4. We as God’s Church

Proverbs 31:28-31
Proverbs 21:28-31
31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
31:30 Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Solomon's virtuous woman stands, as the epitome of wife, mother, and covenant companion. Her abilities turn potential traits to realized attributes as she diligently applies the ways of God to her covenant labor. She is worthy of all the praise she receives and is humbled by its presence. Solomon's virtuous woman is in truth a type and shadow of the church we wish to be. A living testimony of God's love, Christ sacrificial offering of love, the leadings of God's Holy Spirit that we might be able to accept and utilize all the love offered, and our covenant labor with God as we share this love with all who will accept it. 

Isaiah 62:3-5 
62:3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
62:4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shall be called Delightful, and thy land Union; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
62:5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy God marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

We must remember that as holy and righteous an achievement as it is, the Church is not our ultimate goal. We must realize that it is but another step along the path to God's Kingdom and the realization of the purpose created by our covenant with God. 

DC 22:23a-23b 
22:23a And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying, The heavens, they are many and they can not be numbered unto man, but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine; and as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof, even so shall another come;
22:23b and there is no end to my works, neither to my words; for this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality, and eternal life of man.

Too many times in the past people have gathered and organized themselves into a Church by God's design and have then decided as a people that it was time to rest from any type of personal growth. Their resting became a part of the traditions of their Church and like any other part of God's creation, when growth ceases death begins. By this action Christ's Church is embattled. Instead of an organized, unified, covenant led search for the Kingdom of God, two schools of thought struggle to be recognized. One says that we need to hide and protect what we have, spend all our time defending who we are, cease trying to add membership, and expend all our efforts trying to survive in a world that hates us. The other seeks to become a part of the world and join what we are to what is already out there. If we have to change a bit to fit in, that's OK. Both ignore the need that our covenant with God created. Neither one fulfills what our covenant purpose demands that we ultimately become.

1 Peter 2:9-10 
2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
As a member of the woman/church we seek, each of us has a path to walk. It involves discovering God, coming to God, growing in God, and sharing Him with others. Too often in the past we have lost sight of the individual's role in the unified effort to fulfill God's purpose. We begin this path by recognizing the truth of covenant and the way it should change our lives. 

Psalms 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

When we allow ourselves to trust in God and all that He says, the words of scripture begin to take on very personal meanings. As we apply them to our lives, we become less afraid of the sins we commit and more concerned with the righteous deeds we need to be performing. Joy enters into our life when we discover that these righteousness deeds can and will consume so much of our effort that we simply do not have time to sin. There are only so many hours in a day and when we are involved with a neighbor that needs help canning the tomatoes the TV program we were obsessed with following suddenly becomes less important. We give up our weekly poker night, because we are coaching the kid's soccer team. Notice, God doesn't put you on a diet and force-feed you righteousness. He allows you the time and the place to discover it for yourself. This is God at work in your life feeding your heart with the good things of life. In this you come to find joy where before there was just relief from the day-to-day life you were living. In these righteous deeds you discover friendships that had gone unnoticed and the joy of fellowship overlooked. In this you are fed. In this you are strengthened. In this you grow.  

Psalms 37: 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Eventually no matter how unaware you are of God working in your life you will catch Him opening your eyes and your heart to a brand of righteousness that fits both your personality and your life. At first it might frighten you, but then you will find yourself amazed that the omnipotent creator of the universe is taking the time to be concerned with you and your life, but He is. In fact, He seeks to be a bold presence in you life that you might learn how to be a bold presence for him in the world.

Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

As we learn to face the needs of the world boldly at the side of God our Father, the needs of others become our needs, too. Their needs soon become the desires of our heart and with God we go boldly forward creating testimony after testimony of God working in the world of man. Do we succeed every time? No, but every time we try.

Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Oddly enough, I find that our commitment to the Lord can be a less than conscious decision. Our trust in our covenant with God and our dedication to the purpose it creates allows us a confidence to go forward with Him unafraid of what labor it requires. We become convinced that at the side of God literally anything is possible. 

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

This willingness to labor with God was such a quiet thing in my life that I might have missed completely save that I was called to serve as Priesthood. By accepting that call I began to examine my actions to be sure I was serving the needs of God by serving His people. You want to know what I found? Other than a sermon or three and the responsibility of teaching a class here and there, nothing much changed. When a need was presented a path opened before that led to a need fulfilled. All I had to do was walk forward. I thank God for that attitude because each job I performed I did because I wanted to do it. It was not a sacrifice. It was an offering given from a willing heart. Believe me, it was not because I am a wonderful soul. It was God working within me and He did it with such flair that I thought I was doing it. But, it wasn't me. It was God lifting me up in a way He is so good at.    

