Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #13 - Compassionate

"She stretches out her hand to the poor; yea, she reaches forth her hands to the needy." - v. 20

A godly woman is compassionate

This goes hand-in-hand with what we were talking about last week; our compassion will move us to be generous. 

Webster's Dictionary - Compassionate: having or showing compassion; sympathetic

Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Strong's Concordance - Compassion: to have the bowels yearn, i.e. (figuratively) feel sympathy, to pity:—have (be moved with) compassion. 

1. Psalm 78:38-39 - God remembers that we are only flesh, and compassionately forgives us
2. Psalm 86:15 - God is full of compassion
3. Mathew 9:36-38, Mark 6:34 - Jesus had compassion on the lost multitudes, and prayed that God would send workers to guide them
4. Matthew 14:14 - Jesus had compassion, and healed them
5. Matthew 15:32, Mark 8:2 - Jesus had compassion, and fed them
6. Matthew 18:23-35 - a parable of having compassion and showing forgiveness, as Christ did for us
7. Matthew 20:34 - Jesus had compassion, and restored their vision
8. Mark 1:41 - Jesus healed a leper
9. Luke 7:12-15 - Jesus brought a widow's son back to life out of compassion
10. Luke 10:30-37 - the Samaritan had compassion
11. Luke 15:20 - the father had compassion on his prodigal son
12. Romans 12:15 - sympathize with each other, both in joy and sorrow
13. Ephesians 4:32 - be kind and tender hearted
14. Philipians 2:1-2 - be of one mind, show love with compassion
15. Colossians 3:12-13 - as God's elect, we should show compassion
16. Hebrews 2:17-18 - Jesus suffered as we do so that he can be a compassionate and merciful high priest
17. Hebrews 14:15-16 - Jesus is compassionate for he was tempted as we are
18. Hebrews 15:1-2 - every earthly high priest is an example of Christ, in that he can have compassion for the weak, because he has weakness, too
19. 1 Peter 3:8-9 - be of one mind, and compassionate to each other

Jesus is our ultimate example of compassion. Everywhere he went, he had compassion on people, both for their spiritual needs and for their physical needs; this led him to heal, feed, and pray for them. God showed compassion on the Israelites and on us, remembering that we are just weak, frail flesh, and forgiving us. Cannot we then, remember that everyone else is also just frail flesh, and have compassion?

I have seen these quotes going around on Facebook and Pinterest, which all credit different authors but all have the same idea of "You never know what someone is going through, so be kind" or "Be kind, because everyone is fighting a hard battle." That is compassion; and although we may not know exactly what another person is going through, we too are humans and ought to be able to sympathize. 

I love the picture that is used in Hebrews of Jesus being our high priest; he intentionally and willingly suffered and was tempted as we are so that he could be a compassionate and faithful intercessor for us before God. It then continues to say that earthly high priests can also be compassionate to the weak and lost around them, because they, too, have weakness. An earthly high priest could be a pastor, or maybe a missionary, but it can also be you and me, as in 1 Peter 2:9, we are referred to as a "royal priesthood". 

And so, as God's people, we should be of one mind with each other, being compassionate, and sympathizing with each other in both joy and sorrow; that sympathy should then move us to show love, kindness, tenderness, patience, etc. We do those things, not just because it is our duty, but because of the compassion we feel as a result and example of the compassion Christ gives to us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #12 - Generous

"She stretches out her hand to the poor; yea, she reaches forth her hands to the needy." - v. 20

A godly woman is generous

Webster's Dictionary - Generous: characterized by a noble or kindly spirit; liberal in giving. 

I think it important to set the stage here by saying that generosity does not only speak of giving away money or possessions. Just as we talked about with being economical, our resources can be so many different things, and we should be generous with all our resources; generous with our time, our money, our patience and kindness and love and spiritual gifts and anything that we can give to others.

