Sunday, June 28, 2015

God Adds Meaning to Everything ... Even that Comfy Wool Sweater!

Hello Girls,

I am about to over-spiritualize your whole closet, and maybe even your pantry... 

This is coming from the girl who thinks that the Lord is trying to tell her to leave Target immediately, it's just not His Will for her to be there, because that super cute dress is not in her size. "There must be some supernatural meaning behind this!" screams my mind.

Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but there has to be a spiritual connection between the our passion for stylish clothing and fancy food and our desire to be close to God and our Christian sisters. 

What do we always spend the first 10 minutes of our Bible studies doing? Talking! Many times about our everyday life, the seemingly mundane but actually pretty important things that only us girls can understand. 

We crave that spiritual fellowship and often bond over the material. 

I back this up with the fact that a good portion of our passage on the Virtuous Woman deals with the everyday, material things that make up every woman's life.

We know Jesus can take the material and turn it into something spiritual. He can take the seemingly meaningless and make it glow with His purpose. And what man can defile, He can use to cleanse our hearts.

Let's look at some of the material things our Virtuous Woman used...

Proverbs 31.13

She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

Wool and flax were highly prized commodities in Israel, used to make fine clothing. I won't relay all of the information I found on the different ways of obtaining high-class wool in the middle east, but in order to get thorn-less, dirt-free wool, it must be sought after. Hard. And as a bonus, she is creating her household's wardrobe by hand!        (Shout-out to Shelly, who is learning to sew!)
When dyed a scarlet red color, wool was used in the blood covenant ceremonies between Israel and God.* This was the Old Testament way of attaining forgiveness of sins. Now we have salvation through grace because of Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross, instead. For,  
... By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.     - Hebrews 9.11-12 

Incidentally, scarlet was a hot color in this woman's household as well...

Proverbs 31.21

She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.             

In my mind, I picture this as the antiquity version of dressing your children in T shirts from Bible camp, hanging Bible verses in your home, or wearing a Cross necklace. 
It's an unspoken statement of where your belief and hope lay. 
I believe this woman knew what that symbol of sacrifice meant, that her sins and the sins of her family were covered with the scarlet blood of that little lamb, just like our sins are covered with the scarlet blood of The Lamb, and because of this she has nothing to fear! 
Girls, if you are saved, you are clothed with scarlet too. You are washed in the blood, as the old hymn says, and there is nothing in this world to be afraid of anymore.** 

This next verse is speaking of Gomer, a prostitute whom God told the prophet Hosea to marry in order to create a powerful symbol of how Israel was essentially committing adultery against their First Love, God...

For their mother had played the harlot. She that conceiveth them hath done shamefully, for she said, I will go after my lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.     - Hosea 2.5

Gomer represents a woman obtaining material needs, the same commodities that the Virtuous Woman sought, by ungodly means.

Instead of seeking these things for the good of others, Gomer was given them for selfish gain and to the hurt of her husband and children.

Instead of willingly working for her goods, Gomer exploited herself to gain easy access to the things she desired.

Let's look at some other women who may look more like Gomer from the outside, but reveal a heart that appears more like the Virtuous Woman...

Rahab, the harlot, used flax stalks to hide the Hebrew spies in Jericho, then hung a scarlet cord from her window to show her allegiance to Israel and their God, causing her family's lives to be spared. (Joshua 2)

The woman at the well, with five husbands and one that was not her own, drew water for the Lord Jesus, and received the Living Water in return. (John 4.1-42)

Mary, a sinner who was told she was unfit to eat dinner at the same table as Jesus, washed His feet with her hair and anointed His head with oil to show her humility and her great love for Him. (Mark 14.1-9)

The widow woman who couldn't provide for her son put aside her own needs and supplied Elijah with water and bread and oil and then witnessed a miracle of healing from God. (1 Kings 17.8-24)

Please read more about each of these women this week, and if you are like me, you may relate to some of them, whether that be in word, deed, or thought. (See the Cool Story at the end of this post.)
Maybe you feel branded, unworthy of Christian fellowship, much less fellowship with God. If this is you, let me show you one last example of how the everyday commodities that we use to sustain life was used to sustain us spiritually and for eternity, given to us as a reminder of The Act that changed everything...

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat. This is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.     - Matthew 26.26-28

Remember the Last Supper? 

Bread represented Jesus' body that would soon be broken. 

