Meditation–LOVING OUR WIVES AS CHRIST COMMANDS

Jesus Christ was very clear regarding marriage, that God had created male and female, that the two would become one flesh, and that, while equal spiritually in God’s eyes, they were designed differently for different and complementary roles. The husband’s role is to be spiritual leader, protector, and provider. He was commanded by God to submit his will to Jesus Christ. As the husband submits to Christ, he can lead his wife properly, so she can submit to her husband as to the Lord. God’s equation works; man’s sinful nature defiles perfection. Praise God that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence, model Christian marriage on a world stage.

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Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?


“In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”  — Ephesians 5:28 (NET)

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” — Colossians 3:19 (ESV)

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE AND HIS WIFE KAREN, the U.S. Second Lady, have modeled grace and Christian faith while serving their country at the  highest levels of political power.

As a man who lives his life by biblical values, including the value of loving and honoring his wife, the Vice President does not meet with women without his wife being present.J.37.Marriage-Pence

That practice, called “the Billy Graham rule,” is followed by other Christian men. The Christian pastor and author Max Lucado often references that  rule for his own life.

The famed evangelist, Rev. Franklin Graham, has encouraged the faithful to pray for our leaders and that the Lord will raise up Bible-believing Christians to serve at all levels of government, from the White House to the most local water district and school board. We also are called to pray for their staff aides to be faithful to the Lord’s teaching.

By all human measures, the Pence family serves as a national reminder of what that call looks like. As believers, we can be very proud of their service.

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BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH, we should not be surprised that the Pence family comes under attack, both for serving the Lord and for serving each other in honoring their marriage. (We’ll look at the attacks against them for serving the Lord in another post; this post focuses on their Christian marriage.)

Today, between one-third and one-half of all new marriages will end in divorce, 64. Perfectly_Onedepending on the information source one finds, and those figures do not include the couples whose marriages remain legally binding while the spirit of love and cooperation has diminished.

One law-based source placed the average age of divorce as between 25 and 34, with the majority of divorces occurring within the first seven years of marriage.

Here’s what one former Pence staff aide, a woman, said of working with Pence when he was a congressman: “This is by no means a partisan issue. Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, independent or couldn’t care less, if you choose to prioritize your marriage and esteem your family while faithfully carrying out public service, you should be praised.”

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THE BIBLE, GOD’S HOLY WORD, is very clear about marriage and the man’s role in this institution: men are to love and honor their wives. (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Peter 3:7)

64. Man-Woman-CreatedYes, the Bible also says women are to honor and respect their husbands and submit to their authority but only as their husbands obey God’s command to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Peter 3:1).

That means the husbands are supposed to follow Jesus Christ, and then they can lead their wives spiritually. When husbands do that, their wives can submit to them, as to the Lord.

The key is that husbands go first, then their wives can respond in safety and flourish as women, protected and honored.

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GOD WANTS MEN to love their wives. That message permeates the Bible from the moment God created woman and presented her to Adam to be a “suitable helper” (or ezer kenegdothrough the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles in the New Testament.

The Bible says, “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her” — Genesis 24:67 (NASB).

Evangelist Billy Graham said in his article on marriage and the home:

“I do not see how your home can be truly and deeply happy unless Christ is the center of your home. If you are having difficulties and irritations and problems in your home, bring them to Christ.” (Billy Graham, “A Christ-Centered Home,” Decision, Sept. 2018, pp. 34-37).

The apostle Peter, in reminding us that men are to live with their wives “in an understanding way, showing honor” emphasizes that husbands must treat their wives as *spiritual equals* while recognizing they are *physically and emotionally vulnerable* “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7 ESV, emph mine)

“So that your prayers may not be hindered.” Those are God’s words spoken through the apostle Peter and addressed to every married man.  God holds husbands to account for the way they treat their wives. He promises He will not hear their prayers if they mistreat their wives.

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GOD HAS PLACED A GREAT BURDEN on husbands to be the spiritual leaders, p72.Family_Bible_Studyroviders, and protectors of their families. He also has given husbands the strength and guidance of Jesus Christ to help them shoulder that load.

