Beth Moore - Grace and Grit
I want you to turn with me to Ephesians chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 1, and I have thought and thought and thought how in the world to tell you. I'd like to explain how a particular theme came to my heart and what God used to bring it and stir it, and I can usually answer that in a pretty quick way but I can't do that this time. And so, the more I've wrestled with how can I put this in a nutshell so that they will understand what brought me all the way to our theme this weekend, I just felt really stirred in my spirit that I was supposed to just go with it and tell you the longer story of it, instead of the short story of it. I have been memorizing out of the Book of Ephesians.
Now, I want to tell you something about the Word of God that you cannot find any place else. You go get you a wonderful poetry book, it will not be the same. You go get you any other texts from any other religion, it will not be the same. What I'm gonna tell you stands apart about the Word of God is because it is divinely inspired. The Word of God tells us that it is God breathed. There's something about the way it takes life that just about the time you think it would get old to you, somehow it just gets to be a bigger and bigger and bigger raging fire within you. I don't know if anything else like that. And this happens to me continually in memory work.
So, I really began doing it because I wanted to renew my mind and it did that. And then I really wanted to do it because of the spiritual discipline of it because I wanted the Scriptures to really live in me and abide in me. I wanted, so I did it for that reason. I just there were lots of reasons why I did it, and it meant a lot to me but I want you to know that it got to where, I'm gonna try to explain this to you how this happened to me because if you're not careful, this is gonna happen to you. Because what started happening is that it was no longer just my discipline, it began to be a delight to me, but then it became more than that.
This is 30 years into this thing. I haven't been memorizing all that time, but 30 years into really studying hard. But what happened is it just began, it like dazzles me. It dazzles me. This is the power of it when you're memorizing. Every word is hitting. I mean, boom, boom, boom, because you're having to concentrate on every single word, boom, boom, boom, and you're listening to it. You're listening to it. You're having to bring it back to mind over and over again, and you're listening to it word by word by word by word. And here's the miracle of it, this is the part I want to get to with you. The miracle of it is instead of it getting like, "Okay, I mean I've done that, it's kind of lost its shine". No, no, with the Scriptures, there's something about it.
There are parts of it I cannot even say without crying, like I'll get so worked up. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. You understand what I'm saying like, when you start saying it and you're saying it from memory, it starts like ripping you apart from the inside, well, that happened to me, that happened to me. It happened to me in Ephesians because it's just like big, it's just big.
I want you to hear this with me, Ephesians chapter 1, I just want to start with you at 15 and I want to take you through 22. I want you to feel it. I'm asking you feel it. Don't just hear it with your ears, let it fall on you. Listen to what the words are saying. "For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints".
Listen to this part, listen, listen, listen. "And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all". No big deal.
What do you do with that? What do you do with that? And you were dead, dead. I want somebody to say, "dead". I'm talking stone cold dead in your trespasses. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ. By grace, you have been saved and raised us up with him, and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority". What do you do with that?
So, coming along, just the power of it, just the power of it, just the power of it, been working on it for many, many months, and I come to chapter 6 of Ephesians. Would you go with me right into the middle of chapter 6 of Ephesians. I've been through the part that talked about the children. I'd already been through the part of Ephesians 5, talking about the marriage and the husbands and wives. And then I come all this about, about authority, and then it comes to verse 10 and it says the word "finally". And I tell you when you've been memorizing for a lot of months, that word "finally" is just, I mean finally. I just kept saying, finally, finally. I thought I'd never get through, finally, finally.
And here's what it says, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand, to stand against the schemes of the devil, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood," stay with me, "but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in this present darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God". I am asking you in your personal life, if you have faith in Christ, I am asking you do you tap into the supply of divine strength? Because that's what we're here to do, a call to arms. In this generation, your life will be this long, so will mine. We got a calling on our lives. We got a reason why we're on this planet, and it's gonna take strength, it's gonna take might, and it's going to take more than we have. I wonder, I don't know how many locals do I have here this weekend? I'd love to know that.
Do you know what your motto is for this city? I'm gonna bring it up. I wish I could say Latin in a way that would not be insulting. There it is, there it is. I'm so anxious to tell you this because that motto right there in Latin means one with the strength of two, one with the strength of two. Everybody say that, "One with the strength of two". And that is exactly what we're doing here this weekend. But I want you to try to grasp this with everything in your heart and mind, that the one we're adding to our strength is omnipotent. There is no end to his resource. There is nothing that he cannot do nothing, nothing.
I challenged my team tonight and put the same challenge on my own heart and my own path. We always pray together before we come out and serve you, and we take the elements together, and we just like challenged one another to faithfulness. And so, I asked them tonight, "Are you believing God for something that would take a miracle"? Because if we just settled in and accepted that our life is basically just whatever comes naturally to us, now we're people of faith. We feel like, "Okay, I've received Jesus as my Savior, I'm saved". But from that point on, I'm just like kind of making it the best I know how until I get home. He says we have divine strength.
In fact, he said, "Be strong, be". It means there's something we can do about it, that we can step into that strength, that it's not something that we just have activated in us on our own, but that we can be strong, we can be strong, we can be strong, in the strength of his might. This is a call to arms, to strength, and divine strength. I looked up, when God really gave me that phrase, "call to arms," I looked up what that means in the dictionary and according to Webster's, it means two things, a summons to engage in active hostilities is what the Scripture just told us.
We don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against evil principalities, rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in this present darkness. I believe that we have got active hostilities in which to engage. The second one is this, "a summons, invitation or appeal to undertake a particular course of action". Did you know that there are 31.102 verses in the Scriptures? That's a lot, that's a lot. And I am about to take you to some of the ones that annoy me the very most.
Would you turn with me now to 2 Timothy chapter 3? "But understand this, that in the last days, difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unloving, ungrateful, irreconcilable". It tells us that there'll be treacherous, reckless, without self-control, that they'll be swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God. In verse 5, "Having the appearance of godliness but denying its power," and it says, "avoid such people".
Now listen, this, this is our verse. "For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions". If that verse isn't bad enough, there's seven. Seven says this, "Always learning," this is still talking about the women, "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth". It's not talking about all women, it's talking about the ones that are like the one being described in this particular chapter. And in verse 6, this was captured a little bit better in the N.I.V. when it says, "weak-willed women".
