Archive | December 2013

Authority Speaks – Are You Listenting?

Let the Word dwell in you richly

Thus did Moses:  according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he.

Exodus 40:16

 Who is the person to whom God has regard? … but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word (Isaiah 66:2).  The person to whom God has regard is the one who is humble in heart, who exalts the Lord, and who reverences His Word.  All through the Scriptures, wherever we see those considered to be mighty men or women of God, we see humble hearts, we see honoring of the Lord God, and we see such an esteem for His Word that humble obedience to that Word is demonstrated in their lives.  True humility produces obedience, and true humility reverences authority.

By design, authority speaks.  Speaking is the means whereby the one in authority communicates his desires, and thereby his instructions to bring about those desires.  This speaking may be in written form or in verbal form, but speaking is always found where authority is found.  You may see this practically demonstrated in any area where authority is present.  As employees begin a project at work, how will they know that which is expected of them?  At some point in time, the boss will speak, directing how he expects that work to be done.  Picture a classroom of students.  As they enter the classroom and take their seats, what would happen if the authority in that classroom did not speak?  It is through speaking that the teacher communicates to those students that which is expected of them.  We certainly know of the same truth as evidenced by parents and their children.  Authority is meant to speak.  And, of course, the highest and ultimate example of this truth is how the Lord God speaks.  He is the Creator of Heaven and earth, and as the Ultimate Authority, He speaks.  In actuality, He is the only One who has given authority to any other.

The question for us should then be:  If authority speaks, are we listening?  Do we even know how to listen?  For the Christian, we must fully realize that the Lord God is the Supreme Authority and He has spoken.  He has spoken through His Word.  How many times in the Old Testament do we find these words:  thus saith the Lord?  And the Word of God is clear:  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son … (Hebrews 1:1-2).  God has, unquestionably, spoken.  How, then, can we hear?

First, the condition of our heart is of extreme importance.  Did you notice in the Isaiah passage that it is a person that is poor and of a contrite heart to whom the Lord looks?  And secondly, it is a person that trembles at His Word – one who highly reverences His Word.  When, with a humble heart, one listens to the Word of God as the Word of God, intent on doing that which He speaks, then the heart is in the position to hear.

How does God speak?  You may say that He speaks through Creation.  Yes, He does, but the Creation will be a picture and reminder of Who He is and what He has said!  The Scripture is replete with examples from the Creation that teach spiritual truths.  Consider the fowls of the air … I am the vine, ye are the branches … Behold, a sower went forth to sow seeds … Go to the ant, you sluggard … The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the Word of the Lord endureth forever.  The list goes on and on.  Certainly God speaks through His Creation.

You may say that He speaks through music.  Yes, He does speak through songs that are a reminder of the truth of His Word.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

You may say that He speaks through others.  Yes, He does, but it will only be as they encourage, exhort, and speak the truth in love, a reminder of the Word of God (Ephesians 4:15).

You may say that He speaks through circumstances.  Although this is a phrase that we hear often, we must be very careful.  Did you know that the word circumstances is not found in the Scriptures?  And, very often, it is when we look at the circumstances that we go astray.  Because of circumstances, Abraham went to Egypt.  Because of circumstances, Sarah suggested Hagar as the solution for a child.  Because of circumstances, Peter denied the Lord.  Again, the list goes on.  We must always look to the truth of the Word of God, no matter the circumstances.  God speaks through His Word.

You may say that God speaks through His Spirit.  Yes, He does!  But never forget that He is called the Spirit of Truth.  He always speaks in full agreement with the Father and the Son.  He always speaks in agreement with the full counsel of the Word of God.  In actuality, He will bring into your remembrance the Word (John 14:26). Yes, authority speaks.  God speaks and has spoken.  In most cases, as we seek the will of God in a situation, we may find our answer by simply asking:  What has God already said?  The problem that we face is not that He has not spoken, but that, in most cases, we have not heeded that which He has already spoken.  Lord, help us with a humble heart to hear and to heed – to be as those who tremble at Your Word.

In a similar way, the Christian wife is to arrange herself under her own husband’s authority.  For the husband is the head of the wife – God has designed it and declared it to be so!  We, then, as wives, must learn to hear our husbands, and to heed that which they speak.  A wife may ignore him, reason against him, argue with him, or defy him.  But the truth is that there is a great need to respect him as the authority that God has lovingly given, and with a humble heart, listen carefully that the wife may do that which her own husband speaks.  And in many situations, we need to ask: What has he already said?

