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“I Thought God Was Like My Abusive Dad” – a Guest Post

A guest post by a sister in Christ who has had a very, very difficult life. I’m excited about what the Lord is doing in her life! Please pray with me for His continued total spiritual healing for her heart, mind, and soul:

——-

This is a good article (How Praying in Wrong Ways Destroyed My Faith in God – by Nikki) and it reminds me of something. I often prayed to God unbiblically and when I slip back into old mindsets, still can. What do I mean by this?

Without me realizing it, I prayed out of a lot of unbelief and distrust – unwittingly attributing characteristics to God that were that of my father and other authority figures who had been unjust or untrustworthy. There were many such figures in my life which made it hard to think from any other basis.

Additionally, because I had cried out to God during an abuse incident and did not hear any response from God nor witness any rescue come to pass soon after, I really didn’t trust God or think He could be relied upon to do anything about things that were of great concern to me. So I would pray from a place of doubt and mistrust with my feelings as the indicator as to what was, or was not God’s response.

I did not base my understanding of God on scripture but on my feelings which I trusted more. I regarded Christians who would insist on putting aside my feelings in favor of scripture as nuts, self-righteous Pharisees, and totally insensitive. And some of them did, indeed, fit that bill. They were in such a rush to offer the solution that they acted as if my wounds were inconsequential. And from my end, I was so hurt and felt so sorry for myself in the face of abuse and injustice that I was just not ready to value truth more than feelings or seek for anything beyond healing.

Consequently my relationship with God was often an arm wrestling match, with me trying to persuade an unwilling God to do what I needed or hoped He would or ought to do.

I saw God through the lens of my father who was very unwilling to do anything for me or to meet my needs, and whose stance towards me was one of devaluation and contempt. Dad despised women and had a very idolatrous relationship towards them; he saw women as withholding, manipulative, and whiny users and entrappers, which affected his attitude towards me. He was also a sex addict and so our home included some violation and being aware of things we ought not to have been exposed to.

As a result, my needs and feelings were invalidated and I often had to “prove” that what I wanted, needed, or felt was valid by arguing for it convincingly like some trial lawyer. I won mercy by extreme submissiveness and even prostrating myself, as if before a king with the power of life and death.

That our lives were full of drama is an understatement.

His judgements of me were always negative and tainted by his own deep bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness of his mother. The result of all of this was a sort of idolatrous interpretative bias in my own heart as I struggled to come out from under all the nasty stuff my father had transferred onto me from his undealt with issues. And I had my own hurt and reaction to it and to feeling unloved and unwanted. I think that our reactions to such things are a combination of being sinned against and sinful responses which would of course include a sort of idolatry as our lives become about seeking what was denied us.

This can also result in anger at God who surely must have been a party to the whole thing, insofar as we might see things at the time they occurred and without any understanding of what God has already done in response to evil. Our focus in this head space is usually life in this world in the here and now and wanting to be happy. We are often unaware of God’s perspective being eternal and about right relationship with Him as the source of all life and joy. This makes it hard to grasp a larger picture.

So my prayer life and the lens of my heart was tainted by these things so that I was, in effect, praying to a version of God mixed with my father.

The idea that God was a loving and just Father did not compute for me and I found the idea revolting. One day, I decided to disregard my feelings and stand on what scripture said as a higher authority. I always felt filthy and unforgiven so I decided to stand on 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – and believe that.

That little decision turned out to make a huge difference, and suddenly it seemed that the universe swung around and snapped into precise order and I was able to see clearly.

I realized at that moment that God was not obligated to respond to me if I continued to pray to Him as something He was not, rather than praying to Him according to the truth of who He was.

Hebrews 11:6 New King James Version (NKJV) says:

  • But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

And James 1:5-7 says

  • If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I definitely needed my prayer life corrected and redirected by scripture and still do; praying by our emotions which tend to reinforce themselves, usually leads to a wilderness and brings despair and hopelessness as it tends to go in an ever tightening and defeating downward spiral.

Note from Peaceful Wife –

This dynamic with this dear sister’s dysfunctional relationship with her dad impacting her understanding of God is very common. We tend to assume that God is just like our earthly fathers and we have to be sure we separate the failings of our earthly fathers from our understanding of who God really is. We all need healing to some degree in this area, because none of us had perfect fathers. 

We can’t trust God if we have a warped, jaded picture of who He is, if we think He is evil and out to get us. So often, we end up getting Satan and God switched up in our minds. Not purposely, but we tend to attribute the evil attributes of Satan to God. It would be terrible to trust such a one.

We need to know who God really is and His genuine real character to be able to truly put our faith in Him. So it is important that we recognize any lies we may have embraced and that we learn to go to Scripture to find out the truth about who God is.

SHARE

If you would like to share your own skewed views of God and how that hurt your faith, you are welcome to. And if you want to share how you learned to reject the lies and receive God’s truth, we would love to hear that, as well. Or if you need prayer, you are welcome to share that here.

I, (Peaceful Wife), will be handling the comments, not the author of the post.

Much love!

RELATED

Trusting God to Heal the Scars of Sexual Abuse by Dawn Wilson

More posts on childhood abuse by Revive Our Hearts

Posts about abuse by www.gotquestions.org

Healing for Hopelessness about dealing with childhood wounds from my site www.peacefulsinglegirl.com.

What Are the Attributes of God? by www.gotquestions.org

Who Is God? video series by David Platt

** If you experienced severe trauma or abuse from your father, parents, an authority figure, someone in the church, or anyone else, please reach out for experienced, trustworthy, godly counsel – and to the Lord – to help you heal. And if you are not safe now, please reach out to the authorities if you can safely do so.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 800-799-SAFE (7233). Staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get information in more than 170 languages. You will hear a recording and may have to wait for a short time. Hotline staff offer safety planning and crisis help.

Is Avoiding Arguing Really Possible?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

We are continuing our 21 Day Fast from Negative Words and this week the focus will be on arguing. The Lord gives very clear instructions throughout the Bible that those who know, love, and follow Him are not to argue, quarrel, or fight.

Oh, and don’t forget to comment on how you are doing with the fast. Let us know if you are stuck or need some prayer or encouragement, too.

The Lord instructs all believers in Christ not to argue or quarrel.

  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Phil. 2:14
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2
  • Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 2 Tim. 2:14

Sometimes conflict is inevitable. But arguing and quarreling CAN be avoided!

We need to be able to discuss, share, inform, request, and suggest things in our relationships. We even need to be able to appropriately confront sin, at times. We need to be able to state our opinions and desires respectfully. We need to be able to have important and unimportant discussions. Thankfully, we can do all of this without arguing with God’s help, wisdom, and power.

What Does It Mean to Argue or Quarrel?

Google Dictionary gives two definitions of arguing.