I want to show you the Greek word, it's the lexical word that translates into weak women, or weak-willed women, "gynaikarion, gynaikarion". You'll see in the very beginning, do you see that G-Y-N? That's the word for woman. When you go to your GYN for your annual checkup, it is because she is a woman's doctor. That's where that's taking off on that same Greek word. But the rest of that word attached to it, making it a compound word, means, "A foolish woman, one who displays immaturity and a lack of dignity". Anybody been there, but me? Silly women. And I have been that, but I have not been that in a long time and that ain't no way to live. And I've come in Jesus's name by the authority of the Scriptures to call us out of weakness into the strength of our great and gracious God because we are not silly, little women if we do not want to be.
Does somebody understand what I'm saying? Did you notice that these are the kind that get taken advantage of by those who creep into households? Did you know that creepers, creepers are biblical? Because this is talking about avoiding creepers, and when we are weak-willed women, when we are weak-willed women, we attract creepers. I need somebody to hear me today. Now, here's what I don't want you to understand from me because this could not be further from the truth. Some of you have been through rape, and some of you have been through molestation. In my wildest dreams, I'm not suggesting to you in the remotest way that your silliness called that on. That was criminal, that was victimization. I'm talking about when we just live out the thing with a lack of dignity, and with all our insecurity, and we're just making a fool of ourselves. We're looking at our circumstances and going like, "I can't handle it. I cannot handle it".
Listen, if we would spend the time on our faces gaining divine strength that we are spending with all of our whining. Anybody understand what I'm talking about? I mean like oh, it for every single sentence that we say, "Honestly, I'm not gonna be able", we took that time to go, "In the name of Jesus, Lord, this is before me and I need divine power, Lord. I need divine power to be able to walk these". Does anybody hear what I'm talking about? Now, I believe these concepts stand firm whether you are married or single. Oh listen carefully because this one is huge, whether you are conservative or liberal.
Oh, this is huge. Whether you're complementarian, or egalitarian, whether you are rich or poor, young or old, tomboy or frilly, timid or outgoing, introvert or extrovert, quiet or talkative, these concepts that we're gonna study together are in both testaments, both. And unless they are misapplied somebody, somebody, unless they are misapplied, you can live out these concepts without ever compromising any other area of obedience. I need someone to enter into this with me because somebody's gonna say, "Beth, what you're describing to us this weekend, see at my church, women have to be quiet".
Okay, here's what I'm asking you, then do you raise a ruckus in prayer? Because if you show me a place over here, that you are gonna have to be quiet, I'm asking you, in the heavenly places, are you kicking up some dust? Because did you get the idea in your head that honestly, the will of God for a woman is for you to be weak and silly? Because you cannot find that. You cannot find that. And this is not about whether you're conservative or liberal. This is about dignity in Christ as his beloved, that's what this is about. And you are a woman of honor and dignity, and you get to stand in that. And these will cross all of those worlds because there's a way to live it out in every single circumstance.
Listen carefully to what I'm saying to you, you, your world and the world have nothing to gain by you being a weak-willed woman or me being a weak-willed woman, nothing. It's not doing anybody good. Anybody, anybody that is getting any mileage off of it, anyone who is gaining from you being a weak-willed woman is a captor and an oppressor. You can take that one to the bank. How do I know that? Because weak-willed women attract creeps and they creep in and they captivate. Listen, a weak-willed woman is a liability to her brothers. This does not do something to take away from our brothers.
There is dignity for woman in both testaments of the Scripture and it can be lived out whether you are in a more conservative part of the Christian world, or a more liberal part of the Christian world, because it is in the Scriptures as the will of God, for you to know who you are in the power of Christ. I'm gonna tell you something, I think it is a fairly complicated thing to be a mighty woman of God. Does anybody else think that with me? I think that if we were men, we'd be able to go like, "No, this is easy. I can see this, mighty men, mighty men, mighty men". We get that, we get that, but we're not men.
And so, here we are and we are women. And so, when we start trying to pull that word "mighty" in with women, what are we to do with that? Is anybody tracking with me this weekend? Is anybody already worried? Because here's what I'm telling you, I'm positive that this will stand up. I'm... I've... please go study it, please do. Please go see if it is so. Please see if you can find anyplace that would support in the whole counsel of God, that we are just somehow to sit back, let the world go on and we're somehow to miss our entire callings because we misunderstood what God was asking for out of his daughters. Dignity, security, power in prayer, fiery faith, and we're gonna see it and we're gonna see it because what can happen is we can just go into default, but if we really give the thing some thought, to be a mighty woman of God takes the melding, the miraculous melding of two things. It is everything we have come to talk about, everything, grace and grit.
I'm talking about grace and grit. I love the word "grace," and I love the word "grit", because there's something about when you say the word "grit," you can almost feel it in your teeth. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Like grit. Everybody say it. You can, go ahead say it. See, it kind of feels good 'cause it kind of growls. Like grace is a beautiful, grace is like ballet and the grit is like I'm on the football field, and I don't mean it a cheerleader uniform. Anybody know what I'm talking about? I don't mean showing my midriff either. I mean, actually out there, out there as a running back 'cause we are called to be strong women of God.
Number four, for the definition of grit is this, "firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger," anybody? You know the saying, "Just grit your teeth and bear it," it comes from that. It comes from going through something and knowing, "I'm just gonna have to walk through it. I'm just, I'm just gonna have to do it. I'm just gonna have to know I've got it in me. I'm gonna have to go through this". And it's like gritting your teeth and it's the sand that is coming in, in the word origin, it's the idea of gritting the teeth until it's sandy. And some of you are just thinking to yourself, "Listen, I mean, you don't know the sand in my mouth right now. You have no idea the grit that this is taking right now". And you are in the right house.
Now, here's the deal, you and I are gonna trade our confusion over what seems to be very, very opposite terms to us to fusion. Let me say that again. We're gonna take our confusion, and we're gonna start to embrace fusion. Fusion is mixing them together until they blend because I'm not talking about being graceful sometimes and gritty other times. No, I'm talking about graceful grit and gritty grace. Every bit of this would also apply to our brothers. I think the idea of might and strength comes more easily to them than it does to us. And so, somehow we get caught up in this whole thing and our lives are gonna go past us and we will have missed it, and we will think that we did the will of God to just sit back and be passive in the faith. We can't study the whole counsel and come up with that. You have a call to strength, to grit, and to grace.
You and I are going to take down five points together. Reason why we're going to take five is because I want one for each finger on our hand, and that will become more significant in just a little while. And so the first one is this: Might in Christ takes grace and grit. I want you to turn with me to Proverbs 31. This is the other most annoying text about women in the entire Scriptures.
Now, what I'm hoping for is that we're about to change our minds on how we feel about this chapter because actually it is so powerful. It's so powerful. If you are a woman, this has a place to land. So we're going to see in the context this woman happens to be married, but everything you're going to see about her is the same thing that you and I want, whether we are single, married, divorced, or hoping to be married. This is about being a woman of God. I want you to see these verses. I'm going to read to you, you know what? I'm going to tell you this before I read it to you because I think you'll like this.
