Six Pearls of Wisdom for Godly Women
Did you know that there is a big fish in the ocean that gets his teeth cleaned by a little fish? After spending a day feeding on little fish, the Oriental Sweetlips decides it’s time to get his teeth cleaned. He finds a certain kind of coral where the Blue-Streak Wrasse lives. He opens his mouth wide and the little fish swims in and starts eating the fish residue off the teeth of the Oriental Sweetlips. The main food source for the Blue-Streak Wrasse is the debris left on the teeth of the Sweetlips. Even more extraordinary is the fact the the Oriental Sweetlips knows not to chomp down on the little Blue-Streak Wrasse or his teeth will not be cleaned and will decay.
The blind shrimp has a live-in “seeing-eye fish”. It is called the goby fish. They live in most tropical seas and are always found together. The blind shrimp digs a hole and both the shrimp and the goby rush in. But the blind shrimp is continually cleaning the debris out of the hole that the ocean currents deposit. The shrimp and the goby exit the hole and the blind shrimp works feverishly on clearing the hole, all the while, keeping one of his feelers on the goby while he digs. If the goby sees a predator, the he signals by flicking his tail and both dart back in to the hole.
Did you know that if the earth were 10% closer to the sun we would all burn up? And if we were 10% further away, we would all freeze to death?
Think of the intricacies of the human body. Think of a little baby and how it grows. Think of the things we, as brand new parents, just seem to know in order to take care of the precious little bundles that God gives us for just a little while.
Is God real? Doesn’t nature prove it over and over again every day? Each of us must be sure there really is a God and that we really want to serve him. Psalms 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.” We must be convicted—grow our own faith, if you will. Faith doesn’t just happen.
The First Pearl of Wisdom—growing our faith and doing it on purpose.
When you were young, perhaps you held onto the beliefs of your parents. As you grew older and heard a lot of sermons you may have embraced God out of fear—fear of hell. You may have wanted to go to heaven because you thought it would be so beautiful. Certainly, you didn’t want to go to “the other place”.
You may have wanted to go to heaven to be with loved ones who have gone on before you. You may have thought of many questions that you wanted to ask the great heroes of the Bible like David or Soloman or Hannah or Lydia or Mary Magdalene.
As you grew and matured in your faith, you may have thought more about the sacrifice that God and Jesus made for us. His painful death on the cross may have evoked tears when you thought that your sins helped to crucify our Savior. The thought of a God with such a gift of grace may keep you going in your service to Him.
You may have wanted to be with your maker—the one who knows how many hairs are on your head, and how many of them are grey!
You may have thought about what it would be like to worship God every minute of every day, continually singing praises and in thanksgiving, and to have no more sorrow or pain or death.
Whatever the reason that you have for wanting to go to heaven, where-ever you are in your faith, remember that faith doesn’t just happen. We have to cultivate it and tend it. We have to GROW it—on purpose.
So the first pearl of wisdom is that we grow our faith—on purpose.
The Second Pearl of Wisdom—purposeful prayer.
One of the most basic and fundamental ways we do that is by prayer. We have an example of how to pray in Matthew 6:9-15. We can learn a lot about how to pray from this model. We can ask for necessities, for forgiveness, for spiritual blessings, and for the ability to resist temptation. Many of us quoted the model prayer for our own prayers when we were growing up. Then we gradually learned to say our own thoughts from our own hearts. Other places tell us even more about how to pray.
I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” All the time. Is that possible? We should be in a prayerful attitude all the time. We can talk to God any time and certainly should utter praises and pleas to Him many times throughout the day. Be persistent.
James 5:16 reads “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Our prayers can actually influence the mind of God. He listens to us. James 1:5 says, ”If any of you lack wisdom (and who doesn’t) let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” God won’t make fun of what we ask—he listens and takes our requests seriously. He will give us wisdom liberally! Not just a little, but a lot of it.
What are some aids to our prayer life? We can make a prayer list and then use it. It is good to keep your lists in a little notebook so that you can look back from time to time and see how God has answered your prayers. You can make a note in the margin as to how things turned out.
Another aid to prayer is the 5 finger approach. This is a guide to help us remember to pray for many different people and not just our own requests. Please look at your hand. Your thumb is closest to you. Pray for those closest to you. Your pointer finger can remind you to pray for your teachers, Bible class and others who teach, maybe your children and grandchildren. Your “Tallman” or middle finger is strong. It can remind you to pray for our leaders and for our governmental officials. Also, this would be a good reminder to pray for our troops. Your ring finger is the weakest finger. It can remind you to pray for the weak in our society—orphans, children, the hungry, and the lost. Your pinkie can remind you to pray for things you wish for yourself, although most of us don’t need a reminder for that one.