In our Christian lives, when we are hearers only and not doers of the Word of God, we deceive our own selves (James 1:22).  Likewise, as Christian wives, we deceive our own selves when we hear only, but do not do as our husbands speak.  Jesus said:  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27).  A godly wife will hear, and she will follow!  Authority speaks – are you listening?

I Love My Child – Why Am I So Angry?

Why Am I So Angry?

It was before the days of home pregnancy tests.  I left the doctor’s office absolutely thrilled.  I was expecting our first child.  My husband and I had been married for three years, and now we had a new little one entering our family.  Everything seemed so perfect!

I began decorating a nursery, and yes, before the days of ultrasound where everyone knows if the little one will be a boy or girl.  I still recall the yellow and green Peter Rabbit decor.  Still, all seemed so perfect!

But as the pregnancy progressed, problems began to surface. My blood pressure rose, unexpected complications occurred, and by the time I was four months pregnant, I was on total bed rest.  My regular OB-GYN would no longer keep me as a patient, and I was referred to a high-risk doctor.  Through four long months of bed rest and an early c-section delivery, what occurred in my heart was a desire beyond description to have this baby.

After ten days of neonatal intensive care, I could finally bring my little bundle of joy home.  Truly he was my bundle of joy! Oh, how thankful I was to have this little one in my life and in my home!  He immediately became my ever-present “sidekick”.  I kept him right with me all the time, and if ever a mother delighted in an infant, I delighted in him.  Rocking, singing, nursing, playing, bathing – it was all a joy!  Again, I thought, all was perfect.

Months passed and turned into years, and a problem was developing.  My precious little boy had a mind and will of his own.  He was very strong-willed and determined to have his own way. I was intensely frustrated much of the time and found myself getting very angry with this one who I loved so dearly.  How could this be? And more importantly, how was I supposed to deal with him?

Through a  combination of circumstances, including my struggle in raising my son, I saw my need for The Lord, and it was then that I turned to Him for salvation.  The Lord began to change me, but I still fought with the anger that would arise in me.

I had a Master’s Degree in Education and a number of years experience in teaching kindergarten, but neither of those things equipped me for dealing with that anger.  I was spending time in the Bible and was growing in my spiritual life, but my problem handling my son persisted.

One evening after my husband had come in from work, he asked, regarding our son, “Do you always have to yell at him?”  Very irritated, I promptly replied, “I do NOT always yell at him!”  And then I thought – if he were here with him all day he would yell at him, too!  Something had gone terribly wrong.  In the course of time, my feelings of incredible delight toward my precious child had turned into utter frustration!

As the next few days passed, I heard my husband’s words echo over and over in my mind.  Finally, I began to realize that he was right.  I truly did love my child, but out of my frustration, I did not treat him as though I loved him!  And, yes, I did yell.  My husband’s words, which I had resented and resisted, had actually served as a wake up call for me.  It was then that I began to pray and ask for The Lord to help me with this anger.

I knew that somewhere in the Bible there was a Scripture about being angry and not sinning.  With my Bible and a concordance in hand, I set out on a search.  And there it was in Ephesians 4: 26 – Be angry and sin not …  Then I noticed a cross reference by this verse, so flipping pages I settled into Psalm 4:4 and began to read: Stand in awe and sin not : commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.  Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in The Lord.

It was there that I found the steps that would bring me into total freedom from my anger problem.  I was a young Christian, and I took the Bible so literally.  This is exactly what I did that I might be angry, yet not sin.

  • I would go into the privacy of my bedroom, leaving the door open that I might hear to be aware of where my son was.
  • I would literally lay across my bed and talk to my own heart.
  • I would be still and calm myself down.
  • Based upon Hebrews 13:14-16, I learned that the sacrifices of righteousness are actually praise and giving thanks. So, again taking the Scriptures literally, I would praise my Lord and thank Him for my son and the blessings that I experienced as a mother.
  • Then, I would trust The Lord.