All right, I'm looking at Proverbs 31. I'm not going to read this whole thing, but it starts at 10, it goes on to 31. And what it is, if we could see it in Hebrew is so beautiful because it's an acrostic poem. So the whole portion of it, all of these verses comprise a poem and it's in Hebrew alphabet. Starting with the first letter all the way to the last one, each line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So it's just spectacular. I mean, spectacular. What's happening here at the end of Proverbs is that throughout the entire book, it has been the father and then sometimes the mother speaking this truth and wisdom over this son.
So all throughout the book here and there and chapter after chapter, the book has talked about lady wisdom. It is personified wisdom, in other words, they're saying, "Listen, if you're going to be very, very drawn to women, let me tell you what woman you're looking for", and that is lady wisdom. So they're personifying it. So when we get to this poem, so this whole thing is picture like if you were listening to a fabulous sermon, at the end of it your pastor reads a poem. That is some of what's going on here only, of course, it's inspired by God. Comes to the end of it, there's this beautiful, beautiful masterpiece of a poem, and it's personifying lady wisdom into one person in this particular context.
Keep that in mind, and let me read some verses to you. I'm going to start at 10. It says, "An excellent wife, who can find? She's far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands". I want you to notice with me how often the word "hand" or "hands" will be used in this passage. "She is like the ship of the merchants. She brings her food from afar".
Listen, if that is not carryout, I don't know where you're going to find. Truly, I just... I do not think cooking in your own kitchen in your own home is even biblical. Go get your food from afar in a white bag, in a white bag. Verse 15, "She rises while it is still dark and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it".
Here's what I want you to hear. You're going to see this woman. Whether you work outside the home or you work your head off within the home or you do both, you got a woman here that you can relate to because she does all of the above. I want you to watch this woman in the business transaction and then you're going to watch her in her home. "She considers a field and she buys it. With the fruit of her hands, she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hand to the distaff".
This will become important to us later on. "And her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for everyone in her household is clothed with scarlet". Brings it to 25. "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue". Verse 29, "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all". Some kind of woman, and there's a whole lot going on there.
I want to tell you something, and again I just ask you, please check this out. Please study this for yourself so that you'll know that your sister is not trying to mislead you and trying to make something out of these passages that don't belong there. I'm not going to do that with you. Please go study. Please go check and see if it's so because I want you to look back at that verse 10. That verse 10 is some of the strongest language in Hebrew. I mean, it is beautiful. It is absolutely spectacular. And if we were to take it into one of its most literal renderings, this is what it would say, and you could find this, this is the translation out of word biblical commentary.
You don't look anywhere in any scholarly commentary and you see how they will translate the Hebrew of this, and it speaks like this: "A woman of valor, who can find"? The word that is used there in the Hebrew is used of Gideon when he was called to be a mighty man of valor. It is used for Ruth in Ruth 3, verse 11. Over and over again in the Old Testament Scriptures in the Hebrew, it is used in words that translate forms of it into an army, into all sorts of military context, into valor, into forces, into might. And so we come here and the King James has translated to us virtuous woman.
Virtue is a beautiful thing. I want to be a virtuous woman, but I want you to understand something today. There's valor in a woman's virtue. This 31st chapter that has driven us crazy for years because we think, "Who in the world is that? And I mean, I respect her, but I do not want to have lunch with her". This is a woman who has courage. How can we be women of courage with kindness on our tongues? Bold hearts, gracious mouths. How do we do that? How do we meld together these two terms, grace and grit? Because that is precisely what we are called to do. Because one of the things that's so strange about, we won't go through every single one of them.
One of the things that's so strange is in the Hebrew, that is not the only place in the chapter that uses terms that really belong in a military context. It's several times in the rest of the passages. Even when she stretches forth her hand, the commentators will say it's actually a term that is stronger than she would need in her home. I mean, it's, and when it talks about getting food, it is the word in the original that would translate prey, P-R-E-Y. I mean, like this is a mighty woman and, I mean, she's like doing battle over her family, doing battle over her home. Strength and courage. She clothed herself in dignity. You are looking at the polar opposite of 2 Timothy 3:6; silly little woman.
This world that we live in, we cannot be raising weak, silly little girls. I mean, yes, I want our girls to be innocent and fun and silly, but I want them when they get to be 12, 13, 14, 15 to not only know how to say, "No," but to say, "Dude, no". You might know what I'm talking about, but let me try that with you again because I think we are living in an age where women better know how to say yes, how to say no, and if nobody gives them a single rip of respect, they still know in their bones who they are. This is the day we live in and the enemy has come for our dignity, and let me tell you something. If you are married or you have a guy in your life, if you have got you a decent guy, he wants a woman with dignity. He does. There's nothing to gain by anyone by a woman who does not have her dignity. Bold hearts, gracious tongues, shrewd and tenderhearted, available but not gullible. I like that it says that she puts it on. Strength and dignity are clothing. She puts on her dignity.
Sometimes I'm being, like, we dress on purpose, like to put it on; to know before you go out the door to work, that you're going to put it on; to know when you're going into a setting where you already know how you're going to be treated, that you put on your dignity; that you know that when you walked in that place already knowing what was coming, the thing about it is that you dressed in dignity. That no matter how you were going to be oppressed in a particular environment, whether it was over race, color, creed, whatever it may be, that you knew, "You know what? I've clothed myself in dignity". And we don't say out loud, but actually you don't get to undress me. I put on my dignity and you ain't having it because we girls were not created just for sitting pretty. We are the graced and the gritty.
We're going to be talking about spiritual muscle here. So I don't want somebody that is 75 years old in this room telling me that this lesson is not for her because oh man, oh man, is it for you. Muscle is built. It's not just birthed. Wouldn't it be something even if you'd had a whole lifetime of defeat to live out the rest of your life in courage and strength and dignity? Oh, you get to. Here's the beauty of clothing ourselves in strength and dignity. It's free. Jesus already paid for it. So it's not something like, "I can't afford that". No, it's already been afforded for you. You like literally put it on because it's how you get to dress, and I'm going to tell you something.
When I do that, when I think to myself, "I'm wearing my dignity today. I have a feeling how this is going down and I'm wearing my dignity today. I'm wearing my dignity," then here's what happens. Either, you know, I get treated like an idiot and I still get to walk out the door with my dignity or, somebody stay with me here, over time sometimes people change their attitude toward you because you changed your attitude toward who you are yourself. We know who we are. We are in Christ. Doesn't make us boastful because that's where the grace comes in, the grace with grit because when you got grit, you don't quit. When we got grit of the quit in us, that is what we're going to do.
