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Some of the Bible Verses I Use as the Basis for My Suggestions

wedding band bible

Here are some of the verses I use as a basis for my advice – It is my goal to apply these to marriage from a wife’s perspective:

Ephesians 4:29-32

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, so that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 6:12  

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Philippians 2:14-16  

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life.

Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Romans 12:9-21 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Galatians 5:19-23

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Matthew 5:43-48 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Malachi 2:13-17

13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favoron your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witnessbetween you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[a] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”[b] says the Lord Almighty.

So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

17 You have wearied the Lord with your words.

“How have we wearied him?” you ask.

By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?

I Peter 3:1-6 (THIS IS ESPECIALLY HELPFUL WHEN A HUSBAND IS FAR FROM GOD)

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

(From PEACEFULWIFE- I understand the “without words” to be not preaching, nagging, lecturing about the things of God, the Bible, church, spiritual things. A husband in direct rebellion against God cannot hear about godly things from his wife with words – but he CAN hear her respectful behavior and attitude.)

Matthew 6:14

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men there sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Ephesians 4:22-27

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

Sometimes the Journey is Lonely – but This Wife is Being Faithful to God!

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This dear Christian sister of mine began emailing with me last summer.  God has done HUGE things in her heart.  It’s totally a God thing.  She does not sound like the same person at all!  She has such a sweet, gentle spirit now, a humble spirit, and a willing spirit to obey God no matter what.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for her.  Her marriage is so much stronger now than it was just 6 months ago.  Please pray for her husband to accept Christ as his Savior and Lord.  I know her story will bless many wives.  Thank you to this precious friend of mine for sharing!

Hi, April.

First of all, I thank the Lord for giving you the gift of words. 🙂

Secondly, I pray that your post today will touch the hearts of many women- even perhaps reach women who may be the “outside support.”  I just wanted to share with what I have been going through and an update on what God’s been doing in my life in hopes to specifically encourage those in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

As you know I had no outside support. Even my Christian friends weren’t supportive about me respecting my husband since he wasn’t a believer. I received many mixed messages that left me confused. In all honesty, I may not have taken this long to get started with the respect journey if I had proper godly advice. I’m not blaming my sweet, good willed friends. I just think there hasn’t been much teaching about respecting an unbelieving spouse.

Anyway, when I decided to take that Respect Dare one more time, I decided to no longer vocalize it to my friends or family. I just followed 1 Peter 3:1-6 and prayed and prayed and prayed. To keep myself in check, I have reached out to you several times. Aside from that, I kept my experience to myself– I even kept silent about the positive changes in my husband and in myself. Instead, I would praise God for them, and shared it with you to encourage you on your ministry and to hopefully encourage others.

Sometimes, it does seem lonely. I miss my friends. I miss the face to face Bible study. I miss that awesome Sunday worship I experience in my church (vs. sorry to say it, the seemingly monotonous ones in his). But I am doing my study online. Even there, God has taught me so much in the three studies I have done online so far. My husband doesn’t mind worship music playing.

The Lord is slowly restoring my friendships. My mother is still off-standish with me because she has complained we don’t visit her. My husband leaves for work before the kids and I even wake up and by the time I get home from work, it is dinner and after dinner he’s ready for bed since he has to wake up early. In the past, I complained that my husband hardly does things with the kids. And now, he insists that the weekends is our family time.

He sometimes has to work half a day on Saturdays so that’s when I do my grocery shopping and errands and the other half I clean and Sundays is all family. I am super excited to tell you that, my husband, who despises going to kid places on weekends because it is usually packed, agreed to take the kids to the children’s museum this past Sunday.  I found that sexy! I told him so too. A year ago I would’ve said, well, he should go since that’s what parents are supposed to do. But God has also changed my heart and I appreciated what my husband did.

Back to my mom, she lives 40 min away and since my husband drives into the city all week long, the last thing he wants is to drive to the city on his day off. He has said why doesn’t she visit us more?? She isn’t old (not even 60 yet!). I used to think this was selfish of him and there have been weekends when I’d leave him home alone and sleepover my mother. But now I don’t because I realize… I need to spend time with HIM. As I have shared before, she was the very opposite of what a submissive wife is. She always controlled the household.

So there you have it. I am trusting the Lord to work out and restore whatever relationships that have been severed because of my respect journey. To my knowledge, I am not being disrespectful to anyone. I am simply putting boundaries around me. This way, I don’t fall into the habit of “venting” when my husband does things I don’t agree with or have unbiblical advise from outsiders who mean well.

As 1 Peter 3:1-6 says: we are to trust God and accept the authority of our husbands… do what is right without worrying about what our husbands might do.

Thank you for your ministry!

A Prayer for a New Beginning in Christ

hands to the sky
The kind of sincere prayer that will honor God and get you moving in the right direction to live with Him as LORD of your life is something like this:
Jesus,
You alone are my Lord and my God.  I have sinned against You.  I confess all of these sins (here are some examples):
  • unforgiveness
  • bitterness
  • greed
  • selfishness
  • the idol of trying to be in control of my husband/others
  • PRIDE – thinking I am always right and I know better than my husband or anyone else and that I know better than You do
  • a judgmental and critical spirit
  • gossip
  • rebellion against God’s Word and commands
  • disrespect for my husband
  • contempt towards my husband
  • brazen disregard for Your commands to me as a wife for marriage
  • justifying my sin and disrespect because of my husband’s sin against me
  • thinking self-righteously that I am so much better than my husband
  • thinking that I am somehow exempt from Your commands for wives and that I know better than You do for my marriage
  • withholding my body from my husband to punish him
  • making an idol out of my husband and expecting to find all of my happiness in him and making him totally responsible for my happiness instead of finding my identity and joy in Christ alone
  • making idols from food, being thin, beauty, money, success, health, having children, being married, having a nice home and expensive things, ANYTHING that I have put ahead of You in my heart
  • rushing ahead and trying to lead my own life and not wait on You and Your will and Your timing
  • ignoring and rebelling against my husband’s God-given authority
  • hatred towards my husband and maybe others in my life

I have missed the mark of Your standard of holiness and perfection by miles.

