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Make daily time for reading God’s Word your highest priority. Maybe this story will help you understand why reading the Bible cultivates beauty.

When I was in Israel, a foremost exporter of diamonds, I learned that one step in the process of diamond production is polishing the gem. A diamond is never released to the marketplace until the person assigned to polish it can see the image of his own face reflected in the jewel.

Well, dear one, you are a diamond in the rough, and you gain the power of character—you begin to more clearly reflect your heavenly Father’s face—as His Holy Word smooths and polishes your character. As you spend time gazing into God’s Word, the light of His truth brightens your motivation to live your life for His glory.

When you read the Word of the Lord, He uses it to scrub and scour away your fears, your laziness, your doubts, and your sinful ways. God uses His Word to transform you into a woman of divine power who more brilliantly reflects His beauty

~Elizabeth George in Beautiful in God’s Eyes, p. 17

Trying Times

“So have you heard anything new about Evangelle?”

It seems I now answer this question multiple times a day. I’m glad people care; I really am. And I certainly prefer for people to express their concern instead of ignoring what we’re going through, but still, I’m beginning to cringe inwardly each time someone asks about our progress.

Of course it’s not the question I dislike; it’s the answer I’m currently required to give that’s the problem. Unfortunately, we really don’t know anything new aside from the fact that the month of March is almost gone and Evangelle is still on the other side of the world.

These are the times that try a woman’s soul. 

I wish I could tell you that I’m taking it like a champ, but the truth is I’m not. Each morning when I wake up and realize we didn’t receive an email from the Embassy during the night, I feel like a dark cloud has enveloped my soul. While working on Evangelle’s lifebook this week I realized that I’m not just struggling with the wait, I’m also grieving the time with her that we’ve lost. She was 4 months old when we first saw her face. She’ll be 10 months old at the end of this month.

The realization that the first year of her life is nearly gone has been weighing heavily on my heart, and it’s a fight to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord and not become overwhelmed with grief. Right now, I’m thankful for God’s promise to be near those who are broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. I desperately need to be near to Him.

Yesterday, God provided me with much-needed encouragement through Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s teaching on the fearlessness of the Proverbs 31 woman. If you’re also fighting for joy, I know this will be a help to you too…  

I know that time is short, and eternity is long. How foolish it is to waste the little bit of time I have here on this earth pining and moaning and resenting and resisting the very things God wants to bring into my life to help me be like Jesus, to help fit me for eternity!

…One of the mandates of the gospel is to be people of joy. It’s not an option. It’s a mandate. First Thessalonians 5, verse 16, “Rejoice always.” Psalm 5, verse 11, “Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.” “Serve the LORD with gladness!” Psalm 100 tells us (v. 2).

…Now, we’re not talking about shallow, hollow, cheap joy that is dependent on what’s going on around us, but we’re talking about that deep, abiding joy that is rooted in the gospel. It’s rooted in God. It’s rooted in the truth of who He is, and that comes to mind as we look at these two verses in Proverbs 31 that we’ve been examining.

Proverbs 31, verse 21, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.” And then verse 25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” The New American Standard there says, “She smiles at the future,” and another translation says, “She shall rejoice in time to come.”

That word laugh, “she laughs at the time to come,” as it is in my English Standard Version, that word means “to laugh in pleasure, to make merry, to play.” It has the thought of being carefree. Now, it’s not because the woman has no problems. It’s because she knows to cast her burdens on the Lord, so she doesn’t let those burdens stay on her.

She’s not frivolous. She’s not silly, but she walks with dignity through the trials and challenges of life. She laughs in pleasure as she thinks about the future. She is free from fear of the future. She looks to the future with confidence, with hope, and with joy regardless of its challenges.

Here are a few phrases that commentators have used in talking about this woman laughing at the time to come. One says, “She has a calm anticipation of the future.” Another said, “She happily looks forward to the future.”

…This woman has a calm anticipation of the future. I think that could relate to the immediate future, the circumstances that lie right in front of her. They’re staring at her, the bills, a son or daughter who’s getting ready to marry someone who is not in the faith. It’s an immediate challenge in the immediate future, the days immediately ahead.

Then there’s the longer-term future. There is that which is known about it—we think we know—and there’s that which is unknown about it. Both can cause us to be anxious and joyless.

The woman we’re reading about in Proverbs 31, the woman of strength and dignity, has a calm anticipation of the future because she trusts the wise and loving providence of a Heavenly Father who cares, who is able to control the future, who does control the future, the life to come, not to be feared for the woman of faith, the woman of strength and dignity who fears the Lord and who knows Jesus Christ.