Wine represented His blood that would soon be spilt.

Spices would soon be brought to Jesus' tomb to anoint Him, but He was not there!

 Yes, His body was broken, His blood was spilt, and He was laid in a tomb. 
But He rose from the dead, He conquered death and, just as death couldn't keep Him, sin doesn't have to keep us. 

He (God) causeth the grass to grow for the cattle... and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.     - Psalm 104.14-15

We have freedom in Christ! This truth should make our hearts glad and give us strength. Like Moses after meeting the Lord, His glory should cause our face to shine and reflect His love.*** 

So let the Lord turn your material things into spiritual things.                                                   Let Him make what you deem meaningless and make it glow with His purpose.                                              
Give Him what the world has defiled in your life and let Him cleanse it. Let Him cleanse you.

Now go forth and over-spiritualize!


Cool Story: As I walked out of Moe's I was livid that they messed up my order. "Hello, how hard is it to NOT put black beans on my burrito?!" was my un-Christian thought, and possibly words, as I hurried back to the Christian conference I was attending, a free burrito in my purse. That night I walked past a homeless man. My first thought was "Stranger danger!" and my next thought was, "Wow, I just left this crazy cool conference and learned all about God's love and desire for justice. Maybe I should talk to this guy." Then I remembered that black bean-laden Homewrecker in my purse... I was really convicted about my small circle of awareness and uncanny ability to take material things for granted. I approached him and gave him my former source of anger and saw the joy on his face. I asked him some questions, then we prayed together. As we finished praying I opened my eyes and looked behind me. There was a line of young adults waiting to give this man something. Yes, we were blessing this man with material things, but what brought more joy to his face was what we were giving him spiritually. Never underestimate the power of ministering to someone's material needs. And never miss the opportunity to use those needs to connect with someone spiritually. I thank God for that man and giving me that moment with him!

God moments. Brought to you be the Homewrecker.

^ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.     - John 1.29

* For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and toast, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book and the people... And almost all things are by the law purged with blood and without blood there is no redemption.     - Hebrews 9.19, 22

** Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday... Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation.     - David, Psalm 91.5-6, 10

*** And he (Moses) was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights... when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.     - Exodus 34.28-30

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Note from Karletta

 Isaiah 40:31 says, 

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

I am sure most of you have heard this verse before. For most of my life, I have heard this verse and even quoted it multiple times. I am not quite sure I have understood it until now. I have always thought that the “wait” means what you would typically think of as waiting. As in waiting for Dr. Ebert to post grades, waiting in Atl traffic, and waiting in line at Wal-Mart, etc. 

However, yesterday someone told me that this “wait” actually may mean serve. As in how a waiter serves you your food. I mean after all they are called waiters, right? 
The more I think about it, the more I think that it may actually mean those who serve the Lord will renew their strength. It makes sense that God would not just want us to sit idle waiting for him to grant our requests and wishes. Sometimes, at least for me, I just want to sit back on my comfy couch and expect God to work without really putting any effort into His work here on earth. So as you wait for your heart’s desires (finding a job after graduation, figuring out where you might want to settle down, husband, making new friends on your internships, strengthening your relationships with family and friends, passing the boards, or anything else worthy of pursuing) consider not just waiting idly on the Lord to reveal to you what you should do and serve him while you wait.

 Your strength will be renewed and you will not grow weary in well doing! I hope that everyone is having great clinical experiences! We are over 1/3 of the way through! 

Whooty Hooo!

- Karletta

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

And God Saw That It Was Good...

Hello Girls!

I am down here in Florida without class, homework, my husband, and you guys, so I have had a lot of time for reflection! Like Jessica once said, "I can't be alone for too long or I will start thinking crazy things." I know exactly how you feel! But I like to think sometimes those crazy things have little notes from God scattered throughout. And even though this is not what this post is about, I have to tell y'all that the Lord has really dealt with me lately about finding comfort in being alone with Him. You all know that I thrive on talking, a lot, and when there is no one there I feel kind of empty. So I started praying out loud on my way to clinic every morning. About everything I could think of, including you girls and whatever you are dealing with on your drive to clinic. And God has spoken back by filling those empty holes with peace and contentment. Literally, just making those moments where of "Oh no I'm about to cry for no particular reason again" just disappear! I don't have to turn on Netflix to fill every silent moment to keep from going crazy (that was my first two weeks), I hear the Lord telling me that He is here, I am not alone, and reminding me that sometimes I need silence in order to truly hear Him. So don't be afraid of being alone with your thoughts, because in that silence, you are giving your Father room to speak.