I am truly a wretched sinner.  There is no good in me on my own.  Isaiah declares that You say that my own attempts at being good are like “filthy, bloody menstrual rags” in Your holy sight.  I mourn deeply over my sins.  I know I have grieved Your heart.  Help me to be broken and humble before You and to see my sin the way that You do.
Thank You for Your blood – spilled for me –  and for the way You willingly paid the debt of sin I owed.  I don’t just owe you a few hundred or a few thousand “sin dollars”, I owe You BILLIONS – and I can never repay You.  THANK YOU for Your death for me.  Thank You for removing my sins as far from me as the East is from the West.  What JOY is mine to think of the weight and stain of my awful sin being completely removed by Your incredible power!  You didn’t have to do that for me.  But Your love for me is so unfathomable, that You were willing to die in my place to give me the chance to accept the gift of having a relationship with You forever.
I don’t want to live in sin anymore.  I want to honor and obey You.  I am turning today from my ways and my wickedness and turning to You!
I lay down all that I am before You.  Here is my heart, my soul, my life, my marriage, my children, my career, my future, my health, my body, my money, my trust, my plans, my dreams, my desires, my pain, my wisdom, my entire life.  I give it all to You.  I hold nothing back.  From this day forward, I want to learn to honor and please You.  I want to know You more.  I want to know the depth, height and width of Your amazing love for me.  I want to know Your Word.  I want to LIVE it.  I don’t want to disobey You and sin against You anymore.
I lay my life on the altar as a living sacrifice to You.  This life I live I want to live for You every moment.  And I pick up my cross and follow You.  I know that following You will mean sacrificing what I want and what I think is best.  But I want YOUR will, not mine anymore.  Even though I don’t know all the details of what Your will might mean – I want Your full, total will for my life and I want You to bring great glory to Yourself through me however You see fit.
I embrace Your wisdom, Your Word, Your ways, Your thoughts, Your paths, Your commands, Your presence, Your Spirit.  Cleanse me from my filthy sins with Your powerful blood and fill me completely with Your Spirit – empower me to be the wife, the woman, the mother that You desire me to be.
I want YOU more than ANYTHING in the world.  I set You firmly on the throne in my heart and set my heart on Christ alone.
Convict me of hidden sins.  Cleanse me completely.  Help me to see and tear down all the idols and pride that offend You so deeply and let me begin to have a new life in You.  Renew my heart and mind by Your Word.  Transform me to be more and more like Christ.
Use me to meet my husband’s needs.  I will stop expecting anything from him and lay down all of my expectations.  I will look to You to meet my needs for feeling loved, accepted, valuable, and precious.  I will find my joy and strength and identity solely in You from now on.
I trust YOU to handle my husband, His sin and His spiritual growth as a man, as a believer, as a husband, as a godly leader and as a father.  I will not interfere with what You want to do with him anymore.  I will support You and be Your partner in my marriage and do things Your way.  If my husband is far from God, I will obey I Peter 3:1-6 and not talk/lecture/nag him about the things of God, but silently allow him to see my joy, my respect and my Spirit-filled life.  I know that my voice will drown out Your voice in his soul.  And I know that  my respect and cooperation with his leadership will amplify Your voice in his soul and influence him to want to be a more godly man.
I want to obey Your commands for me – even when I don’t agree with them, even when they don’t make sense to me, even when what You ask me to do  “feels wrong,”  even if my husband NEVER changes.  I want to obey You because I love You and want to honor You with my whole life. And I want to stand before You in heaven when this life is over and hear You say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”  I know that I will be judged for my own sins and for my own obedience to God’s Word regardless of what my husband does or does not do.
I want to repay evil with good in my marriage and all of my relationships.  Empower me to respond without sin when others sin against me.  Let me keep my eyes on You.  Empower me to be full of Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.  I can’t do this in my own strength!  I need You, Jesus!
Help me to abide in You daily.  Help me to manage my time wisely and to make time for You and Your Word and prayer and praise music.  Fill my heart with Your songs of joy.  Open my eyes to all that You want me to learn each day.
I PRAISE You and THANK You for all You have done for me and all You are going to do!  Thank You for setting me free from my sin, worry, fear and misery!  I trust You completely, Jesus!  You alone are my Lord and my God.
I will wait on You – no matter how long it takes. I won’t run ahead of  You or my husband.  I trust that You are truly big enough to lead my through my husband and I know that to be in Your will, I must cooperate with the leadership of my husband (unless he asks me to sin)- and that You will speak to me through him.  I can’t wait to see all that You have in store for my life!
In the Name and power of Christ,
Amen!
GOD’S DESIGN FOR MARRIAGE

EPHESIANS 5:22-33 (ESV)

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I CORINTHIANS 11:3 (ESV)