Listen to or read more of Nancy’s teaching on this topic in her current series
Facing the Future with Joy.

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Long hours. Thankless tasks. No breaks. 

To our modern ears, it seems like being a housewife is an oppressive job. In Proverbs 31 we get a different picture. The homemaker described here isn’t seeking self-fulfillment. She isn’t interested in advancing her career, having her own bank account, or being known for her personal accomplishments.

Instead, she doesn’t seem to worry about her own interests and needs at all, focusing instead on the practical needs of her husband and children.

The Bible tells us about this woman:

  • She and her husband have food to eat and enough to share with others.
  • Her husband’s crazy about her. He brags to his friends about her.
  • She’s well dressed.
  • She’s emotionally stable.
  • Her children honor and praise her.

Doesn’t sound like an oppressed woman to me. Why not take some time to give Proverbs 31 a fresh look yourself?

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Oppressive Tasks?

Photo: OBMonkey

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How can you identify a woman who fears the Lord? What does she look like in action? I think that is what the acrostic of verses 10–31 [Proverbs 31] intends to give us…First of all, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about the future. Look at verse 25. I love this line, and I praise all you women who are like this: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Satan dangles in front of her the specter of tomorrow’s troubles, but she glances up at the almighty God at her right hand…and laughs at Satan’s folly. She fulfills in her own life Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”

Her fear of the Lord makes her fearless of man. But it doesn’t make her naïve. She knows that the Lord has appointed some means for our safety. For example, verse 21, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.” Winter is a fearful thing in Minnesota, and God has appointed that we do more than pray that our feet not freeze. Clothing must be made or bought. When a woman fears the Lord, she will not be anxious about tomorrow, she will do what God has appointed for her to do and trust him in everything to show her mercy.

~John Piper in “A Woman Who Fears the Lord is to Be Praised” 

Photo: OBMonkey

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One of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards’ contemporaries wrote a preface to the collected works of Jonathan Edwards. In the preface he gives a lengthy description of what Jonathan Edwards’ wife, Sarah, was like. I think it’s a perfect picture of this kind of woman [Proverbs 31:23] who is supporting her husband from her role at home. He says:

In the midst of these complicated labors [and he’s talking about the time when the revival was going on, and life was very, very busy for Jonathan Edwards], as well as at all times, he found at home one who was in every sense a helpmeet for him…

She rendered everything in the family agreeable and pleasant, considering it her greatest glory, and that wherein she could best serve God and her generation, to be the means in this way of promoting her husband’s usefulness and happiness.

Did you catch that? She considered it her best means of bringing glory to God and fulfilling God’s purpose for her life in her generation by promoting her husband’s spiritual usefulness and happiness! She knew if she could create a climate in the home where her husband was encouraged to become spiritually mature and fruitful and to be used by God, then she would have been the helper suitable to him.

Now, your husband may not be a Jonathan Edwards, and let me just say, few men are. You don’t have to live with Jonathan Edwards. We respect him from this vantage point of history. That’s easy—to look at another man, your pastor, a counselor, a great Christian leader, and say, “Yeah, I could be a godly woman if I was married to that man.”

You’re not married to that man, and only that man’s wife knows what it’s like to be married to that man. You see him when he’s on the platform, when he’s in front of everyone else, and he’s at his spiritual peak. She lives with him and knows that he, like every other man, has his faults, his failures, his weaknesses, and she has to accommodate with those. She has to live with those just like you have to accommodate and live with your husband’s weaknesses.

So don’t be going and thinking the grass is greener on the other side. God has given you exactly the husband that He knows He wants you to help, and God fashioned you to be the helper suitable to that man, not to someone else’s man—but to your husband.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “A Praiseworthy Wife

Photo: OBMonkey

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Proverbs describes how a woman with no character got a man’s attention. Some of the descriptives used for her include the following: smooth tongue, captivating eyes, persuasive and seductive speech, a mouth smoother than oil, and flattering speech (see Prov. 5:3; 6:24-25; 7:21). The techniques used today by the modern woman are as old as the first woman who ever snared a man’s soul. The whole emphasis is on the superficial, external aspects of a woman–aspects that fade with every passing day. Many women’s magazines glorify this woman’s techniques rather than expose her bitter end. Marriage based simply on outward beauty can lead to immorality and ultimately, divorce when an even more attractive body comes along.

