Tag Archive | truth

Needful Things

Just a few evening thoughts:

The only thing that can conquer the flesh is the Spirit.
The only thing that can anchor my emotions is Truth.
The only thing that truly brings peace and joy is the presence of God.
And the only place I can find these things is humbly before Him in prayer and in His Word.

And for me, these are the needful things!

,

 

 

In the Beginning God Created

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

 

Discovering Truth:

 Every wise woman … Why do we return to Genesis in our study of the wise woman?  There are some very important reasons.  Genesis gives us the foundational truth that God is the Creator.  Some people do not think that it matters whether we believe that God is the Creator or not. The truth, however, is that it is of the utmost importance.  Before revealing anything else about Himself, God revealed that He is the Creator.

That one fact determines that He designed the Creation as He determined, in all His wisdom.  He made things to work together according to His plan.  It also gives Him the right of authority over His Creation.  He alone was worthy to rule and reign over His Creation.  But He chose to make mankind in His own image and give him dominion over His Creation.

Take time to read Genesis Chapter 1.  As we read Genesis 1, we see the Almighty God at work. He speaks, and His work is done.  Day after day, He speaks, and His work is done. What a Mighty God!

We also discover His evaluation of His Creation. Day by day, He declares that His Creation is good.

Why must we know these truths? As we begin our study of the wise woman, we must discover God’s wisdom – not the world’s wisdom and not our own wisdom.  God alone was the Creator, and He created it all according to His wisdom.  We will soon find how, in that wisdom, He formed the man and the woman, and it is there where we will first get a glimpse into His wise intentions for the man and the woman. May the eyes of our understanding be opened!

 

Personal Reflection:

It was about twenty-five years ago as I sat at my small kitchen table, with red pencil in hand and papers spread out across the table.  I had some questions that continually reeled through my mind.  I knew that through prayer and study of God’s Word, the answers could be found.

I could recall the time that I had questioned who Jesus really was, and it was in the Bible that I had found the answers.  I could recall the time that I was plagued with questions and doubts, when I uttered the simple prayer, “Lord, increase my faith!” and The Lord brought a new Bible study into the church that I attended.  I could remember how, through that study, I was forever changed by the Word of God.

So here I sat with scattered piles of papers.  This occasion was before the days when everyone had a home computer, so I had asked a friend, who did have a computer, to do me a favor – to print out the major passages of Scripture that were written directly to women or specifically about women and send them to me.  And here they were.  I knew that if I could lay the Scriptures side by side and compare scripture with scripture, The Lord could answer my questions.

I had learned, in my Christian life, that you could find multitudes of books about multitudes of topics, and you could listen to many different opinions and voices, but you would not find a consistency and continuity among them. So, for me, the solution had become to put aside those things and just see what the Bible says.

And now, with verses before me and a prayer for The Lord to show me truth, I started my search.  With my red pencil, I would mark similar words, similar thoughts, and similar passages.  The search continued for quite some time.  What I discovered was amazing! There was really no confusion at all!  The Scripture was amazingly consistent!  Growing up in the days of “women’s lib”, the world had successfully clouded and confused the issues regarding women.  But sitting here at my kitchen table, there was no confusion.  No confusion at all, just a calm sense of rejoicing over truth!

The first important truth that I discovered was to begin at the beginning.  As Jesus taught about marriage in Matthew 19 and in Mark 10, He referred His listeners back to the beginning – all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis.

Then as the Apostle Paul taught in the book of 1 Corinthians 11 about the man and the woman, he referred those saints back to the beginning – all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis.

Next, in the wonderful exposition on marriage in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul again takes us back to the beginning – all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis.

And again, as the Apostle Paul writes to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 2 regarding order in the church, here the same truth is found. He takes Timothy back to the beginning – all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis.

I could see the problem clearly.  As women, we often begin with our selves, our situations or circumstances, and our feelings and emotions.  But the place that I would have to begin was at the beginning.  That is where the word of God began, and that is where the writers of the New Testament returned to explain and expound truths about marriage and about women. That is where I, too, would begin – at the beginning.

Another exciting discovery that I made was that these truths regarding marriage were true at Creation – and that before the Fall.  That meant this was God’s perfect design!  I felt a freedom, as a woman, that I had never felt before – a freedom to be what God intended me to be!