Those men who try to manage without the leadership and encouragement that only God’s Holy Spirit can provide are bound to fail. Even those who routinely call on the Lord will struggle. We are human, and this life is pre-glory.

When we see elevated to high status a God-fearing man and woman who are committed to serving the Lord first, then each other second, and then to attend to their families, friends, and the wider community third, we ought to thank God for His grace and mercy and show our respect for the couple.

We are not to worship the couple nor place them on a pedestal — that is idolatry, but we are to respect them and thank God for them.

As a result, we can see them as models for our lives. As the apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (GW):

“Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”


PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, You have been so graciously good to us, creating us, loving us, and 50. Open_Biblecalling us as Your own, even sending Your Son to pay our sin debt. Lord, in my role as a husband, would You help me love and honor my wife, whom You gave me, knowing that she is equal spiritually in Your eyes, Father, but emotionally and physically vulnerable, needing my loving protection. Lord, help me lead her spiritually, as I submit my will to the leadership of Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord! In His name. AMEN


Questions for Personal Meditation and Small Group Discussion:
    1. Can you see that God has created man and woman to be spiritual equals but gifted them differently so they would complement one another in marriage, becoming one flesh? Can you see that God has assigned men to lead their wives and families spiritually, as well as protect them and provide for them?
    2. How seriously do you take God’s statement through Peter that He will not listen to an unfaithful husband’s prayers? Can you see that if God is not listening to your prayers (or your husband’s prayers), the fault lies with the husband’s lack of faithfulness, both to his wife and to the Lord?
    3. Can you see the great importance God places on godly, biblically sound marriage that He would raise up a Christian husband and wife to global significance? Can you see the devil’s attempts to discredit God’s perfect design through personal attacks against the Vice President and Second Lady?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? If so, please indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

 

Meditation—BEING BOLD FOR GOD

While most of us in our walk with Christ know we are called to be His witnesses in this life – both in our actions and in our words – some of us may find the commandment not to be the privilege it was intended to be but a burden, one best left to others – *paid church staff*, for example. For those who feel the burden, let’s pray that God will lift that burden (heart of stone) and replace it with a sense of wonder (heart of flesh), of awe —and, yes, of privilege — to witness for the King.


Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at Twitter.

Comments welcomed. Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion. Why not forward this blog post to a relative, friend, or neighbor who might be blessed by it?


  • “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” — Acts 4:31 (NASB)
  • “Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” — Proverbs 16:3 (NCV)
  • “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” — John 8:11 (NIV)

GOD CALLS US TO BE BOLD IN SHARING OUR FAITH.

We know this because the Bible is filled with Divine admonitions to walk in faith, to 56. Prayer_corporate-prayerspeak with gentleness, be slow to anger, be ready at all times to explain the joy that is in our hearts, love and forgive others, and store up our treasures in Heaven, where the moths won’t destroy it and thieves won’t take it away.

Yes, we can recite those commandments, but what do they look like in our everyday lives?

After all, we live in a darkened world were even the most ardent church-goers will remind us not to “push” our religion onto people or judge their sin pattern.

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RECENTLY, I ENGAGED IN TWITTER in support of Vice President and Mrs. Pence, both of whom are strong Bible-believing Christians unashamed of their faith. My tweet also thanked the Rev. Franklin Graham for his tireless defense of the Gospel and his support of the countr’s Second Couple.

Naturally, response from the Twitter-verse was swift. Most of the responses were favorable — a series of similar comment, “likes”, and some repostings. However, there always is the nay sayers who become personal in their denunciations of my tweets, referencing the Bible as “fiction,” and being relentless in their assaults. They’re like yappy little dogs who grab your pant leg and won’t let go.

All of this raises questions in my mind as to how a committed Christian should respond:

  • Counter every negative response,
  • Ask a question in return, exposing the commenters’ lack of faith, or
  • Ignore all of it after posting the original tweet.

