Author Topic: Devotions  (Read 132 times)

Pippa

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Devotions
« on: March 08, 2021, 03:45:55 PM »
https://proverbs31.org/read/devotions/full-post/2021/01/01/make-this-the-year-to-smile-without-fear

Make This the Year to Smile Without Fear
January 1, 2021
Katy McCown

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NASB)

They started small. So small, in fact, that we didn’t really notice them. They blended into the walls.  We had lived in our home for several years when we began to notice cracks in the walls. A little wrinkle here, a small chip there but barely visible and certainly nothing to be concerned about.  After a while, though, the cracks expanded, and we finally decided to do something about them. With a bit of plaster and paint, we patched them and went on with the business of daily life.  But the cracks soon returned. And they didn’t just return they kept growing. Pretty soon, everywhere we looked, we saw a crack. They sliced through the frames above doors and even stretched to the ceiling. This project had become more than just a paint job.  It turned out that our attention had been on the wrong thing. We’d been thinking about what we saw happening on the surface of our home when in reality, something in the foundation was weak and needed to be fixed. The cracks weren’t the problem; they were only a result of the problem.  In today’s key verse, we read about a woman who is dressed with strength and dignity, and she smiles fearlessly at what’s ahead: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25).

You may read this verse and, on the landscape of today’s world, feel like you could never smile without fear of the future. Or you may read some of the verses that surround our key verse and determine this woman must be some sort of spiritual superhero who doesn’t have anything to fear.  At first glance, the road to smiling without fear of the future might seem daunting. What are a spindle and distaff, anyway? (see Proverbs 31:19)

But before you go searching the internet, let’s look at these verses through a different lens.  There’s a heart behind this for the woman in Proverbs 31 and for us. The smile we desire to find is not something we work our way into. It’s something we receive as we respond to God.  Physically, the heart is a vital organ. Without it, we would instantly die. But the heart is vital not only to our physical lives; it is also vital to our spiritual lives. To live spiritually, we need more than just a beating heart. We need a holy heart.  With our hearts we believe in God and love Him. (Romans 10:10; Luke 10:27) Our hearts pour out truth, or they seep lies. (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 12:34) And from our hearts bubble springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

God is far more interested in our motives than He is in our motions. Yes, our actions are important, but before we can produce actions that glorify God, and before we can smile without fear of the future, we must have hearts positioned and conditioned to respond to God.  After years of bearing the weight of our house, the beams holding my house in place had begun to shift. That shifting caused everything to droop. As the foundation drooped, the walls and ceilings cracked.  We hired a crew of experts to come help us. It was tedious, loud and grueling work. But once the foundation was stabilized, we could finally repair the cracks for good.  Maybe your heart has spent years settling beneath the weight of sin, fear or the cares of this life. Maybe you’ve been exhausting yourself with daily plaster and paint, and you don’t know whether you have any energy left to consider your heart. I won’t lie to you; heart work is hard work. But God’s Word can lift our hearts into a stable place and make us capable of standing in uncertain times.  When we position and condition our hearts to respond to God, we will find ourselves on the path to becoming women who smile without fear of the future.

Pippa

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Re: Devotions
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2021, 03:50:37 PM »
https://proverbs31.org/read/devotions/full-post/2021/01/04/the-ministry-of-proximity

The Ministry of Proximity
January 4, 2021
Karen Ehman

“.... I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” Philippians 1:25 (CSB)

Our three children shared a bedroom when they were young, sleeping in a triple bunk bed. Ballet tights and Batman pajamas happily resided side-by-side in their dresser. Then, when they were 9, 6 and 3 years old, we moved to a new house, giving our daughter her own bedroom.  After that, our youngest son had a difficult time adjusting to sleeping without his big sister in the room. To alleviate his distress, my daughter would take a pillow and blanket to the boys’ room, pray with him that God would help him settle down and then lay on his floor until he fell asleep. For him, just knowing she was nearby was enough to alleviate his fears, allowing his anxious mind to calm and his fidgety body to finally drift off to sleep.  In the letter of Philippians, the Apostle Paul discusses longing to be in heaven with Christ but also desiring to remain here on earth near his friends to strengthen and encourage them. (Philippians 1:20-26) Then, in today’s key verse, he states, “.... I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.”

There is a wordplay in the original language of this verse that isn’t easily reproduced in English. When the apostle says he will both remain and continue, the Greek words menein and paramenein were initially used. The word menein means “to remain with” or “to continually be in close proximity,” referring to a person’s physical location. However, the word paramenein hitches the prefix para to add a new dimension. This term means not only to be close by, but “to linger physically beside a person, ever ready to help.”

It’s as if Paul is relaying two crucial truths to his friends in this verse: “I’m here” and “I’m here for you.”

Not only is he letting the church know he will be close at hand, but also that he is prepared to help them in any way he can. How this letter must have encouraged their hearts, allowing their anxious minds to rest by knowing their father in the faith was in close proximity, ready to assist them if needed.  Later in Philippians 4:5, Paul writes: “Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” (CSB)

The Greek term near here meant both near in time and near in proximity. The apostle may have been referring to the Lord’s future earthly return. However, the word also carries the thought of God being close in proximity, ready to come to their aid.  Paul didn’t just tell his friends he was near. He encouraged them that the Lord was too. And today, when those in our lives can’t see God physically, our presence reminds them He cares for them. Our behavior can tell others, “I am here,” while also assuring them, “I am here for you.”

It might mean sitting near your friend as she awaits the outcome of her loved one’s surgery, praying she feels the Lord’s presence by your proximity.  It could be taking a meal to your coworker who is reeling from a recent heart-crushing breakup, asking God to comfort her with your cooked meal and company.  It may look like being with a neighbor, cleaning her house and doing her laundry as she helps her children adjust to a new normal. Your care will display to them that God cares too.  The ministry of proximity not only displays to others your readiness to help; it also assures them that God is near. How might the Lord be calling you to the ministry of proximity today?