Friday, October 7, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention: "Knock-Offs"

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”---Matthew 7:6(NKJV)

“The rarest things in the world, next to a spirit of discernment, are diamonds and pearls.”---Jean de la Bruyere

SIDEBAR: This was featured as a devotional earlier this week. Hope it blesses you...

Early this morning (Psalm 46:5), I had a vision. Rather, I *envisioned something* that I thought was most appropriate for the “On Fire” blog; yet, it would seem that the Spirit (John 4:24) has other plans. Because, while this initially speaks to singles and standards, if you “wait it out”, it may bring about some personal clarity, married or not, re: some of the choices that you are making, or are about to make. In other words, it may bring about a firm “yes” or “no”, in this season, re: if Adonai can actually *trust you*---or is entrusting you---to make the right decisions; if your choices are manifesting *grace* (I Corinthians 3:10) or if they are resulting in a need for an abundance of *mercy* (Psalm 123:3) within your life. Because, indeed, the phrasing of the opening line of Amplified Version of I Corinthians 8:9 *definitely* bears pondering (Proverbs 4:26): “Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].” I think a lot of us would be a lot safer if we applied this “hindrance possibility” to ourselves as well as those around us.

Tiffany’s? Or Claire’s?

Who knew? Who? Knew? Well, other than perhaps someone with that name, that the *very high end* jewelry franchise was onto something when they named their store, simply: Tiffany’s. And, let me just say this for the analogy’s sake, Claire, in real time, as it relates to a real person, ain’t a bad name, either. In Latin, it means “clear, bright, famous”. OK, but wait until you see what Tiffany means: THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD in Greek and “three” or “trinity” in Latin.

Yeah…this devo is gonna be…stunning. Literally (LOL).

So anyway, in this *envision*, I was at my absolute favorite mall in Nashville, Green Hills, and things were laid out just as it is in “real time”: Tiffany’s was upstairs and Claire’s was a level down (oh how the metaphors just keep a comin’!). However, there was a twist: instead of it being actual gems (Tiffany’s) or custom jewelry (Claire’s), both stores had actual women inside of them. Some I was aware of (I am using the word “know” less and less these days) and some I wasn’t, but in looking around and taking it all in, it was kind of like how they say that when we get to heaven, we’ll be shocked by who made it. And who didn’t. Some of the “Tiffany’s” gals caught me off guard just as much as some of the ones in “Clarie’s”. In some ways, it was surprising to see, which were “the real thing”…and which were the knock-offs.

Anyway, as I was asking the Divine Spirit for insight (Isaiah 28:29-NIRV) into what was going on, I was then taken to two bible chapters: Proverbs 31 (10-31) and Proverbs 5. One, according to Hebrew scholars, is the eulogy that Abraham penned for Sarah, “The Virtuous Wife” and the other is a long warning entitled (in the New King James Version), “The Peril of Adultery”. The first results in a man, *a husband*, saying “’Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’” (Proverbs 31:29-NKJV) The other? Well, it’s not praise that a man feels like giving after dealing with someone like her: “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell.” (Proverbs 5:3-5-NKJV) Oh, and while we’re here, sexual sin (I Corinthians 5:11) is not the only way someone can be immoral. That word is simply defined as “not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics”. And what are we as disciples (John 8:31) told to not conform to? *The things of this world.* (Romans 12:2) It’s so easy to judge until we have a clearer understanding of the Lord’s expectations; hence the need for *righteous judgment* (John 7:24).

So, as I looked into these two stores: one filled with the “manifestation of God” (that’s still so hot, Holy Spirit!) and the other with women that are “bright, clear and famous”---women that a lot of women try to emulate, I thought about my own jewelry experience.

Now, I’ll be the first one to admit that I have more custom jewelry than not. And you know why (catch it) because *it’s cheaper*. And *easier*. And more *readily available* (how many fellas are with a “Claire chick” for the *exact same reason*?!?). Yet, there are two things that I *very rarely* remove and that I couldn’t go the frugal route to get: my tiny pearl earrings and my pearl ring. I simply wear them too much to get the knock-off kind. To do so would be a waste of my money and my time.

