Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God,
the faithful God
who keeps covenant and steadfast love
with those who love him and keep his commandments,
to a thousand generations,

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Submission - As To The Lord

Continuing in a look at Ephesians 5:22-24, we need to consider what is meant by "submit".

Such a word and concept is so contrary to our world’s thinking, which is "what have you done for me lately?" I think it was Michael Jackson’s sister, Janet, that sang a song like that. Sadly, that kind of thinking will kill a marriage. It is completely antithetical to God… and Jesus.

Christ’s way is one of service, denial of self for the betterment of another. That’s what Paul is talking about here in Ephesians 5. The word used for submission is hupotasso… "to be in subjection…to put onself under another".. to place your own desires, needs, wants and ways, second… and place someone else’s desires, needs, wants and ways first. This is tough, because it goes against every fibre of our natural man. It is a spiritual battle, and as a result, this means you must fight hard to work at this.

I found it interesting as I studied this word, hupotasso, subjection, that it is a word used to describe Jesus… and it is one of the few words used when God specifically addresses women and wives. Colossians 3:18 echoes Ephesians 5:22. Titus 2:5 tells women to "to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored." 1 Peter 3:1 says, "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives," and 1 Corinthians 14:34 also talks to women about speaking, telling them to "subject themselves, just as the Law also says."

Obviously, this is important to God. Obviously, it is difficult for us to do, since He needs to say this over and over and over in scripture. But if we believe God’s word to be the truth, then we need to seriously work at submitting.

When you go to the heart of how to have an incredible marriage, I think you can boil it down to these 2 things… your walk with God and your submission to your husband. For me, problems generally begin when one of those 2 areas is slipping. If I haven’t spent time in God’s word and in prayer, if I’m being disobedient to God or walking in a sinful habit, this kind of behavior takes its toll on our marriage and I find repenting and turning to God for help is the only way to change things for the better.

In the same way, if I start focusing on me, and my way, and my desire, and me, me, me… again, trouble up ahead. As soon as I take my eyes off me, our marriage has a chance again.

Whether it’s in the bedroom, or in the kitchen, in areas of finance or extended family, parenting, recreation, ministry… all these areas of our lives are opportunities for us, as wives, to submit to our husbands as to the LORD. And in that light, we don’t want to miss those opportunities.

Marriage and submissive wives are God's ideas, and His ways are perfect. We may not always understand them… in fact, we may often wonder at them… but the Bible tells us that God’s wisdom far exceeds man’s wisdom, and so we are fools to disregard what He has told us to do.

P.S. Let us pray for each other as we strive to be obedient in this regard. Like I said, this is a spiritual battle, but it is a campaign that we must mount, and with our Lord's strength through the Holy Spirit, we are promised victory in our marriages.

Monday, July 10, 2006

As To The LORD

The following is an edited excerpt of a devotional I prepared for a bridal shower last week. As I was working through the passage, I was struck anew with the perspective of "as to the Lord". Thought it might be beneficial for others as well.

Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For, the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands,… in everything."

In our world today, a lot of the words used in this passage are not popular: submission, the LORD, headship, the church, Savior… these are words that speak to the heart of a believer – they are, thus, unpleasant, distasteful, even foolishness for those that are perishing…

So maybe that’s where we need to start our look at "wife-ing" –What wives is God addressing? What is Paul’s audience? By looking at Ephesians 1:1 we see that Paul is writing to the saints in Ephesus: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, TO the saints who are in Ephesus, and TO the faithful in Christ Jesus."

What does that mean, "the faithful in Christ Jesus"?

First off, these are people that are "in Christ Jesus", that is, "EN CHRISTO JESU"… Literally, Paul is saying… these words I’m about to write are for those that are "through Jesus Christ"….again, what does that mean… "through Jesus Christ"? Paul goes on to explain what this means in the next 3 chapters.

Number 1, "through Christ" they HAVE UNDERSTOOD WHO GOD IS… Ephesians 3:9 says He is the creator of all things, Chapter 1:17… He is the father of glory, Chapter 1:20… He is seated in heaven, far above all earthly power, might, dominion…

Number 2, "through Christ" the people receiving this letter also UNDERSTOOD WHO THEY WERE…. Look at Chapter 2: 1…"dead in sins", Chapter 2:2, "children of disobedience", Chapter 2:3, "walking, or conducting, ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind". These people, like us, are summarized by Paul as "children of wrath" in Chapter 2:3.

These Christians in Ephesus understood that God is holy…perfect…unattainable…They knew that a sinful person cannot be in the same place as Almighty God… because sin and holiness cannot co-exist. And they understood their perilous position in light of this - any person that commits a sin has no hope of ever being with God in heaven if they have no holiness.

Enter Jesus Christ. He came to earth - God clothed in human flesh. He lived a perfect life. He died, as an innocent on the cross. And he did this, so that his holiness and perfection could substitute for our lack of holiness. This is the third aspect which the Ephesian readers understood - JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THEIR BEHALF TO PAY FOR THEIR SIN (see 1:5, 1:7, 2:1, 2:5, 2:13)

Ahh, now this makes sense… "through Jesus Christ". That’s where we can stand, when we embrace Christ as our Savior in repentance and faith.

So, how does Christ’s death and resurrection affect marriage? Well, this is the backdrop to chapter 5 when Paul starts addressing wives … "submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."

The LORD… who left the incredible beauty, serenity, peace, cleanness of heaven to come to earth and fulfill His Father’s plan.
The LORD… who endured a life on earth that was marked with service, lowliness, humility, amongst the riff-raff, to walk side by side with mankind.
The LORD… who gave up himself to face temptation from the devil, to endure bodily suffering…so that he could sympathize with our existence as humans.
The LORD… the one who hung on a cross, after enduring lashing after lashing on our behalf.
The LORD… who gave up his very last breath, so we (sinful, unholy, imperfect creatures) could have eternal life.

Suddenly, whatever this LORD asks of us, does not seem unfair. Suddenly, submission to our husbands is the very least we can do, when God tells us to do so… as unto the LORD. And suddenly we can understand why the world cannot stand the thought of "submitting to a husband".

Look again at our main verses, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. FOR the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body." God’s perfect plan is that wives first understand what Jesus did for them… this is then the context into which he places his command to submit.

Maybe, tomorrow I'll include my thoughts on submission :)

Coffee Cup Verse

Romans 11:34-36
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Coffee Cup Verse

Psalm 5:3
In the morning, O LORD,
Thou wilt hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee
and eagerly watch.