and go. You may stay in touch with some, but most of your friends will move on.

But your family is just that – your family. They will always be there, especially if you work at building and maintaining friendships with them. And that goofy brother of yours is all grown up and not so goofy anymore. And that pesky little sister is a woman with a family of her own. So pray for your family members, and your nieces and nephews!  Make an effort to stay tight and close to your family.

A Prayer to Pray: Lord, help me to always see you as the most important friendship in my life. And help me to seek and develop relationships that are healthy, godly, and meaningful to both my life and theirs.

Please read my book A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices for more insight and encouragement for becoming a woman after God’s own heart.

Mary, Did You Know?

“Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:22-35).

Mary’s path as the mother of Jesus had many precious moments and held many sacred memories. But that path had its pain, too, as she witnessed people’s violent reactions to Jesus and His message. And in the fullness of time – God’s preordained, appointed time – Mary found herself standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross watching her firstborn son die a criminal’s torturous death (John 19:25). A sword was indeed piercing her soul.

Then, in the horrible quiet, Mary heard the clear voice of Jesus speaking to His disciple John. And He was speaking about her: “Behold your mother” (verse 27). No. She wasn’t being forgotten or overlooked. God was taking care of her! Having loved His own, Jesus loved them to the end (John 13:1), and “His own” included His mother Mary!

She isn’t mentioned again in the Bible after this Scripture passage in Acts 1:14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Let’s ponder the significance of her final appearance.

Mary is in the upper room. Perhaps the very spot where Jesus shared His last meal with His disciples, this room became the meeting place for His followers after His glorious resurrection.

Mary is among Jesus’ faithful followers. No single believer in Christ is ever more important than another. Here we see Mary and others who followed Jesus standing on equal ground.

Mary is praying. Kneeling shoulder-to-shoulder with the other saints, Mary joins with the group, persisting in prayer for the much needed strength and grace to carry on without Jesus’ physical presence.

Mary is with other women. Jesus’ followers included a small band of women who supported His ministry, as well as the wives of some of the disciples.

Mary’s other sons are present. We can imagine Mary’s joy. Her other sons had never believed in Jesus before His death (John 5:7), but they were brought to faith by His resurrection. Finally all her sons were united in faith!

What a beautiful – and remarkable! – portrait of godly devotion we find in the life of Jesus’ beloved mother. Mary worshiped and fellowshipped with other believers, persevered in prayer, spent time with sisters in the faith, and valued her family’s faith.

Never forget that Mary’s was a soul drawn upward! She loved God’s Word, faithfully hid it away in her heart as a precious treasure, verbalized it as she magnified the Lord, and exuberantly worshipped the God of her salvation.

Questions to Consider:

Do these phrases describe your life too? If not, which areas to you need to develop so that your life reflects your devotion to God just as precious Mary’s did?

Please read my book A Woman After God’s Own Heart for more insight and encouragement in choosing to be, like Mary, a wonderful woman of God.

Beautiful in God’s Eyes

Every woman wants to be considered beautiful. We’ve all tried one product or another that promises to enhance our physical beauty. But, have we tried God’s prescription for the kind of beauty that He esteems? Is developing the inner beauty of virtue also important to us? God describes another woman of such a beauty in Proverbs 31:30 – “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Let’s take some time to consider how inner beauty is attainable for every woman.

Most scholars agree that the Proverbs 31 passage, extolling the virtues of a godly woman, reflects a wise mother’s instruction to her young son, who was one day to become a king. Perhaps due to her son’s young age, this mother organizes the list of qualities according to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Just as many of our nursery rhymes are sing-songy, this alphabet of char­acter could be easily memorized and etched into the tablet of his young heart. This ode of praise became for that young prince—and for us—God’s alphabet of feminine character.

These are not the words or instructions of a man expressing some personal and unrealistic fantasy. True, a man (King Lemuel) is thought to have written the words, but he is repeating a woman’s opinion of what a woman should be! This fact inspires and encourages me. I appreciate this kind of woman-to-woman instruction as I learn more about what God finds beautiful. I want to understand the makeup of true godly beauty, and who better to show me that beauty than a beautiful-in-God’s-eyes woman?

This mother begins her alphabet with a question—”Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Proverbs 31:10), but she fully expects her son to find such a woman of character. Knowing such a woman is out there (vs. 29) she encourages her son to look for her.

You and I can be this woman—not just admire her, but be her! She may seem untouchable, an ideal we can’t possibly attain, but she isn’t. In fact, God takes great care to show other virtuous women in the Bible: He points us to Ruth, who was “a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11); He tells us that “a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband” (Proverbs 12:4); and He states that “many daughters have done virtuously” (Proverbs 31:29 KJV). Many!

Yes, the virtuous woman is a rare treasure—a distinc­tive, exceptional, extraordinary, superlative treasure—but according to God, the Author of all beauty, you and I can become all that she is. You and I can become beautiful in His eyes!

