The Nature of a Woman (1 Peter 3:4)
Femininity is a reality of God’s design and making—his precious gift to every woman—and, in a very different way, his gracious gift to men as well. The difference between men and women is not a mere matter of biology. Throughout the millennia of human history, up until the past several decades, people took for granted that the differences were so obvious as to need no comment. Yet never as now have we more needed Paul’s reminder to the Roman Christians not to let the world squeeze us into its own mold but to let God remold our minds from within (Ro 12:2).
Surrender is a key ingredient in femininity. As a bride, a woman in marriage surrenders her independence, her name, her destiny, her will and ultimately, in the marriage chamber, her body, to the bridegroom. As a mother, she surrenders in a very real sense her life for the life of the child. As a single woman, she surrenders herself in a unique way for service to her Lord and for service to family and community.
Femininity receives. It takes what God gives. In other words, women are to receive the given as Mary did (Lk 1:38), not to insist upon the not-given, as Eve did (Ge 3:1–6). This does not imply that a woman should surrender to evils such as coercion or violent conquest.
The gentle and quiet spirit of which Peter speaks is the ornament of femininity (1Pe 3:4), which found its epitome in Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was willing to be a vessel, hidden, unknown, except as Somebody’s mother. This maternity is available to every woman who humbles herself before the Lord, not simply as a biological role but as an attitude of selflessness in her own heart and submission to the Lord.
The challenge of Biblical femininity for you is to be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give you, receiving with both hands and with all your heart whatever that is. Femininity is a precious treasure to be guarded and nourished each and every day.
Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible
Why We Should Love Our Enemies
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)
There are two main reasons why Christians should love their enemies and do good to them.
One is that it reveals something of the way God is. God is merciful.
- “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
- “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
- “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
So when Christians live this way, we show something of what God is like.
The second reason is that the hearts of Christians are satisfied with God and are not driven by the craving for revenge or self-exaltation or money or earthly security.
God has become our all-satisfying treasure and so we don’t treat our adversaries out of our own sense of need and insecurity, but out of our own fullness with the satisfying glory of God.
Hebrews 10:34: “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property [that is, without retaliation], since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” What takes away the compulsion of revenge is our deep confidence that this world is not our home, and that God is our utterly sure and all-satisfying reward.
So in both these reasons for loving our enemy we see the main thing: God is shown to be who he really is as a merciful God and as gloriously all-satisfying.
The ultimate reason for being merciful is to glorify God — to make him look great in the eyes of man.
Jacob is traveling home, where he knows he will eventually have to face Esau. As he nears Canaan, Jacob receives terrifying news: Esau is coming to meet him—and he’s bringing an army!
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.’”
The last time Jacob had seen Esau, his older brother had been so angry at him for stealing the family blessing that he had vowed to kill Jacob as soon as their father, Isaac, died (Genesis 27:41). Jacob knew he had cheated his brother, and he remembered Esau’s parting words. So, fearing their reunion, Jacob sent messengers ahead with gifts, trying to buy Esau’s favor.
How would you feel if you knew you were about to meet the person you had cheated out of his most precious possession? Jacob had taken Esau’s birthright and his blessing (Genesis 25:33; 27:27-40). Now he was about to meet his brother for the first time in twenty years, and he was filled with fear. He collected his thoughts, however, and decided to pray. In this desperate prayer, Jacob reminded God of his promise to make his descendants “as numerous as the sands along the seashore” (Genesis 32:12), which would not be possible if he and his family were killed.
Are you facing conflict or a difficult circumstance? Do you fear a negative outcome? When we face conflict, we can either run about frantically or we can pause to pray. Stop right now and pray. Give it over to God and follow his guidance.
Streams in the Desert – May 13
We know not what we should pray for as we ought (Rom. 8:26).
Much that perplexes us in our Christian experience is but the answer to our prayers. We pray for patience, and our Father sends those who tax us to the utmost; for “tribulation works patience.”
We pray for submission, and God sends sufferings; for “we learn obedience by the things we suffer.”
We pray for unselfishness, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves by thinking on the things of others, and by laying down our lives for the brethren.
We pray for strength and humility, and some messenger of Satan torments us until we lie in the dust crying for its removal.
We pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” and money takes wings; or the children are alarmingly ill; or a servant comes who is careless, extravagant, untidy or slow, or some hitherto unknown trial calls for an increase of faith along a line where we have not needed to exercise much faith before.
We pray for the Lamb-life, and are given a portion of lowly service, or we are injured and must seek no redress; for “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter and… opened not his mouth.”
We pray for gentleness, and there comes a perfect storm of temptation to harshness and irritability. We pray for quietness, and every nerve is strung to the utmost tension, so that looking to Him we may learn that when He gives quietness, no one can make trouble.
We pray for love, and God sends peculiar suffering and puts us with apparently unlovely people, and lets them say things which rasp the nerves and lacerate the heart; for love suffers long and is kind, love is not impolite, love is not provoked. LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS, believes, hopes and endures, love never fails. We pray for likeness to Jesus, and the answer is, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong?” “Are ye able?”
The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance, every trial, straight from the hand of a loving Father; and to live up in the heavenly places, above the clouds, in the very presence of the Throne, and to look down from the Glory upon our environment as lovingly and divinely appointed.
I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.
I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.
I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and Perfect peace I knew.
I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.
–Annie Johnson Flint