And while we’ll get to the exquisite beauty (and value) of a pearl in just a moment, as I was piecing all of this together, I heard the Spirit (John 14:16-AMP) say: “Shellie, don’t confuse the difference between what someone doesn’t *want* and what they can’t *afford*.” Hmph. What someone “desires” vs. what they are “able to meet the expense of; have or be able to spare the price of”; what they are able to “furnish; supply”; what they are able to (good one, right here!) “able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect”. Indeed, because if I were able to be up in Tiffany’s all day long, *would I really be in Claire’s?* Probably not. *Even if I’m acting like I prefer Claire’s, if I could *afford* Tiffany’s, I’m sure Claire’s would not be a priority. Or an option.*

Ladies-in-waiting, catch it: “Even if there’s more traffic in Claire’s, the clientele of Tiffany’s tends to be much different. The Tiffany’s shopper wants *the real thing*; not something that can simply be passed off, to the poor appraisers (we’ll get to that in a moment as well), as a rare gem simply because they don’t want to save up (wait) to pay the price (following godly standards) to get something…authentic, pure…*real*. Something of lasting value. Custom jewelry, to a Tiffany’s shopper, is really no more than junk jewelry because, to them, *you get what you pay for*. Both in the spiritual and in the natural: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30-NKJV)

The Parable of the Pearl: Revisited

I have shared, on more than one occasion, that I am *quite partial* to the pearl. It’s my birthstone, it’s a Christian symbol for Christ (John 10:9, Revelation 21:21), in Judeo-Christian recordings, it also symbolizes purity, harmony and humility and I’ve always appreciated (and in many ways, related to) the journey of the pearl: all that the grains of sand go through to become something so…precious. And in thinking about the pearl, I find that the following quote complements the Parable of the Pearl quite nicely: “The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens.” For indeed, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4-NKJV) And in connection to all of this, I appreciate how the Parable of the Pearl is so…profoundly succinct:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Now, if you’re looking at this from a courtship perspective, it really is…quite romantic, isn’t it? A man, finding a woman of purity, harmony and humility and giving up everything just to have her. Yes, yes. In this life, there is something to be said about the quality of the “pearl” and its *appraiser* (to determine the worth of). Perhaps, in this sense, two of the greatest appraisers of all time were Adam and Boaz:

ADAM:And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”---Genesis 2:23(NKJV)

BOAZ:Then he said, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.’”---Ruth 3:10(NKJV)

Show an average guy a gemstone and he’s probably a bottom liner: it if looks like a pearl or diamond or sapphire or ruby, then it must be one. Oh, but one with *gem experience*, he looks for the cut, clarity and flawlessness of the stone. And, if he’s been in Tiffany’s enough, he’s also noticed that, more times than not, it has its own *stamp of approval* on its merchandise…so that *all* can know where he made his purchase. Hmph. Life is teaching me that in a marital covenant, it’s not just enough to be “the pearl” but to be in communion and connection with a man who actually *knows it when he sees it*: both must happen for a true spiritual transaction to take place (Amos 3:3, Malachi 2:15, Matthew 19:1-10-Message). A godly man is not just looking for someone who *acts like the manifestation of God* but IS THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD in not just her appearance and words, but her actions as well! For him, simulation is not enough. Authenticity is what he’s after because he doesn’t just want to rock her like some junk jewelry at a party. He wants to have her as a part of him…for life. Kinda like my pearl earrings and ring. Yes, like the Parable of the Pearl, you’ll be amazed what you’ll give up for something that you want to last.

Yet, this message doesn’t just apply to courtship. Remember that the parable was making a comparison. Single or married, as a disciple, *what will you give up for the kingdom of heaven* (Matthew 16:26, Luke 9:23)? To have access to what’s really precious and priceless amidst all of the counterfeit that this world has to offer, what kind of choices are you willing to make? *Or stop making?*

Rest. Wait. *Then Choose*.

Something that a friend by the name of Brian Watts said on this past Sabbath day is, “There are two things that Christians hate to do: rest and wait.” Shoot, flesh and blood certainly did not reveal that (Matthew 16:17) because that’ll preach! Ten times over! Personally, I love that Naomi spoke along those lines to Ruth and Orpah when she was trying to get them to leave her on her way to Bethlehem: “The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” (Ruth 1:9-NKJV) Sometimes, I think, that wives forget that rest is to be bestowed upon them as well. Especially the *spirit of rest* (peace). Especially within their own home.

Matter of fact, Adonai thinks so highly of rest, that there is *an entire commandment* centered around it (Exodus 20:8-11); one that, upon completing the creation of this earth, *he himself honored* (Genesis 2:1-3). In a state (and/or season) of rest, one can have a “relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs”, a “refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor”. Indeed *rest is a reward* for those who labor (Matthew 11:28-29). And if/when you take this kind of resting *seriously* and *literally*, this definition is often the result: “mental or spiritual calm; tranquility”. Yes, just another reason why the Liar (John 8:44) doesn’t want disciples taking the Fourth Commandment to heart because when you’re mentally and spiritually calm, you can make *much clearer (and usually better) decisions*. Yes, *rest* helps one to do this. Effectively and efficiently. Indeed, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9-NKJV) We must embrace this. Fully.

