Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is one that has helped many women get a more biblically balanced view of our role, our responsibilities, and our blessings.
There are many books available today on marriage and on how to be the husband or wife that God has called you to be. I’ve read a number of them and, perhaps, so have you.
But Martha’s book is different from many of them. First of all, it’s not new. In fact, in my opinion, it’s a classic when it comes to biblical books on the wife’s role in marriage. It was first published in 1995. Martha wrote it because, as a biblical counselor seeking to help other women, she needed solid material to use in her counseling and, at that time, there was little available.
In the years since, it has been used by countless women and countless counselors, including myself. I have read and re-read it. I’ve taught it in the classroom and I’ve used it over and over in my counseling ministry. I’ve shared it with young women and with seasoned veterans to marriage. I’ve found it to be the most comprehensive, biblical book there is. My copy is highlighted, dog-eared, and full of notes on every blank space.
Just Another Book about Submission?
Someone out there is thinking … “Oh no, another book about submission!”
Submission is in there, because it’s part of how God has called us to live, but so is how to make a biblical appeal and how to lovingly confront your husband when he’s sinning, along with when to go to your church, and when to call the authorities because of abuse.
But the bulk of the book is about how to live out biblical womanhood on a practical, day by day basis, bringing glory to God in the process.
In the first section, Martha covers God’s protective authority, His provision for wives, His pattern for relationships, His purpose for marriage, and the wife’s role.
In the second section, she covers the heart and how it can be focused on false gods instead of Christ, also, the home, the God-kind of love, respect, intimacy and submission.
In the third section, she explains how submission is the basis for God’s protection and lists His resources for a woman’s protection. She, also, talks about the key to our motivation, the control of the tongue, and the importance of a quiet and gentle spirit.
And in the last section, Martha talks about some of our struggles: impatience, anxiety, and a lack of oneness. Continue reading →
Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?
We’ll also read about:
Esther, what God was up to, and the un-fairytale like ending for the other young virgins taken as “potential queen for a night.”
And the danger of judgment and self-righteousness Paul warns us about in Romans 2.
The book of Esther takes place sometime between the time the Jews began to return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and the second return under Ezra. It’s quite an interesting book. Though the name of God is not mentioned at all, He is seen everywhere, and is in control of the events of this book in a grand way!—as He is in all the events of history and the world (even our election cycle).
The book starts out with a party and what a party it is—7 days, free flowing wine, everyone is invited (the men, at least!), golden goblets, entertainment … wine, women (probably the entertainment) and song, as the saying goes.
Finally, the drunken king decides to show off his wife and she refuses to come. The men were faced with a problem. If word got around that the queen didn’t obey the king, all the women would refuse to obey their husbands! So, at the other men’s urging, he strips away her crown.
My husband, Mike, and I will be leading a DivorceCare group beginning August 7th at 12 noon. We meet upstairs at Cielo Vista Church, 3585 N. Lee Trevino Dr., El Paso, Texas.
While I believe that divorce should always be a last resort, sometimes divorce happens. When it does, it can be one of the loneliest and most painful journeys there is. If you’re not familiar with DivorceCare, it’s a small group study where caring people walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through separation or divorce alone.
Have you ever found yourself praying, “Dear God, please change my husband!”
You’ve tried it all: nagging, encouraging, keeping quiet … praying. You know there’s a right way to impact your marriage, but you’re too frustrated to try.
Or maybe you just want to understand your husband better, why he does what he does, and how you can help him grow in the area of leading his family and growing as a believer in Christ.
I’ll be teaching a study based on a book I featured a couple of weeks ago, The God Empowered Wife. We’ll meet Thursday mornings at 9:00 am beginning August 25th at Cielo Vista Church, 3585 N. Lee Trevino.
If you want to learn to work with God in your marriage, this study is for you. The results can be surprising and exciting!
Unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a downward spiral of sin. Sadly, it’s not a lack of truth, instead people suppress the truth because they just don’t want to hear it. The result and its consequences are much of what we see in our nation today.
Well, here we are finishing up the book of Nehemiah. Do you realize we have finished well over half of the Old Testament, 16 books in total and a good portion of Psalms and Proverbs? We’ve finished the four gospels and the book of Acts, the historical books of the New Testament.