Now, I want to show you something that's there in that same portion of Scripture. Notice that it says in verse 25, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come". She laughs at the time to come. You understand that this is a woman who can make fun of herself, who can make fun of aging, who can make fun of thinking about the future, who literally can lighten up enough about it not to constantly live in anxiety and dread because she trusts and fears the Lord. I'm going to tell you something, girls. At your very peak, whenever that is, at your very peak, sexy as your identity at your peak will not go well. It does not decide well. It does not serve well. It does not age well. It does not end well. That which we can attain with sexy, we unfortunately cannot keep with it. If we can be sexy enough to get it, we can't figure out how on earth to stay sexy enough to keep it. It's unsustainable and ultimately goes from inappropriate to just plain pathetic.
And somebody is thinking here, "Well, you're just talking about aging". No, I'm not. No, I'm not. I'm talking about the fact that it just gets old to people. I'm just talking about how many times is our work environment still impressed over our breasts after they have seen them 350 times that year already. It's unsustainable. They're not still thinking, "Wow, she's hot". They begin thinking, "Wow, she's desperate". Go think it through.
You can think I'm old-fashioned if you want to, but actually I'm not a prude. I'm not. I never was one. I'm not against sexy. Sexy has its place. Beautiful, beautiful thing between a man and a woman, God brings good. Beautiful, beautiful thing. As an identity, it will absolutely poison you, absolutely poison you. But here's the thing that I believe with all of my heart. I believe that what we need is a replacement because I just think just losing something, just dropping something doesn't often work for us. I think sometimes if we're going to get rid of something, that we need something to take its place.
And so I brought an idea with me that maybe we would consider switching that, and some of you are going, "It's been a long time since". Maybe so, but see, I'm going to ask you a question. How did it go for you when you were trying to let go of the fact that you still needed somehow? I mean, how down did you get when you realize that man, my hopes of being sensual are over now and so I'm no longer valuable in my culture because I'm supposed to be decorative? No, you're supposed to be mighty in Jesus. You're supposed to be mighty in Jesus, and let me tell you something.
Mighty in Jesus is beautiful on everybody. It is beautiful on everybody. I don't care who you are. I don't care how big your nose is. I don't care how off-center your face is. I don't care whether you have the worst hair in the world or the best hair in the world. I am telling you the mighty in Jesus looks beautiful on every single woman. Oh, yes, it does. Oh, yes, it does. Oh, yes, it does. So here's what I'm going to say to you. Why don't we trade it in our minds for savvy? I really like it. It really works for me.
Savvy. Because I want to tell you something. You can take savvy to the grave, and I'll tell you this. Savvy still raises eyebrows because at the end of the day what some of us are after is, "We're wanting to raise their eyebrows". Savvy will raise eyebrows. "We want somebody to give us a second look". Savvy will cause a second look. You know why? Do you know what the word "respect" means? Respect. Have you ever thought about that word? Because spect means spectacle, spectator. It means to look. Re means again. For someone to respect you, it means that they look again. Oh, I'm going to wait until someone gets that. You want to cause people to look again? It's respect. Respect make somebody turn their head back. You know what? Especially woman because we've got such a colossal disrespect for ourselves that it's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And we come to get it as a grace gift of Jesus Christ our dignity. Savvy is biblical.
Listen to the definition of it. As an adjective in the dictionary, it says this; experienced, knowledgeable, well-informed, shrewd. Matthew 10:16 says, "I'm sending you out as a sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves". That's what we're talking about here. Savvy is wise. It's as often quiet as it is vocal, as often delicate as it is assertive because it's knowhow. Savvy knows when to speak up and knows when to clam up because savvy comes to know the Scriptures and learns how to discern the Spirit. Savvy knows when to draw close and when to draw back, and here is to savvy becoming the new sexy.
You know, our brains can sometimes get lost in our heart too, not just the whole sexy thing. I got to tell y'all a little story, and take it easy, this was a long time ago and it was really, really funny. But like 24 years ago when I first began doing Bible studies with LifeWay, they had the team there that was working out. They'd never done anything like in-depth Bible study for women for never, never, never. So this was a whole new ballgame for all of us. And so I turned them, they asked me for what I had.
Well, I had written three Bible studies just for my Thursday morning group back in Houston, Texas. And so I sent them one this thick, this thick and it was just on the tabernacle, and so it was called "The Tabernacle". Well, when I saw what the cover said, "A Woman's Heart; God's dwelling place". And I was like, "What"? I said, "Whoa, what's with the title"? They said, "What did you call it"? I said, "Tabernacle". They said, "Well, this will be better. You know, this will just". "Well, okay. All right, but, okay. But it really wasn't about a woman's heart. It really was about tabernacle, but I'll deal with that".
Well, the second one was on David; so "A Heart Like His". Okay, okay, that's a given. Still it kind of like just something stood up on the back of my, no big deal. The third one, when they came back with me with a heart in the third title, I was like, "Whoa, what is with the hearts"? I mean, there were more hearts than on a really good Periscope. You know what I'm talking about? Just like hearts, hearts, hearts, hearts, hearts.
And so I had to tease them about, I said, "Listen, we're dropping the hearts because I said what you're telling me". And I mean, we laughed about. This is 20 years ago. "Is that a woman's only going to pick up something that says heart on it. Kill me. Put me out of my misery because we also have a brain. We have a brain. We have a brain".
And let's use it so we can prove it. I mean, listen, use it. With every title we pick up, let's be students, let's be readers, and let's not make the title say heart for us to buy it for crying out loud because we are women with hearts and brains. We may not all be geniuses, but you are brilliant. You are brilliant. But what we're learning this weekend is that brilliance without resilience is like fire with no heat. It's like a car with no tires. Yeah, we're reluctant to be gritty because we don't want to be pushy because pushy is not attractive on a woman or a man, either one. We don't like it, we don't want to be that, but, you know, we're pressing toward a goal. Not pushing, pressing toward a goal.
You and I are learning that in a world even an unbelieving world where it's so polarized that we fill like we've got to go to one extreme or the other extreme and there's only one to be had or the other to be had that in this case it is not either grace or grit. It is both grace and grit. Both grace and... and the brings us to number one which is might... Might in Christ takes grace and grit. Number two is what? And the beautiful thing is this whether you are 16 or you are 66 or you are 86, you can, and not only can, but must build muscle to be a mighty person of faith on planet Earth at this hour.