Time and again I would take myself through these steps and then deal calmly with my son as needed.  As I walked in these Scriptures, The Lord removed that anger from my heart and renewed the joy that I had experienced with my child as an infant.  I continued to grow in these truths until I no longer needed to withdraw physically to get control of myself.  I could stand right in the room and go through those steps within my heart.

Here was the key – As soon as I began to feel that anger begin to arise in me, I immediately had to go through my “steps” so that the anger would not spill out! Withdraw momentarily, be still, praise, give thanks, trust!  By the grace of God, that pattern became second nature to me, and over time, I was free!

My relationship with my child was renewed.  Once again, he became my little “sidekick”.  We spent all of our time together as we homeschooled for many years.  My little bundle of joy grew into a 6’4″ teenager, but he was still one of my greatest sources of joy!

Because when The Lord does a work, He does it fully, I must also share this part of the story.  When my son was in high school, one of his teachers came to me after church and shared that she had heard some of the students talking about their parents and how they treated them.  My son was in that conversation and had said, “In all my life, I only remember my Mom yelling at me two times!”  Wow! I thought.  My Lord had not only freed me from anger, but He had fully redeemed that whole part of our life.  It was as if it had never occurred.

I went home that night, laid across my bed, was still, praised My Lord, and offered up thanksgiving!  How wonderful is my God!  How wonderful is His grace! And how wonderful is His Word! To God be the glory!

The Higher Life

Set Affections Above

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, calls the Christian to live a “higher” life.  This higher life is not some mystical experience, but a seeking of the things of Christ.  Our Lord always calls us to this higher place – away from earthly things, away from fleshly desires, away from our own way – to His way.

Isaiah 55:8-9 teaches us that our thoughts and our ways are not His thoughts and His ways.  He declares that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways and thoughts higher than ours.  Even in our feeble attempts to do good or to follow His law, we find that His ways are so much higher.  That higher place to which we are called cannot be produced by human effort.  Listen to the words of Jesus:  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

Take time to read Matthew 5:21-48 and you will see this truth demonstrated.  As Jesus teaches, He addresses more than the external.  He addresses the heart.  As we read through this passage, we get a glimpse of the higher life – with a mind set on things above.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:  and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22). The external act is that of murder.  The higher life focuses on the anger that is in the heart that produced the deed.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).  The external act is that of adultery.  The higher life focuses on the lust in the heart that produced that deed.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).  The human way is to love those who are “loveable.”  The higher life focuses on loving the “unlovable.” A full reading of chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew will continue to reveal the higher life.

You can also see these truths addressed by the Apostle Paul as he calls believers to put off the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

In actuality, that is what the higher life is about – righteousness and true holiness.

Take time to read Ephesians 4:25-32. The higher life is about more than not lying – it is about speaking the truth with your neighbor.  It is about more than not stealing – it is about giving to him that is in need.  It is about more than not speaking corrupt words – it is about speaking words that help and minister grace.  It is about more than our angry, bitter feelings – it is about kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.

The higher life is about the Lord Himself.  It is about His ways, His thoughts, and His righteousness.

Perhaps you are wondering, “How can I live in that way?  Where do I even begin?”  First, it is important to realize that the higher life is truly about heavenly things.  Jesus said:  … For without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).  It is an impossibility to live a spiritual life without Him!

Secondly, we must be renewed in the spirit of our minds.  By nature, we have our own thoughts.  We were born with them; we awaken each day to our own thoughts; our thoughts are influenced by others and by the world.  Have you come to realize what your “self” sounds like?  It is, therefore, necessary for our minds and thoughts to be renewed, and there is only one place where we can find God’s thoughts – in the Word of God.  For that reason, it is imperative that we read and study the Word of God, for it is there alone where our minds will be renewed.

Next, God has given the wonderful privilege of prayer.  The Christian can actually come before the throne of God and lay all of her cares and concerns at His feet.  And, as we are still and quiet before Him, He will bring Scripture to our minds.  Then, as we walk in His Word, we walk in His ways.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.   Colossians 3:1 

Also, we must not forget the precious Holy Spirit.  He teaches, leads, guides, and brings to remembrance God’s Word as we need it.  Learn to be sensitive to Him!

And, of course, God has given the church – the body of Christ – to edify, build up, and encourage us all.