  1. give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.
2. exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.
In this post, we are talking about the second definition. Or about quarreling, squabbling, bickering, or fighting. We are not to pick fights. We are not to act foolishly, only caring about trying to force our own opinion and agenda on everyone with selfish motives. We are not to try to crush other people and hurt them to prove how “right” we are about something.

What Does It Mean to Discuss Something?

Google Dictionary gives three definitions of “discussion.” Here are two that are most pertinent to our conversation today.

  1. the action or process of talking about something in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.
  2. a conversation or debate about a certain topic.
Note that with a discussion, there is no anger.
There is no attempt to hurt others or to “win at all costs.” It is a peaceful conversation about ideas, priorities, perspectives, and solutions. This is very freeing! We can discuss without tension at all – recognizing that the relationship is generally more important than the issue being discussed. The only time the issue is more important is if it is something about God or sin. And even then the Lord instructs us to handle those who oppose us gently and with respect, desiring the opponents to come to repentance, salvation, and right relationship with God (2 Tim. 2:25).
We can respectfully share and discuss our perspectives, ideas, desires, needs, and concerns. We don’t have to insult anyone or be rude. We don’t have to go after anyone with sinful anger, rage, hatred, or malice. We don’t have to be selfish. We can remain Spirit-filled, self-controlled, calm, and peaceful. We can treat others with honor, godly love, and respect as we act in our new nature in the Lord.
Yes, even if we disagree.

Why Do We Quarrel and Argue in Sinful Ways?

The Bible shares several reasons for the prevalence of quarreling among believers:

The Cure Is to Live in the Spirit with Love and Humility

The cure for quarreling, bickering, and fighting:

  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil. 2:3-4
  • Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Eph. 4:2
  • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
  • But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
  • But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
  • If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, Luke 17:3

In witnessing, there are times to stop. When people don’t want to hear the Gospel and they reject it and us, we move on. This will help avoid quarrels, as well:

  • Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matt. 7:6
  • And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Mark 6:11

But how in the world do I avoid arguing in practical ways when I live with sinful people who want to argue constantly? And how to I avoid arguing when I have my own sinful nature to contend with, as well?

Some Suggestions to Prayerfully Consider

To avoid arguing, there are some disciplines and things I need to pray about:

Some Verses about Avoiding Arguing and Quarreling:

From the New Testament:

  • As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Rom. 14:1
  • But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:9-11
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Tim. 2:23-24
  • But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

From Proverbs:

  • Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Prov. 3:30
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. Prov. 19:13
  • It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Prov. 20:3
  • A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Prov. 29:11
  • A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. Prov. 29:22
  • Pressing anger produces strife. Prov. 30:33

SHARE

What are some things that have hit you in this post or in this series? How is your 21 day fast going? Do you need some encouragement or prayer? What has been the hardest part? Have you noticed any good fruit in your life or relationships?

Much love!

RELATED

We have been doing a 21 Day Fast from Negative Words inspired by this wife’s story. We started on Valentine’s Day and agreed that we would seek to avoid the following:

What Does It Mean to Accept Jesus As Your Personal Savior? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

Humility” by Andrew Murray

NOTE – If you are not safe, if someone is abusing you or threatening you or your children, please try to get to safety. Avoiding quarrels and arguments doesn’t mean we sit and take physical abuse or we just stay and let someone mistreat us terribly. Please reach out to proper authorities if you are not safe. Or you can contact www.thehotline.org if you are on a safe computer.

How Wrong Praying Destroyed My Faith in God – By Nikki

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Today’s post is a guest post by a precious sister in Christ, Nikki. She is from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. I’m so thankful for her willingness to share a bit of her story. I believe it may be a blessing to many other women:

I’m sharing with you an account of how I completely lost my faith in God by praying for my family. I was facing some severe family problems and began to pray in earnest.

Old Approach to Prayer

Below is list of the advice I followed during that period of my life:

  • I sprinkled my entire house and all of my possessions with holy water and blessed salt.
  • I said dozens of novenas (Note: a novena is a Catholic tradition of saying a prayer every day for 9 days). I bought a book of novena prayers and each one said at the bottom “This is a very powerful novena that has never been known to fail.” I said novena after novena expecting and hoping for some change and things only got worse and worse.
  • I was told to buy a particular type of cross and get it blessed by a particular monk and place it over the front door of my home.
  • I went to church more than once a week, expecting that God would be obligated to obey me because of that.

Bad Advice

Everyone I went to for advice suggested a different prayer or ritual. No one advised me to check my own heart and clear it of any pride, anger, unforgiveness, selfishness or idols. The more I prayed and performed these gimmicks, the worse things in my family got and I ended up completely heartbroken, bitter and angry at God. I hated God and wanted nothing to do with him for almost 10 years…until I had a stranger approach me on a beach and led me to pray and give my life to Christ.

When I started to rebuild my relationship with Christ, I prayed for my family very hesitantly and with a lot of fear. I was terrified of getting my heart broken again. I wanted more than anything to preserve my relationship with God first and foremost, regardless of how other aspects of my life were going.

Losing your faith in God through following gimmicks is not isolated among Catholics. I know many Protestants who lost their faith in God through gimmicks like sending “seed money” to particular TV-evangelists or pastor, by “naming and claiming” things that they want, or by writing down a list of the things that they want and putting it in the centre of their Bibles.

Red Flags for Prayer

Because of my horrific experience, I would like you all to be aware of these red flags that you may be praying in the wrong way:

  • Do you want your prayer request more than you want God? If you do, that is idolatry. Your idols will always destroy you spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically. So please work daily to identify any idols in your heart and tear them down. Don’t even allow your husband or children to be on the throne of your heart. Set Jesus alone on the throne of your heart.
  • Do you trust the words of the prayer itself or the rituals you are participating in more than you trust God? No prayer is powerful and fail-proof. Only God is powerful. No prayer should be trusted. Only God deserves your trust. Keep that in mind when you are praying. (From Peaceful Wife, we pray to have communication with the Lord and to present our needs and requests before Him. Prayers should not be looked upon as “spells.”)
  • Are you hanging on to any anger, unforgiveness, revenge or hatred? God is more concerned with the condition of your heart than whatever prayer you are saying. He will not answer our prayers if we are harbouring sinful anger and hatred in our hearts. (Ps. 66:18)
  • Are you ignoring your God-given role? Husbands are advised to fulfil their role to love their wives so that nothing will hinder their prayers (1 Peter 3:7). Similarly, children should fulfill their role to honour their parents and married women should fulfill their role to respect their husbands so that nothing can hinder their prayers.
  • Are you attempting to manipulate or force God to do what you are asking Him to do? God is not a genie in a bottle who submits to us. We are meant to submit to Him. If we treat God like some sort of cosmic Genie and think that if we do/say the “right words,” He will be forced to obey us and give us what we want, we are praying with very sinful motives.
  • Are you praying for others in an attempt to control them or force them to change their ways to suit you? God does not allow us to have ultimate control and authority over anyone. Only He is sovereign. (From Peaceful Wife – even He doesn’t force people to obey Him, but gives people free will.)

