"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 24, 2018
If you have not yet read last week's devotional, I encourage you to do so, because it is an introduction to the series that I am continuing this week.
The Holy Spirit had been speaking to me about marriage; my marriage to Jon, as well as being the bride of Christ. Both marriages should mirror one another and I had been praying for clarity on what me being the bride of Jesus looked like, so that I would have a deeper understanding of what me being Jon's bride should fully look like.
Perhaps many women have felt like this, but there have been times when I have felt like I was a failure in being the wife that Jon desired and needed, but didn't know how to correct that or be a better spouse. I would pray that God would help me be a better wife, but didn't really know what all I needed to do differently; or I seemed to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
I wanted to improve, so began praying that Jesus would give me a clear picture of what me being His bride looked like and felt like, so that I would have a better understanding of what my marriage to Jon should look like and feel like. I desired to see myself, as well as feel like, a beloved and cherished bride of Jesus; and also to my husband.
I began to get a deeper understanding of scriptures and a clearer picture of what being a bride felt and looked like. It's a journey that I'm still on.
The passage of scripture that I began reading and studying was from Ephesians chapter 5. The Holy Spirit began showing me the responsibilities of both the husband and wife.
Jon and I sat down and discussed this passage of scripture. God designed marriage from very beginning when He created Adam and Eve. God designed the relationship between His Son and the Church from the very beginning. He had the same blueprint for them both to follow.
I am going to share this passage of scripture regarding God's pattern for the marriage relationship. I will be quoting from The Passion Translation, which gives it better clarity. This week I am going to be focusing on the responsibilities of the wife.
"For wives, this mean being supportive to your husbands like you are tenderly devoted to our Lord, for the husband provides leadership for the wife, just as Christ provides leadership for his church, as the Savior and Reviver of the body. In the same way the church is devoted to Christ, let the wives be devoted to their husbands in everything."
Other translations word it like this: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior."
That word "submit" tends to have a negative connotation; especially when used by men who want to put women 'in their place', or who use it arrogantly in declaring themselves as being boss and the wife having to obey. "The Bible says you have to submit to me (do whatever I tell you to do); and that I am the head of this home!" I have heard those words, sometimes jokingly and sometimes not, spoken by men over and over again throughout my life. The attitude and context in which they are said is what often sends women over the edge and makes them feel inferior. It feels as if they're being told, "I'm your boss... God says I'm your boss... and that means that you have to do whatever I say- no questions asked! So, you better submit to me and obey me, woman!"
That is never how God intended it to be between the husband and wife. He never intended for the husband to be over-bearing and full of himself, while the wife cowers in servitude.
The truth is, husbands have to take up the leadership role in a godly manner, just as Christ does as being the head of the church, which is His body. Jesus never lords it over His bride, "I'm the boss and the head over you! You better submit to me and obey, because God says you have to!" He gently leads in a way that makes His bride feel safe and want to follow Him. Jesus makes His bride feel so loved and cherished, that they desire to be wherever He is and trust that He always has their best interest at heart. Submission is not a harsh word used out of context or spoken in a dictatorial manner by Jesus to His bride. When the husband provides this type of godly leadership for his wife, then she will have a desire to follow and submit to him; just as she submissively follows Christ.
It doesn't make a wife weak, or mean that she doesn't have a mind or opinion of her own, or a lesser person than her husband, when she lives a life of submission. You can be a strong woman, yet still follow the leadership of your husband, submitting to his authority; just as you can be a strong woman of faith, yet willingly submit to the authority of Jesus as your bridegroom and the head of His church.
When the bridegroom is in love with his bride, he will always desire the best for her and she can trust his decision to be made in the best interest of them as a couple. That doesn't mean that she has to keep quiet and can't have or share her opinion when making decisions. It's good for a husband and wife to discuss both big and small decisions, because often one will have insight that the other doesn't think of.
I like to discuss options and I may change my mind the more I think about it. I like to plan and dream and consider different scenarios and choices. That drives Jon nuts! He is an engineer. Period. He likes to come up with a solution or choice, then that is what we shall do -- end of story. Then I will come and upset the apple cart with something else that I thought up...... It's not always easy for him to understand why I keep changing my mind and coming up with all these ideas when he already had it settled in his mind how it was going to be. It's not always easy for me to understand why he can't think outside the box and want to daydream with me and think of various other ways we could do something, and why he wants to stick to that one way that we had discussed.
