Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Tasks that seem mundane can actually have an important spiritual significance. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Get a vision for your work in your home and remember as you're cleaning, as you're ironing, as you're doing things to make your home attractive, remember that you're painting a picture for your children—a picture of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 22nd.

I would guess that right now you have a long list of things to do. Well, the way you go about your tasks could have long-lasting spiritual significance. In a few minutes, listen as some women remember watching their moms tackle difficult jobs. It will help you realize how much your work is being noticed today.

First, Nancy is continuing in a series called The Counter-Cultural Woman.

Nancy: We've been looking, one verse at a time—even one phrase or one word at a time—at what I think is one of the most important passages in all of God's Word, as it relates to our roles as women.

Proverbs 31—and I've encouraged you (if you haven't started, it's not too late) to commit yourself over a period of 31 days, to read Proverbs 31. It has 31 verses. Read it every day over 31 days and to ask God to teach you and show you what it means to have His heart as a woman. We've seen that this is a woman who supremely reverences God. She loves the Lord, and as a result she loves her family.

Because of her love for God and her love for her family, there's a practical outworking of that love in her home. We're looking at some of that practical outworking. But as we look at these very specific nitty-gritty tasks that she performs, I don’t want you to get stuck on the tasks. Don't lose sight of the big picture.

Why is she doing this? What is the purpose? Her life goal is to glorify God, who she reverences and fears—to please Him. She's willing to be involved in the every day tasks of life as a homemaker—the high and holy calling that it is—to serve her family in ways that you may not think of as particularly “spiritual.”

We looked over the last several days at verse 13 where it talks about how she seeks wool and flax and spins and sews and weaves and does all these things with her hands to make clothing for her family. That may not seem like a very spiritual calling, but it is spiritual. It's holy; it's an act of worship. It's an act that's consecrated to the Lord, if it's done for devotion to God and to your family.

Today, we come to two verses—verses 14 and 15—that depending on your preferences and your makeup, may make you grimace a little bit. But I promise they will make your family happy. Verses 14 and 15: "She is like the merchant ships [we'll explain that in just a moment].” Verse 15: "She also rises while it is yet night [or still dark], and provides food for her household, and a portion [or tasks] for her maidservants."

Now your husband and your children will be very happy if you take these verses to heart. I have a friend who used to say when her boys were out of sorts, "Before you deal with them, just feed them. Get something in them and it will look different." It was amazing how often that seemed to be true.

Here is a woman who cares, practically, to make sure that her family gets fed; and they get well fed. They get balanced and nutritious meals. Now we're looking at a day when women did not have refrigeration, so she was having to go out shopping probably every day for the ingredients needed for every day's meal. She was willing—we see a woman with a heart that's willing—to sacrifice and to make extra effort in order to adequately meet the physical needs of her family.

She's like these merchant ships, which doesn't mean she looks like a ship, it just means that, “like the merchant ships,” she goes out. The merchant ships in those days would go out and sometimes go to faraway lands to find things that you couldn't find at home. They would find these exotic or rare treasures and they would bring the treasures back for the benefit of the people who had sent them out.

It's really just a picture of the woman grocery shopping. She's interested in their health and in their well-being. As a result, she's willing, if necessary, to scout out different shops in the neighborhood or in the area to find foods that have quality—that have value. Of course, she's trying to economize for her family.

That may mean she goes to the supermarket for one stop and then she stops at Sam's to buy some bulk items less expensively, and then maybe to the produce stand to find fresh fruits and vegetables that she wasn't able to find at the supermarket. But she comes home with her cart filled with bags of groceries. Is her family happy when she does?

When she gets those groceries inside, she's going to be involved in the food preparation. That's what we see in verse 15. “She also rises while it is yet night [early in the morning], and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.”

Now this is getting a little meddlesome at this part of the passage, but there is no question that this woman is an early-riser. She has to be! In those days, women had to be up long before dawn, to prepare the morning meal, which would allow the men to go to work early, so that they could come home and rest during the heat—the hottest part of the day.