Green Flags for Prayer

I have learned a lot about prayer and God over the past few years and I would like to share with you some green flags that prove that you are praying in the right way:

If we pray in this way, we will be standing on the Solid Rock and we will have hope and joy even in the midst of great trials, whether God gives us what we want or not.

Trusting God in Trials

Right now, I am facing trials of many kinds, but rather than sinking into a pit of despair, hopelessness, and heartache, I am at peace and growing in my faith because I know that God loves me and is in charge of everything.

I actually focus 95% of my time with God on reading the Bible and discovering the truth and beauty of God’s Word and only about 5% of my time praying for specific outcomes for myself, my marriage and my family. My primary focus is on loving Jesus and building my relationship with Him, and not on my circumstances.

Habukkuk 3:17–19 sums up what our attitude should be:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

 

I’m sure that Habukkuk would have wanted the fig trees to bud, the fields to produce ample food, and many strong, healthy animals in his land. He didn’t have any of those things, but his love for God lifted his spirits, gave him strength, and filled him with joy.

Praying with Humility:

And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.” Luke 7:6-7

I hope that you can all learn from my story of misplaced hope and my discovery of what prayer is really about. I really would love all of us to have great relationships with Christ and rejoice together in heaven, which will be the ultimate prayer-fest!

SHARE

Can you relate to Nikki’s story? What were some approaches you have used with prayer in the past that were unhealthy? What wisdom has God given you about prayer as you have grown in your faith in Christ?

Note – We will use the comments on this post to discuss praying to God rather than debating various theological differences between Christian denominations. Christ prayed in John 17:21 that all Christians will be one and that is what this blog strives to foster. Thanks for understanding!

RELATED
Posts about idolatry

Posts about prayer

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

 

My Desire for Marriages

Photo by Marius Muresan on Unsplash

It’s important to know what someone’s end goals are if you are considering following his/her advice or teaching. And it is important to know from what source the teacher derives authority to teach. Is it the Bible – the infallible Word of God? Or is it self, human wisdom, popular psychology, or something else?

I write for women, so I focus a lot on our piece of the puzzle. But what is my goal for marriages overall? What is the big picture in my mind as I write?

The biggest thing is I want to see us all seek to live for and honor the Lord in every thought, motive, word, and deed.

I want to see us all live for Christ and obey His instructions for us.

I long to see:

Both Spouses:

Husbands:

Wives:

Marriages:

Children:

  • Witness godly examples in their parents and have security in their homes so they can be well-prepared for godly marriages and parenting themselves, in the future.
  • Treat both parents with honor and respect. (Eph. 6:1-4)
  • Obey parents (unless parents tell child to clearly sin against God’s Word). (Col. 3:20)

Everyone in the family:

  • Know and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Be safe at home – emotionally, financially, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
  • Avoid all kinds of mistreatment, sin against anyone else, and abuse – husbands, wives, and children.
  • Seek to turn from anything God calls sin – every single kind of sin, even in the thoughts/motives – to His holy ways.
  • To repent from sin to the Lord and to those we hurt.
  • Extend grace and forgiveness to each other, knowing how much grace, mercy, and forgiveness we have each received from God, and to rebuild any broken trust.
  • Reject the world’s ways and lies.
  • Cherish masculinity and femininity and celebrate the differences.
  • Be conformed to the image of Christ by the power of God. (Rom. 8:28-29)
  • Shine for Christ and be the salt and light that is so desperately needed in this dark, decaying world. (Matt. 5:13-14Phil. 2:14-16)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

Why Do I Only Teach Women?

I do this out of respect for God’s Word. There are two places in the New Testament that say that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the church.

However, the older women are to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5) about being godly wives and mothers. That is my calling from the Lord!

Greg and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage in May of this year. I long to share the treasures God has shown me with my sisters. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago when God first opened my eyes to just how ungodly I was as a woman, wife, and mom.

I am not perfect. I still have so much to learn myself, but I am changed. God has dramatically transformed me and continues to work in my heart, mind, and life. My hope is to share things the Lord has shown me so that it might be an easier road for those who come behind me than it was for me.

Much love in Christ!

RELATED

The Purpose of Marriage

What Should Be Different about a Christian Marriage? by www.gotquestions.org

The Danvers Statement – a statement of faith and belief about God’s biblical design for marriage

Spiritual Authority – God’s design for every area of life for believers

Are Women Morally and Spiritually Superior to Men?

Are Women Inferior to Men in God’s Eyes?

Where do Rage, Hatred, and Violence Fit into Our Lives As Believers in Christ?

What Does the Bible Say about Domestic Violence? by www.gotquestions.org

HOW TO FIND SPIRITUAL LIFE AND SALVATION IN JESUS CHRIST

What Is the Gospel?

What Is Lordship Salvation?

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

 

 

The Purpose of Marriage

Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

God intended marriage to be a living picture of the relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

We think of a “church” as a building today. But when Jesus talks about His Church, He is talking about His chosen people, the ones He has chosen out of this world and who have chosen to receive Him as Savior and Lord. The incredible thing about marriage is that it is a spiritual mystery revealed to the world of the tenderness, love, respect, honor, and beauty of the interaction and spiritual intimacy between Jesus and His beloved people. (Eph. 5:22-33)

The church is “the Body of Christ.” Each believer is part of it. We are “living stones” being joined together and built up into a “spiritual house” and a “holy priesthood”  (1 Pet 2:5). Paul describes each of us as being a part of the body – a hand, a foot, an ear, an eye, the nose, etc… We work together with the Head of the Body, which is Jesus, to accomplish His good purposes in His kingdom.

Marriage displays the gospel.

How Marriage Parallels  the Relationship Between Jesus and the Church

The Groom-to-Be Initiates the Covenant

  • A man buys a ring, today, and proposes to his intended bride-to-be. He initiates and is the one who invites her into the possibility of marriage with him.
  • Jesus came to earth and paid a great price for us, inviting us to come to Him and to enter into an eternal covenant with Him. He followed the pattern of Jewish marriage customs in almost everything He did for us.
  • He even used the same words a Jewish man would use to propose to his bride to invite His Church to be with Him forever:
    • In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3

A Name and Identity Change for Her

  • A bride takes on the name of her husband. When I married, I legally became Mrs. Gregory Cassidy.
  • The Bride of Christ also takes on His Name as Christian or Christ-follower.

