Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Laughing at the days to come...

Scripture memory for the last half of April:

"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come."
- Proverbs 31:25

Proverbs 31 describes a woman who is capable, intelligent and virtuous - and the highest praise is reserved for her spiritual life. As women, we can bog down in expectations - those imposed on us by society or even the church. Just reading Proverbs 31 can leave us feeling inadequate - or exhausted! But the ultimate truth of the passage is that the woman's spiritual and practical devotion to God permeated every area and relationship of her life.

I couldn't resist verse 25 when choosing a verse to memorize.
"Clothed with strength and dignity..."
We don't get dressed accidentally (although my choices may cause people to wonder at times!) We choose every day what we are going to "put on." Strength is defined as the quality or state of being strong; the capacity to withstand great force or pressure; having the emotional and mental qualities necessary to deal with events or circumstances that are distressing or difficult. Dignity is defined as worthy of honor and respect. Choosing to put these on allows us to "laugh at the days to come."

As the Amplified Bible says:

"Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]!

Naturally, I love the beauty of "laughing at the days to come." What security! I want to be THAT woman!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Something far more interior...

For the first two weeks of April, I've chosen a verse in The Message translation of the Bible. I love the reminder that it's really not about me - what I do, religious or otherwise - it's about grace.

"For in Christ,
neither our most conscientious religion
nor disregard of religion amounts to anything.
What matters is something far more interior:
faith expressed in love."

Galatians 5:6 - The Message

The beginning of Chapter 5 in Galatians kicks off a theme of freedom ("It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!") and Paul goes on to explain the danger of depending on "law" rather than "grace." In The Bible Exposition Commentary, Warren Wiersbe explains it this way:

Living under grace means we "no longer rely on the external force of the Law to keep us in God's will, because we have the internal leading of the Holy Spirit of God. Christ died to set us free, not to make us slaves."

He goes on to say, " To live by grace means to depend on God's abundant supply of every need. To live by Law means to depend on my own strength, my own efforts to keep the letter of the Law and be left to get by without God's supply."

Why would we choose to be enslaved to a legalistic list of do's and don'ts, (represented in other translations of this verse as "circumcision or uncircumcision"). Yet we often do. We rush around trying to be "good enough" to earn God's love, when He has already lavished it on us. We're so focused on achievement that it's hard to readjust to the radical concept of grace - unmerited favor, freely given.

We are called to a life of grace that comes from an interior relationship that produces faith which is "activated and energized and expressed and working through love." (Amplified Bible) So, yes, we are called to act, but compelled by Christ's love, not law.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then,
and do not let yourselves be burdened again
by a yoke of slavery."

Galatians 5:1

Let's live free.