Friday, December 28, 2012

"be it unto me"—part two

a place to ponder

What do we do when our Lord speaks directly to us through His word?  How do we respond to the precious promises, the tender rebukes, the commands, the songs of love?  In the story of Christ’s birth, the Shepherds “made known abroad” (Luke 2:17) all that they had seen and heard—the angel’s message and God’s wonder displayed!  These men could not help but tell the world!  Their Savior was born—God had kept His word.  In utter excitement and joy they shouted the good news to anyone who would listen.  Their response was both needful and glorifying to God.  When God reveals His truth, and gives us the gifts of insight and blessing—when He opens our eyes to see His glory—it is most fitting to declare it to others!  It is meant to be shared. 

But…

The Scripture tells us Mary did quite the opposite!  She hid her special revelation, and the events that followed, in her very being—securely tucked away that she might consider fully what they meant— “…But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  The word but gives a direct contrast to the previous mention of the shepherd’s reaction!  Mary did not make known the saying, Mary pondered the saying! 

Mary was not keeping it a secret—selfishly or thoughtlessly—but was keeping it treasured. There is a difference.  Not constraining the good news but keeping record of how that it was affecting her personally! She placed a high value on what God was doing in and through and for her—the sense of amazement and wonder drove her to quiet worship.  She recognized every tiny detail—the Almighty in every element. 

Pondering is to intimately recount all that the Lord has said, all that He has promised, all that He has fulfilled, all that is to come!  The kind of conversation you can only have between two people! 

Before you seek to teach, write, declare—before you shout the good news, talk of the revealed truth, share the incredible manifestations with anyone who will listen—seek to do as Mary did.  Seek to find intimate fellowship with the One who showed you such wonder in the first place!  Quietly.  Seek to ponder all that He is doing in and through and for you! 

Mary’s life is a pattern of humility!  Don’t put away her example with your pretty holiday décor!  Allow it to effect each and every day of your life.  

There is a place to ponder. 

1.  We must hide it in our hearts first—make it personal!  We do this by meditating even on truth that was revealed to others in Scripture.  Teach it to yourself before you teach it to your children or anyone else for that matter.  Own every promise, every rebuke, and every command that the Lord reveals to you in His word.  Spend time praying back God’s word to Him in praise for what He is doing in your own heart before you use the same Scripture in intercession and supplication with others in mind! 

This is a discipline that I easily overlook!  In my desire to share what God has shown me (or done for me through a miracle) with others I can unintentionally miss its incredible impact on my own life by not taking the time to ponder what has taken place.  Yes, others do need to hear—and I am commanded to declare it (Psalm 64:9)—“but,” as Luke 2:19 starts, but first, and even last, I must “keep all these things” and consider them in my own heart!  

2.  Gaining a confidence in the truth comes from pondering what God has shown to you to be true (Psalm 1:2-3)—mulling over what you read in your daily quiet time throughout the day, rehearsing what was preached on a Sunday morning, meditating on a lesson you studied to teach to others.  "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the works of thy hands" (Psalm 143:5). Turning those revelations into prayers or into songs—journaling them on paper or just on the tablet of your heart—will secure them in your mind!  "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (1 Timothy 4:15).

3.  Pondering brings peace!  Psalm 119 states that “great peace” and a confidence that “nothing shall offend” is the reward given to those who “love [God’s] law.”  To love something is to spend time with it.  It is to become like it.  Isaiah gives a beautiful promise of peace to those who ponder—"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." Pondering provides the believer with an increase in trust!  A wonderful revolving reward—pondering produces peace, which produces truth, which produces pondering...you get the picture! 

Mary shows us such wisdom in choosing to ponder and not grow anxious. "[Wisdom's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17). Just consider, even for a brief moment, all that Mary could have been doing with her heart and mind.  Being visited by an angel is, well, amazing… right?!  Who wouldn’t immediately bow in worship and ponder the glorious thing that had taken place?  If that is what you are thinking you obviously have forgotten the several key (and might I add disturbing) elements that were thrown in the mix?  A private revelation.  A virgin.  A fiancé.  A pregnancy.  A reputation.  What would her friends think?  What would her family think?  And then there are all the prophecies—“His visage was so marred, more than any man” (Isaiah 52:14); “He was woundedbruised for our iniquities…with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53 :5); “and they shall look upon [him] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).  Even Simeon’s own prophetic word to Mary is full of deep sorrow no matter the declaration of joy it contained: “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). 