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FORTUNATELY, I TRIED TO STAY IN PRAYER and live out the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I figured if I maintained patience and prayed for wisdom – all of which the Bible counsels us to do – God’s Spirit would reveal a better response on my part than I would come up with given my initial instinct.J. Woman.Adultery

The Spirit revealed to me that I should act with the same grace and mercy that Jesus displayed in John 8, when He was confronted with a woman the Jewish elders had *caught* in the act of adultery. Jewish law said that adulterers – both the male and the female – were to be stoned for their transgression, yet the elders only presented the female for Jesus’ rebuke.

Instead, our Lord showed grace, wanting to save a lost soul – the wanton woman’s – over meting out justice. Perhaps He was swayed by the elders’ failure to produce the male culprit and saw the trap for what it was. Until we’re in glory, we’re unlikely to know what it was He wrote in the dust with His finger, but it could have been the entire citation in Leviticus 20:10 that condemned *both* parties, not just the more vulnerable one.

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IN THE END, that’s what I decided to do: Find a way in each of my comments to model grace rather than unleash my rapier-like retorts designed to draw the commenters’ blood.

J33.God Holds Our HandsBeing bold for the Gospel clearly required showing grace and mercy and trying, as best I could, to direct the adversary’s thoughts toward the Holy Word of God.

Let His light be the judge of our conversation. Let His grace cover the commenters’ sinful/hurtful thoughts. Let His love turn the commenters’ heart from stone to flesh.

Being bold for the Gospel does not mean that I am taking the authoritative position that Jesus took in His ministry. He is divine and human; I am only human.

Being bold for the Gospel, for me, means turning the other person’s attention over to the Messiah.

Isn’t that what Paul advised us to do in 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT)?

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”

PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, we rejoice that You have been so good to us, showering Your grace, 50. Open_BibleYour mercy, Your forgiveness, and Your love on us, even though we, in our sin, do not deserve anything but Your judgment and wrath. Quicken our hearts, O Lord, to seek after You and Your truth and then display that truth in our actions and words with those You place in our lives. Lord, bless those who persecute us. Claim their lives for righteousness. Claim them for Yourself. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN


Questions for Personal Meditation or Small Group Discussion:

1) How do you envision being bold for the Gospel? Does God call you to witness to others about your faith? If not, why do you suppose that is? Have you taken the Gospel into your heart in a personal way, or have you been content simply with listening to the message of love and hope and assuming that was enough?

2) When you witness for the Gospel, what techniques or practices work best for you? What don’t work? Do you rely on God’s Holy Spirit to guide you, or do you handle this by yourself under your own power? Have you seen a different result between those approaches? Why do you think relying on God’s power over yours leads to a better outcome?

3) Do you consider it a privilege to witness for the Lord Jesus in your personal life? Or, do you see His command to be His witnesses to be a burden that needlessly complicates your life and is best left to the professionals, however you define them?

4) Do you think your response — consider it a privilege versus a burden — may reflect your own relationship to the Lord? If you see witnessing as a burden, could you pray today for the Lord to lift that burden and fill your heart with the grace necessary to share His Gospel?


Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you? If so, please indicate in the Comment field. God bless!

Meditation–GRACE TO ACCEPT FORGIVENESS

Accepting forgiveness takes humility. Yes, extending forgiveness and seeking forgiveness also require humility, the yielding of selfish pride to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone, but accepting forgiveness it when it’s offered also requires a yielding of pride. We must expose our vulnerability to another person, one who is aggrieved by us and is emotionally upset by our actions or comments. We must be forgiven both by God and by man, not just one of them. Both extending forgiveness and seeking forgiveness require humility, but accepting forgiveness also requires humility … perhaps why God insists on forgiveness.

Find blog posts at LoveAndGrace … tweets at Twitter.

Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.

  • “Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” — Psalm 32:5 (NLT)
  • “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”  — James 5:16 (CSB)
  • “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.” — Psalms 32:1 (NCV)

 

THE BIBLE TELLS US TO SEEK FORGIVENESS FROM BOTH GOD AND MAN.

God will forgive the eternal consequences of our sin when we confess our sin to Him and repent of (turn away from) our sinful behavior. But He says  His forgiveness is not enough. We also must seek forgiveness from others — family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends — whom we have wronged.53. man-power-of-prayer

Forgiveness is a healing process, both for the one asking forgiveness and for the one granting it. The one asking forgiveness must humble himself to admit wrongdoing — the one forgiving must humble himself to reach beyond the hurt he suffered to extend grace.

