Archive | December 2012

A Wise Woman Builds… Relationships

12-27-12 relationships

This week’s devotion holds a somewhat more personal approach since you will be asked to come up with much of your own content. Why this approach? The more we deliberately think about our relationships, especially what we individually bring to them, the stronger their quality and depth.

To start, make a list of what you believe are the most important qualities of relationships in general. Try to write down at least 10 qualities, but feel free to spend time coming up with as many as you like.

After creating your own list, consider the following list of qualities that experts consider essential in healthy relationships.

  1. Unselfish motives
  2. Common goals
  3. Sensitivity
  4. Common interests
  5. Flexibility
  6. Positive self-image
  7. Willingness to be uncomfortable
  8. Communication
  9. Commitment
  10. Sense of humor
  11. Trust
  12. Appreciate differences
  13. Deliberateness
  14. Respect
  15. Variety
  16. Self-awareness
  17. Personal ownership
  18. Willingness to change
  19. Good listening skills
  20. Individuality

Next, look up the following verses to get an even greater sense of what relationships should look like, especially those involving Christians. Keep in mind that you may have work to deliberately consider how to apply these verses to your own relationships. The results from this effort are motivational, though, and you’ll want to continue down that path.

Note: A hint toward possible application has been provided for you, but please do not limit yourself to that single application should the Holy Spirit lead you differently. Also, try reading the verses in a couple of different translations to really open up the concept being portrayed.

  1. Genesis 2:24 – Oneness
  2. Proverbs 12:18 – Soothing
  3. Proverbs 14:29 – Self-control
  4. Proverbs 17:17 – Enduring
  5. Proverbs 17:27 – Consistent
  6. Proverbs 18:24 – Depth
  7. Proverbs 20:19 – Anti-gossip
  8. Proverbs 27:9 – Counsel
  9. Matthew 7:3 – Self-reflection
  10. John 15:13 – Sacrificial
  11. 2 Corinthians 6:14 – Similarities
  12. Ephesians 4:26 – Self-control
  13. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Encouraging
  14. James 1:19 – Patient

Now, let’s go back to the Proverbs 31 Woman. Please read Proverbs 31:10-31 and list the qualities you see in her life that go toward building relationships positively. Consider the following qualities if you have not already included them in your own list:

  • Dependable
  • Trustworthy
  • Comforting
  • Encouraging
  • Organized
  • Confident
  • Strong
  • Dignified
  • Wise
  • Not lazy
  • Fears God

In the Proverbs 31 Woman, we see a wonderful example of someone who develops qualities within herself that allow her to build strong relationships. So, the building of relationships is twofold. First, a person must develop inner qualities that allow her to build strong relationships. Second, she must deliberately focus on the specific qualities that create enduring relationships that honor God.

For further study: Consider the following biblical examples of friendships. What can you learn from them and apply to your own relationships?

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This entry was posted on December 27, 2012. 2 Comments

A Wise Woman Builds… Love

12-20-12 loveLove is one of those difficult-to-define words. The only way we really can understand love comes through seeing it in action. So, let’s look at the evidence of love in the Proverbs 31 Woman’s life.

The understanding that the Proverbs 31 Woman is driven by love seems clear, but what specifically tells us this? First, we have read many times by this point that verse 30 tells us she fears the Lord. Now, read Psalm 103:11. What does this tell us she receives because of her fear of the Lord?

The Proverbs 31 Woman receives “unfailing love that has no bounds” from God because she fears Him. Her energy – her ability to accomplish so much with seemingly endless energy – seems to reflect the boundlessness of this love that God promises to those who fear Him.

Have you ever been so in His will that you felt like Superwoman? Even if you’ve experienced this for a only brief moment, you get the idea of what a life fueled by God’s endless and boundless love looks like. The Proverbs 31 Woman’s fear of the Lord really means she deeply loves and respects Him to the point of living obediently for Him. If you’ve never felt this way, this woman’s example of fearing God hopefully plants the desire in your heart to cultivate this depth of love for the Lord.

Next, please read 1 Corinthians 13.

The Bible tells us a lot about love. In fact, many rightly call it the book of love or even “God’s love letter to us.” But 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter, stands out as the Christian’s creed of how to love. It’s quoted at weddings. It’s recited on Valentine’s Day. It’s framed and put up on walls in homes. 1 Corinthians 13 provides a road map of the love God wants us to have for others and that He wants us to show in tangible ways in our lives.

Go back through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and make a list of all the qualities and visible signs of love.

As with reading the description of the Proverbs 31 Woman, reading through 1 Corinthians 13 could place a heavy weight on a person should she view it through the lens of her failures. But just as we look at the Proverbs 31 Woman as an ideal goal to strive toward, so too must we look at 1 Corinthians 13.

Now  read Romans 12:9-10. What can you add from this scripture to the list you made for 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with regard to how we can visibly see love?

In “Authentic Love,” Jodi Detrick addresses this idea of real love and not a pretend sort of love by saying “real love connects.” In other words, Detrick says, “You can be nice, yet aloof. But you cannot love and remain aloof. Real love connects.”