Question: What has been your impression when you’ve heard about or read Proverbs 31 for yourself? Has this devotional helped you see the Proverbs 31 woman in a more attainable light?

For more insights about how God defines beauty and reveals His plan for a woman’s success, you’ll enjoy my book, Beautiful in God’s Eyes.

True Beauty

We cannot leave the story of Esther without reflecting on the definition of true beauty. We’re told in the bible that Esther was both “fair in form” and “beautiful” in countenance and face. But, she is most remembered for her remarkable courage and faith.

While there is nothing wrong with Christian women wanting to look nice, each woman must examine her own motives. Today’s world places great emphasis on beauty – exceptionally perfect women stare at us from magazine covers every time we visit the grocery store. Christian women, while they can dress nicely and take care of their appearance, must at the same time not let their appearance become all-encompassing.

A carefully groomed and well-decorated exterior is artificial and cold without inner beauty. Scripture does not prohibit a woman from wanting to be attractive. Beauty, however, begins inside a person. A gentle, modest, loving character gives a light to the face that cannot be duplicated by the best cosmetics and jewelry in the world. Christian women are not to try to be unattractive; instead, Paul called them to reject the world’s standard for attractiveness. A Christian’s adornment comes not from what she puts on, but from what she does for others (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus).

Here are some pointed verses from scripture that can guide us as we become the beautiful woman after God’s own heart that He intends for us to be:

Develop godly character – it is your best outfit!
“Strength and honor are her clothing” (Proverbs 31:25).

Don’t worry about following the crowd – you have a higher standard.
“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” (3 John 11).

Seek God’s approval rather than that of the world.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Watch what you wear – your clothing is sending a message.
“A woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart” (Proverbs 7:10-11).

Wear what is appropriate for the occasion and as a daughter of the king.
“Women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation… which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

Would others characterize you as a woman who is beautiful in good works and character? Spend time thinking about your character choices and your ministry to others. Don’t forget to begin your assessment with your behavior and good works toward those who live right under your own roof! Your family should be the first in line at seeing and praising your beauty as a woman after God’s own heart.

Question: As a woman after God’s own heart, do you need to place less emphasis on your external appearance and more emphasis on that’s going on inside your heart? Share some thoughts about how a woman can nurture her heart.

For more encouragement and daily steps to living God’s plan for you, read my book, Small Changes for a Better Life.

Esther – A “Star” of Faith in Tough Times

You may not be familiar with the approaching Jewish holiday called Purim, which celebrates the courage of a beloved heroine, Queen Esther. This year it begins at sundown on the evening of February 23. Christians also have many reasons to reflect upon and celebrate the life of Queen Esther, which we will do through our devotional posts this week of Purim. You will find the short book of Esther in the Old Testament a challenging, yet encouraging lesson in faith.

The name Esther means “star.” And like the first twinkling of an evening star, in Esther, a common Jewish girl, and her uncle, Mordecai, we find the first ray of light in pagan and godless kingdom. King Ahasuerus (called Xerxes in ancient Greek) had banished his first queen for not appearing before a drunken crowd of his advisers and political allies. The plan for replacing the banished queen was to gather the most beautiful virgins in the kingdom for the king to pick from. Esther, with her Jewish-ness un-disclosed was “taken” as one of these young virgins, who started their preparations to meet the King with a year of royal beauty treatments.

Esther, no doubt, was living in obscurity, doing what she did every day of her life… when suddenly something happened that transformed her life and moved it from the mundane to the mysterious. Does Esther’s opportunity sound like a Cinderella story? As tempting as such pampering and potential power may sound, Esther and the other young women were merely concubines – possessions existing only for the king’s pleasure. Those not chosen likely spent the rest of their lives in luxurious, but desolate seclusion – unable to leave the harem nor marry or return to their family.

Yet, God began to work in Esther’s difficult circumstances. We will see more of His great work in our posts this week. But, for now its time to consider when you have faced pivotal changes in your life— a moment that changed everything for you? Some of us are “taken” aback by a phone call, a knock on the door, a notice in the mail, or an appointment with a doctor or a lawyer. Pivotal moments like these often bring uncertainty. Was your reaction fear, worry or surrender to God?

The lesson that is repeated over and over throughout a study of Esther is that God is always at work in the shadows on behalf of his children. We can be sure that God planted the idea in the minds of the king’s counselors to look for a queen in such an odd way. Thus a plan was hatched that threw the doors to the kingdom wide open for a “nobody” like Esther to walk through.

Question: Do you acknowledge God’s power, plan, and purpose in your every circumstance? This would be a good moment to spend time in prayer thanking your sovereign, all-powerful, loving God for the exercise of His continual care in each and every detail of your life.

You will find more insights into your life as a woman by studying the faithful in my book, The Remarkable Women of the Bible.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George

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