Indeed, God calls us to a higher life – to a life of righteousness and true holiness.  We cannot get there apart from Him, but by Him we are able to die to ourselves and live unto Him.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God

Colossians 3:1 

 

Lord, help us to desire You and Your ways above ourselves and our ways.  Help us to seek, from the heart, the things that are pleasing to You.  Help us to be wives and mothers that reflect Your ways and bring glory to Your name.   Truly, help us to set our affection on things above and not on things of the earth.

The Unwise Woman

The Unwise Woman

Perhaps one of the biggest and most frequent mistakes that wives make in their marriages is looking at their husbands to judge their spirituality.  It has proven to be the place of stumbling for many.  Although this place of stumbling is not confined to the husband-wife relationship, as it may be observed among many Christian relationships, it occurs so frequently in marriages that, as wives, we must ever guard against this critical error.

To understand how to guard against this error, we must first understand its cause.  It is very common in Christian circles to find marriages where one spouse is a Christian and the other an unbeliever.  Sometimes it is the wife who has been saved and finds herself now married to an unsaved or unspiritual man.  However, sometimes the reverse is true.  It is the husband who is saved, and he now finds himself married to a wife who is uninterested in spiritual things.  It is rare to find both a husband and wife loving the Lord and seeking His will and ways for their lives.  For those of you who are in a marriage with a spiritual spouse, it is truly a blessing from the Lord which you should cherish and for which you should be deeply thankful.

But what of the Christian wife that feels that her husband is a weight that she seems to drag behind?  Perhaps he is an unbeliever.  Perhaps he is a believer, but is not a spiritually mature man.  This is where the problem arises.  The Christian wife often reads much about the Christian life and the Christian family.  She listens to sermons and tapes.  She attends Bible studies.  She has heartfelt desires to bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  And as good as those Christian resources may be, the wife often builds within her mind an expectation of what her husband should be.  Then, in reality, when she looks at him, she sees that he falls short of this “model man” that she has built within her mind.

Additionally, she may look around at other Christian men that she knows.  Forgetting that she only knows them from a distance and rarely sees their shortcomings, she compares her husband to those men, and again, the husband comes up way short.  How unwise is this trap into which she falls!  The Apostle Paul spoke of those in Corinth who put together information in a wrong manner and looked upon the outward appearance as those who were not wise:  but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).

The danger that arises when we measure others by ourselves or by others, or when we compare others to ourselves or to others, is that we can never arrive at God’s view.  Most often we will lift our hearts up in pride and criticize the other, or we will see good things in the other and become discouraged with ourselves.  With God there is no partiality.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  All need His grace and mercy.  How important it is that we learn the importance of these truths:  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?  To his own master he standeth or falleth.  Yea, he shall be holden up:  for God is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4).  And:  Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God (Romans 15:7).  The Lord does call the spiritual person to seek to restore one overtaken in a fault, but even with that instruction, it is given to the spiritual-minded person.  And even then, it is accompanied by an admonition that it be done in meekness and only after considering oneself.  For if one thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he only deceives himself (Galatians 6:3).

How does this all apply to the Christian wife?  She is never to hold up her own expectations for her husband.  She is never to strive to have him minister in the church according to her desires and her plans.  He is the man that the Lord created, both physically and spiritually.  Is he is unsaved?  Salvation is a work of the Lord.  She can never accomplish that work in him.  She must wait for the Lord’s timing.  If her husband is a Christian, she must still allow the Lord to lead her husband.  Often the wife’s voice speaks so loudly and so frequently that because of the noise that she creates, her husband does not hear the Lord’s voice.  How we need to be reminded that the husband has a Head.  His Head is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3), and what a perfect Head He is!

Whatever the plan is for a husband, only God knows, and only God can accomplish that plan!  What, then, is a wife to do if her husband is unsaved or unspiritual?  The Word of God answers that question so completely.  The wife is to subject herself to her husband, allowing the Lord in her life to shine through.  It will not be what she speaks, but it will be the life that she lives that will show forth the Lord.  With a meek and quiet spirit that remains calm and sure as she trusts in God, God will often do a mighty work in others (1 Peter 3:1-6).