1. Deuteronomy 5:7, 11 - open your hand and heart to the poor and needy
2. Psalm 112:9 - a good man disperses his wealth
3. Proverbs 3:27-28 - if you have the ability to help someone, do not put it off
4. Proverbs 11:25 - the liberal soul will be made fat
5. Proverbs 13:7 - even if you are made poor because of your generosity, you will still have great riches
6. Proverbs 14:21, 31 - if you honor God, you will have mercy on the poor, and be happy
7. Proverbs 21:26 - the righteous give without sparing
8. Proverbs 22:9 - those who are bountiful will be blessed
9. Proverbs 25:21-22 - we should be generous even to our enemies, as a witness to them
10. Proverbs 28:7 - those who give to the poor will not lack
11. Isaiah 58:1-12 - our "righteous" and religious acts avail us nothing if we are not actively showing the love of God through generosity
12. Matthew 5:42 - give to those who ask you
13. Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22 - Jesus tells us to sell what we have and give to the poor, because we ought not love our possessions more than Christ
14. Luke 3:11 - if you have excess, give to those who don't
15. Luke 6:38 - the generosity that we show to others is the generosity that will be shown to us
16. Luke 12:33-34 - give generously, and you make your treasure in heaven
17. Acts 20:35 - it is better to give than to receive
18. Romans 12:8 - give liberally, not asking glory for yourself
19. Romans 12:13 - distribute to the needs of fellow believers; be hospitable
20. 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 - we should help others in their time of need because of the grace God has shown us
21. 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 - those who sow bountifully will reap bountifully; give cheerfully and trust that God will supply your needs
22. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 - those who are rich should be ready to distribute, and gain eternal riches
23. James 2:15-16 - good words don't profit if you don't act out your generosity
24. 1 John 3:17-18 - do not just say you love God and others, act your love through generosity

I honestly got so much more out of this study than I expected. I expected most of the verses in Proverbs, and the ones in the Gospels, that talk about being liberal and bountiful and giving to the poor. Not that I intend to minimize the importance of those verses, but simply that they're very straight forward. It is better to give than to receive; there are more valuable riches in Heaven, so we should be willing to give away our earthly riches in order to gain the prize that Christ gives to us. If we have the ability to help someone, we shouldn't put it off, and we should be generous to our enemies, as a display of Christ's love to them. We should give humbly and simply, not looking to glorify ourselves or get something in return. 

There were a few sections that really stood out to me, though. The first was Isaiah 58:1-12, corroborated by James 2:15-16 and 1 John 3:17-18. The passage in Isaiah is God speaking to the Israelites. They were praying, and seeking God, and fasting, and doing all the "right, Christian" things, and yet they were angry because God would not hear their prayer. God says "Is this all I asked of you, to fast and pray and cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes? The fast that I want from you is to break away from sin, to free the enslaved, to give your food to the hungry, bring the homeless into your home, and care for your fellow men. If you do those things, then the Lord will guide you, satisfy you, make you strong, and you will be the foundation for many future generations." I believe the point in these three passages is that God wants more from us than to simply say we love Him, or know the truth, or go through the religious motions. He calls us to actively display His love and the truth of His words through our generosity to others. 

Secondly, the verses in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to be generous in their help of other believers who are in need, using the Macedonians as a good example of giving despite having little to give. Paul reminds them that if they want to give, they should not dwell on the fact that they have very little, but instead think about what they do have to give, and that we give to others because of how much God gave for us. I believe that the church was meant to be a community that supports each other through generosity; as Paul says, not that some are burdened and others get it easy, but that when one person has needs, other people can supply them, and when those people have a need, someone else will step up to supply it. As it says in Romans 12:13, we are to distribute to the needs of the saints and be given to hospitality. I also like how Paul refers to the grace of God many times; Webster's Dictionary states that grace is unmerited help and favor. Even the fact that we have means to give to others is a testament to the grace that God has given to us. 

This flows right into the next chapter of 2 Corinthians, in which Paul continues to talk about giving generously, and that we should do it cheerfully, not with a bad attitude or because we have to. Specifically, verses 8 and 10 stand out to me. God is able to bountifully give you His unmerited help and favor so that, your needs being supplied, you may be bountiful to others in good works. Now, may Jesus Christ supply your needs, multiply the good works you plant in others, and increase the blessing, reward, and fruit that comes out of those good works. Every time I read those verses my heart starts pounding, because it is such a strong picture to me, and resonates so loudly. 

