Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: There are so many words we can use to describe the nature of Christ, but there’s one you probably haven’t heard. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you know that Jesus is domestic? You say, “That sounds kind of strange. What would make you think that?” Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2 NIV).

Leslie: It’s Friday, February 23rd, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. What an amazing thought! Jesus is preparing a home for us. The knowledge that our Lord is building us a place should influence the way we fashion our homes today. Nancy will explain why in a few minutes. First she’ll review some of what we’ve been learning in a series called The Counter-cultural Woman.

 Nancy: My house in Michigan is situated on a river. Actually, it’s on a hilltop overlooking a river. It’s quite a steep climb down to the river, and so I’ve had some steps built years ago that can allow you to get down to the river and see the scenery.

When you’re coming up those steps, they’re pretty steep, and there’s a halfway point there that has a seating area, a bench. I’ve been with folks at times who really needed to take advantage of that bench—gives you a chance to catch your breath and stop halfway up and see where you’ve been and see how far you have to go.

I was thinking of those steps this morning as I was reviewing where we’ve been in relation to Proverbs chapter 31. We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about the first half of Proverbs chapter 31, and we’re going to keep climbing that hill and heading toward the second half.

Before we get into the second half, I want us to just stop and sit down and catch our breath and take a moment to look back over where we’ve been before we continue on that climb. I say climb because those of us who are familiar with Proverbs 31, which most of us are, kind of look at it as a mountain that you have to scale. When you stop and first look at Proverbs 31, it seems like something you’ll never get to the top of—like it’s something that’s just an impossible dream.

We talked about the fact that two things are true of this passage. The first is that no woman can be like this woman. Left to ourselves, as we are naturally, we will never have the heart, the desire, or the ability to look like this portrait. I mean, our whole culture rejects this portrait for starters.

When we start talking about things like being domestic, about homemaking, about being a keeper at home, the words kind of want to just stick in my throat sometimes because I’m a product, in some ways, of this whole generation, and I’ve certainly been exposed, as we all have been, to a way of teaching and thinking that equates a woman’s worth or her value with her work outside her home.

Then we talk about a woman coming into a home and focusing as her primary priority on her husband and her children and finding joy through serving others. I mean, this just is not a natural way of thinking for us, and not just because of what our culture says, but because of our natural, fleshly instincts are for self, not for others. When we see a passage that’s all about a woman living for others, we realize, I can’t live this way.

The other thing that gives us hope sounds just the opposite, but it’s equally true. That is that any woman can be this woman through the power of the Holy Spirit. If Christ lives in you—and if you’re a child of God, then the Scripture says Jesus lives inside of you—You have His Holy Spirit in you. Then it’s no longer you who is trying to live this Christian life, which is impossible. It’s Christ in you living this life.

What we’ve been seeing in this passage, Proverbs chapter 31, is really a portrait of Christ. As He lives in us, He enables us to live a life that we could never live on our own. I love that verse in Philippians chapter two that tells us, “It is God who is at work within you both to will,” that is to give you the desire that you wouldn’t have naturally, “and to obey to do God’s good pleasure” (verse 13, paraphrase).

What we’re seeing in this chapter is God’s good pleasure for us as women. I can’t live this way, but I can live this way because I have God who is at work within me giving me the desire, giving me the supernatural ability, to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

That’s why I have to cry out to Him day after day, as you do, “Lord, I can’t live this life. I can’t be a woman of God. I can’t be diligent and faithful and loyal and all these qualities that we’re seeing in this passage, apart from You doing it in me.”

Now let’s just review where we’ve been in this passage, and we said that this whole chapter is really, as verse one tells us, it’s the words of King Lemuel, who we believe may have been, actually, King Solomon. Lemuel may have been a pet name, a fond name, that Solomon’s mother used for him. If that’s the case, who was Solomon’s mother? Bathsheba.

We’re told that these are, “The words of King Lemuel,” perhaps King Solomon, “the utterance which his mother,” perhaps Bathsheba, “taught him.” So these are words, actually, that were spoken by a man, a king, an adult, as he reflected back, years earlier, on things that his mother had taught him about how to be a man, how to be a king, how to be self-controlled, how to be morally pure.”