And another such acronym is ACTS. “A” stands for adoration. Tell God how much you adore him. “C” stands for confession. Confess your faults and things that are bothering you. Your Heavenly Father is listening! “T” stands for thanksgiving. This is the time for blessing counting and telling the Father how grateful you are. And “S” stands for supplication—your humble requests or petitions.
Pray for the little things. Have you lost something? Pray about it, believing it will help, and you will find it. This is not a miracle, this is the power of prayer. It is relying on God to help you through this life.
Phillippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing 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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
He wants us to ask Him for His help. He is more than willing to give it. And we are told to remember to thank him each time and every day.
Tell someone you are praying for them and then do it! Pray for your enemies or those who mistreat you. Pray for the lost. And pray for the opportunity to talk to them. Pray for the boldness to take advantage of the opportunities God sends your way. Our preacher has issued a challenge to us this year to pray for the opportunity to reach someone who is lost. He says he doesn’t think God will say to us, “No, I won’t help you!”
Pray for the missionaries who endure hardships to take the gospel to places where you can’t go. One of the things my mother has used in her prayer life for many years is the South American Prayer Guide issued by Continent of Great Cities Missions Organization. On it is the name of many of the teams in each country in South America. She uses it to pray for the missionaries by name, a different group each day.
Pray from your heart. The outpouring of yourself to the Father will surely draw you closer to Him. Sing His praises and thank God for all your blessings. Pray often.
So prayer and the power of prayer is the second pearl of wisdom and one of the ways we grow our faith. A healthy prayer life is the basis of a close relationship with our Father.
The Third Pearl of Wisdom—Personal Bible Study
Another way we grow our faith is through a personal Bible study.
How do we get to know God better? “So faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”—Romans 10: 17. We study His words, His will for us. We look for His commands. After we find out what He tells us to do, we are to put it into action but action begins with an in depth study of the Bible. Several years ago, in our Wednesday night ladies class, we had a study of all the commands of Jesus—the words in red. It took us a long time to study all of Jesus’ direct commands. And, of course, there are even more commands throughout the New Testament.
And then pick a time to study. It may or may not be the same time every day. Are you an early morning person? Do your study before everyone else gets up. Are you a late night person? Do it when the house is quiet at night. Maybe your time is waiting in the bus line to pick up children. But schedule Bible study into your day. The devil wants us to be busy—too busy to study God’s word.
Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” How do we gain such confidence? By study. And, you get a lot more studying done if you leave the TV off! Try turning it off for an hour and just studying your Bible.
How do you know what to study? What are you interested in? Use a concordance and look up the topic. Read all the references listed for that word. Take notes on what you read. Writing helps me to remember better. You might want to read a certain book of the Bible. Try reading the Proverbs, one chapter each day for a month. There are 31 chapters. You could read either the Old Testament
or the New Testament through. Or both. Some of our ladies are reading the Chronological Bible through. That gives a new perspective to what you are reading. Read Acts and learn about the first church. Read about Heaven using your concordance but just read and spend time in the Word. I promise you that you will grow closer to the Father. Still don’t know what to study? Pray about it and ask God to guide your interests. I think He will!
Write down every command that you come to and then put it into action in your life. You might even want to keep it as a journal, writing down things you do to accomplish this command. (I guess that is the school teacher coming out in me but, then again, aren’t we trying to learn?) Psalms 119:15-16 says, “I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways. I shall delight in Thy statues; I shall not forget Thy word.” And a little further on down in Psalms 119:105-106 the psalmist writes, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will confirm it, That I will keep Thy righteous ordinances.” And in 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul tells Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” Now, how are we going to handle the Word of truth accurately if we don’t study and learn it? Perhaps one of the most overlooked scriptures in the New Testament about becoming absorbed in God’s word is a passage frequently used as a proof passage for a capella music, Colossians 3: 16. It says in the American Standard version “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. “ The scriptural song worship comes from an overflowing of God’s word in our hearts. Worship comes naturally when we have been filed with God’s word.
You may say, “I go to church three times a week and listen to two sermons and sit through two Bible classes.” That is great. So do I. I really learn a lot from Bible class and from the sermons. And I get a lot of ideas for further Bible study from these. Take notes. Write down scriptures. Read the verses surrounding the scriptures that were used in the lessons. The sermons and Bible classes were not intended to substitute for home Bible study, but only to extend it. You can learn even more on your own. And it is your duty and privilege as a Christian to do so. The Bible is not just truths to be memorized but truths to be lived.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalms 14:19) Be a daily Bible reader. We are to study and meditate on His word and so grow your faith with the third pearl of wisdom -- personal Bible study. You will be blessed!
Fourth Pearl of Wisdom—Helping Others
Another way to grow your faith is to look for the little ways to serve others. Dorcas was a woman who used her talents for God. We find out about her in Acts 9: 36-42. She was full of charitable works and good deeds. She sewed for others and was able to touch many for the Lord in that way. She met the physical needs of those she served.