This is how generosity works: Christ was more than generous to us, in that He gave His LIFE for us. Every single day, He is willing to give us Himself to fill us up, if we would only receive it. Once we are full of Him, we can pour out generously to others, in order to fill them with the very same grace that Christ filled us with.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #11 - Wise

"She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." - v.26

A godly woman is wise

Strong's Concordance - Wisdom: skill in war, wisdom in administration, shrewdness, prudence

Webster's Dictionary - Wisdom: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, good sense and judgment

Wise: marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment

1. Psalm 19:17 - the Lord's testimony (declaration) is established and faithful, and will make the foolish wise
2. Psalm 37:30 - the righteous speak wisdom
3. Proverbs 1:5 - a wise man continues to learn
4. Proverbs 1:7 - a fool despises wisdom
5. Proverbs 2:1-6 - if you apply yourself to seek wisdom, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and He will give you His wisdom
6. Proverbs 2:10-11 - wisdom and discretion will preserve you
7. Proverbs 3:13-14 - the gain from wisdom is better than gold
8. Proverbs 4:5-9 - wisdom is the first and best thing, and will ornament you with grace
9. Proverbs 7:4-5 make wisdom like a sister so that you are not tempted or distracted by false strangers
10. Proverbs 8:11 - wisdom is better than rubies
11. Proverbs 8:14 - wisdom has strength
12. Proverbs 8:17 - those that seek wisdom early shall find it
13. Proverbs 8:19 - the fruit of wisdom is better than gold
14. Proverbs 8:20 - wisdom leads in a righteous way
15. Proverbs 8:32,34 - those that seek wisdom are blessed
16. Proverbs 8:33 - the wise will not refuse instruction
17. Proverbs 8:35-36 - those who find wisdom find life
18. Proverbs 10:8 - a wise man will receive commandments
19. Proverbs 10:13,31 - those with discernment will speak wisdom
20. Proverbs 11:2 - the humble have wisdom
21. Proverbs 12:18 -  wise tongue is health
22. Proverbs 13:10 - those who take advice are wise, but pride brings conflict
23. Proverbs 13:20 - to be wise, you should walk with wise people
24. Proverbs 14:1 - a wise woman builds her house
25. Proverbs 14:8 - a prudent ma  will give wise thought to this ways, but folly is deceiving
26. Proverbs 14:33 - wisdom is with the discerning person
27. Proverbs 15:2,7 - a wise mouth uses knowledge well and disperses it
28. Proverbs 16:16 - wisdom is much better than gold or silver
29. Proverbs 16:23 - a wise heart will speak wisdom
30. Proverbs 17:24 - wisdom is with the discerning person
31. Proverbs 18:4 - the fountain of wisdom is like a pouring river
32. Proverbs 19:20 - you will be wise if you receive counsel and instruction
33. Proverbs 24:3 - a home is built by wisdom
34. Proverbs 24:5-6 - wisdom is strong and there is safety in a group of counselors
35. Proverbs 24:13-14 - wisdom to the soul is like honey to the taste
36. Proverbs 26:12 - a man wise in his own conceit is more hopeless than a fool
37. Proverbs 29:15 - correction brings wisdom
38. Ecclesiasties 2:13 - wisdom is better than folly like light is better than dark
39. Ecclesiasties 7:12 - both wisdom and money are useful, but wisdom gives life
40. Ecclesiasties 7:19 - wisdom is stronger than ten mighty men
41. Ecclesiasties 9:18 - wisdom is better than weapons of war
42. Ecclesiasties 10:10 - wisdom gives good direction
43. Jeremiah 9:23 - we ought not glory in our wisdom
44. Romans 11:33 - God's wisdom is deep with riches
45. Romans 12:16 - be not wise in your own conceits
46. 1 Corinthians 1:30 - Jesus is our wisdom
47. 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 - God's hidden wisdom is revealed to us by the Spirit
48. 1 Corinthians 3:19 - the world's wisdom is as foolishness to God
49. Colossians 2:2-3 - all the treasures of wisdom are in Christ
50. James 1:5-6 - if we ask God with faith for wisdom, He will give it liberally
51. James 3:13-17 - anyone who is truly wise will show meekness, instead of pride, selfishness, and jealousy. God's wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere.

Wisdom is a vast and deep subject in the Bible, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. 

What a beautiful metaphor: wisdom is better than folly like light is better than dark. Why is light so good? It allows you to see clearly, and in seeing provides good judgment and discernment. It shows dirt in the corner to clean out; it helps you see the fine details on a delicate project; it helps you discern between friend and enemy; it allow you to take stock of anything coming against you so you know best how to fight it off. 