I bowed my head and thanked The Lord. I picked up my papers and put them in my manila envelope.  Time to put them away – for today, anyway. Time to cook supper.  But this one thing I was sure of, I would be returning to this little stack of papers. And I would begin at the beginning – with a study of the Creation account in Genesis!  I knew marvelous and freeing truth would be found there!  And I couldn’t wait!

That truly was my starting point in understanding God’s design for a woman, and very specifically for me. I pray that you, too, will be blessed as we embark upon this journey together!

 

So, Until the Next Time:

Give thought and time in prayer regarding God as the Creator.

Give thought and time in prayer praising Him for His marvelous works and great wisdom.

Ask Him to reveal ways that these truths should affect your life.

 

You are worthy, O Lord,

To receive glory and honor and power;

For You created all things,

And by Your will they exist and were created.

Revelation 4:11

 

 

 

In the Beginning God …

Discovering Truth:

Our topic is wisdom – becoming a wise woman.

Where shall we begin?

Let’s begin where God Himself begins – in His Word. In the beginning God …  Genesis 1:1. God was there … in the beginning … before anything or anyone was created.  There He was!  In all His glory, His majesty, His power, His wisdom, and His goodness.  There He was! That is really a greater truth than our minds can grasp, but there He was!

By His own goodness and power and by His own determined will and design, He moved upon the face of the earth. And that is where wisdom on this earth began.

Listen to Proverbs 3:19: The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens.  God’s wisdom was there. His wisdom is still here, and His wisdom will exist throughout eternity.

So, for us, mere created beings, we can never know wisdom apart from the Creator.  There is no true wisdom apart from Him, and there is no true goodness apart from Him.

To become a wise woman, we must begin with Him.  Our tendency will be to begin with ourselves, our thoughts, our desires, our own lives, and maybe even our upbringing, but those will all fail us.  We must begin with God Himself. God has chosen to reveal Himself and His wisdom through His Word.

And did you know that we have both the written word (the Bible) and the Living Word (Jesus Christ)?  Speaking of Jesus, John explains: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  John 1:1-2

You may be wondering when are we going to talk about being a wise woman.  We will get there, but we can never get there without the proper foundation.  We must build these truths upon truth alone.  We must begin in the beginning – with God Himself and with His Word.

In the beginning … God! Thanking You, Father, that all these centuries later, you are still here!

 

Personal Reflection:

I’ll have to be honest.  After becoming a Christian, I had doubts that would arise in my mind.  I shared with you previously how the Lord had to renew my mind through the study of the Bible.  But I still had to wonder … Was everything that was written in the Bible really true?  Did it still apply today? Could I be sure that it did not have mistakes in it?  How would I be able to decide what parts were true and right and what parts might have error or be outdated?  You can hear the doubts, can’t you?

However, God did an amazing work in my heart to settle all those questions early in my Christian life.  God walked me through the pages of the New Testament to show me what Jesus believed.  It was there where I found that Jesus believed ALL of the Scripture. He even declared that not the tiniest stroke would pass away until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).  That one truth would have been enough to convince someone, but I discovered so much more.

I found that Jesus Himself believed and referred to some of the passages most often questioned by so many. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy in the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4). Jesus validated the Creation account of Adam and Eve when answering the Pharisees’ questions about marriage and divorce (Matthew 19, Mark 10). Jesus referenced Jonah and the big fish as an example of the resurrection showing that He would be in the “belly” of the earth (as Jonah had been in the belly of the whale) for three days (Matthew 12:40).  Jesus explained His second coming by using the examples of Noah and the flood and Lot and the destruction of Sodom.  He even referred to Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt (Luke 17:26-32).  All of those Old Testaments accounts are questioned and even mocked by many, but what I saw was that Jesus believed them.  And He believed all of them, just as they were written.  It was right at that point that truth was opened to me.  If Jesus (my Lord) believed the Scriptures. I could rest assured that they were true indeed.  Settled … settled … settled.  The doubts and questions went away, and a solid confidence in the Word of God was born.  I would believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and I would believe it just as it is written! Case closed. And what a settled heart that brought to me!

 

So, Until the Next Time:

Continue to ask God to reveal ways that you might be thinking according to the world’s wisdom or your own opinions.

Start with God Himself whenever you are seeking to know truth.

Ask God to settle your heart fully that the Bible is indeed the Word of God.

Prepare your heart to receive truth and wisdom from Him.

 

In the beginning God …

Genesis 1:1

 

 

The Beginning of Wisdom

Discovering Truth:

A wise woman? … How could one ever be considered wise?