“For if you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me”, Matthew 25:40. Is there a lonely widow who needs a friend, someone to look after her? When I was growing up, after my mother lost her mother to cancer, she looked around the congregation and found a widow who had just moved into town. She lived in a small house out on our end of town. Moma started sitting by her, calling and checking on her, sending her cards and picking her up for services. When Moma cooked a meal for us, she would put the left-overs in a “t.v. dinner” tray and put foil on it and stick it in the freezer. Once or twice a week, she would take these dinners by Letha’s house for her to have to eat through the week. Usually, Moma would come home with the empty trays from the week before to refill for the next time. They became really close friends and both benefited from the relationship. After Letha died, my mother found someone else to focus her attention on. She has helped numerous widows in this way through the years. Is there someone who would benefit from your attention?
We are told to visit the widows and the orphans in their affliction (James 1: 27). “Visit” is more than “drive by and wave hi.” Is there a family who is in need? What about having a coat drive in the fall for those who need coats? There is an article in the September/ October Christian Woman called “Warm Coats from Warm Hearts”. The Granny White Church of Christ in Nashville, TN distributes hundreds of coats to those in need. They are a very big congregation but what they do is far reaching in their community. Some make extra large capes through the year to fill a gap in that clothing size. Others shop the end-of-season sales to buy children’s coats for the drive the next year. But what can we do? Can your ladies’ class clothe a family that needs warm coats? Can you check with the schools to see what children need a coat? Can you sponsor clothes for a child at Southern Christian Home? My family always did that while I was growing up. When we moved to Texas, we sponsored a child from the San Benito children’s home. The clientele at Southern Christian Home has changed over the years and, now, there are very few orphans there—most instead are abandoned or abused children. But the children still have needs and we, as Christians, need to step in and find out what they are. We need to say “yes, I will help”. The Church in Mulberry, AR has been working on the SCH farm. They have put in a pond, built fence, put livestock in the fence, worked on barns and built other structures. They are small but they think BIG. Could you buy a goat or some chickens? Could you plant flowers? Could you and your children clean up the yard of a shut-in or widow? Could you take a family of youngsters out for a picnic in the park to give a little Christmas shopping time to a young mother? Could you take the little ones to the Dollar store to let them buy her a present that she didn’t actually pay for and had not seen? Could you help them wrap it?
In that same issue of Christian Woman is an article titled, “Created for Good Works”. In it Melissa Lester says that “It is a privilege to think that we can serve as vessels through which others can see and experience the love of Christ.” She quotes Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”. The same God who created the world made us in loving detail. God created us to serve him. That is our purpose and we are happiest when we are following that path.
A few days ago, one of our fourth grade girls at our school, who is very likely in poverty herself, held the door open for me. She looked at me and said, “I just love doing things for people!” She has learned at an early age to do what she can. So send a card, or better still, make the cards that you send. Write a note, make a phone call, bake a dessert for a sick friend. Let your love for those around you show in your actions. If you can’t see what needs to be done, pray for the Lord to open your eyes to the opportunities that he sends. Like the little fourth grade girl, you will be blessed for giving yourself away.
Think about what you CAN do, not about what you can’t do. What talents do you have? What are your strengths? Share in this way and your faith will grow. So the fourth pearl of wisdom is helping others.
Fifth Pearl of Wisdom—Teaching others.
As older women, we are told to teach the younger women (Titus 2: 3-5).. Now, there is always someone younger than you! What can you teach? Are you a good cook? Teach the younger women to make your favorite meal or teenage girls to bake cookies for the elderly. (Be sure to check for diabetes before delivery.) Do you scrapbook? Offer to teach scrapbooking to interested ladies or young people. Do you sew or quilt or crochet? Share that with someone. Are you not crafty? Look for other things to do.
We are blessed at Dover to have many women who are excellent teachers. We have three ladies’ Bible classes on going. We have many children’s classes, Children’s church and a puppet ministry. We are training our young children in servant-hood. Two of our women at Dover take the young people to visit the shut-ins and nursing homes twice a month. Several of our women take communion and the gospel into the county jail for three months out of the year. This is a project that five churches in our area participate in.
Our young girls had a tea-party for all our ladies under the direction of one of our older women. She had the girls make the refreshments, serve, and do the entertainment. They also cleaned up.
I am teaching the teenage girls in our congregation how to act as young Christian women. In fact, the facts about our Creator and the need to grow our faith which I opened with came from the book that was written by a teenage girl, Hannah Coley. The book is called GIFTS. In it she talks frankly about the things that young girls have a difficult time hearing from their parents. Sometimes hearing these things from someone different means more to teens. I take them to the Bible for the answers. Have you raised teens? Do you have wisdom to share?