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

A Wife Shares Her Story of a Changed Marriage

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From a wife I began talking with this past summer – she has been actively working on learning to obey God’s Word to respect and submit to her husband for about 5 months at this point, I believe.  There were some very difficult and challenging times, especially the first few months …  THANK YOU for sharing!!!!!  I pray this might be an encouragement to other wives.
Merry Christmas, April. I would like to reply to your blog yesterday, “BUT HE NEEDS MY HELP!” 
For wives reading this, shaking their heads still insisting that God’s message of submission isn’t for them, take it from one with an unbelieving husband. It isn’t about how much smarter I may or may not be over my husband or that I am more spiritually mature because I read my Bible and he doesnt. It is about trusting God.
I am not sure if my husband has accepted Jesus as His Savior yet, I don’t think so at this point. But there is a gigantic change in both of us. He sees it in me, I see it in him – and the cycle of  respect and love is helping run our marriage and our home more smoothly. I know that my family and some friends may be shaking their heads because I have been deferring to my husband for plans and decisions involving our family. It is just not part of our culture now (to respect and submit to our husbands). But it doesn’t matter because my primary ministry is my husband.
I see in him a harder drive to do well at work and to provide for the family. There is an extra umf in him- even in doing work around the house. He even helps without my asking for help. I don’t have to  let him know when I am tired – somehow he senses when I am overwhelmed and he insists that I relax and he does the laundry or dishes (or gets our boys to do it).
He has surprised me with so many things these past few months that I feel like I am in a dream.
It all started with me FINALLY taking a GIGANTIC step of faith in God’s design for marriage – even with an unbelieving husband. It has almost cost me friendships (yes, even with Christian friends). And right now, because he does not agree with me going to Bible study, I do miss that face-to-face intimate fellowship you get in Bible study. But I am doing online studies and though I don’t have that face-to-face fellowship, I am still in God’s Word.
Like I said, I’m pretty sure he has not accepted Jesus as his savior yet but on Christmas eve, as I filled the house with Christmas music (I have been doing this all December), he said,”I love you, Jesus. But right now, all this Christmas music is just a little too much.” (Did you get the first sentence?)
Also, he surprised me with a charm bracelet for Christmas with little head charms for our boys (personalized w/ their names), a heart charm with his name on one side and I love you on the other, a MOM charm and… a cross charm. Many people who knows my husband will tell you he isn’t the most romantic person in the world- but when we were dating he was very romantic. After marriage, it kinda got a little lost somehow- the same way the wife he married got lost after marriage (he always used to complain that I changed when we fought). Now, things aren’t perfect – but by the sheer grace of God, our marriage is better than ever.
From Peacefulwife:
This wife is reaping some amazing rewards in her marriage and her walk with Christ from her willingness to obey God and do things His way.  It took many months to get to this point – and some very painful dying to self.  Men are designed by God to respond to respect and their wives’ trust and submission by becoming better men, by having a heart to serve and usually by showing more love.  Each wife’s experience with learning and implementing respect and submission has its own timing and rhythm.  Some husbands respond quickly.  Some are very confused.  Some balk at the changes their wives start to make at first – but later love it.  Some are more deeply wounded and untrusting and it takes them longer to trust that the new changes are for real.  Some may never respond with love to a wife’s respect –  men do have free will, after all.  Although most eventually do respond to their wives’ changes and to God’s power working in the marriage to some degree.  
Ultimately, I respect my husband and submit to him out of my love, reverence and submission to Jesus – NOT in order to change my husband or “make” him love me.  I set my heart on Christ – not on “feeling loved” by my husband.  I get the energy and power to do this from God’s Spirit working in me.  
For me – feeling loved was often an idol in my life – that became more important to me than Jesus at times in my marriage.  When I have idols in my heart – whether it is my own being in control, having my way, expecting my husband to be Christ to me, or feeling loved – idolatry NEVER satisfies.  I can expect to be dissatisfied, discontent, unhappy, empty, frustrated, lonely, clingy, needy, worried, anxious, afraid and miserable when I put other things or people in God’s rightful place in my heart – or when I am cherishing sin or living in disobedience to God’s Word.  God is going to make sure that idolatry, rebellion and sin don’t satisfy me.  He will only allow me to find satisfaction when I put Him in the place of worship in my heart.  When I seek Him first with all my heart, I experience the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)  I have to want HIM more than a strong marriage, more than my own way, more than anything!
Respecting my husband and cooperating with his God-given authority in my marriage is a lifetime commitment I make to Jesus – to live for Him – not knowing ahead of time what the outcome will be, but trusting Him no matter what comes.  It is a walk of faith.  I must put Jesus squarely FIRST in my life – by a long shot.  I lay down my life, my desires, my will, my plans, my wisdom and my goals.  And I seek Jesus’ presence, His love, His Word, His glory, His will, His wisdom and His approval.  He will reward me in my relationship with Him and in heaven for my willingness to obey His Word even if my husband never loves me as he should.  My job is to make sure I am abiding in Christ, clinging to Him, seeking Him above all else and living in obedience to Him.  My job is to seek to be a godly wife and mother and to honor Jesus and trust Him with the timing and results – that it will all be for His greatest glory and my ultimate good and my husband’s ultimate good.

What Does Jesus Want Me to Do in My Marriage?

marriage blah

Marriage is HARD.

Really – I would even say it is impossible – in human strength and effort alone.

Men and women are SO different.  We think and feel entirely differently.  We have different priorities and needs many times.  We approach things from completely opposite perspectives.  We have very different strengths and weaknesses.  Marriage is practically a recipe for torture – apart from Christ.

That is the key.  If we look to our husbands or to ourselves – we will destroy our marriage.  I must keep my eyes on Christ!  He is the only source of power that will enable our marriage to be what He designed it to be.  I must daily live for Him and abide in Him!

THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

God designed people.  And God designed marriage.  He designed marriage for several purposes:

  • to be a living parable of the intimate spiritual relationship and the oneness of Christ and His church
  • to provide a stable, loving, nurturing, secure, safe, healthy place for children to be born and raised to know God and love Him and to learn how to love others and be prepared to be responsible, faithful, fruitful servants of Christ.
  • to form us more and more into the image of Christ – to make us holy (NOT primarily to make us happy!)
  • to teach children how to have a healthy, vibrant and flourishing marriage and how to be godly parents themselves
  • to provide a solid foundation and building block for healthy, secure, productive and godly societies.
  • to provide companionship and unity in the most intimate human relationship.
  • to provide a safe, loving, perfect place for sex and procreation
  • as a classroom to learn to love and forgive
  • because it is not good for man to  be alone – God designed a helpmeet suitable for him

This list is not exhaustive – but it provides a good glimpse into some of the biggest reasons why God chose to design and institute marriage.

WHEN MY HUSBAND SINS AGAINST ME

The problem with two sinners being married is – they WILL sin against each other and they WILL hurt each other.  There is no perfect marriage partner (except Jesus).  So it is our job to learn to be great forgivers and to tap into God’s power to be able to do this.  When I am putting Christ first and setting my heart on Him, His will, His Word and His glory, He will empower me to deal with anything my husband might do – and I can trust that He will use even my husband’s sin and mistakes ultimately for my good and His glory.

What would Jesus tell me to do when my husband is unkind, verbally abusive, arrogant, demeaning, mean, belittling, disrespectful, unloving, selfish, hateful, prideful, refusing to be intimate with me, trying to force me to be intimate with him, flirting with other women, lying, being irresponsible with money, not taking the best care of our children (in my view), not praying with me, not abiding in Christ, not reading his Bible, being materialistic, putting other things ahead of Christ or ahead of our marriage that are inappropriate…?

LET’S APPLY LUKE 6:20-49 TO OUR MARRIAGES

(I am going to alter the words a bit to fit to our marriages)

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when your husband/extended family members/coworkers/neighbors/others hate you, when they exclude you and insult  you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how (people) treated the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when (everyone in your life) speaks well of you, for that is how (people) treated the false prophets.  (People pleasing does not please God!)