But she also had to get up early because families in that culture would live mostly on bread and other foods that were made from grains, and she didn't have a supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread and those ready-made foods that we can do today. So before her family was up, if she was going to have them fed, she was going to have to start her day by grinding the grain, mixing the dough and then baking these flat bread patties on hot rocks, fire, ashes, or whatever.

So she didn't have any option. She had to get up early. Here's the thing. Godliness is not what time you get up in the morning. Godliness is doing whatever you have to do to make sure that your family's needs are met. If you don't have to grind bread, consider that a blessing! If you like to grind bread, consider that a blessing—I'm sure your family does. After tasting some of the bread that you women have made, it's real hard to go back to the store bought stuff.

But this passage isn't saying you have to grind your own bread. It isn't saying that you have to set your alarm clock for three o’clock in the morning. It's saying the woman who has a heart for God and a heart for her family will do whatever she has to do to make sure that their needs are met in practical areas such as food.

This is a woman who is not slothful. She's disciplined. She lives by priorities. Keep noticing that her priorities are centered around her family and her home. I can't say it enough. This is not a woman who's living for herself. She's living for others.

I remember some years ago a woman coming to one of our conferences. One of the things that God spoke to her about was so practical—and I hadn't said anything about that particular thing. But as she was developing God's priorities for her life, she realized that something she needed to do was to start getting up early to fix breakfast for her husband.

Now, as I recall, her husband left for work at some very, very early hour of the morning and it had never been part of her pattern, and apparently something that he hadn't made an issue about. So he'd get up while she was still in bed. She was still asleep, and he'd go off to work.

God began to speak to this woman about her priority as a wife in this particular marriage that one application of love for her husband was that she needed to start getting up early to fix breakfast for him before he left for work.

I'm not going to say that you have to do that. I'm saying ask the Lord, "What will minister to the needs of my family? What will minister to the needs of my children? What time do I need to get up to do that?" Then ask God for grace to get up at that time or to go to bed at night in time to get up and do that in the morning.

Here is a woman who is organized. She is prepared; she's planned. She's an administrator. Again, if you don't know how to organize and administer your home affairs, find a woman who has a gift along that line and can help you develop those skills. We see here that she's managing—oh, you were waiting for this—the household servants. Say, "That's it! I knew she had servants. Yep. She's up there in the morning. She's providing food for her household, but look how she's doing it. She's delegating responsibilities to her maidservants."

Well, lest you think you don't have any servants—today, we have tons of servants, but they're mostly mechanical! We call them a dishwasher, washer and dryer, kitchen appliances, blender, and a vacuum cleaner. So we do have servants. But you know what we have to do? It's what this woman did. We have to organize them. We have to give them their task, their portion, their responsibility, and put them to work doing what they were made to do.

As we look at these verses and continue through this passage, I want you to see that in everyday, practical ways, the excellent wife—the virtuous wife, the excellent mother—is giving her family a picture of Christ and of spiritual realities. You say, "Food preparation is showing my family something about Christ and about spiritual realities?" You bet it is.

You're living out parables. You're demonstrating parables of spiritual life to your children as you work with your hands, as you serve in your home. When you prepare food for your family, you're demonstrating to them that God is a faithful provider. When you're being quality conscious in the things that you purchase, you're showing your children the excellence of the character of God.

When you're being orderly, when you get your home put back together after it pulled apart . . . Now, I'm not talking about fanatical. I'm just talking about learning to have a place for things and things getting put back in their place. As you are orderly, you are teaching your children that God is a God of order.

When you clean things up in your home, when you keep a clean home, you're showing your children the importance of purity, holiness of heart, of being clean and washed before God.

When you're disciplined in your life and habits and schedule and the time you get up and the time you go to bed according to the way that God has directed your family, when you're disciplined, you're teaching your children that the Christian life requires discipline. You are teaching them that you can't just stay in bed and become spiritual. It requires effort and cooperation with God's Spirit to develop godly habits, patterns, and sanctification in our lives.