Turn back with me, we won't be here really long but turn back with me to Proverbs 31 and verse 13: "She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands". And then I want you to notice that it says in verse 19. So you're going to start verse 13 and 19 because they go together. "She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle". And the it talks about her opening her hands to the poor and reaching out her hands to the needy but notice with me that it says in verse 13 that she seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands and then, she puts her hands to the distaff.
Now I had to do a lot of looking into what a distaff is. And this is what happens is that they take the flax or the wool and they're going to be winding it and twisting it to make it into threads around this distaff that they're going to turn and this is what's going to come into thread that is then going to come into the fabric. So it's quite a process and the reason why I'm bringing this up is because over and over again when I'm studying Proverbs 31 the word "industrious" came up. That the Proverbs 31 woman is industrious. Well, I looked up industry. Why? Because this is the kind of thing I do, weird stuff where I just love a word and I want to go find out what it really means and what it comes from.
Industry is a way, in its most basic level of taking a raw product and turning it into something else. It talks about her being resourceful so I went and I looked up the word "resource". You can see the word resource. You can see the French word that it comes from, the old French. Then see the part that says, "To relieve, literally, to rise again, from the Latin" word from which we get resurrection. I want you to just try to understand this with me that resourcefulness is taking one thing, taking the raw material of one thing and then doing the thing with it that makes it useful and a provision for people. Is anybody gonna step in that with me? Because this is critical to you and me to understand what it means to be industrious and resourceful.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, his Holy Spirit comes and takes residency in us in that moment. You and I are made up as human beings are created by God in his image in three parts. There is the soul, there is the spirit, and then there is our physical body. Now a lot of times in the Scripture there is no distinction made between soul or spirit it will just mean that which is immaterial in us. But when there is a difference between those three components, of course the physical body, but then the soul and the spirit, then the soul would be like the seat of our emotions, our personalities, our preferences. The things that sort of make you, you. Your spirit that was created in all of us this is what separates the human beings from animals.
We were given a spirit. The spirit in a man or a woman, in a child, is our capacity to know God. Our capacity to know God. When we are, what the Bible calls born-again into Christ, his Spirit takes up occupancy in us. In other words, now it's no longer the natural human spirit. The Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Christ, is taken up residency in us. So he brings his Holy Spirit in us and he comes with empowerment, with anointing, and with gifting. He says, "I put all this gifting in you but think with me", you talk about grace and grit. When in 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul says to Timothy, "You know the gift that came to you by the laying on of my hands". And in that particular context it's talking about the deposit of the Holy Spirit and he says, "You're to fan it into a flame".
So you were gifted with the Holy Spirit when you were born again in Christ. You are spiritually gifted. Girlfriend, you don't begin to know how gifted you are but it can just sit in there in the raw portion of it and us never do anything to fan it into a flame. We could live all of our lives and we've never even developed in our spiritual gifting because we just saw, "Well, I just took it". No, it's take and make. Take and make. Take and make. You go, "Well, he can make it himself". Of course he can. In a heartbeat without lifting his little finger. What he's saying is "I'm not just after saving your debt, I'm after engaging you with me in the work of the gospel".
This engagement, this intimacy with God coming along beside him and letting him work through us and fanning it into a flame, that's what we're talking about here. What in the world does that have to do with flax and with wool. Well, everything. Everything because, I just wrote down, I love little rhymes and I just wrote down these little two line rhymes: "Flax to linen takes some spinnin'. And if you want cashmere fetch a goat dear". Anybody? Because I started thinking to myself spinning wool starts with sheep and cashmere starts with a goat.
And here's what is happening with many of us, we're just like carrying around our goat it's going mah, mah. We're not doing anything with our goat, the goat hair is just getting thicker and thicker and thicker, but we just like walk, everything we do we're just walking around holding our goat. Its legs are just going like this. We got a live goat on our hands, a live goat on our hands but no, no we're not shearing the goat and then working it out with God to spin that fabric into something that really does become a provision for people. Oh no, we're just carrying around goat. Shear the goat!
If you do not think there's something for us to do on this planet, it wasn't just about us standing here being. "I'm being full in the Spirit". You know what? Get your full in the Spirit behind out there and do something with it. We were called to good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Yes, there's being. I don't have any doing if I don't have any being but out of the being comes the doing. There is activity, there's jobs for us to do and you're just going like, "Well, I don't know which one". Just go try one, try one. "I feel like I'm called to ministry".
I don't know what you meet the next need 'cause really that's why we're here. Meet needs. Meet needs. Love people that fell very unloved. Go to those that are disenfranchised. Go to those who are hurting. My heart just broken on the airplane because I had my Bible out, I have to really, man, these days pull your Bible out and study it hard, makes people nervous, makes people nervous And I had a guy not far from me that I'm fairly sure was gay and I knew he had a very interesting line of work because I could see what he was working on and I wanted to converse with him so badly but he was just like, "'Cause you're gonna be ugly to me". No, I'm not. I'm not.
To love people to stretch out our hands to them, to take what's been deposited into us, to be gracious people with bold hearts and yes, convictions. Not with compromise but with love, with grace, carrying the very reputation of the gospel. If you're gonna be carrying around your big Bible you got to have a gracious mouth and a gracious countenance. And be twice as ready to love with humility, with humility, and treat people with dignity. It's about take and make. It's about take and make. Somebody say, "It's about take and make".
You find this all the way to Matthew 25 in the parable of the talents. Because he gives them their talents and he send them out with it and they are to come back to him with a return on it. The one that just comes back and bring it that they just buried it in the dirt and brings it back like this, see he was just a taker. He didn't then ask God to infiltrate through him that he'd be able to make what it was God was after with what he had taken. No, no, he just returned it back to him just like that. And you know what God told him? "Wicked". He said, "You wicked, lazy servant".
I love this portion. Listen to this, I just think it's so interesting because ladies, I get fascinated by the things that are comparable under the old covenant and the new covenant. Things that were true of Israel very literally that are true of us as well. Just as true but spiritually. For instance, they brought literal sacrifices of animals; we bring the sacrifice of our praise the Lord says. We're living sacrifices. They were built up into a holy priesthood very literally with the tabernacle and the temple. We are a holy priesthood being built up as living stones; ours has a spiritual connotation. Well, this is true too.
Listen to this in Deuteronomy 8:7. Listen to this: "For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks and of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out of the valley and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you".