The best encouragement for any wife in this position is to lay down her own expectations for her husband.  She must lay down her own plans and desires.  She must lay down her own will and ways and focus upon being the wife that God desires her to be, and remember that if someone were to line up her life with a “model woman,” she, too, would fall short.  She cannot allow her focus to dwell upon her husband’s shortcomings.  She must look for the areas in his life where she can offer up thanksgiving to the Lord.  When the complaint arises as to how lacking her husband is in submission to the Lord, always she must  ask herself the question of how submissive she is to her husband.  Most often when we are finding fault with them we have forgotten our own sin, weaknesses, and faults.  We have lifted our own hearts up in pride – and what a great sin that is!

Who is an unwise woman?  She measures her husband by others and compares her husband with others.  This critical error will never give her God’s view.  And it will always cause her to lose respect for her husband!

May the Lord Himself give us a heart to see as He sees and then to love as He loves!

Julia’s Story: Enter the Elk!

I love to hear ladies tell their stories as they study Biblical marriage and begin to desire to respect their husbands, and love and submit to them. Each story is as varied as the husband and wife in the marriage.  But one thing is sure. Things will begin to change!

I recall the young wife who came into a marriage class so excited, as she reported that for years her husband had been asking her to wear her hair down rather than in a pony tail.  It was fun just to see her excitement as she had arranged her life under her husband, and the conflict went away.

Certainly, submission is not usually so easy as changing a pony tail, but many times it is in the small things where the changes first begin.  Those changes are actually occurring in the heart.  In instances where there has been resistance for many years,  a wife will delight as she submits to her Lord by submitting to her husband, no matter how small the issue may seem.

My favorite example of the simplicity of submission came from the young wife whose husband had asked her for years to put the ironing board on her side of the bed rather than on his, but she had persisted in her own way.  Again, the simple joy of simple submission as she gave in!

But ironing board, move over! I now have another favorite story.  This is a simple story of a wife desiring to honor her husband as she arranged her life around his. Here, in her own words, is her story.

Julia’s Story: Enter the Elk!

Enter the Elk

For years I never would allow mounted animals in my house. I grew up with all kinds of creatures staring at me on the walls: squirrels, deer, and raccoons. If it could be mounted it would go on the walls. I do not know why, but I never wanted that to follow me in my adult life. It was normal, and almost expected, as a child to enter homes in my family and see this sort of trophy on walls, but as an adult I was not “HAVING IT”.

My husband, through the years, began to hunt more and more.  He killed a deer and had it mounted. I would not hear of that animal hanging in my living room, so he hung it in his closet. That was fine with me. He got to enjoy it, and I did not have to be bothered with it – seemed like a good deal to me.  Along the way, he acquired another deer; he hung it in the garage. As years passed, trips got bigger and further away from home. Instead of local hunting camps, now he went to Colorado. It was his 2nd trip to Colorado, and I was really dreading it. He is gone for at least 10 days and with 2 small children at home, it gets rough for me and them. We were sitting at the table the last night before he was to leave, talking about how great it would be if he killed something huge.

My 6 year son said, “Daddy, when I kill my 1st deer, I am going to hang it in my closet, too!”  UGH, the agony of hearing him say that made me see how wrong I “MAY” have been. My husband teased and said, “Do you see what you have done to our ‘manliness’?”  I felt worse.  My husband told our son that he was sure if he killed a deer, I would let him hang it over his bed.  I told my husband if he killed a ‘huge’ animal, I would let him hang it in our house. I felt safe because he had gone before and not killed anything…. Right???  Well, little did I know what I was saying.

The trip came and went, and, yes, he did kill the 2nd to largest ELK in the hunting camp area/region. It took a year for the ELK to get mounted and be sent home. The closer it got to that animal coming home, the more I thought I do not know where it is going, but it will not fit in my house.  The whole year I said that thing is too large for this house. Let me give you some dimensions. I have 10 foot ceilings. For the mounted animal to fit under my ceilings it has to be mounted 5 foot above the floor, which to me is not appropriate level. It sticks out from the wall 52 inches, so to hang it takes special care. I would not want anyone to round a corner and poke their eye with a horn..