Psalms 37:6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

That which I did take note of was my reactions to situations. I began to react in ways I had never thought was part of me. When challenged on anything my gut reaction in the past was anger. That doesn't mean I took a punch, but I did argue, a lot. I considered my point of view to be not only well thought out, but also correct and I was ready to defend what I believed. In the light of God growing in my life I discovered much to my chagrin, that other people had the ability to possess creditable well thought out views that I had never considered. I started adhering to the old adage that a closed mouth gathers no foot. In short I began thinking and considering before I spoke. Believe me it was a gradual growth and at times I had to tell me to just shut up, but it was worth the effort. It is just amazing how many smart people there are out there when you give yourself the time to hear and understand them. The biggest plus to all this effort in humility is that I have lost the need to condemn other people. I didn't throw it away. I must have just forgotten where I laid it down. It's a good thing to because I find that I don't know enough nor do I have the necessary experience to righteously condemn another. Basically condemnation is God's monkey and is not mine to deal with. I am so grateful to be responsible for offering mercy instead of condemnation. It surprised me to find out that just such an attitude is filled with the promises of God. Mind you now, these are not promised rewards or a wage paid for a job well done. This is just eternity's natural reaction to a life that grows in humility. Kind of like the fruits that humility produces.    
Luke 6:36-38
6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

I want to believe that the growth I recognize within myself reflects the growth of others that we together might reflect the growth of the Church we seek. It must be this way because our offering to God can and will be no more nor less than the people who gather in the name of God seeking to be recognized as the bride of Christ. It must be the desire of our heart.

We as a people must labor in oneness to create, maintain, and grow in all the virtues Solomon ascribes to his virtuous woman. We must as a people, be one in all things. We must live to the pattern of the virtuous woman, willingly labor as diligent as she, as we wait for the return of our beloved King ready and willing to be presented as His covenant helpmeet before the Lord of eternity and the Kingdom of Heaven.  

DC 38:4d-4f 
38:4d And I have made the earth rich, and, behold, it is my footstool: wherefore, again I will stand upon it; and I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise;
38:4e a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh; and I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts:
38:4f and this shall be my covenant with you, Ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children for ever, while the earth shall stand; and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away.

This is God's promise to us, but we must remember who is the true source for all things righteous, and accept Him in the way of covenant, and the reverence He deserves.

38:5a But verily I say unto you, that, in time, ye shall have no king nor ruler, for I will be your king and watch over you.

In this life, we must be convinced that the voice of our spouse is equal to our own. In the covenant life this attitude allows each to speak with the voice of leadership. This is the trust we must have to possess the love we seek, for love is the way of the Kingdom. As such God must be our sovereign, but in the way of a loving Father with we as his adoring children; trusting in all things, loving in all things, one in all things.

38:6a Behold, this I have given unto you a parable, and it is even as I am: I say unto you, Be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine.

As I ponder these offerings concerning Solomon's virtuous woman it occurs to me that I may have created a stumbling block in the path we walk toward life within covenant marriage. I need to remedy this. For too long the virtuous woman of Proverbs has been held up as the epitome of the wife within covenant marriage. If one expects his covenant wife to hold herself to the standards of Proverbs 31, it is only fair that the covenant husband live his life to the standards set by Jesus Christ. The attributes of longsuffering patience, willing obedience, and sacrificial love are the hallmarks of Christ ministry. If the covenant wife is to be the virtuous woman of Proverbs then the covenant husband needs to be a child of God, and a willing sacrificial supporter of God's truth and righteousness in the world. In other words, "What's good for the goose really is good for the gander". In the oneness of covenant nothing less is acceptable. While admirable we must realize these attribute do not just magically appear the moment we say, "I do". They are a result of growth, where the Spirit leads each and neither use condemnation as a tool to motivate the other. The way of both Christ and woman/church we seek is that of uplifting mercy and loving support.

When I started researching this comparison of Proverb's Virtuous Woman to the Church of God, It seemed to me that connecting the two was going to be a reach that scripture might not support. I am thankful that I was wrong. Over the years as Priesthood I have been asked, "What does it take to be God's Bride". Now I have an answer, and it is a complete answer. Even in the light of the laws given through Moses, Solomon's virtuous woman describes a church and a people dedicated to God and the ways of God. The virtuous woman and the Church itself become the bridge between the laws given at Sinai, and the life given at Calvary. Through the vehicle of His woman/church God gives us a way to visualize the path we must walk to become His people. It exposes His justice as mercy, and His mercy as an extension of His justice. Thank you Lord for leading me down this path. I submit to you the reader my findings and my hope that they help direct and invigorate your covenant labor.