I don't know when the last time was you like ever put your slice of bologna on like a little sheath of wheat or barely and then just like crunched on it but what we know is taking place is that a process, there has been a take and make the Lord had given them. "Take this. I have given you a land of promise, of milk and honey. But you're going to have to milk the cow. And you have to deal with the bees. Engage with me in this work. Engage with me". They had to make the bread from the wheat. They had to take the grain of barley and bring it into a product because that was engagement. We are created in the image of our God. His DNA that desires to form something new out of something that already exists is in us.
We can't create; we are not creators. He alone can create because that's ex nihilo, that means out of absolutely nothing. But when he formed man, Genesis 2 tells us that he gathered the dust from the ground and formed him. I wanna suggest to you that he has put that in us. That we have that in bearing his image, we want to be able to be engaged enough to take something the he's given us and to form it. To form it. He could do it all himself. He's saying, "I want to show you what I can do through you. I want you to get in there with me. I want you to fight for this or you will not have the muscle to keep it".
You cannot be intimidated by failure if you want to be a mighty woman of God. Listen, some of you have not come back from a failure that was ten solid years ago. It is time for you to get up and look forward. You gotta quit using the old excuse of your failure to keep you from going forward and flourishing. What is to be learned from that failure? Take it forward. Take it forward. What I'm suggesting to you today, I know this is not what some of us want to hear, we just want to hear like, "Let's just be for the rest of our lives. Let's just be". Because you know what? You're not happy just being. You have something in you that wants to contribute. You have something in you that wants to be part of something much bigger than you.
Okay, it says in Hebrews 10:35 and 36 powerful, powerful words to men or women in Christ: "So do not throw away your confidence which will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere," everybody say "persevere". I love that word 'cause it's got a good closeness in it. "Persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised". Okay, number three is this: grit hacks the path between God's promise and great reward. Listen carefully because this has helpful to me. I like to think in practical terms. God has a will for your life, he has a will for my life.
There are certain things he's after for us. There is a reason why your feet are on this planet. And so, there are things he wants to accomplish through you and they're this blend of your spiritual gifting of Holy Spirit empowerment, literally divine empowerment and strength and courage. And then it pulls together your realm of experience, your talents, and your skills. You just made this whole masterpiece out of you and there are things that he has willed for you but those things that he gets willed for you that he has promised reward over.
Listen, it blows my mind that God still gives us reward for obedience. That he says, "You obey me and I won't just go where you should've obeyed me, glad you did, I mean, be glad I didn't send you to hell". He doesn't do that. He says, "You obey me, I will reward you". But he said, "I need you to understand that between my promise and my reward to you is your perseverance". So we keep going like, "I've never gotten any. I mean, nothing has ever come". Perseverance. Perseverance. You literally and I literally cannot fulfill our callings and be wimps. We cannot. It is spiritually impossible. We cannot. We're gonna hack through it. It is grace that it is come to us and then we're gonna hack through it with some grit because that's what it's going to take.
You're right near Hebrews 11. Look there and look at the 34th verse. You know how you've seen a chapter a thousand times and all of the sudden you're reading it and something just jumps out at you, brand new? This happened to me a couple of days ago. I was reading Hebrews 11 in a different translation at home during my quiet time and I came to this particular verse and it just killed me, it moved me so much.
Look at verse 34. It's been talking about all the heroes of faith and then it talks about "what more shall I say" in verse 32. "For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, of Samson". They talked about David and Samuel and it says in verse 33, "Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions". Look at verse 34 because this gonna fall on someone today: "Quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war".
Oh, somebody's gonna get a word. Somebody's gonna get a word. Do you love that? Became strong, literally, in and out of their weakness. Listen, fragility is real, we are breakable, we are breakable. But our brokenness can be used by God to bring us healing, to put us back together again into a whole new person that has got a strength that we never had before. And already give up on perfect. Give up on it and get up after failure because our grace is gonna have to be gritty.
Do you know that that which has nearly killed you can be the very thing that God uses to give you a strength you have never known in your life? That thing that has nearly killed you, he can turn into iron in your blood. He can turn into calcium in your bones. He can put steel in your spine over the very thing you thought you would kill you. They're rather your weakness can be turned to your strength. They're the strength out of weakness and I love this part: "Became mighty". I know how weak I was in war. It nearly burned me down like a fire but we can become mighty. Do you believe that there is a woman in you that you will see before this day is over in the mirror of some bathroom that has the capacity to become mighty?
Okay, so you've been week. So you've done some foolish things. I get that in every way. I have been there, but you can become mighty. And it can start today, you can become mighty. Oh yes, you can become mighty. Keith always prays over me before I speak and he said these words. He was praying for this week and he was praying for P.L. and he asked God that many would come, and I'm going to quote him now, "would come to the end of old, lost fights". "That many". Do you know that can be you? You don't have to sit there and go, "Oh, I wish that were me". No, it can be you. You have it in you in the power of God.
Be strong in the strength and in the might of God. That can be us that we could come to the end of many old, lost battles. Aren't you sick of losing that same battle over and over again. I have so been there. I come from a background of addictive sin so I get it in every way. And I'm gonna tell you this doesn't just apply to addiction, it applies to anything. But I will say this to you that have this addictive thing going on. I'm 'a tell you right now. You cannot fight with the same tactics that you've lost the battle with a thousand times before. It is time for new warfare. It is time to understand that our weapons are not of this world but are mighty in God to the tearing down of strongholds.
We're gonna start taking him at his Word and we're not gonna be wimps. We're gonna stand firm and make hard decisions in Jesus's name. You cannot swat at an addiction like a fly. Paul talks about that he doesn't just beat the air with his fists but that he aims for what he wants to hit. You know what we're doing in our battles? We're just going like, we're just fighting like little girls and we got our eyes closed and we're just like swatting and stuff.
You're not gonna get the devil to back off by swatting him like a fly. We're gonna have to resist the devil then he will flee. We're gonna have to stand in the Word of God and go, "I know who I believe and I am convinced that he is able to keep what he has entrusted to me until that day. I know my God and the power of the gospel. I know my God is able and he has made me very able. I know that this day, again today, I woke up to the fresh mercies of my God. His mercies are new every morning and I'm gonna take him up on those mercies". We can indeed do that.
My youngest grandchild is 15 months old, and just recently she's learned to walk. She didn't have any reason to walk 'cause we picked her up, all of us, all of us. She has too much older brothers and sisters. I mean, she just did this... We pick her up, she had no use for her legs whatsoever. It's a wonder we do not just carry her to college like this in years to come because we never, she just did this... and we all just picked her up. She is just the funniest little baby, and when she first started to stand, you know how they do, and she'd go, "Whooa". I mean, she could even voice, "Whoa," because at first when you're trying to stand on those feet, you feel wobbly. But after a while, you start, kind of like, digging the soles of your feet down in the sand and learning how to stand and become mighty.
