Sheri’s Vineyard

Topics to strengthen women in their faith

Today I Am Afraid February 20, 2011

This is a poem written by a woman who endured years of pain because of her husband’s addiction.

Once again, he convinced her that he had laid aside his sin and wanted to be right with her and right with God. She lets him come home but does not know the outcome. These feelings could be those of any woman married to a man with an addiction.

Perhaps it is you…

 

Today, I am afraid

Why?

Because I feel trapped

Possibly enslaved

To a life of suspicion

Void of description

Because of another—depraved

 

The more I look, the more I see

The sin of another that seeks to deceive me

So what do I fear?

Deception, rejection, or just plain old pain?

None of which I wish to claim

 

From God alone, my soul waits

Like David, as he hid behind the gate

It is all too scary for me

My soul cries out to be free…

Free of the fear

 

But God, if this is my portion

To give another the option

To break my heart again

I will do it for You—my true Friend

Because the opposite of fear is love

 

Sometimes we have to open ourselves up to being hurt for the sake of another. But we can know that our Lord, who is our truest friend, will never leave us or forsake us.

“For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15)

 

Pass the Chocolate

Filed under: Handling Pressure,Spiritual Warfare — sherihold @ 2:46 am

I recently read a true story about a soldier in battle. While in the trenches with his fellow soldiers, he pops some chocolate into his mouth and then passes it to his buddies as he proclaims, “We can’t stop what’s going on around us so we may as well enjoy the sweetness of the moment.”

I love this story. It reminds me of my grandpa Skip who fought in WWI in France. He loved to laugh and also make others laugh—until the day he died at age 85. His love for humor did not stop when he was in the war … in fact, as with this soldier, I think the diversion of humor kept him alive.

As Christians, we too can relax and laugh when times get tough, if we choose to. It isn’t easy at first but a person can learn. It is not just for the purpose of making us feel better—it’s a downright good strategy in spiritual warfare!

Are you being shot at with false accusations by someone? Or are you feeling weak, tired and defeated? Lay your weapons down—they are like using a water pistol against an atomic bomb. Your help comes from above and God will deliver you in due time.  Your enemy knows it too, but wants to make you think that God has deserted you. Laughter or just a relaxed disposition is one of your best weapons … and don’t forget the chocolate.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with The comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

 

A Wall or a Door

Filed under: Serving God,Spiritual Discernment — sherihold @ 2:33 am

In the last verses of Song of Solomon, the Shulamite’s brothers make this comment:  What shall we do for our sister in the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar?” (Song of Solomon 8:8-9)

An interesting choice of words, yes?

A door? A wall? What do these images mean? In my search for the answer, I came up with this as a possible explanation:

A wall is a stable structure. The Shulamite woman proved to be  a woman who is stable and secure. As is true for you and I who have been redeemed, she was in Christ and could not be moved (positionally) into any other kingdom. Silver is often referred to as the metal of redemption. She was redeemed from her sin by the blood of Christ.

The Shulamite was also immovable in her life’s experience because of her choice to be obedient. Through her stages of growth, she has seen the futility of being out of God’s will. Now, she is committed to remain in the center of His will as expressed in the next verse: “I am a wall and my breasts are like towers (expression of spiritual maturity); then I became one who has found peace.” (Song of Solomon 8:10)

In contrast, a door is movable because it has to be. Certainly something that is movable cannot be built upon (as a wall). This instability could represent one who is unsaved or one who has wavering convictions.

In my experience as a Christian, if my life represents a wall I can be predictably stable in my convictions, my attitudes, my moods, and my priorities. When my life represents a door, I am not stable. I am unpredictable and impulsive. I won’t even be aware of my actions because I am too busy doing life my way. The Amplified Bible calls the door a “bold” woman. Boldness can be represented as self-sufficiency, self-indulgence or just plain old self orientation.

The beauty of a life submitted to the Lord is that He can build upon you … “a battlement of silver.” You can “fight the good fight” because you are equipped. You can also be a source of strength and stability to those around you.

“You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice. Let me hear it.” (Song of Solomon 8:13)

Stay in the Body of Christ because this is God’s garden. Also, stay under the protection of those over you, i.e. your pastor-teacher who is God’s instrument of building your life.

 

A Mindset Like Miriam’s

Filed under: Boundaries,Dealing With the Flesh,Serving God — sherihold @ 2:11 am

You are certainly familiar with Miriam (Moses’ sister) who “fleshed out” at the wrong time. Moses was trying to keep the Israelites united—a huge task—and Miriam decided to challenge him.

You remember the story … she didn’t approve of her sister-in-law  because she was an Ethiopian. Therefore she took it upon herself (with her brother Aaron’s help) to question Moses’ leadership. Together they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:2) These are dangerous—and in this case deadly—words for the Lord and others to hear.

Upon hearing these words God became angry, and when the cloud covering the tabernacle departed, Miriam had become leprous.

This story is one we need to pay attention to when we are tempted to sin against leadership with our lips. Leadership is a sensitive issue with God. Even if we are convinced that we are right; we must place our complaints at the foot of the cross. Leaders are appointed and sustained by God Himself. If a leader is in sin, He is the One that has the authority to remove them.

Aaron recognized what was happening and repented; for this he was spared punishment and even allowed to lead later. Thankfully, God is faithful to forgive!

We know that Moses was not perfect; neither are those in leadership over you. Yet they are called by God and have His anointing upon their lives. Stay under the cloud of God’s presence (grace on every side) and pray for your leaders. God will reward you one day for your commitment and application of grace to those responsible for you.

