3 The Church in its Temporal Aspect Part B

Feeding His Sheep
Proverbs 31:14-16

Proverbs 31:14-16
31:14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Historically, many cultures recognize the wife/mother as both cook and manger of the food that sustains her family. In this aspect of her chosen labor, the wise and virtuous woman is mindful of all her family's wants and needs. She seeks to satisfy their hunger with foods that are filling. Charm their palates with meals that taste good. Promote good health with foods that are nourishing, and fill their bodies with energy that insures growth and an active life. Such is the wisdom of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. Such is her diligent effort. In fact, it is a type and shadow of the nourishment the woman/church offers the world. 

Proverbs 31:14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

That food which the woman/church brings the world is the bread of life, and she brings it to us all the way from our Father in heaven. Jesus Christ is that bread of life, and through the word of the Gospel the gathering of peoples is nourished. The woman/church we seek will insure the growth of God's work and His glory by her organized effort that will allow God's Priesthood to be His temporal presence reaching out to the world. The evangelistic hand of the Melchisedec Priesthood will reach out to the world offering this bread of life that all might choose to be nourished and sustained by this great and marvelous work. In the organized local branches, our brothers of the Aaronic Priesthood as the arm of God will enrich the lives of the brethren, and open their hearts and their homes to God's Spirit and God's purpose with a full measure of the bread of Christ's sacrificial offering. In this offering from the church/woman, all will be nourished and made strong.   

John 6:48-51 
6:48 I am that bread of life.
6:49 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
6:50 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
6:51 But I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Proverbs 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

The labor of the woman/church begins long before the full light of God returns to this earth. She works within the limits of that reflected light of righteousness, which is the Gospel of the Kingdom. The labor of this Gospel enters on the need for all to grow in righteousness. The Spirit will sustain the hearts of the people, but only the efforts of a righteous church will guarantee the word of God growth in the world of man. 

DC 16:1d  wherefore, if you shall build up my church upon the foundation of my gospel and my Rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

The ability of the woman/church to foster within the people an essence of God together with man will create an environment of brotherhood and oneness that will be the meat within our spiritual diet. It will spur the growth of common purpose, common understandings, common consent, and all things common, but it will be more than just a communal labor. It will create oneness of effort that will bring with it the joy of witnessing individual choice, and watching individual effort become an individual success. Through the wisdom of the Spirit this success will become an uplifting accomplishment benefiting the fullness of the body in ways we can't imagine. The Apostle Paul tells of the difference between the power of man and the power of God. This will also be our testimony as we grow within the work of the woman/church.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 
2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power;
2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Consider Joseph son of Jacob called Israel. God used his talent for recognizing dreams as visions from God and changed the course of events for the entire nation of Egypt. Consider Moses. God took an eighty-year-old exiled prince of Egypt turned wilderness shepherd and used the knowledge learned as a youth and the patience of a shepherd he gained in maturity, to gather His Hebrew children out of Egypt to become the covenanted people of God. Consider Christ's fishermen disciples Andrew, Peter, and James. God used their talent for spreading a wide net, and the patient diligent effort characteristic of the fisherman to ply their talent throughout mankind and harvest for God, all those seeking righteousness. They became fishers of men. Finally, consider Saul of Tarsus, we know as the Apostle Paul. As a dedicated officer for the Jewish Sanhedrin, he was the scourge of the early Christian world arresting, imprisoning, and sometimes executing those whose belief in Christ threatened the Jewish way of life. His vision of Christ on the road to Damascus brought the truth of the Gospel to his efforts for God. This truth allowed God to utilize Paul to lay the foundation for His Church in western Europe and later all of the Americas of the new world. God through His Spirit guided each of these individual efforts that they might benefit the body of people as a whole. Such is the nourishment brought to us within the woman/church we seek.  

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

In the last verse of our target passage we see the abilities of this virtuous woman and understand how God directs her talents and her desires to accomplish the needs of the Kingdom.  

Proverbs 31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Reading this verse brings to mind a passage from Matthew that many groups refer to as the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:17-19 
28:17 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
28:18 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;
28:19 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, unto the end of the world. Amen.

The greatest work of God's church is bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom to a waiting world, and offering all the chance to choose the ways of God. The virtuous woman understands the necessity for and the process of growth, whether that is the growth of a person, the growth of a body of people, or the merging of a body of people into and organized effort within the community and the world. This talent of labor requires vision, insight, and the courage to apply the necessary assets to achieve the goal sought. 

Let your minds ear expand the words of verse 16 and recognize the diligent work of the woman/church as she prepares the fellowship for growth. She labors with the idea that for the future to happen the present must lay the foundation on which it will be built.  

The church/woman we seek: Proverbs 31:16 
She considereth (determines actions based on the purpose of her covenant) 
a field (a place that can be properly used for God's purpose), 
and buyeth it (commits both people and assets); 
with the fruit of her hands (Her labor causes Her to be the hand of God in the world and the fruit of Her labor are the brethren that have joined Her in that labor) 
she planteth a vineyard (creates other places that recognizes the sacrifice of Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the need for all to be one with God and His labor).

The woman/church we seek is to be an ever-growing sanctuary for God's truth, the growth of righteousness, and the strength and power within the Spirit of God. By her efforts to nourish her family, the vineyards will grow in both strength and numbers to become a living testimony of God at work in the world of man. They will be a witness and a proof to the words of outreach brought by God's shepherds at work in the wilderness fields of the world.