I wanna tell you something, I wanna be very, very careful about what I'm about to say because I do know how many people struggle terribly with honest-to-goodness mental illness where the things I am about to say to you are not easy, if even possible, without medical help. I want you to know I acknowledge that in every way, so please know I'm not talking about that, but I'm asking for all of you to listen, one way or the other, to this because what I'm gonna tell you is that even some of us I think, would you permit me to say it this way and not take offense to it. I am this far from crazy at all times. Is anybody else where you're just like you know you're knocking on crazy, like, I just like, I know and there are times that I think to myself, "You could really go there right now. Are you going to"? That I have to just go, like, "No, no".
Do you all have up here in British Columbia, do you all have leafcutter ants? Do you know what I'm talking about? Look 'em up. Look 'em up. Look up a video on YouTube and you'll see 'em because they're just fascinating. They're all over our property back home in Houston. And they carry little sheaves, little pieces, of leaf that are a whole lot bigger than they are and they just walk like this with their little leaves, like, here's the ants and they're all, would be like 300 of 'em in a row and they're all carrying their leaves like this. Well, I will go all over my property and I'm trying not to step on a leafcutter ant because, oh my word, I'm gonna smash an ant. And then I finally had to go, "Do you know what, just walk and don't look down because, Beth, there's a lot to worry about in this world. If you're gonna use up a ten on the leafcutter ants, I don't know how you're gonna make it when somebody calls you to come stand beside them in the death of their loved one".
Is anybody going there with me? If we're using a ten on how upset we are that our interior decorator did not show up today, what are we gonna do when we're in a crisis? If I'm worried about, and I like leafcutter ants, but I got other things to worry about. If I kill one of 'em, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. What can I do? You know, sometimes, this morning it happened to me. I was putting on my contact, and as it came toward my eye, I wanted to scream, "No, no"! Well, you know, put your contact in. Are we just gonna go with it? All of us, I mean, what a lot of us are doing, we're just like going with it. We have an emotional urge and we're just like going with it, like, every, like, instead of just going, like, "You know what, stop". We're just going with it. Everything that overtakes us was, no, I really could say, "You know what, actually, no. I have that opportunity here to really be neurotic. I believe I'm going to say no to it. No to you, neurosis, today".
Anybody, is anybody getting this with me today because, you know what, I'm just gonna say to you, we don't have to be as crazy as we are. Is that fair to say? Some of us are nuts. I'm one of 'em. But we don't have to be as crazy as we are. We could just go, where I can, I'm just gonna go, "Actually, no. I'm not gonna give way to every single urge and everything I feel".
Angela Duckworth talks about in the book, "Grit," what she calls fragile perfects. Now, I've never been a fragile perfect, but some of you have, and what she's talking about is the person that has succeeded at so many things, I mean, fabulous grades, very, very, just had all the accolades. And then the first time failure comes along, they can't get up. They cannot get up. And I mean, a lot of 'em just like, they never get up again because why? 'Cause they've not gone through enough to make them strong. They're fragile. Listen, fragility is real. We are breakable. We are breakable, but our brokenness can be used by God to bring us healing, to put us back together again into a whole new person that has got a strength that we never had before. And already give up on perfect. Give up on it. And get up after failure. Because our grace is gonna have to be gritty. Nothing on earth can get grittier than grace.
2 Corinthians chapter 12, a very, very familiar chapter to a lot of you. We're talking about nothing on earth can get grittier than grace. We've been talking about grit and grace. Well, we've been talking about the fusion of them, the melding of them together, and let me tell you something, grace can get gritty because we have been profoundly graced by God. But he also is telling us in his Word that it is that very grace that can give us the grit to get back up when we have been thrown back in a time of tremendous weakness. Watch what happens here in verses 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 8 and 9. The apostle Paul writes: "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me". He's talking about his thorn in the flesh. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me".
So here's the thing, there are days that we wake up feeling strong in our person and then we're strong in the might of the Lord. There are other times and in seasons when we are just knocked flat on the ground. Some months ago, I was under so much pressure, was a lot of things coming together at the same time, and I was serving at a place where a lot of people were all like, "We've prayed about this for years and, I mean, this is it". And I was listening to all their intercession. It was all about, and then "Beth," and "Beth," and I was thinking, "Beth's got nothing". It was just like it was coming from every side and there's the pressure and the stress 'cause I'm going like, "I don't think you guys understand this. I don't have this. I mean, I'm telling you, Jesus, if you don't come through, I got nothing going here. I got nothing going here". And I just so it was all coming at once, and then a whole lot of circumstances going at once, and I was on my way back to the hotel and the thing was starting the next, but it wasn't just that thing. It was a thousand things at once, and I just told the Lord, "It's too much. It's too much. Lord, the pressure's too much. The stress is too much. It's just too much for one person".
Now, I'mma tell you something. I know that there are people that take objection to this. Maybe it's just because I'm this close to nuts. I did not hear any audible voice, nothing, nothing. I did not see any visions. There was no smoke that puffed up all of a sudden. But I'm gonna tell you, as sure as I'm standing in front of you, that a thought came into my head as clear as a bell and not anything I remotely wanted to think. I felt like the Holy Spirit was whispering to my heart, "I built you for this". And it was like, I mean, I couldn't even whine. It was, like, over. It was the oddest thing, it was, like, I mean, I didn't have anything else to say. So I just, like, got up the next, it was so odd because it sort of came off me. I felt like he's showing you, get out from under the spout of human pressure and move over purposely. Move over purposely, under the spout of Holy Spirit power. Just change your spout. Are you under a lot of pressure? Okay, scoot out from under it and go over here and get under the water pressure of the Holy Spirit, the living water, and let it just hit.
And when I got up the next morning, I mean, that part of me, my physical self still sort of kind of wanted to whine and get nervous, but I was like, "I'm built for this, I'm built for". You know, I looked in the mirror 'cause I'm kind of a small thing, and I thought, "I don't look built for this. But I'm built for this. I'm built for this. Doesn't mean I can't fail at it, but it means whatever my God puts before me. You know what, I'm built for this. I'm built for this. I'm built for this". Ephesians 2:10, NIV: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do". If it's a work he gave you to do in the power of the Holy Spirit, oh yes, you can, you wanna know why? Because you were built for that. Would you look at one another and say, "You were built for that, girl. You were built for that. You were built for that. You were built for that".