Mary would carry a heavy burden for her entire life (a private pain)—how easily she could have become preoccupied with her own situation and engage her heart and mind in serious worry and fear. 

The Incarnation—the promise kept—and a young woman who was chosen to carry, birth, raise, and love the Son of God!  The Son who would die a cruel death for the sins of the whole world!  How important it would be for Mary to ponder and not give in to a hopeless feeling of doubt or reckless emotion.   

The point: pondering doesn’t always come as a natural response—it is a choice that must be made!  That is why Mary’s attitude of acceptance is such a vital part of this lesson! 

Mary not only carried the “Prince of Peace” in her very womb, she allowed him admittance into her own heart, mind, will, and emotions!

4.  Fresh excitement is given to those who ponder.  "For thou, Lord, has made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands...O Lord, how great are thy works!  And thy thoughts are very deep...I shall be annointed with fresh oil" (Psalm 92:4,510). The word of God is quick and powerful—it is sharp—it is lively.  And when we take the time to meditate on its power and promise we are happy, content, and full of life!  We are not easily dismayed—when troubles arise or sorrow takes us from behind, the Holy Spirit can cheer, comfort, and guide us with the truth we have set before our eyes.  "Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness" (Psalm 119:159).  

It is not an easy life we are promised, but a Shepherd to show us the way through the difficult journey! And we will be able to encourage others better if we allow the word of God to daily encourage our own heart! 

Let us, like Mary, choose to tuck every little truth inside our heart—every experience, every joy, every painand treasure what God is doing, even the hard things He is allowing.  

Enjoy the rewards that such an act of worship will bring!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"be it unto me"—part one

an attitude of acceptance

I am taking time this season to revisit the story of Christ’s birth, and the glory which surrounds it, in order that I might please Him better—that I might learn afresh and practice anew that which would honor our Redeemer most!  There are a couple of wonderful phrases that are used in the gospels to describe Mary, the mother of Jesus.  They captured my attention years ago and the Lord is using them to teach me once again the importance of my attitude and the power of meditation on His word!

Mary was human, no matter how divine you, or any other religion, try to make her.  She was born in sin and she would have died in sin, if it had not been for the Savior.  She was not “better” than any other woman although she is recorded to have been “highly favored” by God.  She was an ordinary girl given an extra-ordinary task.  But, she accepted it.  Fully.  Humbly.  In Holy reverence to her Lord.  This truth is so important if we are to gain any lessons from her life.  

Mary has been given a place of honor in the Scriptures and we do wrong to make her sinless or dismiss her all together.   We must speak well of this godly woman and glean from her most godly example!  She has a lot to teach.

Mary was a chosen vessel.  Chosen.  She did not apply for the position after figuring that her specific spiritual gifts would lend her capable for the job.  And we have no record that she desired to fulfill this role of prophecy personally.  All we know is that this young lady was taken completely unaware by an angel named Gabriel—bearing an incredible message—and that his decree would change the course of Mary’s life in the most dramatic ways—forever.  Effective immediately! 

As I consider yet again what my reaction would have been to such a message I come up lacking.  My humanness pushes forward all the time!  The flesh is ever seeking to be satisfied and coddled in every way.  Manipulation can have a bad habit of needling its way into any action I might take—making it fit according to my own likes and dislikes. 

Mary didn’t seem bogged down with her fleshiness!  She obviously had already been allowing the Lord to teach her what it means to say no to self.  Mary did not respond in a submissive way because she herself had been conceived immaculate, but because she chose to respond in a submissive way!  That is such a huge lesson!  She, on purpose, possessed an attitude of acceptance—I can choose to do the same. 

Mary was not naïve, nor was she too young to understand the statement that she would bear a child.  This was proven by her one (and only) question: “How can this be?”  But neither was she in rebellion to the answer.  Yikes!  I might have pushed for more details—“exactly what does overshadow mean?”  She submitted herself to what God decreed and accepted fully the possibility of a miracle.  What about all the other “natural” questions one might have continued asking, like, “Are you going to let anyone else in on this news?”, “Can I think about it and get back to you?”, “Could I get married first?”

Without any knowledge of what her fiancé might do, her family might say, or she might feel, Mary quickly uttered those incredible words, “Be it unto me, according to thy word” (Luke 1:38)—complete and full acceptance, no matter the cost. 

