Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Today we’re asking women, “What do you fear the most?”

Woman 1: I guess it’s losing those closest to me.

Woman 2: I’m afraid of heavy traffic on the freeways.

Woman 3: I worry about things happening to my grandchildren and my children.

Woman 4: I’m afraid of flying.

Woman 5: I am afraid that God’s hand of protection will be removed from this nation.

Leslie: This is Wednesday, March 7th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Terrorism, gas prices, the environment, AIDS, war. Catch up with today’s news and it’s likely to put you in a very fearful mood.

Nancy’s been teaching verse-by-verse through Proverbs 31 and explaining why the woman described there is so counter-cultural.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now, we’ve come to verse 25.

Let me say, by the way, we’ve been encouraging women throughout this series to be reading Proverbs 31 every day for 31 days. In fact, I heard from a woman who was at our last session. She shared with me afterwards something that God had spoken to her about that was a specific application of this passage in her home. She went back and began to make some changes in her home of a real practical nature. Maybe sometime we’ll let her share that testimony with you herself. I hope you’re doing that as we work through this passage.

We’re in verse 25, which talks to us about this woman’s clothing. But it’s not the description of clothing that you might expect. “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.”

We talked in the last session about how this woman is clothed with strength and honor that come from the presence of God. She’s been living in the presence of God, living in the Word of God. As a result, she’s able to respond to the challenges and the pressures and the busyness and the realities of everyday life in the power and under the control of the Holy Spirit of God.

I think of Ruth. She lost her husband. She lost her brother-in-law. She lost her father-in-law. Then she and her bitter mother-in-law moved from Moab to Israel where she knew that she would certainly face racial prejudice because the Jews did not like the Moabites. She knew that she would face an uncertain future as a widow in a culture that had no room for widows.

She was a poor woman. The fact that she worked in the barley harvest—that was a poor person’s crop, and she was just a gleaner. Just to subsist, just to barely eke out an existence she had to work very, very hard. We picture someone like Ruth as this model of a woman, just this beautiful woman. But chances are she had rough hands, rough skin because she had been working hard in that barley field.

She was a woman who was clothed in strength and with honor because she knew Jehovah. She knew what He was like. She knew He could be trusted, and that’s the key to the second part of this verse that we’re going to look at today. “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.”

If you’re reading from the New International Version, it says she can laugh at the days to come. Several of the translations do have the word “laugh” there. Aren’t you glad to know that laughter is part of being a woman of virtue? To be able to enjoy life, to be able to laugh at things that are fun and that are enjoyable.

One of the other translations says she’s cheerful about the future. I like that word cheerful. I think we need to be reminded as women . . . We get so caught up in our daily frustrations and the realities of what we’re facing in life that we tend to become uptight. Now, maybe I should just speak for myself. Maybe you never do that, but I find when I’m under deadlines and under pressure . . .

I’ve been working on a book recently and facing some deadlines and getting ready for these recording sessions. I find that in the midst of being squeezed I often am not a lot of fun to be around. I get uptight and consumed with my circumstances and with what’s going on around me. I think sometimes people would look at me and if they didn’t know the Lord, they might think, “If that’s what being a Christian is all about, I’m not sure that I really want to be one.”

I want to be the kind of woman who makes other people think that knowing Christ and serving Christ is the greatest thing in the whole world. Thinking about this verse has reminded me of how important that is.

Some of you as moms . . . Some of you have a lot of little children, some of you have teenagers, some of you are home schooling, some of you are carrying a real burden on your heart about older children and their spiritual condition, and it’s right to carry those burdens. Make sure in the burden-bearing that you’re in the yoke with Christ and letting Him carry that burden with you so that people won’t start to look at you and think, “Man, if that’s what being a mother is all about, I don’t think I ever want to be a mother.”

It’s important for your husband and your children to have a wife and a mom who looks at life with joy. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything in life is joyful or fun or happy. There are a lot of things in life that are sad, and there are a lot of things in life that are hard. So there’s a balance to all of this. But I think some of us get too serious and so heavy.