Life with another person who is very different from ourself can sometimes be very difficult. We see things differently, think differently, want to do things differently, have different opinions and ways of wanting to do things. Sometimes it is hard to understand how our spouse's mind works and we want to change them. Too often, we want them to change, thinking that they need to conform to our idea of how they should be. We think that we, ourselves, are perfectly fine and in no need of change. Perhaps we need to embrace our differences, accepting the fact that God brought us together for a reason.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
I believe that God places men and women, who are often very different from one another, together as husband and wife in order for them to sharpen one another and make the other person better. At times we like to think that our spouse needs to be more like us, but honestly, would we truly want that... and would it be what is best for us? It's our differences that make us stronger and better as a couple. Where one succeeds, the other may be weaker in that area, and vice-versa. We strengthen one another and make the other person better for having us in their life; at least that's how it should be.
So how can I be Jon's bride in the same way that I am Jesus's bride? I support and submit to both him and Jesus in a way that is tender and devoted. I put them above anyone else and respect and support their leadership. Just as I strive to wholly devote myself to Jesus in everything, I can be wholly devoted to Jon in everything.
As wives, it would be so easy to put stipulations on these scriptures! "Well, I will do this, if he will change and take more of a leadership role and make wiser decisions! If he would have a better attitude and not be so stubborn about things, I'd submit more easily. He needs to first love me like Jesus loves His bride, then I will submit and obey these scriptures! He needs to cherish me and treat me better. I love him every bit as much as he loves me; if he wants me to love him more, then he needs to do more for me and show it more." And we could go on and on and on with excuses or justifications on why we are not fulfilling these scriptures fully and completely. Been there, done that!
I believe that sometimes couples get in a rut in their marriage, or know that things aren't going as well as they could and should be. They get into the pattern of thinking, "It's not going to get any better! They aren't ever going to change and will continue doing the same thing over and over again. It's no use saying anything or trying anymore. It is what it is, and that's how it will be."
Sometimes we need to do a heart check and asked ourselves if we are trying as hard as we should be, or as hard as we want our spouse to try. We need to ask ourself if we are following the pattern set up for brides and grooms in the Bible and living according to scripture; or are we wanting our spouse to do so, thinking it will make things easier for us to than obey the Word of God. Are we putting blame on our spouse and pointing fingers at them, instead of searching our own self and correcting issues that we have? Are we keeping records of wrongs done by our spouse so that we can use them against them at a later date? Are we harboring unforgiveness? Are we openly sharing things as they come up, work on a solution, and praying together that our relationships will be strengthened?
This week I want to end with a message to the women. Submission to your husband is not something to be feared or to cringe at. Loving and caring for him is an honor; just as following his leadership and being fully devoted to him should be your greatest hearts desire.
For those of you with children, your husband should be first in your life, not your kids. Making your husband feel as if he takes a backseat to your children is a sure way of making him feel unneeded and as if he is unimportant and unnecessary to you. Your kids need to see a mom and dad that are wholly devoted to each other, that take time for one another, that respect each other, and that have an unfailing love. Raise them to not be willing to settle for a marriage that is less than what their parents have given them as an example.
I saw an illustration recently it had four open umbrellas. The top umbrella was the largest and covered the rest, representing Jesus. The second one, underneath Jesus, was a little smaller and represented the husband; the responsibilities listed for him was to protect, lead, and provide for the family. Under his umbrella was one that was a little smaller and represented the wife. Her responsibilities listed was to comfort, teach, and nurture. Then lastly was the smallest umbrella representing the children and the responsibilities listed for them was to love and obey their parents.
I thought that was a really good representation of how the family unit should look like and really how God designed it. When you try to get your umbrellas out of order or are fighting over position, or when each person isn't fulfilling their designated responsibilities, you're going to have a mess and end up getting rained on and someone left out in the storm. The truth is, we are all under the covering of Jesus! Then the wife (and children, if there are any) should be under the covering of the husband. Lastly, the children should be under the covering of the parents.
Proverbs 31:10-11 says, "Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life."
Let's be that kind of godly wife! Let's be a wife that enriches our bridegrooms life, making him a better man for having us as his bride. Let's show our husband that he can trust in us. Let's be more precious than the most precious of gems to him.
