Category Archives: Woman of Valor

21 Day Experiment-Day 18

Jesus talks a lot about His heavenly kingdom. This kingdom dwells within us, He tells us. I’ve heard the caution that we shouldn’t be “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.” Yet Jesus tells us to set our mind on things above. To be absorbed with His kingdom.

Our challenge is to dwell in Jesus’ kingdom, while also living as temporary citizens of earth. God must have thought we could inhabit both kingdoms, or He would have simply taken us to heaven the minute we accepted Jesus.

Welcome to day 18 of our 21-Day Experiment. We’re near the finish line—so hold on tight!

Biblically, the word kingdom describes the royal dominion and eternal sovereignty of God.  Jesus knew this, and when interrogated by Pilate, He said simply, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

Think about it: We live on earth and in heaven. Sometimes the two clash. So how do we respond?  I’m sure the disciples wrestled with this “dual citizenship.”

Let’s look at what Jesus taught them:

It all begins with prayer.  His disciples had watched Him wage kingdom battles. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons.  The forces of darkness had to bow before this Savior. Yet the only thing the disciples ever specifically asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray (Luke 11:1).

Jesus gave them a short tutorial—what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” He teaches them to pray from a kingdom vantage point: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

We’re to pray for God’s kingdom to be brought to earth. In heaven, God’s will is done perfectly. So when we pray for His kingdom, we are praying for His will.

In the original Greek, this verse is in the imperative tense—more of a command than a request.  It’s as if we are to pray, Kingdom come!  Will be done on earth!”  I sometimes think Jesus wants us to stamp our feet, shake our fist, and shout a bit as we speak God’s Word into a fallen world that is still crawling with enemies.

Spiritual victories don’t come without a fight. Without God’s Word as our authority.  But the Bible calls it a “good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18).  Jesus wants us to have a heavenly perspective to our prayers, but a watchful eye toward earth for our results.

Prayer: Lord, I declare that Your kingdom will come and Your will is to be done. In heaven, on earth and in my own life.  Help me to be “kingdom-minded” as I go about my day. And give me open eyes to see Your results here on earth!


21 Day Experiment-Day 14

“No way! My older son used to exclaim to his younger brother when something amazing or unexpected had just happened. To which his little brother would answer back,” Way!”

Way can describe a course of action. Or directions to a destination: “What’s the quickest way to go to the beach?” A method of doing something: “What’s the best way to prepare a healthy meal?”  Or execute a good golf swing?

The word way in the Bible comes from hodos, translated “road.” It can describe our course of life, conduct, or behavior. The “way of the Lord” is the revealed will of God. That’s why the early church was called “The Way,” well before believers were referred to as “Christians.”

But the word way brings up an important question:  “Is Jesus the only way to God?”  Some people believe that Jesus is simply one of many ways.  Sounds appealing at first—easier to swallow. Until you think about the reality that without Jesus, there is no firm assurance of the forgiveness of sins. No promise of eternity in Heaven.

There are really only two world’s religions, as my husband David often says:

  1. You’re saved by perfectly obeying a standard of rules or laws, thus trying to work your way to God. Impossible for imperfect humans.
  2. Or you are saved by grace. You accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as full payment for all your sins and follow Him as the only way to God.

My watchword for today from John Chapter 14 is short and simple:   

I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

People the world over would agree that Jesus was a “good man, wonderful teacher, a true humanitarian.” But not the only way to God.

Yet Jesus, Himself, claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah and the only way to the Father. Such a claim—if not true—makes Him an out-and-out liar. The very same man people esteem as a great moral teacher would be the greatest of imposters.  Or as C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, Jesus is “a liar, a legend, a lunatic, or the truth.” I would also add, He is the “Way.”

Prayer: Lord, I pray for Your Holy Spirit to open the door to a conversation with my friend ___________ who has been seeking You—but just doesn’t know it yet.


21 Day Experiment-Day 11

Believe. To believe means to accept something as true.  What you believe impacts your thoughts, feelings, actions—and ultimately, the course of your life.  “What do you believe?” just might be the most important question you’ll ever answer.