The Word of God very clearly warns women not to fall into “the body beautiful trap.” “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes” (1 Pet. 3:3 NIV). Although braided hair and gold jewelry are not wrong in and of themselves, real beauty is not found on the outside. This verse does not advocate homeliness as proof of godliness. Some women are under the misguided perception that to be holy, one must look homely. This is not true. Women should seek to look their best. This verse simply challenges you to not devote all your energies toward painting the outside, thus neglecting the enduring qualities that need developing on the inside…

When you look at the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31, you will see God’s picture of a beautiful woman. There are 20 verses describing her. Only one verse mentions her outward appearance. If you were to spend 1/20 of your time on outward physical beauty and the other 19/20 on developing the other qualities God describes as beautiful, such as wisdom, kindness, and godliness, you would become the excellent woman Proverbs 31:10 says a man should try to find.

~Debby Jones & Jackie Kendall in Lady in Waiting

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An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
-Proverbs 31:10

Moral excellence, right actions, and thinking that is true, worthy, just, pure, lovely, of good report, possessing virtue, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8-9) characterize the principle of being virtuous. Virtue is an effective power and force that should permeate all thoughts, actions, and relationships of the worthy woman. When integrated into her life, the principle generates power and demands respect.

The worthy woman establishes godly guidelines for living according to the Scriptures and purposes, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, to abide by them (Phil 4:13). The Old Testament book of Ruth describes such a woman. Ruth 3:11 is the only scriptural reference to a “virtuous” woman (KJV, NKJV, NIV; ESV “worthy”) and explains that Boaz knew of Ruth because of her reputation for excellence. In contrast, Rahab’s reputation as a harlot followed her throughout the Scriptures (Josh 2:1; 6:17; Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25). Though God saved Rahab and by His grace allowed her to be included in the Messianic line (Matt 1:5), her reputation as a harlot lingered.

The worthy woman is a crown to her husband. A woman lacking in virtue causes him shame and produces suffering that is like a painful, incurable condition (Proverbs 12:4). A woman’s character prior to marriage will determine her quality as a marital spouse–thus underscoring the importance for every Christian woman to embrace virtue at an early age. To live a life characterized by virtue should be the ambition of every Christian woman (Matt 5:8).

~Patricia Ennis in “Portraying Christian Femininity

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In [Proverbs 31] verse 12, look at the next verse. “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

This Jewish mother tells her son, you want a woman who always has your best interest in her heart, who always seeks to build you up, whose desire is to make you every bit of the man that you can be in every area. All the days of her life she is devoted to the well-being of her husband, good times, bad times, times of plenty, times of little, times of sadness, times of happiness, sick times, well times…her love is ever and always devoted to the successes of her husband. She is concerned about the highest spiritual principles and she never fluctuates, she seeks the very best and the noblest for the man who is her husband. She serves him as Sarah served Abraham, according to 1 Peter 3:6, and called him lord. She was committed to him. She reveals her virtue by her consistent service on his behalf. Her love is so deep it has a purity and a power and devotion that never changes. All her life long his successes, his comfort, his reputation, his joy are her delight. To live for him is her constant happiness.

And a footnote at this point. That means that when necessary because his highest good is her greatest desire, she will confront his sin and his weakness. And lovingly she will be a conscience, she will be necessarily the voice of God, never unkind, always submissive, but eager to be sure that he walks with God. She is concerned to confront his sin and his failure. That’s part of desiring him to be everything he should be. That, by the way, is the essence of what it says in Titus 2:4 when it tells the young women to love their husbands, that’s what it means. It doesn’t mean walk around ga-ga over the guy. It doesn’t mean some kind of emotion. It means when you love somebody you seek his best interests. You seek that he would be every bit the man that God would want him to be, that he would be as much as he could be spiritually, as much as he could be professionally in every way…to seek that he would be the best father, the best friend, the best worker.

~John MacArthur in “The Proverbs 31 Woman

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Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live not for herself alone but for others, especially her husband, if she is married. [Proverbs 31] Verses 11, 12, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life.” A woman who fears the Lord will not squander the family’s livelihood on frivolous purchases, but will have the complete trust of her husband because she is for him and not against him. Wherever possible she supplements his earnings rather than wastes it. But, wives, far more important than this financial support is the moral support of your husband.

Verse 23 seems out of place in a song of praise to women. It says, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” How is that a word of praise to the wife who fears the Lord? Proverbs 12:4 gives the answer: “A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is the rottenness of his bones.” A wife who fears the Lord increases the esteem of her husband at the gates of the city. In twelve and a half years of marriage my wife has never done or said anything in public that would have caused me to be ashamed. She has my absolute trust as a representative of what our family stands for. There is no place I might go where I would be ashamed to take Noël. She is a crown to my head and a signet ring on my right hand. She is for me 100% because she is a woman who fears the Lord. And I pray that every wife here will, under God, give that kind of support to your husband.