On the night prior to the Elk arrival, my whole house was excited to think the Elk was on the way home. Yes, I was too. My husband had said he would probably take the elk to his boss’s camp in Arkansas… it would fit in perfect there. The camp has cathedral ceilings and rustic décor. I did not want to see him do that but I was not satisfied with hanging it in my house either. Before bed I was reading a Blog on husbands and wives and putting the needs of others before your own.  I went to bed praying for my marriage and to have a heart more along the lines of what God would want me to have. When I awoke the next morning, I had a joy and assurance that my husband must bring the ELK home, and I wanted it to stay at home. I wanted it in our foyer and even assured my husband that could be his trophy room. He was so excited and almost giddy. It’s funny how the power of prayer can change a heart. I know it was the power of God because I could not change myself. I now look at that beast of an animal and call it “pretty”.

What I had resisted for years, I now welcomed into my home. Surely, it wasn’t for me.  But because I wanted to honor my husband in our home, my heart had changed.  ENTER THE ELK!

What Do You Mean Submit?

Image created with Pho.to lab app

Image created with Pho.to lab app

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, 

so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:24

 Have you ever been in a gathering of women when the topic of submission came up?  In some women you can almost see the bristles on their neck stand up.  Some may flounder around with their comments, but end up concluding, “Surely, God didn’t mean that!”  And, of course, you will always hear the age-old “doormat” example brought up as an argument.  Sadly, most women respond from their own feelings or from comments of others that they have heard in the past.  The responses may vary, but it is certain that few women even understand the Biblical instruction for submission to their own husbands.  Fewer still understand the beautiful picture of Christ and the church, a picture that brings much glory to the Lord.  As we take up the subject of submission in this meditation, it is our prayer that it will be a truth that you will reflect upon for a lifetime.

Before we can even begin a discussion on submission, it is important that we understand the meaning of the word.  Sometimes translated as submit yourselves, sometimes translated as subject yourselves, and sometimes translated as obedience, the Biblical word for submission is hupotasso in the Greek.  The literal translation means:  to arrange oneself under; to place oneself under in an orderly fashion.

Now, before we speak directly to wives, let’s address this question:  Are wives the only ones instructed to be submissive (hupotasso) in the Bible?  If there are others that are instructed to be submissive, who are they, and further still, to whom are they instructed to be submissive?  One further question will also need to be contemplated:  Why are they instructed to be submissive?  As we go to the Scriptures for these answers, may we lay aside preconceived thoughts and ideas, and just search for the truth as the Scriptures state it.

In James 4:6, the Scripture says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  The following verse reads:  Submit yourselves (hupotasso) therefore to God.  The first truth that we must see is that we are all to submit ourselves to God.  Do you know that you will never find submission in a proud heart?  It is only the humble that will find the grace needed to submit.  And do not miss this important truth – submission is not just for women.  It is for all believers – men, women, young, and old.  It is the mark of a Christian.  We are all to arrange ourselves – to order ourselves – under God.  Why is this so?  It is so because He is God.  He is worthy.  He is the ultimate authority over all.  However, you will never find unbelievers arranged under the authority of God.  They do not acknowledge Him as God, neither do they acknowledge His rightful authority.  But in the humble Christian, look closely.  There you can view the beauty of gracious submission in action.  There you will see a reverence for her God and a loving submission to Him.

Now, let’s look at another group of people to whom the Scriptures instruct submission.  Servants, workers, or perhaps we could even say, employees, were instructed to submit to their masters (bosses).  Exhort servants to be obedient (hupotasso) unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things (Titus 2:9-10).  Why were these servants to be submissive to their masters?  Again, it is because their masters were the rightful authority over them.  And by being submissive to them, they reflected the Lord in their lives.  The same remains so today.  An employee that serves well, without complaint, brings much glory to the Lord.  Also, did you know that this is the consistent command given to servants?  The Bible never contradicts itself.  You will find a truth over and over again, written to different groups of believers, but always the same.  To the Colossians Paul wrote: Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God (Colossians 3:22).  To the Ephesians, Paul wrote:  Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:5-6).  The message was always the same.  They were to be submissive to the authority over them, as servants of Christ.  Even in difficult circumstances the Christian is instructed to submission.  Hear the admonition given by Peter:  Servants, be subject (hupotasso) to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward (1 Peter 2:18).  Now once again, do not lose sight of the truth that submission is not only directed to women.  It is for all of those, men and women, who are under someone else’s authority.  Why is this so?  Once again, it brings honor to the Lord, when someone works humbly and submissively under ordained authority, performed as unto the Lord, as servants of Christ.