A New Home for Her

  • A bride leaves her parents’ home to live with her husband and start a new life together
  • Jesus will come get His Bride and take us to be with Him in heaven – either when we die, or through the rapture. (1 Thess. 4:16-18)

A Life-long Covenant Representing an Eternal Covenant

  • One man and one woman enter into a life-long covenant to be there for each other “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health… till death do us part.”
  • Jesus, God in the flesh (the only One God), and His One Bride (the Church), have an eternal and unbreakable covenant.
  • For thousands of years, a prospective groom would give a great deal of money to the bride’s father.  He paid a “bride price.” This demonstrated that he valued his bride-to-be and was willing to sacrifice greatly for her to become his wife legally. Jesus sacrificed greatly for us, too. He paid our sin-debt with His very blood on the cross. God became a man and lived the perfect life we couldn’t live and died the death we deserved on our behalf. He conquered sin and death to rescue us from condemnation and hell. 
  • A covenant is much more than a promise or a business contract that can be easily broken. It is intended to be binding until one or both spouses die. Jesus has offered an eternal Covenant with us through His blood, the New Covenant – which is vastly superior to and replaces the Old Covenant of Moses. We have access to Jesus, to God the Father, to the Holy Spirit, and to eternal life in paradise with Him through this covenant. We belong to Him from the point we trust in Him and receive His salvation and Lordship through the rest of our lives and into the eternal future. The fellowship and relationship with God that we lost after Adam and Eve fell in the garden is restored!

Selfless Generosity and Joyful Receiving for Both Spouses

  • A man takes on the position of protector, provider, and giver, in many ways to his wife. Today, a wife may contribute financially, as well. But for thousands of years, husbands were primarily the breadwinners and financial providers. Wives took care of the home, children, garden, cooking, and chores (of course, women’s and men’s responsibilities did vary a bit depending on the particular culture). For many women, they had no means of providing financially for themselves in the past, and even in some places today.
  • And even today where women can financially take care of themselves, husbands tend to still have a profound sense of responsibility to provide financially and to meet their family’s physical needs (“For Women Only,”by Shaunti Feldhahn).
  • This is a picture of the way that Jesus gives and provides so generously. He provides for all of our physical and spiritual needs. He provides salvation. He provides new Life and eternal life. We can’t earn it. We joyfully receive and welcome Him and all He has done for us.
  • Both spouses fully give of themselves for the other and receive and accept one another in joy.

His Strength for Her Honor

  • A man uses his physical strength to defend his bride from danger, protect her (and their children) from evil, and to build a home for his wife. He values and cherishes her. She is the “weaker vessel,” and this means it is his job to use his strength courageously for her good. He honors her by fighting for her and their family in ways she cannot fight for herself.
  • Jesus uses His vastly superior strength to save us, to rescue us from danger, to provide for us, to protect us, and to defend us from evil and sin. He fought for us in ways we could never have fought for ourselves. We were the damsel in distress and He was the greatest Hero.

Sanctification

  • God designed marriage to be a place where we are made holy (“Sacred Marriage,” Gary Thomas), where He exposes sin and invites us to go much deeper with Himself. We can’t hide our flaws and sinfulness in marriage. Our motives, thoughts, expectations, words, and deeds are exposed. This is an opportunity for us to repent from sin and turn to Jesus and allow Him to transform us to make us more like Himself.
  • Jesus takes on the responsibility in the New Covenant to present His Bride to Himself without stain, wrinkle, or blemish. He cleanses His Bride with His Word and makes her holy. (Eph. 5:25-28)

Access and Authority for Her

  • A bride enjoys access to her husband’s property, authority in certain matters, finances, and any inheritance he may have.
  • Jesus’ Bride also enjoys access to all that belongs to Jesus. She has access to all of His heavenly riches and provision, access to God the Father, access to the Holy of Holies, and access to His authority. Her identity is now wrapped up in Jesus’ identity. We are co-heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:17)

Oneness 

  • The one-flesh relationship of marriage depicts the one-Spirit relationship between Christ and those who love Him. Part of the husband’s physical body enters part of the wife’s physical body to become one flesh. Their love and oneness brings forth babies. Their DNA combines to become a new life. This is a holy thing, only to be shared in a life-long covenant as part of marriage.
  • We are the temple of the Holy Spirit as believers in Christ.  Part of the very Spirit of God comes into our spirits. We are indwelled or “filled” with the Spirit. And spiritual fruit results.
  • In the Body of Christ, the fruit of our spiritual union with the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives (Gal. 5:22-23) and new baby Christians, new disciples and followers of Jesus, as we share the Gospel and God’s Spirit works in and through us and others to bring new believers into the Body of Christ. This intimacy we have with Jesus is something we are only to share with Him in the context of His covenant with us.

Faithfulness Is Required and Expected

  • If an earthly spouse cheats with another person, it is adultery. In the Old Testament, that offense was punishable by death, it was that serious.
  • To God, idolatry is just like adultery in marriage. This is a picture of how severe an offense it is for those who belong to Jesus to worship and exalt other things spiritually in their lives. God is always faithful to us. We, sadly, are not always faithful to Him. But we should be completely faithful to Him and He can give us the power we need to walk in purity and faithfulness by His Spirit.

Exaltation and Portrayal of  the Gospel

  • The primary purpose of the human marriage relationship is to point everyone who sees that relationship to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5) God designed marriage to showcase the beautiful differences and interplay between godly masculinity and godly femininity.
  • The husband is to represent the sacrificial love, humble servant-leadership, strength, and devotion of Jesus to His Bride.
  • The wife is to represent the love, honor, biblical submission, and cooperation with the leadership of her husband to portray the way the church is to relate to Jesus. (Of course, with human marriage, there do have to be some limits that the church does not have with Jesus because human husbands are not perfect or deity.)
  • The husband and wife have equal value in God’s eyes (Gal. 3:28) and they are joint-heirs with Christ if they both belong to Him. But they do have different roles. Their value and worth is separate in God’s eyes from their roles in marriage. Both roles are equally important to show the picture of the gospel.

Fruitfulness

  • God also designed marriage to be the primary building block of society and the place where godly children are raised (Mal. 2:15) so that they can model themselves after the beautiful example of their parents. Then the children will grow up knowing about God, loving Him, and knowing how to have a godly marriage in the future, too.
  • The church is to produce godly offspring, as well. The Holy Spirit works in believers and in unbelievers and believers in Christ share the gospel and seek to disciple others and new baby Christians are born into the Body of Christ.

This is why we can’t just change the definition of marriage to suit our particular desires or our culture’s current PC trends.

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman to display the gospel. When we alter it, we change the picture of Christ and His Church. We don’t have the authority to define marriage or to change it. That is God’s prerogative, alone. Marriage is holy because it pictures something holy and because it is meant to produce holy people – holy men, holy women, and holy children.