Mothers, it’s so important that you teach your sons the ways and the heart of God, teach them how to be men. Now, of course, a dad’s important in that process, but there are some aspects of their role as a man that sons will learn from their mothers as you are womanly and a teaching mother. There are aspects of God’s ways that you will be able to teach to your sons.

Then when we come to verse ten, we still find this is a king remembering what his mother taught him about the qualities that God thinks are important in a woman. Now why was a mother teaching those things to her son? Well, those of you who have sons can understand why a mother would be thinking this way because if you have sons, you’ve been, I hope, praying since those boys were little, little, little about the woman that they would one day marry. Hopefully you’ve been teaching your sons what kind of qualities to look for in a wife.

Now there are different ways that you teach your sons. The first and the most important is by what you model, the kind of woman that you are. If this is Bathsheba teaching, then Bathsheba had learned the hard way, but what a picture of God’s grace to think that even a mother who’s come into a relationship, a marriage that wasn’t God’s original plan or intent or best—to think that God can redeem those situations!

Here’s a woman saying to her son, “There is grace even for people who have blown it, but learn from my example. Don’t follow in some of the steps that your dad and I took. Here are the things that you need to look for in a wife. Here’s the kind of young man you need to be as you go into marriage, and here are the qualities that you want to make sure are in the woman that you choose to be your wife.”

She’s saying, “Don’t look first for natural, physical, external characteristics.” There’s nothing said about whether this virtuous woman is beautiful. Now I have the sense that she probably was, but perhaps not in the way our world defines beauty. She’s one of those women who has a beauty that comes from within. It’s from the inside out.

That’s the kind of beauty that doesn’t fade, as we’re going to see in the second half of this chapter. It’s the kind of beauty that gets more beautiful as a woman gets older. It’s the kind of beauty that endures because it’s a beauty of character and heart. It’s a beauty that’s born out of a relationship with God.

This is a woman who fears the Lord. She reverences God, and all the things she does, all her abilities and skills and homemaking activities, are birthed out of that heart and that reverence for God. That’s the core of the matter. That’s the heart of the matter, and so this mother says to her son, “Be the kind of man who’s worthy of that kind of woman, and then ask God to give you a woman who fits that picture.”

Leslie: Over the last couple of weeks I’ve learned so much about Proverbs 31 I’d never known before. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has paused to review where we’ve been in this in-depth study. Every woman needs to hear this important message from Proverbs 31. That’s why I hope you’ll get a copy of Nancy’s complete teaching on ten CDs.

When you’re discouraged as a wife or a mom, when you can’t remember why you’re serving other people so much, take out one of these CDs and let the Word of God give you an eternal perspective on your work. If you’d rather load the series into your ipod or computer, you can also order the series as one MP3 CD. Whether you want the MP3 or the regular audio CDs, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Let’s get back to Nancy Leigh DeMoss and The Counter-cultural Woman.

Nancy: Let me encourage you with a challenge we’ve been giving, in case you’re just joining us in this series. Proverbs chapter 31 has 31 verses, and we’ve been encouraging each other to take 31 days and read this chapter every day for 31 days, asking the Lord to teach you His heart and His ways. There’s something very helpful when it comes to Bible study about taking a passage, especially a shorter book of the Bible or a chapter like this one and reading it repetitively over a period of time.

I want you to do that because I’ve had the benefit of doing that myself, not 31 days exactly and not reading it every day in its entirety, but I’ve been immersed in this passage over the last month. As recently as last night and this morning and early this morning, the Lord has been putting new insights and understanding and light into my heart about this passage. You’ll find as you go back over a passage again and again and again, asking the Holy Spirit to teach you and to show you His ways, that God will open up new things to your understanding.

You may be thinking, if you’ve heard these last weeks of sessions, “I can’t imagine finding anything more in this passage than what we’ve uncovered,” but it’s amazing how God will continue to open up His Word because this Word is alive. It’s powerful. It’s life-changing.