Now we are starting the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament, beginning with the book of Romans and tomorrow we’ll start the book of Esther in the Old Testament. It’s exciting to see the progress we’re making.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
As we start the book of Romans, it might be helpful to consider a couple of things. Romans is primarily a book of doctrine, but don’t be put off by that. It doesn’t mean it’s a dry book with no relevance to our lives, quite the contrary! This epistle (letter) contains some of the most important truths for us to understand in our Christian lives. In his Study Bible, John MacArthur says:
“The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God: the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.”
That is the foundation of our faith. If you are a newcomer to reading through the Bible or you’re new here, you might find it confusing that at the end of Acts, Paul is in Rome and here in Romans he is expressing his desire to go to Rome. It’s important to remember that the books of the Bible are not always arranged in chronological order.
In the New Testament the first four books are the Gospels, the four accounts of Christ’s life and ministry. Acts is the historical overview of the first three decades of the Church, ending its account in about 60-62 A.D.
The remainder of the New Testament, except for the book of Revelation is a series of letters written by various church leaders to churches and individuals meant to be circulated to others within the church. They’re not in chronological order, but are grouped by author. Romans through Philemon, and possibly Hebrews, were written by the Apostle Paul. Romans was written about 56 A.D. before his imprisonment and journey to Rome.
The Joy of Christian Fellowship
So here we are in chapter one and there’s so much in this chapter. I love verses 11-12 where Paul is expressing his desire to visit Rome:
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Are you tempted to be ashamed of the gospel? In the workplace? Or with your unsaved family? Are you afraid to share the truth because someone might make fun of you or think you’re simple-minded? Even after being beaten, stoned, ridiculed, and all the rest, Paul was “not ashamed of the Gospel”!
Then beginning in verse 18, we have what can be called “the downward spiral of sin.” You’ll see this in individual lives and in nations and societies, as well. It starts with “suppressing the truth.” It’s not that most people don’t know the truth, they just don’t want to hear it. Sound familiar? Verses 21-22 say:
“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools …”
Our schools, colleges and universities, as well as other arenas, are full of people who think they are so wise, with all their science and knowledge, but God says they’re fools!
The downward spiral and its consequences don’t come from a moody God who is just taking out His annoyance on people. This is the result of a purposeful rejection of the truth by the people involved. Continue reading →
“The Great Exchange”: We get to exchange our failures for His perfect obedience, our sin for His righteousness. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and He lives in us, then God’s faithfulness, mercy and righteousness are with us!
As I read chapter 10 and all that the people covenanted to do, I was wondering how often we stop to think about and praise God for the fact that we are now under grace! It’s not that it was wrong for them to make a covenant. It was what they were expected to do under the law.
Paul said the law was “… our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3.24). The law, which was impossible to keep completely, pointed to the fact that we can’t be saved by our own righteousness and law keeping and helped us see our need for a Savior.
Jesus Christ who was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4.15), was the only one who kept the law perfectly. When we accept Him as our Savior we take part in a “Great Exchange.” Continue reading →
Nehemiah 8.10 says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” How did the people in Nehemiah’s day go from grief to joy? How did the people in Nehemiah’s day go from grief to joy? Why should we find joy for the same reason?
Also, read about the confidence we can have in life’s storms.
God was at work. He had prepared Ezra with a great knowledge of the Scriptures and Nehemiah as a great leader with the energy and gifts to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls. What a great example of how God gifts people differently and then brings them together to accomplish His work. Ezra, while a great man of God, had been back in Jerusalem for twelve years, but it wasn’t until Nehemiah came that the Feast of Booths was reinstated, the walls were rebuilt, and other things began to happen.
In the New Testament we are called the body of Christ. Romans 12.4-8 says:
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
As believers, each of us has been gifted to serve God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 says:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v.7).
Every gift is necessary and important.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? …And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (v. 17, 19).
From Grief to Joy
The result of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s gifts working together, along with those of others who helped teach the people, was a reverence for the Word. They stood for three hours or more while the Scriptures were read and expounded … they bowed their faces to the ground … they wept in repentance.