Of course, there are numerous other good purposes in marriage – companionship, romance, emotional connection, sexual fulfillment, spiritual refinement and growth, health benefits, more benefits to children, stability for society, etc… But I wanted to share some of God’s biggest purposes in marriage to help us see how holy, beautiful, and powerful His concept of marriage is. And how important it is for us to honor His design and not attempt to change it.

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How has the picture of marriage helped you better understand your relationship with Jesus?

How has your walk with Christ helped you better appreciate marriage?

 

RELATED

What Is the Gospel? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Lordship Salvation? by www.gotquestions.org

Jewish Marriage Customs – reveals a LOT about the way Jesus came for us and His words to His Bride, as well as the rapture of the church

How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ

What Is Biblical Manhood? by www.gotquestions.org

What Is Biblical Womanhood? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does It Mean to Be a Godly Husband? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about Being a Christian Wife? by www.gotquestions.org

My Posts on Godly Femininity

Humor As a Relationship Builder

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Prov. 17:22

My husband, Greg, has always known how to make me laugh. His sense of humor and wit were some of the things that attracted me to him early on. And he loves that he can make me laugh, even without words. All it takes is this certain expression on his face – and I’m a goner!

As our children get older, we all share more inside jokes together. There have been times we all just laugh and laugh together for thirty minutes or more at a time. And we each add to the jokes and funny stories. It’s one of my favorite things about the dynamics in our family.

How wonderful to laugh together around the supper table and to enjoy each other and have fun!

Humor and Relationship Research

Jeffrey Hall, a researcher in communications at Kansas University, has done quite a bit of study on the subject of humor and relationships.

Hall says, “That people think you are funny or you can make a joke out of anything is not strongly related to relationship satisfaction. What is strongly related to relationship satisfaction is the humor that couples create together.”

In the article “Humor in Romantic Relationships, a Meta-Analysis,” Hall looks back on 30 years’ worth of studies on the topic, concluding that “playfulness between romantic partners is a crucial component in bonding and establishing relational security” and that laughter, “particularly shared laughter, is an important indicator of romantic attraction between potential mates.”

Hall cautions that research warns a mate not to make his or her partner the butt of a joke. “Having an aggressive sense of humor is a bad sign for the relationship in general, but it is worse if the style of humor is used in the relationship…”

Some Benefits of Humor in Relationships

Humor can be a huge blessing in family dynamics both between spouses – and between parents and children. It’s not always the best way to handle every situation, of course. But humor, rightly handled, can often do amazing things like:

When we can find humor together in difficulties, or come up with inside family jokes, or share funny quotes and impressions – we bond as a family. Life is more fun. And our family is closer emotionally.

Shared humor makes our marriage and family stronger. As long as it is done in love, sensitivity, and fun, never with spite, disrespect, or malice.

This bonding helps us weather the less pleasant parts of life together and helps everyone feel loved, accepted, and important. It also helps us, as spouses and as a family, to feel connected and like we are a team who can conquer anything as long as we are able to face it together.

Humor is a great way to add positivity to your own life and to your marriage and family. It may take a bit of practice. And, it may take some time to study your husband and your children to learn what kinds of humor really engage them most. But the rewards can be amazing when we find the right style of humor, balance, and approach!

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I’d love to hear your stories of how you and your husband use humor to strengthen your marriage and your family. I’m sure many of you have amazing insights to share with all of us that would be such a blessing!

Related

SMILE!  – Your smile is a huge blessing to your husband and children

Why Laughter Is Good for Your Marriage – Focus on the Family

Bringing Laughter Into Your Marriage – Focus on the Family

Managing Conflict with Humor  – HelpGuide.org

Laughter Is the Best Medicine – (the health benefits of laughter) HelpGuide.org

Relationship Success Tied Not to Joking But Shared Sense of Humor, Researcher Says – Hall, Kansas University

Do I Have a Spirit of Offense?

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

Something our culture today is really great at is – offense. It is almost mind-blowing just how easily offended people are today. And it is sad. Because when we are so easily offended, we also have a lack of unity, relationship, emotional connection, harmony, and teamwork. We also miss out on most of the fun, joy, and blessings in life.

THE TRUTH IS

  • Criticizing other people is super easy.
  • Looking at myself and my own faults and taking responsibility for changing myself is HARD.

It is human nature to go around blaming others and pointing our fingers at other people in disgust while we believe we are wonderful, good, and virtuous. It takes incredible spiritual maturity to be willing to honestly look at ourselves and our issues. But God calls us to take responsibility for our own lives first. He calls us to remove the “beam” from our own eye so that we can see clearly enough to remove the “speck” from someone else’s eye (Matt. 7:1-5).

How can I tell if I have a “spirit of offense”?

  1. Am I more concerned about being “right” about everything than anything/anyone else?
  2. Do I tend to focus on other people’s faults?
  3. Do I feel it is my job to correct people’s mistakes in many areas of life?
  4. Do my words tend to be laced with negativity and criticism about situations and people?
  5. Do I “vent” often to others about things other people did to upset me?
  6. Do I tend to have a short fuse and/or raise my voice easily?
  7. Do I believe that it is unacceptable for people to disagree with me?
  8. Do I feel it is my duty and responsibility to make people change their minds to match my opinions, my convictions, and my beliefs – by verbal force – if necessary?
  9. Do I verbally attack, insult, or try to humiliate people who think or act differently than I want them to?
  10. Do I think I truly know best and everyone else would be a lot better off if only they listened to my great wisdom?
  11. Do I have a hard time forgiving even the smallest slights from others?
  12. Do I tend to hold onto grudges, resentment, and bitterness?
  13. Do I tend to have very rigid expectations and be unable to bend or be flexible in relationships?
  14. Do I tend to be a perfectionist and get upset if things are not exactly the way I think they should be?
  15. Do I go on an all-out verbal assault on anyone who dares to question or criticize me – assassinating the person’s character and acting like a prosecuting attorney in a criminal trial?
  16. Do I have difficulty finding sin in my own life and tend to assume I am a “very good person” with few sins in my own life and have no trouble at all finding a lot of sin and wrongdoing in other people’s lives?
  17. Do I tend to assume the worst possible motives of others?
  18. Do I have to have the last word in an argument?
  19. Do I think of myself as morally superior to other people?
  20. Do I tend to burn a lot of bridges in my relationships and cut people out of my life even if they apologize and try to change?
  21. Am I much more concerned with voicing my opinion and telling people my thoughts than understanding what other people think or understanding their perspectives?
  22. Do I tend to find negative things to say about the pastor’s sermon, my boss, my parents, my in-laws, the way my husband helped me with the kids, the way my son took out the trash, etc…?
  23. Do I always feel it is my responsibility to confront people on anything they say about which I don’t agree, no matter how small the issue may be?
  24. Do I feel everyone around me owes me an answer for their thoughts, words, decisions, and deeds? Like it is my right to question them?
  25. Do I give the “cold shoulder” treatment to people often?
  26. Am I quick to share (gossip) all about the terrible things other people have done to me – to my husband, my family, my coworkers, and others?
  27. Do I tend to verbally abuse other people who don’t agree with me, insulting them and cutting them down?
  28. Do I let my emotions have free reign and let my anger have its way when someone ticks me off and not restrain my words if I feel even slightly offended?
  29. Do I genuinely wish harm on people who don’t do what I want or who disagree with me?
  30. Do I freak out if people even talk about their religious or political beliefs if they don’t match mine? Like I really don’t think anyone else should get to have free will but me?

