Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some Good Spiritual RX

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
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 go on the heights.
For the director of music.
On my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 3:16-19
Too many of us have too many reasons for our hearts to pound, our lips to quiver, and our knees to knock. And how many times lately have we heard, "It's only going to get worse?" But please don't be dismayed. Remember how God provided Paul and Silas with a song in the night when they were in the deepest darkest dungeon (Acts 16)? I may have found the song they were singing this morning in the verses above from Habakkuk. Habakkuk sings his prayer in chapter 3 with the accompaniment of stringed instruments. A closer look at this chapter, particularly verses 16-19, reveals how Paul and Silas could sing, even without a guitar, despite their hard place. That means we can, too.

I especially am encouraged that GOD will make us walk (not to stand in terror but to walk) and move forward in spiritual growth upon our high places, which are our troubles, suffering, or responsibility. Each of us has our own mix of heartache, suffering and responsibility. God is telling us here that we make the most progress when being thankful for our salvation is on the top of our prayer list. Even though things are going on that make our "hearts pound and legs tremble," (vs 16) there is no reason to fear. Our Sovereign LORD is our our strength, our own personal bravery, and invincible army. God does his best work amidst chaos. And the nation invading us--Satan and his team of demons--has a day of calamity coming soon. The best is yet to come. I love you all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

God's Pattern for Living

Christmas is really
God's pattern for living
to be followed all year
by unselfish giving -
For in giving to others
and in being kind
We may discover
true peace of mind -
And peace on earth
will come to stay
When we all live Christmas
every day.
Helen Steiner Rice
I pray the hope found in celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior will fill your listening heart with love, joy, and peace now and forever more. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Respecting our Husbands

Respect yourself and others will respect you.
--Confucius (551 BC to 479 BC)

Respect a man, he will do the more.
--James Howell

Ephesians 5: 33 says, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” This verse brought up one of life’s big questions in Sunday school yesterday. How does a wife obey this command and respect a husband who does not fulfill his duties and makes decisions that hurt his family? This question inspired my blog today.

Respect is something everyone wants, not many have, and few want to give. Most husbands would appreciate receiving a little bit of respect from their wives, and most wives should make efforts to show some more respect. For the most part respect is not clearly understood. What does the word reverence mean here? To know what something means in the New Testament we have to look up the word and see what it is in Greek. For reverence the Greek word is phobeo—to frighten, to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, i.e. revere. You probably recognize this is where we get our word “phobia” from, which means an irrational or excessive fear of something. This is where the meaning of reverence gets confusing—this combination of fear and awe. The Webster’s definition of reverence is: a feeling or attitude of deep respect; love, and awe, as for something sacred; veneration. The Webster’s definition of respect is: a) to feel or show honor or esteem for; hold in high regard b) to consider or treat with deference or dutiful regard.

Jesus died for husbands and wives; this makes husbands and wives sacred. And since reverence is a feeling and an attitude, we should start by loving the way Christ loves us—unconditionally. And for ways to show honor and esteem for our husbands requires wisdom. If we lack wisdom, God promises in James 1:5-6 to give it to us if we ask without doubting.

But before we can figure out ways to obey God’s command to respect our husbands, the definition of submission needs to be cleared up, too. Submission has nothing to do with the order of authority, but rather governs the operation of authority. When Jesus washed the disciples feet, he taught them that the greatest is the person who uses his authority to build up people and not, like the Pharisees, to build up his authority and make himself important. We are to esteem others above ourselves (Phil. 2:1-4). By nature, we want to promote ourselves, but the Holy Spirit enables us to submit ourselves. The root of most marital problems is sin, and the root of all sin is selfishness. Submission to Christ and to one another is the only way to overcome selfishness, for when we submit, the Holy Spirit can fill us and enable us to love one another in a sacrificial, sanctifying, satisfying way—the way Christ loves the church. (from Warren Wiersbe's Be Rich)

I say we should K.I.S.S. the challenge of showing reverence to our husbands (Keep It Simple Sister). And since reverence has to do mostly with feelings and attitudes, we can start by changing our mindset. Changing the way we think will naturally move us into Christ honoring action. We also need to remember that husbands can read us like a book, even when we don’t say a word. Here are a few questions we can prayerfully ask ourselves to begin improving our feelings and attitudes towards reverencing our husbands (inspiration from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13):

What kind thing can I do for my husband today?
How can I lay aside my pride today?
How can I communicate without nagging?
Can I be a help with running our household without a reward or requiring something in return?
Can I point out a good quality in him and praise him for it, while keeping no record of wrongs?
How can I use my Christ given authority to build him up?
Can I think of ways to act selfless and actually do them?
How can I protect my marriage?
Do I trust God in my marriage, always hoping and persevering?
Have I submitted to Christ by spending time alone listening through prayer and Bible Study so he can guide me in my marriage (true listening requires obeying what you learn during study)?

Marriage problems do not improve overnight, but God is great at cleaning up our messes. He needs our cooperative obedience, however, to work his miracles. If we do our part, he will bless us and take care of us even if our husbands refuse to obey God. It is interesting to note that obedience is a synonym of respect. So let's revere God and our husbands by working hard at applying God's commands to everyday life. Application of God’s word is not an easy endeavor, but the rewards are priceless.