You may find, as I did in my younger years reading this passage, that when you first read this passage, especially if you’re a younger woman or a new believer, you may find yourself thinking, “I don’t think I like this woman. I can’t imagine wanting to be like this woman.” As you get into the passage and look into other passages of Scripture that correlate to it, you’ll find that God will begin to give you a heart for the essence of this woman.

Now keep in mind that the outstanding thing about this woman is not all her abilities. It’s not all her capabilities. It’s not the fact that she can spin yarn and make thread from raw materials of wool and flax and then make thread and wool and then make cloth and then make clothing. It’s not the fact that she grinds her grain and makes bread from scratch while it’s still dark in the morning, and you’re thinking, “Does that make it a sin for me to go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread?”

Those aren’t the things that are the heart of this woman. Those are the things that are the way she lives out her heart, but the core of her heart is that she’s a woman who fears the Lord. That means she has a deep, heart reverence for God. Her relationship with God is at the core of her heart. That’s what she lives for: for love of God, the desire to serve Him and to be pleasing to Him.

She says, “Lord, You made me a woman. What does it mean to be a woman who fears the Lord, and how is that different from being a man who fears the Lord?” We see that there are some qualities that are distinctively womanly as we get into this passage.

We see a division of labor here. A man has a responsibility to go out and to provide for his family—to be a breadwinner in God’s ideal in the norm. The woman has a calling to be a worker at home, in God’s ideal, in God’s norm—that she should be managing the resources that her husband brings back into the home in order to care for her husband and her children.

Now I know that some of you are single, and you may be thinking, “How in the world does this passage apply to me?” Well, in a couple ways at least, and let me say as a single woman, this passage is very rich to me.

First of all, if there is the possibility or the likelihood that you will one day be married, then it would behoove you to be in a process of preparation. Now you may not know when or if, for sure, or who that husband will be, but if I were you, I would begin saying, “Lord, how can I prepare? How can I be learning the heart of a virtuous woman? How can I be cultivating that kind of heart, and how can I be learning the kinds of skills and abilities to help me live out that heart in the context of my home?

You may not have grown up in a home, whether you’re married or single, where you had a model of these kinds of qualities. Increasingly women have grown up in homes where they didn’t have models.

A woman said to me the other day, “My parents had a terrible marriage. After 23 years they divorced. My siblings have been through multiple divorces.” She said, “I don’t have models. Where do I learn how to be a woman of God?”

Well, that’s why we have the body of Christ, and there are women who do know how to be women of God, not flawlessly, not perfectly. They haven’t arrived yet either, but find one of those women. Ask God to direct you to an older woman, a Titus two woman, a woman who has been a wife and a mother.

Some of you women with younger children—I see a woman back here with a two-year-old and a four-year-old, and this is all new. There are new seasons of your children’s lives coming up. I would say find a woman who has raised her children and a woman who has done it God’s way and say, “Would you teach me?”

Some of you have no idea how to organize your day or your time or your house or your possessions, and yet you see in this passage a woman who is administratively minded. She knows how to organize her work. Find a woman if you don’t know how to do that; if that’s not your bent.

I’ll tell you it’s not my bent, so I’ve had to have people come around me who have helped me to learn how to manage my time, how to manage my work, how to organize and order my home. My mother worked on this with me for so many years when I was a little girl. I think she must have thought she would never succeed in getting me to get my room clean. I’ll tell you that more or less today I keep my house neat, but it didn’t come naturally for me. I had to have help and someone coming alongside and teaching me how to find a place for things and why it was important.

Let me just say here while we’re talking about this matter of orderliness and why it’s important to keep our homes in order. I came across a passage in a book by Susan Hunt, who’s a friend of mine, and has written some wonderful books on what it means to be a woman of God. This particular book is called The True Woman.

I want to share with you an illustration out of her book about why these things matter, why it matters that we learn how to keep our homes in order, why it matters that we learn how to keep ourselves in order. Susan Hunt says, “A friend of mine was discipling a young woman who was a major messy.”

Anybody in here who would feel you qualify for that category? A few, I’m sure. My mother would tell you that’s what I would have been called as a young woman—a major messy.