Maybe I’m speaking out of my own tendency that I need to be reminded that the woman who’s clothed with strength and honor can rejoice as she looks to the future. She can be cheerful as she thinks about what’s coming. I tend to get worried and pressured about things that haven’t even happened yet. If I’m clothed with strength and honor that come from being in the presence of the Lord, then I can look to the future with calmness, with peace, with joy, with anticipation.

Your husband and your children need a cheerful wife and mom in the home. So here’s a woman who’s confident. She’s free from fear. She’s free from fear about the future. She’s free from anxiety and from worry.

I got an email recently from a woman who said, “I’m a very protective mom. I’m an over-protective mom. I heard you on Revive Our Hearts recently quoting a verse that if God doesn’t guard the city, then we watch in vain (Psalm 127:1, paraphrased) and that the same applies to our children.” She said, “Boy, did a light bulb go on for me! I haven’t been trusting God with my children’s safety. I’ve repented of that sin.”

Boy, she called it a sin. She recognized it for what it was. She said, “I feel so much more relaxed. I realized that God is so much bigger than I am and that He can protect my children far more than I ever could.” See, here’s a mom who, when she looked at just herself and her circumstances, she became fearful; and when she became fearful, she became over-protective.

Now, you have a protective role in the lives of your children. But there’s a point at which you can start to smother them and to be controlling. When you’re afraid, the tendency is to become a controller. But the woman of God who’s virtuous, who’s a noble woman is a woman who fears the Lord. Therefore, she doesn’t have to fear the future.

She’s free from fear. She’s free from anxiety. She’s free from worry, so she doesn’t have to be always fixing everything and everyone around her. She doesn’t have to be controlling her circumstances because she knows that God is in control of her circumstances.

There are a lot of women that I know who are fearful women. Now, we all have times when we become fearful, but I know some women who are just characterized by fear. They’re afraid of the weather, so they’re always having to make sure there’s not a storm coming or a tornado or hurricane or whatever.

Afraid of financial disaster. We live in days when economics are uncertain and there are a lot of layoffs and there are a lot of big businesses. There are women living in fear of whether they and their family are going to make it financially. Fear for the children’s safety.

The woman who is clothed with strength and honor that comes from God doesn’t have to live with those fears. Now, that doesn’t mean that the problems won’t come. They will.

But it means that she knows that there is a God in heaven who is controlling that weather, controlling the environment, controlling her circumstances, who is better able to care for her and her husband, better able to meet their needs than she possibly could. As a result, she can relax. She can smile. She can look with joy upon the future.

Leslie: Relax, smile, look with joy. How often do we as women do those things? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been reminding us that being godly doesn’t equal being uptight. She’ll be right back to pick up on this subject of fear.

The Bible is so practical. Did you ever realize you could study the Bible and learn to laugh more? Nancy’s study of Proverbs 31 includes all kinds of practical teaching like this. She really makes the Bible come alive as a guidebook for the 21st century woman.

I don’t think any of us will ever master Proverbs 31 in this lifetime. It’s a chapter that women need to return to again and again. I hope you’ll add Nancy’s series, The Counter-Cultural Woman, to your library and review it once a year. Make sure you’re growing into biblical womanhood and review this practical teaching during every season of life.

Order The Counter-Cultural Woman on ten CDs; or if you listen on the iPod, you can order one MP3 CD. Either way, visit ReviveOurHearts.com to get a copy of this important message. Or you can call 1-800-569-5959.

Let’s get back to Nancy, who’s been teaching us to choose laughter over fear.

Nancy: I think one of the things that women most fear today is the future. What’s going to happen? Is the world going to spin out of control? We see terrorism and world events being so tense and strained and so many of us as women, especially those of you who are mothers, you’re concerned about what kind of world your children are going to grow up in. There’s a tendency to just live with fear.

Fear about the future. Fear about your husband dying. Fear about losing a child. But as we have come to verse 25, we see that this is a woman who is clothed with strength and with honor, with dignity. She’s a woman who is not overcome with fear. The Scripture says in the second part of this verse, “She shall rejoice in time to come.”