The angel might have been a complete surprise and his message unfathomable…but the idea that God would speak—to her—was not!  Indeed, Mary was expecting it, as would any servant whose soul duty was to her master!  Mary’s quick and beautiful response gives us a clue as to where her eyes were fixed and where her faith was buried.  “Behold…as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God” (Psalm 123:2).  The secret to an attitude of acceptance lies in where we place our eyes. 

Do we gaze at our Savior as if He might have something to say to us—something that has not yet crossed our minds?  Once He speaks, do we focus our eyes on our own ability to “work it out” and how we might stay in the safety of our own comfort zone?  For Mary, her gaze was definitely set on God—alone.  Yes, I do believe Mary very likely shed the tears of many emotions and had intense times of prayer alone with her Maker—but they were not the product of unbelief.  Any pain or fear that might have been present did not dictate her attitude in any way!  That is the point the Holy Spirit seems to be driving home to my own heart.  The fact that she was at His beck and call was already established in her mind!  As her Lord, He would provide all that was needed.  What was there to question or resist?

Her faith is astounding.  She rests in full confidence of God’s word.  “Be it unto me”—not according to any probability or possibility—but according to whatever God says, even if it does not make sense.  God’s word was that powerful and that precious to her. 
 
We find Mary a woman of action, not resignation!  (Heavy sigh! “Okay, if I must!” Followed by another heavy sigh!)  God never calls us to resignation but determined motion!  Even the word rest is active—if it is commanded by the Almighty.  Mary was not ashamed of her growing belly.  Trust and obedience gives confidence to every step we are called to take.  Leaving to visit her cousin Elizabeth, marrying Joseph, travelling to Bethlehem—these were all events that were open to spectators!  She was eager to do that which she must—and in doing so, fulfill the prophecies!  How tempting it is to “blend in,” or look inconspicuous, when we are called to do just the opposite!  

Mary’s first act of obedience (submitted will) required continually walking in that obedience throughout her entire life.  

Our attitude is vital as we walk out our own Christian experience.  God comes to us daily with command, duty to perform, action for us to accept...and desires to find us in the same frame of reference as He found Mary—"behold the handmaid of the Lord" (Luke 1:38).   We must, on purpose, possess such humility.  Remember that Mary did not have previous knowledge she was "highly favored."  God observes and takes note of those servants who are willing to be used of Him. It will require saying no to self—hard anytime of year—but especially during the holiday season.  It will require submission.  It will require complete obedience.  But those requirements are easier to fulfill when we see ourselves as who we really are.  Placing our eyes squarely on the Master each and every morning, "as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress" and expecting the Lord to speak—even the unfathomable!  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hope

In the early morning hours of September 28th, I woke up to an upset tummy, so I thought.  I prayed myself back to sleep and woke again at 6 am to help get my husband off to work. I was still feeling quite crampy, but told Kevan not to worry as it was probably just something I ate the night before.  I kissed him goodbye and went to lay back down.  My much desired sleep came only in little, tiny increments and I started to wonder if I could possibly be having contractions.  I had never experienced Braxton Hicks with my first child.  I remember looking at the clock in my room at 7:30 and watching the minute hand move slowly back up.  These pains were consistent, in fact, they were coming every 5 minutes.  I am not an alarmist in nature and did not let my mind go negative too soon. I got up to take a hot shower hoping everything would settle down.  Then there was Tirzah to attend to.  These morning rituals took time.  I wanted the elapse to take away any threat.  But as the morning diminished my pains increased...and I slowly realized they were not going to go away. Fear began to wrap itself around my very heart as I became limited in what I could do.  I was scared to even let myself think of what might be happening. I was in labor, there was by now no doubt about it.  But, I was only 21 weeks along and that was too early!  That was too early!

I quickly called Kevan to come right home.  We packed my bag, made sure Tirzah was in good hands, and arrived at the hospital as soon as possible.  What then transpired is blurry...I just remember how kind those nurses were and how very quickly they worked to try and get my uterus to stop contracting.  When you are in labor, everything is timed by your pains...one, and then another, and then another.  They pumped me full of medicine and ordered a sonogram technician to come as soon as possible.  I was dilated to a three at admittance and my water was bulging.  It is hard enough to get through a contraction in a normal position but when you are tipped down, head first, it is very difficult indeed.  Although the nurses continued to reassure me that everything was just fine with our baby I was overcome with a sense of knowing...knowing that things were not fine with our baby. This feeling was confirmed as soon as the technician turned on her screen.  My heart lept to see my sweet baby, my sweet baby who I had never seen before. His little head, his little spine, his little legs.  There he was, over and over flashing before my eyes. Everything you would expect was present...everything except his beating heart.  There was no heartbeat.  None.  I was aware of that immediately.  The technician never said a word, but her silence said everything.  That moment was immediately made sacred, holy.  It was so very quiet in our room.  I didn't press her with questions, I didn't even tell my husband my thoughts, I just began to silently grieve the loss of our little love. The contractions would not stop, oh how I wished they would, how I wished that everything would just stop long enough for me to be able to process what was happening.  But they were relentless...and they were powerful...and the tears started to well up in my eyes and slowly course down my cheeks.