It was good that the people wept and were grieved over their sin. We, too, should be grieved when we are confronted with our sin through the reading and study of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Word, or the rebuke of others. But, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary: Continue reading →
Flattery will get you! – Could you be drawn away from God’s best in your life by flattery or some other temptation? What can we learn from Nehemiah about protecting our testimonies, our jobs, and our ministries?
Chapter 6 reminds me so much of what goes on in politics and the media today.
¹ Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), 2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.
3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (6.1-3).
As soon as someone starts to do something significant for God, influential people want to meet with him or her and, often, interview them for TV or some other media. Sadly, many have learned the hard way that most people in the media don’t really want to rejoice with them because they’re doing something worthwhile. In fact, most have learned that what they say and do gets twisted and misreported. And all it does is serve as a distraction from what’s really important.
When flattery or the enticement of national coverage or rubbing elbows with dignitaries doesn’t work, the enemy will often attack from within—sometimes using people close to that person. How many times have we read the phrase “unnamed sources say …”
Another way the enemy attempts to bring down servants of God is by taking advantage of our own sinful desires, often through an immoral sexual encounter.
Those encounters don’t always start with something obviously sexual or immoral. Often they happen between two co-workers or even people who work together in ministry.
It may seem innocent, at first, things like texting and compliments, but will often turn to flirting and spending more and more time together.
I thought it was interesting that one of the people mentioned in verse 14 was a woman, the prophetess Noahdiah! Even though nothing sexual is mentioned, what if Nehemiah had listened to her and began to develop a relationship with her? How many times has someone said, “We’re just friends” only to fall into temptation as the “friendship” develops? We need to be so careful of both the perception of something inappropriate and the temptations that we all face. Continue reading →
Greed can raise its ugly head in any area of life: in politics, in business, even in the family. Just as ugly is worthless religion. What does God value in the way of Christian service and religious activity? Are you relying on things that are worthless to God?
Nehemiah and the people continued to rebuild the wall, but not without opposition. Nehemiah’s response was the same one we should have when we encounter problems. Chapter 4, verses 8-9:
“… and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”
Nehemiah and the people prayed, did what they believed God wanted them to, and left the rest in the hands of God!
Chapter 5 changes focus and talks about problems among the people themselves. Some of the Jews had taken advantage of the hard economic times and had charged high rates of interest and even taken some of the other Jews as slaves to repay their debts. This was forbidden by the law. God takes a very serious view of this kind of behavior and Nehemiah dealt with it accordingly. Verses 11-13: Continue reading →
Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what others have and refuse to be content where God has us. In some cases, we are lazy and not willing to do what is required. Instead, we grumble, complain, and sometimes become bitter and resentful.
Grumbling, Complaining & Coveting or Faithfully Working & Obeying?
“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”
These two verses make me think of a story I read about a famous pianist. A man came up to him once and said, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” The pianist replied, “I did.”
I am not advocating neglecting family or any other God-given priority to seek selfish goals, but so often we want things that others have without being willing to do what it takes to obtain them. In the case of a lazy man, he covets the things that others have worked to obtain, but isn’t willing to do the same.
This is an attitude that is rampant in our society today. Many people, even Christians, have an entitlement attitude, even about spiritual things. Continue reading →
How is your marriage? Is it good? Is it great? Could it use some work or, at least, some fine tuning? Marriages, even good ones, need regular maintenance.
Genesis 2.24 says:
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
This is much more than the obvious physical union between a man and a woman. This is a unity of hearts and goals that requires good communication and a laying down of our own selfish agendas to follow God’s agenda.
Amos 3.3 says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”
As Christians our goals should be in line with God’s goals for marriage, but that won’t happen unless we know and understand God’s blueprint.
Dr. Wayne Mack’s book, Strengthening Your Marriage, can be a great tool for helping any couple do just that. The book is made up of 8 Units to study together as a couple or as part of a small group:
God’s Purpose for Marriage
The Wife’s Responsibilities
The Husband’s Responsibilities
Each unit begins with a teaching section in the form of an amplified outline. Key points are noted and all points are accompanied by Scripture references. The teaching section is followed by study questions and practical exercises to work through as a couple. Dr. Mack says: Continue reading →