Surely wisdom must be a quality that can be obtained because the Scriptures admonish the believer to get wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 declares: Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding.

 If wisdom is so important, what exactly is wisdom and how exactly can one obtain it? Proverbs 9:10 teaches that: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

You see, true wisdom begins with God Himself.  He is called “the Only Wise God,” and true wisdom only comes from Him. We begin to gain wisdom when we come to know Him, humbled before Him and possessing a great reverence for Him as the Creator, the Almighty, the only Savior, as He has revealed Himself through the Word of God, and in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake. You will also find wisdom in this world, but God declares in 1 Corinthians 3:19 that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  And in Romans 1:22 He describes those who turned away from Him as professing to be wise, they became fools. Truly the world’s wisdom is foolishness to God.

But did you know that we can be foolish in our own thoughts, all the while thinking that we are wise? Romans 12:16 says: Do not be wise in your own opinion.  That is certainly a sobering thought!  We can consider ourselves to be wise in our own thoughts and in our own opinions, but if we do not think according to God’s Word, God’s ways, and God Himself, we are just as foolish as the world!

So … our focus is on “A Wise Woman”. What we will have to do is go to God Himself and let Him reveal His wisdom to us.    Don’t be surprised if, on this journey, you find that you have absorbed a part of the world’s wisdom, or that you find that you have acted foolishly by being “wise” in your own opinions.  It happens to us all! It will take God Himself to renew our minds.

 

Personal Reflection:

When I first became a Christian about 33 years ago, it was the first time in my life that I truly studied the Bible.  I considered myself an educated person, with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education, but when I began to study the Bible an unexpected change occurred in me.  I had attended public schools all my life and then completed my education in a secular university.  I had absolutely no idea how much of the world’s wisdom was in me.

The way I explained the change that occurred in me was like this.  I would hold one hand out in front of me with my palm facing up and say, “I thought this.”  Then I would hold out my other hand with that palm facing up, and I would say, “But the Bible says this!”  Then I would be faced with a decision.  I could not keep both.  I would have to throw one out, and that is exactly what I did.  One by one, thought by thought, I threw out my old way of thinking.  And through that process, God changed my way of thinking.  Little by little, He was making me wiser than I had been.  Now, please do not misunderstand.  He is still in the process of conforming me. I have not arrived!  But I am humbled and thankful that He has brought me thus far!  It has been quite a journey, one that I will share as we go.

 

So, Until Next Time:

Spend time asking the Lord to reveal His wisdom to you.

Ask Him to show you ways that you have absorbed the world’s wisdom.

Ask Him to show you ways that you may be “wise” in your own opinions.

Bow before Him, asking Him to conform your life to a life which honors Him.

 

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding.

Proverbs 4:7

 

 

Every Wise Woman – Introduction

The wise woman builds her house,

But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

Proverbs 14:1

 

The year was 2017. The diagnosis was bilateral invasive breast cancer.  The events of the year were certainly unexpected and unpredictable, but the Lord, in His faithfulness, love, grace, and mercy, carried us through by His amazing strength.  As of today, following much prayer, many doctors’ appointments, and two surgeries, as far and we know medically, my body is cancer free.  But 2017 also brought some other things into my life.

We all know that the Scriptures teach that our life is but a vapor and will fade away.  We know that it is appointed to each of us a time to die, and we know that our days are numbered. But 2017 brought a time of examination into my life. With a clear view that my life could have ended here on earth, I had to ask the Lord what He would have me do with the future days that He has graciously placed before me. The Lord has so blessed my life through His Word over the last 33 years. He saved me, totally changed our marriage, helped me raise our son, taught me so many truths, and essentially gave me a new life. I cannot keep these blessings to myself.  I must share them and allow the Lord to bring them into the hands of those who need encouragement in truth. I also leave these writings, with great love, to the next generation.

So … for 2018, I have been led to write devotional posts entitled Every Wise Woman.  Simple devotional thoughts will be written to encourage women in their walk with the Lord, in their marriages, and in their homes with their families. We will build truth upon truth through these simple devotions. The posts are not already written.  I will write as the Lord leads. I do appreciate your prayers.

I invite you to join the journey and to invite others to join us, as well. You will be able to  find these posts on our blog at http://www.wisdomandkindness.com and can follow the blog there to have the posts sent to your email address, or you can have them show in your Facebook feed by liking our Facebook page entitled Wisdom and Kindness.