After the technician left our room the nurse came back in and leaned down to whisper that "she could not find a heart beat" and that "your baby is not alive."  Verbalizing this horrid reality allowed both my husband and I to cry together and in that moment choose whether or not we would accept this sorrow as from the hand of a good God and learn to bury our grief in Him.  As only the Lord can orchestrate that which we need at just the right moment, our pastor stepped into our room. He was the first person we told of our loss. The first time I mouthed the words outloud, "Our baby is with the Lord."  My water broke at the end of his precious prayer and he quickly ushered himself out into the hall.  I labored another while before our sweet William was in my arms.  There in my hands, fitting so perfectly in my hands.  The most amazing and sad thing in all the world, to hold your child at that stage of development.

We are so grateful that I was privileged to carry him long enough to know that he was a boy. To see with our own eyes, his very eyes. To be amazed with every perfect little finger and toe.  And to be in awe of "how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child" (Ecc 11:5).  We named him William Livingstone Samuel.  He was exactly what we had wanted, what we had prayed for. But the Lord was not giving us the joyful task of raising him here on earth, ours was that of giving him back.  Of letting go.  Of offering.

We do not know why the Lord decided to take him to heaven so early but we rejoice that he is there!  We put him to rest in a special little garden right outside our bedroom window and are comforted in knowing exactly where his body lies.

As I was reading in the Psalms yesterday morning I was struck again with the simply stated reality of that verse which says: "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 146:5).  This last month has been anything but happy and that short statement of cheerful bliss fell heavy on my heart.  It is the direct opposite of all that I have been "feeling".  The word happy is the antonym of all that has been dwelling inside of me.  How does one experience happiness when one is sad?  It is only experienced by those "that hath the God of Jacob for [their] help"!  And what a help He is.  How utterly grateful both Kevan and I are to know this good and gracious God.  This God who comes down to grieve alongside those who are in great sorrow.  Who offers a peace that passeth all understanding to those who are confused.  A God who guards one's heart and mind from the enemy who would seek to fill it with lies and bitterness.

I am grateful for all of Scripture and the Holy Spirit who takes up residence within my ache...living there in order to comfort and teach me all things!  What I have experienced makes me feel empty inside.  It makes me feel broken.  It makes me hurt in ways I have never felt pain.  It leaves me all alone!  But it makes the HOPE more glorious and opens my eyes to the spiritual realm and to the God who never makes mistakes!

The Psalm continues to use the most precious verbs in relation to His most righteous actions.  I want to close by praising my Saviour for all that He has done, continues to do, and will never stop doing for those who are His own.

He "keepeth" truth forever. He "executeth" judgment for those who are oppressed. He "giveth" food to those who are hungry. He "looseth" those who are in chains. He "openeth" the eyes that we may see. He "raiseth" those who are bowed down. He "loveth" the righteous. He "preserveth" those who are strangers. He "relieveth" those in great need (the fatherless and the widow).

"While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being...Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 146: 1, 5).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Giver of Every Good Gift

I am the wife of an incredible man!  He brings me the greatest happiness!  I am the blessed mother of a darling little delight!  She brings me the greatest joy.  A gift, beyond words!  An answer to prayer, long coming for sure, but arriving just on time!  The very well-known words of Hannah's, "For this child I prayed," is echoed loudly in my own heart of hearts and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  I am overwhelmed at the Giver.

I remember the night God came to me.  I remember which side of the bed I was lying on. I remember the way He captured my attention.  I remember my thoughts as if it was yesterday. I remember the request.   I remember the tears.  He had me, yes, but He wanted more of me!  And oh, I wrestled with the Lord, it would seem, for so many years! I had to learn the balance of offering up my earnest desire (for a husband and children) as a sacrifice to be burnt up completely, if He so pleased, and that of grabbing hold with firm grasp and loudly saying "I will not let go, except thou bless me" (Genesis 32:26).  One side sounds so resigned...the other so forceful!  One action can be racked with discouragement, the other with arrogance.  Does God really want to bless me?  Will I really receive greater gifts if I choose to give it all up?  If you have wrestled the Lord like that over any issue, you know exactly what I am talking about!  I had to learn to let go of my desire and cling to the One who gave me that desire in the first place!   He taught me, so beautifully, through the miraculous story of Sarah's barren womb bringing forth fruit in it's old age (through which would come Messiah) that when He places a desire deep in a heartit is planted even deeper in His own!  He desires it more!  

