Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Woman of the World and a Woman of the Word: A Heart Transformation

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

In Christ, the deceitful phrases “we are who we are” or “people don’t change” hold no power over us. With the Holy Spirit as our teacher and counselor, it is possible to have a heart change, and be transformed from our old self, values and thought patterns into a renewed person with kingdom values. To be committed to a true heart change we have to search the word of God, listen to his still voice and be willing to let go of many false, tightly held ideas. We have to be committed to hard work, and have a willing and teachable heart. For women who are soaked in the word of God, heart change is evident. They have let go of self, and seek to serve and live in submission to Christ. With God’s help, we can have the adornment of a soft and quiet spirit. We can be full of the ‘good fruits’ of the Word.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

For women it can be tempting to walk the popular, accepted way. The popular way looks (falsely so) ‘more fun’, ‘less burdensome’, and requires a lot less giving up of self. There is fun in focusing on ourselves and having the calendar booked up with appointments, hair, nails, social activities, fun things, nights out, spending the money made. But where does this all lead? What is the end of the path? The end of the path is….self. And self leads to nowhere. It is a dead end. (there is nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves reasonably and healthily so that we can be healthy and whole to take care of others, the problem lies in that the main and consuming focus is on self.) Or in buying the world’s lie that we need to ‘have it all’ to really be worthy or that child rearing is menial work best left to others we hire. If we live by the world’s standards, our roots are shallow and will not last, because this world and all it’s false wisdom, ideas and thoughts will pass away. For a woman of the world, the next promotion, bonus, phase of life, bigger house, bigger car, or beauty appointment may be an accomplishment or something to look forward too, but these things are not rooted in truth. It doesn't look bad on the outside, in fact this life looks happy and successful, like something we should all work to attain. What is wrong with it? The world is the master and the god. A heart focused on self becomes prideful and puffed up, hardened by it’s own ways. It becomes a ‘stony heart of flesh.’

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17

Paul (then known as Saul) was one of the worst persecutors of Christians before he met Christ. He was even present at Stephen’s stoning. He truly believed that Christianity was dangerous to Judaism and probably thought he had a sincere heart. When he met Christ, God showed him his ideals were misguided and couldn't be more wrong. Christ revealed to Paul his own stony heart of flesh, even blinded Paul for three days--- without Christ, Paul was living blindly. After he came to know Christ, all the good qualities about Paul, including his intensity, were used for God’s kingdom. He now had a ‘new heart of flesh’ to see clearly and live a holy life for God. Many times as women we are like Paul. The world’s values we have adopted seem like the ones to follow. We have what we think is a sincere heart yet we are truly blind. We need Christ to open our eyes like he did Paul’s, and show us how to live. God will take our good qualities, and renew and refine us to live for Him. First, we must come to God with a willingness to be transformed. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

A woman of the word is one who lives her life by God’s standards, he is the Master and only One she serves. She is soaked in the word, not in the world, and lives it out consistently whether it is popular or not. Her life is not wrapped up in her activities her social gatherings, new clothes or beauty treatments, but in Jesus, where her identity lies. As she lives for Him, follows Him, lays herself down at his feet, she is following the One who will never pass away. She is living for eternity. She is settled in spirit, because she abides in Christ, and does not worry that all the world offers that is passing by is anything she is missing.

Her life is not frantic and chaotic, but resting at the feet of the One who matters. She takes time to read the word, and then live it and allow it’s eternal truths to transform her. She can see others for who they are in Him, and treat them as His children. They are not to be used for her gain or promotion, but to love and serve. Self is not a god in the heart of a woman of the word. Her heart is softened by coming to a true understanding of the love of Christ, not puffed up or prideful. She can only boast of what Christ has done in her, for it is His power residing in her and apart from Him she can bear no fruit of lasting worth. She recognizes the worlds subtle lies for what they are, and they hold no value to her. She doesn't cling to the world, but to the word of God which is her hope and life, which will never pass away. God has given her a new heart and a new spirit. She lives and invests in that which is lasting, the Kingdom of God.

Prayer: “Lord, I want to be a woman of God with a soft and quiet heart to listen and be changed. Renew my heart and mind by revealing the half truths I have believed and replacing them with your pure and holy truth. Then give me the strength of character and a willingness to let go of old habits to be a doer of the word and enable me to put what I have learned into action. Amen”

“...likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,  but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

“A godly woman is beyond average because she keeps her word. She honors her vows. She exhibits great faith. She overcomes great obstacles. And she affects her family, her community, even the world.” -Elizabeth George

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