Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Before I begin the devotional, ladies, I want to sincerely apologize for just now posting it! I've been swamped today with school, etc. Thank you for understanding. And to all those who have e-mailed me recently: thank you SO VERY much! Your e-mails have been such a rich blessing and joyous encouragement to me! I have felt so honored reading them. I had recently received some "persecution in word form" so to speak, regarding my "weird convictions" and was sort of discouraged, but whenever I felt that way, I "just happened" to go check my e-mail and there was an encouraging e-mail awaiting me. I think the Lord led you to send those to me, knowing that I needed encouragement right at that time, and I thank Him and you for those e-mails! :) I will be responding to every one of you as soon as possible! :)
Do not let your heart envy sinners.
~ Proverbs 23:17a (NKJV)
I just came across this verse as I was searching through the Scriptures, trying to come up with a verse to use for today's devotional. I think the Lord led me to this wonderful chapter(which I will, as of now, after reading some of its amazing verses, be using its contents for more of the following devotionals coming up!) and verse, because I can speak from experience in this area, and I think He has some words for me to say, that will hopefully be an encouragement to all of you, especially to those of you with likeminded convictions, who have probably faced some persecutions from friends and family because of them.
Shortly after our convictions began changing (please note my testimony), I began wearing skirts sometimes to my homeschool group meetings(I now where skirts/dresses exclusively). The fellow homeschoolers began looking at me strangely, like I was weird to be dressing in a distinctly feminine garment, and they would ask me things such as, "Why are you wearing a skirt?? What are you doing dressed like that?" Now, I know this may seem like a very little thing-afterall, they didn't really know anything about my changing convictions regarding men's and women's roles, my views on homemaking, etc., so I didn't recieve any persecution from them for those bigger areas, but I still hated for people to look at me and think I was weird. I've always been a very sensitive person, ever since earliest childhood, and so I absolutely hated for people to look at me strangely, or to think I was weird or crazy, etc. So, as you can imagine, this was hard for me! I didn't like feeling weird when I attended homeschool group. At times, I desired to just be like all the other females there, wearing jeans like everyone else-like "normal" people. At times, I'm ashamed to say, I wished that my father(who made it known that he preferred it when I dressed like a distinctly feminine lady) was like all the other dad's-not caring what their daughters wore(providing that it wasn't immodest). Now, looking back, I am so unbelieveably ashamed in the highest degree for ever wishing that I or my godly father were like the world around us!! The Bible says that to love the world is to hate the Father, and so for me to think this way, was absolutely sinful and abhorred in God's sight!
I was desiring to look and be more like the world(the sinful, God-hating world) just so that I wouldn't be thought weird or strange by others. I was doing exactly what this verse prohibits and commands us to not do: I was envying the sinners(of course, we're all sinners! this verse is speaking on those people of the world, who do not belong to God). I was envying the fact that they aren't thought of as weird in the world's eyes. How horrible!!! As you can read in my testimony, God had very graciously and lovingly changed my heart and convictions and the heart and convictions of my immediate family members, fashioning them and refining them to be more in accordance with His Word. If it weren't for his work in my life(and in the lives of my immediate family members), I would still be very feministic (and thus, very anti-God and His Word, teachings and commands). He was amazingly gracious (much more merciful and gracious than I would ever deserve-I'm nothing but a sinner!) to me, in changing me and my beliefs. So, how dare I desire to be more like the world (and thus not be thought of as weird) when the Lord has drawn and rescued me out of the lost world, and has instead showered me with mercy, grace, and the refiner's fire. This verse really convicted me at that time! The Lord used it to reveal to me the horrible sinfulness of my ways and desires. Instead of worrying over being thought the least bit weird (which is absolutely nothing compared to what Jesus and the martyrs faced!), I should have been rejoicing in God my Savior that He rescued me out of the harmful and detrimental teachings of feminism, etc., and instead showed me the beauty of Biblical daugherhood, Biblical womanhood, and Biblical femininity, and the beauty of embracing the roles that God has lovingly given to me as a female! I should have been wholeheartedly praising Him, rather than worrying about the outcomes of His goodness(i.e. being thought of as weird by the world). If we're truly living a godly, Christ-like life that is based solely on God's Word, then we will be persecuted by the world-that's a given and a guarantee! The Bible says that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will indeed be persecuted. But(as I wrote about in a previous devotional), that persecution is a blessing! It's used to bring glory to God, and to make us into a witness to the world.
Ladies, I shared all of this with you to be an encouragement to you. To those of you who find yourself persecuted and looked down upon for your completely Biblical convictions and way of life, take heart! Be strong and of good courage, for the Lord has promised to never leave you nor forsake you-He goes with you wherever you go, and is right by your side, protecting you always! Stay strong when others persecute you because of your beliefs and counter-cultural way of life, knowing that you are doing exactly what the Lord wants you to, and are living exactly the way He desires for you to. He will richly bless you if you just obey Him, rather than following the world and its teachings. Never envy the way or life of sinners, but rather, thank God heartily that He has changed, sanctified, and refined you, in accordance with His Word! That indeed is a blessing-take heart and rest it in, and give no attention to what the world says about you. Follow Him, and rest in the fact that you are pleasing Him-the only one worth pleasing! :)
God bless you all!