Live fully devoted to your husband; just as you live fully devoted to Jesus. Don't put stipulations upon your love or justification on why you shouldn't follow and submit to his leadership. Husbands have a huge responsibility to love their wives in the same way that Jesus loves His bride. But don't always throw scriptures in your spouses face, or give ultimatums of "If you'll do this, I'll do that... or when you change, then I'll change...." Be your husband's biggest encourager and supporter! Make him feel as if you value him and that he is a treasure to you. Spending time with him should be your most favorite thing to do; just as spending time with Jesus should be your most favorite thing to do. He should be the one that you most want to be with above anyone else; just as you want to be with Jesus, as His bride, above anyone else.
Fully obey God's pattern of what a bride should do, how she should live, and how she conducts herself; as a bride to your husband, and also as a bride of Christ.
Regarding marriage, ask yourself this question often and be honest in your answer: "Am I as fully devoted to my husband as I am to Jesus? Am I following his leadership as I follow Jesus? Am I loving my husband as I love Jesus? Do I care about following God's pattern that He gave me as both a bride to my earthly bridegroom and my heavenly Bridegroom?
When women are feeling stressed or overworked or under-appreciated, they often begin neglecting responsibilities. Someone or something gets left out. There is an old saying that says, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" When mama ain't happy, it's generally because she's overwhelmed and has too much to do with not enough help, or not enough appreciation. I believe that sometimes the wife isn't happy because the husband has partially closed his umbrella and isn't fulfilling his God-given responsibilities, so the wife feels like she has to take them up on top of what she is already doing (which means she is stepping outside of her role, so isn't where she should be), or else she is feeling the lack of him not doing what he should be and it makes her feel unprotected and unloved. At times it could be that the wife is struggling to keep her umbrella next to her husband, and their umbrellas keep colliding because she's not where she's supposed to be.
Women, if you're not happy, do some soul-searching until you pinpoint the reason. If you need to repent and change, then do so. If you need to have a heart to heart talk with your husband, then find a time to do that. God never intended for us to go though life unhappy, nor did He intend on us settling for less than His best for our marriages. If you're husband isn't happy, then find a time and read this passage of scripture together and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to follow God's plan. If neither of you are truly happy, then for sure find time for the two of you to have a heart-to-heart, study these scriptures and talk about them, and pray together. Set a plan in motion to get back on track.
God has given us the blueprint, the guidelines to follow. It can't just be one spouse or the other that follows, while the other leaves all the work up to them. Marriage isn't the sole responsibility of either the husband or the wife. It is both of them, working together, to fulfill the plan that God set in place.
May we strive for our marriage and relationship with our husband, as his bride, to replicate God's desire and pattern of us being the bride to His Son.
I do like The Passion Translation better than most others. Words like "devoted", "leadership", and so on seem to explain the intension much better than "submit".
I've heard a different perspective on submission once. I wish I knew for certain, but I think it was from Joey & Rory, a married couple and gospel singers. The idea is that if a wife completely submits to the will of her husband, then everything, including her happiness becomes his responsibility. Frankly, I don't want that much responsibility. But it is my job to offer the leadership that goes with it. It's my duty.
But if I insist on forcing my will on my wife, and demand complete submission, then I must also expect God to force His will on me, and demand complete submission. Maybe that doesn't sound so bad. But I am human, and do make mistakes. I occasionally act in a way that I realize isn't God's will for me. And I want Him to forgive me as soon as I sincerely repent. So I must also give forgiveness when my wife sincerely repents to me.
Crock Pot Pork or Beef Roast
For the beef roast: place the roast in the crockpot and sprinkle one package of dry AuJus gravy mix over the top. Place a stick of button on top of the roast. Allow to cook until roast is tender.
For pork roast: place the roast in the crockpot and sprinkle one package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix over the top. Place a stick of butter on top of the roast. Allow to cook until roast is tender.
No need to add any additional liquids, unless the meat has absolutely no fat on it at all, then keep an eye on it and if it is too dry, add either some beef or vegetable broth or you could just add in a little water.
This past week my niece went to the parent/teacher conference for her daughter, Jovie, who is in pre-k this year. This is the same sweet Jovie that I babysat for the past four years. The teacher told my niece that Jovie is doing great. But she is always the last one to wake up from nap time. The other students fight over who gets to wake her up. A while back, the teacher found the other students trying to roll Jovie across the floor, and she made them stop. Jovie never woke up or knew anything about it!
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is simply to include them - TobyMac
We love you!
Loretta & Jon