But I tell you who hear Me:

  • Love your husband when he acts like he is your enemy
  • do good to him if he hates you
  • bless him if he curses you
  • pray for him when he mistreats you.  
  • If your husband strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.  (I would add, get some godly, wise, experienced help ASAP!)
  • If he takes your (coat), do not stop him from taking your (shirt/dress).  
  • Give to him when he asks you
  • if your husband takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
  • Do to your husband as you would have him do to you (meet his needs and be a godly wife, just like you want him to meet your needs and be a godly husband)
  • if you love him only when he loves you, what credit is that to you? Even (unbelievers) love those who love them. 
  • If you do good to him only when he is good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even (unbelievers) do that.
  • If you lend to him (give something to him or do something for him) and expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even (unbelievers) lend to (unbelievers), expecting to be repaid in full.
  • love your husband when it feels like he is your enemy, do good to him, and lend to him (do kind, respectful things for him) without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be (daughters) of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 
  • Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
  • Do not judge your husband, and you will not be judged.  
  • Do not condemn your husband, and you will not be condemned.
  • Forgive your husband, and you will be forgiven.
  • Give to your husband, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Can a blind wife lead a blind husband?  Will they not both fall into a pit?  A student is not above his Teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his Teacher.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your husband’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you tell your husband, “Husband, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your husband’s eye.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit… The good wife brings good things out of the good stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act good, the Spirit of God inside of her causes her to act good!), and the evil wife brings evil things out of the evil stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act bad, her own sin and fleshly nature cause her to react in sin).  For out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth speaks.

Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say to do for your husband?

I will show you what she is like who who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice.  She is like a man building a house (a life, a marriage, a family), who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, for it was well  built.

But the wife who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house (a life, a marriage, a family) on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete

Lord,

Give us ears to hear and hearts that are willing to obey.  Tear down any strongholds of the enemy in our souls.  Give us Your power to humble ourselves and submit to You and honor You in our marriages!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

OTHER SCRIPTURES

Ephesians 5 – God’s design for marriage

I Corinthians 11:2-13  –  God’s authority structure for marriage

I Corinthians 13:4-7  – God’s definition of love in marriage

Galatians 5:19-22 – a comparison of a life powered by self vs. a life powered by God’s Spirit

I John

A New Leader is Born

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CHANGING THE DOMINANT WIFE/PASSIVE HUSBAND DYNAMIC
When a wife has been trying to control the marriage and making most of the decisions and the husband has been unplugged for many months, years or decades – it takes TIME and practice for her to step down and learn to be a great follower and it takes TIME and practice for him to learn to become a great leader.  Men do not generally enter marriage as the most godly, wise, perfect leaders.  It takes trial and error. (Guess what, women often do not enter marriage as the best of followers, either!  I sure didn’t!)  It takes failing sometimes and learning from failure.  Honestly, our response to their failure is way more important, usually, than the fact that they failed!
This is going to require that wives demonstrate more patience, humility, trust in another person and trust and faith in God than we have EVER had in our lives!  We will need God’s Spirit to empower us.  And we will need to be sure we are putting Christ first in our hearts, not our husbands, our being in control, our feelings, our desires, our “rights,” our needs, etc.   It requires that we die to ourselves and live for Christ. But, if we can show that we will support our husbands and trust them to fix things and make things right, if we don’t make a huge deal out of their mistakes  – we will help our men climb to a kind of greatness in their leadership that we can hardly begin to fathom at first.
HUSBANDS ARE GOING TO MESS UP.  THAT HAS TO BE OK.
Of course some times our husbands’ decisions are purely selfish and not from God.  Yep.  Actually, some of my decisions are that way, too.  We are all wretched sinners in desperate need of Christ every moment! That is how it works when there is a human in a position of God-given authority – they will make mistakes and sin sometimes.  That is where I learn to trust that my God is “sovereign enough”  to lead me through my sinful husband – even if he is not Spirit-filled, even if he has idols/sin in his life, even if he is not seeking Him above everything else, even if he is not praying with me.
Yes.  My God is THAT big.
And yes, I can have total peace when my husband leads me even when I believe what he is doing is selfish, materialistic, etc.  God’s promise to me will not fail.  He WILL use all things for my ultimate good and His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28-29
My husband cannot keep me from God’s will.  When I trust and obey God and live in His Spirit’s power – I AM in the center of God’s will!  A huge part of that is that I respect and cooperate with my husband’s leadership – unless he is asking me to sin.
NEW LEADERS NEED ENCOURAGEMENT
Your husband may have almost no experience making decisions for himself and leading on his own at this point – in the marriage and family, at least.  He may be a baby leader.  And maybe he is not as close to God as he could or should be right now.
Actually, if a wife has usurped the husband’s authority in the marriage – a husband is almost guaranteed to be in an ungodly state – unless he is extremely Spirit-filled.  But a Spirit-filled man rarely has trouble getting his wife to submit to him and respect him.  A man whose wife doesn’t respect him and won’t follow him will tend to wander from God.  He will be full of anger, resentment, bitterness and woundedness.  He feels disrespected and castrated as a man.  He often either reacts in anger (which does not bring honor to God), or he withdraws from his God-given responsibilities and unplugs from the family.  When anyone lives in disobedience to God’s Word and His commands – ungodliness results.
I can tell you this – the more you lecture or preach or nag or feel compelled to try to make him do things – the less he will hear God’s voice.  Your voice will drown out God’s voice in his soul.  That is what my husband was able to articulate to me long after I learned about respect and submission.  And the more you find good things in him to build him up about and praise him about (actual good things that you genuinely admire) – that will amplify God’s voice.  So does your silence about the things of God – it amplifies God’s voice for your husband when he is not close to God.
As you take off the weight of responsibility and authority in the marriage and respectfully lay it on your husband’s shoulders, or at his feet, he may balk at first.  But he was designed to carry this weight – not you!  He will actually thrive when he learns to lead.  And if you can channel your leadership abilities to support, affirm, cheer on and encourage his efforts to lead – I believe you will see God do miracles in your marriage!
What he can “hear” from you early on in this journey  is your respect for him as your husband and your respect for him handling things as he thinks is best and your support of him as the God-given leader of your family.
I think your willingness to support your husband even when you disagree with him is going to bond him to you in ways you can’t imagine.  And I think it will force him to begin to feel the weight of his leadership like never before and will make him want to start making the best possible and most selfless and godly decisions.  It might take seeing you suffer because of his poor choices.  But if you suffer for doing what is right – you are blessed!  Your goal must be to cling to Christ and not respond with evil or out of sinful motives.  If you are firm in Christ through all of this, he will clearly see the consequences of his decisions and your faith and trust in him – and he will want to do better.
A GODLY MARRIAGE IS A JOURNEY, A LONG PROCESS OF LEARNING
No one starts out being able to perfectly love and respect in a way that honors Christ – it is a process of learning and a process of discovering.  Marriage is a tool God uses to make us more holy and to see things about our relationship with Him we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.  Sanctification takes a life time!  There will be varying degrees of hypocrisy as people are learning and growing and maturing.  That is inevitable.  We are never going to do this stuff perfectly.  But with God’s Spirit in us, we can have victory more and more.