And then there’s waiting…

I shared a quote with someone last week that I find to be quite…fitting for translating what “wait” should be both to and for a believer (Mark 9:23):

“Often a Christian man or woman falls prey to that cruel and vexatious spirit, wondering how to find marriage, who, when, where? It is on God that we should wait, as a waiter waits--not for but on the customer--alert, watchful, attentive, with no agenda of his own, ready to do whatever is wanted. 'My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.' (Ps. 62:5 KJV) In Him alone lie our security, our confidence, our trust. A spirit of restlessness and resistance can never wait, but one who believes he is loved with an everlasting love, and knows that underneath are the everlasting arms, will find strength and peace.”

An author by the name of Elisabeth Eliot once penned it and her spiritual wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) gave me some additional enlightenment (2 Samuel 22:29, Psalm 18:28) on something that I never really thought about before. In this way:

“For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”---Psalm 37:9(KJV)

 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”---Isaiah 40:31(KJV)

“Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.”---Psalm 123:2(NKJV)

Whew! Dig deep enough (Matthew 7:7-8) and you’ll find that we are not just to just wait *on* the Lord, but *upon* him:

Upon: upward so as to get or be on; in or into complete or approximate contact with, as…an important or pressing occasion; to or in an erect position; toward a particular direction or in the interior of, as a region or territory; step on; go better than

Synonyms: affixed to, attached to, acquainted, alive, appreciative, attentive, aware, enlightened, informed, knowing, mindful, perceptive, *receptive*

A lot of times, waiting is hard for us because we look at it from this definition: “to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens”. However, I believe that the Lord is instructing us more from this standpoint: “to be available or in readiness”.

Waiting *upon* the Lord is about being in a *constant state of availability and/or readiness* to be attentive to his assignments, aware of his instructions, mindful of his abilities and perceptive enough to be *immediately receptive* to his commands. His will and his way. Waiting is about not moving, forwards or backwards, right or left, to or away from, until he tells you to. This makes Isaiah 30:18(NKJV) just that much more inspiring:

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

We’re blessed when we wait *upon* Adonai because when we are “affixed and attached to” him, without question, therein lies a state of being “divinely or supremely favored” in a way that, in due season (Galatians 6:9), yes, can lead to a place of being “blissfully happy or contented”.

And this is what a pearl has to keep in mind. No matter what.

That it/he/she is far too invaluable to cast itself/himself/herself upon, the Word calls them “swine” (check out the definition sometime!), I’ll go with “poor appraisers” (LOL); that as the lead quote implies, it does, indeed take the spirit of discernment (I Corinthians 2:13-15) to notice just how *rare* it is to encounter one.

I thought about all of this as it relates to my own life. Honestly, not so much from the courtship perspective (I’ve gotten some real peace on that for a minute now), but from the, “Do I really see the kingdom of heaven as clearly as I should?” angle. Because if I did, I think I’d be willing to both release and embrace more than I have been. Because more than anything, what the Parable of the Pearl teaches is that to get all of Adonai, you have to let go of all of you. Remember, the pearl is a symbol of Christ. TO GET ALL OF CHRIST, YOU HAVE TO RELEASE ALL OF YOU. Your wants, your agenda, your plans. Without question, only *a true appraiser* sees the value of not just a good woman, but of her Savior as well. *And then acts accordingly*. Again, he’s not just *perceptive* but *receptive*.

You know, it’s funny. When you look up the word, “option” in the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), it’s not that easy to find. Not in the New King James Version, the New International Reader’s Version, the New Century Version or the Amplified Version. And even in the Message Version, it was only referenced four times, with these two being the most relevant to this message:

“We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails.”---Proverbs 19:21(Message)

“Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”---James 1:6(NKJV)

Some of us are making life *much harder* than it has to be because we don’t realize that really, at the end of the day, in the spirit realm, the choices are these: do it your way or Adonai’s way.

“Shop” where it’s popular. Or where the manifestation of God is present.

Move busily and impatiently. Or wait *upon* Adonai.

Hmph. It really is up to you.

Pay the price to have the real thing…or settle for a knock-off.

These are some interesting times…so whatever you do…

Choose wisely.

As for me, I’ll be in and at…Tiffany’s. (LOL)

Selah. And amen.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011

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