(Note: “Authentic Love” can be found in Chapter 2 of Love Revealed by Kerry Clarensau. This book can be purchased at Influence Resources.)

Romans 12:9-10 gets at real love that connects, that doesn’t just show itself in polite kindness but shows a “genuine affection” that truly takes “delight in honoring each other.” For sure, the Proverbs 31 Woman’s life reflects this type of genuine love.

Please read Luke 10:25-30. Jesus says here that the key to eternal life is love. Love Him completely and totally first, then love others. Interestingly, note that when asked to elaborate, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, which really epitomizes love in action.

To end our study today, please read through Proverbs 31:10-31 once again and note all of the examples of love revealed in the Proverbs 31 Woman keeping in mind all that we’ve learned through our study of love in God’s Word today.

What all of the scriptures we’ve just read hopefully show you about the Proverbs 31 Woman is that she builds love by living genuine love in her attitude, actions and words. In fact, because she fears the Lord, we can safely say that this provides the foundation and motivation that allows her to fully live a life of love toward others.

For further study:

12-20-12 love 2

  1. Look up Matthew 5:43-46. How can love set us apart from the rest of the world? What goal is Jesus asking us to work toward in the last verse?
  2. Read John 13:34-35. Why is it so important that Christians show authentic love toward one another?
  3. How does 1 Peter 4:8 indicate that love helps us deal with imperfection in the flesh in this world?
  4. What does 2 John 1:5 tells us that love means?
  5. Look over the list you made while reading 1 Corinthians 13. Pick 3 qualities on which you will focus in the coming months to cultivate more love in your life. Ask your Heavenly Father to help you cultivate those qualities and more love in your life.
This entry was posted on December 20, 2012. 1 Comment

A Wise Woman Builds… Her Family

Before reading further, make a list of the top 5-10 elements you feel must be present in order for a family to be healthy. Note that we’re not talking about “normal” because no one can really define a “normal” family anyway.

Most experts include the following elements in their list of what constitutes a healthy family. This list brings together a variety of sources, both secular and religious.

  1. Have a spiritual foundation.
  2. Make family a top priority by spending time together.
  3. Communicate well. This means listening and expressing affirmation, warmth and encouragement.
  4. Respect one another.
  5. Value service to others.
  6. Build healthy morals & values.
  7. Expect and offer acceptance.
  8. Limit stress.
  9. Discipline consistently .
  10. Love your spouse.

Now read through Proverbs 31:10-31 and list the elements of a healthy family present in the Proverbs 31 Woman’s family.

While there are others, the following 5 elements certainly exist in this woman’s family.

  1. Time. She begins each day with her family. Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day physically, it also can be the most important meal for a family to spend together. (v. 15)
  2. Confidence. She consistently meets the needs of her family. Much of what we read about the Proverbs 31 Woman points toward her making sure the basic needs of her family are met.
  3. Respect. The Proverbs 31 Woman receives honor from the people who know her best, her husband and her kids. More specifically, we read that “her husband praises her” and “her children stand and bless her” (v. 28). We’ll explore this point about her children more in a minute.
  4. Trust. Not only does her husband respect her, but he trusts her too (v. 28). This relationship certainly makes the family as a whole even stronger. Please see A Wise Woman Builds… Her Marriage for more on the significance of the husband and wife’s relationship.
  5. Security. The idea that “she laughs with no fear of the future” no doubt instills a sense of security in her family (v. 25). When mom is not worried, the family as a whole tends to function better.

What does “her children stand and bless her” mean for women today?

Probably the greatest reward a woman can receive is the respect of her children and her husband. Not only do the Proverbs 31 Woman’s children “bless her,” they “stand” in doing so. In today’s terms, this means they are not afraid to tell others how much they love and respect their mother nor are they afraid to back up how they feel with actions. There’s no being less respectful of mom when around friends. The idea of standing to bless her gives the sense of a deliberate effort on their part. What mom wouldn’t want that from her children?

Application for Today

The final words of Proverbs 31, and notably of the entire book of Proverbs, say, “Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” As we’ve read many times through this study, the Proverbs 31 Woman does so much in the way of deeds worthy of praise. Yet what stands out about the way in which these deeds are “publicly” declared comes through the people who know her best, her husband and her children.

Whether a single mother, a mother of young children, a mother of teens or a grandmother, realizing that our actions and the attitude in which we carry them out greatly influences our families holds significance throughout our lifetimes and well beyond into the lives of the generations that come after us.

Once again, we need to point out that no one expects any woman to be exactly like the Proverbs 31 Woman. However, the character traits that she cultivates within her certainly provide a guide for every woman to follow and a standard toward which we can all grow.