The Blessing of Having a Husband Who Won't Pray with His Wife

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WHAT??!!!   Did you read that right?  Surely, I’ve GOT to be kidding!
Let me start by saying:
I believe that husbands SHOULD pray with their wives.  I believe it is their God-given responsibility to do so  – if they are believers in Christ.  I believe husbands will be accountable to God for their spiritual leadership – which I believe includes praying with their wives and children and teaching their families the Word of God as well as living out a godly example every day.
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But what is a wife to do if this is not happening?
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Hang with me, ladies.  This gets really good.
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REALITY IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM OUR EXPECTATIONS MANY TIMES
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I used to be REALLY upset about the fact that we didn’t pray together.  I longed for my husband to pray with me and resented every day that passed that he didn’t do it.  I wanted us to be close to each other and close to God.  What could be more beautiful, godly, intimate, holy, intoxicating and powerful than praying together as a couple?
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Unfortunately, MOST Christian husbands and wives don’t pray together.  I wish we all did. I think we all should.  But reality is that a lot of husbands can’t or won’t pray with their wives for a variety of reasons.
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Sometimes our husbands don’t pray with us because we intimidate them, criticize them, condemn them, judge their spirituality, act holier-than-thou, take over control of the marriage, disrespect them, rebel against their God-given leadership or react negatively when our men DO try to lead spiritually in some way.(For more about this – check out this post )
I CAN CONTROL ME.  I CAN’T CONTROL HIM.  I’M FINE WITH THAT NOW!
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I can ask my husband for what I want.  And I do – now – but sparingly, respectfully and with a pleasant tone of voice and a smile.  I ask him to pray about specific needs with me a few times a month – and he is always willing now if I ask him. (Each marriage and stage in marriage will be different – so pray and seek God’s wisdom about if you ought to approach your husband at all, or how often)
When I first started learning respect and submission, I had to follow I Peter 3:1-2 and be silent about spiritual things, including prayer – after so many years of trying to MAKE my husband do what I wanted him to do.  He needed time to hear God’s voice for himself. I fully understand now that I can’t MAKE him do what I want him to do.  And that is actually a very good thing.  God gave us all a free will.  Part of being a strong leader is a man makes his own choices and decisions.
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He is not always going to do things my way.  Now, I know that is a huge blessing!.  His ways are often much better than my ways – it turns out!
He may not always do things God’s way – that is part of having a human, sinner as a leader.
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But I can still put all my hope, faith and trust in my Lord that He in His amazing sovereignty will work things out for my best and for His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-29).  And I can respond in obedience to God’s Word for me regardless of my husband’s behavior.  Even if my husband sins or makes mistakes, my Lord is big enough, powerful enough and “sovereign enough” to turn those evil things into something good because I trust Him.
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AVOIDING BITTERNESS ABOUT A “PRAYERLESS” MARRIAGE
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  • Now, I have laid down my expectations.   I don’t expect my husband to pray with me.  I don’t demand that he pray with me.  I am thankful for what he gives to me in our relationship – and I graciously (by the power of God in me) accept when he does not do things I would like.
  • My goal is to be receptive to God’s Spirit, my husband’s leadership, to be a safe place for him to know that he won’t be criticized or judged and to make sure I am abiding in Christ and praying for my husband fervently and passionately myself.
  • It takes MANY years for a man to become a godly leader.  I must be patient for God to work in my husband and focus on what God wants to do in ME!
  • I also keep in mind that scripture never says, “Husbands must initiate prayer with their wives.”  I also can’t find a verse that commands husbands to pray with their wives.  I think it is clearly implied!  But I have to be very careful about my expectations and what I label as sin or about coming across as being spiritually superior, self-righteous or condemning and critical.  Nothing will turn off a husband faster to spiritual things than  catching a whiff of those prideful, self-righteous attributes.
  • I have prayer sisters!  I get to pray with my Christian prayer partners and watch God at work together.  It is AMAZING!  I would strongly recommend that wives pray about finding a godly mentor wife and prayer partner.
  • I am free to grow in Christ – I do not have to “wait for my husband.”  I am to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and trust God to work in my husband.  The closer I am to Christ, the MORE respectful, kind, gracious and merciful I will be to my husband – and that will influence him to  draw nearer to God, too.
  • I now know that I can have total access to God’s will when I am trusting in my God.  My husband cannot thwart God’s plans for me.  My husband cannot take me out of the sovereignty of God.  God is powerful and sovereign and will accomplish His purposes in my life whether my husband prays with me or not.  My faith is in my Lord alone!
  • I also know that there are MANY aspects to spiritual leadership that go way beyond whether my husband is initiating prayer.  And many of those things – demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, obeying God’s Word, being filled with the Spirit of God – are MUCH more important and vital than whether he initiates prayer or not.  I believe a husband can be a strong, godly, spiritual leader as long as he is tuned into God HIMSELF.  Praying together would be great.  But it does not mean our husbands are spiritual failures if they don’t grab us by the hand and have a daily prayer time with us.  Check out my youtube video about this if you’d like! http://youtu.be/CgB9SiV9ZgI.
IT IS NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING FOR A HUSBAND TO PRAY WITH HIS WIFE
If he prays with the wrong motive or prays for the wrong reason(s) – that is sin – it is for wives, too, of course!
Ways that him praying with you could be sin:
– to please you
– to make you feel better
– to make himself look more spiritual than he really is
– to be heard by you
– to lecture you
– to manipulate you
– if his heart is not in it, if he is not actually intimate with God, it is hypocrisy
– doing it just because you want him to will not bring you satisfaction and it will not honor God
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If a husband is not praying to God on his own – he probably has no business praying to God with his wife.  He needs to have his own strong relationship with Christ independently first.
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I think that this particular issue is actually quite clear in Scripture – that when we pray to be seen or heard by people (if our motives are not pure) – God is NOT pleased and will NOT hear our prayers.
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Matthew 6:5-6 – And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, Who is unseen.  Then your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
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I don’t think this excludes praying together in small groups or as a couple or corporately.  But I think that our motives for prayer matter greatly to God.  If a husband only prays with his wife to placate her – but is not right in his relationship with God – it is a pretty useless activity.
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It can be a blessing for a godly wife when her ungodly husband (or a husband with ungodly motives at the time) won’t pray with her:
  • He would do more harm than good if he did.
  • She needs to learn to depend solely on Christ, not her husband.  This issue can sometimes reveal that a wife has her husband as an idol, or has his praying with her or his spirituality or his sinlessness as an idol in her heart.