In John 11, the word believe” is used eight times.  Here we find two of Jesus’ dearest friends, Mary and Martha, grief-stricken over the death of their beloved brother Lazarus.

Can you imagine their hurt and confusion?  They knew Jesus could have saved Lazarus if He’d just gotten there sooner. They’d had seen Him heal many times. The disciples were also perplexed—especially when Jesus told them, “Lazarus is dead and I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14).

When Jesus finally arrives—four days late—Martha cries out, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!” Jesus reminds her that her brother will rise again. “I know he will rise again at the resurrection,” replies Martha. I can just imagine her blurting out, “But what about now…I am hurting now!”

“I am the resurrection,” Jesus says. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” He asks her.  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:25-27).

Wow. Martha presses through her grief and testifies that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah! Jesus knew the big picture—the ultimate story of redemption. But He was also moved by their present grief. The text tell us He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  The word translated as “troubled” is tarasso. It implies great agony of soul and is the same word used to describe Jesus as he contemplated the cross (John 12:27).

Jesus agonizes over the death of his friend and weeps intensely. “I know that you always hear me,” He prays to the Father, “but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Then in a loud voice that must have shaken all of creation He shouts, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And out walks the man who came back to life. No wonder many onlookers put their faith in Jesus.

Maybe you’re facing a huge disappointment. You know Jesus could fix it, so why hasn’t He shown up yet?  Maybe your faith has been shaken to its core.

I’m reminded of what Jesus said when He learned of Lazarus’ sickness. It’s my watchword:

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it (John 11:4).

Jesus knew the end of the story. He knows the end of yours.  Would you entrust that heartbreaking situation to Him, believing that your pain may be the raw material for a miracle? Dare to pray that those who see His work in your life may truly believe He is the Son of God.

 


21 Day Experiment-Day 2

It’s not too late to jump on board our 21 Day Experiment in Prayer.  We’re reading through John’s Gospel. Today is Chapter Two.  Each time I perform this experiment, I come away with eyes open to a deeper understanding of Jesus.

Years ago, I went from atheist to believer in one dramatic moment. A short time later, I met and married my minster husband. I left my corporate career and moved cross-country to serve God with David.  A whole lot of changes going on!

I loved my husband. Our new life was an adventure. But I was mystified by the Bible, baffled by prayer, and didn’t speak “Christian-ese.”

One day I came across the 21 Day Experiment in a book by a former atheist and newspaper reporter, Emily Gardiner Neal (The Healing Power of Christ ). Right up my alley. Continue reading


Her Children Rise Up!

“Her children rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28 ESV).

The Proverbs 31 “woman of valor” was something of a warrior. After all, the Hebrew term chayil, translated “valor,” is a military term. When I asked my husband whether he saw me as a fighter, he didn’t hesitate. “You have fought hard for our children’s dreams.”

It’s true. I fought fiercely to help our kids reach their dreams. Not that I didn’t love setting goals and working hard to reach my dreams. I still do. But this quote says it best: “Reaching your own dreams is fulfilling—helping someone else reach their dreams is sublime.” And when that “someone else” happens to be your own children, it’s joy on steroids.

I wonder if the Proverbs 31 woman of valor discovered this same joy in seeing her children reach their dreams? We’re told, “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28 ESV). The Hebrew word translated “rise up” is very strong. It means, “to accomplish, to endure, to build or establish, to strengthen, to succeed.”

I’d like to think her children were now grown, happy, and fulfilled. They had reached their dreams, in part, because of their mother’s impact. She had taught them. Nurtured, clothed, and cared for them. Modeled a life of giving to the poor. She displayed joy, faithfulness, and laughter. Perhaps they saw their mom in prayer, seeking the Lord and fighting for their dreams. She gave her life to them.

Nothing makes me happier than when my children “rise up” and succeed. If the Proverbs 31 woman of valor poured her life into her children, then I can imagine her joy as she watched them flourish.

To love our own children, and other children who are like our own, calls for self-sacrifice. But we may just discover that loving others more than we love ourselves can be oddly liberating. Perhaps the freedom from self-centeredness is the best kind of freedom of all.