Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ladies Study...Then and Now

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2: 3-5

Yesterday Mom and I  drove an hour  to attend a ladies study by my friend Judy. There were working ladies, widowed ladies, married ladies that attended. Yet the message Judy shared with us was the same message she taught many young wives and mothers thirty years ago.

The lessons are life changing, no matter whether one is married, divorced, widowed, working or staying at home. For though it is mainly about our relationship with our husband, it can be applied to anyone we meet in daily life.

Back then, Judy found herself in an impossible situation as a young mother in her own marriage relationship. In the midst of her trial, one day she heard the Lord ask her if she was so sinless she could throw stones at her husband. Her mouth (of accusation) was suddenly shut and their relationship became transformed. During this time, she asked God to show her everything the Bible had to say about  the role of the woman in marriage. She learned the secret that saved her marriage: submitting to her husband as unto the Lord, no matter where her husband was with God.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. I Peter 3:1-2

The fruit of this study has been written in a simple booklet (and now an ebook too.) At that time, I was a young wife and mother and when I was going through a particularly hard time (insomnia before the birth of my last child) I went up to Judy in church and asked her counsel. A couple of months later, after pleading with my husband, I ended up hauling my three young children and driving across town to hear words that saved my marriage. For though I was married, I thought my ways were the best ways and the result was my husband and I often disagreed.  The resultant friendship and godly advice I received from Judy helped me so much, I hope now in some small way to pass on to others who may struggle, especially now that I am getting to be "an older woman" myself!

Yes, the message is about submission. But the thing is,the only way we can do that is to look, really look,at the cross of Jesus Christ. On that cross, He submitted to His Father's will and took the weight of all mankind's sins. But not just mankind, but each of us personally. In believing this, I find courage to forgive myself when I fail and start each day with a clean slate. I don't have to carry around the baggage of yesterday's mistakes. If I forgive myself and get ahold of the fact that He loves me, I can forgive others also.

 God does not ask us to do anything that would ever be bad for us. So if submission seems like an impossible thing, first we must learn that it is for our good, and because God loves us so much He wants us to be in a place of protection.

It all starts with a  relationship with Christ through trusting that He paid for our sins on the cross. Through that, we become brand new creatures with a new nature. That's just the beginning, though. When we enter into that new relationship, we receive the Holy Spirit and the ability to manifest the love of God to others who hurt us.

I found myself rejoicing yesterday, that God has seen fit to keep me close to Him all these years now, even if I have made mistakes along the way. I was glad my Mom could hear God's message of unconditional love as well, as she struggles through the grief of widowhood. Most of all, I rejoice God's provision for the woman is still the same, no matter how much the world has changed.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In Dire Straits...

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Psalm 119: 71-72

Dire straits is not such a bad place to be. Hard times stretch our unworn spiritual muscles, make us cling to the Word of God for dear life. God shows me His faithfulness in these times, times where I am being stretched beyond what I think I can take.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years complaining and grumbling. Then, they did not even get to go into the land, after all that. They died in the desert and their children got to go in instead.

Paul told us in I Corinthians 10 that their story was written for us, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. So I began to think about my life and my own wilderness journey. I have been a Christian for most of my life. But I think nearly forty years of my own have come to pass where I spent a good deal of the time grumbling and complaining.

Grumbling and "venting" feels good for the moment. But it never gets me anywhere, never gives me any solutions, except to commiserate with others who are also struggling. It doesn't build me up, it doesn't build them up either. 

Did you ever think "if only" something was going the way you wanted, you could then be happy? I know I have believed that lie so many times. If only so and so liked me, if only I had done this instead of that, if only I hadn't made that mistake way back when, or was "there" instead of in the place where I am now.

You know what? The list of "if only's" could go on forever. Here is a shocking revelation: I don't have to have any condition outside of myself in which to be happy. Happiness comes from a source way beyond myself, if only I will avail myself of it moment by moment. It comes from one constant unchangeable fact: that God of all Gods looked down from eternity and saw us in our misery and decided to do something about it by taking all of our sins and guilt onto Himself at the cross. He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loved us by dying for us on the cross.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

I need to spend the rest of my time here on earth just going and learning what all that really means, unwrapping this wonderful gift of salvation and walking in fellowship with my blessed Lord and Savior. It makes my life worth living. It is the only thing that does. 

If I love Him, then I can I trust Him that He will take the hardest and most trying times of my life and work them together for my ultimate good. It is to this simple fact that I am clinging.

Lately it seems that so many of God's children are going through difficulties. Are you trying to lean on your own understanding? You will never understand why all these bad things happen except that to see that they are the only way that God can get our attention, wake us out of our spiritual stupor and cling with all our might to the Lover of our souls.