Monday, December 5, 2016

The Art of Joyful Living, Pt. 4

This is the Day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Make a choice to be happy.  We have separated happiness and joy.  We have taken them apart as if they are two different things.  But really, happiness is the emotion of joy overflowing into smiles, laughter and pleasure with life.  God created all things good for us to enjoy.  It's Satan who has twisted these things into sin but God created happiness for us.  Don't let Satan deceive you that happiness is bad.

Joy looks to the future with adventure and happiness.

Proverbs 31 is known as The Virtuous Woman chapter.  Adventures in life are adventures with God.  I have a feeling that a great number of people in this room know about taking a risk in life and trusting God to sustain you.  You can play it safe and have no bumps or bruises along the way, or you can throw open the door of possibility to God and let the joy of discovering His faithfulness and provision be the vehicle on your journey.

A wife of noble character who can find?
This is worth far more than rubies...
She is clothed with strength and dignity; 
she can laugh at the days to come.
Proverbs 31:10, 25

I can imagine the prophet, Samuel, writing the account of Ruth.  Possibly he sat down with Jesse, the father of King David, and listened to him tell stories of his grandmother.  Jesse probably reminisced about the grandmother he knew and the family story that had been passed down about how his grandmother came to Israel and met his grandfather, Boaz.  Samuel probably found this story fun and inspiring to record.  As he listened to Jesse, the phrase "a woman of noble character" could have run through his mind until he chose those words to write down as an everlasting description of this foreign woman who would become the great grandmother of Kind David and mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

The only other place in the Old Testament that we find this phrase is in Proverbs 31.  Yes!  The chapter we all turn to when we want to have a bit of guidance on the sort of women we are to be, the "Woman of Virtue" chapter.  The book of Proverbs was written by the wise King Solomon.  Ruth was Solomon's great, great grandmother.  This is so exciting, it just gives me chills!  By using this phrase that would have been familiar to the people, it's as if Solomon is saying, "You want to know what a virtuous woman is like?  Look at my great, great grandmother, Ruth."  As I read through Provers 31, I see glimpses of the girl Ruth, who earned a solid reputation in a short time in Israel.  
She brings him good, not harm, (vrs. 12) 
works with eager hands. (vas. 13)  
she gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family (vrs. 15) 
She sets about her work vigorously (vrs. 17)
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (vrs. 20)
Her husband is respected at the city gate (vrs. 23)
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. (vrs. 25)
All of these phrases remind me of the girl Ruth, I have studied.  And then my favorite part.

Charm is deceptive,
and beauty is fleeting:
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

Ruth, the girl from Moab, whose husband died, who lived with her mother-in-law (who doesn't sound like an easy soul to endure), left her home, walked a very, very long way to change cultures and customs, who had every reason in the world not to laugh at the unknown future, who turned to her mother-in-law and said, your God will be my God, left all of her former religion behind, and with her whole heart, embraced the one true God.  She passed the truths of who God is down to her children, and they to their children until a king, sitting on the throne, picked up a pen and began to write about his great, great grandmother and said "This is what you want to be like."  As she grew into a woman, these characteristics grew and matured into being a solid woman of virtue.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also,
and he praises her:
Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Proverbs 31:28-29

Among all of his memories, Solomon remembered that his great, great, grandmother laughed.

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