If I answer, “yes,” to several, or maybe (*gulp*), ALL of these questions – it’s time to consider that I may have a significant issue with a spirit of offense.

I, personally, had this sin festering uncontrollably in my life for many years. It truly was a painful way for me to live, and it was painful for those around me, too. The fruit of my life was: bitterness, resentment, worry, fear, control, anxiety, depression, frustration, loneliness, lack of emotional intimacy with others, and broken relationships.

Greg actually said to me one time, many years ago, “You LIKE to be miserable. You want to be miserable. You don’t want to be happy.”

I started to argue with him, of course.

But then, I actually stopped and thought about it. I realized that I was pretty negative and I was rather miserable. I don’t think I actually enjoyed misery. But that sure is where I camped out for many years. I didn’t know how to fix it. But maybe, for once back then, I had to acknowledge that Greg was actually right!

(Now I know he has quite a lot of wisdom to share, if I am willing to listen and receive humbly. He can sometimes see my blindspots and help point me toward a better life.)

God’s Word says pride is one of the most deadly sins.

The root of a spirit of offense is – PRIDE. Big time pride.

Pride was the sin of Satan. He wanted to exalt himself to be equal with God and wanted others to worship and follow him instead of God. His temptation to Eve was that if she ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she would “be like God.”

Satan appeals to our pride still, today. His tactics haven’t changed a lick. Satan loves for us to take offense and to think highly of ourselves. He loves to help create division, tension, offense, hatred, bitterness, contention, arguments, jealousy, and resentment. When we participate in these things, we give him authority in our lives to destroy us and to use our lives to help destroy others.

What does God say about pride?

  • There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Prov. 6:16-19
  • The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. Prov. 8:13
  • Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov. 16:18
  • One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. Prov. 29:23
  • “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Cor. 8:1

The Cure for Pride is Humility.

I must continually humble myself before God and acknowledge that HE is God. I am not. I stop exalting myself above God in my heart and mind. I turn from my pride and embrace that God alone is good and righteous. I am not. I need Jesus and His blood. I have no goodness on my own apart from what Jesus did for me on the cross.

I get off of the throne of my life. I stop demanding that other people look up to me and exalt me. I stop demanding to be exalted by others.

I set God, alone, firmly on the throne of my life. I acknowledge that He, alone, has all wisdom and it is infinitely higher than any human wisdom, including mine. I stop being an enemy of God and I bow my heart and knee to His Lordship in every area of my life.

  • “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
  • Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Pet. 5:6

I love the quotes from Andrew Murray in his book, “Humility“:

  • Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.
  • Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.”
  • Humility is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.

The Bible Has Great Wisdom for Us about How to Deal with Offense:

  • Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Prov. 19:11
  • For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt. 6:14-15
  • Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rom. 12:19
  • Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph. 4:26-27
  • Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21
  • For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:16
  • Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal. 6:1-3
  • And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24-26

Summing Up

Ultimately, every sin is against God. He will deal with it. He will bring about justice and vengeance for any sin that has not been covered by the blood of Jesus. I can entrust myself to the Lord. I don’t have to make people do things. I don’t have to freak out when people don’t understand me or don’t agree with me. I don’t have to try to control them and change them myself.

This doesn’t mean truth is relative. God’s truth is absolute, according to the Bible. But I don’t have to try force truth – or my opinions – on people. I can share with them if they are open to it and trust God to work in their hearts. I can pray for Him to illuminate their eyes.

I can rest in God’s love and goodness. I can rest in His sovereignty and Lordship. And I can invite Him to work powerfully to change and heal me and to transform others and heal them, too.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have to address sin or wrong doing in other people’s lives. I absolutely may need to, at times. I may also need to set very clear boundaries, or even remove myself from certain toxic relationships if people refuse to repent and change if they are severely sinning against me. But I can approach other people’s sin God’s way and from a posture of humility, love, honor, and respect – rather than with a judgmental, critical, hateful spirit.

And I must be very much on guard against a spirit of offense in my heart every day and repent if I notice it is starting to creep in.

Prayer of Repentance

Lord,

Expose the depths of sin in our hearts. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). Maybe no one has ever confronted us in Your love about our sin. Don’t let us continue to be blind to the great extent of our sin and the massive debt which we owe to You. We all struggle with pride. We all struggle with offense and wanting to be “right.” We are so small – just creatures made of dust. And You are the One true God, King, and Creator of the universe. How dare we exalt ourselves to be equal to You or above You in our hearts and minds?

Our pride offends You. It destroys us. It destroys others around us. It kills our relationships. It creates division and severe damage in our marriages and families. It is an instrument of the enemy. We don’t want to live in pride and a spirit of offense any more! We humble ourselves on our faces before You. We need Your help! We can’t fix ourselves or clean ourselves up. We are a mess without You.

Cleanse us from all of our sin by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us on the cross. We bow humbly before You, acknowledging that You, alone, are worthy to be called, Lord. We are not. We are creatures who are dependent on Your mercy and grace. We have no holiness of our own. Our greatest attempts at righteousness look like bloody, nasty, menstrual rags in Your sight (Isa. 64:6).

Robe us with the holiness and righteousness of Jesus. Transform us and conform us to the image of Christ because that is Your will for us and it is very good (Rom. 8:29) . Purify us and make us clean and radiant in Your sight now and forever!

Help us to grow in humility. Help us to exalt and honor You, alone. Help us to have proper reverence for You in our hearts. Help us to close the door to the enemy and to our flesh and sinful nature. We want to live in the power of Your Spirit from now on and in the power of Jesus’ victory over sin and the grave.

Fill us with love and faith in You. Fill us with Your supernatural love, grace, and mercy for our fellow travelers on this journey. Grant Your beautiful Spirit of unity to our marriages, families, churches, and our nation.

Amen!

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How has God spoken to you on this issue? Do you have any wisdom to share with us?

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DEVOTION IDEAS

Check out these verses sometime this week. Each topic could make a wonderful study for your devotional time each day.

