Praise the Rules?

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Spring has come and gone in many parts of the United States, but those of us that are in the cooler climates are still enjoying the beautiful spring colors.  The lilacs, tulips, crocus, daffodils, and hyacinths are showing their beautiful colors ushering in summer.  Then those beautiful colors will die away and wait for a whole year before they will show off their beauty once again for such a short time.  It takes all that time for them to rejuvenate and restore their energy supplies so their vibrant colors will be on display for the next spring season.

Time.

For those beautiful colors to be ready for display it takes time to refresh and rejuvenate.  During that time, they will store up energy from the sun, moisture from the rain, nutrients from the dirt, and a good hard sleep during the winter.  But, it all takes time.

Psalm 119:164 reminds us, “Seven times a day I praise you, for your righteous rules.”    It takes time to praise God seven times a day.  Do I take that time to praise Him that often?  Do I see the beauty of the flowers and praise Him?  Do I praise Him when the crack of thunder wakes me in the night?  Do I praise Him when my plans do not turn out like I thought they should?  Do I praise Him for all the conveniences and the inconveniences of life?

We as Christians know we are supposed to have an attitude of gratitude, but do we keep a conscious awareness of praising God for all that happens in our lives to the point that we can say we praise God seven times?  Yet, it is not seven times for just anything; it is seven times for His righteous rules.  I wonder if I spent more time praising God for His righteous rules, if I would spend less time struggling with obeying those rules.

So what are some of these challenging rules for which I need to praise the Lord:

“A soft answer turns away wrath…” (Proverbs 15:1)

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer…” (Provers 15:28)

“The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil” (II Timothy 2:24)

“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is before us.” (Hebrews 12:1).

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7)

What happens when I take the time to praise the Lord for His righteous rules?  I change my focus.  With a changed focus comes a patience for God’s timing not my timing.  As these righteous rules begin to dwell in me they begin to be what is stored in my heart rather than worry, anxiety, impatience, wrath, quarreling, evil, or “whatever sin clings so closely.”

Over time these positives will show forth just like the beautiful spring colors that show their beauty each year.

Time.  Take time to praise God for His righteous rules.

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Are you Shining?

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“Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her.”

Proverbs 31:28

St. Augustine’s mom, Monica, did much behind the scenes to help her son to become an icon in church history.  Monica grew up in a Christian home, but her parents arranged her marriage with an unbeliever, Patricius.  Patricius was not only an unbeliever, but also did not believe in the high values of marriage and family.  He had a violent temper and was unfaithful to Monica.  Monica spent many hours in prayer for her family, her three children and her husband.  Many sources say that this annoyed Patricius, but at the same time he also held her in high regard.

Although Monica spent countless hours in prayer for her children, Augustine did not initially follow the path that his mother prayed he would follow.  She did not give up or “become weary in well-doing.” (Galatians 6:9), but rather continued to spend countless hours in prayer and sought to meet the needs of the poor.  Through her tireless example, Augustine finally turned from his ways and began following Christ as a true believer.  Monica died six months later with the satisfaction of knowing that not only did Augustine accept Christ as His personal Savior but also her husband, on his death bed, had also made a profession of faith in Christ.

Augustine was an early Christian theologian and philosopher and is a well-known church father with writings entitled City of God and Confessions. All that we know about Monica is due to Augustine’s extensive writing about his mother.  “He rose up and called her blessed.”  Even though Monica’s husband was an unbeliever for his entire life, he still had great respect for his wife.  Monica chose to  live by I Peter 3:1, 2 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”  Since she chose to live her life this way Patricius and Augustine “called her blessed and praised her.”

Living every day as the virtuous woman is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart.  It takes discipline and a huge dose of self-denial.  As humans in this day and age we have become such a self-centered society that to deny ourselves anything, especially something we feel we need, is a difficult pill to swallow.  This self-centeredness has hit the church just as much as it has hit the rest of society.

As always there is a certain measure of balance that needs to take place. The wife should not abdicate her responsibilities to her husband or children because she is sleeping in, getting her hair and nails done, going shopping, or to card club. She should make sure the needs of her family are anticipated and cared for.  We are examples to our children, and the kind of wife and mother we are will surely be exemplified in our daughters and possibly the kind of wives our sons will choose.  What kind of mom do we want for our grandchildren?

The words rise up means to confirm.  In rising up and praising their mom, the children are confirming that their mom is providing the care and direction they need in life. Calling her blessed means to be straight, lead, or guide.  Another way we could look at this phrase is “Her children confirm that their mom is leading and guiding them in a straight path.”  What a compliment that is to the virtuous mother.  Not only do her children walk the straight path, but they also confirm that their mom has not only lived this path, but also taught them how to follow this path.

Her husband praises which means to celebrates or commend his wife.  Another great compliment is to have our husbands celebrate us.  Monica had no greater joy on her death bed knowing her husband and son were following Christ.  Her influence had a large impact on them not because she verbally preached at them every day, but because she lived out the Bible in front of them every day.  They saw her strengths and weaknesses, her good days and bad and yet she was a shining testimony to them.  May we all shine into the lives of our families by not just what we say, but also by what we do.

Questions:

  1. Is it easy to deny yourself?
  1. Read Philippians 2:1-4. How do these verses apply to denying ourselves?
  1. Read Proverbs 11:6. Describe in practical terms in your own life how this verse applies.
  1. Read Proverbs 12:4. Compare the two contrasting thoughts in this verse by giving practical examples.
  1. How does Exodus 20:5, 6 apply to this verse? Have you seen your own negative qualities manifest themselves in your children?  Have you seen positive qualities in your children?