Darkness, on the other hand, obscures your vision, tricks you into seeing things that aren't really there and keeps you from seeing the truth, fills you with fear and causes you to make poor decisions or at least fail in your good attempts. So, wisdom is better than folly. 

The rewards of wisdom are better than gold, silver, and rubies; both wisdom and money are useful, but wisdom brings life. God's wisdom is deep with riches. Wisdom is stronger than tan the brute force of ten mighty men, and is a better defense than the weapons of war. It will preserve you and keep you from being led away by temptations, and will lead you in a good and righteous way. Wisdom gives good direction and counsel. In all your efforts to grow and learn, make sure you learn wisdom, for it is the first and best thing; those who find it find life, blessing, and an ornament of grace. Wisdom is to your soul like honey is to your taste.

If you would find wisdom, apply yourself to seeking it early, and God will give you His wisdom. The fountain of wisdom is like a pouring river - it gushes and gushes and cannot be stopped. Be willing to receive correction and instruction, and surround yourself with wise people. Diligently seek the Scriptures, for the Lord's words are long established and always faithful, and will make you wise. If we ask God for wisdom, with faith intending to act upon it, then He will give it to us liberally. We will find wisdom in Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit God's hidden wisdom is revealed to us.

We are warned not to seek the world's wisdom, because it is as foolishness to God, and the wisdom of God is often thought of as foolish by the world. We also should not be prideful in our wisdom or think we know it all, because that person is more hopeless than a fool, and a fool despises wisdom. 

Instead, a truly wise person will show meekness, because God's wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere. A wise person will be humble, righteous, and discerning. they will continue to learn and not refuse instruction. They will take advice and give wise thought to their ways. A wise person will speak wisdom and use their knowledge well, giving health to those who hear them. Lastly, it is through seeking, using, and speaking wisdom that we will build our house strong.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #10 - Supportive

This is one was hard to research - I know the idea I have in my head, but I couldn't find many verses that talked about it. Here's the concept I have:

A godly woman is supportive.

"She rises also while it is yet night, and gives meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considers a field, and buys it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard....Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land." - V. 15, 16, 23

My thought here is that she is supporting her husband and family by rising early to make sure they are fed and ready for the day. She probably does not own the field herself, yet she supports her husband by being knowledgeable in the area of agriculture and property, and tending to some of the business. That frees her husband up to be out among the elders and influential in the community. 

Webster's Dictionary - Support: to promote the interests or cause of; to assist or help; to keep another from fainting, yielding, or losing courage; to keep something going

1. Genesis 2:18 - woman was created to help man
2. Ecclesiasties 4:9-12 - two are better than one, because they help each other
3. Romans 16:1-2 - Phebe was praised for the help and support she gave to others
4. Titus 2:5 - we are to be the keeper of the home

I have the idea that a godly wife supports her husband, kind of like an officer and his aid, or a king and his right-hand man. That she supports him by helping him in his work, caring for the home and children, keeping everyone well-fed and healthy, and essentially doing whatever she can to make his life easier. 

This idea sounds quite biblical, and yet I can't find verses that discuss it. Do we base it all off of a few verses in Genesis that mention it? Or are there verses that I'm missing? Do I need to refine my concept? Please add your thoughts and wisdom!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #9 - Industrious

A godly woman is industrious. 

"She rises also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considers a field, and buys it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard." - v.15-16

"She perceives that her merchandise is good: her candle goes not out by night. She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." - v.18-19

"She makes herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple." - v.22

"She makes fine linen, and sells it; and delivers girdles unto the merchant." v.24

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness." - v.27

Webster's Dictionary - Industrious: constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupied

1. Proverbs 6:6-11 - the ant is diligent, we should not sleep away our days
2. Proverbs 10:4 - diligence makes rich
3. Proverbs 10:5 - it is wise to gather while there is plenty
4. Proverbs 12:11 - diligence provides needs
5. Proverbs 12:24 - sloth will make you dependent on others
6. Proverbs 12:27 - diligences does not waste what it worked hard to get
7. Proverbs 13:4 - diligence provides needs
8. Proverbs 14:4 - not working may be easier, but increase comes by hard work
9. Proverbs 19:15 - idleness causes hunger
10. Proverbs 20:13 - loving sleep brings poverty
11. Proverbs 22:29 - diligence will take you far in life
12. Proverbs 24:30-34 - the field of the slothful is overgrown and falling apart
13. Proverbs 30:24-28 - these small, industrious creatures are a wise example to us
14. Ecclessiasties 10:18 - idleness destroys your house

Proverbs seems to be the book about industry and hard work. It is a wise warning that we ought not to love sleep too much, because idleness brings hunger and poverty, and makes you dependent on others. The field of the slothful is overgrown and unable to produce, and their house is falling apart. 