I am SO glad God gave me time to learn to depend on Him alone!

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OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF A HUSBAND’S SINFUL PRAYERS
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Besides his prayers being fruitless, not honoring to God and not be heard by God – when a husband is not right with God and is living in his own flesh:
  • he may use prayer as an opportunity to try to humiliate his wife before God
  • he may use prayer to criticize his wife’s faults and flaws
  • he may pridefully brag about himself before God and his wife, bringing God’s opposition against him
  • he may use prayer to try to manipulate his wife into doing what he selfishly wants
  • he may claim something is “God’s will” just to try to get her to go along with it when it really is not God’s will at all
  • he may be cruel, critical and belittling to his wife as he “speaks to God”  because he is not full of God’s Spirit
  • he may be arrogant and try to make himself look better and more spiritual than his wife

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Something that is much worse than having a husband who won’t pray with you is having a carnal/sinful husband who WILL pray with you in ways that dishonor God and seek to control, disrespect and manipulate you.

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OUR REAL DESIRE GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS
What we as wives want – is for our husbands to be strong men of God, thriving and growing and vibrant in their walks with Him. We want them to pray in private by themselves and come from a place of spiritual strength and to be filled with God’s Spirit – and then to pray with us.  Not praying to go through the motions or to look spiritual, but husbands who are genuinely living with Christ as Lord and totally submitted and yielded to Him.
This desires we have for our husbands  to be close to God and to be spiritually one with us are God-given desires.  And they are God’s will.  So we can pray and know that God will cause these prayers to be answered in His time, in His way, by His power and for His glory –  when we are praying with proper respect and reverence for God, our husband’s authority and proper motives.
And we can speed the answers along a bit by our obedience to respect our husbands and cooperate with their God-given leadership.  But it may be YEARS before we see our prayers answered.   There are going to be times, if we believe our husbands are far from God and acting in disobedience, that we practice I Peter 3:1-2.  That is what will bring them closer to God.
I pray for God’s wisdom for each of us about approaching our husbands about praying together. There are times when I believe it is good and important for us to ask for what we desire, “Honey, I have an idea. I want us to start praying together every day. Would now be a good time?” There are also times when God will prompt us to be quiet and pray and wait. I pray for each of us to be sensitive to God’s leading and prompting!
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http://peacefulwife.com/2012/09/03/being-a-good-follower/
http://peacefulwife.com/2012/06/28/im-the-spiritually-mature-one-in-this-marriage/
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MY HUSBAND’S PERSPECTIVE ON HOW HARD IT IS FOR HUSBANDS TO PRAY WITH THEIR WIVES SOMETIMES – http://respectedhusband.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/praying-with-your-wife/
ANOTHER RESOURCE
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/11/hes-just-not-a-spiritual-leade.html?utm_source=hermeneutics&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=12202499&utm_content=145747842&utm_campaign=2012#.UMpCmqYlwVE.email

Finding God’s Victory over Bitterness

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Yesterday, we looked at many of the causes, signs and consequences of bitterness – if you missed that post, you can find it here.

I have discovered that I have to dig down deeply and examine all of my angry thoughts, write down exactly why I am upset and then compare my thoughts to the truth of God’s Word and trash the things I am thinking and believing that aren’t true. (But I need to throw away the list of wrongs I have suffered after I have examined them!)  I also need to identify all of my sinful reactions and repent of each individual sin towards each individual person and memory that contains the smallest root of bitterness.  I realize now that even old memories from long ago need to be uprooted and inspected for hidden traces of bitterness to get all of that before God and remove even the smallest particles – or it will fester.  I lay still before God on the operating table as He opens up my heart and examines every dark crevice. I need God to renew my mind by the power of His truth and His Word.  I must take each thought captive for Christ and allow Him to examine my heart and mind and extract every offensive way in me.  I desperately need time in His Word daily and time in confession of my own myriads of sins daily and time praising and thanking Him. I pray we will be sensitive to God’s Spirit and able to hear His voice:

  • pride – “I am better than so and so.”  “I would NEVER do what he/she did.”  “I am so much more spiritually mature than him.”  I have to ALWAYS be on the lookout for pride.  God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6 Pride is a HUGE source of fuel for bitterness in my heart.  “I deserve better.”  “I know better than her what we should do.”  “I am not that sinful.”  “He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.”  “I am above THAT sin.”  “He/she is SO spiritually weak to fall into THAT temptation.”  “That is unforgivable.  I will NOT forgive that!”
  • ungodly motives – I am VERY SINFUL and wicked on my own.  I am in desperate need of Jesus! I have to constantly check WHY I want to do things and allow God to expose sin, pride, desire for glory for myself, selfishness, and many other sins!  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9  I can easily be blind to my own sinful motives.  I need God to show me my sin, and other believers and other people to tell me the sin they see in me.
  • unforgiveness – Jesus commands us to forgive so that God will forgive us.  Matthew 6:14-15  Unforgiveness is HUGE sin in the  sight of our holy God.
  • gossip – usually born from my pride and wanting to prove how much better I am than someone.  MORE PRIDE!  Gossip is part of the fruit of the flesh, it is NEVER of God!  What are my motives when I am sharing stories about others?  Am I looking out for their best and for God’s glory?  Or am I trying to make them look bad and make myself look wise,  am I trying to hurt the person and ruin his/her reputation and turn others against them or using their sins/errors for entertainment?
  • fear – I need to think about God’s Word and that perfect love drives out all fear, and that the only One I truly need to fear is God – “what can man do to me?”  If I have God’s power in me and His Spirit filling me, He will give me the strength, courage and wisdom to handle another person’s sin in His way for His glory.  I don’t have to be afraid of another person’s attempts to control me, their disapproval, their unkind words, their anger.  If I am paralyzed by fear, I am not trusting God.  I have a lack of faith in His sovereignty and power to work in my life.  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6  I don’t have to be swayed by sinful attempts of others to control me.  I don’t have to get upset or react sinfully myself.  I am no longer a slave to sin!  Now I am a slave to Christ!  I may calmly respond in the power of the Holy Spirit and refuse to cooperate with sin and ask God to give me His love for them. (If someone is violent towards you or threatening you physical harm, please do not trust your safety to them.  You may need to get away, may need to involve the police.  Please find godly, local, experienced counsel if you are in physical danger!)  I can forgive, but I don’t have to trust until the person earns my trust back.  But I need to desire to work towards reconciliation as far as it depends on me and God working in me.
  • idolatry – wanting people’s approval, wanting to please people, wanting people to think I am perfect, expecting other people to make me be happy, demanding things of others, insisting on MY will, MY way, MY desires, MY goals, MY needs, MY feelings of being loved…  If I am giving other people power over my emotions and feelings and believing evil things they say, but ignoring what God’s Word says – I have a big problem!   It is what GOD says that matters – not what others say!  If their opinions and statements and condemnation don’t line up with scripture – I don’t hang onto their words! Just because someone says something about me, does not mean it is true.  It is up to me to take that statement to God and His Word and examine it.  There is no reason to blindly swallow poison from other people. If that person could act in spiritual maturity, love and wisdom – he/she would!  But right now that person may be held captive by sin or by the enemy – and may not be able to be the person God desires them to  be.  God may want to use me and His Spirit in me to show His love, mercy, kindness and grace to that person who is acting hatefully to draw him/her to Himself.  When others mistreat me – God is watching carefully!  There are many tests of my faith each day.  I pray we will hear God’s voice and honor Him!  My reaction to others’ sin reveals my character.  Other people cannot MAKE me fly into a rage.  God’s  Spirit is to be in control of me – not my sin nature!   If I am not seeking God’s will, His dreams, His goals, His presence, His righteousness, His Word, His power and His pleasure – I may be dealing with idolatry.
  • undealt with sin – if someone sinned against me, but I didn’t go to them in love and truth and tell them that they hurt me, I was wrong.  It is my responsibility to tell someone (calmly) if they wrong me.