One translation says she’s cheerful about the future. She looks to the future, not with fear, but with hope. The reason she can do that, we said in the last session, is because her hope is in God and her fear is in the Lord because she reverences God. She has confidence in God. She knows that He’s in control. She knows she can’t control her circumstances and her future anyway.

Isn’t it amazing how we try to control things that we really can’t control? So she relinquishes control. She surrenders control to the God of the universe as if to say, “Lord, I know that You can handle this.”

Isn’t it foolish for us to lie awake at night worrying about things, some of which haven’t even happened, some of which may never happen. To be doing that when the Scripture says that the God who’s the creator of heaven and earth never sleeps. He’s up. He’s thinking about it. He’s dealing with all that concerns us. His Word promises in Psalm 138, “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me” (verse 8).

So here’s a woman who is not afraid of what’s to come. She can look to the future with confidence, with peace, and with calm in her heart.

I think one of the things that many women have been programmed to fear today about the future is this whole thing of aging because our culture is so bent on youth being what is beautiful and preserving youth. You look at the advertisements for women’s products . . . I hope you don’t spend too much time reading those magazines and looking at those advertisements because they can make you really feel inadequate and inferior.

You’ll notice, for example, today if you go into a group of women, you rarely see many women with gray hair today. Now, you’ll notice that I have gray hair. You know, there was a period of time in my 20s when I colored it because I did start graying in my early 20s, but there came a point when I said, “You know, it’s okay for me to have this gray hair. I’m old enough to have gray hair, and I’ve worked for these gray hairs. I think I’ll keep them.”

Today . . . In fact, I remember going to a . . . speaking at a conference where they were giving out door prizes at the beginning of the conference and one of them was for someone who colored her hair just before she came to this conference. Do you know how many women in that room of about a thousand women raised their hands that they had just colored their hair before they got to that conference? I’m not saying there’s anything sinful about coloring your hair, but I think it’s symptomatic. It’s indicative of a push in our culture that you have to stay forever young.

One of my goals in life has always been—and some of you have heard me say this before . . . Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be a godly old lady. I have this kind of mental picture about what that kind of woman looks like, and she has gray hair. So I figure by keeping this gray hair, I’m moving myself a little further toward that goal. I will say that the old part comes easier than the godly part.

How did I get off on all that? Here’s where I was headed. I was asked recently to endorse a book that a godly, older man has written on the subject of aging. I don’t know why they asked me to endorse this book, but I was glad they did, actually, because I was glad to be able to review this book written by a man who really is going to finish well. It’s a book about how to finish well and how to age in a gracious way.

I want to be reading that kind of thing now, not to wait until I’m older and not finishing well. I want to read it now in my 40s so that I can learn what it takes to finish well. But one of the things I realized as I was reviewing this book is that the person who walks with God and fears the Lord, man or woman, can look forward to aging without fear.

Now, I have a number of close friends who are now elderly—in their late 80s, into their 90s—and the most godly of them will tell you that there are some things about being old that are harder than being young. Some of my close friends are really struggling with some major health issues and there are things that are hard.

But I’m seeing some beautiful things in the character, in the hearts, in the marriages, in the lives of those people that makes me realize it really is possible to face even aging with joy, with peace, with confidence in the Lord, knowing that even in those seasons of life when we don’t have the strength that maybe at one time we did, physically, that there can be a spiritual strength.

You see, Paul talks in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, about how our outward person is decaying. Talking about going over the hill, I know when I hit 40, I started experiencing things in my body that I didn’t experience in my 30s. I could jog in my 30s. I’m hard pressed to do that today and trying to keep up with walking. There are changes that are taking place and our bodies are deteriorating. There’s no way that a person who’s 80 can look like a person who’s 30 in their body.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, that though our outer bodies are deteriorating, yet our inner man is being strengthened. It’s being renewed day-by-day. We have that to look forward to if we fear the Lord (see verses 16-18).