Even very small creatures such as the act set a strong example for us of being industrious and working to provide our needs. 

Diligence and industry provides for our needs and our family's needs; it increases our resources and will take you far in life; and it does not waste what it worked hard to get. 

Not working may be easier, cleaner, and more comfortable, but increase comes only by hard work. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #8 - Economical

A godly woman is economical.

"She is like the merchants' ships; she brings her food from afar." - Proverbs 31:14

Webster's Dictionary - Economical: marked by careful, efficient, and prudent use of resources; operating with little waste or at a saving.

A merchant's ship will travel far and wide searching for the best price and source for his goods; he will travel a great distance if it means a good deal. 

1. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 - God gives us the power to have wealth
2. Proverbs 13:11 - wealth gotten by labor will continue to grow
3. Proverbs 21:17 - our earthly pleasures will rob us of resources
4. Proverbs 21:20 - it is wise to store resources
5. Proverbs 24:3-4 - wisdom and knowledge will build your house and supply its need
6. Proverbs 27:23-27 - know the state of your resources, and tend them well
7. Matthew 25:15-30 - God has given us resources in this life and we need to use them wisely

In all matters of resources and money, we must remember that it is God who gives us the power to have wealth, not our own strength. Because God is the one who has given us these resources, we need to use them wisely. 

Wisdom and knowledge will build a strong house and supply your needs, and wealth gotten by hard work will continue to grow. It is wise to know the state of your resources and tend them well, and to save up some for future need. However, love of pleasure will rob you of your resources. 

It is important to remember that resources are not always monetary - your resources could be your time, skills, belongings, etc. A godly woman will use ALL of her resources economically.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Study of Proverbs 31 - Week #7 - Willing to Work

"She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands." - Proverbs 31:13

Webster's Dictionary - Willing: inclined or favorably disposed in mind; prompt to act or respond; done by choice or without reluctance. 

Strong's Concordance - Willingly: pleasure, desire, delight, purpose

Being willing to work does not mean working just because it is our duty or job, but because it is our pleasure, desire, and purpose.

1. Genesis 2:15 - man was created to work, to keep the garden
2. Ruth 2 - she asked to work, to gather food for Naomi, and worked all day long
3. Psalm 128:1-2 - those who fear God will labor with their hands and enjoy the fruit of it
4. Proverbs 10:16 - righteous labor tends to life
5. Proverb 14:23 - labor produces more profit than talk
6. Proverbs 21:25 - refusing to work will cause your desires to destroy you
7. Ephesians 4:28 - don't steal; rather, work for yourself and so that you may bless others
8. Colossians 3:17 - whatever we do, we should do it with a thankful heart, and for the Lord
9. Colossians 3:22-24 - we should work with a good attitude, to please the Lord
10. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 - work with your own hands
11. 2 Thessalonians 3:8 - Paul continued to work day and night, even on his missionary journeys, so as not to be a burden to the people he was with
12. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 - those who don't work should not eat

Why is it our pleasure to work? Because God created humanity with the purpose of working, of tending the land. To labor with our hands is a way to fear (reverence) God, and those who do so will enjoy the fruits of their labor. 

Whatever work we do, we should do it with a thankful heart and a good attitude, because in the end we are serving the Lord and not just man. 

We ought to work so that we are not dependent on others and so that we may be able to help others. Even Paul, a great and renowned missionary, worked on his journeys to set an example and not be a burden to the people he was there to help. 

Ruth is another excellent example; she asked to be able to work and provide food for Naomi and herself, and worked in the fields from morning till night. 

Refusing to work will simply cause our desires to destroy us; hard work produces more profit than empty talk. Righteous labor leads to a good and happy life.