Looking forward to the journey. Praying that you will join us.  May the Lord bless!

 

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.

Kara’s Sory: Learning to Build

imageEvery wise woman buildeth her house:

but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Proverbs 14:1

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

Psalm 127:1

What a work God has done in my heart with these two verses!  For so many years of my marriage, I was a foolish woman, constantly plucking my house down around me with my very own hands.  Oh, I didn’t realize that was what I was doing.  I thought that I was standing up for my rights as a “liberated” and “educated” female.  I thought that I deserved a life beyond my husband and two children.  I didn’t realize that God had given me a precious gift – a household full of wonderful people – and that I was the one steadily destroying it.  God had done more than His part, bringing my family through many self-inflicted storms and trials, but every time the Lord would begin to pour a foundation for my family, there I would be, tearing it down to the ground by my words and neglect.

Now that I look back, I should have seen what was going on, especially since in His mercy, God had given me a very vivid physical example of what neglect causes with the house that we had bought soon after our daughters were born.  This house seemed perfect when we first visited it – quaint, quiet, understated – the perfect place to raise our children.  But little did we know the work that is required to keep a house, especially an older house, as ours was, in good condition.

I was busy with my job (in a Christian work, by the way) and my husband was busy establishing a new business.  The house – like my family –  was left to itself.  Unbelievably soon, the roof was leaking, termites had eaten through the foundation, and the beautiful yard that the previous owner had so painstakingly landscaped was overgrown with weeds.  We were so overwhelmed when we realized the work ahead of us that we simply threw up our hands in defeat.  And I did the same thing with my family.  I will spare you the details of the damaging results, but suffice it to say, my home and my family were nearly destroyed.

But then a miracle occurred.  God saved me and began to open up the truth of His Word to me, line upon line, precept upon precept.  He began to use my physical house to show me what was happening to my household and to my family.

One day, my husband discovered that the main support of the house would have to be replaced before any other repair work could be done; God used this to show me that my family needed Him as our main support before any other lasting improvements could be made.

On another occasion, my husband found that termites had damaged our walls and many of them would have to be rebuilt; likewise, we would have to rebuild our family’s spiritual walls through prayer, study, and church.

Little by little, we have begun to repair our home, both physically and spiritually, and little by little, I am changing from that foolish woman who destroys her home to one that builds her home.  Each day I pray that God will show me ways to build – and any ways that I may be destroying – the precious family with which He has blessed me.

Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established:  and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Proverbs 24:3-4

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Dawning Light © 2004.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

Some of the Better Things

imageI was wondering what we consider to be the better things in life? For most, the list would contain material things – lots of money and lots of things that money can buy!

Prompted by a Scripture that came to mind, I took a brief stroll through the Proverbs.  Here is what I found:

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. Proverbs 8:11

Better is little with the fear of The Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.  Proverbs 15:16

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. Proverbs 15:17

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.  Proverbs 16:8

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!  Proverbs 16:16

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.  Proverbs 16:19

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.  Proverbs 16:32

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.  Proverbs 17:1

It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.  Proverbs 21:9

It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.  Proverbs 21:19

So, what are the better things?

A life with God … walking in wisdom and understanding … living in righteousness and integrity … having love and humility … in a home with peace and harmony.

Yes, Lord, I am persuaded that these are the better things.

Anabelle’s Story: No Respect for Him

Reverence Her Husband“Just one verse, God, just one. That’s all I need.”

Here I was, weeping, alternately pacing the aisles and lying on the altar, all alone in the church after everyone else had gone home. I begged God to show me just one verse in His Word that I could use to justify leaving my husband. I was done.

How had we come to this?

I hadn’t always felt this way. I met my husband when I was fourteen years old, and I knew when I saw him I would marry him. We married once I graduated high school and began life together with a baby and a move to another state, away from all I had ever known. He found it hard to keep a job, and something happened that I didn’t expect. I began to not like this man very much.

I disliked his job-hopping. I disliked that fact that he had made us move away. I disliked his spending. I disliked how he spoke to our daughter.

This marriage business was hard. Why couldn’t he just stand up and be a man and take care of us like he was supposed to?

After several years, we moved back home, and my mother began to invite me to a church she was attending. At first, I dismissed her. After weeks of asking, though, I finally gave in and found myself in a little church. Something was different here. These people actually tried to live what they heard on Sundays. They talked about their failures, and there was no shame, only forgiveness. No grudges, only reconciliation. To an unsaved young woman, educated and bitter, this all seemed too weird.