Have you heard the deacon or elder over the education program at the church where you worship beg for Bible class teachers? Can you help out? Take the challenge to teach someone. The fifth pearl of wisdom is to teach.
Sixth Pearl of Wisdom--Evangelizing
As Christians, another of those commands is to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) Yes, women too can preach, in appropriate settings! God tells us to plant the seed. He will take care of the increase. Can you go into all the world? Of course you can!
World Bible School is an excellent way to teach the lost around the world. WBS is working to get the message to the places where the ground is fertile. You can get on their list to receive students and teach without ever leaving your home! We attended a WBS dinner in Little Rock not long ago and heard about how WBS goes into the high schools and teaches the students. We heard a native preacher from Zambia who told us about his conversion. When he was just 15 he started in WBS. He did the first lesson and it took him several months to earn enough money to send it back to his teacher. He was eventually baptized and is now a gospel preacher. On this trip to America, he finally got to meet the little lady who taught him so many years ago. He visited her in the nursing home where she now lives. He still treasures the letter from the 1970’s that she had written to him talking about baptism. The letter is wrinkled and brown around the edges from much handling, but he still has it and still treasures it.
Can you go to a foreign country? If not, could you help someone else go? Can you reach your neighbors with the gospel? Can you find someone in need? Could you sew clothes for someone? Could you knit warm house shoes for a shutin? Or make a quilt? Could you do some baking for someone who has been in the hospital or has lost a loved one? Could you send cards to encourage them? Could you tell them about what Jesus has done for you? Could you invite them to come to church with you?
For many years, my mother taught a missions class to the children at the Downtown Church of Christ and now I am teaching missions to the children at Dover. In this class, I teach ages 4 through 6th grade about missionaries and cultures all over the world and some of the things that the missionaries face. The goal is to familiarize children with the mission efforts around the world and to plant the idea in their minds that they, too, can be missionaries some day. We are working to “grow a culture of missions” at the Dover Church of Christ. Could you teach children about missions?
Truth for Today has under-taken the command to take the gospel into all the world. They have a 15 year plan to accomplish this mission. 2008 is the year to reach everyone in the United States. They have published the book The Glory and Agony of the Cross by Charles B. Hodge, Jr. They have challenged the churches to purchase these books for $1 each and send them out to people in the community who are “unchurched”. They would then ask that we follow up with a visit and a Bible study, if we can. Our Wednesday night ladies’ class has mailed the books or will take them to everyone on our bulletin list who doesn’t come to church. We will also follow up with the visit. Could you do something like this?
Do you feel like you just can’t conduct a Bible study? Then make a meal and invite the family you would like to teach over. Also invite an elder or someone else over who could teach them. But when you study and pray about teaching, you will be surprised at how much you can do. Pray for boldness!
There are tornado victims in Arkansas, hurricane victims in Texas and Louisiana and other places and victims of fire and other disasters. When people are in need, they are also more willing to listen to the Message which you have for them. Educators call it “the teachable moment.” Could you go volunteer your help? Could you organize a drive to fill a truck with bottled water and needed supplies and send it to the area? Could you contribute to the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief fund? Once we tend to people’s physical needs, then we can often tend their spiritual needs. What else could you do?
You can pray for the lost and for the missionaries who work with them. This is a tremendous help for the work they are doing. They really need our prayers and encouragement. Could you send them cards? Or maybe send a care package with some of the things that are not available to purchase in the country where they are living. It might include peanut butter or taco seasoning pouches or other similar things.
So the sixth pearl and way to grow our faith is to participate in missions. There is always something you can do!
So what will you do with your pearls? Will you grow your faith? It’s time to stop making excuses. My first reaction when Juanita called me to talk tonight was “When would I get it ready?” and “I’m having a tough year at school!” and “I’m not funny!” and “I don’t have any wisdom!” And then I realized that these were just excuses. You didn’t want my wisdom, you wanted God’s wisdom. I didn’t have to have to share but I only needed to pray for wisdom and seek God’s agenda and He would take care of the rest. The time to do something is now—take your faith and your life to the next level. Grow, because if you are not growing, you are dying! Get rid of what stands in your way (well, maybe not your children!) But you have time. Ask yourself, “What is really important in the great scheme of things?” and “What will matter 100 years from now?” They are the spiritual things that grow your faith and bring you closer to God. I will close with a thought that my mom found in my daddy’s Bible after he passed away. It reads:
Work as if everything depended on your efforts.
Shine as if everything depended on your shining.
Give as if everything depended on your giving.
Pray as if everything depended upon your praying.
Attend church as if everything depended on your attendance.
Teach as if everything depended on your teaching.
I am only one, yet I am one.
I cannot do everything , yet I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do
And by the grace of God I will!
We are blessed at Dover to have many women who are excellent teachers.