~John Piper in “A Woman Who Fears the Lord is to Be Praised

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Third, the woman who fears the Lord is strong. Verse 25 [Proverbs 31], “Strength and dignity are her clothing.” Verse 17, “She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong.” She will be morally strong. Proverbs 23:17 says, “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” The woman who continues in the fear of the Lord will have power to resist all the allurements to envy, to desire what she shouldn’t have. The fear of the Lord will also increase her intellectual strength. The fear of the Lord is the impulse to wisdom, and rouses the mind to search for knowledge as for hidden treasure. And the fear of the Lord will even increase her physical strength. One of the reasons we let our bodies languish and get weak and out of tone is because we are bored and feel no excitement or hope about the future. But the woman who fears the Lord is confident and hopeful and eager to enter the future with God at her side. This kind of hope always gives us pep and vigor and increases the strength of the weakest among us.

~John Piper in “A Woman Who Fears the Lord is to Be Praised

Photo: OBMonkey

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Second, the woman who fears the Lord has practical wisdom. Verse 26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” We’ve been taught from grade school that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), so it’s no surprise that the woman who fears the Lord “opens her mouth with wisdom.” And isn’t there a very close connection between a practical, gracious wisdom and freedom from anxiety about the future. The wisest people I know are the people who hope in the Lord and have quieted their soul like a child at its mother’s breast. But the people who are most anxious, most tense and fretful about tomorrow, are those whose counsel I bank on the least. Women, there is a wisdom that your family and friends and associates need which will only come from a heart that can laugh at the future because it fears the Lord.

~John Piper in “A Woman Who Fears the Lord is to Be Praised

Photo: OBMonkey

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And now, finally, we ask, How can you identify a woman who fears the Lord? What does she look like in action? I think that is what the acrostic of verses 10–31 [Proverbs 31] intends to give us…First of all, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about the future. Look at verse 25. I love this line, and I praise all you women who are like this: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Satan dangles in front of her the specter of tomorrow’s troubles, but she glances up at the almighty God at her right hand…and laughs at Satan’s folly. She fulfills in her own life Proverbs 14:26, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”

Her fear of the Lord makes her fearless of man. But it doesn’t make her naïve. She knows that the Lord has appointed some means for our safety. For example, verse 21, “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.” Winter is a fearful thing in Minnesota, and God has appointed that we do more than pray that our feet not freeze. Clothing must be made or bought. When a woman fears the Lord, she will not be anxious about tomorrow, she will do what God has appointed for her to do and trust him in everything to show her mercy.

~John Piper in “A Woman Who Fears the Lord is to Be Praised

Photo: OBMonkey

Becoming a Woman of Superior Worth

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:29

Some good thoughts from the Mars Hill Church blog on the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman:

“A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

This is a woman who has character, strength, competence and ability, and she is priceless. These women are hard to find….

She takes care of her commitments to the Lord. And her husband. And her kids. And the Gospel. And her ministry. And herself.

Now, what about her husband? You know she didn’t marry a guy who sits on the couch all day doing nothing. You know, she didn’t marry a guy who works 12 hours a week as a barista. You know she’s not gonna go for that guy. A lot of guys are like, “I wanna find a good woman.” Well, you gotta put better bait on your hook.

“Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.”

He is one of the preeminent men in the whole city. I’ll tell you this, ladies, some ladies say, “Well, I’m smart. I’m competent. I’m capable. I’m strong.” Great, then at least marry a guy who can keep up with you, if you’re single. Don’t marry some guy you gotta mother and drag around ‘cause he can’t keep up with you. He will be threatened…Some men stifle their wives because their wives are smarter, and faster, and holier than they are, and rather than them catching up, they pull their wife back. She’s married a man who can run with her. They’re equally yoked.

“She makes linen garments and sells them.”

She’s got a little side business. She’s working out of the house. “Supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come.” She’s not worried. She’s got the future all planned out. Here’s the other deal. She’s a Bible teacher. “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” This woman knows her Bible well. She can teach. She’s a good teacher. They probably got people in their home all the time studying Scripture. Titus 2, “Encourage the older women to spend some time training the younger women.” There are very few good older women who actually know their Bibles and are committing time to younger women. She is that kind of woman…

Read the entire article HERE.

Illustration: Yoshi Aka