For two years, I attended ladies’ classes and ladies’ retreats, sat in on prayer meetings, and learned to trust the elder women in this church. Through their example, God turned my heart to Him and I was wonderfully saved. One area still bothered me though. The women talked of how they loved their husbands, what great men they were, how thankful they were for them. Each comment made me ache. How could they have such perfect marriages and mine be such a disaster?

And then the darkness came. My husband had suffered a debilitating injury and was required to have a dangerous surgery. The risks were high, the doctors said, and recovery would take months. Even if the surgery were a success, there could be side effects that would affect my husband permanently.

The doctors were right.

Then only three months after his surgery, Hurricane Katrina came. Our home flooded, and there was no money to repair it. My husband fell into depression and stayed on the computer constantly. I would get up in the morning and see him in front of the screen; come home from work, there he was; and go to bed, with him never coming out of the office. There was no intimacy between us, either emotional or physical. We were roommates, not husband and wife.

I was so lonely, and it wasn’t long before the tempter began to whisper, “He shouldn’t treat you like this. He’s so selfish. Doesn’t he know that you need him? Doesn’t he know that you need to feel loved and wanted?”

And it wasn’t long after that that the tempter came in the form of a man, a man who smiled at me and told me I was beautiful and how much better he would treat me if he had me.

It was only by the grace of God that I didn’t fall completely. It was my Father Who protected me, not my vows or my fear of what others would say if they found out. I was long past caring about any of that. I was wrapped up in my own longings and disillusionment.

And now here I was, depressed, broken, alone at the altar in that little church. I picked up my Bible, barely able to see through my tears. I opened it up randomly and began flipping the pages, going to the places that I knew taught on divorce, hoping I would find a verse that would justify my leaving. The first place I found myself was Matthew 5—divorce allowed only in the case of fornication (v.32). He hadn’t cheated on me, so that was out.

Matthew 19—“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (v. 6)

Next, I Peter 3: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection 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;” (v. 1)

WHAT??!! I’m supposed to love and submit to my husband even if he’s not saved?? God, I know You know how this man is, and this can’t apply to me. I’ll try again.

And then, I Corinthians 7.

“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband…” (v. 10)

Not exactly what I was looking for, but I read on anyway. Perhaps there were exceptions.

“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”(v. 13)

My tears were beginning to dry, not because I found peace, but because I was angry. Why can’t I leave him? Does God expect me to live in this despair, this heartache forever? I slammed the Bible shut, then re-opened it.

Proverbs 31—“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (v. 11-12)

I was struck by these words. “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life…”

The Holy Spirit brought to my mind the times I had screamed at him like a banshee to “be a man!” The times I had loudly disrespected him in Wal-Mart when he wanted to buy something unnecessary. The times I had complained about him to my mother, my sister, my best friend, to anyone who would listen. The times I refused his attention, choosing instead to work because “it was what I had to do.”

I was so ashamed, and I am ashamed again as I write this. He had just had to walk through the darkest months of his life, and while I had done what was necessary to help him physically, I had abandoned him emotionally. I had committed adultery in my heart and justified it. I, his wife, the one he had chosen to walk through life with, had already left him.

So now I had a decision to make. Would I obey the words that my Father had so gently, but firmly, brought to my attention? Or would I forever damage my daughter and my testimony for my selfishness?

I am glad to say that my Lord gave me the courage to walk in His truth. This was not an overnight change in my heart, but a day-to-day commitment that I would be a daughter my Father would be proud of. I resolved that I would no longer speak negatively about my husband to anyone. When discussions began to turn ugly, I would close my mouth and refuse to rise to the bait. I would make myself available to help him and listen to him and love him.

Over time, I saw my Lord bless His Word. My husband was saved, and our marriage was renewed gloriously. The defining point in our renewal was the night God pressed upon my heart to tell my husband about the other man. Oh, how worried and afraid I was! But I knew that in order for us to truly be one, there could be no more secrets.

What happened that night cemented my love for my husband and for my Jesus. I saw my husband’s heart break as I told him of my betrayal, and I saw the battle he fought within his mind. Then, I heard the sweetest words I’ve ever heard: “I already knew. I love you, and I always will. I forgive you.” And he really did. He never brought the subject up again, and his actions toward me afterward never held any bitterness.