When you reach out your hands—as we'll see that this virtuous woman does—to the poor and the needy and you're ministering to the needs of others, you're showing your children the heart of God for those who are poor and needy and oppressed.

Get a vision for your work in your home. Remember as you're cleaning—as you're ironing, as you're sewing, as you're picking up, as you're painting, as you're beautifying your home, as you're doing things to make your home attractive, remember that you're painting a picture for your children—a picture of God. You're demonstrating to your children in ways that penetrate deep into their hearts, the heart of God, the ways of God, and you're increasing the likelihood that your children will grow up to love that God and to want to be like Him.

Leslie: Your work today really matters. It has long-lasting spiritual significance, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you that in a series called The Counter-Cultural Woman.

If you've missed any of this in-depth look at Proverbs 31, you can still order the entire series on 10 CDs. Or if you're going to download these to your computer or iPod, make things easier on yourself and order the series on one MP3 CD. Either way, you'll get longer versions of Nancy's messages because we don't always have time to air all her teaching. But you can hear it when you order the CD.

Look for The Counter-Cultural Woman at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call 1-800-569-5959.

Nancy's been explaining that our actions are being noticed. They're having a long-lasting effect on our children. To illustrate, here are some listeners telling us what they remember about their moms.

Woman: My mother is an example of what Nancy has been referring to, as having a heart for God. Mom had seven children by the time she was 26. She made each one of us feel like we were special, like we were spoiled, not that we didn't have chores—she taught us how to work with our hands. We did work.

But we need to appreciate every moment God has given us. I want to encourage the women of today to realize the gifts that you give in love—the gifts that you give unconditionally will return tenfold and you will reflect Christ. My mother to me is a picture of who Christ is.

Nancy: So good. Debbie?

Debbie: As Nancy was talking this morning, in verse 15 where it says, "She rises also while it is yet night," she talked about the priority of having Jesus first. My parents weren't saved until I was a junior in high school, but because of that, my mom was so teachable. As I grew up, the thing that I remember most is my mom sitting at the breakfast table, with her Bible open and her prayer list.

Even as I went through college, I'd come down early in the morning at 6:00 AM, and I knew that she'd been up all night long. I had heard the babies crying. I had heard her up taking care of them. Yet as I came out at 6:00 in the morning, I knew that I would find my mom with the Lord at the table.

She taught me priorities in my life. Because of that, I have made the priority of being with Jesus first thing before anything else.

The other thing my mom taught me was the second priority: My husband is the most important person on this earth. She sacrificed for my father. She served my dad, and she was a team player with him. He was a pharmacist. She would go into the pharmacy, and she would be there for him. She would work beside him when he needed her. When she didn't, she came home to be with us.

Nancy: That's great.

Woman 2: When my sister and I were born, my mother made the choice to leave her career and stay home with us to raise us. She is the only educated one in our family, and yet she stayed home and gave me that example of making that choice to leave her career to stay home. I truly believe that apart from my mother's example, I would not be a worker at home enjoying caring for my family.

It even goes farther. When my husband and I were in ministry, God called us to go to Africa. After I was there for less than a year, I took time to reflect. As I did so, I could see that my mother had raised me—by teaching us how to work with our hands at home—equipped me to be a successful missionary, even when I never intended to be a missionary!

Life in East Africa in the 1980s was much like life in America in the 1950s—everything was made from scratch. There were very few appliances that made life convenient. Even when we got back to the States, my kids continued to want me to make mayonnaise from scratch and biscuits from scratch. I let them know that you can buy those things at the store and you don't need to [make them from scratch]. (Laughter)

But it truly was my mother who set me up to be successful in life and to be able to live the life that God had called us to. I give this tribute to her.