And so I prayed and sacrificed and clung firmly to the "Giver of all good gifts" when the answer was delayed.  And I wondered how long I would wait.  God doesn't send angelic messengers like he did in the Scriptures...they don't show up for lunch and say "it's gonna happen in...let's see...exactly 12 months from today!"  But He does send us messengers of hope...through His people and through His Word!  They may not have the answer we are looking for (the exact one we are dying for), but they do have the ability to encourage and remind us that God will speak, one day!  He will answer!  The morning will come.  

It came for me, I was sure of it, early one January...right to my doorstep.  The "breaking of the day" and the one God had planned all along to be my man!  It wasn't realized, though, for another 2 years (2 hard years)as if God himself touched "the hollow of [my] thigh" putting it out of place in order to remind me that He does everything with purpose.  He allows hard things that are out of our control to teach us to depend on Him in even greater ways.  Marks of ownership, you might call them.  I had learned to trust my God in big ways while singlemy journey of trust had started 20 years beforeand yes, I did remind Him of that fact ("Lord, why now...after all these years...why can't you just give it to me in a sweet and neat package...why does it have to hurt?")and the Lord's response..."will you trust Me again?"  He wanted me to be content (as He worked), to accept the road I must take to receive this good giftthis gift that was coming directly from His hand.  He chose me for this exact gift!  

As I look up from this computer desk I see a picture of two people very much in love (one of them is my husbandsmile) and to the left of my desk I hear sweet lullabies quietly coming through a baby monitor!  I am married!  And our little delight is fast asleep!  And joy, we have another one on the way!  

God loves to give His own children good gifts.  In fact, Scripture tells us that THAT is all He gives!  "How much more shall your Father" (Matthew 7:11)!  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17).  I love the phrase "how much more" and the word "every"!  There is no getting away from the truth.  God loves to shower us with the desires of our hearts!  Every desire, according to His will.  He really does.  Don't demand your gift too early.  Ask for it, yes...but trust His timing.  It is perfect (just like His gift!). He does all things amazing!  

God has only ever shown Himself strong and consoling on my behalf!  Through hard and thorny ways (when the path is actually pitch black), and through times of uncertainty, He has proven to be Protector, Provider, Comforter, Healer, Friend, Miracle Worker...Giver!  

Giver of every good gift!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Modesty Defined

Our dress is definitely an important topic and should be considered serious enough to take it before the Lord. It is obvious that the Church body universally has wrestled with this issue and we can see some pretty amazing extremes—the Amish for example—creating rules as to even the color and cut of a woman’s garment. There are a many standards (sometimes conflicting) that have arisen through recent years and been touted as biblical. Some people quietly hold them to themselves, while others boldly proclaim that all Christians should dress a certain way—defining modesty to be a length of skirt or length of sleeve or closed toe shoes, etc. It is obvious, that in these cases, the danger doesn’t lie in being immodest…if you are fully covered in a loosely fitted garment you are definitely in the safe zone there. The danger lies elsewhere. Personal standards, preferences, and convictions are one thing. Using the word “biblical” to give credence to certain standards is another.

So, what DO we wear? Does the Scripture give us a pattern as to color, cut, or style?

While the Bible doesn’t give us specifics (“Thou shalt only wear a dress—that covers your calves—with sleeves to your wrists!” ), He did give us enough instruction that was required of a Godly woman to teach us how to “adorn [herself] in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety…(which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

It is always important to start on the inside—for "out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Clothe your heart with modesty—first and foremost with the “garments of salvation…a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10) and then with a “meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). Once you give the Lord full inspection of the wardrobe within…you will want Him to take inspection of the closet in your room as well.

God made you a woman! And He wants you to both dress and act as a woman! (Deuteronomy 22:5) He loves femininity. And, I believe the Lord did not give us specific information on dress in His word on purpose.

God isn’t against creativity or style. Those were actually His ideas. And, as the Creator of all things, He loves us to be creative ourselves. He made us all unique, with unique tastes. What one person thinks is pretty, someone else would never put on. What one person thinks is stylish, someone else would not be caught dead in. God gave us personal style on purpose…He wants us to enjoy it!