In a similar way, the Scriptures address the proper response of children to their parents.  Children, obey your parents in the Lord:  for this is right (Ephesians 6:1).  And:  Children, obey your parents in all things:  for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord (Colossians 3:20).  Although the word used is not exactly the same, the same thought prevails.  Parents are the ordained authority, therefore, it is proper for children to be obedient to them.

Now let’s turn our attention to another authority to whom we are required to submit.  Let every soul be subject (hupotasso) unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God:  the powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1).  And:  Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:  whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well (1 Peter 2:13-­14).  Here we see a fuller picture – all authority is ordained of God.  When we arrange ourselves under authority, we are being submissive to God.  On the other hand, when we rebel against God’s ordained authority, we rebel against God.

Although we have addressed relatively few passages, we can see that the subject of submission runs all through the Scriptures.  There is no doubt, that God’s people, both men and women, are commanded to be subject to any and all authorities that are over them.  And if we really stop and think about it, there would be such confusion without submission.  Imagine a world in which no one subjected themselves to God.  That is the picture that is portrayed before the Flood (Genesis 6:5-6).  What a tragedy!  Imagine a job or place of employment where workers refused to be submissive to the bosses.  Not only would there be strife and confusion, but it is doubtful that any work would be accomplished.  Now imagine a home in which the children refuse to be obedient to the parents.  Can you imagine the heartache that those children will bring upon themselves?  And what about a nation where each person does what is right in his own eyes, refusing to be subject to laws and governing authorities?  What anarchy!  We must conclude that submission not only brings glory to our Lord and Savior, but is a necessary ingredient for order! All of this talk of submission, and we have not as yet addressed wives.  It is important for a woman to understand that submission is to be evident in the life of every Christian, whether male or female.  Every Christian that has ever lived will give an account as to how he responded to the authorities over him.  The Word of God is clear –  the Christian is to humbly submit to authority, as unto the Lord.

Now, let us address wives specifically.  First, we must really be sure of what the Word of God commands.  Wives, submit yourselves (hupotasso) unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).  Therefore as the church is subject (hupotasso) unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing (Ephesians 5:24).  Wives, submit yourselves (hupotasso) unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord (Colossians 3:18).  The older women are instructed to teach the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient (hupotasso) to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5).  And finally:

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection (hupotasso) to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives (1 Peter 3:1).  Over and over again, the command is given – a wife is to arrange herself and order herself under one person – her own husband.  Any woman that comes to the Scriptures apart from preconceived ideas must honestly agree that the Scripture does require submission of a woman to her own husband.

Why is the submission of a wife to her husband resisted so strongly?  Often, even the person who would agree that we are to be subject to God, that we are to be subject to governmental authorities, that we are to be subject to employers, that children are to be subject to parents, will flatly deny that wives are to be subject to their husbands.  Why is this so? When we return to the Fall of mankind (Genesis 3), a part of the consequences that was decreed toward the woman was:  thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (Genesis 3:16).  The woman would desire to overtake the man, and he would, in turn, rule over her.  So in the fallen nature of the woman there is always that desire present to overtake the man.  For the unbelieving woman, this remains in her heart, and in a society that cultivates and propagates this thought, that fallen heart only grows in its ways.  But what of the Christian woman?  God says that He has made her a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Why does she not submit herself to her own husband? First, most Christian women really do not believe what the Scripture says about their husbands.  God almost always explains why He gives a command.  Listen carefully: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife … (Ephesians 5:22-23).  Look closely:  did you see the reason?  Because the husband is the head of the wife.  We know little or nothing of headship in our culture, therefore, we simply do not understand what the Word of God is saying.  The husband is the head of the wife.  The husband is the God-ordained authority over the wife.

Until a wife believes and accepts that her husband is given to her by the Lord as her head, she will never successfully arrange herself under his leadership.  Each and every day, in prayer before the Lord, a wife must be reminded that her husband is her head and that she is to arrange herself and to orderly place herself under him because the Lord requires this of her.

If you still feel yourself resisting, it is probably because you do not realize that you need a head.  If God has ordained authority over you, it is for your good, and it is because you truly need it.  Think for a moment about children.  They do not understand that they need parents.  They want to be their own authority.  What a disastrous thought!  Think for a moment about workers that see no need for a boss or supervisor.  What type of work would this produce?  And think of all the millions of people that see no need for God as an authority in their lives.  They essentially want to be their own gods!