Martha Pearce in The Excellent Wife has a chart  of Bitter Thoughts and Kind, Tender-hearted, Forgiving thoughts to replace the bitter thought.    This same concept can be applied to ANY relationship.  What a fantastic place to start!

She lists many of  the bitter thoughts wives think, and replaces it with a truth from scripture and with a kind thought.  What a  GREAT way to counter bitterness and find victory in Christ!

Verses she used for the godly thoughts:

Matthew 18:32-33, Matthew 19:6

Romans 8:28-29

I Corinthians 4:4-8, I Corinthians 6:11, I Corinthians 10:13

Colossians 3:2, 14

Ephesians 4

Philippians 2:3-4

I Peter 3:9

James 1:5

I John 1:9

SOME INSIGHTS FROM A FRIEND THIS WEEK:

I realized several things:

1. I am SO quick to get angry
2. My anger and bitterness toward them is not just about this one incident-this is just one more incident that can be added to the long list of wrongs that I’ve been keeping 🙁
3. The beauty of Christ cannot be seen in me if I’m pouting and angry
4. I need to forgive these people and treat them kindly
5. I have absolutely no desire in my flesh to do that right now
6. I desperately need the Lord to bring me to that place!
April, I think your right in saying bitterness is progressive, and just recently learned that forgiveness can also be progressive. In Tim Keller’s Galatians study, there’s chapter on forgiveness. This has been very helpful to me, and I think it can be applied to bitterness as well since they seem to go hand in hand. He states:
  “When someone has wronged you, it means they owe you; they have a debt with you. Forgiveness is to absorb the cost of the debt yourself. You pay the price yourself, and you refuse to exact the price out of the person in any way. Forgiveness means you free the person from penalty for a sin by paying the price yourself.
  
   Realize that forgiveness is granted (often for a long time) before it is felt. Forgiveness is not primarily a feeling, but a set of actions and disciplines. Forgiveness is a promise NOT to exact the price of the sin from the person who wronged you. This promise means a repeated set of ‘payments’ in which you relinquish revenge. It is hard, and (for a while) constant. If this promise is kept actively, eventually the feeling of anger subsides.”
 
   He goes on to quote Dan Hamilton from his book Forgiveness: “Forgiveness is to deal with our emotions by sending them away- by denying ourselves the dark pleasures of venting them or fondling them in our minds.”  “Once upon a time I was engaged to a young woman who changed her mind. I forgave her…but only in small sums over a year…They were made whenever I spoke to her and refrained from rehearsing the past, whenever I renounced  jealousy and self-pity, whenever I saw her with another man, whenever I praised her to others when I wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments- but she never saw them. And her own payment was unseen by me…but I do know that she forgave me…Forgiveness is more than a matter of refusing to hate someone. It is also a matter of choosing to demonstrate love and acceptance to the offender…Pain is the consequence of sin; there is no easy way to deal with it. Wood, nails, and pain are the currency of forgiveness, the love that heals.”
 
WOW! How powerful is that??? Sisters, I just wonder how quickly the bitterness we’re harboring would fade away if we would begin absorbing the costs ourselves. To refuse to dwell on past hurts, to take every thought captive the moment they pop into our head, to release the offender from our high expectations, to not find our satisfaction in the approval of men, to choose to show love to those that hurt us, to remember Christ absorbed the costs of our debts… There are so many ways to make payments…and it’s so HARD! But freedom awaits us on the other side of it! I pray that the Lord will soften my heart and bring me to the place where I am delighted to make the payments, where I LOOK for ways to do it, because I know there’s no way I can do it in my own power!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
We will explore more about forgiveness and victory over bitterness tomorrow!  I am SO excited to share God’s wisdom and His path to freedom, joy, peace and abundant life!