"God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul."                          - Mrs. Charles Cowman

Now what this post is actually about is our next verse in Proverbs...

Proverbs 31.12

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 

Though this verse is still speaking in the context of a wife and her husband, put this in the context of your life; you may be a wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, student physical therapist. What do these concepts mean to you in the place in which God has put you?

Good: to do an activity which is favorable to a circumstance, of quality deemed of value, or of what is right according to a standard

Consider this verse, a kind of counterpart to Proverbs 31.12...

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence...            - I Corinthians 7.3

Benevolence: disposition to do good; an act of kindness; a generous gift; favor, grace, indulgence, kindness, mercy, service
These qualities are the disposition of a Christian, meaning this is their natural state or usual attitude. Which of these qualities come naturally? All of them probably do ... to the right people under the right circumstances, right?* I mean, do you really feel gracious to other drivers on the road during your Atlanta commute? I know the answer to this since I have ridden in the car with many of you during rush hour ;) 
It seems impossible for all of these qualities to be my natural state of mind, because it is impossible. I need the mind of Jesus, the only One who embodied these characteristics 100% of the time, no matter what kind of day He was having and no matter how many stupid questions His disciples asked... You know a 3-year-long road trip with 12 of your best friends sharing a tent with you every night would reveal your true colors at some point!
So back to our definition of "good", we should hold Jesus Christ, who walked perfectly and blameless, as that standard of right to whom we act according. 
When talking about producing spiritual fruit, Jesus said,
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out to the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.             - Matthew 12.35

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.        - Matthew 6.21
We should purpose in our heart to be a woman who exemplifies that word, "good". Because what we hold in our heart is what we will ultimately give to others. 
So what is "good" in God's eyes?
And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good...
                                                                                                  - Genesis 1.3-4 
Such as simple concept, God's creation is good, holy, pure. What God has sanctioned should be treasured by us. Things that are light, things that are good. Not darkness, evil, not things of the world. And just like Eve learned a little later, the evil things of the world are easily disguised as good. But if it is not of God, it is not good. Aren't you glad it is that simple? Let's look deeper into the light that God created...
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the world. He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.               - John 8.12     
Just as Jesus is the Light of the world, bringing salvation to everyone who is willing to receive it, you and I have a purpose in helping that cause.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick. And it giveth light unto all that are in his house. Let your light so shine before man, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.                                                                 - Jesus to His followers, Matthew 5.14-16

In a world that likes to mix up right and wrong, we must remember that there is such a thing as Light and Dark, Heaven and Hell, Jesus and Satan. If we are to do good, we must be different than what is bad. Christian, you are set apart, and that is a good thing.** We are called to love all, but not to conform to this world.***
This is me (obviously) at the candlelight vigil for victims of human trafficking during Passion a few years ago. While thousands of us stood outside the Dome, someone started singing and soon it spread: 
I'll be a city on a hill, burning brightly, 
 I'll be a light to the world, shining Your glory. 
Over and over, it was so beautiful! More beautiful than all the professional singers and the bands in the Dome earlier that night. It was a group of believers gathered, set apart, and proud of being a part of something much bigger than us. 
Remember that even though you are set apart from the world, you are a part of something bigger.

God's first creation was the light, and it was good. And we know that He goes on to illustrate the rest of the earth with His beautiful artwork, and just when He takes a rest and it seems like the masterpiece is finished, He states that there is something missing, something is "not good."
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him... And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept, and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.                                                          - Genesis 2.18,21-22

Girls, this is saying that we were that finishing brush stroke of  the Lord's masterpiece! It was not complete until woman was there. Now don't let this go to your head, this is not a point to be used in any domestic disputes, Ladies. Rather, if you are saved, this should give you cause to be proud of your place of royalty as a daughter of the King, proud to embrace your roll as a light in this world! Take hold of the position for which God created you - to live according to the right standard of Jesus Christ in order to give quality deemed of value through acts of kindness, through giving grace, through service to other people. All the days of your life!

I love you girls, 

* For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye?.. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again.                                                                              - Luke 6.32-33, 35 
** And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.               - Romans 12.2  
*** As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good not all men, especially of the household of faith.                                               - Galatians 6.10