I cannot express to you what the Lord worked in my heart that night, but what I do know is that the man I was so determined to leave became the man who showed me the love of Jesus like I had never known. The Lord has shaped my husband into a leader, an innovator, a man with talent, compassion, strength, and grace, and I have seen through him the clearest picture of Christ’s forgiveness and love.

Just one verse.  That’s all I thought I needed.  But God had given me so much more.  He gave me truth.  He gave me love.  And by His grace and mercy alone, He gave me a true marriage.

Katherine’s Story: An Unfaithful Husband

Oh, it would never happen to me!  When I get married, my husband would never be unfaithful to me.  How sure I was!  And quite boldly I would proclaim that I would never leave my husband except for two things – physical abuse or unfaithfulness.  I would declare, quite frankly, that should either of these things happen, I would be “out the door,” never to return.  But the reality of life often hits hard, and when it hits, a marriage can be shattered.  You sit in that shattered heap of rubble and wonder, “How did I ever end up here?”

My husband and I had been married for several years, and was thought by most, including myself, to be happily married.  My husband’s career was quite successful.  We had beautiful and healthy children.  We had a very nice home, and from all appearances, all was well.  But all was not well.  My husband often stayed late at work.  He went out after work with friends.  A few drinks to relax after a hard week’s work –  what could be the harm?  But that lifestyle and many “few drinks” led to the bed of adultery and to much harm.

I was unaware of how deeply our marriage was in trouble.  I knew that there was a distance between us, but I didn’t know what it was.  I knew that he was gone often, but I tried to be understanding.  I wanted things to be different, but I didn’t know where to begin.  But God knew just where to begin.

The place that He began was not with my husband, but was with me.  He began to teach me, through His Word, how to be a wife to my husband.  He began to teach me how to be a help to my husband.  He began to teach me how to stand in support of my husband.  And after several months into becoming this new wife that the Lord was creating, the Lord did an unexpected thing.  Through a series of circumstances, the Lord removed my husband from his job, causing our financial state to immediately change.  As difficult as this seemed at the time, how graciously the Lord removed my husband from the very surroundings that were pulling him astray.  We were now in each other’s company almost constantly, and the truths that the Lord had taught me about being a wife were truly becoming a part of our marriage.  Though finances were difficult, our marriage seemed stronger than ever.

And then came that fateful day – my husband said that he wanted to talk to me about something.  I knew from the tone of his voice that it must be serious, and as I settled into my place on the sofa, I heard that still, small voice of my Lord say, “Just listen.”  I knew to be quiet and just listen.  My husband began to tell his story –  his story of unfaithfulness to me and to our marriage.  He said he would understand if I wanted to leave, and concluded with, “I truly am sorry.”  Still not having uttered a word, words began to come from the depth of my heart –  words that definitely were not my own words.  My words would have screamed.  My words would have accused.  My words would have lashed out to make him hurt as much as I was hurting.  But instead of hurtful words, I heard myself saying, “The Lord has forgiven me much.  I know that I must forgive you.”  The conversation was ended.  He again reiterated that he was sorry, and he went to work at a small job that he had begun.

The right words had been spoken, and again all seemed well.  But all was not well.  As my husband left our home to go to his job, I was left alone to face the darkest hour that I had ever known.  In the midst of hurt and despair that words cannot describe, I walked into our bedroom, closed the door, and wept, and wept, and wept before the Lord.

As strange as this may sound, there was a voice, though not audible, speaking to me.  The voice was very clearly telling me that my husband had a gun, and that I knew where he kept it, and that I knew that it was loaded, and that it would be so easy to end this whole thing.  As this voice cleverly attempted to pull my thoughts toward death, I so very clearly heard another calm, but authoritative, voice say, “No, she is mine.”  My Lord had spoken.

At that point, I was able to pick myself up from the floor.  I went to get my Bible, sat in the middle of my bed, and said, “Lord, speak to me.  I need to hear from you.”  The Lord God, by His Holy Spirit, walked me verse by verse through forgiveness.  He showed me, in the Scriptures, the truth of the words that I had spoken before but had not understood.  He showed me that truly He had forgiven me much and that I was to forgive my husband in this same way.  He took me, passage by passage, through the epistles where Christians are commanded to forgive.  Step by step, these are the truths (NKJV) through which He had me walk:

I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love … (Ephesians 4:1-2).

… and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … (Ephesians 4:23).

… put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness … (Ephesians 4:24).

