I don't know about you all, but this series has been so refreshing, uplifting, and challenging for me. The challenge doesn't burden me down or intimidate me though, because I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13) and I believe with all my heart that the vision God puts forth in His Word for us is completely do-able with His help.
Going back to the fragrances in our homes, two more points were brought up. One, that the most important fragrance that should be in our homes is the fragrance of JOY. Psalm 113:9 says, "He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!" This is the testimony we should have over our lives- that we are joyful mothers of children. God hasn't left us barren! He has graciously given us homes and children and He wants us to be joyful. What a testimony to the world, especially to the naysayers who are watching mothers and expecting them to be stressed out and joyless. I can't help but think of a mother I met through American Heritage Girls who is pregnant with her ninth child. She is always so calm and so happy. The joy of the Lord is most definitely her strength. What a testimony. Nancy points out that every mother loves her children, but not every mother loves motherhood. When you love and embrace motherhood, you can dwell in it, relishing in the joys of motherhood that God has so graciously granted. She made the suggestion that every few days you say to each individual child, "I love being your mother." I've said that to my children a few times, and they positively beam with pride. I can tell it pleases them like nothing else to hear that.
The other important fragrance is a more literal one- the smell of warm, nourishing FOOD. Serving others through feeding them was important to Jesus. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He wanted to fellowship with His disciples. So what did He do? John's gospel tells us that He cooked a meal for them and served them (John 21). In Luke's gospel, Jesus appeared to two travelers on the road to Emmaus. He talked with them all the way to their homes, but they didn't know who He was. It wasn't until He sat at the table and broke bread with them that "their eyes were opened" to His identity. (Luke 24). Jesus fed the 5,000. Everyone He fed, He fed body, soul, and spirit. We should do the same for our families at the evening meal table. Not only should there be nourishing food that shows we care about their physical bodies, we should engage them in conversations that will nourish their souls and spirits. This is where the importance of the family altar comes in. Above Rubies has a whole Bible study that I'm planning to go through this year called "The Family Meal Table and Hospitality" and it goes into a lot more detail about ideas for engaging your family and inviting others into your home. God fellowshipped with Adam "in the cool of the day", when Adam's work was done and it was time for rest and relaxation. Evenings should be a sacred time of fellowship, not a time to eat in front of the TV or at different times. Nancy suggested to mothers of many children who are concerned about giving attention to each one, that this is a time you can really help them to get lots of attention. You can go around the table and have each one tell about his or her day, and when that one is speaking, everyone at the table is tuned in and listening. Our family did this growing up, and family meal time became one of my favorite times of day. Thanks Mom! :)
The dinner table can become the "family altar" as well. Joel 2 gives a vision of families crying out to the Lord together. . . "Now therefore, says the Lord, Turn to Me with all your heart. . . Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes. . . Weep between the porch and the altar! Say, 'Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach!. . . Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people." You really should read all of Joel 2, it's beautiful. :) Anyway, the idea is that we even gather our children and nursing babes and cry out to God as a family. Every time we have done this, it has been such a blessing. If we forget, Penelope will say, "Say blessing!" and close her eyes and fold her hands and start to pray. It's so beautiful!!
Okay, for the last few points from the passage in Numbers 24. . . "like cedars by the water." Again, the imagery is by the water. Cedars are strong and firmly rooted trees. They can grow to 120 feet in height and 30-40 feet in width! We should strive for cedar marriages that are strong and firmly rooted in God's principles laid out in His Word. Cedars are also very durable. Solomon used it to build his palace and the temple because it weathers tests and remains strong.
"He shall pour water from his buckets. . . " This gives the idea of being FILLED TO OVERFLOWING. We should come to God not with thimbles to fill, not with cups, but with buckets that we can fill to overflowing so that we have plenty to pour out on others. When Elijah came across the widow with no oil, He told her to gather big vessels from all her neighbors. Timidly she went home and begin to fill up the first vessel with oil. . . it filled to overflowing and there was more! So she took the next vessel and filled it too. In the end that poor widow had plenty to spare. The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. We can't get enough of Him!
"His seed shall be in many waters. . . " I will just quote Nancy here. . . "Mothers, right now you are hidden away in your homes, teaching and training your children. . . but one day they will COME FORTH from your homes and be OUT in the many waters of the world, sharp arrows and shining lights in the world! Teach them well!"
"His king shall be higher than Agag. . . "The KJV says that his king shall be "far greater" than Agag, who was king at the time. "Is Jesus far greater in your homes than anything else? Do you turn to Him first, or the latest child psychologist? The latest child training techniques? Is Jesus far greater?" May it be so.
I believe I will be going back to this study time and time again. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. If you would like to get more encouragement and Bible teaching from this wonderful Above Rubies ministry, please come to the ladies retreat I'm planning in Shocco Springs, AL this fall- October 21-23, 2011. It will be a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement. Just contact me if you're interested!