They had worked on cultivating the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and Scripture memorization. Then one day my friend said to this younger woman, "Now we have to do something about your house." The young woman was surprised.

“That doesn’t matter. My husband’s just as messy as I am. Neither of us would be happy without our clutter, and the kids would probably think they were in the wrong house.' But my friend persisted.

On Sunday the young husband talked with my friend and assured her that he was quite happy and really preferred things as they were. My friend still persisted. "This is an aspect of your discipleship," she told the younger woman. Then my friend marshaled the troops to help the young woman.

One woman in the church who had organizational skills spent a day helping her organize her cabinets and closets. Another taught her how to plan meals and shop with a list, and another taught her how to clean and how to delegate chores to her children. Then a woman helped her decorate her home. The transformation was remarkable.

Several weeks later the young husband again approached my friend. He said, "I didn’t think it mattered, but it does. I can hardly wait to get home now. Home has become a haven from the chaos of the world. The amazing thing is that I feel closer to my wife and appreciate her more than I ever could have imagined.”1

Isn’t that a great illustration? “Home has become a haven from the chaos of the world.” You know what the word domestic means—domesticity? It’s kind of an old-fashioned word we don’t hear much anymore, and if we do hear it, it’s often not in a positive sense.

The heart of domesticity is a devotion to home life. It’s a heart for the home. When we are being domestic, when we are having a heart for our homes, for our environment, when we’re concerned about preparing and making available food and clothing for our family members, when we’re concerned about making our home look attractive and keeping it from being a place of chaos, but rather making it a place of order, we’re really reflecting the heart of the Lord Jesus.

Did you know that Jesus is domestic? You say, “That sounds kind of strange. What would make you think that?” Listen to this verse in John chapter 14. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . I am going there,” to do what? “to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2 NIV).

What is Jesus doing right now? He’s homemaking. So as women, when we are homemakers, we are creating here on this earth a physical, visible, tangible reflection of an eternal, invisible reality.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” You see, when you’re making a home, you’re creating a place where your family’s hearts don’t have to be troubled. In this world their hearts will be troubled. This world is a messy, chaotic place, but you want to create an environment in your home—physically and also in the spirit of your home—that your husband wants to come home to and that he doesn’t have to trip over 17 things in the path to get there.

You say, “What does it really matter if my home is orderly?” I was with a friend the other day, and we stopped by her home. She wasn’t expecting company, and she had had to leave suddenly that day. She was embarrassed.

She’s not here, but she would not mind my saying this. The house was a mess, and I understood she had had to slip out unexpectedly. I was unexpected company, but I know that’s a woman who doesn’t live that way.

There are moments. If you have children, there are going to be times when your house is not all put together. It’s not all orderly, but the question is, do you have generally an environment that is orderly, that reflects an orderly heart, that’s not chaotic, that is a haven? If you do, then you are showing your children and your husband and your friends and your guests something that they cannot see now, and that is what God is preparing, what Christ is preparing for us in heaven—a place.

You’re saying, “I want you to get a glimpse of what you can experience in eternity—the heart of our Father who’s going to prepare a wedding feast for us there. As I prepare food for you now, I’m giving you a taste of heaven, and as I provide clothing for you now, whether it’s homemade or store bought, but as I’m taking care of your clothing needs as my family, I’m giving you a glimpse of heaven where we will be clothed in fine, white linen and how you can be clothed spiritually in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. You see, through our homemaking we give those that we love a picture of Christ, a picture of heaven, a taste of our real home.

Leslie: Have you been giving your family a taste of eternity? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining why the tasks that face you today are significant. Today’s teaching is part of a practical series on Proverbs 31 called The Counter-cultural woman. If you’ve missed any of the broadcasts, you can read the transcripts or hear the audio at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Also, when you visit our website, you’ll discover ways to share Revive Our Hearts with other women who would benefit from Nancy’s messages. Well, there are scores of marketing professionals who make it their job to get you to make an impulse buy. Find out why most of the time a Proverbs 31 woman wouldn’t make that kind of purchase. Nancy will explain on Monday. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1Susan Hunt, The True Women (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997), 128.

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