For Further Study

  1. Visit Proverbs 31 Ministries each day this week and read one of the articles on this wonderful blog by Lisa Terkheurst . Lisa’s blog provides a great resource for those of us desiring to cultivate the Proverbs 31 Woman’s characteristics within ourselves.
  2. Look back over the notes you made in our previous studies on the Proverbs 31 Woman. Specifically, review the character traits that stand out that you want to cultivate in your own life. Spend time in prayer each day this week asking God to help you with this cultivation process.
  3. Proverbs 31:26 gives additional insight into why the Proverbs 31 Woman’s children think so highly of their mother. Please take a minute to list those insights. (Hint: The graphic for today’s post might help in creating your list.) How can you better incorporate these insights into your approach to building your family?

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This entry was posted on December 13, 2012. 2 Comments

A Wise Woman Builds… Her Work

The mystery has been solved! The actual Proverbs 31 Woman has finally been discovered. Her identity will be revealed at the end of this devotion. Don’t skip to the bottom to find out!

Read through the Proverbs 31 Woman description once again, this time listing aspects of her work.

While the specific tasks of the Proverbs 31 Woman that define her work life may be difficult to separate from the other aspects of her life, we know that this fact represents the life of any woman. And whether she works out of the home or makes her career as a homemaker does not make this fact any less true.

All aspects of most women’s life seem to blend one into another, don’t they?

In A Wise Woman Builds… Her Home, we discussed the abilities the Proverbs 31 Woman possesses that allow her to successfully build her home. Specifically, we talked about how she prioritizes, she considers quality, she is organized, she manages her time, and she is self-disciplined.

Take a minute to review the discussion of each of these aspects as listed in A Wise Woman Builds… Her Home.

The abilities that the Proverbs 31 Woman used to build her home apply equally to the building of her work. In addition, the qualities of of sacrifice, wisdom, energy, commitment and motivation also apply to every area of her life and certainly to the building of her home and work. Let’s explore those 5 qualities in light of the Proverbs 31 Woman’s work life.

1. Sacrifice. In Proverbs 31:18, we read that her lamp does not go out at night. This tells us that she does what needs to be done. Period. Can you imagine that she always felt like staying up late or getting up early or going to the market? Yet, based on her character, she did what she needed to do to keep her household running smoothly.

2. Wisdom. As we’ve noted in past lessons, this woman’s fear of the Lord cultivates wisdom (Proverbs 31:30 & Proverbs 1:7). This wisdom allows her to operate efficiently and effectively in all areas of life. Wisdom guides and directs all the qualities found in this woman.

3. Energy. Proverbs 31:17 and 31:25 talk about strength. The first reference gets at her physical strength, while the second one focuses in more on her spiritual and mental strength. Verse 17 even gets at deliberateness in increasing her physical strength. In other words, she develops her physical strength on purpose, most likely through doing much of the physical aspect involved with building her work and home. Strength in these areas provides tremendous energy.

4. Commitment. In verse 27 of Proverbs 31 we get an interesting picture of this woman’s commitment. “She carefully watches all that goes on…” She may not have a direct hand in every detail, but she is aware of it all and committed to making sure the consequences of laziness do not creep in. She has faith, but she still stands guard. She refuses to let any area succumb to the affects of laziness.

5. Motivation. Her husband trusts and praises her. She has energy and strength. Her family does not lack for food & proper clothing. Her husband is respected. She is dignified. She lives without fear. She is wise and kind. Her home runs efficiently. She is known as virtuous and capable. Her children love her. She is rewarded for who she is and what she does.

Don’t all women want these things to be said of them? Once these things are said of them, won’t they do their best to keep them?

Having this reputation provides tremendous motivation for sure. And yet, we get the sense that the Proverbs 31 Woman does nothing for the purpose of gaining this description. She does not do what she does for herself. At the base of who this woman is lies her fear of the Lord (v. 29). She lives her life in a way that pleases Him, and that alone motivates her. All these other benefits are blessings resulting from her obedience.

Develop & Grow as a Proverbs 31 Woman

Not all of us can sew or manage money well. Some can handle more physical labor than others. Not all of us can cook or have an entrepreneurial spirit. And some of us need a lot more sleep than others do. In other words, each of us is a unique combination of these abilities and qualities.

Each one of us has a unique set of strengths and areas needing developed. We also each have areas we know will probably always remain weak (seriously, some of us will never be morning people). No matter where our strengths and weaknesses lie, no matter what we’re gifted in and what comes only with great effort, every woman can cultivate and grow the qualities of the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Every one of us can learn to prioritize, choose quality, be organized, manage time, and have self-discipline. We each can develop the qualities of sacrifice, wisdom, energy, commitment and motivation. They will look different on each one of us, but we each have the potential for all of these qualities.

For further study:

Choose two of the qualities we discussed in this week’s study, and spend time reading the suggested references or articles listed next to those qualities below. If you spend a day on each of the 5 qualities from this week’s lesson, you can get through them all before next week’s study!

So who is the Proverbs 31 Woman? If you’ve ever watched It’s A Wonderful Life, you can understand why there’s a convincing argument for saying that Mary Bailey truly is the Proverbs 31 Woman. What do you think?

This entry was posted on December 6, 2012. 3 Comments