Bible Verses about Offense

Bible Verses about Pride

Bible Verses about Forgiveness

Bible Verses about Humility

Verses about Vengeance

 

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My Husband Doesn’t Speak My Love Language

Humility Is Beautiful

Praying with Humility

Humility by Andrew Murray ($0.99 on Kindle)

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

The Snare of People Pleasing

 

20 Signs That God Is about to Do Something AMAZING in Someone’s Life

Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash

I have walked beside hundreds and hundreds of women on this journey. There are several telltale signs that I have noticed that I want to share with you. When I see these indicators beginning to unfold in someone’s life, it means that God is at work, opening her eyes and preparing her heart. It also means that things are about to get beautiful!

This is often a progression that happens in steps over time.

The woman (or man):

  1. Stops blaming other people, making excuses for, or justifying her sin and takes full responsibility for things she has done wrong. She admits that she is a sinner. A wretched sinner. Completely unable to be “good enough” to pass God’s standard of perfect holiness on her own. She acknowledges that she deserves to be separated from God because of her sin.
    • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:23 
    • For the wages of sin is death… Rom. 6:23a
    • Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Rom. 7:24
  2. Genuinely grieves over her sins, seeing just how great a debt she owes to Jesus and just how unimaginably holy God is and how He can’t tolerate any sin in His presence at all.
    • Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:8-10
  3. Wants God’s cleansing, healing, His new life, and a close relationship with the Lord.
    • On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38
    • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Rom. 6:23
  4. Begins to grasp the overwhelming magnitude of the unconditional, divine love of Christ specifically for her and His goodness toward her, in spite of her wretched condition. Jesus left heaven and all of His glory in order to come rescue her, while she was still in rebellion against Him. He loved her with a love that is beyond human ability to fathom. She sees that there is no greater love in all the universe than the love of Jesus for His people. All other love begins to look faded and tarnished in comparison. 
    • But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:8
    • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Eph. 2:4-5
    • That you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19
  5. Humbles herself greatly before the Lord, realizing her total dependence on God’s provision. 
    • And you were dead in the trespasses and sins. Eph. 2:1
    • For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9
  6. Understands that only the perfect, finished work of Jesus on the cross can make her right with God in God’s sight. She begins to see that He lived the perfect life she could never live in her place. He died the death she deserved for her sin. He conquered sin, death, and hell on her behalf. He offers her eternal life after this life is over and abundant spiritual life in this world! God allows her to make a great exchange. Her sinfulness for Jesus’ holiness and righteousness. Her utter spiritual bankruptcy for Jesus’ overflowing spiritual abundance. Jesus’ death for her life. So God counts all that Jesus did as if she did those things when she receives the gift of Christ and His salvation. When God looks at her, He sees Jesus’ perfection. 
    • Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Rom. 5:9-10
  7. Realizes that Jesus is the Greatest Treasure in the universe – and nothing else comes anywhere close to His worth. She is willing to give up everything to have Him. No sacrifice seems too great.
    • The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matt. 13:44
  8. Desires to die to her old self – to her sinful nature, to her sinful desires, to her old human way of thinking, and to this world.
    • And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
    • We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Rom. 6:6
  9. Receives her new identity in Christ and God’s truth about her new status.
    • We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Rom. 6:4
    • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:1
    • But God… raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:6
    • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17
  10. Hungers for God, His Word, and the kingdom of God. Has a healthy spiritual appetite for confession of sin, prayer, reading the Bible, praising and thanking God, and fellowship with the Body of Christ.
    • O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps. 63:1
    • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matt. 5:6
  11. Becomes teachable and ready to absorb and receive God’s truth, spiritual healing, and provision.
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
    • Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10
  12. Wants to do whatever it takes to be as close as possible to God, not to earn salvation or to get other things she wants, but just out of gratitude and love for the Lord – no matter the personal sacrifice involved. She wants to obey God – even if it means giving up previous priorities, time, money, sins, and completely changing her lifestyle to please the Lord. 
    • Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23
  13. Accepts God’s Word as truth rather than her feelings, past experiences, past teaching in her life, the culture, and personal perception/wisdom.
    • Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
    • All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Tim. 3:16
  14. Seeks the Lord wholeheartedly even if no one else does, even if it is lonely. Even if her husband, her family, her children, or her friends don’t understand and don’t want to change like she does.
    • Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matt. 10:37
  15. Desires God’s will far above her own knowing there is no other place she would rather be.
    • Not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
  16. Trusts God – or determines that she wants to learn to trust God – and has new-found faith that God’s way will be best. Her fears begin to melt away.
    • For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7
    • There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18
  17. Knows that God is good and understands God’s character as He reveals Himself in the Bible.
    • No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18
  18. Is willing to give up lies about God, others, and self and rebuild her life on the Solid Rock of God’s Word alone.
    • Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matt. 7:24-25
  19. Invites the Holy Spirit to have full control in her life. She fully yields to the Lordship of Jesus. She no longer wants her sinful nature to be in control, although she can still choose to act in the sinful nature. But now, she has the ability to choose to live in the Spirit! She begins to see the Fruit of the Spirit in her life.
    • For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:6
    • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23
  20. Begins to experience the very divine love, grace, mercy of God for others in her life. She sees them with new eyes, with heavenly eyes. She can start to see their wounds and need for Jesus. And she can begin to extend the love, grace, and mercy of God that she received to others in every day life. She becomes a fruitful instrument for God’s Kingdom.
    • For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal. 5:14
    • I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

When I see these things happening, I know that God is transforming someone by the power of His Spirit. And I know that He is going to do something glorious that will bring much honor to Himself and much good to the person and the kingdom of Christ. It brings me such joy to watch God miraculously changing and healing people!

PRAYER

Lord, 

We can’t open anyone else’s eyes spiritually. We can’t even open our own eyes. We are totally dependent on Your Spirit to resurrect people’s souls from death to new life in Jesus. We invite You into this place and into each of our hearts. We invite You to breathe Your eternal and abundant Life into our souls. We invite Your Spirit to work in mighty ways and to bring salvation to many who didn’t know You before. And we invite You to continue Your good work, as You have promised You would, in those who know You already. We yield ourselves completely to Your Lordship! We long only for more and more of You – Your goodness, Your presence, Your love, Your healing, Your transformation for each of us to make us more like Jesus.

Thank You for the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Thank You for loving us so much more than we could ever comprehend! Give us eyes to see and ears to hear Your Words and Your love for us. Empower us to choose the narrow way that leads to Life.

Amen!

 

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What are some signs you have seen in your own life, or in other people’s lives, that help you know that God is very much at work?

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11 Reasons We Can’t Afford to Skimp on Thanksgiving and Praise to God

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Ps. 69:30

The more I know the Lord and the more I see of His goodness, character, and love, the more I spontaneously desire to praise and thank Him. It is a natural outpouring that results from understanding who God is and acknowledging all of the innumerable blessings He has given me. Truly, it is the only appropriate response for me as a believer in Christ to my kind, loving, generous, gracious Creator, Savior, and Lord.