There’s a third component: accepting forgiveness when it’s offered. With our veneer of pride, that can be a tough one.

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ONLY THE SIN OF HUMAN PRIDE keeps us from granting, seeking, or accepting forgiveness. Failure to grant, seek, or accept forgiveness keeps the hurt inside, building up into a rage that is neither healthy nor helpful.

When we fail to grant forgiveness to another, that becomes our sin toward that person because we stop the healing process, and we need to ask forgiveness for that failure.

When we fail to seek forgiveness from another, that also becomes our sin toward that person because it keeps the grievance alive. We need to ask for forgiveness for that sin, too.

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FAILURE TO ACCEPT FORGIVENESS when it’s offered also is a sin against the person with whom we’ve had conflict.

Failing to forgive, failing to seek forgiveness, and failing to accept forgiveness form a repeating cycle.

God offers us a way to break that cycle. It’s called “grace.” He offers grace to us and commands us to offer grace to others … to offer forgiveness, to ask for forgiveness, and to accept forgiveness.

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WHY NOT ASK GOD for His help in asking forgiveness from someone … and for extending it to someone, even if he or she has not asked for it? While you’re at it, why not ask Him to help you accept someone else’s forgiveness of your sins against him/her?

Whether you need to ask for forgiveness or you need to grant it or you need to accept it, could you pray with me and other readers of this post the following prayer, asking God to speak into our hearts His message of forgiveness and grace?

Here’s God’s promise if you do: “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.” — Psalms 32:1 (NCV)


PRAYER

O Gracious and Merciful LORD, we confess our sin to You of human pride. We want to live our lives the way we want to to satisfy our desires, not the desires You have planted in our hearts. We confess that all too often we love our sinful ways, even though we cause hurt to others and to ourselves. Change our hearts, O LORD, from hearts that love sin to hearts that love God’s grace. Then, LORD, help us to extend that grace to others needing grace from us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Questions for Personal Meditation or Group Discussion:
  1. Do you need to ask someone close to you for their forgiveness for something you said or did that hurt them? Do you hesitate to do so because you don’t think you did anything wrong? Do you hesitate because that person also said or did something that upset you? When someone offers forgiveness to you, do you find it difficult to accept?
  2. Can you see where this cycle leads? Failure to forgive, failure to seek forgiveness, and failure to accept forgiveness keep the personal grievance alive. Both sins stem from our sinful pride. Can you see that sin for what it is?
  3. Does your hesitation to extend forgiveness — or to seek and accept forgiveness — show you the grace and mercy of a loving God who forgives you when you repent? Can you understand that your sin with God goes only one way? You sin against Him, but He does not sin against you, yet with our fellow man, the sin goes in two directions? How amazing is it that God is so willing to forgive us?

PRAYER

50. Open_BibleO Gracious and Merciful LORD, we confess our sin to You of human pride. We want to live our lives the way we want to to satisfy our desires, not the desires You have planted in our hearts. We confess that all too often we love our sinful ways, even though we cause hurt to others and to ourselves. Change our hearts, O LORD, from hearts that love sin to hearts that love God’s grace. Then, LORD, help us to extend that grace to others needing grace from us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Questions for Personal Meditation or Group Discussion:
  1. Do you need to ask someone close to you for their forgiveness for something you said or did that hurt them? Do you hesitate to do so because you don’t think you did anything wrong? Do you hesitate because that person also said or did something that upset you? When someone offers forgiveness to you, do you find it difficult to accept?
  2. Can you see where this cycle leads? Failure to forgive and failure to seek forgiveness both keep the personal grievance alive. Both sins stem from our sinful pride. Can you see that sin for what it is?
  3. Does your hesitation to extend forgiveness — and to seek forgiveness — show you the grace and mercy of a loving God who forgives you when you repent? Can you understand that your sin with God goes only one way? You sin against Him, but He does not sin against you, yet with each other, the sin goes in two directions? How amazing is it that God is so willing to forgive us?

Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?

If so, just indicate in the Comment field. God bless!