Baby Steps

This is an email from a wife (with her permission) – I think it may be very encouraging to those of you who are beginning the journey to become a godly wife – to learn to submit to and respect your husband and most of all to ultimately learn to reverence and submit to Christ!
Thank you for asking….I think I am good…I continue to work on respecting my husband and being patient.  The respecting part really has been a pretty smooth transition for me…it is the patience and making sure that my prayers for my husband are not  intended for my own gain…(not for what I want him to change but) that I am actually praying for my husband’s leadership and growth.  This is the hardest part for me…
Some success stories from the past week:
1. We went to the local grocery store on Saturday morning…never would have been my choice but DH wanted to.…the place was a mad house to say the least…now in the past the trip very likely could have become stressful.
I held my tongue and allowed DH to choose things without my comments on the cost, brand or quantity.  As we went to checkout  DH chose the self-checkout…again not my first choice due to all the produce we had in the cart…not fun to enter all those individual codes. Typically I would have jumped in and took over…I am far the superior cashier:)  But instead I walked to the end of the lane and did not say a word besides helping to bag and contain our six year old. 
I was amazed to watch as my husband calmly went through the items in the cart, he actually figured it all out without my help:)  As we walked out of the store I complimented him on his check out skills…I swear I witnessed him almost stand taller…he smiled and laughed and said,  “I did well, didn’t I?”
Ok, so I know this is minor in the whole picture of things but the thing that stuck out in my mind is how this very minor incident set the tone for our whole dayDH walked away feeling good and it stayed with us all for hours.  Now in the past we would have not been in a full argument or anything but we both could have walked away feeling stressed and irritated with each other due to my need to try and take over the situation.
2. We live in a very small neighborhood and our neighbors are good friends.   DH and I try to do date night every couple of months but truthfully the cost of the babysitter can deter us from going out at times.  I started thinking last week – why do we all just keep sitting around on Saturday night in our separate houses attempting to entertain our children when we could pool our resources and give everyone a little break.  So I first asked DH if he was on board….typically I would have planned and then told him what I was up to….he agreed to my little plan.
I talked with the other wives in the neighborhood with small children and now we have scheduled date night for all couples for the next three months with free babysitting….here is how it works…we picked a Saturday in December that is free for all families…one family is designated as the stay home couple…the other two couples are free to spend a Saturday evening however they desire.  The stay home couple will provide dinner, entertainment (which truthfully with our kiddos is only supervision at this point they entertain each other), movie and snacks.  We picked numbers out of a hat….we picked the first night home.  DH comment when I told him, “You may just end up saving everyone’s marriage, this is one of your best ideas yet:)
3. I think the other thing that sticks out in my mind over the last couple of weeks is how many times in the past I have pressured and stressed about the time it was taking my husband to make a decision when truthfully he was just thinking it over in his own way.  I cannot tell you how many times I have asked my DH in the last few weeks a question, not a big decision ie, “What time do you want to leave for my parents on Thanksgiving.?”  My husband will respond, “I am not sure let me think about it.”  I have in the past gotten frustrated and impatient, really how hard is this.  Now I catch myself, remind myself that this is just how he is processes and let it go.  So much more peaceful on both of our ends…and the world has not even come to an end:)

If You Are Getting Stuck

The times I have gotten stuck on my journey to obey God’s Word as a wife and to totally submit to Him in my entire life, including my marriage and to learn His design for me to respect and submit to my husband – there is usually one or more of the following going on:

  • bitterness – I am hanging on to resentment and unforgiveness.  When I do this, I forfeit God’s Holy Spirit abiding in me and empowering me.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a godly wife and to live in constant fellowship with Christ if I am cherishing ANY sin in my heart.  I MUST sincerely, humbly and deeply repent.
  • pride – I start thinking I know best.  I know better than God.  I know better than God’s Word.  I know better than my husband.  I should be the one in control.  I’d do a much better job than my husband at leading.  He’s messing everything up.
  • lack of faith in God or my husband – without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  And without faith in my husband, it is impossible for me to show respect to him in a way that will mean anything to him.
  • idolatry – I started looking to other things besides Christ for my fulfillment, contentment and happiness.  THIS IS VERY EASY TO DO!  I have to CONSTANTLY check my motives.  WHY am I doing what I am doing?  Am I really doing this to honor God?  Or am I doing it to try to control my husband and make him love me more?  Am I doing this to try to force my husband to make me feel loved?  Am I doing this because I love God with all my heart, want to know Him more and want to obey Him?  Or am I doing the respect thing because I want to try to CONTROL God?  Motive matter GREATLY to our husbands and to God.
  • self-righteousness – I start thinking I am better than my husband.  This is sin!

BROKENNESS

If I do not start from a place of total humility and brokenness – weeping over the magnitude of my own sin in God’s sight – I still have a lot more repenting to do.

It is only when I am utterly humble and contrite before God and tear down all my idols and all my false understanding of him and of myself that I can please Him.  I have to see how utterly spiritually poor, impoverished and critically ill I am to be in the right place.

I must be willing to lay everything down on the altar and sacrifice it to Jesus.  I have to die to myself – willingly.

If there is something that I am holding back from Him and afraid to trust Him about – I have an idol – and I have a lot more work to do.

His perfect love drives out all fear.  The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.

THEN…

The power of God will begin to move in my own heart in extremely powerful ways.

God’s power is fiercely strong in me when I look to Him to be the only source of my identity, the only source of my joy, the only source of my strength and the only purpose in my life.  I must want His will much more than my own – even if I don’t know exactly what His will might involve.  I trust Him.

My highest goal is to bring honor and glory to my Lord.

This is the secret of contentment, joy, peace and abundant life!

THE LITMUS TEST

If I am acting in my own strength and have sin in my heart, I will see multiple characteristics of the flesh predominantly in my heart on a daily basis – and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:19-21):

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hatred
  • discord
  • jealousy
  • fits of rage
  • selfish ambition
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
  • and the like

If I have things in my heart from the above list, I have either not accepted the gift of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord – or I am not living with Him as Lord.  I have grieved His Spirit and am clinging to sin more than to Jesus.

If His Spirit is in charge – I will see ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in my life daily and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • gentleness
  • self-control
  • no envy
  • no boasting
  • no rudeness
  • no pride
  • no self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • keep no record of wrongs suffered
  • forgiveness  (unforgiveness = wickedness, the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a great debt, and then the servant wouldn’t forgive his fellow servant a small debt – the master called him, “You wicked servant!”)
  • no delight in evil  (ie: unforgiveness, idolatry, control, pride, selfishness, lust and gossip)
  • rejoice with the truth
  • I protect my husband
  • I trust my husband (or want to move towards being able to rebuild trust) and even more, I trust my Lord
  • I hope in my husband and my Lord
  • I always persevere in my marriage by God’s strength

When I am living in the power of God’s Spirit – these things on this list will be a daily reality and become normal.  God does this.  I cannot do these things AT ALL on my own.  I just have to be plugged in to His power source, spending time in His Word, surrendering my heart, yielding my life completely and without reservation, praying constantly, praising Him constantly, meditation on His Word all throughout the day.

This is what a “normal” Christian life is supposed to look like!

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