Nancy: Does this make you feel like we are really spoiled? This is incredible listening to this. We could not endure, most of us as younger women, could not function in those kinds of circumstances today. We've not had to develop that kind of character.

Woman 3: I tell you, every verse reminds me of my mother, but especially verse 12 where it says, "She does him good all the days of her life and not evil." Mom certainly was that to dad. She would travel to the nursing home, drive her little car about five miles, and visit him every day.

When I was a little girl, my dad was more interested in coon hunting and fishing. She stuck by his side and allowed him to be who he wanted to be, just patiently waiting. When he was 65 years old, my dad fell from the top of the barn—40 feet high.

When I got to talk with him I said, "Dad, certainly you cried out to the Lord when you fell those 40 feet." He said, "What would I have done that for?" He still was not going to church. He waited a long time. A year later, about to the day, my mom needed surgery. He was so concerned he was going to lose her. That's when he prayed to receive Christ.

I wasn't there at the time of her surgery, but my two sisters were. When they got the good report that everything was okay they said, "Let's go eat, Dad." He said, "Don't we need to go to the chapel first, and thank God?"

Nancy: I wonder, as we've listened to these moving tributes—I've really been stirred just hearing some of you share about the role model and the example that you had in your mother—I wonder if we need to perhaps take some steps of action, in response to what we've just heard.

For one thing, have you ever stopped to thank God for the mother He gave you, and to thank Him for the specific ways that she was a good mother? For the qualities that she illustrates, though she may not have been like Proverbs 31? She may not even have been a believer. But we've focused on the positive traits. We've expressed gratitude.

I have found in my own life, that though my parents have had their faults and their failures—and they would be the first to tell you that—the more I've expressed gratitude to the Lord and to my parents for those qualities, the more freed up in my heart I have become about the tough areas, about the areas that were weaknesses rather than strengths. What are some things that You can thank Him for, that you saw illustrated in the life of your mother that are godly qualities, qualities of a woman of virtue, an excellent woman?

Write them down. Then I want to challenge you, if your mom is still living, to look for an opportunity to some way make a tangible tribute to give to your mom, to present to her. If she is still living, don’t wait until the funeral to say, “Thank you.”

Let me say, too, that if you did not have a mother who feared the Lord or walked with God, that does not have to be a handicap to you. You can start a whole new family line. You can become a woman who fears the Lord for your children, for your grandchildren, and for your great-grandchildren. I hope that you're praying for future generations until the Lord comes. Even those prayers now are going to sow seeds that maybe you didn't know to sow when you were actually raising your children.

So whatever season of life, whatever the issues, we can be women who reverence the Lord and who are worthy of having said of us someday the words that so many of you have shared about your mothers.

Leslie: The way your children will remember you depends on the way you live your life today. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been reminding us of that, and she'll be right back to pray. Nancy also just encouraged you to thank your mom in a tangible way for the things she's done for you.

Dennis Rainey explains how to do this in a book called The Best Gift You Could Ever Give Your Parents. This quick read will describe how meaningful it is to write your parents a tribute. It takes you step by step through the process of writing, framing, and presenting this priceless gift.

Nancy wrote a tribute to her mom after following Dennis' advice, and it had a huge impact on her. I hope you'll experience the same thing and order The Best Gift You Could Ever Give Your Parents. You can order quick and easy at ReviveOurHearts.com or by calling 1-800-569-5959.

Jesus is preparing an eternal home for us. That truth will affect your actions today as a mom. Find out why, tomorrow. Now to help us reflect on the tributes we just heard and to lead us in prayer, here's Nancy.

Nancy: Father, thank You for the sweet spirit and the sweet example we've seen in these women who have obeyed Your Word and honored their mothers. Lord, I pray that wherever we are in our development as women who fear the Lord, that we would come to You with our own failures. I pray that we would apply to You for grace, humble ourselves, acknowledge our need and then take the next step, by Your grace, to become women who are worthy of praise and honor. I pray it in Jesus' name, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. 

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