Of course, some days praise and thanksgiving comes more easily than others. But whether I feel like giving praise and thanking God or not, there are many good reasons that I want to live a continual lifestyle of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Thankfully, this is a choice of the will that I can make no matter how I may feel in the moment.

11 reasons I want to enthusiastically embrace praise and thanksgiving every single day:

  1. God alone is worthy of all of my praise and thanksgiving.
  2. God calls me, and all believers in Christ, to praise as a vocation – here on earth and in heaven.
    • God created people to praise and worship Him. (Isa. 43:21, Eph. 5:19, Heb. 13:15)
    • I am most joyous, fulfilled, and satisfied when I choose to live out my divine calling and purpose from God.
  3. It is God’s will for me to live in continual thanksgiving and praise. 
    • An attitude like this puts God and my problems in proper perspective and grows my faith.
    • God commands me, as a believer in Christ, to live in thanksgiving and praise because it greatly blesses me, it is an appropriate response to Him, and it honors Him. (Ps. 50:14, Ps. 99:5, Isa. 42:10, 1 Thess. 5:18)
  4. My praise for and thanksgiving to God align me with His good purposes and His will for my life and His kingdom.
    • I agree with God about His goodness and His wisdom when I praise and thank Him. (Col. 3:17)
    • This attitude paves the way for me to walk in joyful obedience to the Lord.
    • My praise and thanksgiving allow God to shift my desires to match His own and to soften my heart to His will.
  5. My praise and thanksgiving to the Lord help to transform wrong, sinful thinking.
    • It is part of allowing God to renew my mind. (Rom. 12:2)
    • When I am boasting in God, I am not boasting in myself. God opposes my human pride but gives grace to me when I am humble. (James 4:6)
    • I acknowledge that He is God and He has all the rights of being Lord and I do not. I learn to lean on His wisdom rather than my own human wisdom. (Prov. 3:5-6)
    • I learn to develop an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one – to see how God will use all things for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory. (Rom. 8:28-29)
    • Praise and thanksgiving are a huge part of how we take our thoughts captive for Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
  6. God inhabits the praises of His people. 
    • My praise attracts God, makes Him feel welcome, and draws me closer to Him and Him closer to me. (Ps. 22:3, 1 Pet. 2:9)
  7. My praise and gratitude to God create a spirit of faith and trust in me. (Prov. 3:5-6, Heb. 11:6)
    • As I see God for who He really is and all that He has done, I realize I have no reason to fear, unbelief, doubt. My fears melt away as I grasp His greatness and as I taste His goodness. (1 John 4:18)
    • When I remind myself of God’s faithfulness in the past, I see that He will also be faithful in my current and future circumstances. (Ps. 42:6)
  8. Thanksgiving is how God instructs us to approach Him in prayer. 
    • God hates my grumbling/complaining/arguing because it is a clear sign of unbelief and lack of faith.  (Num. 14:27)
    • God responds graciously to my gratitude, trust, and faith. (Phil. 4:6)
  9. Demons feel very unwelcome when there is praise and thanksgiving to God going on. 
    • My praise and thanksgiving to the Lord is a spiritual weapon. As I sing praises to the Lord, evil spirits flee. (1 Sam. 16:23)
    • Sometimes trials come from the enemy to test my faith – just like with Job – to prove that I will turn against the Lord and stop praising Him if I suffer temporarily in this life. (Job 1:9-12)
    • May I never give the enemy of my soul any occasion to mock the Lord! But may I continue to praise God and trust Him no matter what may happen here on earth, knowing He is with me and He is for me and that no weapon formed against me shall prosper! (Isa. 54:17)
    • When I stand on God’s Word and proclaim His truth and praise out loud in faith in Jesus, demonic opposition cannot stand against me. I don’t have power against demons/Satan in my own strength, but in the Name and power of Jesus, I can resist the enemy with the truth about God and the truth of God’s Word. (James 4:7)
  10. Praise and thanksgiving are powerful spiritual prescriptions for depression, discouragement, anxiety, and fear.
    • When David wrote the Psalms, he poured out his heart, burdens, trials, and heavy emotions. Then he always reminded himself to praise God, even when he faced humanly impossible circumstances and his very life was in jeopardy. (Ps. 42:5)
    • It is impossible to continue to feel depressed, defeated, lonely, or discouraged when I set my eyes firmly on the Lord in all His glory and I see His goodness, love, and provision for me! God is infinitely greater than my circumstances and other people.
  11. My sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord open the floodgates of heaven to countless blessings:

NOTE – Trials are a signal to me that I need to greatly increase my praise and thanksgiving to the Lord to allow much more of His Spirit, wisdom, and power to flow into my life and circumstances. My response when under any kind of spiritual attack or warfare must include much praise and thanksgiving to the Lord!

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

 

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Which Comes First – Feelings or Obedience?

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

We sometimes have a tendency to want to let our feelings lead the way in our obedience to the Lord.

– I’ll forgive when my feelings change.
– I’ll pray when I feel close to God.
– I’ll be kind, loving, and respectful when I start to really feel it.

But that is not how love for God, spiritual growth, or abiding in Christ work.

Our feelings do not always lead us in what is best for us.

But when God gives us directions, He has our ultimate good in mind. We can trust Him.

Jesus is now our Lord, if we are in Christ. Not our feelings. When He calls us to do anything, we say, “Yes, Lord!” This is SO freeing! We don’t have to be slaves to our emotions any longer! PRAISE GOD!

Feelings are important. They are kind of like an indicator light on a car dashboard. We can pour them out before the Lord like David did in the Psalms. They can be a flag we need to deal with something. But they are no longer the most important thing. They do not dictate our behavior. And they are not our source of absolute truth. God’s Word is our source of absolute truth.

In reality, our obedience to God must lead the way and feelings tend to follow along later.

Jesus equates our love for Him with our obedience to Him. Love is a choice – not a feeling. And real love involves action.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” John 14:23-24

We obey God, because He is Lord and He is worthy. We don’t obey to earn salvation. Jesus earned our salvation on the cross and did all the work to make us right with the Lord. We receive His work on our behalf as a gift. We obey because we love Him and are so thankful for His incredible love and sacrifice for us.

As we take that step into obedience in faith, He provides us the very power we need to obey and He produces the fruit of His Spirit – His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in us. It is all about us allowing Him to do the work in us and through us as we trust and follow Him, seeking His will far above our own.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6

QUOTE BY CORRIE TEN BOOM

She was a believer in Christ whose family hid Jews in their home from Nazis in World War 2. She later was imprisoned, herself.

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.”

NOTE

If you are in an abusive relationship, please note that forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. We are not commanded to trust untrustworthy people. We may need to reach out for help in situations like this.

 

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