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

 

Inner Beauty February 1, 2011

Filed under: A Woman's Devotional,Spiritual Discernment — sherihold @ 2:27 am

We know from reading the Bible that inner beauty is more important to develop than outer beauty. Maybe you even grew up hearing this truth from your own mother. Do you really believe it though? Here is a way to test yourself…

Ask yourself: How many closets full of clothes do I have? How much money did I spend just last month on beauty products? How much time do I spend shopping or getting my hair done?

2 Timothy sheds light on the topic of beauty as Paul instructs the women in the church to not adorn themselves after the custom of the Roman women. What a relief this must have been for some. To keep up with the fashion of that day was quite a feat. Consider having to wear a hairdo much like the bouffant style of the 60’s … piled high on top of the head. If that wasn’t enough, the women would thread gold ornaments into their hair, which was kind of like wearing a Christmas tree.

Imagine trying to sleep and maintain this new work of art. The Roman woman had great anxiety about preserving her hair at night so she even sacrificed her sleep for beauty.

The sad truth is that the Roman women adorned themselves elaborately to keep their husbands from divorcing them. It is hard to imagine, but divorce could be granted to a man that found his wife boring or unattractive.

Consider the age that we live in. American women spend over 20 billion dollars a year on cosmetics and another 30 billion on diets. This doesn’t even include the plastic surgeries so many women are seeking. No doubt, we live in an erotic age much like the Romans. Beauty businesses are thriving and part of their strategy is to make you think that you need their help!

Is God against jewelry, make-up, or nice clothes? No, not at all  But He does desire that we cultivate our inner much more than our outer beauty. From a heavenly perspective, we are already adorned as royalty because we belong to Christ. We can save ourselves a lot of time, money and stress if we really believe it!

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

“For the Lord does not see as man see’s; for man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

 

Fashion Philosophy

Filed under: A Woman's Devotional,Spiritual Discernment — sherihold @ 2:05 am

“The period in which we now live may will go down in history as the Erotic Age. Sexual love has been elevated into a cult. Eros has more worshipers among civilized men today than any other god. For millions the erotic has completely displaced the spiritual…”

You probably think that this quote came out of a current Christian book or magazine but I didn’t. This quote came from A W Tozer 50 years ago! Like other prophets, he saw sin creeping in. “Pure religion, that flows like a crystal river from the heart of God is being polluted by the unclean waters that trickle from behind the alters of abomination from New York to Los Angeles.” (A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership)

Indeed, sensual fashion is one of the pollutants Tozer is referring to. The cult of eros reigns from coast to coast in our land.

I went to Bible college with a woman named Paula who had been an international runway model. She traveled around the world for many years and had much to say about the fashion industry … and it wasn’t good. Her career came to an end when she refused to wear a garment that revealed far too much. I applaud her for giving up a lucrative career by honoring herself and the Lord. By the way, she found the Lord when she listened to a  street evangelist while working as a model in Paris. This same woman completed her Bible college education in Paris and the USA. She married a man who later became a pastor. Great story!

Titus 2:4-5 tells the older Christian women to teach the younger to “be discreet.” This is simply using self-discipline.

One way that we can be discreet is to pay attention to how we dress. When you get dressed in the morning, stand in front of a full length mirror and ask yourself this question: What am I projecting to others by the clothes I am wearing? Am I trying to get attention today? From whom? Will this outfit be a distraction to a man? Will it cause another woman to stumble because I am justifying this way of dress?
Is this too low, too high or too tight?

I guarantee you that the designer that made your outfit did not consider for a moment the questions you are asking yourself. Buying into fashion philosophy that you must wear this or that will stumble you and others- so beware sister!

“It is not good to make another weak.” (Romans 14:21)

“But among you there must not be any hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity because these are improper for God’s people.” (Ephesians 5:3)

 

Fightin’ Words! January 29, 2011

Filed under: A Woman's Devotional,Boundaries,Handling Pressure — sherihold @ 7:58 pm

Elihu, son of Brachial, friend of Job … young, well-mannered, educated, confident, eloquent in speech, and very wise. This was pretty much the description of the last of Job’s counselors, based on Elihu’s own assessment of himself in the book of Job. Quite an impressive guy in his own eyes!

Near the end of the book, when Job’s troubles are not relieved, Elihu essentially proclaims to Job and his friends: “I have been listening to all of you and because I am the youngest, I have withheld my opinion- now I am ready to give it.” Then he lunges into a dissertation, like that of a prosecuting attorney in a courtroom. None of Job’s friends dared to interrupt him. What a sad scene to see Job here, no doubt feeling like he is on the witness stand. He was obviously beaten down, sickly, and depressed, only to be accused of rebelling against God- once again!

Elihu must have been the talk of the town after this elaborate show. People on the streets were patting him on the back … praising him for finally getting to the bottom of this ongoing drama. Even though Job’s friends and neighbors were compassionate to him in the beginning of his personal trial, their capacity to hang in there and support Job was long gone.

Have you ever felt like Job when the people that you thought would be with you throughout a trial ended up deserting you?  A hard fact of life, as we see in the book of Job, is that most people can’t hang in there with you. I said can’t … not won’t. The testing that Job went through was a divine appointment by God. It is something only Job could endure because of his maturity in the Lord- not anyone else.

Job ends up being a showpiece in a different courtroom- the courtroom in heaven. The angels and the devil himself are witnesses to how a mere man can withstand the worst of trials when the Lord is his all in all.

James explains this truth well in the following verse:

“Blessed is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those that love Him.” (James 1:12)