Now to be sure, they may not see the need for authority, but the need is there, and the need is real.  And for the woman, realize it or not, she needs a head, and the Lord has provided one for her – her own husband!   Still doubting?  Remember, the Scriptures teach that Adam was not deceived.  It was Eve that was deceived (1 Timothy 2:14).  Yes, the woman needs a head.  But, even apart from this, the Scriptures teach that God actually established this headship before the Fall, by His order of creation.  He was establishing that authority when He created Adam first (1 Timothy 2:13).  Take time to meditate upon these truths until you see your need for a head.

Another reason that a Christian woman may refuse this truth is that she looks at her husband’s faults and weaknesses and determines that God does not intend to use this man as her head.  She has forgotten that she, too, has faults and weaknesses, yet God does use her.  When a Christian woman lovingly submits to her husband, as her head, it is amazing how the Lord will work in that life!  God’s Word is true, and He blesses His Word.

And finally, as God directs the woman to be subject to her husband, He paints a beautiful portrait for the world that looks on.  Why does this woman behave so?  She does it unto her Lord, and in that submission, the Lord is glorified.  She shows the humility and submission of her Lord, as he lived and walked upon this earth, being subject to the Father in all things. Additionally, she shows how the church is to be subject to the Lord in all things, giving Him that place of honor which He so rightly deserves!

Remember, God always opposes the proud, but how He gives grace to the humble!

Lord, help us understand submission.  Help us understand that all of Your people are called to submission, sometimes in very difficult circumstances.  Help each of us truly receive the truth that our own husband is our head because You have declared it to be so.  And help each of us submit from our heart that it may bring much honor and glory to Your name.  Amen.

What Do You Do When You Are Discouraged?

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I really hadn’t had a very good day!  I spent most of the day down and discouraged.  Why was I feeling this way? Lord, I need your grace today! Please bring me out of this place.

I spent a portion of the day feeling alone, feeling sorry for myself, feeling so very discouraged.  I just laid across my bed? Why do I get like this?

It has been my experience that I get down and discouraged because of my own expectations.  You can name any situation or circumstance, and what discourages me is when things don’t go according to my expectations.  I will always have my own will, my own desires, and my own expectations.  Then when circumstances don’t go according to my wishes, I end up feeling discouraged.  I have discovered this as a pattern when I am discouraged.

Human emotions are a very real part of the human heart. Yet, our life is not to be dominated by our emotions.  So, how do we get out of the discouragement?  How do we successfully keep our emotions from controlling us?

Again, through the years, I have learned that these truths always help me:

1.  Look up:  Psalm 121 says: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.  The only secret that I have ever found is to look away from the circumstance and my expectation and look up to The Lord.  A simple, but sincere, prayer asking for grace to help me press on, coupled with faith, trusting that He will, makes all the difference.  Our Lord, in Hebrews 4:16, says: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. But I must trust that He will!  Truly His grace is sufficient! 

2.  Look in:  After I look to The Lord and His grace, I must look to truth.  I must look, not at my expectation or the circumstance, but to the Scriptures, either in the Bible itself or in my memory as Scriptures come to mind.  I must bring my thoughts into truth. I must cling to truth, forcing out wrong thoughts.  Again, wrapped in a prayer for the grace to walk here, I must rest in truth.

3.  Get up:  Then, I must make myself get up and get out.  Even if my emotions are not yet under control, I must go forward, trusting that The Lord will give me the grace as I go.  I can’t let my mind return to the discouraging thoughts. I have also found so many times that if I will get up and do something for someone else, somewhere along the way His grace takes hold, the joy returns, and I can truly go forward.  The discouragement has faded away.

So, what did I do as I laid across that bed?  I feebly offered up a prayer for His grace, thought upon Scriptures that came to mind, and got up, got out, got in my car to go do a kindness for someone else.  It always amazes me.  As I go, God’s  grace floods my heart.  He is so faithful!  He never ceases to humble me and amaze me! Truly His grace is sufficient! Thank you, Lord, for Your throne of grace!

Be strong and of good courage;

be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:

for The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:9