What God does tell us in His Word is that He hates worldliness—He hates sin. And here is where the rubber meets the road. This takes what we wear or don’t wear to a different level. It really is not about rules and regulations.  It is a decision. And like all decisions, once they are made, they must be managed for the rest of our life. We should look at the question: “what is modest or not modest?” with that perspective.

God wants us modest in order to take away our shame.

Remember that in the Garden of Eden both the man and his wife were naked and they were not ashamed. There was no need to cover up their bodies. Sin had not entered into the world, and therefore, neither had the guilt that accompanies sin. But we are told that as soon as Adam and Eve took the fruit and ate it (disobeying God’s one command), their eyes were opened, “and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Not only did they now have the knowledge of evil's existence, they tried to cover it up by sewing fig leaves together and hiding when God came to call.

Yet God, who knows everything, took the time to ask a most important question to the guilty party, “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (Genesis 3:11). And, as you know, the Blame Game commenced…and everybody lost!

“Who told you?” What a question! God wanted Adam and Eve to take His question personally and own the reason for their shame. There were immense consequences for their behavior—He put a curse on the entire earth and all that dwells therein—and then banned them from the Garden. He did not want His special creation, and all their descendants, to know this shame forever. As believers, we rejoice in the fact that God gave a promise of redemption that day and graciously kept that promise through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I know that Genesis chapter 3 is all about the doctrine of “The Fall” and is not a lecture on “Modesty”—but I want us to look at it from that perspective for just a few minutes.

Covering oneself appropriately is a serious issue, for it involves our shame!

Modesty is covering our nakedness.

Nakedness is shame—and shame is a result of sin!

Note that God did not allow Adam and Eve to live like they always had—fig leaves or no fig leaves. We are told in Genesis 3:21 that before Adam and Eve were forced out of the garden, God took an animal and killed it (the first death) in order to “make coats of skins, and [He] clothed them.”

It is interesting that the word for “coat” in this passage—Kethoneth—is a tunic, "generally with sleeves coming down to the knees, rarely to the ankles."

In desiring to cover man’s naked shame God did not put them in a bulky tent like garment, but He definitely did not leave them attired in their scanty leaves either. We are told He made them coats, He made them kethoneth. And I believe we can, from the rendering of the word, be safe to say it covered them from their shoulders to their thighs (which would practically mean all the in between—chest, torso, and thigh).

This is how God, the Creator of mankind, first defined what appropriately covered man's shame, man's nakedness—as well as His mercy, in the shedding of innocent blood. And I believe it would be good to heed it

This gives me as a woman a better idea of what I should cover in order to be modest—at the very least. This, on the other hand, does not give any specific idea of what that covering should look like. And here is where all believers really must use discretion.  God highly values a discreet women.  Learn discretion.  Remember that the only specifics God gives for women to adorn themselves in happens to be the clothing of the heart!

As Christian women, we must take all things to God for His approval. All things! Ask the Lord to teach you what is modest and what is not. Make modesty a matter of prayer. If your desire is to dress in a way that pleases your Heavenly Father, He will show you what is appropriate. He will do this in several ways:

1. Through your own spirit. Don’t ever forget that the Lord gave you a conscious and He never wants you to allow it to grow cold, or worse, to sin against it. You must allow His Spirit to communicate truth to yours…allow it to shadow every motive. And remain as sensitive as you can. If in doubt, don’t!  That doesn't mean you never wear such and such again.  It does mean you were sensitive enough to the Spirit to allow time and truth to try all things.

2. By asking your husband, if you are married, or your dad (or close brother) if you are not.  Remember that, as a woman, you were designed to attract. And you do. Because of this fact, you must be very aware of how your clothes (their fit or lack of material) affect the minds of men. Don’t be embarrassed or filled with too much pride to not inquire if you are in doubt.  Give them permission to pull you aside if you ever wear something that appears too provocative.  (Note: Girls, please keep this strictly to your dad or brother or husband—taking this issue outside your family would be both silly and indiscreet).

3. Be open to the counsel of Godly women. This is vital in the life of every girl who strives to be like Christ. It may first be your mother…but will then include other women who you look to with respect. These women will speak directly and indirectly to the issue of dress…and you would be wise to glean from their words and example. Sit under their teaching, ask them specific questions, and allow them to lift specific requests up to the Lord on your behalf.