We have here an 89-year-old grandmother—great grandmother probably—who’s with us today. I know a little bit about her and know that she’s still growing spiritually. She’s still seeking the Lord and in His Word and developing spiritually. She’s not too old for that. That’s aging with grace.

So as we look forward to the future, we can do it with hope. But let me remind you that it’s our choices today that enable us to look to the future with hope. Virtuous character and a virtuous heart in a woman in her 40s is what prepares her to be an 89-year-old woman with grace.

You see, I realized a number of years ago that I wasn’t going to just wake up at 80 years of age and be this gracious, sweet, kind, loving, godly woman that I’ve always wanted to be. I realized it’s a process. I’m in that process right now. The choices I make today—my willingness to surrender to the Word and the ways of God today—are what is determining the kind of older woman that I will be.

I’ve known some older women who are . . . They’re crotchety. They’re bitter. They’re angry. They’re negative. They’re irritable. I’ve known some older people like that. I don’t want to be that kind of woman. But I know if I let myself be an irritable woman today and don’t check those impulses in my flesh and don’t learn how to walk in the Spirit today while I have physical strength, when I’m 80 and have some things gripe about, I’m going to be a whiner. I’m going to be a complainer if I haven’t been developing these qualities of virtue as a younger woman.

So the woman who fears the Lord, who trusts in the Lord, who is walking as a woman of virtue clothed with strength and honor, that woman can rejoice about time to come. She can look forward to the future with hope and she can look forward to being a woman who has been a nurturer of the younger women who are still in that process. So much to look forward to.

Now, let me just remind us that we need to make the kinds of choices today that will enable us in the future to look back without regret. Some of us are making choices today in the ways that we react to circumstances, in the ways we talk to people who annoy and irritate us, in the choices we make about our job, our work, the way we spend money, what we do with our time.

Listen, if you are wasting time today on things that do not have eternal significance, then you will find yourself in the future looking back with regret. I want to live in such a way today that 10 years, 15, 20, 30, 40—however many more years God would give me—years later I can look back without regret.

Some of you are struggling in a difficult marriage. I don’t know the details. I don’t know the circumstances, but I know that some of you are ready to walk out on your marriage.

I got an email yesterday from a woman who said, “Should I just take my kids and walk out on this situation?” It’s a horribly difficult situation. Now, my heart goes out to this woman. I can’t imagine facing what she’s facing. I can’t imagine facing what some of you are facing.

But as you make those choices, make sure you’re not making choices that some years from now you will look back and you will say, “I wish I had done it differently. I wish I had been faithful. I wish I had hung in there. I wish I had trusted God to intervene in my circumstances rather than taking matters into my own hands and try to fix things myself.”

The virtuous woman makes choices today that will keep her future free from regret.

Leslie: What kind of woman will you be when you’re 80? That question depends quite a bit on the way you invest in spiritual things now. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been giving us that important reminder and she’ll be right back to pray.

Are you ready to spend your time developing lasting, godly qualities? Then invest some time in a helpful book called Becoming God's True Woman. Nancy wrote some of the chapters and other godly women, like Dorothy Patterson, Mary Kassian, and Bunny Wilson, also contributed.

When you read this book, you’ll be challenged to honor God in uniquely feminine ways. You’ll get an overview on what biblical womanhood means. You’ll learn how to raise feminine daughters, how to become a mentor to younger women, and how to help your husband more effectively.

All week Nancy’s been painting the picture of a wise, godly woman. Maybe someone has come to your mind who fits the description. Tomorrow, we’ll hear from listeners who describe the wisdom they’ve learned from their mothers and other godly women. Don’t miss this touching program tomorrow.

Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, in every season of life, we want to be women who bring You glory. I just thank You that because You’re God and because You’re in charge and because You’re in control and because You’re good, we can look forward to the future with hope. That we can be cheerful as we face the future. That we can be women of joy.

May our lives be so full of Your Spirit that others look at us and they say, “Being a woman is a joyful thing. Being a godly woman is a reason for rejoicing.” And they will want that because of what they see in us. I pray 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 unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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