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification,  that it may impart grace to the hearers … (Ephesians 4:29).

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you,  with all malice … (Ephesians 4:31).

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you … (Ephesians 4:32).

And again:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above ... (Colossians 3:1).

Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth ...”   (Colossians 3:2).

… put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him ... (Colossians 3:10).

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering … (Colossians 3:12).

… Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against one another; even as Christ forgave you, so must you do ... (Colossians 3:13).

Yes, my Lord had spoken.  I must forgive my husband, just as my Lord had forgiven me.  Then, my Lord brought me to yet another passage:

… so that on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow ... (2 Corinthians 2:7).

Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him … (2 Corinthians 2:8).

… that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things …  (2 Corinthians 2:9).

… I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices … (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

I had no doubt – I had asked to hear from my Lord, and I had heard.  I knew that not only was I to forgive my husband, but I was also to comfort him and to reaffirm my love to him.  This was truly a test.  Would I be obedient in all things?  By a work of God’s grace that I cannot explain, the Lord enabled me to walk in His truth.  Exactly how I was to reaffirm my love to my husband I was not sure, but I was committed to do what my Lord had spoken.  I had regained my composure, had settled my heart, and was prepared to obey my Lord.

The telephone rang.  The person on the other end of the line said that my husband’s grandfather, who had been a special part of my husband’s life, was dying, and if my husband wanted to see him, he needed to come right away.  My husband’s grandfather lived out of town, and of course, no one knew all that had transpired in our home that morning.  I, however, knew exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  I knew that our finances would not allow my husband to make the trip.  We simply had no money.  But God always knows exactly what He is doing.  A Christian friend had sent me some money, some while back.  She said she knew that I wouldn’t want to keep it, but begged me to keep it because she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord had told her to send it.  Because she was so sure, I tucked the money and envelope away, with a prayer.  If the Lord had actually sent the money, I would wait until He showed me its purpose.  I called my husband, delivered the message about his grandfather, and prepared myself for him to come home.  I knew that I was to tell him that I was committed to the Lord, committed to him, and committed to our marriage.  I was also to give him the money from the Lord and offer to go with him to visit his grandfather.  That was the beginning of the working out of the forgiveness that the Lord had worked within.  My husband did see his grandfather before he died, and at the same time, a new season of our life was born.

Although the Lord had done a wonderful work, the reality of life is still real.  Each step of the way, I had to lean hard upon the Lord, listening keenly for His voice.  Nauseating pictures of my husband with another woman would arise in my mind.  I would have to refuse to think upon those things and replace those thoughts with the truth.  My Lord had forgiven that horrible sin, and I must not and would not allow my mind to dwell there.  Time after time, I would have to refuse to allow myself to think on the sin, and force myself to think only upon the Lord’s grace and forgiveness.  Slowly, through days, weeks, and months, the thoughts came less and less.   I had to work through the feelings of rejection, the feelings of insecurity, the impressions of myself as undesirable, and the question of “What was wrong with me?” I also had to work through the times that my husband would turn to me for intimacy when everything within me would want to push him away.  But as always, my blessed Lord would speak truth to my heart, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”  And with a desire to obey my Lord, I would willingly submit.

Do any of those thoughts ever return to my mind?  On very rare occasions they do, but as before, I must steadfastly refuse them.  They are not thoughts from my Lord.  It is the enemy speaking; he is called the accuser, and he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy.  I simply respond with, “It is forgiven.”

There is no way to describe how fully and completely the Lord does a work.  Many years have passed since those hurtful days.  The Lord has truly healed and blessed our marriage.  My husband and I sincerely love one another, and both of us fully enjoy married life.  What the Lord has created is a stronger marriage than we ever possessed before.  How is this possible?  The only answer that I can give is that if you belong to the Lord, He loves you with an  everlasting love.  He will care for you in every situation and circumstance.  The greatest challenge that you will face is to trust Him, to hear Him, and to humbly obey Him.  Don’t refuse the only One who can truly help you!  He truly is the only hope that we have!

I’ve grown so much since those naive days when I thought that this would never happen to me.  None of us know what life holds for us.  And as to the bold assertion that I would never stay with a husband who was unfaithful to me, stay I did.  “Why?” – you may ask.  “You had every right to leave.”  The only answer that I have is that my God is a God of forgiveness, and He tenderly spoke truth to my heart.  These words I will never forget, “Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  Glory to His name!

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,  according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus  throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.