Now, listen, okay, of course, y'all are aware, many of you I would suppose, of that scene in Esther chapter 4 where this huge, horrible plan has been contrived by someone that has been given tremendous authority by the emperor in Persia, and he has got a plan for a holocaust of the Jews, and we don't read that as some kind of a fable because we know how genocides can take place on this globe to our absolute horror while we're over here, like, going to Kroger and getting our groceries and something, like, on the other side of the earth is happening that is beyond our comprehension. We know it can happen. Well, they go to Esther and give her word, "You've got to go to the king," and she said, "I can't go to the king. You can't just go to the king. You have to be summoned to the king. And he hasn't summoned me in a month". And so they were just like, "Well".
I wanna read this little portion to you out of Esther chapter 4 where it says then that Mordecai tells her in verse 12: "Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, 'Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Who knows whether you have not come to this kingdom for such a time as this?' Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 'Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days or nights. And I and my young women will also fast as you do. And then I will go to the king, though it is against the law,'", and listen, it was punishable by death, "'and if I perish, I perish.'" I'm about to say the hardest thing, but it's just biblical, and if we could, there's nothing easy about this. I'm just saying: what if, what if we moved into the mentality that because we are children of God, because our eternity has been settled, that if blank happens, well then blank. This life is not all I have. It's a vapor in eternity.
Psalm 126. These are about the exiles that, by the way, if somebody can relate like I can, that, by the way, had sinned themselves into exile. They disobeyed into exile, and still God blessed them to come home. And God remained with them and God was still their God though they had been disciplined. And it says in Psalm 126: "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our t tongue with shouts of joy; and then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.' The Lord has done great things for us; and we are glad". I want to say the simplest thing to you: has the Lord done great things for you? Then be glad. You cannot imagine how your gladness will impact your sphere of influence.
Do you remember where it says in Proverbs 31, at the very end of it, if you're familiar with it, look later if you're not, it says that our children rise up and call her blessed. Do you know that that word that translates in the Hebrew into blessed means happy? It means happy. In fact, I'm reading to you out of "Word Biblical Commentary's," very translation of it that says, I've got it down here: "Her children rise up and call her happy". Your children do not need you to be successful in moneymaking, sophisticated and all together perfect, but let me tell you, it is some blessed kids that could simply say, "I had a happy mom". Never devalue the power of happy. That in all of life's sadness and in all of the difficulty and all the disappointments, which are very real, and your kids, if you're a mom, get to see you process that and you do it as a real person. We grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. But that our baseline is, "My God has been good to me and I'm glad. I'm glad". Did you see what the captives said? "We were like those who dream and our mouths were filled with laughter".
I wanna speak this blessing over you. May your God be so good to you that you have to throw your head back and laugh over how ridiculous, how ridiculous it is. I gotta tell you something silly. Can I take the time to tell you something silly? Okay, some five years ago, I just started, on the side, working on fiction. It doesn't compete with Bible study, curriculum, non-fiction where it was just a way, just kind of an outlet for creative writing. I love to just be let loose, and there's not a lot of room for that in curriculum. There's a little bit. Curriculum is my calling. It's what I have: I have to study, I have to be in research. That is part of who I am. I can't even exist without it. It's the meat on my bones. But just like, on the side, I just started doing this thing because God had really put it on me, I mean, just forcefully, through every conceivable direction, then in these years for the rest of my life, after we had done this thing over and over and over again, keep doing this, but start broadening the field.
And I really felt that he put on me, "You start sowing seed in other fields. You just take the gospel in whatever form, in whatever form, however it reaches, and that you just take it and go. Anywhere I open a door for you, you just go. The more different it is, the better. You just go, sow the gospel and sow that seed in that new soil," and so, man, I thought, "It'll never get done, it'll never get done. God will never prioritize the time to get it done". Just kept doing it, just kept doing it, just kept doing it, and then one day, I just, like, "Whoa, I'm like", this thing is this thick. And gritty. Talk about gritty. I don't even know how to write a pretty story because I didn't have one. But I hope it's got a powerful story to it. But that, when it first came out, it's set in New Orleans, and so the Tyndale team that produced it, came to New Orleans where we were gonna have a book signing. I mean, it was launching. It was the day it was launching. Think it had gone on the shelves the day before.
We went to New Orleans 'cause that's where it was set. We had dinner that night at a restaurant right downtown, and that night when we came out of the restaurant, we were on the square because some of the story takes place on the square, and we were heading to one of the little restaurants where so much of the storyline has taken place, and as we were walking that way, fireworks started behind it. I mean, fireworks. I'm just talking about right behind it, right behind it is the Mississippi River. But I mean, like, it's black of night, fireworks.
Well, we were like, "This is so ridiculous". It was, like, so silly 'cause we kind of said to one another, "I mean, how coincidental is this"? Well, we kept asking people, "What are those for? What's the occasion"? Everybody said, "We have no idea. We have absolutely no idea". I mean, no one could tell us anything. No one could tell us anything. We finally just stood there. The thing went on for ten solid minutes. We just stood there like this, just stood there like this. And we thought, "Dare we, dare we think that he might be just outrageous enough to go, 'You took a huge risk. You went way out there to try to obey me, and I'm just gonna throw a few fireworks.'"
And I'm gonna tell you something, here's what we could do. We could either go, "No way under heaven would God do that. That's a stupid thing to even think". Here's what we could also think, and this is what we chose to think: "There could be a hundred different people on this square that he's doing that for, but do you know what? We were one of 'em. We were one of 'em". And I don't know if he was doing it for us or not, but I think if I thank him just in case, maybe he'll be okay with that. Because I'm gonna throw my head back and go, "You are ridiculously good. You, God, are ridiculously good. I don't even understand such ridiculous grace that you would want us to know that you approved of us in all our flaws, in all our foolishness, that you looked at us, nodded, and went, 'Way to hang in there.'"
Number five is this, and with this we end. We'll forget all the grit at the grace of his face. Oh, you can have some grit now, girlfriend, because you're gonna forget all of that at a glimpse of the grace of his gorgeous face. Sometimes, I think you need to be told that your girlhood hopes of living happily ever after do come true. We really will live happily ever after. Matthew chapter 25 says in the NIV rendering that the Master will say to us, "Well done, good and gritty servant. Enter in to your Master's". Check out the translation for yourself. "Enter in to your Master's happiness". Some of you have not been taught that you have a happy Savior. I beg to differ. He has extravagant joy beyond anything you have ever known and anything you've ever experienced. He could make you laugh like nobody on the earth can make you laugh. He can bring up a lightness in your soul at their hardest moment. All of a sudden, this joy just begins to break in and you think, "What in the world is this, this alien joy that has overtaken me, this alien peace that has come into my chaos? What in the world is up with this"? And all that grit will just disintegrate in the grace of his face.